Car: Right Stuff Gets Short Shrift in Star’s Pretend ‘Automotive’ Section

SpeedieTom copy

Tom Strongman

I’ve preached to you guys about personal responsibility when it comes to your choice of cars. Maybe too much, I’ll admit. But the fact remains if you really don’t need to drive an oversized gas guzzler, you shouldn’t. It’s bad for the earth, bad for the future, selfish and helps fuel wars abroad and other abhorrent international hanky-panky.

In spite of all that, a friend of mine just bought a Porsche Cayenne.

Let’s do the math.

His kids are grown and have moved away; he’s not in the biz of transporting large groups; and he’s about as establishment a guy as you could imagine – Kansas Republican, Mission Hills.

The one thing he isn’t is a to the manner born scofflaw like me.

Screen shot 2013-06-02 at 11.47.15 PM

Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid

It’s only 12 grand more than the base Cayenne and gets three to five more MPGs in the city. That’s as much as a third better mileage.

You know, make some sort of token nod or contribution to the good of mankind.

Uh, not a chance.

Now he’s tearing around town in a car that’s way too big, way too fast and gets terrible gas mileage because he thinks it makes him a cool dude.

Go figure.

chevrolet_traverse_ltz_awd_2010Meanwhile back at the Kansas City Star – an institution that prides itself on taking meaningful positions on things like the environment and world peace – Tom Strongman is choking out blowjobs for cars like the 2013 Chevy Traverse. An SUV that gets 17 City, 24 Highway and costs $44,000 as tested. There’s something we all could use.

But who really needs to push this 5,066 pound behemoth around town?

So what if it’s “lighter and more fuel efficient than a Tahoe or Suburban,” as Strongman notes. BTW, it only gets 2 MPGs City more than the Suburban, big effing deal.

Strongman used to be a pretend journalist.

Thus the cars he reviewed for the Star were supposed to get the kind of journalistic scrutiny Consumer Reports might render. Even though everybody at the newspaper knew the game was to kiss up to car dealers who were among the newspapers biggest advertisers.

imagesSomewhere along the line the Star stopped pretending and in small print identified the section as an “advertising section.”

But boy, those Strongman reviews sure look like the real deal still, not advertising. And he’s identified in the section as “contributing editor.”

Which sounds like a real journalist there, too.

Why not give him a title more befitting someone who writes advertising copy? Say, marketing manager.

It’s a charade, people.

It’s like hiring a hooker inLas  Vegas and pretending it’s on a higher plane somehow because she agrees to have dinner out with you first.

It’s a joke.

And given the content quality of much of the Star‘s “automotive” section – passing out plaudits to gas guzzlers to please advertisers – the section itself is also bad for the earth. because it doesn’t have a truly critical bone in it’s body.

Am I being too harsh?




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23 Responses to Car: Right Stuff Gets Short Shrift in Star’s Pretend ‘Automotive’ Section

  1. Kyle Rohde says:

    You are absolutely being too harsh, Hearne, along with preachy and over the top. It’s wonderful that you drive something small and thrifty, but to suggest that everyone needs to do the same is ridiculous. If your friend, or Strongman, or anyone wants to buy a large SUV, truck or other vehicle, that’s their business. And they’ll contribute more than their fair share to highway/road maintenance thanks to all the taxes associated with the fuel they buy.

    As for the Traverse, please tell me what other 7 passenger vehicle would be a better buy for someone who has 3+ kids and needs to haul stuff + other kids around frequently, in terms of gas mileage. An SUV of that size getting 24/17 is nothing to scoff at, considering 10 years ago you were lucky to get one that did 17 on the highway and over 12 in the city.

  2. Super Dave says:

    Well I don’t think Hearne is being to harsh. I wish I could drive a more fuel friendly car everyday but due to my style of work that isn’t possible. Many of use hate pulling up to the gas pumps and paying what we do each week for gas. I’m all for high MPG on any mode of transportation and really do believe the car makers and others like them could deliver that to us but are not. And in 10 years, 7 more MPG on a unit is truly nothing to applaud about. By the way as a kid SUV’s was rare as hell and people got by with cars yes they had more room but people with low incomes today manage just fine with smaller cars.

    • Kyle Rohde says:

      Dave – the automakers aren’t holding back secret technology just to keep us buying gas; that tired conspiracy theory drives me nuts. If one of them could suddenly deliver a car that got 100 MPG and carried 7 people, don’t you think they’d sell it and make billions?

      The reality is that, yes, we all want better gas mileage but not at the expense of the performance, comfort, room, government-mandated safety equipment and style everyone also wants from their cars. Oh, and it has to be sold at a reasonable price too. Doing all those things makes it impossible to suddenly start selling cars with 2x the mileage.

  3. mike says:

    If you are that concerned about the environment, why do you drive back and forth from Lawrence? You should live closer to work and everything you need, then you could ride a bicycle and walk everywhere. Also to give yourself energy, don’t eat beef because of the greenhouse gasses produced from the flatulence of the cattle and the amount of fuel used to farm the corn they feed them with. Hunt and gather everything you eat. Live in a cave so you won’t need to heat and cool your living quarters as well.

