The Virtual Driver

The American V8 — Undisputed master of inexpensive power

By William G. Sawyer
Editor at Large
The Virtual Driver


(February  19, 2017) DETROIT — Ever since Henry Ford popularized the V8 engine in 1932 it’s been the power plant of choice for everyone from bank robbers to teens drag racing on Woodward Avenue, and professional racers. Once Chevrolet introduced their 265 cubic inch small block engine in 1955 the floodgates opened and the American V8 took its place as the undisputed master of inexpensive but explosive power in a variety of applications.

Finally — An all-new Ford Expedition for 2018

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(February 14, 2017) In some ways it’s hard to believe that the Ford Expedition has been around for 20 years. Then again, the looks of the vehicle changed so glacially that it’s even more difficult to believe that this is the fourth generation Expedition. Which, if you do the math, suggests a new generation every five years. Well, not quite.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited — Comfortable and quiet, but boring

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(February 9, 2017) During lunch at a VW all-model drive event a few years ago, one of the VW  engineers remarked on the styling of the then-current Hyundai Elantra. “It’s too much. The basic shape is nice, but the detailing is too heavy handed and over-the-top, unlike the Jetta. This would never fly in Germany, and I think the car will look old and out-of-date very quickly.”

New 2018 Toyota Camry screams 'bold'

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 29, 2017) Like the latest Prius, the 2018 Camry — which was unveiled at the Detroit auto show earlier this month —  is built on the modular TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform. A clean-sheet design, the new Camry lowers the hip points of the front and rear seat passengers by 1 inch and 1.2 inches., respectively, drops the overall vehicle height by 1 inch, and lowers the hood 1.6 inches.

Why Ford used an obscure Canadian road course for GT comparison tests

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 28, 2017) Ford announced this week that its new GT has a top speed of 216 mph, produces 647 horsepower and 550 lb.-ft. of torque with 90% of peak torque available from 3,500 rpm, weighs approximately 3,000 pounds bone dry (that is, with no fluids whatsoever onboard), has a power-to-weight ratio of 4.72 lb./horsepower, and is faster around the track than the McLaren 675LT and Ferrari 458 Speciale.

2018 Honda Odyssey: Can magic slide seats outdo Chrysler’s stow and go?

By Christopher A Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 22, 2017) From the B-pillar forward, the new Odyssey shares its underbody with the Pilot crossover. From there back, however, it’s a unique vehicle. Ultra-high-strength steel, aluminum and magnesium are used to reduce weight (up to 96 pounds, depending on trim level) and increase torsional rigidity 44%. In addition, the 280 horsepower direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 has 32 more horsepower.

The most important vehicle in Detroit no one was talking about

By Christopher A Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 19, 2017) Ford didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the 2018 F-150 at the North American International Auto Show, counting on its debut during Fox’s NFL Wildcard Pre-game Show and a concurrent press release to get the word out. It was short shrift for a vehicle that has been America’s top-selling truck for 40 consecutive years and the top selling American vehicle for 35 years, but its image clashes with Ford’s new positioning as a mobility company.

NAIAS 2017: From 'bold' to boring to meaningless

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 17, 2017) The auto industry is headed into the abyss and doesn’t recognize it. Lost in its own echo chamber, the domestic and foreign manufacturers descended on Detroit for the latest iteration of the North American In
ternational Auto Show (Can we please officially shorten this to NAIAS Detroit?) declaring the inexorable triumph of automation, electrification and a switch from being automakers to mobility providers.

Toyota's new 'high rider' — the C-HR, coming this spring

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(January 2, 2017) The letters stand for “Coupe-High Rider,” but the crossover vehicle itself was supposed to launch as a Scion. Only that brand was euthanized not long after Toyota added the iA and iM to the lineup, and everything that remained was rebadged a Toyota. The C-HR its built on the modular Toyota New Global Architecture platform first used on the new Prius.

Ford EcoSport — Coming to the U.S. early in 2018

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(December 24, 2016) When Ford launched the Fiesta back in 1976, it was late to the small car party, but claimed that its entry would follow the old adage, “Last out, best dressed.” At the L.A. Auto Show in Ncvember the company showed its entry into the micro-crossover segment, the EcoSport; a vehicle that has been on sale in South and Central America since 2003, and is now in its second generation.