The Truth About Cars » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:26:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/new-cars/ Chart Of The Day: How Important Is The TLX In Acura Showrooms? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-important-tlx-acura-showrooms/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-important-tlx-acura-showrooms/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962514 Even in the Acura TLX’s best sales month, the brand’s MDX and RDX crossovers still accounted for 55% of Acura sales in the United States. With the TLX now consistently generating around three out of every ten Acura sales in America, it’s safe to say that Acura’s passenger car division is, for the moment, in […]

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Acura sales chart TLXEven in the Acura TLX’s best sales month, the brand’s MDX and RDX crossovers still accounted for 55% of Acura sales in the United States.

With the TLX now consistently generating around three out of every ten Acura sales in America, it’s safe to say that Acura’s passenger car division is, for the moment, in safer hands than it was with the TL and TSX last year. Together, they generated 25% of Acura’s total volume in calendar year 2013, down from 40% in 2012 and 50% in 2011. 

2015 Acura TLXIt’s also safe to say that Acura continues to be a moderately successful upmarket brand thanks to its high-volume utility vehicles. Acura sold 15,293 TLX sedans between August and November 2014. The MDX produced 21,805 sales during the same period; the RDX another 13,828.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Editorial: Cuba And The Axis Of Emerging Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/editorial-cuba-axis-emerging-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/editorial-cuba-axis-emerging-markets/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:54:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962978 A year ago, TTAC broke news of back channel overtures being made towards Iran on behalf of General Motors. A number of Chevrolet Camaro Convertibles made their way to Iran via a complicated logistics network and the importations were of dubious legality. But the event highlighted a sentiment in the auto industry that few are willing […]

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A year ago, TTAC broke news of back channel overtures being made towards Iran on behalf of General Motors. A number of Chevrolet Camaro Convertibles made their way to Iran via a complicated logistics network and the importations were of dubious legality. But the event highlighted a sentiment in the auto industry that few are willing to openly discuss: the BRIC countries, once the darlings of the emerging markets, have already been exhausted. The search for new markets is on, and that means places like Africa and Iran. And Cuba could be next.

While the French auto makers have established foot holds in Africa, Iran and Cuba represent two untapped markets for auto makers – the only challenge is navigating the complex political considerations that make international trade difficult.

Iran’s auto market is expected to grow to 1.5 million units by the end of the decade - nearly 50 percent greater than Australia’s, and slightly higher than Canada’s. The current sanctions in place against Iran will make it difficult for auto makers to set up shop in the country, but when they come to an end, there will be a groundswell of demand from a country that has a highly educated and relatively affluent population. Iran already has a booming domestic auto industry with long established ties to the French OEMs, but that shouldn’t stop foreign brands from attempting to compete.

Cuba, on the other hand, was on precisely nobody’s radar until the surprise announcement that America and Cuba would attempt to normalize trade relations with one another. But that development, coupled with rapidly changing laws on car ownership, could open up a whole new market in the United States’ backyard. And talk about pent up demand – some 60,000 cars dating back to 1959 or before are still on the roads, held together by MacGyver-esque engineering. To be fair, a trickle of new cars has come into the country, but they are largely restricted to taxi owners and, government agencies and rental car fleets.

The irony of Cuba and Iran’s status as potential emerging markets is lost on nobody, but any enthusiasm should be tempered. The process of economic liberalization will likely take years to fully unfold. But that doesn’t mean that auto makers should defer their preparations.

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Cain’s Segments: Minivans In November 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/cains-segments-minivans-november-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/cains-segments-minivans-november-2014/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:45:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962490 Despite massive year-over-year improvements, the Kia Sedona continues to be a relatively low-volume player in America’s minivan segment. But are the gains made by the Kia significant enough to make life difficult for the top four? Compared with November 2013, Sedona volume jumped 578% last month as a follow-up to October’s 251% gain. Through the […]

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2015 Kia SedonaDespite massive year-over-year improvements, the Kia Sedona continues to be a relatively low-volume player in America’s minivan segment. But are the gains made by the Kia significant enough to make life difficult for the top four?

Compared with November 2013, Sedona volume jumped 578% last month as a follow-up to October’s 251% gain. Through the first three-quarters of 2014, Kia USA had been selling fewer than 630 Sedonas per month. 2376 were sold in October; 3538 in November. The van’s market share through nine months was a paltry 1.3% as even the Mazda 5 and Nissan Quest were easily outselling the Kia. But in November 2014, the Kia Sedona grabbed 9.1% of America’s minivan market.

