Tag Archives: automotive technology

Ferrari 296 GTB
EVs ExplainedFeatures

Five myths about plug-in hybrids debunked (and four downsides to buying one)

When anything in life offers the best of both worlds and with little compromise, it’s almost always a solid choice. Diet Coke, the Long Beach Grand Prix, salty and sweet candy—life’s full of it. How does the LBGP come into play here, you may ask? Because it offers some of the best motorsports action, ever, and it’s not stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Another area where you’re having the best of both worlds is plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) ownership. That’s because these economical steeds offer all the convenience of being primarily powered by an internal combustion engine, yet also have an electric motor that tackles some propulsion and boosts overall fuel economy.

However, there are some common misconceptions about PHEVs out there that need to be addressed. By that same token, there are some actual downsides to discuss as well, as having all the information one needs before diving into owning one is just as important. Let’s plug in!

Image credit: Jeep

Myth: PHEVs are slow and not fun to drive

While a lot of folks who are well in tune with the automotive industry may say this isn’t actually a common misconception, it’s important to clear the air and ensure that even the most casual observers know what’s up.

PHEVs are actually quite the opposite: They’re quicker than their non-hybrid and full-hybrid counterparts. That’s because the electric motor is more integrated into acceleration, thus providing all that sweet instant torque to rip off the line. The latest 2023 Toyota Prius Prime, which I’ve had the opportunity to sample for myself, is the perfect example—the normal hybrid is no slouch for its class, but the Prime is shockingly fun to rip around in.

Additionally, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe is quite possibly the neatest off-road experience, ever. Battery-sourced instant torque bodes so well for crawling, and the silent powertrain really helps out the senses with precision inputs. If you listen carefully with the doors removed, you can hear its all-terrain tires’ individual tread blocks grasp at the terra firma.

Don’t forget that the BMW XM is a PHEV as well. It may not be a looker, but it’s quite fast. So is the Ferrari 296 GTB, the McLaren Artura, and several other super and hypercars.

Image credit: McLaren

Myth: PHEVs’ EV-only range is too short

While PHEVs of yore only possessed a handful of miles when in EV-only service, this figure’s only gone up as battery technology has progressed.

For example, the aforementioned 296 GTB can go a whole 15 miles solely on battery power. OK, that’s actually a poor example, what I meant to justify my point with is the 2024 Volvo XC90 Recharge, which can go as far as 32 miles humming along. Er, that’s an improvement, but not the best example, either. The Prius Prime and its larger RAV4 Prime cousin both get over 40 miles of EV-only range, but weirdly, the latest Range Rover Sport has ‘em all beat: a reported EPA-rated 51 miles.

McLaren Artura Powetrain X-Ray
Image credit: McLaren

Myth: PHEVs have just as high maintenance and repair costs as ICE vehicles

This one’s coming from the EV, more specifically BEV (battery electric vehicle), owners who could be considered hardcore, true believers in an EV-only lifestyle. As reported by Consumer Reports a few years back (thanks to Torque News), PHEVs will have slightly lower costs of ownership over the lifetime of a BEV. BEVs have the lowest costs in the short term, but still, PHEVs’ are nowhere near an ICE car’s.

On the flip side, the convenience factor of PHEV ownership is quite appealing and is the best example of the best of both worlds: Excellent overall fuel economy, some battery-only range, lower running costs than an ICE vehicle, a smaller battery with a smaller replacement cost than an EV, no dependence on our nation’s current charging infrastructure, and more.

Image credit: Volvo

Myth: As PHEVs’ battery-only range increases, you might as well just buy a BEV

This one’s quite easy to extinguish, and again was reported on by Torque News: You might as well buy a BEV with all that electric-only range. This completely disregards many folks lacking local charging infrastructure, range needs, and more. Plus, what if you want to be unencumbered by charging infrastructure while on a lengthy road trip? It also means that some households may not need to park an additional car in their driveway to satisfy longer-range needs.

Again, this is best of both worlds content. Many folks can fulfill their daily range needs, potentially over the course of a day or two, and not have to worry about plugging in once they’re out of juice. Plus, PHEVs have regenerative braking that helps charge the battery, thus always having at least a little bit of zap in the metaphorical tank.

Myth: PHEVs don’t have the same tax benefits as BEVs

This one’s also easy to extinguish: Green Car Reports does a great job clarifying the IRS’ guidelines by sharing that there are still some excellent tax benefits to cash in on for 2023 and 2024. MSRP comes into play, and it must be a model that’s made in the USA, Mexico, or Canada, and has a battery that’s made in the USA. But there are still some solid options out there. In fact, that latter bit about made-in-USA applies to BEVs as well.

For example, any qualifying (because there are income restrictions—again, it’s complicated) Jeep 4xe buyer could receive up to $3,750 off their taxes, and Chrysler Pacifica PHEV buyers could count on as much as $7,500 off.

Image credit: Toyota

Downside: PHEVs are expensive

Still, even with some federal tax relief, PHEVs have a higher up-front cost compared to ICE vehicles. It’s amortized over time in fuel savings, but that doesn’t help out folks’ shorter-term budgeting that affects the household balance sheet month-to-month.

It doesn’t help that the average new vehicle costs around $48,000, either.

Downside: PHEVs are heavy

This is par for the course with anything sporting a lithium battery somewhere bolted up to its chassis. They’re not as portly as full-on BEVs, but weight is weight, which means increased tire, brake, and bushing costs. And, it’ll always have an adverse effect on handling, no matter how you slice it. Well, unless it’s a Ferrari 296 GTB, where the battery helps keep weight well-centered within its wheelbase. And even then, it still weighs less than 3,300 lbs, which most would say is plenty for its 654 horsepower to handle. Can you tell I really want to drive a Ferrari 296 GTB?

Downside: PHEVs are complex

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. You’ve got two separate powertrains at work, additional sensors, potential drivetrain additions to send their power to the wheels, a battery with its own electrical connection environment, and more. Plus, you can’t forget packaging, as the added battery presents a challenge to engineers and may result in either a larger vehicle than otherwise or a vehicle that’s more difficult to service. Or both.

Therefore, there’s more stuff to malfunction, fail, and extend/expand a factory-recommended maintenance schedule.

Image credit: Chevrolet

Downside: We need more series plug-in hybrids

Remember the Chevrolet Volt? That intuitive little fella was a series plug-in hybrid (SPHEV), more commonly known as an extended range electric vehicle (EREV). This means that only the electric motor handles propulsion while the internal combustion engine handles onboard charging duty, like a locomotive. This means you’ve got an onboard generator to cut down on visiting the charging station, or you can completely skip any combustion by plugging it in regularly like a BEV—it’s up to you.

Because of this, the Chevy Volt was truly something special, but sadly it went out of production in 2019. The upcoming 2025 Ram 1500 Ramcharger (kudos to Dodge for its name) will be an EREV, and the rotary-powered Mazda MX-30 R-EV could come to the US market someday, but otherwise, there’s nothing on sale as new at the moment. Which is a shame, as it’s a very appealing concept.

It’s important to address and analyze common misconceptions about PHEVs, especially considering the fact that they offer so much convenience over BEVs, yet burn far less fuel and have far fewer emissions than ICE vehicles. At the same time, it’s important to keep their downsides in mind, as it’s important to be well-educated on the matter before you make any major financial decisions.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale in the mountains
Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

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Toyota GR86 and Toyota 86
Buying GuidesFeatures

Dealership and dash: Best new cars to take for a test drive

We hate going to the dealers. Don’t you? For many, going to the dealership is a stressful and unpleasant chore meant to be avoided unless absolutely necessary. However, it does open up the world of fun, drivable cars to the world of consumers, and there is nothing saying you can’t take some fun vehicles out for a test drive just for enjoyment. Just a wee taste. We’re not saying you gotta sign the papers on these things, but maybe, just maybe, a trip to your local dealer can be a fun way to kill an afternoon to sample some fresh metal you might actually want to buy. Or not.

Mazda MX-5 Miata – The impractical romance

For many drivers, the Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t practical enough to own (though some of us don’t car), but they are absolutely worth a trip to the dealership to enjoy. Backed by decades of Miata reliability and presented with new styling and features, it’s obvious why this little two-door is a fan favorite. On paper, it may seem underpowered with an 181 horsepower engine, but the power-to-weight ratio of this minimalist car makes up for the difference. Don’t believe us? Drop by your local Mazda dealership and take one for a spin.

Acura Integra – Civic Deluxe

The Acura Integra was a fan favorite in the 1990s and early 2000s, and it made a strong comeback in 2024. With a buyer-friendly entry-level price of $31,800 for base models with a turbo 1.5-liter four-banger, this sporty sedan might trick you into turning your test drive into a spur-of-the-moment purchase. Bonus points: you can find A-Specs with six-speed manuals for that added enthusiast value. At 320 horsepower from the highest Type-S trim, it isn’t the most performance-oriented car, but it is practical and engaging — so we deem it well worth taking on a test drive, especially if you’re not willing to fork over the price premium over its Civic Type R sibling.

Toyota GR86 – Poor man’s Porsche

We’ve rambled a lot about the Toyobaru twins in past buyers’ guides, but the Toyota GR86 really should be on the “must test drive” list of every car enthusiast. It and its slightly tamer-tuned BRZ twin carry the torch of the affordable sports car deep into the 2020s. This sporty two-door has great looks and receives extra bonus points for the option of manual transmission and a nod to the Trueno for additional brand heritage. While muscle car enthusiasts and large-displacement engine purists would scoff at the 2.4-liter flat-four engine making “only” 228 horsepower, the peppy throttle response and tight handling make the Toyota GR86 one of the most acclaimed products in recent memory and one of the best new sports cars on the market

BMW i4 – Just a dandy EV

The BMW i4 has dominated reviews and “best of” lists this year, and if you’re wondering why, then it’s probably time to take one out for a spin. Buyers may be too timid to drop the $52,000 to $69,700 sticker prices you can expect to see on these electric vehicles. Still, from appearances to the driving experience, it is easy for EV-skeptics to forget that this isn’t a gasoline-powered performance sedan. What’s more impressive is how the i4 M50 is rated for performance that not only parallels a rear-drive M3 Competition but exceeds it, with a 0-60 mph time of 3.3 seconds. 

Alfa Romeo Giulia – Driver’s delight, mechanics nightmare

The Alfa Romeo Giulia may be a bit harder to find as Alfa Romeo dealerships aren’t as common as some more popular brands, but that’s what makes taking the Giulia for a spin a bit of extra fun. Most consumers haven’t experienced this brand, even if it is a well-equipped and reasonably priced entry-level luxury sedan. But, since we are looking for a great drive and ignoring the price — we aren’t here to buy, after all — go for the M3-fighting Quadrifoglio trim and enjoy the 505-horsepower provided by a peppy twin-turbo V6 engine. You can thank us later. Just make sure to opt for an extended warranty if you really decide to sign those papers on a Quadrifoglio at the end of the day.

Kia K5 – A cooler Camry

Over the past decade, we have seen Kia transform from a caterpillar into a market-competitive butterfly, and the Kia K5 more than proves that. In fact, the K5 breaks the mold for what people expect of an affordable, practical, entry-level luxury car at a starting price of $25,590 and a reliable amount of pep from a fuel-efficient engine. Oh, and by the way, the GT-Line rocks a 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder that squeezes out 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet while still scoring 32 mpg on the highway, wink-wink. Do with that information as you wish.

Test driving cars for fun is a great way to spend time behind the wheel of different vehicles, get a feel for what is available on the market, and, most importantly, enjoy some drive time for great cars like those in this list. And hey, even if it turns out that you hate the car you just drove, well, at least you got to try before you buy. Or, you fell in love at first wack of the throttle, then at least you got to take that car on a first date before making that commitment. That’s only fair as major stepping stones in life should always have a little trial run.

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A motor court driveway full of vehicles overlayed with the text "Acceleramota presents: The best car deals of the day"
Deals

The 50 best lease deals and car sales of May 2024

Among our favorite pastimes at Acceleramota is mindlessly scrolling through car deals and sharing the best ones to help people like you (or myself) save money. Ask my wife. The only way I can muster the strength to get out of bed is to find the most cursed Facebook Marketplace listing that morning, and from the laughter-induced dopamine rush, I emerge. But, in genuine pursuit of the best lease deals and finance offers, nothing beats CarGurus. Our marketplace of choice for new and used cars, CarGurus, will connect you directly with a local dealer to redeem these sweet, sweet car lease deals and sales you’ll find on vehicles from all the top auto brands, including Kia, Mazda, Jeep, Chevrolet, Honda, and more!

Quick notes before I set you loose! As some dealers recently signed up with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to apply EV tax credits at the point of sale, keep an eye out for these models. Purchasing one from the right dealer could add even more savings – up to $7,500. That said, if you lease an electric car, any electric car, including plug-in hybrids like the Mazda CX-90, is eligible. In my experience leasing an Alfa Romeo Tonale, dealers are happy to pass on the savings. And when you’re in the market for a luxury vehicle, leasing can make more sense than buying anyway, especially when you can write it off on your taxes.

