Tag Archives: hot takes

4Runner vs Land Cruiser sales
Hot TakesNews

Toyota selling the new 4Runner and Land Cruiser together might be shooting itself in the foot

History loves to repeat itself. Watching A New Hope and then seeing The Force Awakens decades later? Spanish Flu became H1N1 then COVID, and who knows what’s next? Fans of World War I? Wait ’til you learn about the sequel. In the late 2000s to early 2010s, there was the venerable Toyota 4Runner and a throwback-retro off-roader that shared DNA selling alongside one another. And today, it’s the same story on repeat. Toyota just launched the all-new 2025 Toyota 4Runner to accompany the downsized, downmarket Toyota Land Cruiser.

Fun! We get two off-roady family haulers that just so happen to be based on the same platform, share the same engines, occupy nearly the same niches, and will probably be priced within a stone’s throw of one another… Wait a minute.

Oh shit. That’s not good, is it?

Now there are two of them?

We live in an age where the crossoverfication of a brand’s model lineup is now common practice. Ford banks almost entirely on trucks and SUVs, while the Mustang stands as the last pony in its car lineup. BMW, Mercedes, and Audi are locked in a wee-wee measuring contest to see who can pump out the most turtle-shaped SUVs. And Toyota, while still leaning heavily into its car lineup, has been doubling down on filling every possible crossover and SUV niche with curiosities like the Venza, Corolla Cross, or Grand Highlander.

Toyota 4Runner
Image credit: Toyota

Now, it has two mid-size off-roadsters in its ranks, the recently launched 2024 Land Cruiser and the brand-new 2025 4Runner. Both run on the same Toyota New Global Architecture or TNGA platform (TNGA-F to be specific) that also underpins the mechanically similar Tacoma. Both feature four-wheel drive and run the Tacoma’s 2.4-liter i-Force MAX turbo-four hybrid powertrain. Both are being touted for their ruggedness, dependability, off-road prowess, and strong heritage. Sound familiar here? It sounds like the old 4Runner-FJ Cruiser story. And last I checked, only one of them is still standing.

Toyota Land Cruiser
Image credit: Toyota

How 4Runner sibling story last played out

The last-gen Toyota 4Runner launched in 2010, while the generation before that persisted from 2003 to 2009. Both generations rocked the mighty 4.0-liter “1GR” V6. The FJ stuck around from 2007 to 2014, although Toyota continued to manufacture and sell it in some Asian and South American markets until 2022. Like the outgoing 4Runner, the FJ is often criticized for archaic driving dynamics, which ironically also garnered praise from those who found it endearing and authentic to trucks of old. Paired with its hot retro styling, the FJ quickly became a modern classic, as used FJ prices have likely proven, even before the pandemic price booms. So why did it go away in the first place?

Well, in case we forgot, a certain economic crisis from around that time frame didn’t do so well for car buying. Gas guzzlers were out of style! How the hell were we supposed to drool over the latest and greatest Jeep fighter when some people couldn’t even guarantee they could keep their homes? It was rough on everyone, and its aftershock was felt for years to come.

As a result, new FJ sales never quite reached Toyota’s expectations, likely due to buyers swaying to the more practical 4Runner, which didn’t have its fun but silly suicide doors or atrocious blind spots. Not everyone could get on board with the dedicated off-roader, but they may just hop aboard its sibling with more space, conventional doors, better visibility, and more luxurious trim levels. They did what they had to after seven years of parading the FJ around and pulled it from the U.S. market.

What does the duo look like now?

They boast 6,000-pound towing ratings. Neat. They both feature the base i-Force MAX hybrid engines pumping out the same 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet, although the 4Runner will get a base i-Force powertrain pushing 278 ponies and 317 pound-feet. Alrighty then. Both rock double wishbones in the front and a multilink setup in the rear with disconnecting sway bars. Badass! Except, well, if you make them this damn similar, they’re bound to cannibalize each other’s sales. Or are they?

In the words of a little birdie in the car industry who gave me his two cents, there are two key sentences he told me: “Pricing is critical,” and “This is why product planners can be fucking stupid sometimes.”

Most people will gun for the presumably more affordable 4Runner, which would logically start anywhere between $40,000 and $45,000 and likely ship with the base non-hybrid i-Force engine. In theory, it can do everything the Land Cruiser can do and then some, especially once you step up to the TRD Pro and Trailhunter, which will feature a hot widebody wrapping over 33-inch all-terrains not offered on the Land Cruiser. But where does that leave the Land Cruiser, which now occupies nearly the same niche at a higher price (starts at $55,950) and doesn’t currently offer any such trim level?

“What they’re [Toyota] trying to do is cutting their cake into smaller slices,” says my anonymous industry insider. “The 4Runner buyer will be younger. Less affluent. More hardcore. The Land Cruiser buyer is someone who probably occasionally goes off-road but only to the campsite or the Grand Canyon, if that. Or they’re probably the buyer who likes the styling but doesn’t want to make that leap to the Lexus GX Overtrail.”

Of course, as he had mentioned, pricing is key to negate any overlap the two siblings will clearly have, as it will dictate who’s really buying them. “Realistically, we’re probably not going to see too many of the TRD Pros and Trailhunters for how much they’re going to cost. There is going to be some overlap, and I don’t know who a 4Runner Platinum is even for.”

In its own bid to stand apart, the Land Cruiser is seemingly leaving its old ultra-hardcore off-road image to the 4Runner. The rock crawlers, the mud boggers, and the Baja prerunners can have their fill, even without the fancy trims as it can be presumed they’ll be as easily modifiable as the last gen. The Land Cruiser appears to take a more relaxed approach in a similar vein to the far pricier Land Rover Defender, meaning it may ride plusher, be more friendly on the street with its more street-oriented tires, and be more refined with its more upscale interior. The Land Cruiser is also i-Force MAX only and features a full-time four-wheel-drive system not offered on the 4Runner, which uses a more traditional and rugged four-wheel drive with manual selection for rear-wheel, four-wheel, Hi, and Lo. The Land Cruiser has a more expansive greenhouse, whereas the 4Runner appears to be the same hunkered-down machine gun nest the old one was but now with the new Tacoma’s mug.

Interesting that they’re playing the practical card yet not offering the Land Cruiser with a third-row seat while the new 4Runner can be specced with one and the new Lexus GX has it standard. Weird.

Even so, you can still tell Toyota is trying for an SUV that may not cost much more than a mid-grade 4Runner. As my source says, it’ll be for the casual hikers, campers, or overlanders who don’t need something as riotous as a 4Runner Trailhunter and greatly appreciate the old-school boxy styling that old Land Cruisers were famous for and is making a comeback in modern SUVs. Also being a Land Cruiser, it’s not like its old-timey styling is a compromise on practicality. There are normal doors and big, expansive windows FJ owners could only dream of.

How the Land Cruiser and 4Runner will get along

Will the inevitable price and performance delta be enough to separate the two? I love both of them, and I wish for the success of both of them. There’s still plenty of overlap but also plenty of room for separation to let each truck shine on its own merits, and then the next question is, will buyers see that? Perhaps base model to base model, yes. But I’m skeptical as buyers start hiking up their respective trim levels. Those who don’t want a super hardcore 4Runner can just buy a lower trim level, sure. At the same time, the ambitious few who are especially into off-roading but may not need the likes of the TRD Pro or Trailhunter will buy one anyway because Americans love excess capability in case the universe catches us with our pants down on a leap year with all the stars aligned to create a situation where we might need it.

