Call me skeptical. Go ahead; it’s a label I wear with pride. I’m a half-ass Catholic with a solid education, and though I chose to pursue the arts instead of the sciences, I evaluate the results of both disciplines with a critical eye. Blind faith is another matter entirely (unless we’re talking about the spectacular Magic Hat brew, which is a notion I can fully support). So a couple years ago, when I was a bit more naïve and a steadfast Euro devotee, I chuckled at my auto industry friends’ (and Kia’s and Hyundai’s) insistence that the Korean manufacturers were poised to take the auto landscape by storm.
Tag - soul
Vehicle: 2010 Kia Soul Sport
Price-as-tested: $18,345 incl. $695 destination
Major equipment: 2.0L inline four-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, power sunroof ($700 option)
Approximate mileage driven: 175
If ever there was a car doomed to fail in the American market, surely it was the first-generation Scion xB. The underlying idea — hastily converting a Japanese-market “room-on-wheels” based on the showroom-poison Toyota Echo to left-hand-drive — was so terrible that one wonders exactly what kind of blackmail took place behind the scene to make it happen. Of course, the little xB turned out to be Scion’s success story. Nominally aimed at artsy college kids and even-artsier bohemians, the xB turned out to be a massive hit with small businessmen, housewives in search of a shopping-cart-sized shopping car, and older people who appreciated the basic utility of Toyota’s no-frills wagon. The xB’s runaway success was an object lesson in the fact that some people really do want an affordable urban utility vehicle, but Toyota chose to ignore that lesson by making the second-gen xB half as again as powerful, hundreds of pounds heavier, and utterly devoid of the original car’s simple charm.
That’s what Fox News calls it. And while we could debate the validity of any mainstream news outlet’s claim to objectivity interminably, it’s the sentiment that I’m interested in. For the longest time we’ve been told that the media’s obligation is to remain impartial and objective – to report the news as it happens and let us do the rest. That seems legit, right? After all, the underlying motives won’t change the fact that something took place. Are they newsworthy in their own right? Of course, but those motives should be the subject of news, not the gift-wrap in which it is delivered.
Now that’s all well and good if you’re talking about news. In the world of automotive journalism, however, we don’t really deal in hard news. Sure, there are times when all we deal in is hard news. Take the auto shows, for example — nothing but product announcements and unveilings. That’s news. Something happens and the press scrambles to be the first to scoop it. It’s in those brief moments that the motoring press acts most like its big brother, the media at large. The catch? We spend the other 45 weeks of the year being something entirely different.