November was also notable for the name of the minivan category’s best seller. Toyota’s revamped-for-2015 Sienna was America’s top-selling minivan last month. November marked just the third time this year that something other than a Chrysler product topped the minivan sales charts: the Honda Odyssey did so in January; the Sienna in July.

Minivan
November
2014
November
2013
%
Change
11 mos.
2014
11 mos.
2013
%
Change
Chrysler Town & Country
8,055 11,288 -28.6% 127,331 112,551 13.1%
Dodge Grand Caravan
8,842 9,614 -8.0% 122,899 112,793 9.0%
Honda Odyssey
8,639 9,401 -8.1% 112,370 116,880 -3.9%
Kia Sedona
3,538 522 578% 11,570 6,578 75.9%
Mazda 5
407 667 -39.0% 10,854 12,717 -14.6%
Nissan Quest
483 768 -37.1% 9,148 12,006 -23.8%
Toyota Sienna
8,946 8,820 1.4% 112,814 111,737 1.0%
Volkswagen Routan
258 -100% 1,103 1,825 -39.6%
Total
38,910
41,338 -5.9% 508,089 478,087 6.3%

Of course, the Sienna only led the way in the strictest sense. Chrysler and Dodge combined for 16,897 Town & Country/Grand Caravan sales, well in excess of the 8946 managed by the Sienna and the 8639 sold by November’s third-ranked Odyssey.

The Odyssey was officially the best-selling minivan in America in calendar year 2013 but currently ranks fourth in the category through eleven months. Minivan sales in the United States are up 6% in 2014. Odyssey volume is down 4%. That just means fewer Odysseys in which to develop AMFS: Automatic Minivan Filth Syndrome.

As for the Chrysler twins, their U.S. volume plummeted in November but grew 11% to 250,230 units so far this year. The Town & Country has already topped 2013’s full-year total and indeed the full-year totals from any of the last six years, in fact. The Grand Caravan won’t match 2012’s 141,468-unit performance, but the year will end with more Grand Caravans sold than in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, or 2013. Together, the Town & Country and Grand Caravan account for 49.2% of the minivans sold in America so far this year, up from 47.1% at this stage one year ago.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Teknikens Värld: Ford Mondeo Estate ‘Dangerously Overweight’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/teknikens-varld-ford-mondeo-estate-dangerously-overweight/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/teknikens-varld-ford-mondeo-estate-dangerously-overweight/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962754 The Ford Mondeo Estate is in trouble with one Swedish automotive publication, thanks to how much it weighs. Teknikens Värld reports the Mondeo Titanium Estate equipped with the 150-horsepower 2-liter TDCi and six-speed manual is supposed to weigh 3,530 pounds. However, when the publication’s test subject was placed on a roadside scale, the weight came […]

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Ford Mondeo Estate overweight

The Ford Mondeo Estate is in trouble with one Swedish automotive publication, thanks to how much it weighs.

Teknikens Värld reports the Mondeo Titanium Estate equipped with the 150-horsepower 2-liter TDCi and six-speed manual is supposed to weigh 3,530 pounds. However, when the publication’s test subject was placed on a roadside scale, the weight came out to 4,145 pounds, 615 more than what Ford said it weighed.

This is a problem in Sweden, as loading a vehicle above its total gross weight is illegal, something that would occur if a family loads the Mondeo to what they believe is the gross weight, only to find they’ve exceeded it.

The extra weight also proved to be dangerous, as the Mondeo failed the publication’s moose test, faring better at said test when the load dropped to 220 pounds above the maximum load limit.

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OEMs Suspend Vehicle Sales In Russia Amid Volatile Currency Situation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/oems-suspend-vehicle-sales-in-russia-amid-volatile-currency-swings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/oems-suspend-vehicle-sales-in-russia-amid-volatile-currency-swings/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:02:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962674 With the Russian ruble experiencing a near collapse in value, multiple OEMs have decided to suspend sales of its vehicles in Russia. According to a statement sent to Just-Auto, GM’s Russian arm said “In view of the volatility of [the] rouble exchange rate and with the aim to manage its business risk, GM Russia has decided […]

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With the Russian ruble experiencing a near collapse in value, multiple OEMs have decided to suspend sales of its vehicles in Russia.

According to a statement sent to Just-Auto, GM’s Russian arm said

“In view of the volatility of [the] rouble exchange rate and with the aim to manage its business risk, GM Russia has decided to temporarily suspend wholesaling of vehicles to its dealers in Russia as of 16 December, 2014,” said a GM Europe statement emailed to just-auto. At the same time we confirm all Cadillac, Opel and Chevrolet vehicles already purchased by customers will be delivered on the agreed price. We are monitoring the situation.”