In the end, once the two meet on showroom floors, Land Cruiser will have its clear buyers. It will be remembered as a lovable, exemplary vehicle as the FJ once was, true to its heritage but with the added usability that not only makes it a great off-roader but a damn good car, as journos are just now finding out. But so will the 4Runner for similar, if not less, money thanks to its zealous, younger, and more adventurous fanbase. But what do I know? After all, the Land Cruiser banks on a far more prestigious heritage than a Venza and will be more refined and usable than any FJ before it. I could be proven totally wrong, and it and the Tacoma-with-a-bed-cap 4Runner will learn to live in harmony.

Anyway, I’ll take a base Land Cruiser with the round headlights, please. Thank you.

read more
Tesla Model 3 Highland
Car CultureHot Takes

Tesla’s borderline pointless Model 3 changes they claim are “updates”

There’s seemingly no shortage of Tesla slander on the internet. Some can be a little unfair, and others can be… well, Tesla sometimes seems like it’s asking for it, doesn’t it? After nearly seven years, Tesla released its revamp of the Model 3, with minimal updates that reflect the vehicle’s minimalistic styling. While few have hit the road, we look to popular YouTuber Doug Demuro for the inside scoop on what we can expect to see from the new Tesla Model 3.

Tesla Model 3
Image credit: Tesla

Quirks and features according to Doug Demuro

As we’ve already stated, and Doug agrees, the newly re-envisioned Tesla Model 3 doesn’t seem to have many new changes. Before watching the video, we were somewhat hopeful that he would enlighten us about some of his iconic “quirks and features” that would change our minds. At first glance, the most obvious cosmetic update to the EV is the front fascia, but Tesla is known more for user-focused updates, so we decided to hear Doug out.

Cosmetic updates for the Tesla Model 3

The front fascia of the car looks more like a mid-generation facelift than an actual update, and even at that, the changes are minor. The side body lines, door panels, and rear end of the car are noticeably unchanged, leaving us to believe this is hardly an update to the styling. If you are already underwhelmed by the appearance of Model 3, these “major revisions” aren’t going to spark your interest either. The good news is that Tesla continues to offer few features to allow buyers to customize their Tesla Model 3, with the exception being wheels and trim colors, so wrap shops and car customization businesses can rest assured that their place in the Tesla community will go on.

The rear end also has some subtle and barely notable changes to the rear end of the car, most noticeably in the taillight, which now forms more of the body of the vehicle than the outgoing model. Speaking of subtle changes, that is the best way Doug could politely describe the generally negligible updates to the interior.

Questionable interior changes for the Tesla Model 3

Sitting in the driver’s seat, Doug claims that although there aren’t many changes you can see, the overall quality of the textiles and surfaces has been updated. This is likely a direct result of owner complaints that the original Model 3 didn’t feel like a luxury car. New material choices on the dashboard and around the interior feel a bit like a page out of Lucid’s book, but we will give Tesla some credit for the effort.

The biggest change to the interior doesn’t even involve the driver but rather adding another iPad-like screen to the rear of the car for backseat occupants. To Tesla’s credit, the addition of entertainment features such as Netflix, Hulu, and the arcade mode is a big bonus for some buyers. Neat.

Don’t worry, though. There is one major change for the driver, and… We hate it.

If you’ve never driven a Tesla, you may feel slightly confused when getting into the driver’s seat of the original Model 3 because it doesn’t start or engage like your typical vehicle. With the outgoing generation, gear selection was available through a stalk that protruded from the steering wheel, alongside traditional turn signals and windshield wiper controls. In an attempt to make the car even simpler, Tesla has removed the shifter and turn signal stalks and made users completely dependent on the touchscreen or controls directly on the steering wheel, making us feel more like we’re driving a giant iPhone rather than an actual car.

Don’t trust it? Right. Neither do we. This is probably why Tesla added a failsafe in the form of ceiling-mounted gear selector buttons, kind of like the engine start button in a, er, McLaren Senna. Odd parallel, we know.

read more
Porsche Macan EV
FeaturesHot TakesNews

The all-electric Porsche Macan EV is more of a “true” Porsche than you think

With the introduction of the Porsche Cayenne, the automotive industry saw the rise of the super SUV, a vehicle that provides the power and prestige of a supercar in a larger, more practical form. As these vehicles grew in popularity, especially within the luxury-performance segment, enthusiasts have been inundated with options like the Lamborghini Urus, Audi SQ8, Aston Martin DBX, and, a smaller companion to the Cayenne, the Porsche Macan

The first model year for the Macan began in 2015, and less than a decade later, we are seeing this performance SUV in a whole new light: an all-electric option. Enter the creatively named Macan Electric. If the Porsche Taycan Turbo S has proven anything, it’s that this German brand isn’t messing around when it comes to electric power, storming into this new powertrain endeavor with impressive acceleration, handling, styling, and high-tech, futuristic options. The Taycan Turbo S was the full package, giving us high expectations for an EV Macan. 

Skip to section:

What is the new Macan EV?

In a bold move to carry forward the Macan’s red-hot torch while feeding into the electric car frenzy sweeping the globe, the Macan EV is a full-on replacement for the outgoing gasser Macan. It sports a unique, slightly sloped roofline akin to the Cayenne Coupes or Audi Sportback crossovers and a plus-sized Taycan mug to accentuate that, yes, there is indeed a distinct lack of dinosaur juice flowing through this latest Macan.

The Macan EV will launch as two starter models, the lower-rung Macan 4S Electric and the Macan Turbo Electric. Both proudly tout Porsche’s acclaimed 800V architecture, which debuted in the Taycan. Final MPGe and range figures aren’t available as of yet, but Porsche states both Macan Electrics will launch with a 100-kWh battery, of which 95 kWh is usable, and a fast charge time of 21 minutes to juice from 10% to 80% charge.

In yet another interesting move, the electrified Macan won’t fully replace the current one immediately, at least not in all pockets of the world. Due to varying emissions and economic standards, this new generation will fully replace the gasser Macans in stricter places like mainland Europe but will sell alongside them in other markets like the UK and North America for an unknown amount of time.

Base prices:$78,800 (4) $105,300 (Turbo)
Motor/battery choices:Dual permanent synchronous motors w/ 100 kWh battery pack
Transmission choices:Single-speed direct drive
Drivetrain choices:all-wheel drive
Power:382 horsepower; 402 horsepower w/ Overboost Power + Launch Control (4), 576 horsepower; 630 horsepower w/ Overboost Power + Launch Control (Turbo)
Torque:479 pound-feet w/ Launch Control (4), 833 pound-feet w/ Launch Control (Turbo)
Weight:approx. 4,600 to 4,900 pounds
Zero-to-60 mph:approx. 4.9 seconds (4), approx. 3.1 seconds (Turbo)
Range:381 miles (4), 367 miles (Turbo)

Porsche increases release of all-electric production models

As a Porsche enthusiast, I was once incredibly skeptical about how a brand seeped in decades of racing heritage could follow the market trend into the world of electric vehicles. That was until I got behind the wheel of the Taycan Turbo S on an empty airport backroad. While we still have a lot yet to learn about the EV Macan, our hopes are high. Was Porsche able to dial in the electric motors and the already-in-production Macan to combine into one exquisite compact SUV? Supposedly, it does all that and more.

