Posts By: Timothy Cain

By on April 28, 2017

This is not the 2017 Hyundai Elantra GT3 Superleggera Stradale Competizione with an optional N Performance Package. The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport is not hardcore. It’s not SCCA-certified. It’s not extreme. It’s not uncompromising. And thankfully, it’s not obnoxious, ostentatious, outlandish, or overcooked. The 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport is not a Ford Focus RS alternative; […]

By on April 27, 2017

2013 Mazdaspeed 3 - Image: Mazda Canada

My, how time flies. Nearly half a decade has passed since Mazda, undoubtedly an automaker that believes in performance, last offered a Mazdaspeed product.

Not since 2004 and 2005, when 5,142 Mazdaspeed MX-5s were delivered in the United States market, has Mazda’s most obvious performance car been available in a power-up version.

Not since the first-generation Mazda 6’s 2005/2006 Mazdaspeed tenure has Mazda’s midsize sedan been offered in performance guise.

And after following up one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars of its era, the Mazdaspeed Protege, with the Mazdaspeed3 in 2007 and another in 2010, Mazda hasn’t had a hot hatch contender to battle the Volkswagen Golf GTI and R, Ford’s ST and RS models, the Honda Civic Si (and now Type R), the Subaru WRX, and Mini’s Cooper S since 2013.

So, is Mazdaspeed dead? (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

2017 GMC Canyon - Image: © Timothy Cain

We drove in and around the city in a 2017 GMC Canyon Duramax Diesel for 120 miles, then took a 180-mile journey to Prince Edward Island, and have since driven around that island 120 miles.

The result: 30.2 miles per gallon on the U.S. scale, a miserly 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres. It doesn’t hurt that, around these parts at the moment, diesel costs roughly $0.25 USD less per gallon versus regular.

The 2.8-liter four-cylinder under the hood of this GMC Canyon, with a paltry 181 horsepower but a stump-pulling 369 lb-ft of torque at just 2,000 rpm, is one of a handful of diesels General Motors has installed in U.S. market vehicles. The 6.6-liter Duramax V8 in heavy-duty pickup trucks is the one you hear rumble most often. But GM is also inserting the Cruze’s 240-lb-ft 1.6-liter turbodiesel into the third-gen Chevrolet Equinox and second-gen GMC Terrain.

With diesel engine offerings in two pickup truck lines, a compact car, and a pair of small SUVs, can General Motors — not Mazda, not Mercedes-Benz, not Skoda — be the North American diesel-lover’s answer now that Volkswagen committed its unclean diesel transgressions? (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2017

2017 Buick LaCrosse - Image: Buick

Native advertising is funny. Not because native advertising, the kind of marketing that appears as though it is the content of a specific publication aside from a disclaimer or two, shouldn’t exist. In a land of free speech, companies should be permitted to tell stories in just about any way they wish to do so.

No, native advertising humors me when it becomes obvious just how difficult it was for a company to strike the right balance. Honesty is key, or else credibility is lost. The Truth About Cars can’t say, “TTAC is the best automotive site on the internet with the best writers and the best design,” because it’s not believable.

On the other end of the spectrum, The Truth About Cars shouldn’t run an automotive website comparison test in which TTAC doesn’t win. “Golly, Jalopnik sure is some good car blog, and while we dun paid for this here piece of native advertising, we’re gonna give the victory to the Gawker folk.”

Somewhere in between is the proper blend, a blend for which Buick searched long and hard in a comparison test paid for by Buick in a Buick vs. Lexus comparison test for Automobile Magazine.

There are no secrets here. The article says “Sponsored Content” across the top. The author is listed as Buick.

The winner of the comparison test? Oh, you’ll never guess. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2017

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate – Image: Mercedes-Benz UK

News that the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wagon would arrive in North America with a diesel powerplant and all-wheel drive caught many industry observers by pleasant surprise early last year.

