Top Story

Postcards from Sebring: The sights, sounds, and cultural oddities


Sebring Raceway 2017 poster

By William G. Sawyer
Editor at Large, The Virtual Driver

(March 25, 2017) When the Editor of The Virtual Driver discovered that I was making a trip to Sebring for the 12 Hours along with my son, and ace photographer, Danny, he shrugged off suggestions for a spectator’s view of the race, claiming it would add nothing to the voluminous coverage that would follow on TV and motorsport-focused websites.

2017 Lincoln Continental

INDIANAPOLIS — The Lincoln Continental is not just any car — it’s Edsel Ford’s car.  It’s also President Kennedy’s, Elvis Presley’s, James Brown’s, Frank Lloyd Wright’s, and if Lincoln’s ads are to be believed, Matthew McConaughey’s car.  It’s appeared in movies as diverse as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, American Hustle, The Jazz Singer, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Avengers, and The Normal Heart.  It’s not a car; it’s an icon indivisible from the automaker that builds it.

2017 Land Rover Discovery

ST. GEORGE, Utah —  The boxy Land Rover LR4 is fresh off a complete redesign and is not only a thoroughly different looking vehicle, but also has a new name: Land Rover Discovery. This fifth-generation model sports a new look inside and out and features a slew of technological advancements. This includes the lightweight monocoque body construction, made of up to 85 percent high-strength aluminum, reducing total vehicle weight by 1,000 pounds or about 20 percent over the outgoing LR4 model.

2017 Subaru Legacy

LOS ANGELES — Subaru doesn't need any help selling cars and crossovers from the likes of automotive sites like MotorwayAmerica, the Japanese company has got the formula down to a science enjoying increasing sales month after month for years. To understand this phenomenon better, spend some time behind the wheel of the 2017 Legacy mid-sized sedan.

Vehicle of the Week

2017 Lexus ES 350 — Epitome of family luxury

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Lexus ES sedan has been the luxury go-to car for nearly three decades. It's a prime example of Lexus solitude. It exudes performance and comfort in luxury surroundings. It features an attractive modern design, a spacious cabin, a long list of standard and available equipment, and a positive history of quality.

Here's the Thing

Kelley — March new-car sales to rise 3 percent year-over-year

(March 25, 2017) IRVINE, Calif. — New-vehicle sales are expected to increase 3 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.63 million units in March 2017, resulting in an estimated 17.4 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), according to Kelley Blue Book At 1.63 million units this month, the first quarter total comes in at 4.1 million units, up 3 percent year-over-year. 

This would be the second highest first quarter on record, surpassed only by Q1 of 2000.  This also would be the highest March sales total since 2000, when sales hit 1.66 million total units.

Fiat 500X adds flair to a genre known more for its economy

By Paul Borden

(March 24, 2017) Subcompact cars are usually more about functionality and fuel-saving than they are about style. Not that they are all inherently ugly, but style is not the first thing that comes to mind about them. Fiat’s 500 series, however, is one exception. With its Italian flair and carefree air — the front fascia even has a rather impish look about it — the Fiat 500 series adds a little chicness to a segment that tends to lean toward “cute” when it comes to appearance.

Autotrader lists its Must Test Drive Award winners for 2017

(March 24, 2017) ATLANTA — With more than 300 new car models to choose from, shopping for a new ride can be overwhelming. And since the average age of existing vehicles on the road today is more than 11 years, current in-market new-car shoppers may be surprised to find just how much the automotive landscape has changed in the last decade.

With all of this in mind, the editors at Autotrader announce the winners of the 2017 Must Test Drive Awards, featuring the best new cars worth taking for a spin before shoppers make their final purchase decision.

Inside the Industry

Toyota begins trailblazing eco-billboard campaign

(March 24, 2017) TORRANCE,  Calif. — Toyota Mirai trailblazing customers care about the air — their vehicle emits nothing but water vapor.  Now, the fuel cell car’s newest campaign is blazing a trail with eco-billboard technology that will help Californians breathe even easier. The Toyota Mirai eco-billboard campaign, in coordination with Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, will help clear the air from April 3 through May 28. 

Jaguar Land Rover to start pre-paid connected car unlimited data plan

(March 24, 2017) MAHWAH, N.J. — Jaguar Land Rover has announced that owners of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles with InControl Wi-Fi will have access to a prepaid unlimited data plan for $20 per month enabled by AT&T. The prepaid unlimited data plan, which is available across the U.S., makes it easier and more affordable for Jaguar and Land Rover vehicle owners using the brand’s InControl platform to stay connected while on-the-go.

Ram Truck launches new color for Laramie Longhorn edition

(March 23, 2017) DALLAS — Ram Truck has unveiled a new exterior color shade for its luxurious and capable Laramie Longhorn line of pickup trucks. RV Match Walnut Brown will serve as the model’s new two-tone contrast color, replacing White Gold.
“The Ram Laramie Longhorn has deservedly become the world’s benchmark for upscale, capable pickup trucks,” said Mike Manley, head of Ram Brand, FCA – Global.

Abandoned Car of the Week

Abandoned Ranchero on Route 66

This circa 1977-79 Ford Ranchero has been abandoned in an abandoned small town on old Route 66 in Arizona. The Ranchero rests near one of the abandoned buildings. Several "ghost towns" can be found along Route 66 created after the interstate highway system made the old highway obsolete. Ford built the Ranchero from 1957 through 1979 based on a variety of vehicles. The seventh and last generation (1977-79) was based on the Ford LTD II car line.
(Photo by Ted Biderman)