And don’t forget this. If you think you can score a better lease deal than what’s advertised here, you probably can. Dealer-specific lease offers can sometimes beat out what’s advertised by the manufacturer, depending on inventory and regional trends. So, if you suspect you can score an even hotter lease deal, then by all means, contact your local dealers, which you can do through consumer sites like CarGurus.

(Editor’s Note: Updated April 30, 2024. See updated pricing and new/refreshed offerings from Acura and Land Rover!)

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Acura deals and finance offers

2024 Acura MDX | $589 per month for 24 months ($5,999 due at signing)

Acura MDX
Image credit: Acura

Acura’s lovable, spacious, and dynamic crossover SUV has proven to be an endearing and honest-to-goodness luxury product despite lacking any ultra-advanced tech gimmicks or outlandish styling that rivals may have. Instead, the MDX, which we’ve sampled in its Type S performance trim, delivers luxury in the form of a plush ride, expansive glass with great outward visibility, and an ergonomic interior with a healthy dose of good ol’ reliable physical buttons for managing climate and stereo controls.

2024 Acura Integra | $349 per month for 24 Months ($4,999 due at signing)

2024 Acura Integra
Image credit: Acura

The Integra has a more defined and premium feel than other vehicles in its category, Civic-based or not. While it might not be as flashy as its rival companies, it certainly makes up for those shortcomings in how it handles the road smoothly and safely. It’s a decent value for its proportions and a worthwhile successor to the old Integra nameplate, complete with a decent and lengthy warranty compared to its rivals in this space.

Audi deals and finance offers

2024 Audi Q5 | $523 per month for 36 Months ($4,917 due at signing)

2024 Audi Q5
Image credit: Audi

Audio continues its history of comfort with the Q5. This luxury SUV is superbly quiet for its size, but they do say true luxury whispers. This model adds heated steering wheels as a standard. So if chilly morning commutes are a part of your week, this good be a lifesaver. Speaking of which, the Q5 faired well in crash tests. This paired with automated emergency braking, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts you’ll feel more than secure even with up to five passengers.

2024 Audi A3 | $440 per month for 36 Months ($3,834 due at signing)

2024 Audi A3
Image credit: Audi

For 20 years, the A3 has been an affordable small sudan and steady seller for Audi around the world. A more fuel-efficient entry makes this a great day-to-day sedan for the aspiring yuppie. The A3 is a bit more expensive than comparable vehicles but it is a smidge more performance-focused with a dose of added modernity and maturity. So what do you need for a few extra thousand? But all signs point to this being a dream to drive in all types of weather.

Buick deals and finance offers

2024 Buick Envista | $239 per month for 24 Months ($3,480 due at signing)

2024 Buick Envista
Image credit: Buick

The Envista is incredibly versatile, and it should cost an arm and a leg… But it doesn’t. Given the current market, this subcompact SUV is very affordable and well worth the investment. Buick designed this with a beautiful exterior, giving off the vibe that it’s a high-end luxury vehicle when it’s also a spunky, fuel-sipping crossover. It’s a good size for those who do not want to commit to a much larger SUV but still need the backseat space for pets, kids, and anything in between. A plus rating across the board for a Buick that’s under $25,000. Now, that’s crazy.

2023 Buick Envision | $309 per month for 24 Months ($3,929 due at signing)

Buick Envision
Image credit: Buick

Although the Buick Envision was discontinued in November last year, it is still an incredibly sleek compact SUV. Its sophisticated aerodynamic lines are in line with that of past Buicks. Exceptional fuel efficiency and smooth cruising have made this the 14th most reliable luxury and small compact SUV at iseecars.com. With heated seats and a heated steering wheel, this is a fan favorite for drivers in chillier climates. And the smart All-Wheel Drive means it tackles snow effortlessly.

2024 Buick Enclave | $479 per month for 24 Months ($4,977 due at signing)

Buick Enclave
Image credit: Buick

Buick is known for luxury, and they didn’t skimp on those details when designing the Enclave. A roomy interior means you can take up to seven passengers on your next trip, of which you’ll be riding in style. Every detail was well thought out with the lavishness you want from Buick. Plus, there is a moonroof for a panoramic view of the night sky. This is a dream for stargazers. The Enclave has a predicted reliability score of 85 out of 100, according to J.D. Power, which is great for an SUV of this stature.

BMW deals and finance offers

2024 BMW i4 | $499 per month for 36 Months ($4,599 due at signing)

2024 BMW i4
Image credit: BMW

BMW enters the all-electric chat. The i4 is a Gran Coupe that delivers a maximum range of up to 307 miles of smooth driving. With a driving performance that charts better than the gas-powered M cars that preceded it, this BMW is a fair entry into EVs. Now in it’s fifth-generation the eDrive technology is vastly improved. Even the position of the battery has changed the car’s center of gravity to ensure a smooth and secure ride every time. High-tensile steel and aluminum were used to mold this vehicle into a sleek beautiful car like only BMW could design.

2024 BMW X1 | $579 per month for 36 Months ($4,589 due at signing)

2024 BMW X1
Image credit: BMW

The BMW X1 is a classier station wagon. Just kidding, it’s BMW’s most affordable SUV, and there’s currently a lease deal on the all-wheel-drive, turbo four-banger xDrive28i. The X1 rates exceptionally on many lists in several categories and is probably one of the best SUVs available currently. Customers have noted its quick reflexes and roomy cabin, making it perfect no matter if it’s run to the grocery store or a jaunt out in the woods. A Benz for all seasons.

Jeep deals and finance offers

2023 Jeep Renegade | $339 per month for 42 Months ($4,599 due at signing)

Jeep Renegade
Image credit: Jeep

Outside of having a totally badass name, the Jeep Renegade is a solid and affordable SUV. This is Jeep’s smallest vehicle, and while this will be the year you’ll find it in America and Canada, there is still plenty of value in it. It’s dang roomy for its size, and the fuel efficiency is excellent, whether you’re running around town or heading into the wilderness for a camping trip. While it might not be as agile as its brother, the Wrangler, it handles bumps and humps better than many of its competitors.

2024 Jeep Wrangler | $349 per month for 36 Months ($4,899 due at signing)

Jeep Wrangler
Image credit: Jeep

Speak of the devil! The current-gen JL Wangler is the best version to ever exist. Packed with all the features, toughness, and reliability of previous generations, everything got upgraded. This off-road legend is timeless and always gets the job done. With a comfy interior and higher-end trims, you’d imagine this to be a much more costly vehicle than it is. There is a reason everyone knows the Wrangler. Trustworthiness and solid safety will earn you a legacy like that. 

Cadillac deals and finance offers

2024 Cadillac CT4 | $399 per month for 36 Months ($3,739 due at signing)

Cadillac CT4
Image credit: Cadillac

A solid entry in the luxury car space, the Cadillac CT4 is a compact premium sports sedan whose performance more than makes up for its size, thanks to the Camaro-based Alpha Platform chassis. This sporty and reasonably priced sedan allows those with a smaller budget to still enjoy the opulence of a Caddy. The Cadillac Smart System safety tech suite is really where the car shines and makes it worth every penny.

2024 Cadillac XT4 | $469 per month for 36 Months ($3,509 due at signing)

Cadillac XT4
Image credit: Cadillac

Cadillac’s smallest SUV is certainly big on details. A feature that truly makes this feel like a vehicle of the future is exterior LED lighting. Stay with me. Now, both the front and the rear have IntelliBeam auto high-beam. This is such a cool look on a very sleek SUV. With a nine-speed automatic transmission, front- or all-wheel drive, and a turbocharged engine, the XT4 certainly has speed on its side. If you think it’s time to own a Cadillac, you won’t regret this one. 

Chrysler deals and finance offers

2024 Chrysler Pacifica | $564 per month for 36 Months ($4,069 due at signing)

2024 Chrysler Pacifica
Image credit: Chrysler

My favorite thing about the Chrysler Pacifica is that it was so obviously used in product placement for a certain era of time, like in the Desperate Housewives PC game in 2012. A few Chryslers were but the Pacifica was prominent. But I digress, it has remained a best-seller for Chrysler and a fan favorite for soccer moms nationwide. It is, after all, America’s most-awarded all-wheel-drive minivan. This version is the only van that offers both gas and plug-in power.

Hyundai deals and finance offers

2024 Hyundai Elantra | $199 per month for 36 Months ($3,499 due at signing)

Image credit: Hyundai

One of the most affordable cars on the market, the Hyundai Elantra is in a class all its own. The 2024 version sees leaps in both tech and styling. The modern and streamlined shape makes it perfectly stylish for every day and long-haul journeys. This compact sedan also allows you to turn your phone into a key. Create a digital key to share with loved ones so they can unlock doors without your assistance. Integrating technology seamlessly into our vehicles and lives is all we’ve dreamed of.

2024 Hyundai Kona | $232 per month for 36 Months ($4,012 due at signing)

Image credit: Hyundai

The Kona is on the smaller side of SUVs, yet it manages all weather conditions with confidence and skill. Don’t let size be a deterrent; this is a safe and featureful vehicle. The Kona’s all-wheel drive maintains a firm grip on the slickest of streets, making it a great pick for locations with ever-changing forecasts.

Mazda deals and finance offers

2024 Mazda CX-30 | $244 per month for 36 Months ($2,999 due at signing)

Image credit: Mazda

Elegance was certainly in the minds of the designers for the Mazda CX-30. It quite literally is a work of art. Light and shadow are perfectly captured as this vehicle moves at all speeds; a constantly shifting S-curve dances along the doors. But it is also there as you admire the car from different angles, even at a standstill. It’s a beautiful illusion. The CX-30 is also one of the safest and most affordable vehicles on this list, with a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Alfa Romeo deals and finance offers

2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia | $519 per month for 42 Months ($5,550 due at signing)

Image credit: Alfa Romeo

An Italian with luxury and performance, no, not that car maker. We stan the other famous brand, Alfa Romeo, ’round these parts. The Giulia is no exception; the quality and horsepower we’ve come to love from this renowned manufacturer are well on display. With its roots deep in motorsports, why wouldn’t it produce a car with the most powerful standard turbo engine in its class? The Quadrifoglio isn’t just a good luck charm. It’s a status symbol.

2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale | $379 per month for 24 Months ($5,210 due at signing)

Image credit: Alfa Romeo

Another beautiful Alfa Romeo makes the list. When I saw this at the 2023 New York International Auto Show, I gasped. It’s actually breathtaking. And as you would expect from Alfa Romeo, the Tonale handles like a dream. Our founder, Gabe Carey, also agrees with the sheer brilliance of the Tonale’s performance and appearance. We here at Acceleramota would rather be in an Alfa than a Ferarri. Sorry, not sorry.

Honda deals and finance offers

2024 Honda Accord | $279 per month for 36 Months ($3,669 due at signing)

2024 Honda Accord driving quickly around a corner on a public road
Image credit: Honda

Built for everyday driving, the Honda Accord is a popular midsize sedan for a good reason. Responsive steering, braking, and a comfortable ride are all reasons why you’ll find this model at the top of many lists. While this deal is only for the LX base trim, you’re getting the basics like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a slew of driver-assistance features.

2024 Honda CR-V | $319 per month for 36 Months ($3,499 due at signing)

Image credit: Honda

The CR-V is a top-seller car for Honda. This sporty hybrid is rugged yet still sleek and efficient. It’s a distinctive style for sure, less angular and Gundam-esque than Toyota’s design language. You don’t need to be heading out for a weekend of camping to truly get the most out of this vehicle. So many of the features make everyday life easier, like the hands-free access power tailgate. Imagine loading in groceries and having the ease of the door just opening with a wave of the foot. What a time to be alive.

Nissan deals and finance offers

2024 Nissan Altima SV | $269 per month for 36 Months ($3,239 due at signing)

Image credit: Nissan

Manufacturers are getting better with safety and technology, and Nissan is at the forefront. The very reliable Altima is right there, ready to keep you safe should you dare exploit that BIG ALTIMA ENERGY. The intelligent all-wheel drive system remains vigilant on the state of the road and can react quickly. A feature like this is so important for driving in busy areas or long commutes. America loves this car for a very good reason.

2024 Nissan Sentra | $239 per month for 36 Months ($2,589 due at signing)

Image credit: Nissan

If you’re looking for efficiency, the Sentra is an excellent option. The 2024 version enhances every drive you take with cutting-edge technology, a dynamic style, agile performance, and a luxurious inside and out. Make your commute a little more comfortable with smooth handling and intelligent climate control.

Toyota deals and finance offers

2024 Toyota Highlander | $459 per month for 36 Months ($4,999 due at signing)

Toyota Highlander
Image credit: Toyota

A tried and true best-seller, the Toyota Highlander is definitely one of the best out there. Year after year, even little tweaks make this a highly desirable SUV. Everything about it was designed with the rugged outdoorsman (and woman) in mind. Its ability to handle all terrain with control and ease means there are very few places you wouldn’t be safe driving this. And that big ol’ turbo powertrain means plenty of torque to get up and over any obstacle. 