Bloomberg is reporting that Audi and Jaguar Land Rover have also suspended sales amid uncertainty in foreign exchange markets. Toyota, Volkswagen are set to adjust their prices in the near future to reflect the new exchange rates.

Russian auto sales have spiked in recent weeks as consumers sought to buy up hard assets to protect against a falling ruble. But the erosion on value of the Russian currency have left several OEMs exposed to currency risks. According to Bloomberg’s report, BMW could stand to lose as much as $135 million dollars due to the recent drop in the ruble.

 

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Chart Of The Day: ExxonMobil Predicts Long Reign For The Internal Combustion Engine http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-exxonmobil-predicts-long-reign-internal-combustion-engine/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-exxonmobil-predicts-long-reign-internal-combustion-engine/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:38:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962202 The next 25 years of automotive powertrain technology belongs to the internal combustion engine, according to oil & gas giant ExxonMobil. While many will dismiss this as the wishful thinking of an industrial dinosaur, it’s worth remembering that 25 years isn’t that long of a timeframe in the automotive world. As we speak, automakers are already […]

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The next 25 years of automotive powertrain technology belongs to the internal combustion engine, according to oil & gas giant ExxonMobil. While many will dismiss this as the wishful thinking of an industrial dinosaur, it’s worth remembering that 25 years isn’t that long of a timeframe in the automotive world.

As we speak, automakers are already planning for what products will be on the market within the next decade. As it stands now, they must meet increasingly stringent emissions targets in the United States and the European union by 2025, in the form of both CAFE and the next round of Euro regulations that call for a fleet average of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer (for comparison, a Toyota Prius emits about 100 grams per km).

One way of meeting this target is through the use of hybrid technology – a sector that ExxonMobil sees as making rapid, substantial gains over the years. At this point, every single OEM has some kind of hybrid technology that can be adapted to their volume models in a way that is efficient in terms of both packaging and cost. This is sure to be the case for plug-in hybrid technology as well.

The zero-emissions front is substantially more fraught. The battle between battery electric vehicles (BEV) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles has barely begun, but supporters of the two camps are already locked into a Betamax vs. VHS style conflict. As it stands, there is minimal infrastructure for both systems, and a combination of low oil prices and consumer skepticism is likely to stall its growth for the foreseeable future. And while BEVs technically have a head start on hydrogen, their market share is, in real terms, negligible.

In 2013, BEVs had a market share of just 0.28 percent, or about 260,000 units. Even the relatively scarce plug-in hybrid segment managed to best pure electrics, with 0.31 percent of the new car market. Only in Norway, where BEVs receive heavy subsidies in the form of tax breaks, have electric cars made any real headway, and even then, they have barely cracked 6 percent.

While tales of daring and disruption and averting cataclysmic climate change make for great headlines, the reality is that technological progress, especially in the automotive sector, moves at a much more gradual pace – otherwise, we’d likely have seen a major breakthrough in EV battery technology by now, one that would allow for significant range and negligible refueling times. Utopian visions of a fleet of silent, zero-emissions vehicles are just that. Instead, we are likely to see a proliferation of hybrid technology throughout new model lineups – and much of this will likely be driven by regulatory inputs, as a means of helping vehicles meet government mandated fuel economy targets, even if consumers don’t necessarily care.

Advances in the internal combustion engine are also on the horizon. Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) engines, which allow for diesel-like combustion while running on gasoline, are expected to debut on Mazda cars by 2020. Mazda claims that they will provide a 30 percent fuel economy boost, while significantly lowering emissions. Between HCCI, increasingly cleaner diesel engines and incremental improvements to traditional engines, the ICE powertrains are likely to be ubiquitous due to their familiarity and what is sure to be a cost advantage. Barring any major, prolonged spike in energy prices or a wholesale shift in attitudes towards climate change and the environment, dollars and cents (not to mention sheer convenience) will remain the primary motivating factor in new car purchases. And that means that the internal combustion engine is well placed to continue its dominance through the next quarter century.

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Acura: Next NSX Debuting At Detroit – We Promise http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/acura-next-nsx-debuting-detroit-promise/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/acura-next-nsx-debuting-detroit-promise/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:02:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962154 Acura is apparently serious about the next NSX making its debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. A series of teaser shots of their latest supercar have been released, and Acura appears to be upholding their longstanding tradition of making their “concepts” fairly faithful to the production […]

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Acura is apparently serious about the next NSX making its debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

A series of teaser shots of their latest supercar have been released, and Acura appears to be upholding their longstanding tradition of making their “concepts” fairly faithful to the production model. On the other hand, any cues that pay homage to the design of the original car seem to be absent.

