Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When Engineers Get Bored...

2011 Buick Regal

When engineers get bored, they needlessly redesign things. This may be to justify their existence, I really don't know.

This photo is of the left taillight of a 2011 Buick Regal, a car largely based upon the award-winning Opel Insignia. The Insignia is built in Germany and sold in a large number of global markets. This Regal, in fact, was also built in Germany, though production will soon shift to Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

So why show this photo? That's easy. Assume that this car is one car ahead of you, so this is as much of it as you can see...

Quick! Is this Regal braking or indicating a turn?

The correct answer is "who the hell knows?!?", because some wise ass engineer decided to redesign the electrical system of this car to equip it with what's sometimes known as "combination lamps". Combination lamps are where a single red lamp (or group of lamps) performs the brake light and turn indicator functions for each side of the vehicle. Basically, they are a brake light unless being over-ridden for use as a signal.

Virtually no other world market allows this stupidity (or even separate red rear turn indicators), including the other markets that this vehicle is sold in, where this bulb would be orange/amber. Functioning only as a signal, no confusion would be possible.

The larger red portion of the lamp above it would be the brake lamp in the Insignia - and as seen in this picture, it does not function as a brake lamp in the Regal.

You could argue Buick tradition - the majority of Buicks have used combination lamps over the years, but there have also been numerous Buicks with dedicated orange signals (it was even a hallmark of the top "T-Type" models for a while), including the model one notch above the Regal in Buick's current model matrix, the Lacrosse.

As the red part of the lamp above it still contains a bulb (it's a parking light), it's not like GM saved any money on bulbs, and I doubt more than a few cents on wire. It looks pretty hokey too.

GM is not the only offender here, as most new Audi vehicles use combination lamps in the Canadian and US markets. BMW and Mercedes stop just short of that, equipping most of our models with red rear signals.

My big question here is: Why spend the money on redesigning these parts to make the car less safe?

Shameless Self-promotion

It may not be sexy, but you can read my Wheels coverage of the Minivan cateory at this year's AJAC Canadian Car of the Year here.

Shameless Self-promotion

You can read my Wheels coverage of the Best New SUV-CUV (over $50,000) category from this year's AJAC Canadian Car of the Year here.

Shameless Self-promotion

2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

You can read my Wheels article on my recommended choices for buying a Sports or Performance Car (below $50,000) from the outgoing model year here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

2011 Honda Odyssey Touring's rear entertainment system

You can find my special Toronto Star A-section article about vehicle connectivity here.

Shameless Self-promotion

Myself (L), Mark Richardson (C), and Jil McIntosh (R)

Perhaps the ultimate in patting oneself on the back, you can read Mark Richardson's editorial about my Wheels colleagues and I receiving awards at this year's AJAC (Automobile Journalists Association of Canada) awards dinner here.

My award was the Wakefield Castrol Award for Journalism; Technical Topics, given for my article on Mercedes-Benz's new "V" engine families, which can be found here and here.

Shameless Self-promotion

'09 Malibu vs. '59 Bel Air - IIHS image via the Toronto Star

You can find my special Toronto Star A-section article about vehicle safety systems here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

You can find my Wheels article on what to look for when buying a used car (such as overspray in the doorjamb {top} or unmatching fender {bottom}) here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

2011 Mercedes CL 63 AMG

You can read my Wheels preview of Mercedes' revised 2011 CL-Class models, including the CL 550 4MATIC, CL 600, CL 63 AMG, and the twin-turbo V12 CL 65 AMG here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

Light on its feet for a big van.

You can find my Wheels preview of Honda's 2011 Odyssey minivan here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

You can find my Wheels article about my taking Durham College and Canadian Safety Council's M2 motorcycle training course here.

Additional information about the process to get your motorcycle licence in Ontario - also from Wheels - can be found here.

(An observant reader is correct in that you can undertake your M1 Exit test prior to the 60 days, but that you must wait until then to file your paperwork. Hey, I only had so much space to work with...  ...but thank you for catching it.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

2011 GMC Sierra (L) and Chevrolet Silverado (R).

You can find my Wheels review of General Motors' 2011 HD pickups - the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra - here. You can also find my sidebar article about the diesel models' new Diesel Exhaust Fluid (urea) system here.