What might be harder to believe, however, is that despite initial feelings, the Macan EV is even more aligned with the hopes and dreams of Ferdinand Porsche than most may originally assume.

Porsche’s forgotten electric vehicle history proves Ferdinand Porsche would have been satisfied

While many consumers may consider the Taycan the brand’s first electric vehicle, this technology was seen in P cars over a hundred years ago before the modern EV revolution. Porsche purists may claim that creating an all-electric model was a sin, and diving deeper away from the brand’s heritage by creating an EV SUV is exponentially worse, but many forget that it was Ferdinand Porsche who originally placed an electric motor into one of his vehicles all those years ago. 

Porsche’s plans for electromobility were far advanced for the infrastructure and battery availability of the times, but that didn’t stop the vision. In 1898, Ferdinand designed his first electric vehicle, the Egger-Lohner C.2 Phaeton. From there, he went on to develop the electric wheel hub motor before introducing the first Lohner-Porsche Electromobile at the 1900 Expo in Paris. 

So, if Ferdinand Porsche was so interested in developing an EV, where did things go wrong? The answer is something we struggle with today but have managed to balance with new materials and more powerful motors: weight. 

While the new Porsche Macan is still heavy for a compact SUV due to the additional weight of the lithium-ion batteries, Porsche has maintained their focus on a striking power-to-weight ratio and weight distribution to sew along the thread of genetic Porsche driving experience. 

Porsche Macan EV aerodynamics and design 

All-new Electric Porsche Macan  rear image
Image credit: Porsche

Porsche has been a long-standing icon in the performance segment with a history steeped in motorsports heritage. Even as a heavier, larger, all-electric platform, the Macan still fits the bill for performance and handling that we expect from the brand. As an EV, the wheelbase of this compact SUV is stretched an additional 86mm, which will surely aid high-speed stability, compensated by a shorter overhang on the front and rear of the vehicle. The elongated appearance meshes with the coupe-like roofline and sleek body lines to give it a sports car appearance and proportions. 

Although it maintains its iconic Porsche appearance and is still notably a Macan at first glance, significant changes to the body styling and aerodynamics make it the most streamlined SUV on the market. That isn’t just conjecture, either. With the Porsche Active Aerodynamics (PAA), the Macan EV drops its drag coefficient to an impressive 0.25 — perfect for performance and optimized range. The PAA achieves this through several elements:

  • Flexible covers on the fully-sealed underbody 
  • Adaptive rear spoiler
  • Active cooling flaps on the front air intakes
  • Rear, lateral tear-off edges
  • Louvered diffuser

Porsche Macan EV driver dynamics and steering feel

In order to develop a car that aligns with the Porsche brand, handling and driving feel must be prioritized, and that is clear with the Macan EV. The additional weight of the high-voltage battery system does give the car a disadvantage, but from an engineering standpoint, the bulk of this mass sits low, giving the SUV a short center of gravity and allowing it to hug the road as it corners. Take the raving reviews of the Taycan as gospel for Porsche’s ability to make a heavy EV handle like a dream.

The EV also offers a notable change over previous model years, something we have seen in a handful of the brand’s sports cars and crossovers: rear-axle steering, which is a first for any Macan and capable of up to five degrees of angle. This is an additional option, but one we hope buyers who custom spec this vehicle will genuinely consider for both urban commuting and performance driving purposes. The benefit here is an impressively tight turning radius of 11.1 meters (36.4 feet) in traffic and increased handling stability at higher speeds.

Per usual, Porsche is using this new endeavor to bring us even more advancements in technology to enhance our driving experience. We see this not only with this Macan being the first to receive rear-axle steering but also in the addition of the two-valve damper technology in cars equipped with the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) that comes along with the optional air suspension. This gives drivers an even more noticeable difference in feeling between comfort and performance mapping.

While we may have to wait until these EV Macan models are released to get behind the wheel and let you know what we think of the execution of these designs for ourselves, we are optimistic about the engineering and aerodynamics that bring this car to life decades after Ferdinand Porsche himself first attempted to create his electric vehicle.

read more
Ferrari F355 Berlinetta
FeaturesHot Takes

Here are three of the most reliable and least reliable cars you can buy

Overall mechanical reliability is a crucial aspect of car ownership. Owning a vehicle that will get you from point A to point B without issue over the course of several years and thousands—scratch that, hundreds of thousands—of miles is important, and ensures a relatively stress-free and financially stable future. This isn’t a depending on who you ask scenario, either, it’s what pretty much all reasonable folks seek in their rides.

But there are those among us who are less than reasonable: They could care less about overall assumed reliability for several reasons. Maybe they enjoy the challenge of a project, it might be a second or third car that could sit in the shop for a while, or the juice may be worth the squeeze—meaning, it’s either fun enough to drive or nice enough to look at that, so they simply don’t care. It’s all about expectations.

Let’s outline three of the most reliable cars and three of the least reliable cars, and explain why each achieves its respective title. There are thousands of cars that could fit under either column, but here are six total that are worth looking into as your next faithful (or unfaithful) steed nonetheless. Some may surprise you, too, so buckle up.

Most reliable: Toyota Corolla (duh!)

Image credit: Toyota

This may be the shock of the century (kidding), but the wholesome, modest Toyota Corolla has belonged on this list for the better part of 25 years. Well, before that as well, but it’s a little tough finding clean examples made before the ninth generation debuted in 2000.

The top reason why they’re so reliable is there’s simply not much to ‘em. Sturdy, naturally aspirated Toyota four-cylinder, a conventional automatic, CVT, or manual gearbox, front-wheel drive, econobox amenities, traction control, ABS … and not much else. There have been a few higher-performance variants here and there, but even those are plenty sturdy in their own right.

Then, regular maintenance is cheap, as everything’s small for its respective measurements: common small tire sizes, modest brake dimensions, and small fluid capacities. Then, if any of this maintenance is performed DIY, these economy-level standbys are even cheaper to own. Outside of regular maintenance, there isn’t much to look out for. Just read the owner’s manual, follow the modest, factory-recommended service intervals, and enjoy a pious life of thrift.

Most reliable: E39 BMW 5 Series

Image credit: BMW

Did you think all I was going to outline was Japanese econoboxes? Think again! Life’s too short to make a list of all the usual suspects—Corolla, Civic, Accord, Camry, Mazda 3—as it’d not only be boring to write, but also perhaps not open one’s eyes to something new and different, and even make them into a connoisseur of sorts. Not that the aforementioned Japanese fare wouldn’t, I love ‘em as much as anybody. But the BMW E39 is special.

It’s a Bimmer (sidenote: not Beamer, that’s for BMW motorcycles) chassis that’s widely loved for its looks, interior amenities, ride quality, torquey inline-six engine, and fun-to-drive qualities. It’s also firmly cemented in the era of German cars that were better screwed together, had fewer squeaks and rattles, as well as an overall solid feeling in the way it rolled down the road. Fun fact: Its brilliance is also considered to be a bit of a measuring stick.

