Category Archives: Blog

The 2022 Honda Civic Si Has Arrived

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, as is 200 horsepower, a stiffer suspension, and loads of new tech.

Earlier this year, Honda introduced the 11th generation Honda Civic sedan. And many folks, me included, lauded its new chassis as it provided excellent response and great feel. Now that chassis gets a once over, an uptick in power, and an Si badge. The 2022 Honda Civic Si is here. It’s based on the Civic sedan. And it comes standard, standard, with a six-speed manual transmission.

Continue reading The 2022 Honda Civic Si Has Arrived

The 2022 Toyota Tundra is here

Starting its third generation, it gets new tech, a new frame and body, and two V-6 engines to choose from.

Toyota’s full-size Tundra truck enters its third generation for 2022 with a new, big ole, in-your-face front grille with LED headlights and a whole lot of goodies. It’s built on an all-new, fully boxed frame and high-strength steel cab, however both the hood and front door panels are made from aluminum.

Continue reading The 2022 Toyota Tundra is here

2021 Acura TLX Type S Review: Mixed Well

The Type S stands out from the standard TLX with motor, structure, and more

What makes a proper sport sedan? You need good amounts of power, of course, a well-built and sport tuned chassis certainly helps, as do strong brakes, grippy tires, and supportive seats. But while all the above are important ingredients, the real key is blending them together just so to provide an easy-to-drive, engaging dish. And after a few bites, I’m pleased to say the 2021 Acura TLX Type S is delicious.

Continue reading 2021 Acura TLX Type S Review: Mixed Well

Porsche Aims to Make the Future more Colorful

The 2022 Taycan and Taycan Cross Turismo receive updates to improve battery performance, update the tech, and wow us with color options.

Porsche introduced us to the Taycan years ago as the Mission E Concept, but actual production models only started in 2020, with the Cross Turismo joining in 2021. Yet for the 2022 model year, Porsche is already adding updates. Chief among them, from a technical point of view at least, is faster charging capability.

Continue reading Porsche Aims to Make the Future more Colorful

Romain Grosjean Thrust in to Powerhouse Full Time Indycar Seat in 2022

Romain Grosjean. Photo by Chris Owens, courtesy of Indycar

While the official response is that Andretti Autosport has yet to confirm its 2022 Indycar line-up, rumors abound that the ink has already dried on Romain Grosjean’s contract with the team for the 2022 season. He’ll take Ryan Hunter-Reay’s seat, who’s already announced his departure. Just what does this mean?

Continue reading Romain Grosjean Thrust in to Powerhouse Full Time Indycar Seat in 2022

McLaren Racing Buys into an Indycar Team. What does it mean for Formula 1?

Zac Brown and Taylor Kiel
Zak Brown and Taylor Kiel making the announcement in Nashville. Photo by Chris Owens, courtesy of Indycar

By the end of the year, McLaren Racing will own 75 percent of Arrow McLaren SP, the team run by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. This announcement comes in the middle of the second season of McLaren Racing’s and SPM’s partnership and further commits McLaren to full-time Indycar racing. Taylor Kiel will stay as President of the team.

Continue reading McLaren Racing Buys into an Indycar Team. What does it mean for Formula 1?

Acura Announces the Return of an Icon, and My Youth, the Integra

When Honda launched its premium Acura brand back in the 1980s, it started with two models. The Legend sedan and the Integra hatchback. Today, during this years Monterey Car Week, Acura announced the return of one of those models.

Continue reading Acura Announces the Return of an Icon, and My Youth, the Integra

Mercedes F1 – End of an Era?

By Christopher Roche – F1 insight straddling the pond

Since the start of Formula 1’s hybrid era, which began in 2014, the Mercedes-AMG team has dominated the sport, scoring seven consecutive driver’s and constructor’s championships. In the process, the team overcame significant challenges in both 2017 and 2018, fighting off Ferrari and Sebastien Vettel on both occasions.

But by not winning the Styrian GP last Sunday, Mercedes-AMG lost their fourth consecutive F1 race for the first time since 2013. Now, Red Bull Racing leads the constructor’s championship, and Max Verstappen the drivers’ championship, by healthy margins, 40 and 18 points respectively. And the next race is back at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, where we expect Verstappen will win again and extend his lead over Lewis Hamilton.

How has this happened? How did the most dominant team in F1 history lose its mojo? Well, simply put, a perfect storm formed. One built from a multitude of factors that combined to overwhelm the mighty tri-star team. Let’s dig in.

To start, Mercedes decisively won the 2020 season with the W11, which was typically more than half a second quicker than the nearest challenger: Red Bull Racing’s RB16 with Verstappen behind the wheel. And with the regulations staying largely the same for 2021, most expected that Mercedes’ winning ways would continue for at least another season.

But regulations didn’t stay the same. Updates to the rules required changes to the floor, brake ducts, and diffuser. And these new regs tended to aid the high rake cars (all but Mercedes and Aston-Martin Racing teams). Given all that, the 2021 Mercedes W12 chassis proved tricky to set up, thanks to a narrow operating window. And, furthermore, has a distinct dislike of slow corners.