Shamless Self-promotion

Mercedes' Prof. Dr. Leopold Mikulic (L) and Gerhard Doll (R)

You can find my coverage of Mercedes' new V-6 and V8 engine families here. Additionally, you can find my sidebar article about the company's engine test facility here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Panic in the Streets!

This was the scene at my local gas station at 11:30 PM, Wednesday July 30th. On a normal Wednesday evening, it would be unusual to have more than two or three cars total at the eight available pumps at any one time. Tonight, with one pump mysteriously blocked off, there were often several drivers waiting for a vacancy.

Just half an hour before taking this photo, I waited in a line-up three deep for my turn at the pumps. When I had first passed by, at around 6:00 in the evening, the lines were overflowing out of the station onto the surrounding streets.

Why the sudden rush? It's because at midnight, the new Harmonized Sales Tax comes into effect. Yes, as of July 1st, sales tax on fuel goes from the current 5% GST to 13% as the previous 8% PST gets added in - and it should be noted that like the existing tax, it compounds on taxes built in to the price of fuel already, meaning it's partially a tax on a tax.

It's appropriate that the addition of the HST (to this and a number of other items, though not everything) occurs on Canada Day, as taxing citizens in new and creative ways appears to be a Canadian tradition. Remember, Income Tax was strictly a wartime measure when it was introduced - back in 1917!

Topping the family's two cars at the current 96.4¢ per litre cost me $40 even (call it $38 pre-GST). With the new HST, the same amount of fuel would have cost me $42.94. Does an extra $3 really matter in the grand scheme of things?

Look at it this way: That same $40 would have bought me 8% less fuel. Whether you figure it by the litre or lifetime of driving, my fuel dollar now takes me 8% less distance, so it effectively costs me 8% more to get anywhere.

Think of how much this one item alone will add to the provincial coffers and it's not hard to see why they've done it. I hope that Premier McGuinty and his Liberal government have enjoyed their stay in office, because I can see the HST being political suicide.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

(Mercedes' Dr Leopold Mikulic and Gerhard Doll find the humour in posing for photos with their new V8 engine - both were good sports)

You can find my Wheels article about Mercedes' latest V6 and V8 engine families and their advanced technology here.

A New Look!

Blogger has been kind enough to offer new templates to its blog users. Who would I be to ignore their kindness?

The new background reminds me a little of carbon fibre, and I thought that the light font on a dark background might provide some relief for eyes that have dealt with the bright backgrounds typically found elsewhere on the 'net.

You'll find that links are now red to make them easier to pick out. This applies to both article links and links to other related posts within my blog.

Let me know what you think - good move? Bad move? What changes would you like to see?


Shameless Self-Promotion

(Two Mercedes test vehicles narrowly miss each other at a simulated intersection)

You can read my Wheels article about Mercedes' new automated driving system and facility here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

You can find my Wheels review of Hyundai's 2011 Sonata Limited here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Toyota's Ongoing Recall Woes

In the past day or two, Toyota Canada has issued a voluntary recall for somewhere in the neighbourhood of 270,000 first and second-generation Sienna minivans.

This one is for spare tire retainer cables, which may corrode and fail, causing the spare tire to fall out of its stowed position beneath the vehicle, potentially causing damage or loss of control for the affected vehicle or others following behind. All-wheel drive Siennas, which do not have a spare tire (the rear driveshaft needs the same piece of underbody real estate), are obviously not included in this recall.

OK, I agree that this is a potentially serious safety concern. I'll even agree that it warrants some kind of fix (like using chains, as nearly everyone did prior to adopting cheaper, lighter cables).

Clearly, Toyota, having just paid a large fine (and suffering much public humiliation) for not reacting quickly enough to potential safety issues - and facing another, embarrassing situation with Consumer Reports trumpeting a handling issue with its 2010 Lexus GX 460 - is going all-out to deal with anything remotely concerning as fast as possible.

What bugs me here is that other automakers will seem innocent here because Toyota is the only one presently addressing this issue. They're not. Countless hundreds of thousands of minivans and pickups from nearly every automaker are currently plying our streets with the same kind of frankly crappy design as that used on the Sienna, and I speak from experience that they can - and do - fail in exactly the same fashion. I can't count the number of minivans I've been beneath where the frayed end of a rusty cable is all that remains where the spare once resided.