But there are still some things to look out for. Since it’s a BMW, oil and power steering leaks are a thing and could run up a shop repair bill, or be a little tricky to attempt to remedy on your own. But really, naturally aspirated inline-six Bimmers are easy to wrench on in the grand scheme of European cars. Other gaskets, as well as suspension arms and bushings, are also things to look out for, but those should be considered normal maintenance for any car. The key to reliable BMW service is regular maintenance—as long as it’s been kept up, the car’s various systems will continue to operate happily. But when something does give up the ghost, all parts are still widely available and for reasonable money.

Most reliable: Ferrari F355

Image credit: Ferrari

OK, hear me out! Let’s say you’re in the income bracket that could consider this legendary ‘90s exotic icon as a fun car to rip around in every day, on the weekends between Cars N’ Coffee events, or some combination of the two. Maybe you just hit it big in your career, or perhaps you selected the right lottery numbers. Or, you simply have earned enough of an income over the years to stash away for such a treat. The Ferrari F355 could be a very rewarding ownership experience, and, weirdly, more reliable than other exotics.

Its heart is a high-revving, 3.5-liter V8 that puts out 375 horsepower, which, when paired with a six-speed manual gearbox, will lunge to 60 mph in less than five seconds. Do yourself a favor and skip the clunky F1 automated manual gearbox, too, just stick with the stick if you’re able to. Redline is 8,500 rpm—nobody would ever call its soundtrack lacking. It’s also well-regarded for excellent, sporty handling, better ergonomics than other high-end fare of the era, and a drop-dead gorgeous exterior and interior.

Which means it could be worth putting up with the higher maintenance costs. It’s all about context, in that if you could afford a $100,000-or-so Italian sports car, these might not be too shocking. The Ferrari parts and fluid tax is a thing, but independent shops or attempting to do-it-yourself would save a lot of scratch over any dealer. Some trouble areas are faulty exhaust headers and catalytic converters on earlier models, valvetrains that need a little more attention than usual, and a timing belt service. That requires removing the engine from the car. OK, that’s not so ideal, but if you expect and plan for it, everything else is fairly modest for a Ferrari. Wait, one more: there’s also the electronic retractable roof on Spider and GTS variants—opt for a hardtop Berlinetta or have the retractable roof converted to manual to save a potential headache. 

Otherwise, these cars love to be driven and will reward regular miles with a very even-keeled temper. Stashing them away in the garage on a battery tender for weeks or months at a time makes them annoyed, and forces them to develop leaks and shorter service intervals.

Least reliable: B5 Audi S4

Image credit: Peter Nelson

From here, it’s all downhill: let’s kick off the least-reliable list right with an infamously complex and moody German car: the twin-turbo V6-powered Audi S4. These things are difficult to work on and incredibly complex, and did I mention they’re difficult to work on? And as a proud (and often frustrated) B5 S4 owner, it’s still a very worthwhile car to own if you know what to expect.

Since this is the list of bad cars, let’s start out with the negative aspects that impact reliability: Vacuum leaks caused by fragile materials, fluid leaks, no room to work in the engine bay, expensive servicing because of said lack of room, its stupid auxiliary water pump under the intake manifold, tiny/weak turbos that eventually die, sensors that give up the ghost quicker than other cars, plenty of areas for double the boost leaks—because double the amount of turbos—to occur, too many suspension bushings that are hard to replace, and more. It’s a challenge, to say the least.

However, there are still some big positives to discuss. While the S4’s engine sits entirely in front of its front shock towers—and therefore affects overall handling—it can still be set up to handle very well with a little tuning. The reason for the engine being so far forward is due to its massive, Quattro all-wheel drive system, which gives the S phenomenal overall grip in all road conditions. When that twin-turbo V6 is running happily and without boost leaks, it’s a very entertaining engine to rev out and can make a massive amount of power reliably with minimal modification.

Though, big caveat to the B5 S4’s infamous status: Regular maintenance. If you follow the factory-recommended service intervals, use quality fluids, are aware of and look out for trouble areas, and drive them reasonably responsibly, they’re tanks. And by reasonably responsibly, I mean letting the engine and transmission oil/fluid warm up before launching them off the line every chance you get. So, if you happen upon one for a nice price and with a good service history, don’t be scared, just be prepared.

Least reliable: Jeep Wrangler

Image credit: Jeep

Some may call this one an easy target, others may be triggered and never read Accelera Mota ever again. Whichever it is, let the record state that the Jeep Wrangler is still one of the best factory off-road-ready trucks that money can buy.

You just have to, you know, put up with some occasional annoyances. When it comes to outlining issues that more than a few consumers have aired their grievances over, Repair Pal is a great resource for quick reference. One of the big issues outlined here is known as the death wobble, which is a very strong vibration caused by prematurely worn suspension and steering components. Then, ignition switch issues, leaky door seals, worn-out exhaust components, various fluid leaks, and various electrical gremlins are discussed as well. Some of these seem to be a thing since the early ‘90s, but others are a little more recent.

I don’t want to sell the Wrangler short, though. Preventative and regular maintenance, and being aware of these issues could help provide a more trouble-free ownership experience, even if the comments sections and forum posts love to make it a punchline. They’re seriously fun trucks, have such a unique driving experience, and can overcome so much out on the trail, either right off the showroom floor or after a few choice modifications. Plus, Jeep’s doing the Lord’s work by still offering certain trims with a manual transmission for the 2024 model year—good on ‘em.

(Editor’s note: As much as I adore Jeeps to death, we can never ignore the damn Stellantis/Fiat-Chrysler electrical gremlins in the newer JL models, many ranging from mildly annoying to downright comical. To my Jeep friends, I wish you luck in your everlasting war with JL reliability.)

Least reliable: Honda Civic

Image credit: Honda

Talk about shots fired! “What on earth is he on?” they’ll probably say of the ramblings I’ve put on screen here. For the record, It’s just a lot of coffee on an empty stomach. But the Honda Civic has experienced some interesting little reliability issues over the past two decades or so. They’re not exactly life-and-death, but will result in a visit to the shop to remedy, and could rain on anybody’s Japanese-econobox-opinion parade.

Once again, according to Repair Pal, folks have reported a myriad of annoyances that their own Honda Civics have experienced. The top five are prematurely worn engine mounts, power window switch failure, broken hood release cables, a shift control solenoid fault, and windshield wiper motor failure. An occupancy sensor failure, too, which results in an airbag light, but that’s a pretty minimal one.

It must be said that a couple of these are specific to a certain generation, such as the broken hood release cable being a thing on pre-2007 models. And, for the most part, these are all relatively cheap parts that don’t require many labor hours to perform at the dealer or an independent shop. Or, once again, perform on your own with the proper tools and safety protocols. More costly jobs, like head gasket replacements, are reported on as well, though those seem rare—to the point of not being on par with basically any other car.

But really, here’s the thing

Image credit: Lotus

Outlining the Honda Civic as a lesser-reliable option is more of an exercise in showing that all cars have their little foibles, and may not always meet peoples’ expectations for bomb-proof reliability. To not anger too many car opinions out there: They’re plenty reliable.

But all this goes to show that overall reliability is a very subjective topic, and Lord knows people fight each other in comments day in and day out over many cars’ reputations. We’ve all seen some version of “What do you mean the 2003 Lotus Esprit V8 is unreliable? I’ve fed mine nothing but conventional diesel oil since day one, 150,000 miles ago, and launch it cold every chance I get! It’s more faithful than a Prius!” Well, that may be a bit hyperbolic, but you know what I mean.

