Posts By: Timothy Cain

By on May 23, 2016

2015 Honda Odyssey EX

8,000 trouble-free miles ended in early April when our 2015 Honda Odyssey EX began squeaking, squawking, and groaning.

An intermittent rattle in the glovebox this was not. The noise was growing worse by the day. Sounding like a flexing structure when turning into an uneven parking lot entry, like a handful of golf balls bouncing around together when traversing a rougher section of road at very low speed, and like a dying crow in nearly every other circumstance, our Odyssey went from refined to cacophonous in a matter of days.

All blame was laid at the feet of our minivan’s power sliding doors, large apparatuses responsible for shuttering two vast orifices in the sides of a 17-foot-long pod that lacks the inherent structural rigidity of a traditional three-box saloon car. (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2016

2016 Cadillac ELR, Image: Cadillac

In the first paragraph of Car And Driver’s first full test of the 2014 Cadillac ELR, K.C. Colwell wrote, “The ELR’s entry price is nearly double that of the Volt.”

By paragraph two of the New York Times first ELR review, the Grey Lady called it, “bracingly expensive.”

AutoGuide called the ELR, “Surprisingly good, disappointingly expensive.”

Money undeniably played a big role in bringing the Cadillac ELR’s short life to an end. We knew months ago that the ELR wouldn’t make it through to a second-generation. Now we know that production of the Cadillac ELR, only 29 months after launching in December 2013, has come to an end. (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2016

$26,415. $36,470. $43,395. The jumps in price from the four-door Volkswagen Golf GTI to the Volkswagen Golf R to the Audi S3, three closely related cars, are not insignificant. Yet in spite of the dollar differences, or perhaps because of the dollar differences, the trio inevitably undergoes the value proposition comparison, as if “value” is […]

By on May 18, 2016

2016 Dodge brochure

After climbing to a five-year high in 2013, sales at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Dodge brand fell 4 percent in calendar year 2014 and a further 10 percent in 2015.

So when TTAC columnist Bark M. tweeted a Dodge marketing tagline — “Fastest Growing American Performance Brand” — my confusion, doubt and skepticism were kindled.

Bark heard the tagline in a radio ad, which unfortunately isn’t Googleable. However, he swiftly supplied a link to this 2016 Dodge brochure in which the following claim is made: “The Dodge brand may have started from humble beginnings, but it is now the fastest-growing performance brand.[1]*

Seriously? Let’s look into it. (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2016

2016 Honda Civic sedan

Though growth in the American new vehicle market slowed in the first-third of 2016, U.S. sales of SUVs and crossovers jumped 9 percent, a gain of 173,000 sales, year-over-year.

Matching the rate of expansion seen in calendar year 2015, the highest-volume year on record for the U.S. auto industry, was never going to be easy. It’s made all the more difficult by decreasing interest in the largest corner of the market: cars. Sales of passenger cars are down 5 percent so far this year, exacerbating a trend that was already set in stone a year ago.

Yet sales volume in Honda dealers is rising rapidly in the first four months of 2015. Honda just reported record April auto sales, not because of popular utilities such as the CR-V and Pilot, but because of cars. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2016

2016 BMW 340i

America’s record-breaking new vehicle sales volume in calendar year 2015 was powered in part by better-than-average growth from premium automakers.

Yet after BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Acura, and Cadillac all failed to match the rate of industry-wide expansion in 2015, the first four months of 2016 have revealed that even more top-level premium brands are fading as the market for new vehicles continues to expand. U.S. auto sales are up 3.4 percent in 2016. Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW (the three top-ranked premium auto brands), Acura, Cadillac, and Infiniti posted declining sales in the first-third of 2016.

Largely at fault are the passenger car divisions at each brand, but a number of high-volume SUVs/crossovers that are failing to match last year’s first-third sales pace, as well. (Read More…)

By on May 12, 2016

2014 Jeep Patriot Chrysler Photo

Let’s face it: the automotive enthusiast universe wasn’t clamouring for a sub-subcompact, three-cylinder Mitsubishi hatchback. Not surprisingly, the Mitsubishi Mirage ended up on TTAC’s list of 2016’s Ten Worst Automobiles Today.

But after TTAC named 2016’s best and worst vehicles earlier this week, we wondered whether the market agrees with the choices made by TTAC and The Best & Brightest. We know there are stark differences between the number of votes cast for vehicles such as the Mazda6 and the number of consumers who signed on the dotted line to buy a Mazda6. Will such stark differences appear when we look into the amount of support the American car-buying populace has for the very vehicles TTAC’s contributors and B&B despises?  (Read More…)

By on May 12, 2016

2016 Mazda MX-5 red front

Over the past few weeks, TTAC instituted a formula by which the Best & Brightest and TTAC’s editors and contributors would choose 2016’s Ten Best Automobiles Today and 2016’s Ten Worst Automobiles Today.

Earlier this week, the winners and losers were revealed. But does the TTAC Best & Brightest agree with the great American consumer? Are TTAC’s picks in keeping with the choices made by millions of new car buyers?

We’re answering those questions by looking at the market performance of each winner and by providing additional insight from a devil’s advocate. Do the winners deserve to be winners? (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2016

2013 Honda Ridgeline

Honda hasn’t produced a new first-generation Ridgeline since 2014. Yet in the first four months of 2016, prior to the second-generation Ridgeline’s showroom arrival, Honda dealers managed to get a couple of long-since forgotten Ridgelines into customer hands.

But the Ridgeline’s ability to show up on U.S. sales charts in early 2016 isn’t unique. There have even been seven total sales of the Porsche 918 Spyder, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, and Lexus LFA so far this year.

Extinct, discontinued, on hiatus, buried, forgotten: these 17 “new” vehicles aren’t dead — yet. (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2016

2016 Buick Verano Turbo

The Verano, Buick’s four-year-old entry-level sedan based on the previous-generation Chevrolet Cruze, will join the Century, LeSabre, Park Avenue, Reatta, Riviera, Roadmaster, Skylark, and numerous other cars in Buick’s mass grave at the end of the 2017 model year (hopefully far, far away from Harley Earl’s resting place).

Automotive News reported yesterday that its GM sources say the Verano, while living on in China, won’t be renewed on this side of the Pacific. Verano volume tumbled 30 percent between its U.S. sales peak in 2013, the Verano’s second full year, and 2015. Buick is now generating nearly six in ten U.S. sales with just two crossovers, while the brand’s four car nameplates combined for a 3-percent drop during the first four months of 2016. That’s before Buick adds the Envision to the middle of its crossover lineup and before Buick kills off the entry-level car that generates more than one-third of the brand’s passenger car volume.

So, if it’s not too impertinent to ask, not too morbid or irreverent to inquire, how long before Buick discontinues its whole North American car division in a quest to become America’s crossover-ized answer to Land Rover? (Read More…)

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