Spare tire on a (new at the time) 2005 Buick Terrazza

I've actually been hit in the face by a spare tire falling off the bottom of a GM minivan, disturbed when I bumped it with the heel of my hand to see if it was tightly secured during a safety inspection (the cable broke and it fell on me while the van was up on the hoist).

There are ways around this problem. Chrysler vans have had a mushroom-shaped plastic safety catch since their 1996 revamp, and I've yet to see one of them so afflicted - not to say it's foolproof. Honda Odysseys store their spares inside; that's about as close to foolproof as you'll find in this industry - at least until you get a flat with a full load of stuff inside - then you might wish it was externally mounted.

I'm sure that the popular media will take this latest Toyota recall and run with it until the next hot news item comes along. Maybe the pro-domestic crowd can come up with another clever bumper sticker to place alongside their newly minted "Toyotas - keep 100 metres back!" decal to commemorate the occasion.

In the meantime, I will continue to believe that Toyota's products are among the best and safest available, and will hope that the company's way of dealing with these problems improves vastly over the train-wrecks that have occurred so far.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

You can read my Wheels review of Ford's 2010 Taurus SEL AWD here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

(Somewhat) New Technology

Accessory drive belts are nothing new, and neither are V-ribbed belts. What is new - the past couple of years new - are "Stretchy Belts".

As you can see in the above photo, which is of the 2.3 litre "MZR" four cylinder in a 2006 Mazda5, there is no tensioner for the outermost belt.

Normally, if you didn't have a dedicated tensioner, you'd have some provision for using one of the driven components as a source of adjustment. 

Perhaps not entirely obvious in this photo is the fact that the one and only component driven by this belt (the upper pulley is the crankshaft) is the air conditioning compressor, and it's bolted firmly to the oil pan. No adjustment is possible.

So what gives? Well, as the name implies, the belt is stretchy - stretchy enough that it can be coaxed over the pulleys to get it into place, but not so stretchy that it fails to transfer power to the compressor, which can require several horsepower to function.

Actually, you might be surprised at just how strong a Stretchy Belt is. This particular Mazda5 is on engine number 2 - engine number 1 suffered catastrophic internal damage when the A/C compressor seized, and - instead of slipping or breaking - the Stretchy Belt hung on tight enough to spin the keyway-less crank pulley and the crankshaft's timing gear on the end of the crankshaft, resulting in the smashing of pistons into valves. Stretchy Belt 1; Engine 0.

Mazda isn't alone in using Stretchy Belts; Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors also use this technology, and it's not hard to imagine other quickly following suit once they realize that they can eliminate the expense, space, and potential warranty replacement of a tensioner by using one.

The downside? It's a bit more expensive than a conventional belt of equal size, it's not possible to reliably determine wear or health by just looking at it (there's a little plastic gauge available), and it requires special tools and/or creativity to remove or reinstall - your mechanic will curse the first one or two they have to change.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

You can find my Wheels review of Nissan's 2010 Sentra sedan here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

You can find my Wheels review of Cadillac's 2010 SRX here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

You can read my CanadianDriver article about Porsche's Ivalo, Finland Driving Experience Center here.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly certain that beyond a single event in Montreal in 2008, NASCAR stock cars haven't had windshield wipers since a few years after they stopped running on the sand at Daytona. I highly doubt that the cars running in Montreal had windshield washers to go with their wipers.

So how is it that NASCAR branded windshield washer fluid, seen here at retailer Canadian Tire, makes any sense?

What's next? NASCAR branded headlight bulbs? (Our high-performance NASCAR headlights now feature 30% stickier adhesive!)

Good thing that the fluid is rated for -49ÂșC - you never know when you'll need that level of protection when you're racing in Fontana, California...

Shameless Self-promotion

You can read my review of Lexus' 2010 GX 460 in Wheels here, and my review of the same vehicle for here.

Shamless Self-promotion

You can read my Wheels article about my visit to Porsche's northern Finland driver training facility here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jackass Award - Lamborghini at the Toronto Auto Show


I can't decide if Lamborghini's display at this year's Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto is the result of ignorance or arrogance, but I'm leaning towards arrogance.