2024 Toyota RAV4 LE | $329 per month for 36 Months ($4,999 due at signing)

Image credit: Toyota

The RAV4 was made for the outdoors but handles just as beautifully in the ‘burbs or city. A darling vehicle for Toyota, the RAV4 is prepared to take you and your family anywhere. This compact crossover SUV is prepared to navigate trails with ease just as smoothly as it cruises the highway.

2024 Toyota Camry | $319 per month for 36 Months ($3,999 due at signing)

Image credit: Toyota

There is a very good reason the Toyota Camry is America’s best-selling midsize sedan. It’s everything you look for in a vehicle: style, performance, and safety. This sleek, smooth car has been a US fan favorite for 21 years, and the 2024 version keeps that tradition alive and well.

Kia deals and finance offers

2024 Kia Carnival | $399 per month for 36 Months ($3,499 due at signing)

Image credit: Kia

It’s like they always say: there ain’t no carnival like a Kia Carnival. This eight-passenger minivan features a spacious interior, cutting-edge safety tech, CarPlay, Android Auto, and, of course, it wouldn’t be a minivan without power sliding doors. Bear in mind that this deal only applies to the most basic LX trim.

2023 Kia EV6 | $299 per month for 36 Months ($4,499 due at signing)

Image credit: Kia

Heart set on an electric SUV? The Kia EV6 is a stylish midsize option with decent cargo along with sharp steering and handling. Its performance is impressive, too – you’re looking at Kia’s most powerful production model, complete with 576 horsepower. Go from 0-60 in only 3.4 seconds at a big discount. While this price is exclusive to the rear-wheel drive Wind model, check with your dealer because there may be incentives on other trims, including the all-wheel drive version.

2023 Kia Forte | $199 per month for 24 Months ($3,499 due at signing)

Image credit: Kia

The Kia Forte is a sophisticated little sedan with above-average utility and great value for the money. With a long list of available amenities, this comfy ride is an affordable dream for commutes and trips. The Forte offers excellent value when paired with good performance from the GT trim, high fuel efficiency, and a comprehensive warranty.

Subaru deals and finance offers

2024 Subaru Outback | $305 per month for 36 Months ($3,055 due at signing)

Image credit: Subaru

TikTok’s favorite manufacturer, Subaru, has rizz. The Outback is an excellent SUV and, for years, has outranked others in this category. Subaru boasts that 97% of Outbacks purchased in the last decade are still on the road today, so this is a very good investment to make. Those engineers are doing something very right; the Outback has become the definition of reliability and durability.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek | $299 per month for 36 Months ($2,549 due at signing)

Image credit: Subaru

A compact SUV paired with Subaru’s legendary Asymmetrical All-Wheel Drive traction makes this a killer pick for those on the go and off to the forest. The 2024 Crosstrek goes hard. This is the safest version of the vehicle that’s ever been on the market. Subaru upgraded their EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, as well as other detection sensors, to alert at a moment’s notice. Very smart to have in low visibility areas. They have also improved their Starlink connection for extra safety, which could be handy in dark, isolated woods.

2024 Subaru Impreza | $249 per month for 36 Months ($2,549 due at signing)

Image credit: Subaru

The 2024 Impreza is the ultimate all-weather vehicle, packed with cutting-edge technology, premium engineering, and a versatile, sleek hatchback style. For this reason, the Impreza was selected by experts at IntelliChoice as a SmartChoice winner for High Retained Value for two consecutive years.

Chevy finance deals and offers

2024 Chevy Malibu | $319 per month for 36 Months ($4,999 due at signing)

Chevrolet Malibu
Image credit: Chevrolet

Looking for an affordable midsize car for the whole family? We like the Chevy Malibu as an option. The Malibu is a reliable and competent sedan that’s kind of sexy and handles well. Honestly, if you need a car you wouldn’t mind letting your teen or young adult kid drive, at least you know it’s safe and sturdy. This almost decade vehicle has some staying power, it’s wallet-friendly, cushy, and spacious. 

2024 Chevy Blazer | $309 per month for 24 Months ($4,919 due at signing)

Chevrolet Blazer
Image credit: Chevrolet

My college truck was a 2001 Chevy Blazer. I drove it all over the mountains of Virginia and Pennsylvania. I loved this SUV, and so did my dog. I moved to NYC in this, so I can vouch for the roominess of it. There are tons of space for pets, friends, boxes, and even skiing equipment. I still think about how beautifully this handled in feet of snow and icy roads and had tons of torque to get up the entire side of a hill to a ski resort. The Blazer is definitely a vehicle I’d recommend for the sporty types. This 2024 version is one of the best yet. 

2023 Chevy Bolt EV | $309 per month for 36 Months (up to $4,919 due at signing)

2023 Chevy Bolt parked in front of attached garage
Image credit: Chevrolet

For the longest time, the Chevy Bolt EV compact hatchback was the EV price defender’s greatest weapon against their adversaries. Not only is it affordable, but it squeezes a lot of power into a compact package. Making considerably more horsepower and torque than the Chevy Sonic it supplanted, the standard Bolt EV can zip from 0-60 in just 6.5 seconds while carrying five passengers up to 259 miles at a time.

2024 Chevy Camaro LT1 | $279 per month for 24 Months (up to $6,689 due at signing)

2023 Camaro (silver) and 2023 Camaro (red) facing opposite directions
Image credit: Chevrolet

Few things scream American more than a V8, but alas, 2023 marked the beginning of the end for big block, high-displacement engines. So, why not make the most of it by leasing one of the last great muscle cars, the Chevy Camaro? Get ’em while they’re hot… and going out of production. The LT1 trim, as the name suggests, shares its 6.2-liter LT1 V8 small block engine with the Corvette C7, making 455 horses and 455 lb-ft of torque. Ain’t nothing wrong with that! Although current Chevy lessees can get away with putting $5,189 down, you will have to plunk down a sizable chunk of change if you’re new to the brand.

GMC deals and finance offers

2023 GMC Canyon | $369 per month for 36 Months ($7,999 due at signing)

2023 GMC Canyon
Image credit: GMC

This is GMC’s all-grown-up big-boy truck, and it is stellar. Although it is pricer than its counterpart (Chevy’s Colorado), this third-gen Canyon is turbo-charged and made very specifically for off-road. This is a workhorse of a pickup truck. With upgraded suspension, robust turbocharged torque, and supreme pulling power, the Canyon will quite literally get the jobs done on all terrain.

Dodge lease deals and finance offers

2023 Dodge Charger | $429 per month for 42 Months ($5,649 due at signing)

Image credit: Dodge

We are a bit biased here, but this is a good-looking car. This might also be sentimental, with the production of the Charger coming to an end, but it’s still a stunning piece of ingenuity. Dodge is releasing six packages inspired by some of the make’s most iconic looks. Whether on the racetrack or just cruising on the highway, the horsepower will have a special place in history and our hearts. Probably a good idea to grab one now, even if it’s just a cozy SXT cruiser.

2023 Dodge Challenger | $399 per month for 42 Months ($5,699 due at signing)

Image credit: Dodge

Past and present, the Dodge Challenger is a stunner. Even in its modern iteration, there is something beautifully timeless about it. Dodge knows how to make pretty perfect muscle cars. Another make getting sent to the junkyard in the sky, the 2023 Dodge Challenger is a glorious send-off version. The incredible horsepower and speed are something to behold for years to come. Instant cool points here, and right now, you can snag a plush SXT at a comparatively low cost.

Volkswagen lease deals and finance offers

2024 Volkswagen Tiguan | $289 per month for 36 Months ($2,999 due at signing)

Image credit: Volkswagen

Its spacious cabin comfortably holds up to seven people. It comes standard with heated front seats, and right now, lessees in select regions can take home the S model with 4Motion all-wheel drive for $299 per month – that’s like half the price of a monthly parking spot in NYC!

2024 Volkswagen Jetta | $279 per month for 36 Months ($2,999 due at signing)

Image credit: Volkswagen

An American fan-favorite, the VW Jetta is a modern sedan that is actually cool. Volkswagen doesn’t overlook any detail in this update. All materials were carefully selected to make the interior as cozy as possible, like a home away from home. This is especially true with a state-of-the-art digital cockpit for an intuitive user experience. Clear, concise driving information helps you get anywhere safely and efficiently. We get why this is a hit.

Ford lease deals and finance offers

2024 Ford Escape | $393 per month for 48 Months ($3,601 due at signing)

2023 Ford Escape side profile (red)
Image credit: Ford

While the Ford Escape might not be the most exciting car on the road, sometimes you just need an affordable, reliable daily to get you from point A to point B without spending half your salary on fuel. And that’s exactly what the Escape is: a practical, front-wheel drive family hauler with the option of all-wheel drive across trim levels. But even without any upgrades, the 2023 Escape includes all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from modern vehicles, including a touchscreen infotainment system, a backup camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system.

2023 Ford Explorer | $496 per month for 36 Months ($4,855 due at signing)

Image credit: Ford

“Built Ford Tough” is a very true statement, and no vehicle exemplifies this better than the Explorer. This SUV was made to work, as it can tow up to 5,600 lbs. The Class IV Trailer Tow Package makes bringing your camper or boat along on your wilderness vacation quite simple. You don’t need to love the great outdoors to get the most out of the Explorer, but it doesn’t hurt. With Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Technology, stay completely in control no matter where you roam.

Volvo lease deals and finance offers

2024 Volvo V60 Cross Country | $609 per month for 36 months ($3,985 due at signing)

Image credit: Volvo

A roomy, hardy, and reliable wagon built for all adventures. The Volvo V60 Cross Country can literally weather all storms and road conditions. Regenerative braking with this mild hybrid means that energy gets stored in the  48V battery, and this helps cut fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions.  With all-wheel drive, an off-road mode, and high ground clearance, this is everything outdoorsy people search for in a car.

2024 Volvo S60 | $435 per month for 36 Months ($3,909 due at signing)

Image credit: Volvo

Volvo’s mild hybrids save fuel without sacrificing performance in the process, and their S60 is a beautiful example of this. The S60’s smooth takeoffs and gentle acceleration tackle the streets of cities and bumpy highways with ease. If you didn’t love driving before, you will after experiencing this car.

Mercedes lease deals and finance offers

2023 Mercedes S-Class | $1,349 per month for 36 Months ($10,763 due at signing)

Image credit: Mercedes-Benz

It’s okay to be posh; there is no judgment here. Every year, the S-Class evolves into a more intuitive and advanced vehicle, and that’s exactly what embodies the Mercedes-Benz User Experience. The sportiness of this sedan and its very recognizable grille not only help it stand out in the mix but also make it unmistakably an S-Class. This is kind of a beauty and brains situation, and it gets our thumbs up.

Porsche lease deals and finance offers

2024 Porsche Taycan | $949 per month for 39 Months ($9,829 due at signing)

Image credit: Porsche

Unlike VW, its more affordable sibling, it’s not cheap to own a Porsche, and the Taycan is no exception. Despite its $90,900 starting price, the base model Taycan might not keep up with the Tesla Model S in a straight line, but its two-speed transmission on the rear axle, superb handling and suspension system, and sportier interior make it a great family cruiser that’s still plenty capable on a track or a backroad. And now you can score one for under a grand a month for 39 months.

2024 Porsche Macan | $849 per month for 39 Months ($8,649 due at signing)

Image credit: Porsche

One might expect the 2024 Porsche Macan to cost an ungodly amount, but it’s quite reasonable. The Macan is Porsche’s other bread-and-butter sports ute behind the Cayenne and will soon be their second EV alongside the Taycan sedan. Porsche was able to create this Macan with a strong emphasis on the brand’s signature driving dynamics and steering feel. They ate with this model, and you’ll definitely turn heads cruising in it.

Land Rover deals and finance offers

2024 Land Rover Range Rover Velar | $849 per month for 36 months ($6,995 due at signing)

Land Rover Range Rover Velar
Image credit: Land Rover

Make a statement with the other lil’ Range Rover in Land Rover’s opulent arm. Arguably the sleekest and prettiest of the Rover SUVs, the Velar will be sure to turn heads with that deep front fascia and clean, mature rear fascia. Base Velars utilize a 2.0-liter turbo-four to output a respectable 247 horsepower and 269 pound-feet through an eight-speed auto, and Range Rover’s typical suite of drive modes and terrain settings are available for those who dare venture off the beaten Rodeo Drive valet driveway.

2024 Land Rover Defender | $829 per month for 36 Months ($7,495 due at signing)

2024 Land Rover Defender
Image credit: Land Rover

Every good list should include something a little high-end. Enter the Land Rover Defender. Is it silly expensive? Yes. Is it worth that price tag? Also, yes. When you look up the very definition of off-road there will be a picture of the Defender. Combine the sexy, flowing Land Rover box design with a beautiful, luxurious interior, and you get a winner. It could be more fuel-efficient, but when you look this good, that’s a small price to pay for everything else being excellent.

