Try as we all might to downplay the relevance of end-of-year lists and the like, it’s time to be honest with ourselves: we love this stuff. And we’re not afraid to fly our checkered flag proudly when it comes to talking about the most eventful things that happened last year in the field of cars and DIY.
Our esteemed bloggers have their own unique views on 2012. As you’ll see, it even gets a little intense when two of them go head to head. But, that’s what The Advance auto blog is all about—sharing passions, thoughts and opinions. Let the fireworks begin!
Editor • DIY’er
Top 5′s for 2012
The DIY Mom:
5. The one-year anniversary of the campaign that lifted the ban of women drivers in Saudi Arabia
Gives perspective on the freedoms we enjoy (and take for granted).
4. The Range Rover Evoque being named the Women’s Car of the Year 2012
Didn’t even know that there was even just such a list. Now I’m wanting to know more about this vehicle that I don’t see much advertising for. Also drives curiosity about the runners up. (Award is based on panel results of worldwide women motoring writers.)
3. The Google Car that drives itself
Looking forward to the day when this becomes a commonplace reality! And who couldn’t use this “chauffeur” for commuting? What a great idea for those doing a night out on the town and no one has to be the designated driver . . .
2. Danica Patrick’s racing year
She has admirers, she has her detractors; in more ways than one, she’s a role model who’s not afraid of breaking ground.
1. The opening of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park
A fun new place the entire family can enjoy, no matter the age of the kids.
5. Lower Gas Prices
After starting out 2012 around $3.23 and trending up to around $3.90 in April and again in September, I’m liking the trend for the average retail price for gas to be lower—at the close of 2012 it was at $3.22. Check out Gas Buddy for more info on gas prices.
4. Mild Temperatures
I love a good snow, but when I have to work outside, I extra appreciate the mild temperatures. The lack of winter weather some of us had in 2012 led to lots more DIY.
3. 2012 NASCAR Champion
My son’s a big NASCAR fan, and this year his favorite driver, Brad Keselowski, was crowned as NASCAR’s champion after capturing the points lead in The Chase.
2. The Growth of Online Vehicle Repair Videos
For saving time and money, nothing beats the thousands of online videos out there—on everything from changing a busted hydraulic hose on a farm tractor (did it) to a shortcut for getting around the air filter cover for headlight replacement on an Odyssey (did it).
1. Vehicles That Last Longer
The average age of vehicles on the road today is a record 10.8 years old. That means vehicles are built better and running longer. With that, 2012 saw my old F150 and Honda Odyssey reach new high-mileage milestones.
5. The New 2014 Ford Fiesta
Motor Trend is giving the one-liter, three-cylinder 2014 Ford Fiesta a strong review. I especially like the clean looks, both inside and out.
4. Kia and DC Comics join forces
To help fight hunger in Africa, Kia Motors and DC Comics joined forces, bringing various players from ImportTuner magazine and West Coast Customs together to build eight cars resembling a superhero from DC Comic’s Justice League.
3. Formula Drift Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fundraiser
Formula D organizers gave drift fans a chance to ride along with their favorite driver at Irwindale Speedway this past December—all for a $150 contribution to the Red Cross Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Not a bad deal.
2. 2012 Wekfest
This import car show was huge in 2012, and looks to be even bigger, better and more exciting when it kicks off 2013 in Hawaii this February, followed by San Francisco.
1. A rookie wins Formula D
Rookie Daigo Saito captured the 2012 Formula D championship in his first year in this drift competition. Read more about Daigo Saito.
The Mechanic Next Door and Gearhead’s Garage:
These two distinguished DIY’ers happened to be visiting the same town during the holidays. Over beers, they went over my latest assignment… the results of which are below, same as they arrived to me on a musty ol’ cassette tape (our resident Gearhead is very old-school), via media mail (he’s cheap, too). —JK
MND=The Mechanic Next Door
5. 2013 Ford Fusion
MND: “The new Fusion gets almost 50 mpg in Hybrid form, and with a starting price in the low $20,000 range, it’s an impressive value. The Aston Martin-inspired styling is a nice bonus.”
GG: “Forget the Hybrid, I’ll take the six-speed stick and the 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbo. Scoots along pretty good, still doesn’t suck gas, and man, can this thing take a corner for a front-driver. It’s really something.”
4. 2013 Cadillac ATS
GG: “Rear drive and that big 3.6-liter V6 in something this small? This is the first Caddy I’ve wanted since the XLR!”
MND: “That V6 is nice, but the story here is that Cadillac finally gets the sport-sedan formula right across the board. It’s great that you can get a regular 2.5-liter four in this car as well, or a 2.0-liter turbo. Something for everyone.”
3. 2013 Honda Accord
MND: “A real return to form. I remember when the Accord was a no-brainer choice, but Honda had lost the plot in recent years. Nice to see them back on their game.”
GG: “Yeah, nice ride all around. I especially like that they still build an Accord coupe after all these years. Shoot, the V6 coupe can give a Mustang a run for its money, and it looks a lot better than it used to.”
2. 2013 Toyota Avalon
MND: “Has a sedan this large ever crossed the 40 mpg barrier? I don’t think so, and the new Avalon Hybrid is no slouch off the line with that electric-motor torque, either. Plus, it’s got the looks to compete with attractive midsizers like the Fusion. This could be the future of the big American-style sedan.”
GG: “Will you quit with the Hybrid talk? The regular V6 is one of the best things going. It’ll do 30 mpg or so if you baby it, and then it’ll blow the doors off that punk kid next to you at a stoplight. Handling’s solid, too.”
1. 2013 Porsche Boxster
GG: “You know why this was the best car of 2012? Simple, because it’s the only car ever that left me satisfied with just the entry-level motor. You have got to hear the Boxster’s 2.7-liter flat-6 sing its song, and these are the strongest 265 horses I’ve ever had at my disposal. If you know me, you know I’ve got a thing for American muscle, but I’d go German in a heartbeat if my wife would let me buy one of these. And would you look at that styling! It’s an exotic for a fraction of the price.”
MND: “As a mechanically inclined guy, I have to give credit where credit’s due: the new Boxster is an engineering masterpiece. It’s as rigid as a coupe over bumps, its top powers down in a flash, and whether you get the base motor or the 3.4-liter ‘S’ version, it’s a blast to drive. I love that Porsche hasn’t given up on building pure driver’s cars in this day and age.”