Is This The "New Standard of The World?"

2012 Cadillac SRX 23

A long time ago, the tag line "Standard of the World" stood for something special.

Over 100 years ago, the Cadillac Motor Car Company earned the right to call itself a "standard" above all else by advancing the automobile on several fronts. In 1908, Cadillac won the Royal Automobile Club's Dewar Trophy for demonstrating vehicle reliability with extensive use of interchangeable parts. Cadillac engineers disassembled one their cars, built it back up again and drove off in it. Back in 1908, that was considered revolutionary. A second Dewar Award was earned in 1912 for Cadillac's revolutionary key-initiated electric starting system.

These award-winning innovations are things we take for granted today. By giving the automobile a much-needed boost at a time when not a lot of people even considered one as part of their lives, we could appreciate Cadillac's right to proclaim itself as the "Standard of the World" a century ago.

For decades, Cadillac was the best selling luxury car in the world. It retained its leadership by being audacious in every way. We recognize the fins of the 1959 Cadillac – and the staggering detail of every inch of that model. There had to be a point where Cadillac's claim of being "Standard of the World" would no longer become relevant.

Getting Respect

Tweet 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L AWD. All photos by Randy Stern A Victory & Reseda review of the 2012 Honda CR-V Lately, Honda has…

Five Favorites From Behind The Wheel

Motorsport can sometimes be a cult of personality.

A sport is where an athlete participates for the purpose of melding fitness with ability to do something the average human being might not be able to do. Throwing a football in a perfect spiral for tens of yards to find its intended target is not exactly easy. Nor is pitching a 100MPH-plus fastball right in the strike zone at least 60 times in a game.

Consider the fitness and mental preparation in driving a light automobile at over 200MPH on a two-mile course for a few hours on a Sunday. Rather, the same skills needed to drive a couple of hours at a time over the duration of twelve to twenty-four hours on a sustained course – day and night.

It takes a personality to do these extraordinary tasks within the confines of a metal body-frame combination with an internal combustion engine on board. Over the course of motorsport history – we had some amazing personalities.

To do a Five Favorites is to not do justice to every race driver I admired throughout my life. The list is quite lengthy and touches almost every motorsport series imaginable.

To fulfill the format, I will list my Top Five – and name the rest below…

Spunky, Darty and Swift

2012 Kia Rio 6

What will you do when gas costs $5.00-a-gallon?

This is one of the scenarios being bantered about by oil speculators since before the end of 2011. These speculators forecasted the rise of fuel pump prices to top the $5.00 mark for unleaded nationwide by the peak summer driving season. For a lot of motorists, this is not going to be fun.

When fuel pump prices hit $4.00-a-gallon last year, the automobile industry did not prepare for the run on compact cars and small crossovers. Products, such as the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla, experienced huge sales increases over previous years. The Chevrolet Cruze enjoyed being the best selling passenger car in the USA. for a couple of months during the middle of 2011. When fuel prices climbed down off of the $4.00 level, larger cars supplanted compacts again to wrap up a year of growth in the automotive industry.

If fuel jumps up to the $5.00 level this summer, how will you react when you have to buy a new vehicle? Will you downsize even more?

Skyactiv or "Zoom -Zoom?"

2012 Mazda3 19

How does one describe "Zoom-Zoom?"

If you've seen the commercials and advertisements for Mazda's vehicles, then you know what "zoom-zoom" is. It is the tag-line of an automobile company that always had an enthusiast bent. Whether it was economy cars, pickup trucks, crossovers and roadsters, the notion of "zoom-zoom" is felt when you find the most mundane feature had an aggressive feel to it. It is as there's a bit of a sports car in everything Mazda sells.

This is not just a mere marketing gimmick. Ask any owner – current or former.

How much of an effect does "Zoom-Zoom" have on this former Mazda owner (mine was a 1979 626 coupe – that was 25 years ago)? When this Mazda3 showed up at my front door, I began shopping for driving gloves and a racing helmet…

Luckily, I did not buy any track day paraphernalia. That was when I found out that this particular Mazda3 claimed to get 40MPG on the highway. In other words, I had to forgo leathering around Highway 101 in Carver County and consider hypermiling on Interstate 94 towards Saint Cloud instead.

The Mazda3 has been the volume seller for the brand of late. In the compact field, the Mazda3 stood out as the enthusiast's choice above the volume sellers, such as the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla…etc. Offered in both sedan and hatchback, the Mazda3 always gave the driver some aggressive settings in performance and handling. One does not buy a Mazda3 for practical reasons alone.

Now, there's the claim of high fuel efficiency. How does this change the character of this enthusiast's compact?

Leveraging the Cost of Luxury

Tweet All photos by Randy Stern There was once a time when luxury came in large packages. When we wanted luxury, we often went…

A Sort of Homecoming

2012 Buick Regal eAssist 9

There is nothing like recalling past triumphs.

At the Chicago Auto Show, I had the great opportunity to present the 2011 Vehicle of the Year award to Tony DiSalle, Vice President of Marketing for Buick and GMC. The Buick Regal won this award by virtue that it was an absolutely superb premium midsized sedan. It did everything well – all I could ask from a globally-developed, German-made car.

My personal editorial policy states that I do not review the same vehicle twice. In this instance, there is an exception. While the Regal I reviewed last year had a 220 horsepower 2.0litre turbocharged engine, this one came with something completely different – an additional electric motor. As is the case with most automakers these days, the push to improve fuel economy includes taking steps to find ways to alleviate the stress on the standard internal combustion engine or find another energy source to power the vehicle.

General Motors already had a hybrid system in place that appeared in the Chevrolet Malibu and Saturn Aura. After a couple of years off the market, GM dusted off the system, made some improvements, and installed it into three new models for 2012 and 2013. One of these new models just happens to be the Buick Regal.