But it’s been 15 months since Mercedes-Benz announced at 2016’s Montreal Auto Show that the C300d 4Matic would be sold in Canada, albeit not the United States.

Not a crossover, not tall, not be-cladded, not even remotely intended for mass consumption, the C-Class Wagon was destined to be a cult favourite — that’s right, favourite — in The Great White North. However, eight months after the announcement, there was still no C300d 4Matic wagon in Mercedes-Benz’s Canadian showrooms. Blame Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal for delaying the certification.

Yet TTAC was told just yesterday the C-Class Wagon will appear in Canadian showrooms later this summer with a, how do you say in the Canadianese… minor change, eh? (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2017

2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Culver City - Image: Cadillac“Levels that were once seen as excessive are now sustainable.”
—Uwe Ellinghaus, Chief Marketing Officer, Cadillac

Cadillac expects to see auto sales in the United States in calendar year 2017 fall just below 2016’s best-ever results, which GM’s premium brand considers a positive sign for the U.S. auto industry and Cadillac.

While the decline reported America’s auto industry in March 2017 drew headlines because 2017’s first-quarter encompassed three consecutive months of year-over-year decline, Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, views the results through another lens.

“What they call a cooling off I say is the best thing that has ever happened,” Ellinghaus told Automotive News. “We don’t see that the party is over. It’s continuing.”

Cadillac? Party? Huh? (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2017

2018 Lexus NX front – Image: Lexus

Pretty? No.

Popular? Most definitely. In fact, the Lexus NX is twice as popular as Lexus anticipated.

The Lexus NX, a crossover you must never confuse with the Nissan NX, is marketed in the United States both in NX200t and NX300h variants. At the New York International Auto Show three years ago, Lexus revealed the brand hoped to sell around 26,000 NXs per year; roughly 2,200 per month. At that point, in the lead-up to the NX’s 2014 Q4 launch, there were two schools of thought. One, the NX was so ghastly to behold Lexus surely wouldn’t sell 2,200 per month. Or, because Lexus is such a luxury crossover powerhouse, even the NX — with a face even a mother couldn’t love — will be more popular than Lexus anticipated.

Dealers believed Lexus’ forecast was on the low side.

But could anyone have expected the Lexus NX would be more than twice as popular as originally forecasted; that the Lexus NX would be America’s fifth-best-selling luxury utility vehicle; that the NX would account for one-in-five Lexus sales in America? (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2017

2017 Ford Taurus - Image: Ford

The Ford Taurus’s North American demise is not unanticipated. Full-size car sales are flagging. The Taurus nameplate’s positive brand recognition is based on the success it enjoyed in another era. And Ford already revealed a new China-specific Taurus, based on the same CD4 platform as the Fusion and Lincoln Continental, with no announcement regarding the import of that vehicle to North America.

It also seems Ford, riding high on a wave of crossover and SUV sales on this side of the Pacific, won’t be bringing that Taurus to America anytime soon. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2017

Pontiac Aztek - Image courtey Doug Demuro

The Pontiac Aztek was widely regarded upon its 2000 debut as one of the ugliest new vehicles to ever set wheel on pavement. Between 2000 and the last sales trickle in 2007, General Motors sold just under 120,000 Azteks in the United States.

Americans were admittedly gung-ho for SUVs in the early part of this century, but not to the extent they are now. In 2002, for instance, when Aztek sales peaked, passenger cars still accounted for nearly half of all new vehicle sales. They account for just 37 percent now.

2017, not 2002, is the time for SUVs and crossovers. And while we’re not advocating for the return of the Pontiac Aztek, we wonder whether the Aztek would be far more successful now than it was then, and not just because everybody and their dog is now choosing an SUV/crossover instead of a car.