Best car subscription deals

Finn | $200 off first month

Promo code: FINN11XACCELERAMOTA200

Image credit: Finn

Finn is completely changing the process of what it’s like to shop for cars. In fact, we called it the best car subscription you’ll find in 2023. Browse its selection online of an ever-growing catalog of different makes and models, select your subscription term length, and then confirm your order. Your car will be delivered right to you if you live in the Northeast. And right now, we have an exclusive discount to save $200 on the first month of your subscription. Just use the code FINN11XACCELERAMOTA200.

Car accessories, merch, and collectibles

RevMatch | 15% off ANY coffee bag

Promo Code REDLINE15

Image credit: RevMatch

Don’t go falling asleep at the wheel. RevMatch has a wide selection of small-batch, craft-roasted coffee to help you start your engines (wake up in the morning). Right now, you can use the promo code REDLINE15 to receive 15% off everything on the site.

Acceleramota Merch | 20% off

Promo code: INSTANTTORQUE20

We’ve finally launched our merch store! And, starting off, we have a selection of T-shirts, crewneck sweatshirts, and hats to choose from. Be sure to use our promo code INSTANTTORQUE20 for 20% off your order for a limited time.

Keep Reading
All season vs performance tires
Car Ownership Explained

How different really are all-season and high-performance tires?

Take a nice long look and tell me tires are just tires! If they were, places like Tire Rack or outlets like Tyre Reviews wouldn’t be a thing trying to hammer into peoples’ heads that there are specific tires for specific purposes. Those of you who know will know. All-seasons, performance, winter, all-terrain, etc, like the different elements in Avatar, except there is no one tire who can master all of them. Each is given a purpose for a reason, and each comes with its own array of tools and rubber compounds to get the job done.

Or so the manufacturers say. But just how different are, say, your friendly neighborhood all-season and a dedicated high-performance tire in reality? Let’s take a closer look as I swap from a set of 200-treadwear Hankook track tires to 560-treadwear Goodyear all-season performance tires in preparation for a thousand-plus-mile road trip.

Skip to section:

All season vs performance tires
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

On the surface (literally)

All-season:

My all-season tires, even though they’re sports car-focused tires with an emphasis on enhanced steering response and grip over lesser all-season or economy tires, will feature an abundance of tread seldom found on any true high-performance tire. The tread will be deeper and siping, those thin cuts that greatly help evacuate moisture, will be in far greater numbers. Notice the wide, deep central grooves that funnel water away from the surface of the tire and the thinner siping that runs perpendicular to it in order to eject it. The reason for this design is simple.

All season vs performance tires
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

All. Season. These tires need to tackle a wide variety of conditions throughout the year, using its complex tread design to evacuate rain or grab at light snow in order to maintain a decent contact patch for the car to still grip. All-season tires aren’t created equally, however, and a performance-oriented one like this Goodyear Eagle Sport All Season will be designed with a firmer rubber compound and stronger construction (more on that in a bit) to not have as much tread squirm in the name of steering responsiveness. Other all-seasons may be designed with more winter capability in mind, trading outright dry grip, tread life, and steering feel for a design that can better grab at deeper snow, like a Michelin Cross Climate.

High-performance:

Now, let’s look at the rubber that just came off the car, a 200-treadwear track day tire, the pinnacle of street-legal ultra-high-performance. Aside from being “performance-oriented” like the Goodyear, this Hankook Ventus RS4 is pretty much the polar opposite of what you can expect an all-season to look like. There’s hardly any damn tread to begin with! There are a couple of shallow grooves and some angled tread for maybe evacuating water when it feels like it on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s all for a higher cause.

All season vs performance tires
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Even the best summer performance tires’ tread is a compromise between comfort, everyday use, and street legality. However, as you climb the hierarchy of tires, that compromise fades as these tires realize their true purpose: to corner fast as hell!

Tread and overly soft rubber leave room for flex and squirm, which dampens steering responsiveness. It also removes crucial rubber from the surface where it can otherwise form a greater contact patch. More rubber meeting the road means more grip, so why not have more rubber on a car whose purpose is backroad and on-track performance? Of course, this means a greater chance at hydroplaning, too. Less tread means water has fewer places to go, so drivers must exercise caution on a rainy track day. Some top-dollar summer performance tires are actually shockingly good at wet weather grip, but those abilities gradually disappear the more focused the tire on track duty.

What kind of rubber meets the road?

All-season:

Starting with the rubber itself, all-season tires are often constructed from a softer, higher-silica compound intended to work in a wider temperature range and provide greater comfort. They can still handle hot summer days, albeit they’ll likely overheat and lose traction under the stresses of performance driving quicker than their more dedicated summer-oriented counterparts. But they can also resist freezing in frigid temperatures and remain soft and pliable. Of course, they’re no substitute for a true winter tire, but they’ll survive.

All season vs performance tires
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Construction varies greatly among the subcategories of all-season tires. In the case of a performance-oriented all-season tire, we can usually expect a soft center tread block for improved ride quality but firmer outer shoulders and a stronger sidewall for reduced squirm and enhanced steering response and traction during spirited driving. It’s similar to the construction of a summer tire but not often at their level.

My Goodyears feature the company’s RaceWrap Construction Technology, which is its fancy name for an extra ply that wraps around the sidewall and down to the bead, increasing sidewall strength and, therefore, improving response. Given that all-seasons have much deeper tread and that they’re not generating as much friction due to lower overall grip, expect them to have exceptional lifespans, with my Goodyear’s treadwear rating nearly tripling that of the Hankook track tire.

High-performance:

Tires like these Hankooks are designed ooey-gooey in comparison. Their rubber is optimized for warm weather performance and the trials of limit cornering, which can literally melt chunks of tire off and leave your tires looking like they’ve been shaved with a red-hot straight razor. Resultingly, this rubber compound has a significantly shorter lifespan and performs poorly in the bitter cold, usually anything below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving you with the traction of a Green Machine tricycle and its hard plastic drift wheels.

All season vs performance tires
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

No grip. No snow traction. And probably no chance of clawing your way out of that ditch should you tempt fate. Keep a set of all-seasons on hand should you live in a place where the winters aren’t so friendly. However, nowadays, many summer tires and some 200-treadwear tires, like these Ventus RS4s, may use a higher-silica compound in their center tread blocks for improved wet performance.

Shoulders and sidewalls are usually firmer for any performance tire to reduce squirm and increase stability and steering response, but this may result in slightly harsher ride quality. In many cases, ultra-high-performance summer and track day tires are built with extra reinforcement all around, either with extra steel or nylon belts, to resist squirming that could hinder stability during hard driving.

How they drive

All-season:

Fascinating. The all-season tires can handle all seasons.

Mostly. On my 1,320-mile journey to and from Reno, Nevada, my BRZ was met with enough rain and snow showers to have easily stranded me on my previous tire setup. Expectedly, the outright dry grip was diminished, and the softer rubber lined in gashes and cuts left me with comparatively numb steering and slightly slower reflexes than the Hankooks. However, the Goodyears made good on their mission statement by maintaining what grip was available, even as temps dipped in the 40s and sometimes well below that. Rain was easily dispatched. Any slippage I got when I felt like being a jackass was controlled, linear in its progression, and easy to reign in.

On light snow and slush, the Goodyear all-seasons helped my car stay right on course, whereas my Hankook track tires or even my old Mustang’s Michelin summer tires would slip and slide with little chance of recovery. Just as advertised, the treads and sipes did their job, and although I dared not tempt fate and eclipse these 55-mile-per-hour limits, I can confidently say these all-season performance tires can save you in a pinch should proper winter tires not be available.

All season vs performance tires
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

But seriously, if you can, buy winters or at least a more aggressive all-season with that 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol. These were good, not great. I know there are even better performance all-seasons out there, ones acclaimed for their winter handling in particular. You always get that sense there was never enough traction with the Goodyears to drive as you normally would on a warmer, dryer day, as the car sometimes wriggled about in its lane. But keep off the throttle and let the engine sit just out of its powerband, and the BRZ was A-okay.

High-performance:

Great traction for an all-season hardly scratches the surface of what a 200-treadwear performance tire can do. Instantly, the difference when swapping from the Goodyears was apparent. I lost some NVH ditching the Hankooks, which was nice, but the Hankooks could turn in quicker and bite harder in the corners. By comparison, response is ferocious. But that sheer level of grip tends to create a somewhat darty sensation that can be a bit annoying for those who aren’t used to such aggressive setups. Some of that ankle-biter demeanor may also be attributed to the car’s alignment, so I won’t pin it all on the tires.

All season vs performance tires
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

By the way, this is just when the tires are cold. Heat them up, as you should with any good track day tire, and grip rises exponentially. Unfortunately for me, you can never get enough heat into these Hankooks on a casual canyon run, even after a few miles. And Hankook RS4s are known for requiring quite a few warm-up laps before coming up to the temps they need to be at, an allegedly common quirk of the 200-treadwear “endurance” tire. Fortunately, being an endurance tire means I can squeeze more mileage out of this rubber on the road or track, with treadwear being reportedly good enough that consumers just casually run this as their street tire and see anywhere between 14,000 to 20,000 miles out of them. Proper track time, however, will see those numbers cut down to a fraction with how much grip they can generate.

In the few times I got caught with my pants wet, the Hankook RS4s were actually commendable. You sometimes felt them shimmy about if you weren’t careful, constantly reminding you not to goose the go pedal should you not want to see how quickly you can overwhelm what little water evacuation they have. I can’t speak for other 200-treadwear rubber, but the Hankooks were doable. I can commute on them. But I sure am glad I copped the Goodyears for that very reason instead.

FAQs

Can I drive in the winter with an ultra-high-performance or an all-season tire?

All-season? You can probably get away with it. Their softer compounds, wider temp ranges, and abundance of grooves, siping, and tread allow them to better withstand cold weather and evacuate moisture than a summer tire or track day tire. Not all all-season tires are created equal, and some are better than others for this task. Do your research when shopping for specific tires and see if the one you want is viable for where you live. As for summer performance tires, don’t even try it. They’ll freeze and leave you with a useless rubber compound and not enough read to grab at ice and slush. Take it from me, the idiot, don’t even try it in light snow.

Can all-season tires replace a winter tire?

Depending on the tire, sure. If where you live doesn’t see feet of snow on a regular basis or suffer from rampant black ice on every side street, you can likely get away with an all-season in the winter. Again, do your research to see if the tires you’re interested in are as capable as you need them to be. A general good rule of thumb is to hunt for those bearing the 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol to denote enhanced winter weather abilities, but even then, the best all-seasons are no match for purpose-built winter tires. If you live somewhere where the winters can get a little extreme, please consider a real winter tire. Your insurance company will probably thank you.

Can I go to the track on an all-season tire?

The better question is, who’s going to stop you? Go right on ahead. Be that silly goose. Most track day organizers don’t care as long as tires are in good condition with ample tread depth and no chunking, cording, or any other signs of damage that may prove to be a safety hazard. Just beware of your lowered grip levels and the tire’s ability to overheat under extreme stress. If your goal is to practice at-the-limit handling behavior, an all-season is probably not a bad idea as your limits will be lower, enabling you to practice managing under or oversteer without going to extreme speeds.

Where can I buy tires?

Lots of places.

Sorry, that didn’t help. Maybe our tire buying guide will. Lots of sources exist for tire buying, both online and in-person. Tire Rack is an increasingly popular and knowledgeable source and an affiliate partner of Acceleramota, with their own in-house testing team for evaluating tires and pitting them against other tires in their classes. Goodyear is an obvious choice if you like their rubber and are also a partner of the site. They also have service centers should you want to schedule an installation. Discount Tire is a popular chain of tire stores and installers, and you can probably find a couple of them in any zip code.

Keep Reading
Tifosi Sunglasses
Buying Guides

Tifosi sunglasses review: The best budget shades for driving?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when Gabe hit me up, saying some sunglasses company was interested in sending us stuff to sample. Us? Sunglasses? But then I thought about it. Most humans wear sunglasses every day on our silly little commutes to shield our feeble eyes from that dastardly ball of gas in the sky. Glare, whiteout reflecting off snow, clouds, and stupid Altimas, or direct sunshine funneled straight into your eyes all spell potential health hazards and an impending car accident. I’m no superhuman. I wear sunglasses on the road, too, and so do many of you, probably. So why not give these trinkets a shot? After all, sunglasses aren’t just for adding glitz to some snarky fashion freak’s aesthetic, right?

Tifosi Sunglasses
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

🚦Get ready, set, full disclosure! Some of the links powering our posts contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase, even if it’s not from the page we linked. Affiliate links are not always an endorsement of the product. To really help us keep our headlights shining to make more content like this, subscribe to the Acceleramota newsletter.

Price and specs

Thanks to Tifosi Optics, a fine producer of budget-friendly sports sunglasses, I had the opportunity to sample two styles of frames with two styles of lenses over the past couple of weeks during my normal-ass routine. Both had different feels and would certainly appeal to different tastes, but one thing they have in common is a stellar price point. When I titled them as “Budget Shades,” I meant it.

