Posts By: Timothy Cain

By on August 17, 2017

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar - Image: Land RoverIt’s 2017. If this isn’t The Year Of The Luxury SUV, then surely we’re fast approaching The Year Of The Luxury SUV.

Therefore, Land Rover can pretty well do whatever it wants. “A brand like ours,” says Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern, “has this ability to stretch.”

Bentley Bentayga rival? “Absolutely,” McGovern says.

Identically sized Range Rovers? “If they had two personalities then they’ve both got equal appeal but to different customers,” McGovern tells Automotive News Europe.

There’s no reason to doubt Land Rover’s self-belief. (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2017

2017 BMW Z4 Roadster Concept - Image: BimmerfileThis is not the next BMW Z4.

But it’s very likely an accurate portrayal of what the production version of BMW’s third-generation Z4 (and successor to the Z3) will look like when it goes on sale next year.

Love it or hate it, the BMW Roadster Concept that BMW will officially unveil in Pebble Beach later today is an eye-catching followup to the departing Z4 that appeared eight years ago. Now we wait to see whether the next Z4, which shares its underpinnings with the reborn Toyota Supra, will attract any buyers.

U.S. sales of the Z4 plunged by more than 90 percent between 2003 and 2015.  (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2017

2017 Ford F-150 Towing - Image: FordThe Ford F-Series was the planet’s best-selling line of new vehicles in the first half of 2017. Boosted by a 9-percent year-over-year global sales increase, the broad F-Series range produced 519,000 total sales in 2017’s first six months, according to JATO Dynamics, about 47,000 more sales than the second-ranked Toyota Corolla.

The F-Series wasn’t the only pickup truck on the list of Earth’s 20 most popular vehicles in 2017, to date. FCA’s Ram P/U lineup ranked 11th and the Chevrolet Silverado grabbed the 15th position. The United States market, on its own, accounts for the overwhelming majority of global sales generated by these full-size pickup families: more than 80 percent for the F-Series, just under 80 percent for the Ram, and nearly 90 percent for the Silverado.

Utility vehicles, meanwhile, earned seven of the top 20 positions. And while seven of the nine cars sold less often in the first half of 2017 than in the equivalent period in 2016, six of the seven crossovers reported year-over-year improvements. (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan - Image: VolkswagenThe Nissan Juke and Mini Countryman arrived in the United States in 2010. The Subaru Crosstrek appeared two years later.

Buick’s Encore appeared at U.S. dealers in 2013; its Chevrolet Trax partner the following year. 2015 saw the arrival of the Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3. The (FWD-only) Toyota C-HR landed in April 2017. The Hyundai Kona was unveiled in June 2017 and will show up in U.S. Hyundai stores this coming winter.

And on August 23, 2017, Volkswagen will unveil the T-Roc, which isn’t likely to go on sale in the United States until 2019. That’s nine years late.

Will the T-Roc’s tardiness cause the subcompact Volkswagen crossover to suffer the marketplace consequences just as its overdue siblings always have? (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

2018 Ford F150 - Image: FordAs Ford prepares to launch the refreshed 2018 F-150 with a thoroughly updated engine lineup, Blue Oval product planners expect 2017’s engine selection to continue. That means the 5.0-liter V8, while mildly upgraded for 2018, will be found under the hood of only one in four 2018 F-150s.

The transition has been a rapid one. Twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6s were surprisingly effective when, in early 2011, 35 percent of F-150 buyers made the leap from conventional naturally aspirated powerplants. Three years later, when Ford was planning to expand the F-150’s EcoBoost lineup with a less costly 2.7-liter variant, Ford expected 56 percent of F-150 buyers to choose one of the turbocharged units.

Heading into 2018, Ford’s truck marketing manager Todd Eckert tells Automotive News that the 2.7-liter EcoBoost will be the most popular F-150 engine followed by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost. Together, they’ll claim 65 percent of all F-150 sales, leaving 10 percent for the new entry-level 3.3-liter, and roughly 25 percent for the five-point-oh.

