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By on August 22, 2017

2018 Cadillac CTS-V Glacier Metallic Edition - Image: CadillacThe production run for the 2018 Cadillac CTS-V Glacier Metallic Edition, set to take place in 2017 on behalf of the 2018 model year, will be limited to a scant 115 units to celebrate Cadillac’s 115th anniversary.

Sounding like the proper name for a glitzy Jeep Grand Cherokee, the CTS-V Glacier Metallic Edition operates with the same 640-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8 of less costly CTS-Vs, but Cadillac demands $15,895 for the privilege.

That brings the CTS-V Glacier Metallic Edition’s price up to $103,885 including destination, a lofty sum for a performance-oriented Cadillac.

Yet the 2018 Cadillac CTS-V GME — you can’t expect us to type Glacier Metallic Edition every time, not when Cadillac alternatively calls it “smoky light gray” — is more than just an anniversary paint job. The CTS-V GME still undercuts the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and Audi RS7 and is slathered with typically optional equipment.  Read More >

By on August 22, 2017

Hyundai santa cruz concept

Hyundai intends to launch a small pickup truck in the United States as part of its plan to catch up with the industry’s shift away from sedans. Up until now, that strategy has involved cramming as many SUVs onto the market as possible. But Hyundai brand sales are still dragging behind 2016’s monthly averages in the U.S., with end-of-year estimates falling short of company goals.

The solution is to keep pushing the Tucson, start deliveries on the Kona mini SUV before 2018, and begin development of a pickup truck based on the Santa Cruz concept from 2015 (seen above). Hyundai is also rumored to be planning on adding three additional sport utility vehicles or crossovers to its North American lineup by 2020 — helping it shore up waning sedan and hatchback sales. Read More >

By on August 22, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

It turns out millennials aren’t the freakish alien shape-shifters the media has portrayed them as for the last decade. While still less prone to breeding, poorer than their parents, more educated, and inclined towards city living, they’re human after all.

“Where’s the proof?” you ask?

Recent surveys indicate millennials are, in fact, moving to the suburbs and buying SUVs. But that didn’t stop analysts from being dicks about it. “As more people move out of their parents’ basement — and there’s still quite a few living there — we expect to see continued healthy demand for homes,” explained Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow. “Millennials delayed home ownership, just like they delayed getting married and having kids, but now they’re making very similar decisions to their parents.”

More importantly, home ownership means compulsory sport utility shopping. Large SUV sales have increased 11 percent in the first half of 2017, according to estimates from Ford Motor Company. Meanwhile, midsize family haulers increased by 9 percent and small SUV sales went up by 4 percent. Ford’s market research indicates this could just be the tip of the iceberg.  Read More >

By on August 22, 2017

ND Mazda MX-5 Miata Design Exercises - Image: MazdaThe end result is tasty. Maybe the narrow headlamps are sliced too thinly; the hood cut line that intersects with the housing too obvious. Perhaps the rear end could use a bit more breadth. The wheels still appear a bit small from some angles.

But the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata — known in Mazda circles as the ND, succeeding the NA, NB, and NC — is generally regarded as an eye-catching, modern, successful evolution of the venerable Mazda sports car.

How did Mazda arrive at the end result? What led Mazda to settle on the final production version? Which styling direction was rejected?

In a fit of transparency, Mazda’s PR department has released the entire background of the process, including 140 photos detailing the evolution of what would become the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5. Read More >

By on August 22, 2017

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Back in the days of sky-high tailfins and wraparound windshields, A-pillars weren’t of sufficient thickness to hide little Timmy riding his bike, or maybe that Ford Fairlane approaching from behind that shrub to your left. No, front seat vision was grand — trying to stop your Detroit barge with unassisted drums brakes was the real challenge.

These days, the high-strength steel and airbags needed for rollover and side-impact protection have turned those slim pillars into Corinthian columns capable of hiding a small crowd. A-Pillars are bulky, and that’s a safety problem in itself.

