Category: Features

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 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

friedman

It’s the stuff of which public relations nightmares are made.

For the past couple of years Dodge has sponsored Motor Trend‘s “Roadkill” show, which can be thought of as a generic white-label take on Fast N’ Loud. It’s worth noting that Dodge did several promotions with Rawlings before parting ways with him and settling for the Roadkill team; the brand appears to believe that its heartland audience is best reached through flamboyant/quasi-authentic/redneck-chic YouTube personalities. What that says about FCA’s view of its customers is an exercise best left to the reader.

This past weekend, Dodge and Roadkill teamed for “Roadkill Nights on Woodward,” a staged car show and street-drag event in Detroit. There’s been no small amount of interest in this among the company’s owner base and from what I can see the event was a rip-roaring success, chock-full of Vipers and Demons and whatnot. Whenever an automaker spends this much money on any public relations exercise, there is always a tremendous amount of data deep-diving done immediately afterwards to demonstrate ROI of the expenditure via social media visibility, buff-book coverage, and mainstream mentions. Given the big turnout both online and in real life, I’m sure Dodge and its marketing partners were looking forward to the Monday meeting where they could pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

As it turns out, this weekend was an absolute barn burner of Dodge-branded media exposure. Unfortunately, the Dodge in question wasn’t a Demon lifting its front wheels on Woodward. Instead, it was a V6-powered 2010 Challenger that was driven into a crowd of anti-white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, causing one fatality and multiple injuries.

The odd coincidence of a “Roadkill”-themed promotion with a Challenger-caused hit-and-run fatality in Charlottesville has pundits on both sides of America’s culture war salivating — and with this unforeseen notoriety comes an unusual, and nearly unprecedented, demand.

Read More >

By on August 12, 2017

2017 Hyundai Tucson - Image: HyundaiHyundai’s U.S. sales volume is down 13 percent through the first seven months of 2017, a year-over-year drop valued at 60,203 lost sales. Hyundai has fallen so quickly that its corporate partner, Kia, has managed to outsell Hyundai in America in each of the last three months.

But even with Hyundai sales falling nearly five times faster than the industry at large, and even with the two most popular products in the lineup — Elantra and Sonata — causing a 23-percent downturn in Hyundai passenger car sales, there’s good news to be heard out of Hyundai’s (shrinking) corner of the market.

The third-generation Tucson launched two years ago is a verifiable hit. Sales are perpetually rising. July 2017, in fact, was its best month ever.

But there’s bad news. Hyundai can’t get nearly enough Tucsons shipped across the Pacific from the compact crossover’s Ulsan, South Korea, assembly plant. Read More >

By on August 11, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Camaro RS - Image: GMThere’s more than one reason the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro has failed to live up to the fifth-gen Camaro’s U.S. marketplace success.

First, the drama of the (quite possibly) superior sixth-gen Camaro’s styling is diminished by the fact that it looks so very much like the fifth-gen car. To the casual muscle car buyer — of which there have to be tens of thousands of it’s going to be the high-volume sports car it was — it’s certainly not obvious that this is even an all-new car.

Then there’s the fact that the sixth-gen Camaro also continues the fifth-gen’s visibility trend: there is none. Added to that, GM always intended to sell fewer Camaros to daily rental fleets when the sixth-gen car arrived for the 2016 model year.

In the end, however, it’s always down to money. Not only is the Chevrolet Camaro a costly ticket, but Camaros are also packaged in a way that shrinks appeal at the affordable end of the spectrum.

According to GM’s North American boss Mark Reuss, the company wants to fix that, though it’s not yet clear what the remedy is. Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Screenshots of preliminary information added to the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealer network computer system suggest the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, due for a late-November reveal, breaks with tradition in more than a few ways. The largest break involves how the 2018 Wrangler puts its power down to all four wheels.

The dealer system images, shared by JL Wrangler Forums, show the Wrangler adopting a Selec-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system, among other drivetrain details. Is this a goodbye to the manly transfer case lever? Read More >

By on August 9, 2017

pexels-photo-209305

Hello out there in TTAC land,

My name is Tim Healey and I am the new managing editor for The Truth About Cars.

That’s a strange thing to type, but it’s true. Pretty cool.

You probably don’t know much about me. I’ve not written for TTAC nor am I a well-known commenter. I have freelanced for other automotive sites, so perhaps you’ve seen my byline there. I’ve also been in this business for around a decade, so my name may be familiar to you.

Read More >

By on August 9, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey LX

Just about every sporting event I’ve ever attended – whether it’s hockey, baseball, or car racing – has been enjoyed from the cheap seats. Boiling it down to one or two reasons, I was either too cheap or too tardy to secure tickets closer to the action. Nevertheless, I always enjoyed it.

Honda’s newest take on the family hauler, and Tim Cain’s favorite topic, also has a set of cheap seats. It’s called the LX. Let’s see if they are closer to the sky lounge or penalty box.

Read More >

By on August 8, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro lineup - Image: ToyotaThere are a number of major consequences springboarding off the early August 2017 announcement that Toyota and Mazda would come together to build an assembly plant in Somewhere, United States.

First, Mazda production returns to the United States for the first time since the Mazda 6 left Flat Rock, Michigan, in 2012.

Second, the Toyota Corolla — produced now in Cambridge, Ontario, and Blue Springs, Mississippi — will be assembled in a second U.S. assembly plant.

