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By on September 23, 2017

2017 Ford F-450 Super Duty Platinum Crew Cab 4x4

Say you’re on the Ram website, perusing a new 2500 heavy-duty pickup. On the specifications page, you scroll down to the fuel efficiency table to see how many Andrew Jacksons you’ll be forking over at the pumps. The verdict? The Ram 2500 has a 32-gallon fuel tank. Thank you for visiting.

Unlike passenger cars and light duty trucks, heavy-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight above 8,500 pounds aren’t required to flash fuel economy data on a window sticker. Searching the fueleconomy.gov database turns up nothing in the way of information. Now, Consumers Union wants Congress to change that. The consumer advocacy group is calling on the federal government to place fuel economy information on window stickers for the benefit of large truck buyers.

As it awaits a response, the group’s Consumer Reports publication went ahead and tested some heavy-duty pickups. Read More >

By on September 23, 2017

[Image: GM]

The Chevrolet Equinox assembly line at General Motors’ CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, remains shuttered, and the impact from the dried-up flow of crossovers now extends across the border.

Unionized workers at the plant walked off the job Sunday night after their Unifor Local 88 bargaining team failed to reach a contract agreement with GM. Though the week began with marching and signs in Ingersoll, it ended with layoffs at an Ontario transmission plant and the promise of more in Michigan and Tennessee. Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

faraday future groundbreak

The honeymoon is over before it even began. The State of Nevada is ending its relationship with automaker Faraday Future, which once promised to build a vast and glorious manufacturing facility within its borders — in exchange for tax incentives.

Eschewing construction of its $1 billion promise in North Las Vegas due to financial woes, Faraday was insistent that it was going to begin construction on a smaller assembly plant before tackling the rest of the build site. According to the company, a bijou factory was to be the first phase of a multi-stage approach intended to bring the FF 91 swiftly to market.

In July, Faraday Future announced it would be placing that project on hold as well, but remained committed to using the Nevada site for long-term vehicle manufacturing. Until then, it said it would shift its business strategy “to position the company as the leader in user-ship personal mobility — a vehicle usage model that reimagines the way users access mobility.” If anyone knows what that gibberish means, we’d love to know. It’s been several months and we still can’t decipher that sentence into useful information.  Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

GM

The only people who like towing companies, it seems, are those who make money off them.

A Detroit-area towing company is accused of doing something that will make the rest of us hate towing companies even more, if the allegations are true.

It all started last year, with multiple investigations into Detroit police officers suspected of taking bribes in exchange for giving business to select tow companies.

Nationwide Recovery, the company at the center of this story, sued the city of Detroit in July of this year, claiming that the city pulled its permit illegally. Nationwide claims it had nothing to do with the bribery scheme and so its permit shouldn’t have been revoked. The city of Detroit said that wasn’t true and went to federal court to explain why.

Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

2017 Hyundai H100 Korea pickup - Image: Hyundai“We’ve been talking about it for a number of years now,” Hyundai Australia’s chief operating officer, Scott Grant, said at the Genesis G70 global reveal.

No, he’s not talking about the G70, or any Genesis for that matter. He’s not talking about the H-100 pictured above. He’s not talking about the Tucson-based Hyundai Santa Cruz that finally seems destined for production after years of back-and-forth indecision.

Hyundai is now considering a true pickup truck. “We’re confident of having something on the other side of 2020,” Grant says.

Hyundai’s coming for your pickup truck market share, Nissan. Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross - Image: MitsubishiBetween its peak in 2002 and the depths of the recession in 2009, Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales plunged 84 percent. Market share plunged from more than 2 percent to less than half of 1 percent. Could the company survive in America?

The loss of product gave observers even more reason to doubt the brand’s staying power. Bigger SUVs such as the Montero and Endeavor disappeared. Mitsubishi’s midsize sedan, the Galant, generated its final sales in early 2014, a decade after the Mitsubishi Diamante departed. The discontinuation of the Eclipse and Lancer Evolution spelled the end of Mitsubishi’s performance bona fides. Then Mitsubishi also ended the Lancer, leaving the Mirage G4 to fight America’s sedan battle.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi’s plans to bolster its U.S. lineup haven’t always translated to reality. The Outlander plug-in hybrid was initially bound for the U.S. market in 2014 or 2015 — it’s still not here. As for U.S. production, which Mitsubishi’s president Osamu Masuko said in 2013 would not end, the final U.S.-built Mitsubishi rolled off the Illinois line last year.

