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By on February 24, 2017

2015 Nissan Quest profile – Image: Nissan USA

Skeptical of the Nissan Quest’s future in the latter portion of 2016, we demanded — on more than one occasion — to know whether there would even be a Nissan Quest in the 2017 model year.

Despite all the signs that pointed to a discontinued product, Nissan eventually confirmed that there would, in fact, be a 2017 Nissan Quest in the United States. Much rejoicing was heard among enthusiasts of JDM vans.

Yet nearly two months into 2017, Nissan still isn’t displaying the 2017 Quest on its consumer website and has only just added the Quest to the list of 2017 models on its media website. With only a handful of vans at dealers at the beginning of the year, Nissan somehow managed to reported an 11-month high in Quest sales in January 2017.

You didn’t buy a 2017 Quest. Your neighbour didn’t buy a 2017 Quest. There aren’t any 2017 Quests available at your local Nissan dealer. The 2015 and 2016 Quests are very nearly gone. Yet Nissan sold nearly 1,900 Quests in January. How curious.

Sure, the 2017 Nissan Quest exists, but it doesn’t exist for you. Instead, it’s apparently a fleet special for consumers named Enterprise, Budget, and Hertz. Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

2017 Chevy Equinox L

Most readers are aware of my unbridled enthusiasm for base model cars. Sure, there are a few luxury models that spring to mind where it’s imperative buyers select the top trim, lest they run the risk of an arch nemesis pulling alongside them in an Escalade Platinum when they are piloting a lowly Escalade Luxury.

Thing is, it behooves the frugal customer to pay attention before they sign the note on a set of base wheels. For years, commercials told us “America Runs on Dunkin” when we all know that America Runs on Monthly Payments. Most shoppers have a monthly or biweekly figure in mind and, examined through that lens, base cars aren’t always the best deal.

Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

2017 Kia Cadenza blue front quarter, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

The squeals of delight from the back seat were nearly deafening. My eight-year-old had discovered the rear seat heater button while pawing at the door-mounted armrest.

She tends to underdress for the climate, and as usual, she was sporting shorts for her basketball game that morning — in 38 degree weather. Mercifully, the Kia Cadenza took the chill off both the leather seats and her butt, saving mine from a deserved berating from her mother.

The little details Kia sweated in creating this new Cadenza have added up to a remarkable luxury sedan that should be the benchmark for the class but instead will likely remain a second-tier player due to Kia’s history.

Shame, because I’m quite sure this Cadenza is a magnificent Buick.

Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

GM: Barra at 2016 GM Annual Stockholders Meeting

For now, legislation restricting the use of those pesky self-driving cars is mainly up to individual states. Because no one wants an experimental, untested car piloting their local roadways, states have erected legislative safety barriers that, for the most part, restrict pilot projects in certain areas, or on certain roads.

As everyone waits for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make up its mind and put blanket regulations in place, an angry chorus of complaints from Silicon Valley startups is growing louder, accusing state lawmakers of favoring the old guard when it comes to fostering automotive technology.

Only naturally, concerns about corporate money influencing government decisions arose. One automaker’s political action fund seems more active than others Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

2015 Ford Mustang V6 shift paddle

You know how I know that things are getting pretty good in the automotive world? Because we’ve gone from a world where new cars lock their brakes and ignite their gas tanks and delaminate their tires with murderous yet monotonous regularity to a world where people get authentically upset when the fake stitching on their dashboard doesn’t look convincing enough. Our grandparents expected to have to grease their axles every thousand miles and rebuild their engines every 50,000, but we’ve turned into princesses whose posteriors are perfectly primed to detect the mere suggestion of a spherical inconsistency ten mattresses down.

I’m not just talking about the boss man here at TTAC being triggered by a wobbly hood release. I’ve been complaining about the paint and carpet in my Accord for three years now. Prior to that, I recall being very disappointed in the fact that one of my Phaetons only had the stamped-steel parallelogram trunk arms instead of the forged Campagnolo pieces that my other car had. It kept me up at night. I didn’t like opening my trunk in any sort of elevated company.

Of course, we’re not so quick to complain about getting 270 horsepower in the Accord that used to come with 110, or the five LCD screens that replaced plain mechanical gauges, or the vastly better NVH isolation. We want Rolls-Royce interiors and W126 mechanicals at Kia Rio price points. That’s because we now live in a consumer culture where we define ourselves by what we consume, not by what we produce. And it’s also because we’re kind of stupid about how the automotive sausage is made.

The truth of the matter is that all modern automakers skimp. They skimp all over the place, on all sorts of things, and they hope to heaven that you either don’t notice or don’t care. This is true whether we’re talking about the Chevy Sonic or the Bentley Mulsanne. You just have to pick and choose where you’re willing to have the skimping take place. Which reminds me of a great story about the 1996 Taurus …

Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Volkswagen Arteon

Volkswagen’s CC replacement, the Arteon, will make its debut at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show and it looks exactly like we predicted — right down to the color, no less.

Based on VW’s recent teaser shots, the new four-door fastback looks almost identical to the Sport Coupe Concept GTE. However, as fun as it is to gloat, most of the automotive community expected this. Germany’s biggest automaker isn’t exactly known for its flamboyant redesigns and bold styling choices. There are a few remaining unsolved mysteries surrounding the car, however. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

Dodge has been parsing out minor details on the Demon, slowly shaping its identity, for what seems like decades, when it has actually only been about a month. In today’s publicity sprig, Fiat Chrysler indicated that — unlike the Hellcat — the Demon will be strip-focused with a suspension setup specifically designed exclusively for straight-ahead speed.

