Review: 2016 Chrysler 200

“The minute I got into this car,” Danger Girl said, “my knees started hurting.” She didn’t have to explain why; thanks to sexual dimorphism, my 5’9″ wife and my 6’2″ self are both possessed of thirty-two-inch inseams, so we sit in a car the same way. And my knees were bent and splayed like I was trying to do an X-up on a BMX bike. The ridiculously short thigh bolsters in the Chrysler 200 might as well not exist. You’re fundamentally sitting on the floor, the way you would in a compact car. No surprise there, because the Chrysler 200 is a lengthened version of the compact Dodge Dart.

At an MSRP of $22,115, the LX (base) variant of the 200 competes heads-up against the Sonata I reviewed yesterday. But it’s not really that simple. To begin with, incentives on the Chrysler are omnipresent and remarkably strong; it’s entirely possible to get these cars for eighteen grand or even less. At that price point, the 200 isn’t competing with the Sonata; it’s competing with the Accent.

As we’ll see in a moment, the now-canceled barely-a-midsizer Chrysler has plenty of compelling virtues. It’s just that most of them aren’t present in this particular version of the car.

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This Fleeting Prestige

Tell me you didn’t see this coming: The hellish partnership between Bentley and Breitling, in which two brands (that were already over-producing their core items to an increasingly indifferent audience) combined to flood the market with ridiculously-priced watches that didn’t do a good job of serving either brand’s mission, has finally found its natural level at JomaDeals.

I betcha they can’t even move the watches at 70% off retail. Four grand would get you an Omega Speedmaster or a Rolex Datejust, either of which will be worth far more than this tonneau-cased monstrosity when you go to sell it. It’s an odd thing that’s happening out there in mass-market-luxury land: there’s more money than ever, printed by the trillions and just given away to the doubleplusgood members of our financial/political junta, but that rising tide isn’t lifting all the boats. Instead, you get a sort of herd/flock situation where every single junior guy on Wall Street wants an LV Submariner or a Milgauss or a Panny or whatever the watch of the moment is.

The only way Breitling is going to move these watches is to do what they should have done in the first place: given them away to everybody who buys a Continental or Flying Spur, raising the price of the car three or four grand to cover the cost of making them. But here’s the good news: with prices of the early W12 Bentleys also falling into the 70% off zone, now’s the time to be a big baller on a budget, 2007 style. You can get the car and the watch for $45k out the door. And will anybody know the difference?

Review: 2017 Hyundai Sonata SE

Do not attempt to adjust your television set. This is not a test. This is, instead, the first of what I hope will be many car reviews written by your humble author for this website. Most of them will be rental reviews, used-car reviews, and other oddballs.

This past weekend I rented a 2017 Sonata SE with just under 2500 miles on the clock and drove it from Powell, Ohio to Woodward, Pennsylvania, where my son and I spent the weekend riding at two of Camp Woodward’s indoor skateparks. It was a one-way trip; the back window shattered while we were in Woodward and we exchanged the car for a Chrysler 200, which I’ll also be reviewing here this week. I’ll be comparing both of these cars to the Honda Accord, which I feel to be the gold standard in the segment at the moment.

Alright, let’s put the record on the turntable and start it spinning…

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: I’m The Type Of Guy To Say My Lower Back Is Killin’ Me

Somehow I survived our trip to Woodward. Even got the (not so) old Haro FST off the ground in various places around the park. Pulled a few X-ups over the small box ramps, that sort of thing. John did great as well — he was very brave about the various obstacles and he actually jumped off the top of the 12 foot resi ramp, sliding all the way to halfway up the other side.

The only injury either of us sustained: I fell on some ice outdoors and cracked my head pretty hard, after the parks were closed. Makes sense; I’ve never left Woodward uninjured. And my back hurts so much I can’t stand or walk without pain. It was too bad to sleep after the first day but I wasn’t gonna not ride just because of that. So now it’s much worse. So what.

Click the jump to see what Bark and I wrote last week, hurting nothing but a few feelings along the way.

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Housekeeping: In Which The Other Cheek Is Turned

Earlier today, I wrote a post about how a little bit of effort is required in order to succeed. The example I used in this post was a Google document, written by the wife of an auto journalist and promoted by that journalist on Twitter, containing all the ways in which she would be resisting Trump.

Over the course of the afternoon, I had a conversation with the autowriter involved in which he disavowed the document and stated that his wife had not created any of the content in said document. I added a disclaimer to the beginning of the article. Since then, I’ve spoken to a couple of people, including Bark, about whether the article should stay up regardless of whether the person involved actually wrote that document. I also had a second discussion with the autowriter in which he said “do whatever you want”.

