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bolt in blue

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  1. 3500 lbs is plenty of tow capacity for me.
  2. I've said it before, but as long as it still has a tow capacity, I'd be all over an Escape ST or RS. My Escape handles better than my Mazda 3, although that's because the suspension is shot in the 3 but the roads are terrible around here, so I don't mind too much for a commuter car. As it currently stands, I only drive the Escape when I have 3+ people in the car, need to haul something, or need to tow something. I'd prefer a Focus wagon with a tow capacity, but especially with a lower ride height for better stability (and gas mileage at the same power), but an Escape ST/RS sounds like a great compromise for the US market. I can confirm that spinning the wheels is fairly easy on a 2.0 FWD Escape. Stock Conti Pro Contact tires don't help either - I get much better performance (including better gas mileage) on my snow tires. Can't wait to get Michelins on the car. Probably next summer at my current rate of driving. Starting to notice wear on the Contis when I changed back to them last weekend. Probably around 30k on them now.
  3. Only phase 1 is opening. When the current work started, phase 1 was supposed to open in 2013. Phases 2 and 3 were already supposed to be under construction. They're now talking about a 2020 start to construction - no funds identified. The real story to me is the cost. It's approaching $1 billion per mile. The excuse is always that New York is an old and complicated city with strong labor protections, but London and Paris are older with similar complications and even stronger labor protections, yet they build for under $100 million per mile and get the construction done faster. I don't know why the costs are so out of control, but it seems likely that it will take at least another 70 years to really finish the Second Avenue Subway unless we can get the costs under control. And we wonder why our infrastructure is falling apart, yet we spend more on infrastructure than other first world countries - it isn't just a transit or NYC problem!
  4. bolt in blue

    2017 Mazda CX-5 Debuts

    My sister was looking at a CX-5 and I liked it better than I thought I would. I believe the stick is no longer offered, or if it is, only on the lowest trims. I would much prefer a stick, but it would be a hard choice for me if I had to choose between a cheap stripper with a stick or getting a nicer trim with everything I wanted and an auto. Would probably partly depend on auto technology and execution since not all autos are created equal.
  5. bolt in blue

    BMW Declares US Sales Have become "Volatile"

    BMW also seems to not be taking the enthusiast market seriously anymore. Hard to find a new BMW with a stick today - yes, their highest performance models still have sticks available, but it used to be that you got performance anywhere in the lineup, and that no longer seems to be the case. I live in a high cost of living but also high traffic area. People can afford nice cars and there's a lot of enthusiasts around. I don't see as many BMWs as I used to. Ford performance models are very popular - I see almost as many Focus ST as any other trim level. I see more Fiesta ST than all other Fiesta.
  6. bolt in blue

    2018 VW Atlas 3-row Crossover Debuts

    VW puts nicer interiors in the same cars in Germany. Germans seeing a VW in the US are often completely confused by the lack of quality. I like some of the VW vehicles, especially their willingness to bring more euro style vehicles to the US, but overall am not impressed with their offerings. When they have competition, it seems like most of the other offerings execute better. That said, I had a Golf as a rental in Spain that had a much nicer interior than the US Golf - and it was a lower model. I wouldn't say the car was a joy to drive though since it had been in a major accident before me and I think the location was just trying to dump it on another location, since it was a one way rental.
  7. bolt in blue

    Weak batteries in recent Fords?

    My Escape's battery went just after the 3 year warranty was up. I routinely go 2 weeks without driving it, so I hardwired in a battery charger connection when I replaced the battery and keep it on a charger when it's sitting in my carport. My Mazda 3 has a very old looking battery in it - definitely well past its warranty and still going strong. I'm expecting to have to replace it, but it shows no signs of trouble. My experience is batteries usually go more catastrophically today than they used to. Instead of a gradual degradation, they seem fine one day and are dead the next. Maybe I shouldn't be backing my 3 into the carport so the engines line up if I have to jump it off the Escape.
  8. I haven't used AM radio at all in either of my current cars or the car that came before them - purchased new in 2001. The last radio station I listened to on AM was the local "traffic and weather every 10 minutes" all news station. They were the last holdouts to moving to FM - they didn't have a usable FM signal until 1998. To me, AM is just noise when I accidentally push the wrong button. In my lifetime, I've never had more than 2 AM presets, and I haven't bothered setting any in over 15 years. I wouldn't miss it at all.
  9. bolt in blue

    Bloomberg: Toyota Hits a Wall

    I don't get that sentiment - even if I'm happy with a brand, I always cross shop vehicles. Too big a purchase for something that I will keep a long time to not know the whole field. When I bought my Escape, my initial search for a new vehicle contained between 35 and 40 models. I got that down to around 5 fairly fast, but looked seriously at all of those options. I've been very happy with Ford and would start there if replacing a vehicle, but I'd give the competition in that class a serious look before buying. I think that someone who blindly buys Toyota today must not keep their vehicles very long. I've had several Toyotas as rentals recently and have been pleasantly surprised at how they drive, but every Toyota in the family in the past decade has not been well built and has required a lot of service. What a far cry from mid 90s Toyotas that were practically indestructible - I know several people driving old Camrys with 300k+ miles and no mechanical problems yet. We put an engine in a Corolla around the 5 year mark - 1 month out of powertrain warranty and well under on mileage for a coolant leak out of the block. Not the same kind of construction!
  10. As someone who has packed many extended length conventional vans and also box trucks with production equipment (sound, lights, etc), I can tell you the legacy design full size vans are a pain to pack because of the low interior height. The Fords were the easiest to pack, but the difference between an E350 and a small box truck on an E350 cutaway chassis is night and day in terms of ease of packing for the same amount of gear. The box truck costs a lot more though. A high roof Euro van would probably work great for that in between space - where a van is large enough but a pain to load.
  11. bolt in blue

    Road trip recommendation on west coast?

    I will second the PCH - just expect it to take a long time to drive. There's so many beautiful spots, especially the section south of San Francisco near Monterey that I stopped every few turns to enjoy the view.
  12. bolt in blue

    French cars to return!

    I rented a Renault Captur in 2014. It was a great little car and I'd happily rent it again. It felt much better built than the VW Golf I rented a week later.
  13. @fordmantpw GM used to offer plant tours of their Baltimore Assembly plant (which closed in 2005). I did one of the tours around 2000 when they were building the Astro/Safari vans and it was one of the most interesting things I've ever done. The tour started around 7pm and lasted over two hours, with roughly two miles of walking during the tour. We saw most everything the plant did. No photos allowed, of course, but they did give us some UAW-themed swag at the end. I think I still have a UAW truck shaped ruler they gave us. I think the tour was free too - definitely not a customer perk as no one in my immediate family has ever owned a GM product, despite having owned many makes. I would have loved to have a similar tour of the Escape plant!
  14. bolt in blue

    2017 Cruze Hatch Revealed

    But the million dollar question: can you get the hatch with the diesel engine?
  15. Wow - 90k on a bike is crazy! I thought my buddy's bike was really high at 41k compared to all the used ones I've been seeing. Never seen a listing for one for sale around here with over 60k - and I've only seen over 30k a few times.