However, one overarching theme to all of it is regular maintenance. Maintain. Your. Cars. Oh, and letting fluids warm up before any hard driving, that’s important, too. Even for something as wholesome as a Honda Civic. Doing so will not only guarantee efficient and reliable operation but also help extinguish the chance of developing trouble areas and help it retain value.

Moral of the story: If you dig a certain car for whatever purpose, become very familiar with it, know what to expect, budget accordingly, and take good care of it. Also, it’ll be much cheaper to commute day in and day out in a Honda Civic than in a Ferrari F355.

read more
Ugly Cars feature photo
FeaturesHot Takes

The ugliest cars we still love, for some reason

Not to toot our own horn. But we at Acceleramota have developed a bit of a reputation during our ongoing infancy for our colorful (and disjointed) mix of eclectic personalities, which some could argue is for better or worse. Pfft, I say the former, all bias accounted for. It’s that diversity in our tastes and backgrounds that creates stories worth telling, experiences worth sharing, and opinions worth, uh, debating. Yeah, debating, for sure. And what better topic for the internet than to dive into the world of downright hideous cars? I mean straight-up heinous, horrendous abominations. Cars where you’d almost believe the lead designers were drunk, high, or asleep at the helm. Why not? After all, this would be no greater exercise in trying to prove to the internet that there’s more to a car’s soul than what lies in its sheet metal. So scroll on through and see what Acceleramota crew justifies the ugliest cars that we still love.

Jeric: BMW M3 (G80)

At launch, the BMW G80 M3 sedan – and, by extension, the G82 M4 coupe –  was panned for its styling. It still is. Good. Because it’s fucking heinous. Just look at the thing. You can snort all the booger sugar right out of Latin America from across the Canadian border in one inhale with a schnoz that big. It’s an Angry Birds pig with a broken nose. Even those who’ve grown accustomed to the face still speak ill of its design language for existing in the first place. But I can forgive when the car drives as well as it does. 

While the Bimmer critics are correct on a few things, such as numb steering and inflated size, the G80 M3 is still a damn fine driver’s car or as good of a driver’s car as a 3,800-pound luxury sedan can be. The silky S58 straight-six engine is a powerhouse that makes all the right noises without being obnoxious. Gone are the days of the F80’s farty chainsaw rasp. The handling and grip levels defy its weight. The still-numb steering is accurate, quick, and more natural feeling than the F80’s. And the availability of a manual gearbox is heartwarming, even if it’s that love-it-or-hate-it BMW rubberiness (I love it).

The G80 is also easier to push hard than the F80, a huge plus unless you enjoy that older car’s more manic and explosive demeanor. That said, the G80 M3 is still a hellaciously power-drunk savage when prodded and a riot to drive, nonetheless, ugly mug or not.  

Gabe: first-generation Scion xB

Remember your first car? My dad found mine from a private seller for six grand with 110,000 miles on it. I wanted a Nissan Cube. But no, fortunately for me, those were prohibitively expensive at the time. Instead, I ended up with its superior Toyota counterpart, a state-of-the-art 2006 Scion xB. We called it “The Fridge,” and there was no name more befitting. Facebook boomers love to refer to EVs as appliances. But The Fridge was a real petrol-fueled kitchen appliance on wheels. It was weird. It was boxy. In that respect, it was Adam Driver.

Like the wardrobe to Narnia, the interior of the Scion xB was disproportionately vast. Its cabin was unexpectedly spacious, with more headroom and a larger cargo area than our Alfa Romeo Tonale. But there’s more than one reason this body style went out of fashion. Compared to the turbocharged, coupé-like crossovers we see today, the xB’s quadratic frame doesn’t exactly lend itself to aerodynamics, nor does it pack much pep. Its tiny 1.5-liter naturally aspirated engine made just 103 horsepower and 101 pound-feet of torque. It was a ten-second car, at least in its 0-60 time. Mine even came with a tow hook. One might call it an honorary truck.

Nearly 20 years after scooting itself onto dealership lots in 2004, you can find the Scion xB at your local neighborhood takeover, clapped out and modified by young enthusiasts with questionable taste. As for mine, it lives on as a memory. Of cruising to my high school on an empty road at 110 miles per hour as Modest Mouse floats on in the background. When life was simple and the stakes were low, I hadn’t the faintest idea what life-threatening adversities lay ahead. That is to say, I totaled The Fridge. Ugly as sin, that car. I miss it dearly.

Nathan: Nissan Juke 

Nissan. You may have heard of it. From its pinnacle in the ‘90s, the days when Skylines roamed the streets, to the cost-cutting measures that have defined the company until now, Nissan exudes different feelings for different folks. The car that personifies the latter period the most is the Nissan Juke.

The bulbous bullfrog exterior looks like Kermit after a few Red Bull Vodkas. The interior is laden with hard plastics and feels cramped for such a large-looking vehicle. Still, if you’re in the market for this car, you don’t care about any of those things. You want an A-to-B SUV for those days you need to grab Brayden and whisk him off to your ex-husbands so you can have some “me-time.”

But there’s a secret to the Juke. It’s a fun car to drive. Seriously! The people at Nissan gave it a six-speed manual, 180 hp, and more torque than your mansplaining male bestie. The handling is more like a ‘90s French hot hatch, which makes sense as a French man captained Nissan’s ship during production. Among all the drab and damned cars Nissan was putting out in the 2010s, it delivered a characterful, spirited SUV when no other company could.

Joe: Volkswagen Type 181

The West German Army used these boxes on wheels in the 1960s. Later, they were sold to the public as a courier car, and for some reason, people bought them. Their simple design and utilitarian nature allowed for easy repairs and durability, but the trade-off was that your car looked hella dumb.

The Volkswagen Type 181 goes by a number of names across the globe, including the Safari, the Trekker, the Kurierwagen, and the Thing. This thing was literally called the Volkswagen “Thing” in the United States. The Volkswagen localization team knew what they were doing. 

I’m pretty sure the German army just dismantled a bunch of metal sheds and built a car out of them. It’s just several sheets of metal leaning against each other like a house of cards. This is what a four-year-old would end up with when trying to draw a car. The Type 181 does share the same mechanical underpinnings as the Volkswagen Beetle of the time and evidently looks like how one would render if you were to boot up Forza Horizon 5 on a Commodore 64. It’s perfect in every way.

Ural: GMC Envoy XUV

Living in Louisiana for some time during my late teens and early twenties, I found myself making loads of friends as a transplant from California. One of my best friends around that time owned a GMC Envoy XUV. It was totally unattractive but had a character that’s been missing from more modern SUVs lately. Unlike the Chevrolet Avalanche, which was a crew cab truck with a folding midgate, the Envoy XUV was an SUV with an enclosed cargo area that included retractable windows in the midgate and tailgate.

GM implemented a quirky sliding roof mechanism inspired by the old 1960s Studebaker Lark Wagonaire. This allowed for an open truck bed when retracted. Interestingly enough, the entire cargo area was designed to be water-resistant, and GM went to extreme lengths with an overkill drainage system capable of expelling 1,505.76 gallons of water per hour.