So how many V8 engines is that? (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

2017 McLaren 720S - Image: McLarenOn the one hand, you have Horacio Pagani, founder of Pagani Automobili, who builds some of the world’s most exotic supercars but says of the Porsche 918, “Porsche is the greatest — beyond a doubt. I own a 918.”

Speaking of his own Ferrari F12 tdf’s arrival, Pagani says, “When I uncovered the car and saw the Ferrari logo, I had the urge to kiss it.”

“I was the first to order it in Europe,” Pagani says of the new Ford GT. “I like the fact AMG is making a car with F1 technology,” Pagani says of the Mercedes-AMG Project One. “I will buy one.”

Pagani’s openness toward competing supercars is refreshing.

On the other hand, McLaren’s chief engineer for the brand’s “entry-level” Sports Series cars, Paul Burnham, tells CarAdvice, “At McLaren, we like to think we’ve got the only authentic sports car setup in the market.”

They wear their Union Jacks with pride in Woking. (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Cruze diesel underhood - Image: GMGeneral Motors’ diesel-powered midsize pickup trucks are the only midsize pickup trucks available in America with diesel engines. GM’s Chevrolet Cruze is the only compact car on sale in America with a diesel engine. Although the Mazda CX-5 is scheduled to arrive later this year, diesel-powered editions of the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain will be the first small utility vehicles with diesel options.

With all the negative diesel press earned largely by the eruption of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal in September 2015, is GM’s investment in America’s diesel market a complete and utter waste?

GM obviously thinks not. “I don’t think diesel customers forgot why they liked driving diesels in the last two years,” GM’s vice president for global propulsion systems, Dan Nicholson, tells Automobile. “They didn’t forget about the driving character or the fuel economy.”

Moreover, Nicholson says of the tens of thousands of former Volkswagen TDI owners, “We don’t think those customers went away.” (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

2018 Buick LaCrosse - Image: BuickAs General Motors seeks to get the company’s U.S. inventory down to the industry average of 70 days’ supply by the end of 2017, once-prominent passenger cars are inhibiting the company from achieving its vital goal.

At Cadillac, where even the company’s three utility vehicles have far more than 70 days of stock, the brand’s four car nameplates have 137 days’ supply. At Chevrolet, where the brand’s somewhat excessive light truck inventory is largely due to an intentional increase in Silverado stock, there’s a 128-day supply of passenger cars. Granted, that figure is worsened by a stop-sale on Chevrolet Sparks that limited the city car to only 1,132 U.S. sales in the last three months and by a necessary Corvette stockpile in advance of a Bowling Green shutdown.

But it’s at Buick, where new and old designs alike are suffering from dramatically lower-than-anticipated demand, that GM’s inventory reduction methodology doesn’t seem to be taking hold. According to Automotive News, Buick dealers have enough LaCrosses in stock to last until the July 4th holiday next summer.

How did Buick develop such a LaCrosse glut, and is there a silver lining to this black inventory cloud? (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Touring - Image: HondaThe Honda Accord is by no means a younger sibling, operating as the senior member of American Honda’s fleet.

More specifically, the 2018 Honda Accord will never be viewed as the little brother in the American Honda family, not with these substantial dimensions and MSRPs that reach deep into the $30Ks.

But the 10th-generation Accord is still a Honda. Just a Honda. Merely a Honda. Only a Honda. And while you might expect Honda to enjoy technological hand-me-downs from the automaker’s upmarket Acura brand, that’s not the way it works. Not when it comes to the Accord.

As a result, we’ll wait and see which hand-me-ups appear on the next all-new Acura, the third-generation 2019 Acura RDX. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Custom - Image: ChevroletGeneral Motors announced today the September 2017 arrival of the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Custom, priced from $44,995, including destination fees. That represents a $3,750 price cut for what will now become the base Tahoe, down from the 2018 Tahoe LS’s $48,745 MSRP.

