Category: Editorials

By on July 14, 2016

2005 Nissan Frontier & 2016 Nissan Frontier

The recent introduction of a thoroughly re-engineered Toyota Tacoma is propelling sales of the segment’s top seller to all-time highs. After an elongated hiatus, there are new options from General Motors, and they’re selling more frequently than GM anticipated. Just last month, Honda began selling an all new, second-generation Ridgeline, a pickup at the opposite end of the spectrum from the rough and tumble Frontier. That Ridgeline, we told you yesterday, is selling like it’s 2008.

Moreover, demand for small/midsize pickup trucks is roughly 30-percent smaller than it was a decade ago.

At Nissan, there are plenty of factors, internal and external, working against the Frontier. The current-generation pickup is more than a decade old. Yet Nissan USA is on track to sell more Frontiers in 2016 than at any point since the current truck debuted on the Titan’s F-Alpha platform in January 2004 at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. Read More >

By on July 14, 2016

Traffic Jam, Image: Life Of Pix

B. Breckenfeld writes:

My cars from the early 2000s had automatic transmissions that seemed to allow freewheeling when you lifted off the pedal. I used this for better gas mileage by letting the car coast when I could see red lights far ahead.

Starting about 2010, my cars produced by GM began acting more like their standard transmission counterparts by employing engine braking and downshifting as they came to a stop. This works great in mountain driving where engine braking is needed, but wouldn’t freewheeling on flatter ground allow better gas mileage?

Read More >

By on July 13, 2016

2017 Honda Ridgeline

American Honda reported 2,472 sales of its all-new, second-generation Ridgeline pickup in June 2016, the truck’s first month of rather limited availability.

June was the Ridgeline’s first four-digit sales month since August 2014, the Ridgeline’s first month above the 2,000-unit mark since October 2008, and the best Ridgeline sales month since August 2008.

In fact, if American Honda simply maintained the June 2016 sales pace for the rest of the year, total 2016 calendar year Ridgeline sales would essentially match 2013’s total for an eight-year high in U.S. Ridgeline sales.

Indeed, on an annualized rate, based simply on the Ridgeline’s first month back from a long hiatus, Honda is already selling more Ridgelines than at any point since 2008. Read More >

By on July 13, 2016

2016 GMC Sierra with eAssist, Image: General Motors

A Massachusetts-based parts supplier you’ve probably never heard of could force General Motors’ entire North American operation to grind to a halt.

Clark-Cutler-McDermott Co. stopped making acoustic insulation and trim pieces for GM vehicles on Friday after declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a situation it blames on money-losing contracts signed with the automaker, a source told The Detroit NewsRead More >

By on July 13, 2016

Rebecca Lynn Z4

Let’s give a hearty “Welcome back!” to our friend Rebecca, who previously wrote about her Tacoma on these pages. She just picked up this beautiful Z4 from a dealership hundreds of miles away from her home. This is her story on how she did it. 

This journey started in October of 2007 when the lease on my 2005 Z4 3.0 matured, and I had to give the car that I dreamed of, and built on BMW NA’s site for two years, back to the dealership.

Since then I’ve had the recurring dream that I still had that car — it’s just been in storage all this time. I have serious commitment issues with cars, so it dawned on me three years ago that this was the one that got away. Fast forward to April 2016, I’ve saved for this car for a couple of years, and casually checking out the market with the plans to purchase before the end of the year. I happened upon a couple of white ones just outside my price range, and decided it was worth the stretch.

So what was my process?

Read More >

By on July 12, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Impala V6-008

An anonymous GM employee writes:

I have a field role with General Motors that affords me the luxury of driving (mostly) anything in The General’s portfolio. I can choose from any brand except Cadillac, and can’t drive a Corvette or pickup (because of retail demand and limited supply). I’m 22 with student debt down into the low four digits. GM pays for gas, insurance, and incidentals like oil changes and winter tires because I need a car to do my job. I live in a snow-heavy state where I’m expected to do around 30,000 miles a year for business travel alone. Finally, I switch out cars every four months because that means it remains eligible for new vehicle incentives and programs when it’s sold back to the dealer at a big discount.

Here’s the catch: the vehicle is considered a taxable benefit.

Read More >

By on July 12, 2016

Jack Baruth in his Neon duels with a Scion FR-S

Moneymoneymoneymoney … Money!

“GO RACING ON A BUDGET!” It’s the go-to headline of a thousand magazine covers. When you see that headline, you can be assured of several things: the cost of labor will never be mentioned; nobody’s time is worth anything; nothing ever breaks, fails, or requires early replacement; and certain costs, like transportation and storage, will simply disappear without comment from the final accounting.

Today, I’d like to change all that. I’d like to tell you what this past weekend cost me, and what I got for my money. I’m doing this because I think some of you are interested in going racing, and the rest of you are simply amused when I suffer, whether physically or fiscally.

Read More >

By on July 12, 2016

2010 Subaru Outback Rear 3/4, Image: Subaru

Nigel writes:

I own a 2011 Subaru Outback that just reached 107,000 miles. The past four bills I’ve received for it have cost anywhere from $300-580 a pop (two were for maintenance, plus the timing belt and new brakes up front).

Should I get used to high bills for it, or am I just getting ripped off by the dealership?

Read More >

By on July 11, 2016

3.5-liter-EcoBoost-engine-close-up

Ford clearly low-balled its power figures when it issued a sneak peek of the second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 back in May.

The newly massaged engine, which will get its debut in the 2017 F-150, was thought to gain 30 pounds-feet of torque. Now, Ford claims the mill will gain 10 horsepower and 50 lb-ft, for a total of 375 hp and 470 lb-ft — a torque figure that beats the F-150’s V8-powered competition. Read More >

By on July 11, 2016

jeep wrangler theft

It looks like car thieves in Houston have found a way to break into (and make off with) Jeep and Ram vehicles without using a slim jim, crowbar or screwdriver.

Surveillance video from a Houston garage shows a Jeep Wrangler being methodically commandeered by a man using a laptop and tablet. After last year’s remote-control Grand Cherokee incident, this is another hacker-related headache for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Read More >

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