Focus RS Postmortem: You Probably Don’t Want One

2016 Ford Focus RSWhen I bought my brand-new, shiny, bluer-than-blue 2016 Ford Focus RS in October of that same year, I had never owned any car for longer than three and a half years. Fiesta ST? Returned after a 24 month lease. Boss 302? Barely made a third birthday. The record holder was actually a 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe GLX, which lasted 42 months and 91,000 miles before I chopped it in on a 2004 Mazda RX-8 in May of 2005.

So even I would have been surprised to learn that I would end up keeping the sparkly jelly bean for a total of 54 months and 47,500 miles. Did I keep it around because I was enthralled by its burbly exhaust, enraptured by its spartan interior, or captivated by the stiff suspension?

In a word: No.

The truth is that I really didn’t like the Focus RS very much at all. And despite what you may have read on the internet, you probably wouldn’t like one, either.

Continue Reading →

It’s Time To Take Back The Keys From The Kids

Once upon a time, there was a newspaper that I received at my house on a weekly basis. It was called The Sporting News, and it contained thousands of glorious, beautifully written words, mostly about the game of baseball. I eagerly anticipated Thursdays, because on Thursdays I knew that the mailman would be delivering the latest issue of TSN to my mailbox, and upon retrieving the paper from said mailbox, I would spend hours diving into every article.

The eloquent prose used by these writers, as well as those at Sports Illustrated, brought an elevated sense of intellectualism and intelligence to the game. But more than that, writers like Frank Deford and Rick Reilly communicated their love and passion for sport. Despite being impartial about the winners and losers of the games, it was clear that these men adored the institutions of baseball and college football with an unmatched intensity. They believed that sport was an integral thread in the American fabric and they treated it with the appropriate seriousness and reverence. Sports writing was seen as a noble endeavor, one in which writers like Hunter S. Thompson, John Updike, and Norman Mailer frequently indulged.

As I grew older, a combination of nagging injury and a frustrating lack of elite talent kept me from pursuing sports professionally. But, thanks to the written word, I maintained my interest and passion for sport. And as my children now compete at the top amateur levels of their chosen sports, I find myself again interested in the written word when it comes to the sporting world—only this time, it’s as an author. In fact, you may find my words on the pages of a rather popular sporting website near you in the near future.

However, the real reason that I’ve written this excessively long introduction is to complain about this miserable generation of auto writers. I can almost forgive this group of Under 35s for being poor dressers, generally slovenly, ugly, out of shape, and just generally, well, poor.

But I cannot forgive them for their apathy toward their profession and their subject. Unlike the aforementioned sports writers, they don’t love their subject. In fact, they hate it.

Continue Reading →

Road Test: 2019 Ford Ranger Lariat

Most of the time, I’m interested in either Volvos, 1970s-era Broughams and modern Lincolns and Cadillacs. This is of course reflected here on this fine site. However, I do try from time to time to expand my horizons. Like last year, when I test drove a new 2018 Subaru Outback Limited, in between reviews for a 2015 Lincoln MKZ 2.0H and 2018 Lincoln Continental.

For instance, recently I decided to try out the all-new Ford Ranger. I thought it would be a good topic for a road test, as a lot of folks have been interested in the return of the smaller Ford pickup, ever since the original was discontinued after the 2011 model year.

Continue Reading →

Late Model Review: 2017 Volvo S90 T6

On September 22, 2016, I drove the then-new grande dame of Volvo’s lineup, the all-new S90 sedan. It replaces the S80, which itself replaced the good old boxy Volvo 940/960/S90 Series in 1999. I miss those boxy Volvos, owned a couple of those boxy Volvos, and was curious to see what the new, non-boxy, sleek new Volvo flagship was like.

So, what’s new? Pretty much everything. Including the engines. Gone is the venerable 3.2L straight six and the T6 twin-turbo, replaced with a four cylinder, 2.0L turbocharged, supercharged engine with 316 hp. Confusingly, the two available engines, despite being four-cylinder powerplants, are labeled T5 and T6. If you speak Volvo, you know that used to designate five or six cylinders. No idea why that was done. I blame marketing.

And now, let me pause for all the know-it-alls to go, “AUGH! A four cylinder in a $65,000 Volvo! What?!” But let me tell you, the only way I knew this was a four-cylinder was reading the brochure. If you told a test-driver that it was a six, you’d probably get away with it if they weren’t car guys. But first, a walkaround. However, I still miss the 3.2 six in the S80. It was, as Ferris Bueller once said, so choice…but I digress. Onward!

Continue Reading →