Posts By: Timothy Cain

By on October 20, 2016

2016 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Summit California EditionAfter 35 consecutive months of year-over-year sales improvements, including an all-time monthly record of 90,545 reported sales in May 2016, Jeep’s streak came to an end in September 2016. Last month, U.S. Jeep volume slid 3 percent because of declines across much of the brand’s lineup.

Yet Jeep continues to sell more SUVs and crossovers than any other automotive brand in America, topping second-ranked Ford by 118,328 sales through the first three-quarters of 2016.

Together, Jeep, Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet, and Honda — the five highest-volume purveyors of SUVs/crossovers in the United States — own 52 percent of America’s utility vehicle market. That leaves less than half the available utility vehicle sales for more than 25 brands to divvy up. (Read More…)

By on October 20, 2016

2017 Fiat 500X TrekkingIt just keeps getting uglier.

In ten consecutive months, U.S. sales at the Fiat brand have declined on a year-over-year basis. The run of declines began six months after Fiat launched an all-new model, the 500X, in America’s burgeoning subcompact crossover segment. The downward trend continued in the third quarter of 2016, through the launch of the Mazda-based 124 Spider. The losses accrued in Fiat’s U.S. showrooms were certainly worsened by 21 consecutive months of decreased volume reported by the aging Fiat 500.

But it’s the 500X that ought to shoulder much of the blame. Wasn’t the answer to the brand’s lack of mainstream appeal surely to be found in a segment that doubled in size in 2015?

Perhaps not.
(Read More…)

By on October 19, 2016

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo white frontThe 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo I’m driving this week is not a great car. Ride quality is abysmal. The dual-clutch transmission chronically delays the actual act of transmitting. Present are a number of negative symptoms with which we associate “sportiness,” but few and far between are the dividends we expect to be paid in exchange for those negative symptoms.

Yet more than five years into its run, the Hyundai Veloster continues to produce healthy volume for Hyundai USA while also providing the market with something it lacks: unique, interesting, “sporty” proposals for the small car buyer who doesn’t want a ho-hum everyday sedan.

Remember when other automakers used to do the same? The Mazda MX-3, Nissan NX, Geo Storm/Isuzu Impulse and Toyota Paseo, for example — cars with humble foundations that reached higher with unique bodywork. We need more of that. (Read More…)

By on October 19, 2016

2017 Skoda Kodiaq frontYou want a Škoda Kodiaq. Your neighbor wants a Škoda Kodiaq. I want a Škoda Kodiaq. Naturally, we all want Škoda Kodiaqs, because the grass is always greener on the other side.

But what if the Kodiaq wasn’t only available on the other side of the Atlantic? What if persistent talk of a potential North American Škoda return resulted in a Kodiaq on sale at a dealer near you? How inexpensive would the Kodiaq need to be in order for your persistent desire for unobtanium turn in to a real purchasing decision?

Škoda would likely charge in the neighborhood of USD $24,995 if the Kodiaq, set to go on sale across the pond in April 2017, made its way to the United States. (Read More…)

By on October 19, 2016

2017-2014 BMW 5-Series profile_128

The new 2017 BMW 5 Series, BMW’s seventh in a long line of revered midsize sedans, looks exactly like the outgoing BMW 5 Series.

Chip off the proverbial old block. Spitting image. Germany’s vehicular Dolly The Sheep.

If the new 5 Series, codename G30 in Bimmerphile parlance, were nothing more than a facelift of the departing F10 5 Series that will shortly end its 2011-2016 run, we would all surely consider the facelift to be an insufficient attempt at spicing things up.

But the new 5 Series isn’t just a mid-cycle refresh, it’s not merely a freshening of a tired old dog, it’s not the standard Munich riposte to a Stuttgart incursion.

This is the all-new BMW 5 Series. Or rather, one of these cars is the all-new BMW 5 Series. Can you say for sure which one it is? (Read More…)

By on October 14, 2016

2018 Buick Expansion full-size SUV rendering, Image: © 2016 Matt Posky/The Truth About Cars

11.3 percent of the new vehicles sold by General Motors in the United States in September 2016 were full-size, body-on-frame, truck-based SUVs.

The Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL combined for 28,172 total sales in September 2016, a 45-percent year-over-year increase worth nearly 9,000 more sales.

September marked the second consecutive month — and just the tenth month in the last five years — that GM produced more than one out of every ten of its U.S. sales with full-size SUVs. Not since November 2011 has GM produced such a hefty portion of its sales with large SUVs.

So why can’t Buick have one? (Read More…)

By on October 13, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT

Updated with comment from GM.

General Motors is adding a new 1LS base trim to the already on-sale 2017 Chevrolet Camaro to ensure more direct comparisons with the less expensive and more popular Ford Mustang.

The Chevrolet Camaro, powered by a huge incentive increase, narrowly outsold the Mustang in the United States this September. Prior to last month, the Mustang had been in the top spot since 2015, when Ford put an end to five consecutive years of Camaro sales leadership. Ford’s pony car has outsold the Camaro by a vast 32,723-unit margin through the first nine months of 2016. (Read More…)

By on October 12, 2016

2016 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab blue

U.S. sales of midsize pickup trucks jumped 54 percent in September 2016 to nearly 40,000 units.

While massive year-over-year increases in pickup truck sales can often be attributed to commensurate increases in incentives, as seen with the Ram P/U’s victory over the Chevrolet Silverado in September, midsize pickup truck buyers are willing to pay big bucks.

Average transaction prices in the Toyota Tacoma-controlled midsize pickup truck segment last month, according to Kelley Blue Book, rose 6 percent compared with September 2015. That was by far the biggest increase for any segment in average transaction prices.

These are hardly the sub-$20,000 antiquated Ford Rangers of 2010.

On average, consumers were buying $32,350 midsize pickup trucks in September 2016. (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2016

2015 Ford Mustang Flat Rock production

Update: Added official statement from Ford.

Ford Motor Company is briefly shutting down production of the Ford Mustang at the car’s Flat Rock, Michigan, factory in a quest to avoid ballooning inventory ahead of the winter months, Bloomberg reports.

Year-over-year, U.S. sales of the Ford Mustang tumbled 32 percent in September 2016 in response to rapidly elevating incentives on the Chevrolet Camaro. As the Camaro outsold the Mustang for the first time since October 2014, Mustang sales fell to a 23-month low, causing inventory at the end of September 2016 to rise to an 89-day supply, up from 71 days of supply one month earlier.

The temporary idling at Ford’s Flat Rock facility will allow Ford to bring U.S. Mustang inventory down to more appropriate levels. 60 days of inventory is considered normal.  (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2016

2013 Cadillac XTS CUE Cadillac User Experience

“The first-generation CUE didn’t even meet our own expectations.”
Johan de Nysschen, Cadillac President — Motor Trend Interview — October 10, 2016

What was Cadillac’s boss trying to say? It all depends on where you put the emphasis. (Read More…)

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