The amount of stuff me and my friend were able to load into that truck despite it having less cargo space than the Envoy XL felt magical. Styling didn’t matter, not one bit, as this was purely form over function in every way. While the Envoy XUV received positive reviews for its versatility in frigid climates and unique features, such as the ability to hose out the cargo area, it failed to resonate with the general public. Despite its eccentricities, the Envoy XUV remains a one-of-a-kind creation in GM’s history, marking the end of an experimental era. 

Roger: Chrysler PT Cruiser

DaimlerChrysler was firing on all cylinders at the turn of the century. At a time when cars were starting to lose their personality (see: any sedan released by an American carmaker in this era), they took some big swings. The Prowler (originally a Plymouth model but later a Chrysler) stands out as the most extreme version of this experimentation. Basically, a concept model brought to life, this open-wheel “hot rod” turned a lot of heads when it first dropped in 1997. 

In this spirit of retro-futuristic exploration, the PT Cruiser was born. The automotive equivalent of hearing a new pop song that interpolates multiple hits of the past, the PT Cruiser is very much “not your momma’s station wagon.” The “PT” stands for “Personal Transport” and while I’ve always felt it was evocative of classic showbiz names like “PT Barnum” – the PT Cruiser is far from a clown car. 

It’s no surprise that this handsome hatchback has found a second life in the modding community despite the model being discontinued in 2010 – a Facebook group dedicated to the car has over 14,000 members and is still quite active. If you throw some flames on one of these bad boys, it is just automatically going to look cool – even in a junkyard. Back in 2008 or so, I happened upon a meet-up of PT Cruiser enthusiasts at Wildwood boardwalk in New Jersey, and 1.) all of the cars were outstandingly beautiful, and 2.) every single person who owned one kicked total ass. 

Although they may have been seen as a little goofy in their own time, I’m always a little excited when I see a PT Cruiser still on the road. It reminds me of a moment when carmakers still cared about making vehicles with different form factors (and colors!) 

Sheilah: Fiat Multipla

When Godzilla rallied the Kill Crew on Monster Island, the Fiat Multipla was there in attendance. I do find its unnecessary levels kind of endearing. But, like, why?  The opinions on the Multipla were always split. And I agree. It is, in fact, a beautiful Italian monster. Upon first glance, it looks like it was supposed to be two different things but fused in the womb of ideas. An automotive set of conjoined nonsense.

This six-seater short stack seems more like a child’s drawing than an actual car. It first hit the market in 1998, in all its mismatched glory. It was a Top Gear darling in 2000, named “Car of the Year,” and Jeremy Clarkson expressed a particular fondness. But it seems only he and Italian citizens fell in wacky love with it. Sales globally were not… bene

The Multipla was revamped in 2004 to make it more palatable to a wider audience. While the facelift looked lovely, the damage to the line was done. Drivers did rate the car quite well on the compactness and versatility for the narrow streets of a country like Italy. But overall, they just couldn’t handle being made fun of for driving something so ridiculous-looking. And thus, it was set off into the scrap yard in the sky in 2010.
However, I wish I could have raced the Multipla modded out with a C7 Corvette Z06 engine – insert sweating laughing emoji.

Fiat Multipla Meme

read more
vegas hotels formula 1 1
FeaturesHot Takes

Here are our favorite F1 drivers as Las Vegas hotels, right on time for the Vegas Grand Prix

Well, that was interesting. In case you missed it, early this morning, we East Coasters witnessed Carlos Sainz’s car spark into oblivion after hitting an unsecured drain cover in the first free practice on a freshly constructed track. The Vegas Grand Prix could very well be a total disaster. With 3-day passes dropping to as low as $1,000 days before the race and frequent backlash and criticism from city locals, this experiment might have been a major miscalculation for Formula 1.

With free practice three later today/tomorrow morning, who knows what this race will have to offer? I certainly hope they figure out all the mishaps to keep drivers and fans safe. It might still be fantastic, but things at the moment do not look good. And people make fun of me for turning down the opportunity to go. Time might be on my side for this one.

With some hotel rates plummeting to 70% off what they were when the race was announced, inspiration was sparked. We decided to have some fun and give our readers a primer for this absolute debacle and spectacle. Here are a few Formula 1 drivers as iconic Vegas hotels.

“But Sheilah, what do they have in common?”

Honestly, a lot more than you’d think. This article practically wrote itself. Almost.

Lewis Hamilton / The Flamingo

Image credit: Twitter, mercedesAMGF1, casino.com

The Flamingo is the oldest operating casino still on the Strip, so this seemed an obvious place to start. As Gabe stated in our group chat, “Lewis is The Flamingo, because he’s old, and I’ve heard of him.” The overall vibe is just pink, and if any driver can pull off pink and pastels, it’s Lewis. While the hotel has been updated and remodeled, the retro and classy feel remains. Lewis, being the second oldest driver on the grid, exudes the same energy. Lots of history, but still very much relevant and cherished. Plus, the gardens with all the exotic birds, wildlife, and pools are so zen. Tell me that’s not Sir Lewis.

Pierre Gasly / The Cromwell

Image credit: Twitter, gracingline, TripAdvisor

The Cromwell is newer but a bit weird. It’s drenched in velvet to give the illusion of something much more sensuous than it is. It’s also vaguely French-themed. This is 100% Pierre Gasly. He’s always mere seconds away from a dick joke or raunchy frat boy comment. But we will give credit where it’s due. Sometimes, they do land. The mirrors in the showers give off major sex party vibes. Of all the drivers, he seems the most likely to visit a strip club or brothel while here, it’s Pierre. Overall, The Cromwell is trying so hard to be sultry and ultimately translating into something a little weird and off-putting.

Lando Norris / The Luxor

Image credit: Cristiano Barni, Getty Images, Allied Esports

To the tune of Avril Lavigne: “He was a gamer boy…”

The Luxor is very recognizable, and we’d agree so is little Lando Norris. His quintessential curls, dashing smile, and papaya gear make him easy to spot. Both debuting in the 90s (early & late, respectively), each is a spectacle to behold. While on opposite ends of the size scale, they do have one very big thing in common: Esports. The Luxor is home to the HyperX Arena, the first permanent Esports venue on the Strip. The state-of-the-art gaming and broadcast center is available to both pros and amateurs who want to check out the 50-foot LED video wall.

And that’s something we love about Lando too. With his Quadrant brand, he’s brought gamers from all walks of life and levels together for exhilarating and wacky competitions. We want more and hope to see him in his bright orange race suit on the podium soon, even if it is virtual.

Logan Sargent / The Tropicana

Image credit: Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images, Instagram, troplv

“Florida man drives car 200 mph on Vegas Strip.”

The lone American and Miami boy himself, Logan Sargent, had to be the Tropicana. Everything in this hotel feels and looks like Miami. A bright and vibrant hotel, it feels more like a South Beach airport than a high-end casino. And that’s ok. It’s not trying to be anything other than a vintage touristy spot that is quite endearing. Just let it be Floridian and tropical.

Valtteri Bottas / The Excalibur

Imagine credit Instagram, valtteribottas, excalibur.mgmresorts.com

Valtteri Bottas is a legend and mythical. If that isn’t The Excalibur, I’m not sure what is. From his knightly mullet to his stately mustache, Valtteri is a man who isn’t afraid to be himself. Affectionally dubbed “Medieval Times on crack,” The Excalibur is a treasure trove of entertainment. Outside of the main attraction of the Tournament of Kings, you also get Thunder From Down Under.

