Ask any car salesman: lying to the customer is a fine art. And when it came to the practice of that art, Bob was Picasso, he was Michelangelo, he was Jeff Koons, all wrapped up in a single grandfatherly persona. There was none better. He could scale heights of deception hitherto unknown at our dignified little Ford dealership. And it was through his efforts that we came, for the first time in perhaps decades, to the attention of the Ohio Attorney General.
Dodge. Nissan. Kia. Mitsubishi. Ever wonder how any cars from these makes end up getting sold?
While there are certainly cars from these brands that attract the higher end of the automotive consumer marketplace (Hellcat, anyone?), the vast majority of the customers who end up in a car from one of these brands are in them for one reason, and one reason alone: they’ve got subprime credit. And they’re not alone.
In fact, over half of the American public now has subprime credit, and there’s no sign that it’s getting better any time soon. As a result, most customers are just walking into a dealership hoping to be approved for a loan. Instead of being in a position of power when it comes to negotiation, they’re in a position of weakness.
For dealers, this is great news. For consumers, it’s awful.
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 the apple cart.
Two years ago, the Kia Sedona shook things up. Although the Sedona remains a relatively small player, Kia’s share of the minivan market is nearly seven times stronger now than it was two years ago.
Next year will be the turn of the Honda Odyssey, as the van with which we’re so familiar follows its Pilot and Ridgeline platform partners to market. Better than one in five minivans sold in America are Odysseys.
This year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dramatically altered its minivan strategy by confirming the top-selling Dodge Grand Caravan’s departure and by launching the supremely stylish, Town & Country-replacing Chrysler Pacifica.
The new Pacifica, a successor to the alleged minivan originator, is by most measurements the best minivan you can drive today. But a few glaring faults leave a large window open for Chrysler’s two key competitors, both of which suffer from advanced age. Read More >
There are few better ways to get instant recognition as a connoisseur of cars than to drive a classic. People will applaud your discerning taste, your unique choice in an age of appliance automobiles. Good for you!
You’ve decided to get something German because you like your 1970s classic to run. And you’d like a sports car, which pretty much makes Porsche your default choice. Few models now generate the collective automotive “OOoooo!” of the air-cooled 911. It’s so cool, it’s backwards!
But then you find out what classic 911s cost. If you’ve been living under a rock recently, prices for classic and rare 911s are through the roof. One of the last great air-cooled models just sold at RM Sotheby’s London Auction for £1,848,000. I’ll save you some quick math: that’s $2,460,242 USD at time of writing.
As you wipe the coffee from your screen, allow me to suggest it doesn’t have to be this way. You, too, can have an obscure, classic Porsche for only around 1/1000th the price of an air-cooled 911.
As an automotive journalist, I’m bound by blood oath to promote the manual transmission and station wagon, preferably together. And I acknowledge that arguments made in support of three-pedals and D pillars are often more emotional than practical.
There are no fewer than four sets of logical reasons Ford should reintroduce the midsize, mainstream wagon to American life (though probably with an automatic).
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 >
Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that is — all things considered — the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.
Yes, yes, yes. I know. Another bloody crossover. But before you scroll down to re-read one of Jack’s breathless exploits or Sajeev’s rants on automotive style, permit me the following: what would happen if Mazda spent all its R&D budget shoehorning a rotary engine into the upcoming MX-5 RF?
For the past decade my daily driver has been a 2007 F-150, now sold. It’s time for something lighter and smaller to drive around the city in, not having enough need of a truck any longer to warrant keeping one. As an example of the drastic downsizing we were wanting to do, initially we’d ordered an Escape, believing it to be large enough to meet the need.
When that didn’t work out as planned, we revisited the decision and decided to order an Edge instead. The extra couple of inches in every dimension makes for a much more livable vehicle for two large people and a dog, without sacrificing much suburban city maneuverability. Neither of us liked driving the Explorer much, and we don’t need the interior space offered by the Flex. We’ve decided on a fully loaded AWD model with all the latest electronic gadgetry as this will be another decade long ownership experience.
So the problem isn’t so much what vehicle to buy, but what engine, as the Edge is available with three.
He was delivered to me in a sealed plastic box, a wrinkled three-pound homunculus too exhausted and sick to make a single sound. Handle him with these gloves, they said. Don’t breathe on him. Eventually you can take him out of the box, out of the post-natal ICU, out of the hospital. But not soon. Everything was up for grabs. He’d arrived dangerously early. Thirty-eight states in this union would have permitted me to break his neck the moment I saw him; at just under twenty-four weeks of age, his life was legally forfeit. He wasn’t my son, wasn’t a child, wasn’t a person. He was tissue. He was a choice.
His mother and I made the choice to give him a fighting chance. The rest was up to him.
From the get-go, the nine-speed automatic designed by Germany’s ZF in the United States and built and tuned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was deserving of criticism. It was criticism that FCA could not righteously label as unfair, criticism the automaker could not deny.
“We have had to do an inordinate amount of intervention on that transmission, surely beyond what any of us had forecast,” FCA boss Sergio Marchionne said early last year.
The nine-speed, responsible for sending power from a variety of engines to the front wheels of a large number of vehicles, became a reliability nightmare for many buyers who either didn’t perceive its shortcomings on a test drive, or didn’t care. Unless drivers ventured well beyond posted speed limits, the nine-speed wasn’t even able to benefit from its ninth gear. Surely deserving of partial blame for the Chrysler 200’s demise, the ZF 9HP was clearly launched long before it was ready.
Nearly three years since my first exposure to the nine-speed in a 3.2-liter V6-powered Jeep Cherokee, I’m driving a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited this week. It’s a stunning minivan, and at CAD $62,340, it’s a minivan with which one needs a whole week to get a full picture. Yet only a few minutes into our first drive in the new Pacifica, it was clear that FCA had finally sorted the previously dreadful nine-speed.
Almost. Mostly. Sort of. Read More >