Articles in Behind the Wheel

BMW: ‘We Don’t Need No Stinking Keys’

MUNICH—The first ignition keys were introduced by Chrysler in 1949, although car doors required keys prior to that time. Early innovations in car keys included jackknife-like flip keys and keys with elaborate marque’s logos on them. Starting in the mid-1990s, cars began to come with transponder keys, programmed to allow only a specific vehicle to start.
Fast forward to the early 2000s when automakers such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz introduced keyless …

Review and Test Drive: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500SL Coupe/Roadster

One of the most beautiful cars ever built arguably was the Mercedes-Benz SL coupe, which was introduced in 1954 as the 300SL, a model known for its distinctive gullwing doors. The legendary 300SL was developed specifically for the U.S. market as the result of a suggestion by legendary European automobile importer Max Hoffman.
Hoffman, whose home and his Park Avenue Mercedes-Benz showroom were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was the son …

Photo Essay: The American Cars of Cuba

One of the images of Cuba ingrained in my mind is the incredible scene of classic American cars from the 1950s that continue to ply Cuban streets. Indeed, a ride in a classic American car (many serve as taxis) is a rite of passage for visitors to Havana.
It is an image Detroit should be proud of: pristine Buicks, Cadillacs, Chevys, Dodges, and Fords chauffeuring tourists around, serving as props for …

Review and Test Drive: 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring RF

September signals the end of the meteorological summer season and what better send-off to summer than a Soul Red Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring RF. Indeed, that’s what arrived at our offices on a warm and sunny day, perfect convertible weather.
With a striking silhouette that gives it a more coupe-like appearance than its soft-top sibling, it did raise a significant question: Is the MX-5 Miata RF a convertible or a …

Review and Test Drive: 2017 Honda Civic Si

When the bright red 2017 Honda Civic Si arrived at our offices, it stood out, and not because it was arrest-me-red. Based on the rather boldly styled 2017 Honda Civic, the Si adds a 205-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder powerplant, a six-speed manual with short-throw shifter, striking 18” wheels, and gear-limited slip differential.
Based on the Japanese automaker’s popular Honda Civic, which was introduced as an inexpensive subcompact in 1972 although it …

Review and Test Drive: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium

Volkswagen didn’t put all of its eggs in the diesel basket. The company’s plans call for it to produce one million electric vehicles a year by 2025, a number similar to what Tesla is projecting for its own sales. The significant difference is that VW has experience in building millions of cars while Tesla just hit the 200,000 mark a few months ago.
Another difference is that the automaker’s e-Golf doesn’t …

Are Big American Sedans Finally Making Their Swan Song?

It’s happened before. Venerable nameplates such as Sedan de Ville, Buick LeSabre, Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler Imperial, and Lincoln Continental once ruled American roads. They were repeatedly downsized starting in the 1970s and most eventually became extinct. Now, amidst tanking sales, it appears the current crop of large American sedans might face such an ignoble end as well.
More than ever before, Americans are buying “trucks,” a category that includes crossovers, SUVs, …