A quick bit of online window shopping showed me that their aviator-style glasses range from anywhere between $35 and $59, depending on the exact lens and frame. Their Rayban Wayfarer-esque shades bounce between $30 and $55. It’s not as cheap as something on a stand at the mall, but it vastly undercuts the likes of Oakley and Rayban. Expectedly, non-polarized lenses will save you tens of dollars, while polarized lenses, like my two testers, occupy the upper echelon of Tifosi’s price range. All sunglasses are sold with a lifetime warranty, and spare parts are available on select models, including the aviators. And should you need it, you can get Tifosi glasses with prescription lenses, as well.

As for typical Acceleramota specs, let’s see. 0-60 mph? Some day. Quarter-mile? I don’t know, however fast you can jog. Displacement? I’m guessing less than two liters. No turbos, superchargers, or hybrid batteries, obviously.

What’s hot?– Impressive glare protection comparable to more expensive brands
– Little-to-no slide or bounce
– Versatile lenses provide great vision, even in dimmer settings
– Lifetime warranty and replacement parts available
– Prescriptions available

Tifosi Shwae

Tifosi Sunglasses
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Tifosi Optic’s Shwae aviators are about what I expected for an affordable aviator. It rocked a far sturdier build and better lenses than your typical mall booth or airport convenience store sunglasses, albeit to say it had a sturdier build is to say it can still feel a little frail in your hands at times. Aviators are aviators, and you’re often left worrying about being a clutz and damaging the thin frame. Still, it sits great on your face and almost never slides off your nose, and the black polarized lens does a fantastic job of filtering our sun glare without inhibiting your vision much at all, even on overcast days and dim mornings or evenings. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s comparable to more expensive brands.

If I had one bone to pick, it’d be that the “scratch-resistant” polycarbonate lenses aren’t scratchproof. Interestingly, they went through less abuse than the other pair I was given, yet they seemed to scuff easier despite being made of the same lens material. Weird.

So far, it’s proven to be a solid pair of driving glasses that will be an invaluable aid once the brutal Nevadan summer rolls around to roast eyeballs left and right. And I mean, look at it. You’ll be safer on the roads and look fly at the same time—unless you don’t like aviators, in which case, I say stop being lame.

Tifosi Smirk

Tifosi Sunglasses
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Although I was more excited about receiving the Shwae aviators, it was these Smirk Wayfarer-ish glasses that actually left me the most smitten. The acrylic frame was tough enough to withstand my clumsy self dropping a few, okay, several times, yet flexible enough not to crack when finagled into my Subaru BRZ’s terrible strap-type sunglass holder. I received a brown “Honey” frame color, one of several available, that goes well with many outfits, and the brown polarized lens proved to be the most versatile, easily making short work of glare while still being bright enough to forget they’re even on your face, cloudy or sunny. There are also small rubber pads on the nose piece to keep it from sliding off your face, which is a thoughtful touch when other Wayfarer-style glasses are straight-up plastic.

For the price (a few dollars cheaper than the comparable Shwae, mind you), I’m impressed. I originally thought it wasn’t my style, but it easily became my new favorite pair.

What’s not?– “Scratch resistant” doesn’t mean scratch proof
– Aviator frame feels easier to bend or damage
– Polarized lenses (expectedly) cost more

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Sunglasses weren’t really something I put much thought into as a driver, despite how often I use them. If I receive a pair as a gift, that’s cool. Or if I forget to bring a pair on a press trip, well, that’s okay; the airport sells a bunch for ten bucks a pop. But genuinely well-made, high-quality sunglasses with quality lenses are not to be slept on, and I’ve learned companies like Tifosi exist to deliver them to the masses at agreeable prices. The Shwae and Smirk are such examples and have proven we don’t have to settle for less because better options are too expensive. Let’s not short ourselves because we’ll never know when glare will come to send us into the back of a semi-truck or sail us off the race track or into a crowd of pedestrians holding kittens and bunnies or whatever else we find valuable that we’d prefer not to hit.

Shoutout to Tifosi Optics for the opportunity, and good job on a pair of commendable products. Keep it up.

Tifosi Sunglasses
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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Used Car Reviews

The BMW E92 M3 is a modern classic immortalized by a fervent V8

The BMW M3 has been synonymous with performance since its inception in the 1980s. It was born from the company’s need to homologate a new car for Group A touring car racing. It went on to be the most successful touring car in history and has gone on for six generations over the past thirty-six years. And even though BMW has made changes along the way, it mostly stuck to the same formula that made it so successful. As much as I’d like to sit and ramble about the different generations, for the purposes of this article, I’ll be focusing on the fourth-generation BMW E92 M3. It could be said that it was the peak of M3 production, a type of car that BMW simply can’t make today because of regulations. And I think they knew then they built it, a kind of swan song, paying homage to all the M3s that came before it. But let’s dive in and see if it’s worth snagging that E92 M3 for sale from your friendly neighborhood car-buying sites.

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BMW E92 M3
Image credit: Rob Crespo

Prices and specs

The majority of fourth-generation M3s sold were well-optioned. So, a lot of cars are going to have leather seats, iDrive with navigation, and other fancy luxury items you might find in the mid-aughts, like heated seats and those cool power folding mirrors. Remember, it’s an older car, so there is no CarPlay or Android Auto without aftermarket modification. Electronic damping control (EDC) was also common. The coupes came standard with a carbon fiber roof unless they were ordered with a sunroof. In 2010, BMW released the Competition Package. It featured a 10mm lower ride height, a different set of parameters for the electronic damping control, and a set of wheels specific to the Competition Package. 

New prices (2008 to 2013):$56,500 to $62,845
Approximate used prices:$25,000 to $45,000
Engines choices:4.0-liter DOHC V8
Transmission choices: 6-speed manual, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain choices:Rear-wheel drive
Power:414 horsepower
Torque:295 pound-feet
Weight:3,704 pounds
0-to-60 mph:4.3 to 4.7 seconds 
1/4-mile:12.6 seconds
MPG:14 city, 20 highway, 16 combined 
Fuel capacity:16.6 gallons

The V8 engine, dubbed S65, was based on the S85 V10 used in the 2004 to 2010 E60 M5, with minor changes to improve reliability and reduce weight. It spewed out 414 horsepower at a dizzyingly high 8,400 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at a still-kind-of-high 3,900 rpm. It also weighed 33 pounds less than the inline-six it replaced. It has eight individual throttle bodies controlled by two electronic actuators with a massive air plenum perched atop and a set of equal-length, four-to-one headers for the exhaust. You could have the car with your choice of either a six-speed manual transmission or BMW’s then-new seven-speed DCT, which were both equipped with a transmission cooler. A limited-slip differential was standard, christened “M variable differential lock.” 

The price of a used M3 from this generation has been on the rise lately, even before it made Hargety’s Bull Market list this year. Depending on condition, mileage, maintenance records, and options, they can run anywhere from $25,000 to $45,000. Generally, cars with fewer options demand a higher price, especially “single hump” cars without navigation, referring to the dashboard construction. The lack-of-a-sunroof “slick top” will also cost you extra, especially for E90 sedans. And if you’re the kind of person who wants a unique color, that’s also going to add a few dollars to the price. But if you don’t mind cars that have 100,000 miles or more and are a common color, a well-maintained example will set you back $25,000 to $30,000 in today’s market. 

Oh yeah. There were technically three members of the E9x family. There is the popular E92 coupe and the far less common and arguably less sought-after E93 Cabrio and E90 sedan.

What’s hot?– Bonkers V8 engine 
– Balanced chassis 
– Rewarding drive
– Resilient on and off the track
– Shockingly versatile for everyday use
– Abundant aftermarket support

Review round-up

I’ve always been a fan of history, and taking a look back to see what the professional opinion havers (auto journalists) and consumers thought of the M3 was entertaining. Unbeknownst to me, the car was met with extremely high praise from everyone who reviewed it—finding only a handful of small issues. Fuel economy, which I can attest to, is nothing to write home about. The addicting sounds bellowing from the engine certainly don’t help keep your foot off the throttle.

BMW E92 M3
Image credit: Rob Crespo

“Our M3 was a sedate and luxurious sedan as well as a supremely rewarding driving machine. Docile in inclement weather and smooth enough to transport your grandparents (if you can resist temptation), the M3 was equally primed for backcountry road-smash mode, where it would fire every synapse in your brain related to driving pleasure. And then you’d find the M Drive button, which holds your preferred throttle, traction, and damping settings. With one press, everything somehow managed to get better. This is the M3’s genius. There are faster cars, yes, and there are a few that are more rewarding to drive. But of those, we challenge you to find one that combines speed, thrill, and daily driving duties as deftly as the M3.”

Carlos Lago, Motor Trend 2009 BMW M3 verdict

“With the M3’s many buttons, you can make of it what you want: loafing commuter, track animal, high-speed touring express. But no matter how you set it, the M3 astounds. There’s more front-end grip than most people have the guts to exploit, the steering wheel able to carve perfectly elliptical arcs up a winding road at foolish speeds. Where the 911 battles each corner, sometimes in a nerve-jangling sine wave of alternating grip and push, the M3 is dead calm.”

Aaron Robinson, Car and Driver 2009 Porsche 911 Vs. 2009 BMW M3

“Not exactly a lightweight at an estimated 3650 lb., needs more than just a carbon-fiber roof panel to be race ready — although from the performance numbers and driver’s seat it would be hard to tell the M3 is heavy. It feels light and agile. Getting the car to its limits feels smooth and progressive. Few cars combine this level of performance with such docile behavior.”

Shaun Bailey, Road and Track 2008 BMW M3 road test

“A car has got to be pretty spectacular to win over the curmudgeons here at 1585 Eisenhower Place, especially when familiarity sets in over the course of 40,000 miles. But our Sparkling Graphite Metallic M3 did indeed win us over. For less than $70,000, the M3 bolts from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and turns the quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds at 113 mph. It pulls an exceptional 0.96 g on the skidpad, stops in 147 feet from 70 mph, and reaches a governor-restricted 161 mph. On a racetrack or a back road, it’s a beautifully balanced and hugely entertaining machine.”

Mark Gilles, Car and Driver 2008 M3 long-term wrap up

“I am a proud owner of a BMW M3 and I enjoy driving my vehicle whenever I have the chance. Starting off with the exterior of the M3. My M3 is white, and I absolutely love looking at it from a distance and also when I walk away… kinda creeps some people off, haha. Moving on to the interior cabin. Very nice black leather with the signature BMW stitching on the steering wheel. The navigation systems could use some work. First-time users such as myself would have a difficult time unless you are technology savvy. This is my first BMW, and I am very impressed with the styling, detail of the vehicle, and the way it drives. It truly is the ultimate driving machine. The description of my driving experience isn’t included in my review simply because you have to drive it to experience it yourself. Go test drive an M3 now what are you waiting for!?”

Consumer review of a 2013 M3 Kelley Blue Book

“I purchased this car used in August of 2014 with 16,000 original miles. I have owned a 2004 M3 and a 2008 M3. This is by far one of the most exciting cars to drive that I have ever owned. The car is bulletproof. This is the last naturally aspirated V-8 made on the M3 platform. BMW changing (in my opinion) back to the straight six-cylinder was a huge mistake. This car is a 13-point Dinan-equipped car. Nothing but positive comments about the looks, engine sounds, and overall styling. Do yourself a favor if you are considering this car… Just drive one. Not cheap to maintain or fix, but worth every penny!”

Consumer review of a 2009 M3 Kelley Blue Book

“Handles great, love the engine sound and performance. Spent a lot of time in the shop, though. Dual-clutch broke, navigation broke, blue tooth broke, passenger seat controls broke, rear differential fluid needed to be replaced, etc. My nav has been broken for almost a year and says, ‘please wait,’ indefinitely every time I try to use it. The service deparment claims that their tests show that it is working fine! Not worth the hassle in my opinion.”

Consumer review of a 2011 M3 Kelley Blue Book

“Meets all expectations . Sporty and classy. Definitely a head turner. I receive compliments from total strangers. People are still impressed with the retractable roof. I feel this car is undervalued. Purchased used for 30k with only 40k miles. Great price. I will get years out of this car. Very impressed with the handling and pick-up.”

Consumer review of a 2013 M3 Kelley Blue Book

The other slap on the wrist was the early and somewhat clunky iDrive unit in the  2008 models. This was replaced in 2009 when the car underwent one of BMW’s famous LCI (facelift) updates, making the system much more user-friendly. Even the average consumer gave the car stellar reviews. They loved it for its style, performance, and overall usability for a sedan that keeps up with outright sports cars. However, as I’m sure you could see in a couple of those consumer reviews, there were reports of this German car doing stereotypical German car things. No one is perfect, I suppose.

BMW E92 M3
Image credit: Rob Crespo

Driving and ownership impressions

The commute

Working as an automotive technician has given me the opportunity to drive a plethora of different cars, including different generations of M3. But it wasn’t until I bought my own 2009 E92 M3 two years ago that I really got to know what it was like to own one. 