  4. smartman says:

    Strongman is in need of some dental work and some whitening wouldn’t hurt either.

    A car will make you a fool or a tool before it will make you cool. Who are chicks gonna think is cooler, your buddy in his Cayenne, Glazer in his Lotus or David Beckham in a ’79 Pinto?

    What one drives cannot be the only measure of their carbon footprint. Does your new home have high efficiency HVAC? Solar panels? How much do you recycle? Do you have rain barrels to capture water run off? Have you converted any of your cars to run on CNG?

    There are lots of ways we can be better stewards of the planet than just driving fuel efficient cars.

    • mike says:

      That is what kills me about many of the left wing people in Hollywood. They drive around in a hybrid to impress everybody with how much they care, when they are not being chauffeured in a limo, sitting in their mansion, or flying around on a private jet.

  5. chuck says:

    Hearne has issued his “Fiat” to we plebes from the lofty heights of Mount Sunflower and we do NOT want him trekking back up the hill to the burning bush for more advice. Remeber, he invented the internet.

    Actuall, I drove a Prius one time, it was really cool. Have ya seen the videos of the Tesla? The Chevy Volt?

    Pretty cool cars, I can’t afford any of them, but electric cars are pretty neat in my opinion.

  6. the dude says:

    Hey whatcha gonna do when the lead leaves the already small pencil?
    Buy a sportscar!!!! Or lease one!!!

  7. paulwilsonkc says:

    I’m a long way from being or pretending to be “green”, but the downside of not being so depresses me. When my wife has 4 kids to haul around, and when I join her and my step kids, that makes six total passengers. Short of birth control (which I had no part of, since the “step” kids), in the words of Blind Melon Pig Feets Dupree, “what IS yous gonna do, what IS YOU gonna do?” Our answer, for third row seating was the Cadillac SRX. On a great day with a tail wind in the city, 12/13MPG. I’ve seen 10. On the highway, 18/19 MPG is a BFD. I dont like $70 at the pump for a fill up anymore than anyone else, but the choices are?

    And more to the point of the Star, being a huge car guy, I stopped reading him when he stopped doing classic and local collector interviews a long time ago. It doesnt take a brain surgeon to tell what he’s doing in that section and its weak sauce at best, boring mostly.

    • Libertarian says:

      I gave up on Strongman when Ray Farnher died, and dear Tom goes on to review the new Mazda something or another that week, instead of using his column to eulogize a legendary custom car builder who spent his life in KC.

  8. Alfred the butler says:

    The cost to the Earth when you buy a brand, new car is far worse than to keep on truckin’ in the ol’ buggy. That is where your mantra fails. If you really cared, you’d be driving till it drops.

    Now if you are going to read about motor vehicles, make sure the source has no auto ads. Or check to see how many ads that “great new car” builder’s company has in the issue(s).

    And if you buy an electric vehicle to “save the planet”, you might as well just punch a spotted-owl in the nutz.

  9. chuck says:

    I think as long as we are talking about taking care of the planet, we should also talk about taking care of ourselves.

    Health issues are a big deal for all citizens, especially us old white guys on kcconfidential.

    Michael Douglas, as we all know, just came back from STAGE 4 CANCER!!

    Wonderful news.

    He had HPV Type 16 cancer which infected him by way of his wife’s (Caterine Zeta Jones) vagina.

    Basically, dude went down on Zeta Jones so much, that he got fu*kin cancer.

    Remember your dad telling you about “Too much of good thing”?

    This has been a Public Service Announcement on kcconfidential.

    You will have to excuse me now, I am going to go invent the tongue condom and move to Costa Rica.

  10. mike says:

    One good way to save gas would be to ride motorcycles. Park them all in front of a coffee shop on the Plaza to make a statement and show everybody how environmentally responsible you are.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Mike, I’d do that but I like to loiter at coffee shops. That’s relax time for me. I love to go with my sketch book and draw up my next projects, read, etc. I would take your advice, but I’d end up being there too long and wouldn’t want to get a ticket!

      • mike says:

        You could also smoke a cigar while you were there, except that it would introduce dangerous greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Do they have electric cigars?

        • paulwilsonkc says:

          If they develop and electronic cigar, I will BORROW the money to get on a plane, find the person, SLAP them, and come back home.

          • mike says:

            Even better would be if you rode a bicycle to find and slap them. Airplanes are contributing to the buildup of greenhouse gasses. That is what caused us to be so warm and dry this winter.

    • the dude says:

      I Already do that, where is Hearne to complain about the fact that I parked in his designated coffe spot loitering around waiting to get back on my bike?

  11. bubba says:

    for it’s size and engine the fiat is no great wonder. It is built for Europe and good for getting around a tight city but for the long haul they have a real rail transit system. You don’t get that much better gas mileage than my Mazda CX-5 and you get much better comfort and safety for a long haul to the New Mexico. If you want the best gas mileage, get off your ass and ride as the Brits call it, a push bike. Or if you are a little more daring, get a 800 cc BMW bike.

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