Category: Features

By on February 23, 2017

2017 Honda CR-V Touring Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Timothy Cain

We’re all supposed to enjoy, or endure, an Alfa Romeo ownership experience at some point in our lives.

The 2017 Honda CR-V is diametrically opposed to everything the Alfa Romeo SZ stands for.

You’re supposed to drive a car that reveals its character through its flaws, as if a shifter that only slots into third at 2,755 rpm is somehow symbolic of soul.

The 2017 Honda CR-V doesn’t shift. At all.

You’re supposed to tell a great breakdown story that involves a leafy Vermont village, a greedy mechanic, and a 48-hour wait for a repair that resulted in the best drive ever with an ex-girlfriend who severed your relationship the next day.

Not a single word of that could possibly apply to a 2017 Honda CR-V.

You’re an enthusiast, you have taste, you’re vulnerable. We get it. But maybe you should just drive a Honda CR-V and accept the fact that boring, or dull, or soulless cars can be wonderfully effective ways of transporting one’s family.

I’m not thrilled by the realization. But I’m impressed by the all-new, fifth-generation Honda CR-V. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback LT Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

It wasn’t long ago that the Detroit Three were fending off the Japanese on home soil as the Land of the Rising Sun cranked out reliable car after reliable car for the American masses. Then came the Koreans — Kia and Hyundai — who brought over cheap metal to win market share but quickly turned around their quality and reliability woes and produced some of the best products in the industry.

So why is it that, after 108 years of building automobiles, General Motors still manufactures abysmal garbage?

Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Jiffy Lube in Durham, Image: By Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Last year, I told you that your quick-lube place was probably snitching on you to your insurance company — and to Carfax. Did you make any changes in the way you have your car serviced because of that? I’m thinking that you did not, because you probably have nothing to hide. A surprising number of the commenters on that article were on the side of the insurance companies and Carfax, and their rationale was generally some variant on “I’m not going to commit insurance fraud, nor will I commit odometer fraud, so why should I care if my car’s mileage is in a database somewhere?”

Earlier this week, Scott Adams learned the hard way what you, the TTAC reader, already know about the relationship between small auto business and Big Data. For him, however, the lesson might come at a major cost. Because this time, the data was wrong.

Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

congrats

It’s been about seven months since I ran out of warranty in my 2014 Accord EX-L V6 6MT. We’re now just a touch over 45,500 miles at the third anniversary of purchase, and I’ll confess I’m starting to get a little itchy about the idea of keeping a new car for this long. Only four times in my life have I kept a street-titled car past the three-year mark: my 1990 Fox stuck around 67 months, my 944 was in my possession for the better part of 10 years, and I still have two Porsches I bought during the first term of the G.W. Bush administration. Other than that, it’s been churn-and-burn, usually somewhere between the 18-month and 30-month marks.

There are sound reasons to swap the Accord out, and sound reasons to keep it, as you’ll see below. I’ve also had a few interesting incidents with the car, one of which might even be considered a legitimate blotting of the proverbial copybook.

Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum - Image: Toyota

For far too long, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid has been an especially costly version of Toyota’s popular three-row crossover.

Fortunately, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid’s base price drops by $11,600 in 2017 as Toyota introduces two additional lower trim levels, which have eased the cost burden of upgrading to the hybrid. Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

2017 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited

The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek has the bad luck of living in the shadow of a vehicle that doesn’t yet exist. That phantom would be the looming 2018 Crosstrek, which borrows the new-for-2017 Impreza’s modular platform and, no doubt, enough technological, mechanical and appearance upgrades to make the old model look ancient overnight.

So, if you’re stuck living in northern climes and counting pennies is your idea of a thrilling good time, now’s a great time to sit back and wait patiently for a killer deal on the outgoing model. Because, replacement or not, it’s popular for good reason. And no, not just because of Subaru’s newfound status as the go-to conveyor of the nonconformist middle class.

With little changed since its 2013 model year debut, save for the elimination of the “XV” prefix, a minor 2016 facelift, and the disappearance of a short-lived hybrid variant, the Crosstrek enters the last year of its first generation with confidence. This jacked-up Impreza 5-door has a life ahead of it and a fan base behind it. Anyone who questions the reasons for the model’s popularity had best pack their bags, head north, and experience a month where it snowed at least every other day. Read More >

By on February 11, 2017

2016 Nissan Frontier, Image: Nissan

European drivers have a problem. Motorists who own Nissan Navara pickups keep finding their trips cut short by an annoying noise: the sound of their trucks splitting in half.

So many Navaras — sold in North America as the Nissan Frontier — are snapping in two due to extreme frame rust that owners are pressuring governments to do something about. Check out these photos if you think it’s an isolated problem. Read More >

By on February 8, 2017

1997 Dodge Copperhead Concept/Ram 1500 Copper Sport - Images: FCA

As we reported in the middle of the night, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will show two new Ram special edition pickup trucks at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show this week.

One truck brings the 1500 Night package to the 2500 Heavy Duty. The other is the Ram’s 1500 Copper Sport.

Or is it?

Hours after the embargo lifted and Matthew Guy’s story went live on TTAC, we received a press release from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada’s PR department. Our eagle-eyed managing editor, Mark Stevenson, noticed something peculiar.

“New Limited Edition 2017 Ram 1500 Copperhead Sport Launched,” FCA Canada announced.

And why won’t the Copperhead Sport be the Copperhead Sport in the United States?

Don’t blame Steve Earle. Blame ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons. Read More >

By on February 8, 2017

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited red

It’s normal for many new car buyers to fall out of love with their vehicles once the honeymoon is over and the thrill is gone, though the majority stick with their vehicles for the long haul — well, until the lease period is up, anyway.