GM says the 2018 Tahoe Custom is a response both to “strong consumer demand for Tahoe,” and to the “full-size SUV segment moving upmarket.”

Therefore, there’ll be no cooled seats here. No adaptive cruise. No head-up display.

No third row of seating. Gasp. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

General Motors apparently believes you’ll pay a genuinely lofty price for the 2017 Buick Envision precisely because it’s a Buick. A basic 2017 Buick Envision, upgraded with Preferred trim in order to select the $1,850 all-wheel drive system, costs $38,645. That’s correct: the least costly AWD Envision is priced from $38,645. General Motors will sell […]

By on August 15, 2017

2016 Toyota Avalon - Image: ToyotaU.S. sales of full-size, volume-brand sedans fell 17 percent in the first seven months of 2017, a sharp drop following noteworthy declines in each of the last three years. Despite the growth the market has seen since the auto industry’s collapse in 2009, big sedans have lost 37 percent of their U.S. sales volume over the last four years.

Compared with 2013, that’s 18,000 fewer sales for the segment every month. Even compared with 2016, that’s 6,500 fewer sales every month.

In what was historically a fleet-dependent corner of the passenger-car market, many automakers’ reduced emphasis on sales to daily rental companies plays a major role. Numerous players in the segment also attempted to move upmarket, further away from the midsize cars that now offer the requisite interior volume. It hasn’t turned out so well for some. Remember the Mitsubishi Diamante and Mercury Montego? We’ll soon forget the discontinued Hyundai Azera. The Ford Taurus is likely not long for this market, either.

Yet in a market that’s lost 17 percent of its sales this year, the Toyota Avalon has shed 28 percent of its year-to-date volume, a loss of 7,475 sales. With an all-new 2018 Camry set to generate more than its fair share of Toyota sedan sales, does the Avalon even deserve a place in Toyota’s 2018 lineup?

Indeed it does, as Toyota will launch the fifth-generation, TNGA-based Avalon in 2018. “We’re committed to Avalon,” says Toyota North America’s executive vice president for sales, Bob Carter. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

2017 Subaru Outback - Image: Subaru According to Cars.com, there are roughly 17,000 copies of the 2017 Subaru Outback on dealer lots across the United States.

That’s slightly more than one month’s supply for the Outback, a high-riding crossover of a wagon that has lately attracted an average of 15,600 U.S. sales per month.

But with a modest facelift and underskin refresh due for the 2018 model year — there are already 6,000 Outbacks in stock at Subaru dealers — Subaru needs these 2017 Outbacks to disappear before full availability of MY2018 Outbacks kills demand for the outgoing model.

So Subaru is doing what Subaru doesn’t do. You can get a deal on a 2017 Subaru Outback. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Touring – Image: © Timothy CainIn the 2016 calendar year, the Honda Odyssey was Canada’s 41st-best-selling vehicle.

In the first half of 2017, as the fourth-generation Odyssey’s tenure came to an end, the Honda van plunged 11 positions to 52nd. Odyssey sales were down 18 percent, year-over-year. Odyssey volume was on track to fall to a five-year low. Hashtag minivans dead.

Then, descending from the top of Mount Fuji with a Soichiro-shaped halo, hosting enough seats for the entire Odyssey SCCA pit crew, declaring 30 more horses than the original Acura NSX, equipped with enough gears in its transmission for 2.5 copies of the Toyota Yaris, and speaking with just enough of an Alabama twang to be authentically North Americanized, the 2018 Honda Odyssey appeared.

Canadian sales of the Honda Odyssey consequently rose to the highest level in 15 years. And so shall it ever be. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox - Image: ChevroletGeneral Motors’ expectation that the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Diesel would climb to the arbitrarily important 40 miles per gallon marker will not be fulfilled by the production Equinox.

In accordance with Environmental Protection Agency procedures, the Equinox 1.6TD comes up short of the 40-mpg highway marker by a single mpg.  (Read More…)

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