After some consideration, I’ve decided to take the article down. If you care about the reasons, and you’re willing to put up with a little bit of expressed frustration on my part, feel free to click the jump.

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Housekeeping: If You’re Buying Anything Music-Or-Audio-Related

I got a call today from my pal Matt Emick at Sweetwater. Apparently one of you magnificent bastards bought a set of Westone UM2s from him and mentioned this site. Many, many thanks for this. I’ve been working with Matt for eight years now; he’s sold me everything from guitar strings to a Gibson R9 Collector’s Choice and a PRS Private Stock. In all of that time he’s never failed to answer a question, find a particular item, or cut me a brilliant deal on something that I absolutely, positively did not need!

Contact Matt here. Full disclosure: I don’t get anything from Matt or from Sweetwater if you deal with him. I just think that you will benefit from the interaction. The primary thing you can do to make my life better, other than reading and commenting on here, is to join Massdrop and buy something with this link. Every so often, Massdrop sends me fun stuff like titanium sporks thanks to your patronage.

Buy American With “The American List”

The new Continental is a genuinely brilliant automobile. I’d take mine as a Black Label in Rhapsody Blue with the Chalet interior, three-liter 400-horse AWD and every factory option. Once you do that, you’re looking at seventy-eight grand, but the equivalent Funfer BMW costs fifteen stacks more and isn’t as nice inside. I’d say that the Continental heralds a genuine return of American-made luxury. (Unless you think Tesla already got there, of course.)

The problem for me is that I don’t really have $78k lying around. If I did, I think I’d spend it on a base Viper. In either case, however, I’d have the satisfaction of buying American. Would you like to experience that same satisfaction for somewhat less than the $78,000 price of a Black Label Continental or even the $44,300 of a Continental Premier? Then check out The American List at A Continuous Lean. It’s more of a guideline than an authoritative document on sourcing, but it’s a good place to start. And somewhere between Alden and Zippo you’ll find something that is just right for you.

Shinola And The Perfect Enemy Of The Good

Talk about the best-laid plans of mice and men. Brother Bark, Danger Girl, Bozi, and I stepped out of the main hall at Cobo to find some lunch, escape the noise of the Detroit Auto Show for a moment, and give my left leg a moment’s worth of peace. When it’s cold outside, the titanium screws in my tibia contract at a different rate from the bone in which they’re set. Putting weight on the leg turns up the volume on that annoyance. I used to have a lot more metal in my body than I have now — when I was nineteen I had my right femur pin removed a bit early so I could try my hand at a Superclass BMX “career” — but I’m not quite as insensitive to pain as I used to be, either.

As I limped by the Shinola booth set up in the hallway, Bark and DG decided they needed to take a look at what the company had to offer. Forty-five minutes later, we had four watches for three people. (Bozi was out smoking a cigarette the whole time.)

My new Shinola 47mm Runwell Contrast Chrono is the most Chinese watch I’ve owned in a very long time. There’s a lot of agitation in the watch-fanatics community about Shinola, and the two most frequent criticisms have to do with the very high price (for a quartz fashion watch) and Shinola’s claim that this assemblage of Chinese case, Swiss movement, and Floridian strap is “Built In Detroit”.

To the first complaint, I have no answer other than to say a $750 Shinola with a $15 Ronda quartz movement is a much lesser sin than a $25,000 Hublot with an $150 ETA 2924. To the second, however, I have a detailed and heartfelt answer that, in my not-so-humble-opinion at least, has implications that extend far beyond the realm of hobby watches into everything from politics to morality.

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Weekly Roundup: Sunday Bloody Sunday Edition

“Did you know that I can find my dad on the Internet?” That’s what my son said to his mother this past week. Let’s hope he’s not reading this site on a regular basis, because I’m about to tell all of you something that I haven’t told him: we are going to Woodward, PA so we can ride the Lot 8 and Cloud 9 skateparks. Since John doesn’t really have a bike that would work for this, I’ve ordered a Sunday Primer 16 for him, in Watermelon Green.

Alright, let’s get to last week’s contributions. And John, if you’re reading this, go clean your room!

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Housekeeping: In Ukraine (and China), The Game Plays You

4,683.

That’s how many fraudulent login attempts this site got yesterday from the Ukraine and China combined. Ain’t nobody got time for that. So starting next week, I’m going to block traffic from those countries. If you’re a (at least semi-)legitimate reader of this site from either of those countries, post in this thread and I’ll email you a workaround. Thanks!