Segregating the unwashed masses from your cars is completely understandable; I don't begrudge you that. Prevents greasy fingerprints and zipper scratches while adding to the mystique and all that. Got it.

Even having black walls and black carpet is fine. It can look very classy.

Not having any sort of light, other than the few pot lights in the Convention Centre's ceiling isn't particularly clever though. Doesn't show off your cars or their exquisite styling details too well, nor does parking them as far from the crowd as possible at the rear of your stand, perpendicular to the public's viewpoint.

However what cements your booth as a Jackass Award winner is the choice of colour of the two cars present, particularly given the lighting and the display's colour choice. Why would you show black cars with black wheels on a black carpet against a black backdrop?

Do you boneheads realize how difficult it is to photograph a black car under ideal lighting against a contrasting background? It's hard enough to see them well.

Had it occurred to you that some small percentage of the crowd gawking at your cars over the barrier and desperately trying to get a good camera-phone image might one day be potential buyers? Or that the desirability of your product - that your customers can purchase what the majority want but can't have - is a large part of what sells them, not just their performance?

Desktops on computers and profile pictures on Facebook - these are the modern bedroom wall posters, and you should be encouraging your future fan base, not spurning them.

Reinforcing the notion that Lamborghinis are the sole domain of aloof, pretentious jerks isn't what I'd call a positive marketing effort.

For that, Lamborghini, whether intentional or not, you win a Jackass Award.

(Inaugural) Jackass Award - GTAA/Lester B. Pearson International Airport

On a recent trip via Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport, I encountered a set of sliding entrance doors that weren't working. On each door in the pair there was a little yellow sign which read, "Temporarily out of service" in both English and French.

OK, fair enough, stuff like this breaks. No big deal. After entering the functional set to their immediate left - which lead into the same small foyer - I came to the next set of doors.

Lo and behold, they weren't working either, but had the same signs on them.

I believe in coincidence, but this was a bit annoying, as I had to diagonally cross the foyer to use the righthand doors, which did work.

It wasn't until I was walking down the Terminal to my check-in point that I realized that all of the entrance/exit doors in the building were the same, and all were forcing people to use diagonal sets of doors. Upon my return, I discovered that it was the same on all three floors.

What the hell is that about?!? Is this some kind of bizarre attempt at improving security? Like preventing terrorists or suicide bombers or girl guides selling cookies from walking conveniently straight in would somehow make any difference at all?

I'm going to be generous and suggest that it was done to reduce the intrusion of cold gusts of air from outside. Even if that's the case, it's still stupid; a band-aid solution to a lousy design. At least indicate that this is the intention, because to those that somehow don't notice the other sets of doors, it makes it look like the place is falling apart and poorly maintained - not the message that air travellers really want from their airport. Spend a bit of your world-beating gate fees and install big revolving doors if this is the reason.

To whatever person or group - GTAA, this means one or more of your employees - that thought that this was a good idea, you need to give your head(s) a massive shake and realize that what you're actually accomplishing is to inconvenience and annoy nearly every single traveller - these would be your customers, dummies - that passes in or out of your facility.

For that, unknown GTAA personnel, you win my first Jackass Award. Congratulations!

Shameless Self-promotion

You can find my Wheels review of Buick's 2010 LaCrosse here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Much ado about Toyota


(Accelerator pedal in a 2010 Lexus GX 460 - and no, it didn't stick.)

The past few days have been nothing but hell for Toyota, as the media all jumps on the bandwagon to make as big of a deal of this sticking throttle situation as possible. Guess the bloom is off the Haiti rose. Gotta have something to hype.

Don't get me wrong - it is a serious problem, and one that can lead to death or serious injury - but what is driving me nuts is the apparent lack of knowledge that is leading to this sensationalistic fear that every Toyota vehicle is just waiting to send you hurtling to your doom.

This is compounded by the recent floor-mat debacle, where certain floor-mats (Toyota USA's All-Weather accessory mats in particular) can jamb beneath the accelerator pedal and/or bunch up beneath the brake pedal, potentially causing unintended acceleration and loss of control.

