Rental Review: 2017 Ford Fusion SE Hybrid – Silver Silvermist Anonymity

Last November, I found myself in the position of having a silver Fusion Hybrid, courtesy of Hertz. How so? Well, due to bad luck.

I was downtown at the county building, paying the last installment on my property tax. Job done, I waltzed out to the Town Car, happy that the city wouldn’t be getting any more money out of me until next year. It was spitting sleet, cold and crappy out. All I wanted to do was drive home, have some dinner and watch a little TV. Unfortunately, I turned left at the courthouse, went halfway down the block, and a car came out of the alley off to the right-right in front of me. Yep!

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The Most Legendary Lead/Follow In Journosaur History

Acura NSX

I’ll be writing a couple of stories this week over at TTAC about the Rolex 24, which is a terrible thing to watch on television, but a glorious event to experience personally. As an invited guest of one of the participating manufacturers, the level of access I had was bonkers, yes, but even for the man on the street who buys his ticket from the window, it’s one of the rare opportunities to walk through the garages, go stand next to million dollar cars on pit lane, even shake the hands of the drivers.

I got a voicemail from Acura PR a few weeks before the event, asking me if I wanted to attend the race as their guest. As I was listening to the first few seconds of the voicemail, my brain was thinking “No.” I’m not prone to accepting junkets from OEMs, and I often mock those who do. These sorts of things are normally pretty awful—you’re led around in a group by a PR person, they feed you constantly, give you presents, and send you home. Most of the “press” in attendance never even write about the experience. It’s borderline bribery, and it all makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

And then, I heard these words. “There will be a lead/follow session on track in the NSX, with Juan Pablo Montoya leading.”

I damn near dropped my phone. Yes, of course I’ll go. I’d parachute in just for that. But there’s a truth about lead/follows at press events that nobody ever tells you.

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Guest Review: 2018 Camaro 1SS

Let’s have a warm welcome for Michael Briskie, who is contributing a guest review of a rental Camaro. Feel free to offer him tips and opinions regarding the review. If you have a car you’d like to review here, please drop me a note in the comments or elsewhere. Thanks! — jb

As the National Car Rental shuttle pulls up to the Emerald Aisle, I’m already looking out the window scouting my options. Nissan Versa, nope. Camry, nope. Dodge Durango R/T… hmmm. Now we are getting somewhere. I jockey for position getting off the bus and beeline for the blacked out Dodge. Feeling pleased that I scored a mammoth V8 truck-wagon for my three day trip to St. Louis, I climb aboard and prepare to navigate the beast out of the rental lot. But then, something gives me pause. Just across from the aisle, the next wave of cars was being readied to replace ours. And what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a flame red Camaro soon to be cleared! Hesitant to lose my Durango, I ventured over and caught a glimpse of 20” wheels. Yes indeed… an SS. Must be my lucky day.

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CPO Test Drive: 2015 Lincoln MKZ 2.0H

For the eight of you who have been following my automotive scribblings here on RG since early 2017, you likely have gathered that I like the premium offerings of Ford Motor Company. This is of course true. It must be if I have two Town Cars. Two! But despite my close relationship with my local Lincoln dealer, and the great service I’ve gotten from them over the years, as late as 2015, I hadn’t driven any Lincoln automobile newer than a 2011 model, and tended to favor the good old final-generation Town Car. At the time I had a 2000 Town Car and a 2006 Volvo V50 station wagon.

Back in the summer of 2015, I stopped in to check out the used cars at Strieter Lincoln and yak with my favorite salesman, Peter Clarke. I’d been eyeing the last generation MKZs, as CPO 2010-12 models were frequently sitting on the lot with attractive pricing, say 22K or so. Not bad. Sure, it was based on the Fusion, but the upgrades were nice, especially the interiors.

An especially appealing 2011 MKZ was on the lot with black cherry metallic paint and off-white leather. Peter was more than happy to throw me the keys. It was a V6 model.

I turned out of the lot and stepped on it. Holy crap! This thing was zippy! I enjoyed driving it, but ultimately my cheapskate…err, frugal personality overrode and I returned the keys without making an offer.