The jilted romantics will run to tell Consumer Reports and anyone else in their immediate vicinity about how unsatisfied they are with their car’s finicky infotainment unit and herky-jerky transmission, but their complaints fail to shed any light on costs. Initial quality and customer satisfaction are nice things, but what about the impact on the buyer’s wallet over time?

Kelley Blue Book can provide some advice, as it tallies up the top brands and models based on ownership costs over a five-year period. Read More >

By on February 7, 2017

2017 Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

My sister hates the Ford Flex.

She’s never driven a Ford Flex, mind you. She just hates the way it looks.

I, on the other hand, am a huge fan of the Ford Flex’s exterior design, particularly in Blue Jeans paint, particularly without these black wheels.

There are only two sides to this argument. There is no middle ground on which you stand and declare, “Meh, it’s alright.” Since 2008, consumers have fallen on either one side of the fence or the other. You either love the Ford Flex, or you hate the Ford Flex.

Based on the Flex’s lack of marketplace success, there are apparently too many haters. Some nine years after the Flex was launched, inspired in 2008 by the 2005’s Ford Fairlane Concept, Ford’s alternative crossover is increasingly forced into an ever-narrowing niche. The style quotient remains high — at least in the eyes of those who’ve always loved it — but the Flex now manifests too many signs of old age in a market full of remarkably competent and more popular challengers. Read More >

By on February 4, 2017

It was a dark and unexciting night. The setting: my apartment. The time: well, last night.

The hour was was growing late, but going to bed at a normal time on a Friday night — even my definition of a normal time — seemed like an invitation to early onset senility. I’m a human being, dammit, I’m alive, and doing anything — anything — besides refreshing my taxed brain cells seemed like a good plan.

So, a Budweiser was cracked, an old movie was sought out, and my feet soon raised themselves to a comfortable, elevated position. Now, many who aren’t familiar with my history are unaware of a shocking secret — something that could prompt fits of laughter if you’re not ready for the news. Read More >

By on February 3, 2017

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid Hotel Emma, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

Remember MTV? Back on September 18, 1983, the once-music-oriented television station — before its foray into an endless stream of mindless reality programming — broadcast a momentous event in rock history. The members of KISS, who’d never previously showed their bare faces in public, appeared in front of a camera without makeup for the very first time.

Instantly, the members of New York City rock band were normal — as far as rockers can be considered normal, I suppose.

In that same vein, Kia’s new Niro is the unmasking of the hybrid. Its crossover shape wouldn’t look out of place as a conventional, dino-juice powered vehicle on any dealer lot. The Niro sports no folded sheetmetal, no oddly proportioned kammback, and no spaghettified headlights.

It’s normal — as far as hybrids can be considered normal, I suppose. And that’s the point.

Read More >

By on February 2, 2017

The Internet is in the proverbial tizzy about Audi’s “feminist” Super Bowl advertisement, in which the automaker comes out in favor of equal pay for women.

At first blush, the spot seems to be nothing but the usual corporate slacktivism, a feel-good fluff-vertorial making a “brave stand” in support of an issue that was decided long ago. I’m reminded of Joaquin Phoenix’s brilliant portrayal of Commodus in Gladiator, arriving in full armor as soon as he can do so without any risk. “Father, have I missed the battle?” Well, Audi, you’ve missed the war; if there’s a place in the United States where women are actually paid significantly less for doing the same job as men, it’s not evident from what I’m reading.

After watching the one-minute advertisement carefully, however, I understood feminism, or equal pay, is the last thing Audi wants you to take away from it. The message is far subtler, and more powerful, than the dull recitation of the pseudo-progressive catechism droning on in the background. This spot is visual — and as you’ll see below, you can’t understand it until you watch it and see what it’s really telling you.

Let me tell you up front: chances are you won’t like what Audi has to say.

Read More >

By on February 1, 2017

chrysler crossfire

“God, that looks awful.”

We’ve all uttered the sentence above at one time or another. We’re sitting in traffic and are suddenly faced with something grotesque, something which was undoubtedly “of the moment” for only a moment, and which is now part of recent history best forgotten. But enough about the hooker leaning on a Crossfire.

Today I’m going to ask you to think back in time — up to ten years ago (which may be a challenge for some of our more wizened commenters) — and reflect on car designs. Tell me your pick for the most aged design of 2007-2017.

Read More >

By on January 31, 2017

2017 Cadillac CT6 Stellar Black - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Whether the 2017 Cadillac CT6 is the Cadillac you want, surely the CT6 is what you want Cadillac to be.

It’s not unreasonable to consider yourself a candidate for the Cadillac you can most easily afford: the ATS. But what does the ATS say about Cadillac; what image does it present?

Odds are the SRX-replacing Cadillac XT5 is the Cadillac you’re most likely to buy, the Cadillac that will earn more than one-third of the brand’s U.S. sales, but the XT5 is already popular enough to be decidedly mainstream. Cadillac sold more XT5s in the final six weeks of 2016 than the CT6 managed in nine months.

There’s always the Escalade, the upper-echelon Cadillac that’s far more likely in this SUV-crazed world to capture the well-heeled Cadillac buyer’s attention — but shouldn’t a big Cadillac have a properly big back seat? Shouldn’t it be properly long, low, and wide? Shouldn’t it have the streetside presence of a much more costly car, rather than the silhouette of its $49,000 Chevrolet sibling? And don’t you want to have a barrel of fun hustling your big Cadillac down your favourite Nürburgring-impersonating road?

There’s the rub, of course. You may not want, need, or expect your 17-foot-long Cadillac sedan to be enjoyable to drive — not just to be in, but to drive. Moreover, even if that’s what you want, it may not be possible for the CT6’s endearing on-road behavior to counteract a number of Cadillac idiosyncrasies. Read More >

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