As a daily driver, I found it better than expected. Plenty of useable space for dogs, kids, groceries, or whatever homeowner crap I bought from Home Depot. It deals with my twenty-mile commute without a problem. With the suspension set in comfort mode, it soaked up most of the cracks, divots, and expansion joints that pepper the 57 and 91 freeways. Everything about the interior was well thought out. The controls are intuitive and have a solid feel to them. The seats, even with the obvious bolstering, are comfortable on long trips. Of course, it’s helpful that they have adjustable bolsters and power lumbar support.

If it weren’t for the outdated iDrive system, you wouldn’t think you were sitting in a car that debuted in 2008. However, despite its inability to link to a newer iPhone, the infotainment system still does the job. You just have to plug into the auxiliary port if you want to stream from your phone unless it’s a 2011, and then you can just stream using Bluetooth. Even the cup holders provide a perfectly adequate place to put your morning coffee. And by adequate, I mean I’ve never inadvertently spilled anything. Plus, on those rare mornings when the freeway is wide open, you can get to work really fast. Really fast.

While the M3 functions just fine as a commuter, there are better cars for that, which is why it’s been replaced with a Nissan Leaf. This car was purchased for two reasons: Explore the vast and wonderful canyons and backroads of Southern California and turn laps at the track. 

In the canyons and at the track

This car is the last of the old guard. An M3 powered by a high-strung naturally aspirated engine backed by a manual transmission. Driving it over the undulating ribbons of asphalt cutting through the mountains behind Los Angeles is one of the rare events everyone needs to experience.

The V8 fills your ears with the abundant sound of induction and exhaust as you push into third gear headed toward a fast-approaching corner. The talkative hydraulic power steering lets you know what the front end is up to as you turn in after a dab of braking. You can feel the tires grabbing hold of the asphalt, and even mid-corner adjustments are effortless. The brakes are responsive without being overly grabby, and you’ll be hard-pressed to overheat them on the street. The whole car feels composed and, despite its weight, agile. Visceral sensations abound, even at what one might call reasonable speeds in a canyon setting. It’s part of what makes the car so special. You don’t need to push it to enjoy it. The character that comes from the drivetrain makes the car feel alive regardless of your pace. 

BMW E92 M3
Image credit: Rob Crespo

In my mind, having a car like an M3 and not taking it to the track doesn’t make much sense. So, I took mine to the track as often as I could. As impressive as the car was in the canyons, it was even better on track. After a simple change to high-temperature brake pads and fluid, even with an amateur driver like myself behind the wheel, the car filled me with enough confidence to attack every corner with the ferocity of an angry badger. The chassis is balanced enough so that even when I overcooked a corner, there’s only a touch of understeer that was easily overcome. Heel-toe downshifts were handled easily, thanks to the on-point pedal spacing.

Even with 148,000 miles on the original suspension, it still held things together in the corners. Of course, with the weight of the car, there was some body roll when I pitched the car into a turn. The engine pulls and then pulls some more, and then it bounces off the rev limiter because I forgot to shift. But even after a day at the track, having pushed the car as close to its limits as I could, everything held together with no overheating, no brake fade, no matter how hard I sent it. 

Keeping it running

 Maintenance and repairs are the one thing everyone fears when they’re considering buying a used high-performance German car, so this section is a must. And I’m going to be straight with you here: it’s not the easiest car to work on, and parts certainly aren’t the cheapest. And yes, the rod bearings should be replaced. Mine certainly were. It’s a classic “better safe than sorry” situation because if you do spin a bearing, it takes down the whole engine. Mind you, the cost of a new engine outweighs the cost of replacing the rod bearings by a vast number of dollars.  

That being said, I haven’t experienced any world-ending failures. Repairs have consisted of replacing gaskets to take care of oil leaks and replacing service items like spark plugs, drive belts, and air filters. Standard old car affairs. The most shocking bill came when I had to replace the brake rotors. Those massive 14-inch front and rear two-piece rotors were far from cheap. The parts cost me well over $1,000, including pads and fluid. And when it comes time for an oil change, don’t think you can just grab engine oil at any run-of-the-mill parts store. The S65 V8 uses a special 10W-60 synthetic oil that you either have to order from your chosen online European parts supplier or the dealership.

The good news is that just about anyone handy with a wrench will have no trouble taking care of one of these cars in their own garage. After all, it is based on an everyday 3-Series. Just set aside some extra time when dealing with the engine bay, as it’s a bit cramped. And if you’re into modifying your car, the aftermarket support is phenomenal. Whether it’s improving the suspension, the endless search for more power, or cosmetic changes you’re after. You better believe it exists. 

What’s not?– Atrocious fuel mileage
– High cost of maintenance 
– Low front end likes to scrape on everything 
– Be wary of throttle body actuators and rod bearings in high-mile cars
– Older platform means no CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity without mods

Should you buy a used E92 M3?

The 2008 to 2013 BMW E92 M3 is not for the faint of heart. So that question really depends on what you’re after in a car. If you’re looking for something that gets great gas mileage, is cheap to maintain, and will simply function as a large, wheeled appliance, then no, you absolutely shouldn’t buy one. However, if you want a car that stirs your soul every time you get behind the wheel and you don’t mind putting up with the extra cost and effort to keep it going, then yes, you absolutely should. But you’d better hurry because they’ve already started to catch the eyes of collectors, and you don’t want to get priced out of the market. 

BMW E92 M3
Image credit: Rob Crespo

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New Car Reviews

Maserati Grecale Trofeo review: The comeback kid

After more than a decade of sporty handling and sloped roofs, it’s safe to say we weren’t hurting for another luxury compact crossover SUV. To not only add another face to the crowd but to price it higher than its German rivals, I’d say you’re either out of your mind or you’re Italian. As it happens, Maserati is both. And while its standard Grecale GT and Modena trims are the result of rational decisions a faceless corporation would make to sell a commercial product in high numbers, the 523-horsepower Maserati Grecale Trofeo is the exact opposite in the best possible way.

Up against the dubiously named but popular BMW X3 M and the universally lauded Porsche Macan GTS, both of which have undergone years of refinement, Maserati has its work cut out for it. Not to mention that once-iconic Trident badge on the front doesn’t hold the same level of prestige it once did. But if reputation is all that’s standing between you and the Grecale Trofeo, don’t write it off just yet. From a plush, high-quality interior to a fierce supercar engine ripped straight out of the MC20, you’re going to want to take this one for a test drive.

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Price and specs

Having said that, if you’re going to write off Grecale Trofeo, write off the Grecale Trofeo. Entrepreneurial lessees could be in for a big tax break considering Maserati clocked our press car at $117,500 MSRP. Damn near fully loaded with all the bells and some of the whistles, for this price, I could have my pick of SUVs in not only this class but the next size up—certainly a well-specced Cayenne S. Hell, that kind of money could get you a true lightweight sports car and a Grecale GT.

Base price:$105,500
As-tested price:$117,500
Powertrain:3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine
Transmission:8-speed automatic
Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
Power:523 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 457 lb-ft @ 3,000-5,500 rpm
Curb weight:4,469 lbs
0-60 mph time:3.6 seconds
Top speed:177 mph
EPA estimated fuel economy:18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, 20 mpg combined
Observed fuel economy:19 mpg
Fuel capacity:16.9 gallons
Maserati Grecale price and specs

That’s right, with a starting price of $65,300, the lower-trim Grecali (plural for Grecale) will more than suffice for the average Maserati SUV driver. The base GT’s mild-hybrid, 2.0-liter four-popper makes 296 horsepower, plenty enough to merge safely onto the highway. And, let’s face it, in our daily lives, that’s all most of us use the extra power for anyway. From $74,900, stepping it up to the midrange Grecale Modena unlocks the Trofeo’s premium interior touches.

Design, colors, and options

Say what you will about Italian cars (believe me, I do)—they do tend to be easy on the eyes. It’s a long-standing stereotype that Italian automakers give their designers a blank canvas, and the frustrated engineers have to work backward to bring their artistic visions to life. To what extent that’s true, I’m not sure. But it could explain how brands like Maserati avoided the polarizing—and in my opinion, heinous—trend of big honking grilles championed by BMWs. The front end of the Grecale is tame, inoffensive, and consistent with Maserati’s design language across its current lineup.

What’s hot?– Classic, understated design
– Fast, responsive engine
– Brilliant stock exhaust
– Five bespoke driving modes
– Flexible air suspension
– Dazzling metallic paint options

When our Grecale arrived at the bustling, grandiose Acceleramota headquarters in NYC (my apartment), I was struck by its majestic tri-coat metallic paint glistening in the sun. As I later found out, embedded between the middle and top, clear coats were tiny flakes of reflective aluminum, giving it that distinct iridescent flair none of my photos could do justice. This lovely shade of blue is undoubtedly the best of the bunch, but all of the metallics are stunning and well worth the $800 premium over the single non-metallic white that comes standard.

Maserati Grecale Trofeo metallic colors ($800):

  • Bianco Astro (white with silver gloss)
  • Grigio Lava (sparkly gray with bronze tint)
  • Nero Tempesta (fancy black)
  • Blu Intenso (spicy blue)

Maserati Grecale Trofeo non-metallic colors (included):

  • Bianco (generic white)

Not one of the Grecale’s three trim levels offers a ton of extras when ordered from the factory, but that is especially true of the Trofeo. After all, Maserati parent company Stellantis’s strategy to improve reliability by giving customers fewer options—thus, fewer combinations of untested variables—seems to be paying off. In JD Power’s 2023 Initial Quality survey, Maserati showed the biggest jump of any car brand year-over-year.

Nevertheless, the Grecale Trofeo doesn’t forego factory add-ons entirely. Advanced driving assistance tech doesn’t come standard, nor do some more basic features you’d expect from a car in the six figures. The heated steering wheel, for instance, is baked into a $4,200 Premium Plus package, as are ventilated front seats. Wireless charging and a head-up display (HUD) are bundled together for another grand. Even all-but-essential safety features like blind spot assist tack on a few thousand clams. Now we’re talking paper.

Packages

Driver Assistance Plus ($3,100):

  • Intelligent speed assist
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Intersection collision assist
  • Active driving assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane keep assist
  • Blind spot monitor
  • Drowsy driver detection

Premium Plus ($4,200)

  • Ventilated front seats
  • Heated rear seats
  • Heated leather steering wheel
  • Heated windshield washer nozzles
  • Sonus Faber 21-speaker sound system

Techssistance package ($1,100)

  • Head up display (HUD)
  • Wireless charging pad

Other options

  • Roof rails ($400)
  • Full LED matrix headlights ($1,200)
  • Inox sport pedals ($200)
  • Cargo rails on load floor ($400)
  • 360-degree surround view camera ($800)
  • Cargo 115-volt power outlet

Interior and tech

Don’t get me wrong, the Grecale Trofeo is a luxury vehicle through and through, no matter what packages or options you end up with. Odds are, you’ll never see a no-frills Trofeo at a dealership anyway. So you can rest assured that its old-money-inspired new-money cabin made me feel poor. Mission accomplished, Maserati.

If it wasn’t upholstered in leather, it was carbon fiber. The piano black bezels surrounding the infotainment displays were among the few plastic parts I could find. The firm grip of its swanky yet classic leather steering wheel gave me the confidence of an executive at a pharmaceutical company pretending to save lives. Physical controls were a nice touch.

Coming from an Alfa Romeo Tonale, the ignition button on the steering wheel was instantly familiar, and the drive mode selector on the opposite side was an upgrade. Adjusting the volume of my music and changing songs with controls on the back of the wheel took some getting used to. As did the frankly baffling procedure of opening the door from the inside. Pressing a button to open the door electronically when there’s a mechanical backup latch right below it made me wonder why the button was there at all. The answer, I reminded myself, is because why not?

The raw texture of carbon fiber can be found and felt everywhere from above the door handle to the center console. Red stitching accentuating the leather upholstery gave the Grecale Trofeo a sportier look, color coordinated with its performance. As we all know, red is the fastest color.

Although it’s not particularly exciting, the Android-derived Uconnect infotainment system is intuitive. A benefit of Stellantis’s platform-sharing, parts bin ecosystem is that the software has to scale across 14 different brands. If it doesn’t work for Maserati’s clientele, then it doesn’t work for Jeep or Ram or Alfa Romeo drivers either. As such, most people will get the hang of it after 10-20 minutes of flipping through menus on the Grecale’s Nintendo-DS-like dual-screen setup.

My only gripe with the infotainment, which is not unique to Maserati, is how eager it is to age. The more screens you have, the more dependent you are on software and computers, and the shorter the window of time in which a car looks and feels new. The bottom screen is a static HVAC panel, great! But then, at that point, why is it a screen and not a stack of tactile buttons I can program my muscle memory to press without looking? A digital gauge cluster is less concerning—there’s a level of tailored control over what I’m seeing, and it’s not something I’m constantly engaging with, unlike climate controls.

Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

But hey, at least we have a row of real physical buttons between the two displays!

Oh, no, that’s a gear selector, isn’t it?

Don’t forget to double-press P to throw it in Park, or else the car will stay in reverse.

