Category: News Blog

By on July 26, 2017

2017 chrysler pacifica

We’ve always been slightly hesitant to share J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Study, especially given how easily analysis can be clouded by customers failing to understand the technology within their own vehicles. However, the market research firm still provides an interesting peek into what consumers seem to covet versus what they actually purchase.

In J.D. Power’s U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, consumers were asked how they “feel” about their vehicles on a more visceral level in order to evaluate the car’s overall appeal — or its APEAL, as it were.

Based on a 1,000-point scale, the 2017 survey showed overall satisfaction increased from a score of 801 points to 810 — the highest in the study’s 22-years of existence. Perched at the top of the most appealing brands list is Porsche, for a 13th consecutive year of glory, but it didn’t record the most marked improvement.

Chrysler did.   Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

Exhaust pipe of running vehicle, Image: By Ruben de Rijcke (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Britain will ban the sale of all new gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2040 as part of the government’s plan to reduce air pollution and copy France. The strategy, fronted by U.K. environment secretary Michael Gove and transport secretary Chris Grayling, would not only ban the future sale of internal combustion engines, but also provide a governmental incentive program similar to the United States’ Car Allowance Rebate System — colloquially known as “cash for clunkers.”

Because, as you know, nothing is better for the environment (or the used car market) than populating scrapyards with fully functional automobiles and having factories across the globe expend extra energy to replace them.

“We can’t carry on with diesel and petrol cars,” Gove told British television audiences on Wednesday. “There is no alternative to embracing new technology.”  Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

Chevrolet Bolt glare reflection, Image: Steve M.]

Last week, TTAC’s Bozi Tatarevic *cough* shed light on an issue facing owners of certain high-end Chevrolet Bolt EVs. In top-shelf Premier trim, the little hatchback offers airy Light Ash Gray and Ceramic White interiors, complete with an equally light-colored dash.

Unfortunately for buyers living in areas not perpetually enshrouded in fog, rain clouds, or 24-hour shadows, the reflection of sunlight off the palest dash is best described as retina-searing. A whiter shade of pale. The Trinity Test at 0.00001 seconds. In sunny climes, it’s nothing short of a serious safety issue, which explains complaints sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Short of wearing 1950s welder’s goggles bought at a Defence Department yard sale, a practice fraught with its own safety issues, owners are left figuring out a solution on their own. After we published the story, one owner reached out to show us just how bad the Bolt can be. Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Chattanooga - Image: VolkswagenJune 2017 was only the Volkswagen Atlas’s first full month on sale in the United States, but the Atlas, still ramping up inventory, already accounts for more than half of Volkswagen’s U.S. utility vehicle sales. In fact, the only Volkswagens that sold more often than the Atlas in June were the Jetta, Passat, and (if you count all variants together) the Golf.

2,413 units is not a terribly impressive number, although it’s stronger than what the Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, and Volkswagen’s two other utility vehicles managed last month. But the rate at which Volkswagen is building the Atlas at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly plant suggests dealers are only beginning to see just how many copies of the Atlas they’ll soon have to sell.

Will there be buyers? Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport and Rogue - Image: NissanCars are not at the top of the heap.

In fact, not since 2013, when the Toyota Camry was America’s third-best-selling new vehicle, has a passenger car claimed a podium position on the U.S. automotive sales leaderboard. Fast forward to 2017 and passenger cars are way down the list of America’s top-selling new vehicles.

With pickup trucks so obviously differentiated from conventional consumer-oriented vehicles, and with the top-selling trio of pickup trucks (Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram P/U) so distinctly more common, we’ve compiled this list of America’s 20 top-selling vehicles that aren’t pickup trucks, a halfway measuring stick that shows which vehicles are the dominant market forces through 2017’s first six months. Not including the pickup trucks that own 16 percent of the industry, of course.

The top-ranked nameplate deserves an asterisk — an asterisk that will grow in size over the coming months. And cars? Even with pickup trucks excluded, they miss the podium altogether. 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 26, 2017

2018 Ford Mustang GT rear - Image: FordThe 2018 Ford Mustang GT, freshly facelifted and powered up, will cost you 6 percent more than the 2017 Ford Mustang GT.

The base price for a Ford Mustang EcoBoost falls to $26,085, a $610 drop as Ford eliminates the basic Ford Mustang V6 from the lineup and moves the EcoBoost downmarket to aid affordability. Now with 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, the least expensive 2018 Ford Mustang is $400 more than the least expensive 2017 Ford Mustang.

But it’s the 2018 Mustang GT, now priced from $35,995, that’s growing increasingly expensive. A $1,900 jump is nothing to sneeze at, particularly given the speed with which the $40K barrier is now crossed.