This is fitting in two ways. A) Bottas has always been joked as being the most Aussie non-Aussie on the grid. And B) If there is any driver most likely to get naked at the drop of a hat, it’s him. He literally just made a calendar of his bearing his, well, his BottASS.

Fernando Alonso / The Sahara

Image credit: essentiallysports.com, lasvegas.com

A Vegas mainstay, the Sahara is one of the oldest independently operated hotels on the Strip. With over 20 years in Formula 1, we’d argue Fernando is also a beloved classic. The Sahara is modern, even if its age shows in a few places. It’s also a bit on the small size compared to the other hotels on the famous boulevard. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in flash and allure. Spanish Celebrity Chef José Andrés has his Bazaar Meat restaurant here, which is full of wacky experimental meals and cocktails. All of which are very expensive but ultimately well worth the experience.

Lance Stroll / The Four Seasons

Image credit: Twitter, samirsynthesis, fourseasons.com

Nice, clean, and expensive. That’s as Canadian and as Lance Stroll as it gets. A room can set you back $1,000 for a one-night stay. The Four Seasons is giving generic luxury, and sometimes so does Aston Martin. There is nothing very stylized or sensational about it, but it does smell like a refreshing spa.

George Russell / The Waldorf Astoria

Image credit: tommy.com, visitlasvegas.com

Posh. That’s all you need to know. Sleek and chic. George Russell serves swanky if the memes made in his honor are any indication. One of the few hotels without a casino, it’s meant to pull you off of the Strip and take your mind off the Vegas craziness. While the rooms aren’t cheap, you do feel like you’re living your best penthouse life, even in the lobby. The hallways feel upscale as well, with marble and stately fixtures. Tasteful, ritzy, and non-offensive.

Danny Ricciardo / The Venetian

Image credit: Moy, xpb images, Instagram, vegasreels

When I pitched this idea our Editor-in-Chief, Jeric Jaleco, chimed in with this, “Daniel Riccardo as the Venetian because it’s nice, and I like it.” And he’s not wrong to make that connection. Everyone loves the Venetian, and it’s a huge draw on the Strip for good reason. It’s a little silly but pretty and kind of Italian. The last time I was here, I did, in fact, do a gondola ride, which is kind of goofy but overall a charming encounter. Sometimes, you just do things for the plot.

Sidenote: We hear the Bellagio got a “Shoey” Bar in honor of Danny Ricc, so we would like to formally make this our plea to make that a permanent establishment.

Team Haas / The Mirage

Image credit: LAT Photo, tripadvisor.com

Haas is The Mirage for one very obvious reason. Me thinking Nico will ever end up on the podium is an illusion. No matter how many practices or qualifying sessions we are teased by both of these guys, we know it’s all for not. It’s not real. It was all a dream. It was a… Mirage.

If you are interested in catching the Vegas GP, it will be on Sunday at 1 a.m. (EST) on ESPN in North America and, as always, on F1TV.

read more
FeaturesHot Takes

NASCAR should learn from Liberty Media and F1: why their Ryan Blaney championship roll out was so sad

Say what you want about Liberty Media’s handling of the Formula 1 races in the US, but they kind of get it. I was at the Miami Grand Prix, and it was cringe as hell at times. Overall, though, incredibly fun. Something Liberty does very well is connecting with the right audience, even if there are missteps. Formula 1 is blessed with so many drivers with charismatic personalities that shine for the press.

Watching Danny Ricciardo command the late-night and podcast circuits with ease and charm for the Vegas Grand Prix is a dream for the Red Bull social and marketing teams. So how did NASCAR fumble the bag so spectacularly with the NYC media tour of their newest champion, Ryan Blaney? They literally had a playbook in front of them. They had exactly how F1 captured the hearts of America through a carefree Australian dripping in allure.

NASCAR crowns a new champion!

NASCAR couldn’t have asked for a better champion to emerge as their season winner a week ago in Phoenix. Ryan Blaney is funny, young, personable, and pedigreed. He is a likable nerd who is a fan favorite and beloved in the garage. He is the ideal bridge between all fans. NASCAR is very much suffering from an identity crisis and has been for years. This year, it felt like the tide was changing.

The success of the inaugural Chicago race, having Formula 1 legends like Jenson Button and Kimi Räikkönen make track appearances, and mixing old traditions with new ideas, all had to have interests peaked. Full disclosure: I am a Trackhouse girlie. But watching owners like Pitbull come in and fully support drivers such as Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez, and, come the next season, Shane van Gisbergen breathes life into this entire series. It gives you hope that this product can’t just be good but great.

Trackhouse Racing
Image credit: Instagram, th_project91

Growing up loving NASCAR, there was only ever a brief moment when it felt so vibrant. The country, as a whole, knew who Jeff Gordan and Dale Earnhardt were. Motorsports was cool and lucrative. Perhaps the untimely and tragic passing of Earnhardt halted the sport’s growth. Perhaps. Then, Dale Earnhardt Jr. seemed poised to be the face of the brand and bring a younger audience in. The addition of an easy-on-the-eyes newcomer named Kasey Kane ticked female viewership up as well. But again, NASCAR just couldn’t fully capitalize long term.

Now, in 2023, after a rather good season (please hold your feelings about the playoff structure), with a very marketable champion, the stars aligned for NASCAR, and they couldn’t get it together. They fumbled on Ryan Blaney’s New York City Championship unveiling.

Here’s how.

1) Sending him to the Empire State Building.

Fine. Totally untestable, it is one of the most recognizable NYC landmarks. But for the love of whatever deity you believe, why was he in a blazer and dress pants? The man was still rocking his full playoff beard. And I get it to some degree. His girlfriend looked lovely as well. But if your sport is trying to target a new demographic, why not lean into what you are? I ask you, why was he not in his fire suit? The photo opportunity of him in his iconic yellow and black hoisting the trophy would be worth it alone. It’s just good business to be displaying your team name and sponsors to a wider audience because we always have to be making money. Also, it just looks dope. Do you know how many 20-something-year-old guys I saw dressed as Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton, Jr. on Halloween this year? That movie is almost 20 years old. That is your audience. This is who you should be appealing to.

Image credit Instagram, NASCAR

2) Every sports champion pays homage and makes the talk show/podcast rounds now.

Danny Ric goes on Jimmy Kimmel and slays. Hell, even Christian Horner was a fantastic guest for Dax Shepard. He’s effervescent, lively, and dashing. Everyone falls in love or more in love. Ryan Blaney goes on (checks notes) Kelly and Mark. You know who watches Kelly and Mark? My mom, who ironically does know who Ryan Blaney is by way of his father. Why on earth would you put this man in front of an audience you are not aiming to convince to watch your sport? Ryan should’ve been in the Barstool office. He is absolutely the kind of guy who could vibe with Caleb and make a great viral video. Put this man in front of an engaged viewership that is under 50. He’s not a nobody. There was no reason you couldn’t get him in front of the right crowd. He drives for Team Penske, the family who literally owns almost all media news outlets. Do better.

Image credit: Instagram, livekellyandmark

3) No fun fan engagement.

