automobiles

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Diesel passenger cars have had a tumultuous past in the United States. In the last 15 years, they gained some acceptance among American consumers before a recent downturn. But in the pursuit of increased gas mileage, an increasing number of car makers are now offering diesel models in this country.

But a notable absence today is Volkswagen, which once sold the most diesels vehicles in this country. After VW was slapped with a huge penalty for rigging emission test results, the company pulled its diesels off the market.

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For a long time, electric vehicles were neither practical nor especially affordable. To add insult to injury, you also couldn’t go very far in them before you needed an often hard to find charging station.

But Tesla’s newest Model 3 is the first mass produced electric car. It will also be the company’s most affordable car to date with a list price starting at $35,000. And the distance you can go between charges has improved to 215 miles.

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Long gone are the days of compact pickup trucks where the fanciest gadget you may have inside the cab is a radio. Today, pickup trucks are the top 3 selling vehicles in the North American market. But even as their sales numbers have risen, they’re used less and less for work and more as a luxury family vehicle.

New trucks are able to seat up to six adults, have a multitude of gadgets, and can easily cost up to $50,000.

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Not all that long ago - at least in automotive history - luxury cars were promoted in a lot of ways. There was the rich, Corinthian leather. The comfortable passenger space and the huge trunk. And of course, there was the soft - sometimes practically squishy ride.

That's not the way Cadillac, Lincoln, or really any luxury manufacturers advertise their cars any more. It's all about speed and performance, and maybe passenger space, too. But it's a trend that caught the eye of  Lake Effect automotive contributor, Mark Savage.

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Horse racing fans have had two big dates on their calendar already this spring, with the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.  Auto racing fans have a huge one coming up on Sunday, with the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

"It's a team sport, so it's who has the best aerodynamicist and work best with the driver, who has the best team as far as making good pit stops and getting the car set up properly for the driver, and then who has the best driver," says automotive contributor Mark Savage, who writes about cars for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and on his website.

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There are probably still a few cars on the road that have only a radio, or perhaps even a cassette deck. However nowadays, it's kind of a throwback to even find a CD player in some newer models.

Electronics are a huge deal in the cars of the 21st century, from the way the engines themselves are controlled, to how drivers and passengers are kept safe and how they’re entertained.

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Not long ago, the idea that you could design a car that could drive itself and its passengers from place to place safely was something out of science fiction films. But the idea has gone from drawing boards to a prototype to the road.

At least two companies have set early versions of the self-driving car out for a spin – Audi, the German maker of some high-end cars and SUVs, and Google.

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Even though most large cities – including Milwaukee – have their own auto shows, two dates on the calendar standout for the automotive industry in this country.

Driving a smarter car might involve driving your current car on a smarter road. 

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It's been a long road for the convertible since it's hey-day.