What to do? In Toyota’s case, simply develop a way of seeing through them. Read More >

By on August 22, 2017

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Confirmation bias can be a tricky thing to overcome in this business. You might not know this, but some people in this business think I have a bit of a preference for the Blue Oval. Some of my frenemies in the automotive journalism world have accused me of being pro-Honda. As for me, I’d like to think that I can objectively evaluate any car, but let’s be realistic here — we’re all humans. We have experiences and biases that rear their ugly heads even when we are doing our damnedest to shove them deep down inside ourselves.

But there’s a entire class of car I personally find reprehensible, for no other reason than I find the types of people who drive them to be, well, reprehensible. When I think “Luxury Compact CUV,” I think “Basic Bitch.” These vehicles serve no actual purpose. In most cases, they have less space than their compact car siblings, worse gas mileage, and prices that soar at least $5-7k higher. The only reason to purchase or (more likely) lease such a Basicmobile is to fit in with the other SAHMs in your subdivision who have seamlessly transitioned from college frat mattress to PTA vice-president in only 10 years flat. When a female friend of mine texted me recently with, “What do you think about the Audi Q3?” my response was so vile that I can’t put it into print (and if you think about the things I’ve written, that’s saying something).

As a result, I was absolutely determined to hate the 2017 Audi Q3 Premium when I selected it from the Emerald Aisle at Miami International Airport. There was only one problem with drinking this particular flavor of haterade.

It’s a pretty damn good car.

Read More >

By on August 22, 2017

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The United Nations recently voted to begin formal discussions on autonomous weapon systems, with 116 of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence experts responding by calling on governments to simply ban them.

The coalition, fronted by Tesla’s Elon Musk and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman, claims this is a dark road the world doesn’t want to go down. Aimed at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, a letter from the group warned the U.N. not to usher in the “third revolution in warfare” (following gunpowder and nuclear arms).

While I’m not about to suggest there aren’t serious risks involved with weaponizing thinking machines, it does seem lightly hypocritical for Musk to condemn them over a lack of trust while continuing to champion self-driving cars. Apparently, technology experts feel a Terminator scenario is thoroughly unacceptable but a potential Maximum Overdrive situation is just fine.  Read More >

By on August 22, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited - Image: ChryslerEight years ago, American consumers, businesses, and governments acquired only 10.4 million new vehicles.

Sound like a lot? The U.S. auto industry generated an average of 16 million new vehicle sales in the five years leading up to 2009; 16.3 million annually over the last half-decade.

With the overall market’s collapse, it’s not surprising to hear that very few minivans were sold. Claiming only 4.3 percent of the industry’s volume, minivans collected only 448,000 sales.

At the current rate of decline through 2017’s first seven months, this year won’t be quite that bad. But it’s on track to be almost that bad, and the worst year since. Read More >

By on August 22, 2017

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage ES, Image: Mitsubishi

A reader from the UK sent me a nice email not too long ago, asking whether I’d consider forming a Question of the Day around a totally unfamiliar term: “Dork Age.” I’d never heard of such a thing before (providing more evidence that Steph ain’t with it), but a helpful link told me everything I needed to know.

Most commonly applied to a brief — and awkward — period in the life of a long-running TV series or musical group, Dork Age is a close cousin to the more popular term “Jumping the Shark.” The latter term, as we all know, refers to that painful moment when a popular series or band (or whatever) signals its unstoppable downhill slide with a moment of cringe-inducing awfulness. The audience throws rotten fruit at the screen (or stage).

Dork Age is a little different. It doesn’t signal the same final descent into crapdom as Jumping the Shark. Rather, it’s a strange little interlude in the broader story arc of a TV show, movie series, or band that most fans would prefer to forget. A period where the creative minds decided that adding something uber trendy would jazz up an operation in danger of growing stale. Of course, the impact of this decision only serves to turn off longstanding fans.