Moreover, Formula 1 outlawed Mercedes’ DAS (Dual axis steering) system for 2021, which allowed the drivers to easily adjust the toe alignment of the front tires while on track with a quick push or pull of the steering wheel. This improved the driver’s ability to rapidly, and evenly, heat the front tires, which, in turn, gave them an advantage prior to qualifying laps, the start of the race and after safety car periods during races. Without that system, Mercedes continues to struggle to warm up its front tires. See the results of Imola, Monaco, and Baku as evidence of my point.

Then there’s the new limitation of wind tunnel testing time based on the team’s finishing order  in the previous season. The better you finish, the less time you get. This means that Williams gets the most time and Mercedes, the least. This obviously limits the amount of time Mercedes can spend assessing parts changes and aero modifications to improve the car’s performance.

Yet another impedance is the new cost cap for 2021: all teams must now spend a maximum of $145 million (excluding driver salaries, top three highest earner salaries and marketing costs) for the season. That’s a serious cut for the larger teams. Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari need to redeploy members of their teams to non-F1 projects to remain compliant. And doing so reduces resources available to find solutions to problems and improve the performance of the car. Additionally, Mercedes lost key personnel, who were either tempted away to other teams or seeking new challenges. Andy Cowell (PU chief) who resigned at the end of 2020 is a good example.

Yet, despite the reduction in resources, the need for development is higher than ever. A new rules package for the 2022 season are the most significant changes Formula 1 made in many years. We’ll see 18-inch wheels, the return of ground effect underbody tunnels, elimination of barge boards, revised front and rear wings, and modified suspension regulations. All of this forced many teams to divert most of their development resources to next year’s cars, limiting the amount of time spent on developing their ‘21 chassis. This includes Mercedes.

Finally, in Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing, Mercedes face the strongest opposition to its championship challenger yet. Honda is in its last year in F1 and determined to atone for those lamentable years with McLaren early in the hybrid era. The Japanese automaker is producing a very competitive, and in some ways, better power unit than Mercedes. With it, Red Bull is more than capable of taking wins as long as the team employs smart racing strategies. And, lest we forget, RBR also has Adrian Newey, probably the greatest F1 chassis designer of all time on their side.

Alas, it’s too early to call the 2021 championship, as the racing has been close most of the time and 15 Grand Prix still remain in 2021. However, it will take all of Mercedes’ undoubted capability, and perhaps a little luck, to overcome all of the new challenges the team faces this year.

2022 Acura MDX Gets Big and Stylish

After months of multiple announcements and reveals, the 2022, fourth-generation Acura MDX has arrived, adorned with a new look and riding on a new platform. This new generation brings about a new era for the premium, three-row SUV as it is now burdened with the title of flagship model, meaning it’s here to represent the best of what Honda’s luxury/performance brand can deliver. That ignores the NSX supercar, of course, which Acura calls its halo car.

Riding on an all new platform that Acura designed specifically and, for now at least, solely for the MDX model, it is a claimed 32 percent more torsionally rigid than the third generation model. Furthermore, the front strut suspension was tossed in the bin and replaced with a much more car enthusiast friendly double-wishbone set-up. The rear suspension retains its basic four-link structure, but engineers thoroughly reworked it to increase both handling prowess and ride comfort.

The most obvious change of the latest MDX, however, is its new skin, as Acura adopted the design language that was first introduced on the 2019 Acura RDX. And it works well. Because the MDX is longer and wider than before and, indeed, the biggest car Acura builds, the curves and creases of the design flow naturally here, never looking blunt or stunted. The stance is low and wide, given the category, and the front and rear overhangs are reduced, adding visual strength. That said, I’d prefer a smaller emblem attached to the grille in front. It’s not an eye sore, but it stands out more than it blends in.

Considering all of the aforementioned newness, Acura surprised me by bolting up the existing 3.5-liter V6 with no updates, such that it continues to produce the same peak outputs of 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, just as the 2020 model does today. Acura’s rebuttal is that while the engine remains unchanged, they installed a new, 10-speed automatic transmission, with an 8.9-percent shorter first gear, putting more torque to the road from zero speed.

Moreover, the MDX gets the latest generation Super Handling all-wheel-drive, SH-AWD, that can send 70 percent of the torque to the rear-axle and then distribute 100 percent of that to either wheel. That flexibility in torque distribution helps the MDX mitigate the inherent handling issues of a long wheelbase, 113.8-inches, and a nose heavy body, 58 percent of the weight rests on the front axle.

In fact, the MDX handles WAY better than you’d ever expect it to. Steering has a nice weight to it, with good turn-in response and high-levels of precision, which makes it easy to keep speed up in the corners, and really lean on the 20-inch all-season tires. While the MDX understeers, it does so much less than you’d expect. If you really try, you can even get the rear-end to wiggle a bit at corner exit. In a three-row SUV!

And all the usual safety and luxury bits are here. Standard in the MDX is a Qi smartphone charging pad, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a built-in Amazon Alexa. That’s controlled through a 12.3-inch center console screen. The seats are leather and comfortable. The space is cavernous and the ergonomics are intuitive. You also get plenty of space and flexibility for cargo carrying needs.

The point is, Acura built a useful SUV, as they’ve always done. But this time around, they added more style and driving prowess than before. And by big margins. Base price is under $48,000. But you’ll have a lot more fun with one of the SH-AWD models that start at $49,925. For that money, you get a flagship worthy SUV to roll in. One that will even allow you to crack a smile on your favorite twisty road.