Oh, Maserati.

As much as I appreciate a good historical nod, the analog timepiece in the middle of the dashboard doesn’t feel quite the same either as yet another backlit digital display. I’d be willing to accept it if it served some function beyond telling time—maybe a built-in timer for recording lap times or a way to benchmark acceleration. But no, it’s just a clock. Nothing more to see here, Gabe. Don’t question why an analog clock can’t be, you know, analog… move along.

Image credit: Gabe Carey (Acceleramota)

Capping this section off on a positive note, because despite spending several paragraphs on a rant about screens, I do like the interior in the Grecale. No, really!

If recent Mercedes are any indication, maybe those in the target income bracket for this car don’t care how it ages. More likely than not, they’ll lease it for a couple of years and then move on to something else. Then some sucker will buy on the used market for the price of a new Nissan Altima, and it becomes their problem. And that sucker will be me.

Where was I? Right. Cargo space. It has a good amount: 20.1 cubic-feet behind the second row. More than the Porsche Macan GTS, and less than the BMW X3 M.

Fuel economy and performance

Do we have to? Before I start philosophizing about the moral quandaries of driving a status symbol on wheels, much less leasing a new one every 2-3 years, let’s cut to the chase: No one cares about how much fuel they’re burning in a Maserati. The answer is 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. No one cares so much, in fact, that you made it this far and forgot I already wrote this on a chart three sections ago. You know how I know that? Because I forgot too.

Those are decent numbers. So decent, they’re boring. Both the GT and the Modena are rated for 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. So there you go. The one with two more cylinders burns slightly more fuel. If emissions are a concern, presumably because you want to hang out in your garage with the door down while the car is running and survive, you’re in luck: Poised to compete with the Porsche Macan EV, the fully-electric Maserati Grecale Folgore is coming soon. I have thoughts on what we know so far, but I’ll keep those to myself until we know the price.

For the rest of you gas-guzzling scum, the Grecale Trofeo is quick. Maybe it doesn’t have the instant torque of an EV, but 3.6 seconds to 60 mph is enough to scare the demons out of you—with an exhaust that sings like Pavarotti and turbos that flutter like your heart will when you hear ’em. Believe it or not, you won’t find a fast compact SUV that bests the Grecale’s horsepower, straight-line acceleration, and top speed for the price. The vastly lower-cost X3 M comes close, darting from zero to 60 in just under four seconds, but close doesn’t win pink slips when you’re dropping the kids off at school.

Seeing as it weighs nearly 4,500 pounds, that’s an impressive feat. Impressive, but not terribly surprising since it’s powered by a detuned version of the twin-turbo Nettuno V6 engine shared with Maserati’s halo car, the MC20. As with the GranTurismo, the Grecale is underpinned by a Maserati-fied version of Alfa Romeo’s Giorgio platform, the same one found in the late Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio (RIP).

You can feel it, too.

In Corsa mode, the gear changes hit with a satisfying punch, the suspension stiffened, and I was dropped so close to the road that, as with my Giulia, I could sail through corners in the Grecale Trofeo with unwavering confidence.

What’s not?– Too many screens
– Cursed gear selector
– Unproven long-term reliability
– Silly digital dash clock can be tacky
– Priced among fierce, proven competitors

To lease or not to lease? That is the question

Growing up as a child of hip-hop from the aughts into the early ’10s, it wasn’t that long ago when driving a Maserati was as much of a flex as a Maybach, a Rolls-Royce, or a ‘Rari. But sometime between Backseat Freestyle and To Pimp a Butterfly, the iconic Trident badge lost its exotic sheen, and for good reason.

Famously, the Ghibli sedan and Levante midsize SUV were introduced with cheap parts from downmarket brands like Chrysler and Dodge. Then there were the quality control problems, in some cases ranking Maserati dead last in reliability. Don’t get me started on its depreciation. As much as I enjoyed the Maserati Grecale Trofeo for everything it was, is everything it was everything it will be, and for how long?

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A silver Rivian R3 crossover electric utility vehicle is seen with its headlights on.
Features

The rally-inspired Rivian R3 could turn the world of affordable EVs on its head

In the documentary Objectified by Gary Hustwit, there’s an extended sequence where industrial designers for automakers describe the joy of putting a “face” on the grille of a vehicle. I think about this bit every time I see a Rivian EV on the road, with its little cartoon frog-looking “eyes.” This proprietary headlight and grille array makes Rivian EVs immediately identifiable – an absolute plus for a brand still trying to find its footing in the increasingly crowded EV market. Rivian continued to turn heads last week when it announced not one but three upcoming mid-sized crossover electric SUVs: the affordable Rivian R3, the R2, and the R3X.

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Rivian lineup
Image credit: Rivian

Rivian R3 reveal highlights

In case your invite to the Fashion Week-inspired event got lost in the mail, Rivian put together this bafflingly edited hype video of some of the best moments from the launch.

Rivian R3 price and trim options

Details are still scarce for the Rivian R3, and production might not begin until 2026 at the earliest, but that can’t stop us from being excited about this affordable crossover EV. The hatchback-like R3 and its slightly bigger cousin the R2 are part of what Rivian is referring to as their new midsize platform:

This platform consolidates and eliminates parts thanks to intelligent design, including the use of high pressure die castings, a structural battery unit where the top of the pack also serves as the floor, and closure systems that dramatically reduce complexity.

Rivian Press Release
Rivian R3
Image credit: Rivian

Similar to other electric carmakers, Rivian plans to offer the R3 in three motor arrays: Single-Motor (RWD), Dual-Motor (AWD), and Tri-Motor (two in front, one in back.) The press release claims that the Tri-Motor model will have some real pep, with a projected 3-second 0-60 time.

While these numbers and engineering feats are impressive on paper, it’s best to stay cautious until we get closer to the production date. That said: you might audibly gasp (like the event attendees in the video above did) when you hear the projected MSRP. The base model Rivian R2 is expected to start at $45,000 and, given the flap Tesla absorbed over the Cybertruck’s ballooning ticket price, it’s safe to assume Rivian is over-estimating.

As for the Rivian R3? The company is hoping that the slightly smaller crossover vehicle will have an appropriately smaller price tag. We’ll update this post as we get more details, but a starting price in the $35,000 range would make the Rivian R3 a fierce competitor for the remarkably affordable Hyundai Ioniq and Kona models.

Rivian R3
Image credit: Rivian

2027 Rivian R3 Price and Trim Options

  • Electric Motor Options:
    • Single-Motor (RWD)
    • Dual-Motor (AWD)
    • and Tri-Motor (two in front, one in back)
  • Starting price: Under $45,000 (estimated)
  • Lithium-ion battery capacity: 1000V (estimated) via Rivian’s new 4695 battery cell
  • EPA-estimated range: 300 miles per charge (estimated)

Rivian R3 interior and tech

As with many newer EVs, the Rivian R3’s skateboard-style battery array allows the designers to pack an incredible amount of space into a standard crossover’s footprint. As such, the Rivian R3’s interior looks luxuriously roomy. I am 6’5″, and just looking at the pictures on Rivian’s site, I can hear my legs screaming, “Please! We need one!”

For what will be marketed as a budget crossover EV, it’s clear that no expense was spared when considering the interior. Sleek details and organic textures like cork hide the spirit of a high-end vehicle in the price tag of a starter EV. A massive center console display screen and a full LED dashboard display will surely offer entertainment, customization, and other important controls at the touch of a button.

Rivian is clearly aiming for the adventure-adjacent set with the Rivian R2 and R3. And the R3X promises to be both a high-performance speed machine and a more sturdy off-road model, offering an optional pop-up tent you can attach to the crossover’s roof. They’re calling the add-on the “Treehouse Tent” and it will initially be available for the R2, but Rivian plans to have it available for the R3 as well.

If you don’t feel comfortable climbing onto the roof of your car, that’s fine! With full fold-down seats, you could reasonably just set up an air mattress in the back of the Rivian R3 and save yourself the hassle altogether. Me, I’ll be at the hotel.

2024 Rivian R3 electric range and charging times

Rivian R3
Image credit: Rivian

As we alluded to above, Rivian’s midsided platform will utilize an all-new battery array that features 4695 lithium-ion cells, produced in South Korea by Samsung. These new cells will be 95mm long, as opposed to the 4680 cells that Tesla uses, which are 80mm. According to this exhaustingly detailed LinkedIn post, the 4695 cells will represent considerable improvements, including:

In terms of cycle life, the fast charge life of 4695 type cells is 1200cls, and the normal life is 2000cls, which is also greatly improved compared to the 4680cls of 1500.

Keven Chen

It’s worth reading the whole post if you’re interested in the lithium cell arms race, but the long and short of it is that the new batteries will be more efficient and last longer than 4680 cells. We’ll go into how this impacts the Rivian R3 electric crossover vehicle’s potential power in the next section. At the time of publication, Rivian is predicting around 300 miles of range on a full charge for the Rivian R3.

Rivian R3
Image credit: Rivian

2027 Rivian R3 engine and performance

Motor1 investigated Rivian’s new battery platform based on the info available and they estimate that despite the smaller wheelbase, the R3 (as well as the R2 and R3X) will be built with 1000V architecture. This could be a real boon for anyone hoping their midsized Rivian will pack a punch. To wit:

With three of these modules wired in parallel, the voltage will remain the same but the current available will go up considerably. We don’t know what the individual cell ratings are, but other 4695s are capable of pulse discharging at up to 10C, or ten times their rated capacity in amp-hours. This could mean available power as high as 900kW, or around 1,200 horsepower. 

Peter Holderith – Motor 1
Rivian R3
Image credit: Rivian

2027 Rivian R3 design highlights

We’ve glossed over it in this article because the news about the battery platform and price tag were so distracting but let’s be frank: The Rivian R3 crossover EV looks like it’s going to be as attractive as it is affordable. Taking design cues from classic rally vehicles like the Audi Quattro Coupe and Delta Integrale, the Rivian R3 is sure to turn heads once it hits the street.

In an interview with Road & Track, Rivian Chief Design Officer Jeff Hammoud said:

The brief I gave the design team was like, we need this to be our Solo Rally Car. So on our image boards, we had the Delta Integrale and the Audi Quattro coupe from that era… That nostalgic feeling where it looks modern, but where it looks like it’s from the future, and the past, at the same time.

Rivian CDO Jeff Hammoud in Road & Track

Clearly, a lot of love went into designing the Rivian R3, and the designers also spent a lot of time imagining what people might use the car for. An innovative “flipper glass” rear windshield flips up to allow for carrying long items like kayaks and surfboards. And to top off the back of this hatchback-esque EV, a cute little spoiler. Simply, chef’s kiss.

Rivian R3
Image credit: Rivian

We already covered the interior storage but a massive “frunk” is tucked away in this quasi-diminutive electric EV. Rivian owners are already delighted to see that the company has improved upon the R1 line’s hard-to-access front trunk.

Overall, if they pull it off, Rivian R3 could turn the world of electric vehicles on its head. No longer will EV consumers have to choose between form, function, and affordability. With its estimated sub $45k price tag and innovative battery array, we have high hopes for the Rivian R3.

Rivian R3
Image credit: Rivian

Rivian R3 review round-up

While the Rivian R3 electric crossover vehicle is still quite a ways off, some lucky reviewers did get a chance to see a prototype at last week’s launch event. So, while there are obviously no driving impressions and won’t be for some time, here’s a quick rundown of some of their thoughts:

One of the features highlighted by Scaringe during the event was a rear gate window that lifts up to allow for extra storage, especially of long items. (He called it “flipper glass,” but it was unclear if that was a nickname or something more official.) And like the R2, the rear seats fold flat for added cargo space — which he said “creates an opportunity for in-car camping.”

There’s still a lot that’s unknown about the R3, but if the R2 is meant to compete with the big boys like the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E, then the R3 looks more like a rival to the Korean EVs, like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6.

Andrew J. Hawkins – The Verge

And all of that isn’t even about the car I liked most from the showing. I’m a small-car guy (and you should be too), so the surprise small-SUV-crossover-rally-car-hatchback-or-whatever-you-wanna-call-it R3 was extremely exciting to me. I love the form factor, I love that they got their inspiration from ’80s Group B rally cars (complete with funky interior), and I can’t wait to see more details on this vehicle.

There were hints of a few neat hidden ideas on the R3, like a (removable?) storage compartment on the back of the driver’s seat on the R3X and some kind of cool strap-down blanket thingy on the passenger’s seat, but since the doors weren’t open and that car is quite far from production, those will have to wait for another day.

Jameson Dow – Electrek

The R3 looks more like a lifted hatchback than a proper SUV thanks to short overhangs and tighter packaging. We don’t have full dimensions just yet, but Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said the R3 rides on a wheelbase that’s 5 inches shorter than the R2. It also looks to be shorter in overall length than the R2 (which itself is 15 inches shorter overall than the R1S). That hatchback look is emphasized by a large rear tailgate that integrates a flip-up piece of rear glass cutely named “flipper glass.”