That was brought to the public's attention by the tragic death of an off-duty CHP officer, his wife and daughter, and his brother-in law in a crash in California a couple of months ago. The vehicle in question was a 2009 Lexus ES 350, a dealer loaner fitted with the affected mats.

I'll admit to still not having all of the facts in this matter, but here's what I do know: there was sufficient time in this case for the car's occupants to place a 911 call.

While I understand that the mat was interfering with the brake pedal, I can't figure out why the driver didn't simply shift the car into Neutral.

Even if this car probably had push-button ignition (which I really don't care for) and thus didn't appear that it could be readily turned off (a lack of familiarity or confusion would come into play here), shifting to Neutral would have prevented any further acceleration, allowing the driver to apply the emergency brake if necessary, or at least slowing the rate at which everything was happening.

It's possible that it would have given him time to rub a guardrail or take other actions to slow down. As for the engine revving freely in Neutral - who cares? Besides, like every modern car, the ES 350 has a rev limiter, and frankly, if it's me or the engine, I'm picking me anyway.


Other automakers are having a field day with this latest pedal situation. GM is offering cash incentives to current Toyota owners to buy GM vehicles - basically "avoid the flaming Toyota death, buy a Chevy!". Good thing that blower motor resistors aren't gas pedal assemblies, or GM would be recalling one hell of a lot more cars and trucks than Toyota. People that live in glass houses...

Toyota will undoubtedly produce a fix, but it will be interesting to see what consequence this has in sales, long term. I'm betting not much, and those who want a Toyota today still have several models to choose from, including the Prius.

Can I interest anyone in a Nissan Sentra?

Shameless Self-promotion

You can read my Wheels article on the Chevy Camaro SS that I drove to Detroit for the 2010 North American International Auto Show here, and my choice of which vehicle at the show I (and my colleagues) would drive home in here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bonehead Engineering - Not Just Cars

Because of changes to the laws in my home province, this past year I replaced my seemingly indestructible Samsung cell phone with a Bluetooth and hands-free capable Sanyo PRO-200 model (a Qualcomm product). I actually paid more to get this phone - which does not have a camera, doesn't play MP3's, and is not equipped with a touch screen or slide-out QWERTY keypad - because it is the "shirt and tie" twin to Sanyo's PRO-700 yellow and black rubberized "military grade" flip-phone. Nothing else available at the time seemed like it would hold up to my level of neglect and accidental abuse.

Unfortunately, it and I don't much get along, because my ancient Samsung was so much easier to use, had better voice-recognition, and had a better built-in speaker when used as - gasp! - an actual phone. I even liked the Samsung's admittedly lame mono-tone ring tones better.

I don't trust hotel wake-up calls, and I'm not a big fan of the digital clocks or TV-based alarms that are available in-room. In particular, the Sony "DreamCube" clocks used in many hotels may as well be an initiation test for Mensa, as they're next to impossible to figure out. I use my cell phone's alarm feature instead.

My Samsung was multi-voltage compatible, so even if I had to set the time initially (it wasn't European-network compatible), I could leave it plugged in, and it was 100% reliable as an alarm clock. It was also loud.

The new Sanyo? Good thing I checked, as my first trip to Germany would have killed it - it's not 220 volt friendly - but it had enough charge to function, and I did figure out how to set the time by subtracting the time zone difference from its internal (home-based) time. There probably is a way to set the time, but it didn't readily reveal itself.

No, what really ticked me off was my trip to the Detroit Auto Show. In the interest of courtesy, I set my phone to "vibrate" so as not to have it ring in the middle of some automaker's presentation. I wasn't concerned about the alarm, because as you can see from the attached picture, it clearly allows you to set a dedicated ring-tone and volume for that function.

Guess what? Despite what the alarm menu might have you believe, on "vibrate", even the alarm vibrates - no ringer. Thank goodness my wife phoned me that morning. About two minutes later, my cell phone quietly vibrated across the nightstand and fell on the floor. I nearly left it there. Stupid!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Shameless Self-promotion

My coverage of this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit for Wheels can be found here and here. (2011 Lincoln MKX and Hyundai Blue Will Concept pictured)

2010 Detroit Auto Show - Day Two

The light at the end of this tunnel is Winsdor, Ontario, Canada.