With Dodge claiming that the Hellcat is the “ultimate do everything muscle car” with an intention  “to strike that perfect balance between drag strip brute force, road course competence and street car civility,” I am left wondering just how streetable the Demon could possibly be. Like most purpose-built cars, dragsters are wonderful at doing exactly one thing and absolutely terrible at everything else. For Dodge’s new hype machine, the added forward momentum might come at the expense of hanging a right.  Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Opel Ampera-e

Peugeot Citroën’s planned purchase of Opel and its operations from General Motors is believed to be largely a done deal, with only minor details remaining.

According to Bildthe details will be announced on the first of March. It’s thought that both GM and PSA want to sign the papers before the Geneva International Autosalon, where Opel will introduce the new Insignia sedan and PSA plans to show the new DS7 mid-size crossover. The deal does not include Australia’s once-glorious-but-now-gutted Holden brand. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Design Center Audi. Picture courtesy Audi

There’s no end to the layers of intrigue swirling around the upper echelons of Audi.

Last week saw four engineers who worked on the company’s emissions-rigged diesel engines fired, with one of them, former engine development chief Ulrich Weiss, claiming in court that CEO Rupert Stadler was privy to the deception.

Audi fired back with a lawsuit threat against one or more individuals for “baseless accusations” and the revealing of internal documents. Now, the German publication Bild has released information on a potentially damning document that was reportedly locked away in Weiss’s safe since 2015 for exactly this purpose.

Weiss pulled out the document in a German labor court Tuesday to prove he’s the “pawn” his lawyer claims. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

tesla factory fremont

After posting a profitable fall quarter, Tesla returned to spending more than it made. However, its fourth quarter losses, announced on Wednesday, were substantially less than originally assumed by analysts. The electric carmaker’s stock price continued to climb during the final three months of 2016, despite losing $448 million from its operations.

Tesla has been throwing a lot of money at projects and acquisitions. It recently purchased SolarCity and Grohmann Engineering, so going into the red was to be expected. However, the dark cloud looming in the distance isn’t related to capital — it’s about production. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Politicians from Volkswagen’s home region of Lower Saxony are raising questions over the unanticipated departure of the German automaker’s compliance chief, Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, saying they have concerns over how the supervisory board handled the matter. There has been a long-standing apprehension among investors and business analysts that VW is too tightly controlled by its founding Porsche-Piech family and incapable of amelioration.

On Wednesday, Deutsche lawmakers called for a formal inquiry on the matter.

Hohmann-Dennhardt was brought aboard very late in 2015 to assist in Volkswagen’s reformation following the diesel emissions cheating scandal. However last month, after only a year on the job, she left abruptly with a sizable pension and gargantuan severance. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

2017 Honda CR-V Touring Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Timothy Cain

We’re all supposed to enjoy, or endure, an Alfa Romeo ownership experience at some point in our lives.

The 2017 Honda CR-V is diametrically opposed to everything the Alfa Romeo SZ stands for.

You’re supposed to drive a car that reveals its character through its flaws, as if a shifter that only slots into third at 2,755 rpm is somehow symbolic of soul.

The 2017 Honda CR-V doesn’t shift. At all.

You’re supposed to tell a great breakdown story that involves a leafy Vermont village, a greedy mechanic, and a 48-hour wait for a repair that resulted in the best drive ever with an ex-girlfriend who severed your relationship the next day.

Not a single word of that could possibly apply to a 2017 Honda CR-V.

You’re an enthusiast, you have taste, you’re vulnerable. We get it. But maybe you should just drive a Honda CR-V and accept the fact that boring, or dull, or soulless cars can be wonderfully effective ways of transporting one’s family.

I’m not thrilled by the realization. But I’m impressed by the all-new, fifth-generation Honda CR-V. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Carlos Ghosn (Image: Nissan)

Carlos Ghosn, the aggressive figurehead who brought a nosediving Nissan back from the brink, is stepping down as CEO after 16 years on the job.

The industry titan will remain CEO of Renault, where he staged a similar turnaround, and will continue to serve as chairman of Nissan, Renault and lowly Mitsubishi — the latter company being added to the alliance last year. Apparently, the decision to step down was prompted by Mitsubishi’s deeply-ingrained woes. In order to work some Nissan-style magic on the struggling automaker, Ghosn needed to hand over the reins.

Meanwhile, a man who stuck with Nissan for 40 years has seen his loyalty pay off. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback LT Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

It wasn’t long ago that the Detroit Three were fending off the Japanese on home soil as the Land of the Rising Sun cranked out reliable car after reliable car for the American masses. Then came the Koreans — Kia and Hyundai — who brought over cheap metal to win market share but quickly turned around their quality and reliability woes and produced some of the best products in the industry.

So why is it that, after 108 years of building automobiles, General Motors still manufactures abysmal garbage?

Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Accord-Camry-Passat-Altima V6 sedans - Images: Nissan/Honda/Toyota/VW

Horsepower doesn’t necessarily cure all that ails you. Potent powertrains aren’t invariably linked to progress. The greater pony count is not unfailingly found under the hood of the greater car.

All too often, auto enthusiasts fall into the trap of believing that a deeply flawed car can be made better if they’d only put a proper engine under the hood. In reality, huge power increases often do more to highlight, rather than mask, a car’s flaws.

The overwhelming majority of 2017’s crop of midsize sedans are not deeply flawed cars, of course. But it’s generally accepted, at least by people like you and me, that they can all be made better by upgrading the basic four-cylinder powerplant with an optional V6. By spending a fair chunk of extra change. By tolerating a sharp increase in fuel consumption. By challenging two front wheels to sometimes fulfill two starkly different missions. Read More >

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