The Virtual Driver

A more emotional, but still flawed Soul

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(October 15, 2017) The Kia Soul competes at the confused end of the small car market. When the original Scion xB and Nissan’s Cube were new, the small crossover craze hadn’t begun. And square, upright vehicles like the Soul were classified as funky city cars by most observers. However, the almost logarithmic proliferation of vehicles like the Chevy Trax, Mazda CX3, Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V, etc. has changed the landscape to the point where even Kia is a bit confused where the Soul fits in.

1907 Stoddard-Dayton Model K Runabout — Status symbol for the rich

By William G. Sawyer
Contributing Editor, The Virtual Driver

(October 8, 2017) Dayton, Ohio, doesn’t readily come to mind when thinking of industrial centers, although in 1900 the city held more U. S. patents per capita than any other. The story of the Wright brothers designing and building the first workable airplane in a bicycle shop there conjures up images of a couple of country bumpkins laboring away in a bucolic town devoid of an industrial presence, but nothing is farther from the truth.

All-new Hyundai Accent face less competition in shrinking segment

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(October 1, 2017) Hyundai’s fifth generation Accent debut last week at California’s Orange County Auto Show came not long aft
er Ford announced it would not continue to sell its similarly sized Fiesta in the U.S. The decision robs consumers of competition between two new subcompact models.

Bending but not breaking the tire tech rules

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 24, 2017) Michelin has joined up with the worlds largest producer of wheels, Maxion Wheels, to reinvent the wheel so that it bends without breaking. According to Michelin Chief Operating Officer, Florent Menegaux: “Car wheels have been getting bigger and bigger, as they contribute to making cars look more premium, and large shiny alloys are an integral part of all modern car designs. However, the resulting low-profile tires with short sidewalls are much more susceptible to damage on today’s deteriorating roads.”

Mercedes-AMG Project One — F1 power, complexity for the chosen few

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 18, 2017) More than 1,000 horsepower. A top speed of more than 217 mph. Formula 1 hybrid technology. It is, says Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG’s board of management and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, “…the first Formula 1 car with MOT (Ministry of Transport) approval.”  Uh, well, sorta.

What’s the point of an Audi you can’t drive yourself?

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 17, 2017) Audi says the Aicon Mobility Concept is a technology demonstrator, “in which the advantages of door-to-door individual transportation are combined with the luxurious ambiance of a first-class cabin.” More than just a robot taxi, the Aicon sits on a wheelbase that, at 136.6 inches, is 9.4 inches longer than that of the new A8, stretches 214 inches overall, is a massive 82.7 inches wide, and stands 59.3 inches tall.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander GT: Competence is not enough

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 9, 2017) One upon a time, Mitsubishi was an automaker with a purpose. It built rugged, high-tech cars and trucks that people wanted to own. It had a plant in Illinois, shared technology and platforms (and entire vehicles) with Chrysler, and was Subaru before Subaru was Subaru, with its World Rally Championship Evo models and turbocharged, all-wheel drive Galant VR4s for the street.

Primed for annoyance in Toyota's new Prius

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 5, 2017) The timing could not have been better. It was time for the annual family get together that kinda sorta takes place at the same time as Cindy’s Uncle Bill’s birthday. His brother Ernie would be there, as would their sister Pat and Cindy’s mom, Helen. It was the perfect backdrop for the car we were driving that week.

A quietly capable and comfortable mid-size sedan

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 1, 2017) We've written about the current generation Volkswagen Passat on numerous occasions — everything from the launch of the U.S. version and the plant that makes it, to the diesel (pre-software cheat discovery), to the one we have here, a 2017 1.8T SE with the Technology package. It’s not like I call every couple of months looking to get into a Passat. I don’t have to.

2018 Volkswagen T-Roc introduced in Italy; not coming to U.S.

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(August 27, 2017) Volkswagen premiered its new T-Roc small SUV in Italy this past week. The diminutive SUV is based on the same MQB structure as the Golf and Atlas yet, interestingly for a company that just launched the Atlas and a new Tiguan in the U.S., there are no plans to sell the T-Roc in the U.S., despite the rapid growth of the compact SUV market.