2013 – A Look Ahead

2013 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD 16
And, now, a brief look back at 2012…OK, moving on… Photo by Randy Stern

No, the Mayan Prophecy was not fulfilled. You can breathe now…

The notion of trusting a calendar that supposedly ended on December 21, 2012 is to trust anything a nut job would say. Instead of naming a slew of nut jobs that say the most ridiculous things to grab attention away from what is important in our world, it is best that we move forward here.

Move forward? A novel idea, is it not?

If some of the scholars on Mayan culture and society were right, the end of the great calendar did not signal the end of the world (as we know it – thank you Michael Stipe). Rather, these same scholars state that the calendar marked a beginning of a new era. It simply appears to be a transition from the current world to a new one full of promise, hope and prosperity.

In a sense, it seems appropriate to discuss the road ahead for V&R. The past year-and-a-half has seen this work ascend onto a higher level. The only direction to go is up, really.

VEHICLE REVIEWS: We are indeed starting the New Year with a couple of vehicles to review. It is a chance to welcome two new brands to the V&R fold – including a new manufacturer. With eleven OEMs now available to V&R, this will mean a more concentrated effort focusing on actual products to review than just jumping in any old car and writing about it.

This is why V&R will introduce a new sub-segment of the vehicle review piece: The Quickie. A Quickie is where a vehicle is driven for a shorter period of time that is worth discussing. These articles provide a snapshot of how a vehicle works from that small exposure behind the wheel.

Another vehicle posting you saw from last year is the Preview. It is no secret that the rare occasion of a media junket will come up that V&R will participate in. Since it is being sampled in a controlled environment, the Preview will provide further examination of a new production due months ahead of its first showroom appearance.

Full reviews continue to be conducted in every day situations on actual roadways right in your hometown – specifically, the Twin Cities (that is "Minneapolis and St. Paul" to you). It will remain that way until something extraordinary happens. What V&R knows is that you like the reviews – a lot. It is one of the cornerstones of V&R’s work.

AUTO SHOW COVERAGE: Normally V&R would show up on Media Days at the Chicago Auto Show and do a few other things at the Twin Cities Auto Show (V&R's home show). That will continue in 2013. The Vehicle of The Year award will be handed off in Chicago, while plans are under way to do a V&R Day at the show in Minneapolis.

In addition, V&R will be at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in mid-January. This will be the first time V&R will cover perhaps the most important auto show in North America – if not, the world. This is a very exciting opportunity for both V&R and you to experience NAIAS from the floor of Cobo Center.

WHAT IS ON V&R'S RADAR: The approach to doing Commentaries and other pieces is to absorb what is going on in and around the automotive industry. This includes talking about car culture and the things we do to fulfill and expand our love of the automobile.

Part of this approach is to give an opportunity for a "first person" account of this automotive life. This year, we had William Maley of Cheers & Gears, author Matthew Stern, photojournalist Kevin Jack and blogger Tyler Lipa contributing to V&R. This year, you may never know who might show up on our Your Turn series.

Commentaries are usually more thought processing than making snap judgments. This approach helps to elevate a simple essay or argument piece onto understanding the scenarios and its challenges on a specific issue. It is not the best prescribed approach, but the ultimate goal is to not provide an absolute answer to something that could either succeed or fail on its own.

On the opposite side of the thought provoking spectrum is the return of The Speculator. Coming out of the auto shows, there will be plenty of fodder for new vehicle speculation. The rule of thumb is simple: If we did not see something by the time the New York Auto Show wraps up – something is seriously up. The Speculator combined known information with all possibilities. There is no guarantee of accuracy, but it does invite you to think what would be "next" in terms of product introduction.

V&R CHAT: Twitter provides a platform to interact instantly using hashtags and following. V&R Chat was born from an idea of every evening a social media-based discussion happens online that is topic driven and opinionated. Instead of a weekly schedule, V&R Chat went on a monthly schedule to provide a fresh, magazine-based perspective of the topics floating around the industry.

The first chat of the year will take place on January 20 at 8:00PM Eastern Time. The agenda will be announced on January 18, but expect plenty of auto show discussion from Detroit, Houston and Chicago. Usually, V&R Chat is positioned on the second or third Sunday of each month, depending on event scheduling.

FIVE FAVORITES: Perhaps the most fun V&R gets to have is picking five (vehicles, experiences, vacation ideas, etc) and explaining briefly "why." This will continue as new "measuring sticks" are being looked at for new, fun editions of the Five Faves. The traditional ones will be around – such as the end of the season personal favorites in early December.

The automotive world is an adventure in itself. What will come V&R's way is what this site is all about, really. It is taking a somewhat different road to automotive writing and covering the universe that it revolves around.

It is what V&R will continue to achieve and strive for.

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