Both publications are well known in their respective fields. Auto Trends has been around for 5 years and is a pretty well known and respected auto publication. In addition there TheBlaze it seems is a well known conservative leaning website.
Last Friday I attended the 2012 WAPA (Washington Automotive Press Association) Rally at Indigo Landing. The WAPA Rally was quite a lot of fun and I got to test drive a lot of cool cars, all on the same day! The vehicles I got to drive at the 2012 WAPA Rally included the Lexus GS350, Mecedes-Benz GLK, Ford Escape, Hyundai Veloster, Jaguar XF, Kia Optima, and the Subaru BRZ. I probably would have driven more cars if I had gotten to the WAPA Rally on time. I got held-up on the I-83 on ramp heading South, due to this.
Not sure how this Honda Accord got into an accident, just glad I didn't get into an accident getting on the freeway. Anyway I drove about 1/4 of the vehicles there that were available to drive. I wanted to drive the BMW 640i, Audi A8L, Dodge Dart, and VW Golf but most of these were being driven by other auto journalists. I just didn't have time to test drive them all but hopefully I will be have a chance in the future.
By far my favorite car that I drove at the WAPA Rally was the Subaru BRZ. The handling is tight, acceleration amazing, and the car seemed to fit me like a glove. I joked with a guy who came back from driving the Subaru BRZ, “I was almost tempted to drive it home!” his reply “Oh yeah! Me too!” I only wish it was a stick shift. The PR rep from ESI, the company that was handling the fleet vehicles, said they have a Scion FR-S (same car as the Subaru BRZ) that is a stick shift but most are automatics.
The car I was most impressed would have to be the Kia Optima. Compared to other Kias I have driven the Optima I was drove actually felt like a car and not a toy car. Kia has definitely stepped up their game and it showed. The Optima wasn't fast, but was agile and responsive and the interior was quite nice. My only gripe would be the audio and navigation controls are a little confusing. Still I am sure the other PR reps were looking over at the Kia and thinking, “How did Kia get that good so fast?” That is something everyone is wondering.
The Ford Escape Titanium I drove was also much better then any other Ford SUV I have driven in the past. The interior felt plush and well-appointed and the handling wasn't bad either. It still felt like an SUV but a capable small SUV which is exactly what Ford was aiming for. At $33,000 for the Ford Escape Titanium model I drove, I guess you get what you pay for.
My favorite luxury car at the WAPA Rally was definitely the Jaguar XF. I mean it just looks sooo pretty and when you get in you feel great about yourself. In my opinion this is just what luxury car should do. The Jaguar XF also felt fast and responsive compared to some of the other luxury cars I drove at the WAPA Rally. It's not a driver's car, but it sure fools you. Like most people, I don't like the dial shifter for changing gears. Seems cool at first until you use it. If I owned a Jaguar XF I feel I would go into the wrong gear by accident a lot.
After the driving the cars there was a nice catered lunch. Jessica Anderson, President of WAPA, handed out awards for Best Tweet, Best Picture, and a few other awards I can't remember. You got points for filling out a questionnaire and driving as many cars as you could. As well you were supposed to spot WAPA signs that were set out on the 3 different driving routes. Apparently there were 10 but I only noticed 3. Also I hardly took any pictures or tweeted since I was focused on driving as many vehicles as possible. I guess I was having too much fun!
I love my Toyota Camry since it is a great and reliable car. However, it is a bit disappointing when you get back into your own car after having driven so many other cars you want to own, all on the same day!
I have a new writing gig now. I am a Contributing Writer for TorqueNews. It's a great automotive news website that generates a ton of traffic. There are some veteran automotive journalists, like Hawke Fracassa, which will enable me to learn a lot. I should be able to keep up my writing duties with this blog and The College Driver. This is just a new writing venture for me. Check out my 2 stories from today!
Tesla Opens New Dealership Showroom and Service Center in Netherlands
Volvo Demonstrates what Cars go Through before Arriving at Dealerships
Last night I went to do the ASE Engine Repair (A1) test. I must admit it could have gone a little better. Of course….. most of the material, and subject areas I reviewed were not what was on the test. Argh! I was probably only sure of about 50% of my answers. These ASE tests are designed to confuse you and be ambiguous. So many questions technically have 2 right answers, but they are looking for a very specific answer. I'm not the best test taker, so that might have also contributed. I also had to drive rather far, South Carroll High School, to do the test. I took the test on paper, one of the last rounds of ASE tests to be on paper. They are moving into all computer-based testing after this. Maybe that will help… who knows!
Just a reminder for those of us in the automotive fields, ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) testing starts this week. I'll be going to take my first test tomorrow night for Engine Repair (A1). I'll be hitting the books tonight and doing my best to pass. I wish everyone good luck who is taking a test for ASE certification.
The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) will be having MD State Inspection Classes. They are designed to prepare an automotive technician for doing the written or hands-on (state trooper observes the technician) portion of the testing.
Preparation for MD State Safety Inspection Test (Written)