The interior is made from sustainable materials including cork, and Rivian said it’s possible to fit a mattress in the rear hatch area (for camping trips or sleeping on a long roadie). You also get not one but two gloveboxes inside, and the interior design is classic Rivian, although it seems slightly more minimalist than we’ve seen in the R1 cars.

Nick Yekikian – Edmunds
Rivian R3
Image credit: Rivian

2027 Rivian R3 FAQs

When is the Rivian R3 crossover electric vehicle expected to go into production?

Rivian has announced that the R3 will begin production after the first production models of the slightly bigger Rivian R2 leave the factory. The company says this will allow smooth ramp-up and delivery of the initial R2 electric vehicles. By current estimations, that means the R3 will begin production in mid-to-late 2026. That means the first Rivian R3 crossover electric vehicle will likely be part of the 2027 model year.

How much will the Rivian R3 crossover EV cost?

At the time of publication, Rivian has not yet shared the targeted MSRP for the Rivian R3. The launch press release does mention that the base model of the larger Rivian R2 will be $45,000 and that the Rivian R3 will be priced below that. An MSRP below $45,000 would put the Rivian R3 in the same category as the Hyundai Kona or Ioniq 6.

What will the battery range and power of the Rivian R3 crossover EV be?

It is speculated that the Rivian R3 will be built on a 1000V platform featuring Rivian’s new, longer 4695 lithium-ion cells. In addition to allowing more design flexibility, this battery promises to have a longer life and more efficient charging time. In official press releases, Rivian says the Tri-Motor Rivian R3 will be able to go 0-60 in an impressive 3 seconds. This would put the Tri-Motor Rivian R3 on par with supercars like the Audi RS e-tron GT (3.0s) for (presumably) a much smaller price tag.

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The ultra rare hypercar, Aspark Owl, at Supercar Saturday Florida
Car CultureNews

All-electric Japanese hypercar steals the show at Supercar Saturday Florida

While most of the world is still thawing out from the tail end of winter, car show season is already hot and heavy in south Florida, and that means it’s time for Supercar Saturday, an all-inclusive and free car show hosted on the second Saturday of every month at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Each month features an insane variety of supercars, trucks, modified whips, imports, motorcycles, and classic cars, but this show we saw something extra special: an Aspark Owl.

What is the Aspark Owl?

If you’ve never heard of the Aspark Owl, you certainly aren’t alone. In years of traveling and attending events, this rare hypercar is one of the only exotic vehicles I have yet to see in real life—and seeing it in person for the first time did not disappoint.

Aspark currently produces one of the world’s most expensive full EV hypercar, called the Owl. (Hint: It does kind of look like an owl). The Osaka-based company has only produced a limited number of this exotic vehicle, but with its distinct body lines and unusual appearance, you won’t have a problem spotting it in a crowd, even among the most extravagant sports cars in the world.

It’s no slouch in performance either, as the Aspark Owl is propelled by an insane 1,980 horsepower from an electric-only drivetrain with a reported top speed of 256mph and a nauseating 0-60 mph time of just 1.72 seconds which firmly cements its place as a legitimate hypercar.

Other epic supercars spotted

While the Aspark Owl sighting crossed off an item on my bucket list, we can’t forget about the other dozens of amazing supercars that took over the show. My personal favorites included the Lamborghini Huracan STO, which, in my opinion, is one of the best-looking modern Lamborghinis to date, super SUVs like the Lamborghini Urus and Aston Martin DBX, and both the first- and second-generation Ford GT.

Despite the intimidating name, Supercar Saturday has a bit of something for everyone. Classic Corvettes, modified sports cars, lifted and heavily customized trucks, and a handful of JDM imports filled up various sections of the parking lot, with over 100 cars to see and plenty of vendors to enjoy.

Follow Acceleramota on Instagram and sign up for our free newsletter to keep up with the latest car reviews, event coverage, meetups, and the occasional shitpost just for the hell of it!

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Keep car paint clean
Car Ownership Explained

How to keep your car paint looking clean and pristine

You ever walk by a car on the street and go, “Damn, what the hell happened to you?”

It’s me. I’m that car on the street. Or at least I was with my last few cars. Tattered. Swirled. Somehow clinging to its primer in the Vegas heat by way of a miracle.

But that doesn’t have to be you. You can be better. As a reader of this site, whether by choice or because I hacked your computer or phone and am forcing you to, you must be better. And you can! All it takes to keep car paint looking fly like a G6 is a little bit of know-how, good habits, and a bit of elbow grease if it’s in need of some restoration. So let me help you with these pointers on proper care and feeding for your car’s skin.

Buffing and waxing car paint
Image credit: Turtle Wax

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Good habits to prolong car paint

Stay indoors

This probably goes without saying, but like human skin, sparing car paint from the elements is an obvious and mostly bulletproof way to ensure it doesn’t bubble and flake off in the scorching sun or get dinged up by falling debris. Think of the headaches that can result from exposing your car to being sandblasted in a windstorm, caked in bird crap, pelted with pine cones or hail, or being pancaked by a grand piano dropped by an ill-experienced duo of rubber hose cartoon characters. Very real situation, that last one. Extra points if your home or apartment’s garage is climate and humidity-controlled, but I get that’s not a common option.

If you can’t park indoors, consider a car cover to shield your paint from extreme heat. However, this is far less safe than a garage, as the cover can trap in dirt and moisture, and the rubbing of the cover against our car, even if the wind so much as coughs on it or if you accidentally graze it, can scratch the surface like fine-grit sandpaper. If anything, don’t top your car with one without a proper wash and wax. Make sure the vehicle and the cover are clean, and make sure the car cover is properly fitted to your vehicle so it doesn’t rub on it by itself or press on any flexible parts.

Just don’t touch it… with anything

Here’s another “No shit, Sherlock” habit that people still overlook. If you’re that neurotic about your car’s paint, then minimize contact with foreign materials, liquids, and other thingamajigs as much as possible. No dirty towels. No clothes. Not even those “meat grinder” car washes with the revolving brushes, as those can miss spots, leave hard water stains, and potentially damage paint and bodywork if the universe really hates you. You just don’t know how abrasive these materials are or what foreign debris they may be carrying.

Even some liquids can be detrimental. Gasoline spilled at the pump? If left to sit for too long without rinsing off, that’s a stain right there. Bird dookie is also known to be fairly acidic, which can chew away at your paint over time if left to sit. And perhaps the most annoying of all to clean up is sprinkler water, where sediment in the water can harden and cling to the car, becoming frustratingly difficult to wash off once it sets.

Will an occasional brush-up or an accidental splash of mystery juice kill your car’s paint? Not always. Or at least it shouldn’t spell instant death, especially if we’re talking about a newer car or a car with paint that’s been properly cared for over the years. But incident after incident, you can still wear it down, scuff up your clear coat, or accidentally leave micro scratches. I’ve even heard of incidents from friends and colleagues of simply their paints brushing against the car and leaving micro scratches. Isn’t that something?

Dodge Hornet R/T
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

Goodies to protect and maintain car paint

Clay bars and speed clays

Wash. Your. Car. Wash your car, and use a good speed clay or clay bar to catch contaminants in the paint before a layer of wax or ceramic coating. But be very careful to make sure you always have a clean clay bar and that your surface is well-lubricated with water or car wash soap. Claying a dry surface can marr the paint, and using a dirty clay bar can simply swirl around the contaminants they’ve caught, potentially leaving behind micro scratches and damaging your paint rather than repairing.

Iron remover

In addition to clay bars, an iron remover can be handy early in the washing process, especially for downright filthy cars. If your car is a real dust pile, consider using iron remover while washing it to dissolve and loosen contaminants in its clear coat before following up with clay bars and speed clays. Typically, iron removers feature a mix of alkaline and acidic ingredients to tackle an array of contaminants while maintaining a neutral pH balance to not harm your car’s paint.

Paint protection film

A staple for auto salons and car dealers alike, paint protection film (PPF) is a common go-to for paint protection. I mean, it’s in the name, after all. As suggested, it’s merely a stick-on clear film you can apply to any body panel, although just applying it to the front bumper, hood, and fenders is a common application. The film is soft and malleable, allowing it to absorb impacts from debris and leaving a sufficient enough barrier to prevent most small dents and rock chips. Note that cheap PPFs may not be the safest route, especially for old cars or cars with degrading paint, as the adhesives can pull off chunks of paint when it comes time to replace the film. Some films can even degrade when exposed to extreme heat or direct sunlight.

Ceramic coating

Ceramic coating is an increasingly popular method among car detailers for protecting paint. It’s a liquid that’s applied in a thin layer after detailing, either to your car’s paint or even atop PPF for a double layer of protection. The coating cures and hardens, creating a shiny and clear layer that not only acts as a protective shield but also repels dirt and water. The coating fills in any minute crevices or ridges within your paint as it cures, leaving a smooth topping that’s difficult for contaminants to stick. Although hard and bonded to the car upon curing, ceramic coatings can wear out over time, so it’s common for users to reapply their coatings every year, two years, or a handful of years, depending on the car’s living conditions.

Wax

Although not as resilient and long-lasting as ceramic coating, it’s cheaper, easier, and still gets the job done. Good ol’ car wax, baby. Get yourself a nice bottle of that sprayable stuff, or be old school with a tub of carnuba. It’s affordable, proven, and comes in a variety of formulas and application methods, but it doesn’t harden or bond to your car in the same way ceramic coatings will, so they will wear out sooner and require more frequent reapplications.

Ceramic coating + wax?

If you love redundancy and extra armoring, you can try applying waxes to your ceramic-coated car to revive that shine and add an additional layer of protection. Some folks argue that stacking the two products has the benefit of the wax acting as a protectant for the protectant. But this carries its own drawbacks that make it less of a worthwhile endeavor.

Detailers argue that the slick surface left behind by ceramic coating is too slippery for wax to even adhere, while others also point out that even a great wax can still attract contaminants to your paint, totally negating one of the key benefits of a ceramic coating. Instead, detail companies formulate ceramic coating-specific products intended to stack on top of the coating and rejuvenate it without hindering its abilities.

Either way, whichever route you choose, if you only had to pick one, you’d end up with sealed and protected car paint.

Ways to save damaged car paint

Throw the whole car away.

I’m kidding. You have options.

Touch-up paint

This one is probably the bane of my existence because I suck so hard at blending it, but touch-up paint can be a great band-aid for those in need of a quick fix or even an actual fix should you take the time to blend the paint properly. Order online or snag one at your local dealership. Pick your poison, but it’s just a nice bit of emergency car care to keep around.

It’s important to address paint chips as soon as possible. Deep ones that penetrate straight to the metalwork open a window for oxidation and rust, which can spread beyond the chipped area. Yes, rust can spread beneath the paint and open up a whole heap of problems later down the line if left untreated.

Polish and paint correction

Swirl marks masquerading as a Weather Channel hurricane tracker and paint as faded as the D.O. Double-G doesn’t have to be the end. A proper paint correction job with the correct polishing tools and compounds can bring your car back to life! Drawbacks? Well, it’s a delicate, labor-intensive job that takes some elbow grease and a bit of know-how to do it right without burning a hole through your paint (or what’s left of it) with a polishing tool.

What you may need depends on your desired outcome and the state of the car. Sometimes, dispelling orange peel or swirls is as easy as buffing with a rubbing compound, making it shine with some polish, and sealing in your shiny restored paint with wax. Or if you’re trying to undo paint that’s literally falling off the car, you may need to take it a step further and actually respray sections of your car’s body before moving in for a paint correction, as good ol’ Chris Fix will demonstrate below.

Study up on the proper techniques and tools for your specific application if you want to take the DIY route. Or, if you’re an anxious pansy like me, consider calling a professional detailer whose job it is to do the job of doing this job.

“What I learned in boating school is…”

Learn anything new? Or did we just touch up on key habits we may have forgotten or not taken that seriously? We hope you walk away with something from our first entry to Car Ownership Explained, and we’ll be sure to have more coming your way. Perhaps we’ll even toss in more detailed how-tos on the individual car care processes for saving or repairing car paint, but for now, here are the takeaways to keeping your paint pristine:

  • Park indoors or at least in shaded areas if possible.
  • Exercise caution with car covers.
  • Be careful not to let foreign materials touch your paint, from abrasive clothes, dirty towels, harsh chemicals, and car wash brushes.
  • Various cleaning products, such as iron remover, clay bars, and speed clays, help dissolve and remove contaminants from paint when washing your car.
  • Paint protection film forms a soft, removable barrier to protect from scratches and chips from road debris.
  • Ceramic coating is a liquid sealant that cures and hardens to form an excellent protective barrier on your paint, repelling dirt and moisture.
  • Wax is a low-effort and low-cost alternative to ceramic coating that still does an excellent job of preserving your clear coat and leaving behind a radiant shine. Just don’t use it in conjunction with coatings.
  • Keep touch-up paint handy as a sort of band-aid for rock chips and fine scratches.
  • If your paint is in need of saving, a good polish and paint correction job will often do the trick.
Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo
Image credit: Jeric Jaleco

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