No, we wonder whether the Aztek would succeed in 2017 because, to be frank, there are already a wide variety of decidedly unattractive SUVs selling rather well today.  (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2017

BMW CPO commercial Toyota Camry screenshot - Image: YouTube screenshot

Call them frenemies. BMW and Toyota are working together on a high-profile sports car project that will result in a long-awaited Supra successor and a replacement for the Z4. Two heads are better than one.

“The concept works, the platform can deliver and now we have two proud sets of engineers — one group German, one group Japanese — who are each fighting and arguing for the car they want,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson said last year.

The fighting and arguing extends beyond the R&D facilities in Munich and Toyota City.

On a mission to exalt its 3 Series in a certified pre-owned commercial, BMW sought to make fun of a typically bland midsize sedan. 2001 Chevrolet Malibu? 2006 Kia Optima? 2017 Subaru Legacy?

No. BMW chose the most basic, beige, new Toyota Camry to make a point on behalf of a bright red pre-owned 3 Series.

Hardly the work of a BFF. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2017

2017 Honda SUV lineup – Images: Honda

American Honda will build a Pilot-based SUV intended to carve out a space between the Honda CR-V and Honda Pilot.

According to a report published by WardsAuto with AutoForecast Solutions, Honda will assemble this Co-Pilot in Alabama alongside the Pilot beginning in the fall of 2018.

Co-Pilot? How about Honda Pilot Sport? Nah, that’s Michelin territory. Honda Pilot Sidekick? Suzuki grabbed that one already. Honda Pilot Junior? Too juvenile.

The name matters less than the positioning. Is there room for a midsize two-row utility vehicle in between the CR-V, traditionally America’s top-selling SUV/crossover, and the Pilot, one of America’s most popular three-row vehicles?

It’s a gap Ford, Nissan, and Hyundai have no trouble filling. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2017

Gil’s my next-door neighbor. We live in very similar homes, we share a fondness for canine companions, and we would both happily live on pizza alone. But Gil and I couldn’t be more different. Gil is cool, you see. Gil’s young; I’m not not as young as I used to be. Gil can change the […]

By on April 13, 2017

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon - Image: FCAThe 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon produces 808 horsepower; 840 if you find some racing fuel.

I don’t care.

Don’t get me wrong. I like fast cars. I like fast SUVs. I like fast minivans. I like quick acceleration, high top speeds, rapid shifts, prodigious tire smoke, and burbly exhaust.

But outrageous horsepower numbers are almost becoming boring. They’re so common. So ordinary. So…

Easy.

Anybody can throw a few hundred extra horsepower at a decade-old muscle coupe. But what else can you do to impress me? (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2017

2017 Subaru Ascent Concept - Image: Subaru

Still nearly eight months away from being revealed in final production form, it’s already assumed inside Subaru HQ that the 2018 Subaru Ascent will generate the bulk of its conquests from inside the Subaru family.

Subaru expects to sell approximately 60,000 Ascents on an annual basis in the United States. But according to statements made about the long-awaited three-row Tribeca replacement by Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga at last month’s Geneva Motor Show, the Ascent won’t be stealing many sales of the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, and Nissan Pathfinder.

Hey, Outback and Forester: Subaru’s looking at you for donations to the Ascent’s cause. (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2017

2017 Honda Civic hatchback - Image: Honda

Canadian passenger car sales are falling, not unpredictably, as SUVs and crossovers continue to earn an increasingly large chunk of market share.

And yet at the top of the passenger car leaderboard, Canada’s two best-selling cars are selling at a record pace, with no small amount of help from new hatchback body styles.

Bucking the Canadian, North American, and global anti-car trend most distinctly is the Honda Civic, Canada’s best-selling car in each of the last 19 years.

Indeed, so strong have Civic sales been through the first-quarter of 2017, we’re ready to make a projection. Make it a confirmation. We’ll say it with certainty. Honda Canada’s Civic streak will reach a full two decades, twenty years, as the Civic becomes Canada’s best-selling car in 2017.

The Civic’s lead is already insurmountable. (Read More…)

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