Posts By: Timothy Cain

By on April 29, 2016

2015 Ford Transit

The Ford Transit was America’s best-selling van in March 2016 and the first-quarter of 2016, full stop.

Not just the best-selling full-size commercial van. Not just the best-selling commercial van overall. The Ford Transit was America’s best-selling van, besting all of its direct rivals as well as each and every minivan.

Much has been made of the all-American Ford Mustang’s one-month stand in Germany. Even if the Mustang’s “Best-Selling Sports Car In Germany” status is only temporarily grasped, it certainly was a noteworthy turn of events. Meanwhile, Ford of Europe’s long-running commercial van, now Americanized, is dominating on our side of the Atlantic. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2016

2015 MErcedes-Benz GLA45 AMG Aerodynamics PAckage

One of the coincidental perks in my work life means that my home office is just a couple of miles away from a major east coast autoport in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. Very rarely do I leave my home without driving by the CN Autoport. On the way to the grocery store, I spot rows of European luxury SUVs, odd imports such as the TVR Tuscan, handfuls of Land Rover Defenders, a Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabrio destined for perusal at Volkswagen’s Canadian HQ, and Mercedes-AMG GTs crossing Main Road with all the nonchalance of a cat which managed to stop traffic on 5th Avenue.

It also means my eyes, through no fault of their own, notice the periodic import of a Mercedes-AMG GLA45 with Mercedes-Benz’s ostentatious Aerodynamics Package, the least Mercedes-Benz-esque option known to mankind on what is already a decidedly un-Mercedes-Benz-ish vehicle. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2016

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription Car wash, Image: Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

We said the new Volvo XC90 would need to sell very well. It is, in fact, selling well. And given the sharp declines Volvo is reporting with every other model, we may have understated the need.

Globally, Volvo reported an all-time record number of sales in calendar year 2015. In the United States, however, even with the second-generation XC90 displaying signs of recovery, Volvo sales in 2015 were half the total achieved by Volvo 11 years earlier.

But in early 2016, Volvo’s big new SUV isn’t simply “displaying signs of recovery.”

Nearly half of all Volvos sold in America in the first-quarter of 2016 were XC90s. (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2016

After one week with a 2016 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew 2.7-liter EcoBoost, I’m convinced that this small turbocharged V6 engine is the pick of the current F-150 range. Stunning acceleration, a positive working relationship with the F-150’s six-speed automatic, minor capability cutbacks, and a lower price tag combine to make the 2.7-liter completely worthy of […]

By on April 20, 2016

2014 Mazda 3 5-door

Through the first-quarter of 2016, U.S. auto sales volume grew 3 percent compared with the same period in record-setting 2015.

Mazda’s U.S. sales have fallen 17 percent, a meaningful decline of 13,399 sales over the course of only three months.

Something isn’t clicking for Mazda. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2016

Strange as it seems to those of us who clearly remember 16-inch wheels as the sporting option on midsize sedans, 20-inch rims on a 2016 GMC Yukon Denali appear downright tiny. Indeed, the 20-inchers pictured above are the poverty-spec wheels on the Yukon Denali, a simple way of avoiding a set of $2,495-2,995 22-inch wheels […]

By on April 14, 2016

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Classic, Image: Volkswagen Group of America

Compared with February 2016, March 2016’s U.S. sales at the Volkswagen brand jumped 21 percent.

So everything’s back to normal, right? The diesel emissions scandal’s impact has clearly waned, right? Volkswagen’s U.S. team obviously figured out how to market, price, and stock a gas-only lineup, right?

No. This is why we examine an automaker’s sales volume on a year-over-year basis, and why understanding the seasonality of the auto business is essential. (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2016

2012 Toyota Tundra – Image Source: Toyota Canada

Late last month, I determined the extent to which Canadians buy the most reliable vehicles according to automaker-supplied sales figures and J.D. Power’s 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study. In large measure, the vehicles that win their respective categories in J.D. Power’s Study are distinctly unpopular vehicles in Canada.

In the United States, the same group of vehicles are notably more common. But does J.D. Power’s VDS, a study which takes into account problems encountered by original owners of MY2013 vehicles over the course of their third year, have a measurable impact on U.S. buying habits? (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2016

A week during which I recently spent driving an Audi Q3 clarified once and for all that, against everything pointing to the contrary, there’s not a bone of pro-Audi bias in my lanky frame. My father didn’t claim that his handful of Audi 5000 Turbo Quattros — including a couple beige examples — and his […]

By on April 8, 2016

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Image: Toyota USA

After finishing a close third behind the plunging Ford Explorer and Chevrolet TrailBlazer in 2006, the Honda CR-V went on to claim the top spot among SUVs/crossovers in America in eight of the following nine years, including the last four consecutive years.

A victorious ending to 2016 appears less certain for the CR-V. In the last five months, the best-selling utility vehicle in America was the Toyota RAV4, sales of which rose 14 percent in the first-quarter of 2016 as CR-V volume slid 3 percent.

Incidentally, the last SUV to unseat the CR-V on a calendar year basis was the Ford Escape. Back in 2011, the Escape was available with a hybrid powertrain, an option not offered by rival small SUVs. Fast forward to 2016, and the vehicle most likely to unseat the CR-V — the surging RAV4 — is likewise available with a hybrid powertrain. A meaningless, low-volume variant meant to bolster an automaker’s green cred? Perhaps that was the case with the Escape in 2011, but there’s an entirely different story to tell with the RAV4 five years later. (Read More…)

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