Non-Shelby Mustangs can get pricey in a hurry. Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

Acura Legend Coupe

Earlier this week in his Question of the Day, Matthew Guy asked everyone to share a favorite vehicle from their year of birth. An interesting walk through history ensued in the days following, and I encourage each of you to head there and read through the comments if you haven’t done so already. You’ve probably already guessed from the title above where I’m going with this particular question.

Today’s inquiry is all about the worst, steamiest pile of junk on sale the year you were born. Let’s get down and dirty.

Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

lamps20170724

We came up with a little design element identification game today, involving the four near-identical taillamps you see above. This collage is compiled from four different vehicles. Can you tell which is which?

Get your image search fingers ready.

Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Oliver Schmidt, former top executive at Volkswagen’s environmental and engineering center in Michigan, is ready to plead guilty in a U.S. District Court in Detroit next month. Schmidt is charged with 11 felony counts relating to VW’s diesel emissions scandal and may be eligible for a maximum sentence of 169 years, according to federal prosecutors.

While the trial isn’t scheduled until August 4th, a spokesman for the court indicated the former-VW executive is seeking a plea deal. The details of the bargain are currently unknown, but it’s likely to involve a reduced sentence in exchange of information on the scandal’s murky history.  Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

BMW old Driver parking vintage

Researchers at the University of Leicester claim that spending several hours behind the wheel every day can adversely affect the human brain — sending the IQ scores of middle-aged Brits into the gutter.

In the experiment, researchers examined the lifestyles of over than 500,000 British residents between 37 and 73 for over five years, giving them routine intelligence and memory assessments. Those who drove more than two to three hours a day typically had lower brainpower at the beginning of the study, which continued to decline at a faster rate than those who did little to no driving.

Allow me to rephrase that for those of you with an exceptionally long daily commute: U.K. smart scientists say driving a whole bunch maybe makes you stupider.  Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota, the company that came out with the Prius in the 1990s and decided it had perfected the electric car, may be looking regain its EV advantage by 2022. It’s not something you’d expect to hear, considering Japan’s largest automaker has lagged behind in terms of competitive electric development for the last few years.

While its hybrid program got the drop on the competition, it subsequently favored hydrogen fuel cells over purely electric vehicles as the next automotive epoch — creating a bit of an industrial dinosaur.

Fortunately, Toyota has no shortage of muscles to flex. Once news broke that Toyota was earnestly considering electric R&D, everyone speculated it would be competitive at roughly the same time as other automakers. Not so. On Tuesday, Japanese newspaper Chunichi Shimbun reported Toyota has quietly upped its game to surpass them.  Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

2016 Volvo Concept 40.1 - Image: VolvoThere’s no denying the Volvo 40.1 concept that previewed this fall’s production XC40 appears both to be sufficiently Volvo-like and sufficiently unlike anything else.

If the actual Volvo XC40 maintains this relatively unusual design, Volvo will have a viable, eye-catching alternative to the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Infiniti QX30, and Mercedes-Benz GLA before most luxury auto brands.

As for the Q3, X1, QX30, and GLA, Volvo isn’t entirely sold on their merits. Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

challenger 2017

After a high-profile recall of over 1 million vehicles due to a design flaw associated with the shifter used with the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, Fiat Chrysler probably felt it was in the clear as far as rollaway risks were concerned. Unfortunately, FCA is now recalling 2017 Dodge Challengers with instrumentation that might erroneously indicate the vehicle is in park — creating another potential rollaway hazard.

The affected vehicles have 5.7-liter V8 engines and eight-speed automatic transmissions. In total, Dodge expects the necessary fix to pertain to 7,802 vehicles in the United States, 390 in Canada, and 119 more outside of North America.  Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

2018 Hyundai Sonata sunroof - Image: Hyundai“It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your roofs.” — Not Nelly, 2002

Citing weight reduction and consequent improvements in fuel economy, Hyundai Motor America has removed the panoramic sunroof from every Sonata model for the 2018 model year.

Is the move away from vast sunroofs, spanning the breadth and length of the roof, back to conventional sunroofs truly going to result in measurable real-world fuel savings? No. Even a major engineering change such as the Sonata 2.0T’s new eight-speed automatic doesn’t translate to meaningful fuel efficiency gains: the combined EPA fuel economy for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T remains the same as it was in 2017 at 26 miles per gallon.

Nor is the reduction of high-mounted panoramic sunroof’s weight and the subsequent lowering of the Sonata’s center of gravity going to be a major boon to the everyday handling of a mainstream midsize sedan.

Maybe the 2018 Sonata’s handling improves, unnoticeably. Perhaps the Sonata becomes more fuel efficient, insignificantly. But the real reason Hyundai has removed the panoramic sunroof from the 2018 Sonata? Blame Vitamin D. Read More >

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