Car companies can do it, too. Read More >

By on August 21, 2017

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As long as there are going to be vehicles that are still under human control, there will be street racing. It’s not safe, it’s not very smart, and it’s not going to go away anytime soon. Detroit Police Chief James Craig says that his department tracks as many as 500 street races some nights. The racing usually take place at 2 or 3 in the morning on weekends. The police can track them because street racers, like police officers, are creatures of habit.

French Road, on Detroit’s northeast side, has long been used as a dragstrip by outlaws racing cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Read More >

By on August 21, 2017

money (401(k) 2012/Flickr)

There’s few things people living in the U.S. can agree on, but one of those things is the state of American road infrastructure. For the most part, it sucks. Eisenhower’s long gone, but his network of interstate highways, plus the spiderweb of two-lane roadways cross-crossing every corner of America haven’t grown better with age.

Meanwhile, the U.S. federal gas tax remains unchanged since its last hike in 1993. Still locked at 18.4 cents per gallon, the infrastructure funding shortfall created by the static federal tax is spurring states to pass their own gas tax increases. Michigan, California, and — controversially — New Jersey are among the most recent examples.

Still, boosting prices at the pumps only works if drivers still visit those pumps. What of the coming self-driving car wave, the vanguard of which are high-tech electric vehicles piloted by mere humans? Enter the taxman and his slim book of ideas. Read More >

By on August 21, 2017

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Earlier this month, Nissan announced it was in the final stages of sealing a deal to sell its entire EV battery business to Chinese investment firm GSR Capital. The sale includes battery plants in Tennessee, England, and Japan, with a preamble where the Japanese automaker has to buy up minority shares of Automotive Energy Supply Corp. from NEC Corp.

From there, it can sell off the business to GSR for a cool $1 billion — which isn’t a bad deal for the Chinese company. Nissan used around $1.4 billion in government funds building its U.S. factory in 2010, and the remaining plants weren’t exactly cheap to build. So why is Nissan selling them off?

For starters, the Leaf hasn’t been the sales leader the manufacturer hoped for. Even though global deliveries surpassed the 250,000-unit milestone in December 2016, Leaf sales don’t go beyond 50,000 units annually. By electric vehicle metrics, that’s still a win. However, the Tennessee factory is capable of producing 200,000 complete EV battery packs a year — well beyond the company’s current needs.  Read More >

By on August 21, 2017

vw logo volkswagen passat

Financial analysts and industry experts have been expecting Volkswagen to begin selling assets to help cope with the cost of its diesel emissions cheating scandal. The penalty for its deception may have already reached $24.2 billion, and German lawsuits could tack on another $8 billion.

However, Europe’s largest automaker says it’s not interested in selling off properties to recoup losses associated with the scandal. It has another plan to rake in the cash. Read More >

By on August 21, 2017

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Detroit in August. Hot streets, hot cars, and no shortage of gawkers lining the sides of Woodward Avenue during the annual Dream Cruise.

All that iron. All that muscle. Wall to wall desirability. Well, not quite. The Dream Cruise remains an inclusive event, meaning every proud owner of something he or she feels is unique and exciting and rare has a chance to let it all hang out.

What follows is our picks of the rear guard. The oddballs. The head-scratchers. The secretly-desirable-but-we-don’t-want-to-admit-it vehicles. Oh, and there’s an extra-special Oldsmobile surprise at the end. Read More >

By on August 21, 2017

2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series Carbon Fiber wheels - Image: PorschePorsche claims to be the first automaker to bring braided carbon-fiber wheels to a production car by offering a quartet of ultra-strong, ultra-light, dark grey rims as an optional upgrade on the 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series.

You remember the one. It’s a regular ol’ 911, only turbocharged and upgraded to S trim and then further upgraded with 27 more horsepower for — make sure you’ve swallowed that last bite — $67,000. There will only be 500. The top speed is 205 miles per hour. The total cost is $257,500, or roughly the cost of a regular 911 Turbo S and a Macan GTS. There’s a lot of Golden Yellow Metallic.

And for the price of a 2017 Ford Fiesta, you could upgrade your 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series with $14,980 wheels.  Read More >

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