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The Ford Transit: America’s Best-Selling Commercial Van In November 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-transit-americas-best-selling-commercial-van-november-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-transit-americas-best-selling-commercial-van-november-2014/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:21:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961817 In November 2014, for the first time in its six-month North American existence, the full-size Ford Transit was America’s best-selling commercial van. A number of special circumstances made the Transit’s sudden rise to the top of the leaderboard possible, besides an increase in the number of available Transits and, yes, increased demand for the Transit […]

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2015 Ford TransitIn November 2014, for the first time in its six-month North American existence, the full-size Ford Transit was America’s best-selling commercial van.

A number of special circumstances made the Transit’s sudden rise to the top of the leaderboard possible, besides an increase in the number of available Transits and, yes, increased demand for the Transit itself.

First, sales of its predecessor, the traditional best-selling Ford E-Series, declined 59% from November 2013 to just 4151 units in November 2014. The E-Series’ decline was an anticipated one, but it had been averaging 7748 monthly sales over the Transit’s first five months.

Second, the Chevrolet Express slid 23% to just 4478 units. Had Express volume remained level – it’s up 3% year-to-date – at 5779 units, it would have clearly been the top seller for the fourth consecutive month. Sales of the Express’s twin, the GMC Savana, fell 53% to just 716 units.

Third, the attention typically generated by the Transit’s top-selling rivals was more divided than usual. Ram had its best ProMaster month in that van’s 14-month tenure with 3290 sales, 76% better than its previous best month. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter volume was up 26%.

U.S. commercial van sales chartFinally, the smaller quartet of vans, which for the first time included the Nissan NV200-based Chevrolet City Express, was up 36% to 5050 units, thereby grabbing 19.3% of the overall category, up from 14.9% a year ago.

Yet while the stars aligned for the Transit’s best-selling performance, we must expect that any Ford commercial van will become a dominant commercial van. Still, does the Transit have what it takes to pick up where the E-Series left off? The E-Series has been a massive seller for Ford in the United States, and even in this surprisingly fruitful month for the Transit, total full-size Ford commercial van sales slid 11%. Transit Connect included, Ford van sales were down 10%. The Transit has a long way to go if it’s to ever sell like the E-Series. The old van averaged 138,000 annual sales in the decade leading up to 2014.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Seven Finalists Announced For Europe’s 2015 Car of the Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961993 After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists. Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year: BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Citroën C4 Cactus Ford Mondeo Mercedes-Benz C-Class Nissan Qashqai Renault Twingo Volkswagen Passat The […]

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After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists.

Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year:

  • BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
  • Citroën C4 Cactus
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Nissan Qashqai
  • Renault Twingo
  • Volkswagen Passat

The winner will be announced during the 2015 Geneva Auto Show this coming March. Previous winners include the Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf and Opel Ampera, with the first title awarded 50 years ago to the 1964 Rover 2000.

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Study: Only Five Countries Sold Over 10K PEVs In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/study-five-countries-sold-10k-pevs-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/study-five-countries-sold-10k-pevs-2014/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961801 Plug-in vehicles may be doing well as of late in the sales game, but a study by The Research Capsule says their gameplay needs more work. According to AutoblogGreen, the group says only five countries have sold over 10,000 PEVs in 2014, which are likely the United States, China, Japan, Norway and France, respectively; the […]

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Plug-in vehicles may be doing well as of late in the sales game, but a study by The Research Capsule says their gameplay needs more work.

According to AutoblogGreen, the group says only five countries have sold over 10,000 PEVs in 2014, which are likely the United States, China, Japan, Norway and France, respectively; the report costs $7,000 for a site license, so AutoblogGreen relied on sales blog EV Sales for its information regarding those countries.

The one useful (free) information from the press release focuses on geographic distribution of overall PEV sales. For example, 50 percent of the 100,000-plus plug-ins sold through November in the United States are in California. Meanwhile, Norway adopts technology left and right, while Sweden is still trying to figure out how to flat-pack a PEV for sale at IKEA, with an appropriate all-caps Viking name to match.

As for when things may improve, The Research Capsule forecasts it would take 10 years or more for PEVs to go mainstream, and that only one country “will break 10 percent of all vehicle sales during the coming five years.” The forecast is an extrapolation of one made by the group regarding sales through 2017.

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Editorial: Ford Is At Risk Of Missing The B-CUV Boat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/editorial-ford-risk-missing-b-cuv-boat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/editorial-ford-risk-missing-b-cuv-boat/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:37:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961441 Chevy Trax, Jeep Renegade. Honda HR-V. Mazda CX-3. Nissan Juke. Fiat 500X. There’s little doubt that the B-segment crossover is about to explode in North America. So, where is Ford in all of this? Ford markets the Ecosport in a number of world markets, from Brazil to Europe to India, as a smaller CUV that […]

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Chevy Trax, Jeep Renegade. Honda HR-V. Mazda CX-3. Nissan Juke. Fiat 500X. There’s little doubt that the B-segment crossover is about to explode in North America. So, where is Ford in all of this?

