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By on October 22, 2017

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

Tesla Motors and Consumer Reports have enjoyed a fairly contentious relationship with each other over the last few years. The nonprofit consumer advocacy organization had previously slighted the Model S for being unreliable and unsafe, but upgraded that analysis as Tesla continued improving the model. In this year’s consumer survey, the model received higher marks —receiving “above-average reliability for the first time ever.”

However, the Model X suffered a dismal showing and Tesla was outraged that CR gave the Model 3 a predictive average reliability score without even having driven it. The publication was quick to respond, however, and suggested the manufacturer may have misunderstood what was a fairly positive rating for an unproven platform.

While the exchanges seem somewhat trivial and maybe a little petty, this is the kind of automotive drama that’s simply too fun to ignore. For whatever reason, Tesla seems unwilling to remain silent whenever some bad publicity heads its way. While it’s far from the only automaker to do this, its relationship with Consumer Reports has been filled with very specific ups and downs. Read More >

By on October 22, 2017

rearview mirror

Rearview mirrors haven’t enjoyed the same renaissance as other portions of the automobile. When the mirrors began appearing on cars roughly a century ago, wheels had wooden or wire spokes and were wrapped in organically sourced bias-ply rubber. Despite still being round, modern wheels are vastly different from their more-venerable counterparts but mirrors are not.

That might change in a few years. While some automakers have already affixed parking camera displays into the polished reflective centerpiece, like Ford, two manufactures have recently replaced traditional mirrors will full-time video feed. Nissan has one available for the Japanese market and General Motors introduced the Gentex “Full Display Mirror™” on the Cadillac CT6 and XT5 at 2016’s Consumer Electronics trade show.

While our gut-reaction is to contemplate how much more expensive a free-hanging LCD screen would be to replace than a simple mirror, this could be the general direction for a tech-focused industry. In fact, IHS Markit is already positive it’s only a matter of time.  Read More >

By on October 21, 2017

All-New Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Compact SUV - Image: Mitsubishi

Last year, Nissan answered Mitsubishi’s prayers by purchasing a majority stake in the struggling Japanese automaker. The company had started out strong in North America at the dawn of the 20th century, with U.S. sales topping 345,000 in 2002. Six years later, volume had fallen by nearly 85 percent.

Mitsubishi was a dead brand walking, at least on these shores.

Now adopted by a wealthy parent, Mitsubishi has access to Nissan’s technology and platforms, but don’t expect the two automakers to start joint production of new products anytime soon. Only two new models — one with a horrible name, the other a long-delayed niche vehicle — will appear in showrooms before the end of the decade.

Still, Mitsubishi is planning for a 30-percent bump in U.S. sales by early 2020. Product isn’t the sole player in the company’s new growth strategy. Read More >

By on October 21, 2017

2017 Buick LaCrosse rear - Image: Buick

As part of a larger group of automotive publications, TTAC has access to a variety of content. We wanted to bring you some of the unique content we think lives up to TTAC’s standards and offers legitimate insight or a properly critical viewpoint to car evaluation. This story, by GM Inside News editor Michael Accardi, showcases Buick’s latest attempt to boost flagging LaCrosse sales.

NHTSA documents discovered by GM Inside News reveal Buick will expand its Avenir sub-brand in 2018 with the addition of the LaCrosse.

As the full-size sedan market continues to crumble, and the LaCrosse carries a production-crippling 204-day supply of inventory, Buick will push its flagship sedan further into the premium sphere as it attempts to chase unsatisfied luxury shoppers with its new top-shelf Avenir line. Read More >

By on October 20, 2017

newspapers

As you’ve no doubt already seen, Tim Cain is leaving us to pursue another opportunity. We wish him well, but as punishment, he owes us Timbits from Tim Hortons. Lots of Timbits. Like, caseloads.

Confectionery jokes that I have already run into the ground aside, what does this mean for the site? If you love Tim’s sales analysis, it will still be a part of TTAC – just less often. He will still post for us a few times a month on a part-time basis.

Read More >

By on October 20, 2017

2004 Mazda Miata Timothy Cain - Image: © Timothy CainFor more than 13 years I’ve been writing about cars, first in print media, then with my former website GoodCarBadCar, then with Canada’s far-reaching Bell Media, then with Cars.com, and eventually here at my long-term home, The Truth About Cars.

I will not stop writing about cars. But my current full-time role as sales analyst and road test editor at TTAC comes to an end today.

It’s not you. It’s me. Read More >

By on October 20, 2017

BMW logo emblem badge

Back in July, German authorities became concerned that the country’s manufacturers had been operating one of the largest automotive cartels in history. With many auto executives still under the microscope for diesel emission manipulation, combined with inter-familial strife between the Piech and Porsche clans, Germany’s auto industry was starting to resemble a PG version of the film Goodfellas — with a dash of Dallas, for flavor.

Despite some rather serious accusations, nothing really came of the cartel investigation. We were beginning to wonder if it was much ado about nothing. But Germany’s antitrust officials hadn’t forgotten — they were simply biding their time during preliminary investigations into corporate collusion and price-fixing. Earlier this week, they made their big move and raided BMW’s headquarters.  Read More >

By on October 20, 2017

2018 Audi A7 Sportback - Image: AudiSee that new Audi A3 with between 109 and 129 horsepower? That’s an Audi A3 30. And see the badge on the back of that Audi A4 2.0T? Right, it doesn’t say 2.0T. It says Audi A4 45.

Huh?

Exactly. Huh. Many huhs. “Huh?” is being heard everywhere. In fact, even within Audi, “Huh?”, was an expression heard often enough that Audi of America won’t be adopting the new model designation format. That’s a relief.

