Autofield Blog

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE AWC

By: Gary S. Vasilash 1. August 2014

You’ve heard it and probably even said it.

“If you can’t say something nice about someone”—or something—“don’t say anything at all.”

I thought about stopping this right here.

[long pause]

But, obviously, I didn’t.

So I need to point out that the Outlander Sport that I drove was painted Rally Red, and the vehicle looked absolutely great.

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE

Better in red

And to double up on the niceties, it is worth noting that in when reporting sales through June 2014, Mitsubishi Motor American announced “Outlander Sport sales are up 23.1 percent year-to-date. This was the best January through June sales total in the model's history.”

That said. . .where to begin?

Maybe with this: the compact crossover utility market is, in many ways, one of the most competitive out there. No matter where you look, you’ll find really fine executions in CUVs including the Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Tucson, and Kia Sportage.

In the cases of those vehicles, it is clear that those who developed them were aware of what the other guys were doing, and consequently they had to significantly up their game, whether it is a case of materials or amenities. Sure, the Outlander Sport has a leather-wrapped steering wheel and automatic climate control. It has a pushbutton start and heated front seats.

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE Interior

That plastic is as hard as it looks

But none of it seemed to be world-class. It almost seems as though the vehicle was engineered for an earlier time in a less-demanding market. And mind you: the vehicle that I was in was the premium model.

Speaking of premium, the vehicle has the “Premium Package” option, which includes a 710-Watt Rockford Fosgard audio system. The system has nine speakers, including a 10-inch subwoofer that’s back inside the hatch. You open up the liftgate, and there is one impressively sized speaker.

That is, as they say, all good.

But the knob on the face of the audio head unit has a diameter that is diminutive. We’re talking less-than dime-sized. It makes no sense. Powerful audio that has a tiny little knob. It ought to be something large, metal and knurled.

The Outlander Sport has a respectable 148-hp, 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four cylinder engine with variable valve timing. That’s good. But what isn’t good is the Sportronic continuously variable transmission (CVTs).

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE

Nice taillights

Many of my car-reviewing colleagues have a knee-jerk reaction to CVTs, finding them as about as appealing as a cold sore. In my experience, many of the cars that I’ve driven—since, at least, one of the early circa 2004 Ford 500 models—to be good to really good. Nissan, for example, has decided that one way to achieve impressive fuel-economy numbers across the board in its vehicles is to use CVTs in cars and crossovers alike, and the implementation is well done.

I wish I could say that about this CUV. At times under moderate acceleration I wondered whether the vehicle was just going to, in effect, say “enough,” and bog down to a halt.

That, as my friend Peter DeLorenzo would say, is not good.

The Outlander Sport is built by Mitsubishi (with the engine and transmission sourced from Japan) in its plant in Normal, Illinois.

If only this vehicle was one that was designed and engineered with the new normal of CUVs.

If we go back to the announcement regarding how well the Outlander Sport is doing as regards sales through June, it is worth noting that according to Autodata, 15,322 Outlander Sports were sold during the first six months.

During the month of June, Honda delivered 26,129 CR-Vs.

Did I mention the Outlander Sport really looks good in Rally Red?

Selected specs

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC I4

Horsepower: 148 @ 6,000 rpm

Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm

Materials: Aluminum block and head

Transmission: Sportronic continuously variable

Steering: Electric

Wheelbase: 105.1 in.

Length: 169.1 in.

Width: 69.7 in.

Height: 64.2 in.

Seating capacity: 5

Passenger volume: 97.5-cu. ft.

Cargo volume w/subwoofer: 20.1-cu. ft.

EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 24/29/26 mpg

Cadillac Type 57: Over There & Now at the Library of Congress

By: Gary S. Vasilash 31. July 2014

We must admit that we knew absolutely nothing about the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) when we learned last week that a 1918 Cadillac Type 57 was being added to the HAER and to the Historic Vehicle Association’s National Historic Vehicle Register.

The Historic Vehicle Association, founded by Hagerty, an insurance company that specializes in classic cars, is fairly understandable.


Well, according to it:

“The Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) was established in 1969 by the National Park Service, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Library of Congress to document historic sites and structures related to engineering and industry. This agreement was later ratified by four other engineering societies: the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers. Appropriate subjects for documentation are individual sites or objects, such as a bridge, ship, or steel works; or larger systems, like railroads, canals, electronic generation and transmission networks, parkways and roads.”

And apparently cars, too, like this Cadillac.

1918 Cadillac Type 57

This particular Type 57 was used during World War I, during the Second Battle of the Marne, and later as a transport for Eleanor Butler Roosevelt, wife of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son of the president. She used it for two months, seeking out places for soldiers to get a little R&R.

Richard O’Connor, chief of Heritage Documentation Programs with the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, said, “The Cadillac Type 57-U.S. 1257X is a great example of a rare survivor—a vehicle that saw extraordinary use during its active life yet has survived to the present day. Recognizing the Cadillac military vehicle at the 100th anniversary of WWI commemorates America’s participation in the Great War and illustrates one of the many contributions the automobile has made to U.S. history.”

1918 Cadillac Type 57

Mark Gessler, president of the Historic Vehicle Association, said, “U.S. 1257X may well be the only complete and largely unrestored example of a WWI military Cadillac known to exist.”