Day Two of the Detroit Auto Show was previously not the last day of the show. With less to say and fewer manufacturers saying it, this year there were only two days.

The final day is basically the wrap-up, with a few important presentations in the morning from the big players, and then press conferences from the secondary players, like the tire, electronics, and component producers that are really important only to those in production.

Day Two this year started typically, but also had presentations from the two Chinese manufacturers and a group of small, privately-owned electric-vehicle makers. BYD's promised the world - US availability of an electric crossover with previously unheard-of range and recharging capability. CT&T introduced an electric roadster and two other electric vehicles, while promising to revolutionize transportation, with costs of ownership that changed at least once during the span of their glitch-laden presentation.

While overall more optimistic than the few years before, it is clear that Detroit's glory days are in the past - both as a hub of the automotive world, and as an auto show - and it remains to be seen whether or not it will ever reclaim all or any of its former importance.

Despite the positive spin given to this year's North American Internaional Auto Show, "better" still doesn't mean "good". Let's see what happens in the next 12 months...

Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 Detroit Auto Show - Day One

As far as I'm concerned, the big news this year is the relative lack of actual news. Many of the reveals were either anticipated, leaked, or simply rehashes of vehicles that we've already seen in some form or another; even the massively cool Buick Regal GS Concept, which is simply a powerful turbocharged four-cylinder version of the existing (turbo V6) Opel Insignia OPC that it is heavily based upon.

Chrysler in particular had primarily content and trim changes to announce - the Chrysler-badged Lancia Delta "Concept" seen above is pretty much the single most substantial item, an Italian model apparently hoping to "reignite the American Dream". The other noteworthy vehicle on the Chrysler show floor is a battery-electric version of the will-it-be-a-Fiat-or-will-it-be-a-Chrysler 500. The company's display area did provide such unusual sights as a ceiling-mounted Ram pickup and a Grand Caravan parked next to a Maserati.

Unlike the past couple of years, there were no bag inspections, sniffer dogs, or twenty-question security officers to gain access to the display halls. Getting in to the Ford presentations in the attached Cobo Arena still required a process just short of body cavity searches.

The expected proliferation of hybrid and electric vehicle concepts continued unabated. I'm waiting for the industry to finally realize/recognize that hydrogen internal combustion is the best mid-term solution in terms of maturity and cost of the technology and its implementation, and the use of exotic and costly materials (like lithium for batteries and the rare earth magnets used in high-efficiency electric motors). In my mind, hybrids and electrics are an answer, not the answer.

Lots of otherwise vacant floor space in the Cobo Hall basement is being used for a further expansion of last year's indoor hybrid/electric test track. I wonder how green the eventual composting of most of the plants and (massively smelly) mulch that is used in the several thousand square feet of fancy landscaping really is.

The Chinese once again have a presence, though Geely is conspicuously absent. BYD seems the only serious Chinese attendee (with three vehicles on their stand today - two of which were identical F3 DM plug-in hybrid models, the third a concept all-electric E6 crossover). Tomorrow's press conference may flesh that lineup out a bit. It will be interesting to see if the eventual production vehicles that result come anywhere close to BYD's present range claims.

The C T & T (China) booth next door has plenty of vehicles, many of which are comical-looking versions of their two low-speed electric models, the C Zone (a fancy golf cart) and the E Zone (intended for places like gated communities or parks). A sports car and a concept amphibious 4 seater are to be shown tomorrow. In a throwback to times not so long past, C T & T also had three rather provocatively-attired representatives on stage with their vehicles - a policewoman for their E Zone patrol car, a postal worker (who I promise you looked like no postal worker I've ever encountered) for their E Zone delivery van, and a black PVC-clad dominatrix (for lack of a better description) whose role was decidedly less clear. Ironically, however un-PC, it's "mission accomplished" for C T & T - look at how much print they got here! I'm just waiting for some automaker to have the guts to put male models around one of their female-oriented models (like a V6 Mustang Convertible, for instance).

Speaking of Ford, it won both Car and Truck of the Year awards for the Fusion and Transit Connect respectively. I'd have expected the Chevy Equinox to take T.o.t.Y., even if I do really like the T.C.

Stay tuned for more North American International Auto Show to come...