Remember when you looked at the back of a German car and could instantly decipher its engine displacement? Read More >

By on October 20, 2017

2016 Holden Commodore

Maybe the dingo ate your industry? No, that cruel joke doesn’t hold a grain of truth — Australia’s domestic auto industry simply fell victim to the harsh realities of economics and globalization.

No longer a captive market, no longer a country with steep walls built of tariffs, the land Down Under found it could no longer sustain its own vehicle manufacturing presence. Because of this, today marks the end of it all. Workers will leave the Holden assembly plant in Elizabeth, South Australia, closing the door on the GM subsidiary’s 69-year Aussie car-building history.

It seems the final vehicle to leave the plant was fittingly badass. Read More >

By on October 20, 2017

2018 toyota camry xse

Consumer advice is one way informed shoppers like to make a decision, and few buying choices are bigger than your next car. Every year, Consumer Reports surveys its subscribers to see how they’re getting on with their personal vehicles. While the metrics may have changed over the years, its annual reliability report is one people and automakers pay particularly close attention to.

However, this year, some automakers were paying closer attention than others. Tesla, irritated that CR was so hard on the Model X — while predicting the Model 3 would possess “average reliability” — fired back at the publication with a press release calling shenanigans. “Time and time again, our own data shows that Consumer Reports‘ automotive reporting is consistently inaccurate and misleading to consumers,” the automaker wrote in a release.

While Consumer Reports exists as a nonprofit organization providing consumer advice, Tesla has accused it of making the electric automotive brand a target to bolster attention. Whether or not that’s true is debatable, but it did use predictive reasoning to assess the Model 3’s probable reliability — rather than data collected from testing and customer surveys.  Read More >

By on October 20, 2017

2018 Honda Fit LX - Image: © Timothy CainSubcompacts, if they ever were in favor, have quickly fallen out of favor in the United States. In 2017, sales in the first three-quarters of the year plunged by more than a fifth, year-over-year. The Honda Fit, modestly updated for the 2018 model year, is on track in 2017 to fall to a five-year low of around 50,000 sales, a far cry from the nearly 80,000 American Honda sold a decade ago.

The Honda Fit, not now in third-gen form nor in any prior iteration, has never sold on the strength of style. There have always been less expensive subcompacts, faster subcompacts, and better-equipped subcompacts, as well.

There have not, however, at least not during the Fit’s tenure, been any subcompacts that offer the flexibility of the Honda Fit. But does the fact that the 2018 Honda Fit is likely the only current subcompact that could operate as my family’s lone vehicle make up for the fact that the Fit lags behind rivals in key areas? Read More >

By on October 20, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry Georgetown Kentucky assembly plant - Image: Toyota

Kobe Steel, the disgraced Japanese metal supplier, apparently falsified quality data for its products for over 10 years, the company now admits. Some of those products were sheetmetal and aluminum components used by a slew of automakers, among them American, Japanese, French, German, and Swedish manufacturers.

Makers of trains and airliners also made use of the metals, the strength and durability of which is now in doubt. This week, the European Aviation Safety Agency warned against components made by Kobe Steel.

While Boeing and Airbus inspect their aircraft, automakers are doing the same. Ford has said there’s no reason to be concerned, as Kobe product only went into the hood of a Chinese-market sedan. Now, four other automakers have given their vehicles a clean bill of health. Read More >

By on October 20, 2017

2017 Mazda CX5 - Image: MazdaMazda announced 11 months ago that the company “will introduce a diesel engine option to the North American market,” with the revamped CX-5, launched in the 2017 model year.

We’d heard such claims before. Three years ago, we were still waiting on the launch of the diesel-powered Mazda 6, at least until Mazda gave up on that idea. But Mazda’s insistence this time around produced less doubt. Mazda even revealed that the automaker felt it could generate 10 percent of CX-5 sales with the diesel model.

But last month, we began to wonder about Mazda’s claims of delivering a 2017 Mazda CX-5 Diesel in the second-half of 2017. The second-half, as you may have noticed, is quickly drawing to a close. Moreover, Mazda wouldn’t offer up any timing, saying only that, “We are working with the EPA and CARB and will have more information in the future.”

Mazda still won’t offer up any timing details. But TTAC’s resident government filing investigator, Bozi Tatarevic, came across some very interesting details at NHTSA.gov that reaffirm the forthcoming 2018 Mazda CX-5 Diesel. Read More >

By on October 20, 2017

Infiniti g20 gauges, Image: nitemeer/YouTube

Eugene writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Your article provided some hope but I am still having difficulty finding a Fuel Tank Sending Unit 25060-53J15 for a 1996 Infiniti G20 (JNKCP01D5TT538768). Do you know where I can look? Our car only has about 110,000 miles on it, runs great, recently painted with new wheels.

Now it seems like we may have to junk it since we cannot find this part — anywhere!

Read More >

By on October 19, 2017

Audi A7 sportback

One of the biggest problems with buying a new car is that it’ll start looking dated in a few year’s time. Audi doesn’t have this problem. By keeping a relatively consistent design language for over a decade, you really have to squint to pin down which models are new and which ones aren’t. That effect is lessened when you actually climb inside one, though.

Such is the story with the new A7 Sportback. First glances leave you mumbling to yourself, “That certainly is an Audi.” But it’s the finer details that point to it being something wholly unique and modern.

This leaves us in a gray area, wondering whether Audi’s styling decisions are incredibly lazy or absolute genius. The company doesn’t wow you with flamboyant newness or dramatic bodywork but the fact remains that it continues to deliver exceptionally handsome cars that are inoffensive enough to remain relevant several years on.  Read More >

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