Despite the heavy load of evidence that would support the belief that Mitsubishi Motors USA was on its death bed, Mitsubishi is on track in 2017 to sell 100,000 vehicles in the U.S. for the first time since 2007, having enjoyed five consecutive years of growth. Settling in for the long haul, Mitsubishi has also signed Mini’s old ad agency, Butler Shine Stern & Partners. Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

road-runner-jack-smith

By 1966, muscle cars were hitting peak stride. But some argued they had become too expensive and strayed too far from the original concept. As performance models had grown in displacement and technology, some crossed into premium pricing territory. Pontiac’s GTO, for example, could easily exceed $4,000 with a handful of options when the average cost of an American automobile was closer to $2,750.

Enter Jack Smith.

Plymouth had fallen into the pricing pitfall like most other manufacturers. Smith, who owned a souped-up Belvedere II, had recently been promoted to head of the company’s mid-sized car planning division. He wagered the public might enjoy a car like his and Plymouth introduced the GTX in 1967 to compete with the GTO. But it was still too expensive, especially for a budget brand like Plymouth, and garnered a lukewarm sales response — which gave Jack an idea.  Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox green front

I tried in vain, but I couldn’t track down a proper early ‘60s surf rock station on the SiriusXM radio during my time driving the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. I was imagining the Beach Boys’ classic “409” every time I planted my right pedal in this improbably powerful compact crossover. Sadly, the basic facts and figures don’t lend themselves to poetic lines like “She’s real fine/my four oh nine:”

She can go/my two point oh.

My nine-speed, front-drive, direct-injected two point oh.

Giddy Up, two point oh.

My apologies for the not-quite-Brian Wilson earworm. Few crossovers inspire anything, let alone any hint of song. This Chevrolet Equinox has plenty of power (and torque steer), but can it measure up beyond the engine room?

Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

Mercedes-Benz Alabama Assembly Line - Image: Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz is investing $1 billion into its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, assembly operations in order to facilitate the production of its first EQ-branded SUVs in 2020. The investment, timed to roughly coincide with the beginning of Mercedes-Benz ML production in Alabama, is expected to result in the hiring of another 600 employees.

In the near term, Mercedes-Benz has been open with its doubts regarding the profitability of pure electric vehicles. Evidently, the long-term view is different. And it probably doesn’t hurt to pour more money into a U.S. operations hub that accounts for nearly half the vehicles sold by the automaker in America. Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

2004 GMC Envoy Radiator Cap Leak, Image: OP

Dave writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I have a 2004 GMC Envoy, 4.2-liter six-cylinder, with about 123k miles that seems to be leaking coolant from somewhere around the radiator cap. Every time I come to a stop with the windows down or pull into the garage I can smell antifreeze. The radiator appears full and the reservoir seems to be maintaining a fairly consistent level of the pink stuff. It never leaks enough that I see wet spots except now and then around the cap, and even then it’s only a few drops at most. I’ve taken it to the mechanic; they double checked all the hoses and connections and even replaced the cap, but it didn’t help.

I replaced the cap a second time thinking I got a bad one, but the smell remains. By happenstance the cap I bought happened to be the exact same brand the mechanic used. I’ve attached a picture of the engine bay showing the areas where I can see dried coolant. The perplexing part to me is that, judging by the splatter pattern near the oil fill and the air filter box, some of the coolant seems to be making it to the fan. Still, I never see any wet spots leading in that direction. Do you have any suggestions?

As a side question, I have been getting an intermittent CEL with an associated P0526 code (fan speed sensor). It will come on for a trip or two and then go away on its own. Any chance the supposed coolant hitting the fan could be causing the CEL?

Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

2018 Genesis G70 lineup - Image: GenesisFirst, Hyundai wanted American consumers to accept the XG300 as a luxury car alternative. If two decades ago such an idea seemed ludicrous, the XG300 — later the XG350 and then the Azera — set the stage for 2018, a year in which a Hyundai luxury spinoff, Genesis, would complete its luxury sedan lineup.

Yes, complete.

Genesis Motors launched in the United States one year ago with the full-size G90 sedan (the Hyundai Equus in a prior generation) and midsize G80 sedan (renamed from the Hyundai Genesis). In September 2017, we saw the production version of the BMW 3 Series-rivalling Genesis G70, set to arrive in showrooms this winter.