Sure, they sent him to Times Square to stand there with the trophy and look at the Nasdaq building. Spectacular. Riveting. Insert sad face emoji. They so easily could have had the car and trophy downtown at the Seaport for photos and a meet and greet. Small things like this expand who could be interested in your sport. Formula 1 does popups and public events for their teams and drivers each race that are fun, fluffy, and inviting. It’s such a low lift. It’s the end of the season. Where is that car going after? What’s the risk? None.

Image credit: Instagram, NASCAR

It’s so disheartening to watch a sport I’ve loved for so long continually miss every opportunity to improve it and bring in new fans. I hope some of the F1 shine trickles down to NASCAR as it does for IndyCar. But if they continue with tactics like this, I have little to no hope. Regardless, I’ll be there next season in a Melon Man shirt, cheering on Mr. Worldwide’s team. At least he knows how to draw a crowd.

read more

Fat Bear Week and F1 drivers have more in common than you think

Formula 1 fans, strap in! Fat Bear Week is upon us! Wait, what?

It’s a magical time of year when the brown bears of Katmai National Park in Alaska roam free to finish their final bulk up for winter. Since 2012, a live cam from Explore.org has given the world insight into the beauty and wonder of the national park and these fantastic beasts. It stays up 24 hours a day and is nestled near one of the premier fishing spots for the bears.

Fat Bear Week (yes, that is very much a thing) became a spectacular byproduct of this innocent happening. It’s a celebration of these bears’ resiliency and tenacity against the elements and each other. Much in the way you would fill out your March Madness bracket, eight bears make the final cut and are voted on each day from October 4 to October 10. The victor is announced and crowned on Fat Bear Tuesday. Don’t worry. There is still plenty of time to vote.

Now, you might ask, “Sheilah, what does this have to do with F1?” Thank you for asking. I love Fat Bear Week, and I love F1. Once I read the bears’ descriptions, I couldn’t unsee many of the drivers within them. It’s also extremely likely Max Verstappen will win his third World Championship this weekend. So I say let’s celebrate all winners, be they Ursus arctos or Homo sapiens.

747 “Colbert” / Max Verstappen

Colbert Fat Bear Week Max Verstappen
Image credit: (Colbert) Cory Cravatta / NPS, (Max) Toru Hanai / AP

Colbert is a bear who popped onto the scene with vibrancy and salmon-catching accuracy, which is truly a form of art. Max Verstappen crashed onto the F1 scene with brash ambition as well. After a few altercations with hardened veterans, he honed his skills and turned onto a very successful path. He is also a two-time champion, though Max will be a three-time champ after Sunday. If you think about it, they both have over 20 years of experience in their perspectives fields of bearing and driving. Max basically started carting at three. So, yes. That pans out. The parallels here are scary.

480 “Otis” / Fernando Alonso

480 Otis Fernando Alonso
Image credit: (Otis) Courtesy M. Whalen / NPS / (Fernando) Getty Images

Otis is a grizzled (ha, get it?) old veteran spending his days fattening up and basking in the fruits of his labors from over the years. With four titles under his bulky belt, he’s always a threat to knock a youngin’ off their perch. And just because Otis is now mostly toothless, that doesn’t make him any less fierce. Fernando Alonso, now in his 22nd year of F1 racing, has two World Championships and over 100 podiums. He’s still got that dog, uh, I mean, bear in him. Never one to be counted out, we have seen a kinder, gentler Fernando this year at Aston Martin as he has taken Lance Stroll under his wing. Fernando is the most amazing driver and person ever, please don’t Google anything about him before 2023 and just believe me!

32 “Chunk” / Valtteri Bottas

32 Chunk Fat Bear Week Valtteri Bottas
Image credit: (Chunk) Courtesy F. Jimenez / NPS / (Valtteri) Luca Bruno / AP

Chunk has been a regular fixture and a familiar face for Fat Bear Week. He has yet to be an overall Champion, but he has gotten dang close. Each year, Chunk is an impressive presence known for his big fluffy head. He is also easy to pick out as he has a few battle scars from scraps he’s been in over the years. My beautiful Finnish man, Valtteri Bottas, is the perfect driver to equate with Chunk. A lover of the outdoors and not one to be afraid of bearing it all, Valtteri is, too, an almost-champion. These days, he is known around the paddock for his dazzling helmet designs and the fabulous flowing mullet underneath.

128 “Grazer” / George Russell

128 Grazer Fat Bear Week George Russell
Image credit: (Grazer) Courtesy F. Jimenez / NPS / (George) Stephen Reuss / Mercedea

Grazer is a beloved fan favorite. She’s got a soft, strong, and classy energy. She’s also noted as being quite tall with lush blonde fur. She’s also always in the conversation as a top finisher. I am a recent George Russell convert, and when I read this description of Grazer, I knew immediately. As one of the tallest drivers on the grid, his coif has become very iconic and the topic of many F1 TikToks. George radiates a stern but understanding parental vibe, complete with dad jokes. And if we are discussing posh posture, it’s him.

284 “Electra” / Carlos Sainz

284 Fat Bear week Electra Carlos Sainz Jr.
Image credit: (Electra) Courtesy K. Moore / NPS / (Carlos) Instagram – Carlos Sainz

Electra is known for two things: her silky fur and her very distinct finishing technique. Called the “dash and grab,” catching her in action is said to be a blessing unlike any other. A true beauty in both looks and skill. If you were thinking it would be a man in red, you are correct. Who has a mane that could mesmerize the whole paddock? Well, that has to be Carlos Sainz. Who has suave proficiency? The literal “Smooth Operator” himself. Carlos has had some tremendous overtakes in his career, and I believe he’s the first to do so to Max.

806 “Junior” / Oscar Piastri

806 Junior Fat Bear Week Oscar Piastri
Image: (Junior) F. Jimenez / NPS, (Oscar) Peter Fox / Getty

This bear is named as such because he is a former Junior Champ. Think of that as the F2 system of the Fat Bear world. This year, Junior has shown up braver and thicker than ever. He is definitely ready for the challenge ahead. Not afraid to take on any of the veterans, this young cub has earned his spot. Oscar is far and away the Rookie of the Year. He’s already made it to the podium with an impressive first year. At the time of writing, he’s thrust into the top ten in the Driver Standings and looks to finish this season very strong. If you aren’t rooting for this Gen Z Aussie wunderkind, check to see if you have a heart.

Bear 402 / Lewis Hamilton

402 Fat Bear Week Lewis Hamilton
Image: (402) Courtesy K. Moore / NPS, (Lewis) Burak Akbulut/ Getty

A nurturing mainstay around Brooks River, 402 is as protective as she is valiant. Easily recognizable, you can see her dashing around teaching her cubs and looking out for the next generation. She even had to successfully rescue one of her babies from a roaring river last summer. 402’s got a heart of gold. Knowing how much Lewis Hilton has done to promote diversity for the next generation within Mercedes certainly aligns him with 402. But beyond his Mission 44 foundation promoting STEM programs for youngsters, he has also helped bring a new perspective to a rather stuffy F1 hierarchy. A man who stands out in the paddock for all the right reasons, Lewis has used his resources and platform for good.

If you are interested in catching the Qatar GP on Sunday, it will be on at a very reasonable 1 p.m. (EST) on ESPN in North America and, as always, on F1TV.

read more