Third, Toyota will acquire a 5-percent stake in Mazda, while Mazda returns the favor by claiming a 0.25-percent portion of Toyota.

And to the increasingly pickup-truck-conscious U.S. consumer, the most significant consequence of the Toyota-Mazda partnership will be more Toyota Tacomas. That’s right: more pickup trucks for America. Read More >

By on August 2, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry Georgetown Kentucky Production line - Image: ToyotaForget hybrids. Set aside, for this moment, plug-in hybrids as well. Ignore the EV hubbub and the pie-in-the-sky hydrogen fuel cells. While you’re at it, remove turbochargers and their accompanying displacement reductions from your memory, too.

The naturally aspirated internal combustion engine has legs. The proof is in the 2018 Toyota Camry’s 2.5-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder. With no hybrid assist, no turbos, no cord that plugs into your garage wall, and no futuristic fuel source, the new Camry 2.5-liter produces 206 horsepower and hits 41 miles per gallon on the highway on regular 87 octane.

That’s 16-percent more power 24-percent more highway mpg than the 2017 Camry’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder. With improvements in conventional, naturally aspirated, gas-fired engines occurring in such leaps and bounds, it’s no wonder Toyota has bigger plans for the Dynamic Force blueprint. Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

2018 Honda CR-V three-row - Images: Honda AustraliaWith the launch of the seven-seat Honda CR-V in another ASEAN market, this time Australia, one wonders about the potential popularity of a three-row CR-V in the United States.

The Honda CR-V, America’s top-selling utility vehicle in each of the last five years, currently tops American Honda’s sales charts. The CR-V now accounts for more than one-quarter of Honda’s U.S. sales and generated more volume in the first half of 2017 than in any of the CR-V nameplates’s first 10 calendar years.

Broadening the already popular CR-V’s appeal sounds, at first glance, like an entirely reasonable plan.  Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

2018 Mazda CX-8 - Image: MazdaFirst, we heard about the Mazda CX-8.

Then the Mazda CX-8 was spotted on the streets of Chicago, Illinois. Which is in the United States.

And then Mazda confirmed that the CX-8 would most definitely not be exported from Japan. As the CX-4 was a China-oriented model, the CX-8 would be geared towards a Japanese market for which the CX-9 is just too big. But then we heard the Mazda CX-8 might be exported from Japan, but only to Australia.

And now, with official imagery, it’s not difficult to understand why Mazda USA has no need for the CX-8. It looks almost exactly like a CX-9 with six fewer inches of length, five fewer inches of width, and a marginally lower roofline.

Americans do not need a smaller Mazda CX-9. Read More >

By on July 24, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Interior - Image: HondaThe 2018 Honda Accord is not a refresh. It’s not a refurbished, reconditioned revamp.

The 2018 Honda Accord is very much a new car, a 10th-generation follow-up to the five-year, 2013-2017 run of the outgoing Accord. That’s obvious when you look at the design of the new Accord — another midsize car attempting to banish boredom in an attempt to maintain healthy U.S. car sale volumes when more and more people want crossovers. You see it in the 2018 Toyota Camry, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata’s new grille, and the 2018 Accord’s squarer nose and faster roofline.

But Accord buyers will spend far more time inside the car than they do looking at its exterior. For owners, Honda wanted to make the 10th-generation Accord roomier, more capacious, better suited for ferrying five passengers.

So Honda moved the two front passengers closer together. Read More >

By on July 14, 2017

screen-shot-2017-07-13-at-10-48-12-am-610x588

“You know, that might be the answer – to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.”

— Col. Korn, Catch-22

It never fails. I’ve visited dozens of Ford dealers this year in the course of my day gig, and they almost always have a Focus RS sitting prominently on the showroom floor. Sometimes, they have two. This week, I visited a dealer that had four.

“Hey, I’ve got one of those,” I said to him, pointing at a 2016 Nitrous Blue RS2 model.

“Would you like another one?” he pleaded. “I’m selling it below invoice.” A quick check of his inventory revealed that it had been sitting on his lot for 217 days, with the others eclipsing the 150 day mark — a lifetime at a Ford dealership.

Of course, we know that Ford has already decided to pull the plug on the RS, and they’re gonna send it off with a limited-edition run of 1500 cars with the RS2 package and a Quaife LSD (something the car has always desperately needed). But why? Why did a car that American hot hatch enthusiasts have been craving for decades see such a short existence in the States?

Ford dealers. Duh.

Read More >

By on July 13, 2017

junk car

With the entire automotive industry looking toward a future of driverless mobility, commercially owned self-driving taxis seem poised to be on the frontline of tomorrow. However, nobody seemed to realize that these vehicles will eventually become little more than mobile toilets.

Animals are universally disgusting and humans are no exception. While we’ve mastered land, air, and sea, consider the spaces we occupy while we traverse those expanses. Rental cars are returned filled with candy wrappers, spilt soda, and human hair. Uber vehicles are routinely vomited in. The subway is a haven for disease. Airplane interiors experience havoc within the first hour of a flight as the worst of us begin defecating into the seats, too lazy and weak to control ourselves.

Autonomous taxis aren’t likely to endure better treatment. Without a driver present, the urge to have drunken sex will be far too strong — and those odds only increase when you add a second occupant to the equation. With nobody watching, we’ll leave half-consumed hamburgers and cans of sweetened tea on their floors that will roll around and turn the carpet into a sticky magnet for larger pieces of garbage.  Read More >

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