Yet while there will be more vehicles from Genesis, including SUVs and quite likely a coupe, Genesis senior vice president Manfred Fitzgerald says the sedan lineup is complete. The fledgling brand will not be moving downmarket into the CLA250/A3/CT200h arena. Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

2018 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD A-Spec San Marino - Image: © Timothy Cain

Is it possible to move this elephant out of the room?

Perhaps not, but whether we try to move the elephant or allow him to stay, a review of the revamped 2018 Acura TLX, even in this top-spec V6 SH-AWD A-Spec trim, will forever be set against a backdrop that is the all-new 2018 Honda Accord, a veritable wooly mammoth.

It can’t be helped. Acura knows the new 10th-generation Accord offers features unavailable in the Acura lineup. The TLX, meanwhile, features an interior that’s more than a little reminiscent of the ninth-generation Accord’s cabin. Fonts, buttons, switches, two-screen format — the upmarket/downmarket connections are too obvious to be dismissed as simply the mandatory parts-bin sharing of a global automaker with justifiable cost concerns. The new 2018 Acura TLX and the old Honda Accord are remarkably similar cars.

But is that so bad? The Honda Accord is, with good reason, consistently one of America’s most popular sedans, and the refreshed 2018 Acura TLX is a particularly nice interpretation of that car. Besides which, the Acura TLX isn’t just an Accord. It’s not merely an Accord. The TLX’s more powerful V6, a nine-speed automatic, and a very effective all-wheel-drive system make sure of that.

True, the elephant hasn’t exited the premises. But now that it’s standing out in the hallway, we can judge the 2018 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD A-Spec on merit, rather than simply distinguishing the degree to which the TLX is or is not a Honda. Read More >

By on September 22, 2017

BMW acceleration, Image: Bigstock

Did you notice that TTAC was short one article by yours truly this week? Probably not — but if you did, allow me to explain the reason. I’ve spent the entire week doing testing for Road & Track’s Performance Car Of The Year issue. Today, I drove 10 mostly brilliant and remarkably capable vehicles against the clock around the NCM West course, ranging from a Honda Civic Type R to a Lamborghini Huracan Performante and a McLaren 720S.

I think that a lap around NCM West is a good indicator of a car’s speed, insofar as it includes everything from a straight-line drag race to some unpleasant off-camber turns that can send a car sideways at freeway speeds or well above. If you asked me how fast a car was, I would suggest you let me drive it around NCM West — only then would I be able to tell you.

Since doing that is expensive and often impractical, most people measure automotive speed the old-fashioned way: they read Car and Driver. But that still doesn’t settle the issue: what is the proper yardstick of automotive pace?

Read More >

By on September 21, 2017

hyundai-sonata-eco-grille logo

Snubbed by both the Germans and the Chinese, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is continuing its journey to find the automaker that will sweep it off its feet and say, “Let’s build a factory together.” However, if CEO Sergio Marchionne maintains that FCA will be bought by an established automaker, he’s running out of options. The automotive dating pool isn’t particularly deep.

While there was some stirrings of vague Korean interest when news broke of talks between FCA and Chinese automakers, those rumors dissipated quickly. But reports of a possible business deal between Hyundai and the Italian-American company surfaced recently after Great Wall Motors shrugged off its proposed bid for Jeep. FCA later said it had not received any offer from the Chinese manufacturer.

Presumably, Great Wall would have used FCA to supplement its sport utility sales and begin making moves on North America. Another brand that might be interested in bolstering its supply of SUVs is Hyundai — something the South Korean press has been buzzing about all week.  Read More >

By on September 21, 2017

Trump

Supposedly, everyone eagerly anticipates the day they can own a shiny-new self-driving car, but automakers, regulatory agencies, consumer advocates, Silicon Valley, and the White House are debating how exactly that’s supposed to happen. They haven’t reached a consensus yet — and that’s probably not likely to change anytime soon.

Most autonomous cars rely on array of cameras, LIDAR, GPS, inertial measurement devices, and complex control systems used to interpret sensory information before reacting accordingly. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems (V2V) are regarded by many as essential components to establishing fully automated travel. The theory is that, by allowing cars to communicate directly on a broadband frequency, they can better predict each other’s movements.

However, a recent Bloomberg article accuses the technology of “going nowhere fast,” citing the Trump administration as the chief culprit, and alluding to the direct stifling of technology that would give cars “superpowers” in the next few years.

I probably won’t have the opportunity to say this often — and it feels kind of strange to say it now — but these accusations aren’t entirely fair to the president or his administration.  Read More >

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