Posts By: Timothy Cain

By on September 26, 2016

2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang

Even Mazda, we told you last week, is now selling more crossovers than cars.

One-third of Chevrolet’s U.S. volume is produced by pickup trucks. An SUV now generates more than half of the Bentley brand’s U.S. sales. Half of all Chrysler buyers choose a minivan.

Where are the sports cars? (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2016

2017 Toyota Sienna 3.5L V6

Updated for 2015 with a revised interior, an invisible facelift, and improved LATCH access, the 2015 Toyota Sienna was nevertheless mechanically identical to the Sienna of 2011-2014. The Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in calendar year 2015.

For model year 2017, the Sienna remains visually identical and continues on the third-generation platform, but Toyota is installing the Tacoma’s direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 underhood and linking it to a new eight-speed automatic.

With a 30-horsepower jump to 293, the 2017 Toyota Sienna is now the most powerful minivan on sale. (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2016

2016 Mazda CX-9

Over the last two months, Mazda, that great tiny bastion of four-cylinder engines and SkyActiv and adding lightness, has sold more crossovers than cars in the United States.

Yes, that Mazda. The Mazda that had to rebadge Fords to bring its first two SUVs to market. The Mazda that, only four years ago, produced two-thirds of its U.S. sales with passenger cars.

Unfortunately, the gains now produced by Mazda’s CX crossover division aren’t enough to counteract the plunging sales of Mazda’s three remaining cars. As a result, Mazda’s U.S. market share is down to just 1.7 percent through 2016’s first eight months.

The good news for Mazda? Company bosses saw this coming. As part of a long-term strategy, Mazda is sticking to its guns, unwilling to overreact to disappointing short-term results with short-term fixes. (Read More…)

By on September 22, 2016

2017 Honda HR-V

Within months of the Honda HR-V arriving in North America, it seemed as though the Honda Fit was dead to rights.

Last summer, U.S. sales of the Honda Fit tumbled 35 percent as the starting point of a second-half in which Fit sales would plunge 54 percent.

The cause was obvious, or so it seemed. Consumers don’t want subcompact cars, consumers want subcompact crossovers.

With the subcompact crossover, the Honda HR-V, lining up alongside the subcompact car, the Honda Fit, inside Honda showrooms, consumers were driving away in HR-Vs 80 percent of the time.

Fast forward one year: it seems as though Honda has remedied the situation. Not only are U.S. sales of the Fit rising rapidly, the Honda HR-V continues to strengthen its share of the American subcompact crossover market.

How’d they do it? Don’t tell a certain presidential candidate, but it’s all because of Honda’s Japanese-Mexican arrangement. (Read More…)

By on September 21, 2016

Ford F150 assembly line

It seems as though you can’t turn around on the streets of Atlanta or the suburbs of Austin or the outskirts of Albuquerque without seeing a Ford F-Series pickup truck.

For 34 years running, Americans have registered more copies of the F-Series than any other pickup truck. A wide-ranging model lineup (just like its competitors) and top-selling rivals that split their sales between brands means Ford consistently and overwhelmingly sells more full-size pickup trucks than any other automobile brand in the United States. At the current rate of growth, Ford will sell more than 800,000 F-Series pickups in 2016, more than at any point since 2005.

While it’s impressive that Ford owns 30 percent of the American pickup truck market, perhaps the more daunting figure shows that 1 out of every 22 new vehicles sold in the U.S. is a Ford pickup truck.

But don’t be so easily impressed. Look northward, where the Ford F-Series is far more popular than it is in the United States. (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2016

2015 Ford F150

Are the economic successes of Wall Street not being passed down to Main Street? Are concerns over the future post-November direction of the country fostering caution in the minds of consumers? Did certainty regarding forthcoming autumn incentives postpone summer purchases?

And might the benefits of a burgeoning midsize pickup truck class finally be inhibiting demand for full-size pickup trucks?

Whatever the reason, U.S. sales of full-size pickups declined in the summer of 2016 after growing much faster than the overall market coming out of the recession.

In fact, in August 2016, all six nameplates in the category produced fewer sales than they did one year earlier. During the same period, sales of midsize pickup trucks jumped 39 percent. (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5 rear

In 1999, GM altered the front fascia and slightly upgraded the interior of the GMC Yukon Denali to introduce the Cadillac Escalade. Although Cadillac was late to the Lincoln Navigator’s game, the biggest, baddest, boldest Cadillac quickly became an undeniable hit.

Now in fourth-generation form, U.S. sales of the regular-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade are on track to rise to an eight-year high in 2016.

Joining the Escalade in Cadillac’s SUV/crossover lineup in 2003 was the first-generation Cadillac SRX. With a two-row mainstream approach in generation two, the Cadillac SRX also became a huge success. Propelled forward in part by incentives, the SRX’s ability to claim its best ever U.S. sales total in 2015, its final full year, was nevertheless impressive.

Less than half a year into its run, the SRX-replacing Cadillac XT5 is likewise a formidable hit; yet more proof that Cadillac knows how to shake its moneymakers. Which makes you wonder why Cadillac hasn’t already brought to market more moneymakers for the brand to shake. (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2016

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota, and Honda produce nine out of every ten minivans sold in the United States. In a category little more than half the size now than it was a decade ago and with an ever-shrinking number of competitors, the dawn of a truly new people-carrying, grocery-getting, pickup-truck-aping van has the potential to upset […]

By on September 15, 2016

2017 minivans Quest Sedona Caravan Pacifica Odyssey SiennaA long ways from the 1.1 million minivans sold in 2005, U.S. sales of sliding-door people carriers are on track to rise to a nine-year high of more than 600,000 units in calendar year 2016.

Through the first eight months of 2016, year-over-year minivan volume is up 19 percent in the United States, though an industry-wide slowdown stalled the minivan sector’s expansion in August.

More than a year after a plant shutdown in Windsor, Ontario, enabled retooling for a new generation of Chrysler MPV product — and severely cut into fleet sales — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles currently owns 45 percent of the American minivan market, up from 33 percent in the first eight months of 2015.

A portion of the credit for FCA’s resurgence belongs to the all-new Chrysler Pacifica, a direct Town & Country replacement that we’re testing this week. After forming only 25 percent of Chrysler brand sales at this stage of 2015, minivans are suddenly responsible for half of all volume at the fading Pentastar brand. (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

In keeping with my current life stage, a bunch of my friends own minivans. Three of my four siblings have each owned multiple minivans. I own a minivan.

And this week, the test vehicle at GCBC Towers is this FCA Canada-supplied 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited, with a not-at-all limited array of options. As-tested, U.S. market pricing for this Pacifica climbs just beyond the $50K marker to $50,270.

Honda Odysseys top out below $46,000; Toyota Siennas below $49,000. FCA, however, wants the new Pacifica — which adopts the name of a failed crossover that died eight years ago — to be perceived as the automaker’s premium player. Buyers who want a value-oriented FCA van continue to have the Dodge Grand Caravan as an option, at least for the time being.

But we wonder if it’s a tenable position in the long-term; if, when FCA’s Windsor, Ontario assembly plant finishes its Grand Caravan run, the Chrysler brand can maintain the automaker’s longstanding dominance in the minivan sector. (Read More…)

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