Documentation of the Cadillac Type 57 – U.S. 1257X is being included in the permanent archives of the Library of Congress. Among the reasons why: its historic association with important events and persons, its construction and the design value of the V8 engine.

1918 Cadillac Type 57

And while on the subject of the V8, historically speaking, Cadillac was the first manufacturer to mass produce V8-powered cars. In the case of the Type 57, a 2,000-mile run in Marfa, Texas, conducted by the U.S. Army in 1917 garnered its designation as the “standard seven-passenger car of the U.S. Army.”

1918 Cadillac Type 57

Other reasons why it is going to be documented for the Library of Congress is because it retains most of its original materials, components, and craftsmanship.

So, 100 years from now, what will make it into the Library of Congress?

1918 Cadillac Type 57

BMW and the Ultimate DC Charging Machine

By: Gary S. Vasilash 30. July 2014

Imagine pulling up to a gas station with a GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota, Etc. logo and topping off your tank and driving away without having put a charge on a credit card or cash.

This, in effect, is what is happening in the still-growing world of electric vehicles. Not only are the vehicle manufacturers faced with the daunting challenge of creating vehicles that are durable, reliable, capable, and, yes, even appealing, they are also dealing with the development of a recharging infrastructure.

BMW charger

Tesla has done the most in this space, creating its Supercharger network of stations that allow owners of its EVs to plug in to get a sufficient amount of juice (generally 80% of charge) in about 20 minutes and then continue.

BMW has announced that it, along with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, has developed “BMW I DC Fast Chargers” for its i3 electric vehicle. This fast charger can recharge an i3 to 80% in 30 minutes.

Another advantage, this of a infrastructural nature, is that the device, unlike other charging stations, which are approximately the size of a major appliance, measures just 31 x 19 x 12 in. and weighs just 100 lb., so it can be affixed to a wall. In addition to which, BMW is going to market the devices to “authorized BMW partners” for $6,548.

And while on the subject of money, it is worth noting that i3 drivers in California who activate their ChargeNow cards, which come with the i3, and use it at a participating eVgo Freedom Station (which, admittedly, sounds a bit over the top for what is otherwise described in an internal combustion context as a “gas station”; c’mon, electronics aren’t that fancy) by the end of 2014, will have free DC charging—which necessitates, of course, it i3 being equipped with the SAE DC Fast Charging option—through the end of 2015.

“This is a milestone in the development of the DC fast charging infrastructure. With more than five years of real world experience, we understand that a robust network of publicly available DC Combo Fast Chargers is a key part of the mobility of tomorrow. . BMW is offering the BMW i DC Fast Charger at an appealing price point, and more manageable size, to make the convenience of DC fast charging more accessible for BMW i3 owners,” said Robert Healey, EV Infrastructure Manager, at BMW of North America.

At some point, the charge stations are going to charge the same way that the aforementioned gas stations do.

But as OEMs build the market for EVs, it seems as though it is a good time for early adopters when it comes to the cost of energy.

Ford Looks at Variations on a Car Sharing Theme Through Time

By: Gary S. Vasilash 29. July 2014

Ford has created an infographic on the subject of for-hire transportation which is both informative and somewhat mystifying.

That is, the whole concept of owning cars or renting cars or sharing cars or taking cabs or taking a service like Uber or Lyft is something that a whole lot of people—both individuals looking for a way to get from A to B in a reliable way as well as automotive OEMs that are either starting their own vehicle-sharing services (Mercedes car2go) or are working with an existing one (Ford and Zipcar)—are talking about more and more often of late.

So that’s the informative part.

The somewhat mystifying part is how Ford calls out that it ended production of the Ford Crown Victoria and the Lincoln Town Car—the ne plus ultra of cabs and black cars—back in 2011, arguably one of the greatest puzzles or gaffes in recent automotive history.

Still, it is worth taking a look.

The Business of the Back Seat

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Making Draft Selections, Automotive Style

By: Gary S. Vasilash 28. July 2014

Car and Driver.

The Detroit Bureau.

Motor Trend.

The Detroit Free Press.

Motor Trend Audio.

Automotive Design & Production.

You get a group of guys who work for those outlets together, and quite naturally the conversation turns (after discussions about food and complaints about long airline flights stuffed in insufferably small seats in the back of the plane) to cars, car companies and automotive executives.


Team logo for one of the fictitious car companies

But in this case, rather than having a completely free-flowing conversation, Jeff Sabatini, Aaron Bragman , Paul Eisenstein , Scott Burgess, Mark Phelan, Charlie Vogelheim, and I (each of whom work for the aforementioned publications, in that order), had it focused in the “Autoline Automotive Fantasy Draft.”

There are “team owners” who are tasked with making decisions about how they’d staff their very own car companies and how they’d position it in the market.

Find out why Sabatini thinks there could be an intersection between cars, bicycles and beer. Find out why Bragman thinks an ideal feature for his automobiles would be sourced from Weber Grill. Find out why Eisenstein is looking, not surprisingly, for global domination (and is probably working on a Death Star at this very moment). Find out why I would put my premier dealership in Omaha, Nebraska.

Find out why Phelan and Burgess—the color commentators—pretty much think we’re all jackasses.

And see the announcer, Vogelheim, performing his thankless duties while wearing a tux.

This may be one of the funniest hours you’ll ever spend in front of a computer.

OK. Moderately funny.

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