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2018 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription – Swedish Brougham

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve always had a thing for Volvos. My parents always had them when I was a kid. The earliest cars I remember riding in were Mom’s ’73 1800ES and ’77 245DL wagon, and Dad’s ’81 DL two-door sedan. All through the ’80s, Mom had a Volvo wagon and Dad had a Volvo sedan.

Dad’s new 740 Turbo, circa summer 1988.

Probably my favorite was my father’s 1988 740 Turbo Sedan. Fire engine red, tan leather, blackout trim, five-spoke alloys and sunroof. Now that was excellent!

The 940SE at Lake Carroll, late ’90s.

So it may come as no surprise that my first car was a Volvo, and my second, and my third. The first one was my dad’s former company car, a 1991 940SE Turbo.

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The RS Adrenaline Academy Lives Up To The Focus RS Hype Machine

I had submitted this one to an outlet a while ago, but it never ran. Sad face. So here it is for Riverside Green readers—enjoy!


If you’re a fan of performance cars, it’s nearly impossible for you to argue with much of what Ford Performance has been up to in the last few years. The Boss 302 changed our perceptions of what was possible to accomplish on track with a pony car, and then the Shelby GT350 ripped open that envelope with a serrated blade. The Focus and Fiesta ST brothers packed more fun per dollar into a car than we’ve seen since the original GTI. And at the other end of the spectrum, let’s not forget the Ford GT and its return to motorsports dominance.

However, the one we were all waiting for, the one our European brothers have been taunting us with for generations, was the Focus RS. Complete with 350 horsepower, all-wheel drive, blindingly beautiful Nitrous Blue paint, and, yes, the publicity stunt that is “Drift Mode,” the RS arrived on our shores in 2016 with more pomp and circumstance than even Edward Elgar could have imagined. Despite my personal skepticism of all the promotion, it took me exactly four autocross runs with a press car to decide to add one to my personal fleet of Blue Ovals back in October. I happily paid MSRP at Glenn Ford in Nicholasville, Kentucky and drove off with my own blue hype machine.

But perhaps even more impressive than Ford’s commitment to building these machines is it’s commitment to teaching people how to drive them.

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2017 BMW X3 Rental Review, or, The Worst Possible Use Of Your Money, Ever

Through what I’ll just call a bizarre set of circumstances, I found myself needing to make a 520 mile drive through Maryland, West Virginia, and Kentucky over the weekend, and I found myself without a car to do it. No matter—I’m such a frequent renter of cars from National Car Rental that I have a seemingly limitless number of free rental days to use. Three clicks of my mobile app, and I was headed to Baltimore/Washington International airport to pick up a free one-way rental from the Emerald Aisle Executive area.

Let me back up a bit first, and perhaps that will help you understand how much I hated my time with the 2017 BMW X3.

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2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S – A Family Affair

The biggest single reason I’ve been so infatuated with cars from my earliest memories is due to the fact that I was born into a family of major gearheads. My ancestors were from Germany, and were coachbuilders. I mean actual coach builders, because their work pre-dated the automobile. They emigrated to the U.S. around the turn of the century, and initially settled in Chicago. A short time later they learned there were a lot of Germans in Rock Island, Illinois, and they moved there. And we’re still here!

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica Rental Review


Awww yeah, Bark Rental Review back in the hizzy! I’m so relieved that I don’t have to try to take decent photos. And what better way to kick it off than with the lot poison that is currently making CDJR dealers all across America sick? That’s right, today we’re talking about the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. I’ve had at least 3 different CDJR dealers in 3 different states tell me that the Pacifica is an overpriced floorplan anchor that they cannot move at any price.

“Nobody knows what the fuck a ‘Pacifica’ is,” they tell me. “I don’t know why they couldn’t just call it the Town & Country.” Then they mumble about the huge sticker price—although the Pacifica starts at around $28k, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with a Monroney under 40 large on a lot—and they ramble on about the death of the Chrysler brand (another topic for another time).

However, they’re missing one thing about the Pacifica. It’s quite good. No, better than good. It’s brilliant.

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