Ford markets the Ecosport in a number of world markets, from Brazil to Europe to India, as a smaller CUV that slots under the Kuga (which is our Escape in world markets). One would assume that given the “One Ford” program that is supposed to harmonize vehicles for sale across different markets, the Ecosport could quickly and easily be brought up to spec, both in terms of regulatory compliance and the level of content that North American buyers expect.

Only Ford planners know the real answer, but two immediate hurdles stand out. First off, the 1.0L 3-cylinder Ecoboost is the main powertrain in many markets. This may suffice in the BRIC countries and other markets where displacement-based taxation make big engines a burden, but North Americans would need something more powerful and more refined. The lack of an automatic option in our market doesn’t help either.

Ford would also have to find a suitable manufacturing location for the car. Since this is a fairly low-margin product, Mexico would likely be the only NAFTA country that would allow for profitable manufacturing of the Ecosport. Otherwise, it’s got to be imported from India, Brazil or Thailand, and that means shipping costs and potential tariffs, even though labor costs will be much lower.

The next-generation Fiesta is said to be coming from factories in Thailand, so perhaps that will give Ford a chance to bring the Ecosport over here. Given that the Escape is one of the top players in the compact SUV space, bringing over the Ecosport seems like the right move for Ford – assuming the numbers make sense.

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Trucks, SUVs Best Premium Sedans In Over $50K US Segment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/trucks-suvs-best-premium-sedans-50k-us-segment/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/trucks-suvs-best-premium-sedans-50k-us-segment/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961313 Keep those Benzes, BMWs and Audis in the garage, son: $50,000-plus trucks and SUVs are where it’s at for the ballers and players these days. TrueCar says trucks and SUVs account for six of the top 10 best-selling vehicles in the United States market, specifically the segment where transaction prices of $50,000-plus are the norm. […]

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Keep those Benzes, BMWs and Audis in the garage, son: $50,000-plus trucks and SUVs are where it’s at for the ballers and players these days.

TrueCar says trucks and SUVs account for six of the top 10 best-selling vehicles in the United States market, specifically the segment where transaction prices of $50,000-plus are the norm.

The biggest of them all? The Ford F-150, whose projected 2014 volume of 189,776 “will likely surpass total U.S. volume of luxury car benchmarks including BMW’s combined 3, 5 and 7 Series sales or total deliveries for the Audi brand this year.” The Blue Oval will see revenue of $10.8 billion from those high transactions, making up a third of an estimated $33.2 billion for the overall F-Series portfolio.

The demand for looking California and feeling Minnesota is helped in part by a recovering U.S. economy, improved vehicle quality, and a growing supply of cheap gasoline, which is helping the $50,000-plus transaction segment, as well: approximately 8.1 percent of total 2014 sales will transact at that level, up from 6.6 percent in 2013.

Finishing out the podium per TrueCar is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Ram truck lineup, with sales of 76,266 at the $50,000 transaction level, Mercedes taking third with its E-Class at 67,006.

TrueCar 2014 50K USD Transaction Table

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Surprise: The New Ford Mustang Is A Hot Ticket http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/surprise-new-ford-mustang-hot-ticket/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/surprise-new-ford-mustang-hot-ticket/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:09:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960753 Ford reported in November 2014 the largest number of Mustangs sold in any November since 2006. With 8278 sold last month, year-over-year Mustang volume jumped 62%. It was also the best month for the Mustang since May of this year, when monthly U.S. Mustang volume jumped beyond 9000 units for just the third time in […]

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2015 ford mustang at factoryFord reported in November 2014 the largest number of Mustangs sold in any November since 2006. With 8278 sold last month, year-over-year Mustang volume jumped 62%.

It was also the best month for the Mustang since May of this year, when monthly U.S. Mustang volume jumped beyond 9000 units for just the third time in 23 months.

Yet, “best since 2006,” doesn’t sound nearly as good to the Mustang fan base as, “nearly twice as popular as Camaro,” does it?

Although sales of the Chevrolet Camaro are up 5% through the first eleven months of 2014 and will rise beyond 80,000 units for the fifth consecutive year, Camaro volume slid 13% in November as the Mustang’s big gains were accompanied by a 51% Dodge Challenger sales increase.

2014 looks to be the Camaro’s year again – the Mustang hasn’t outsold the Camaro since 2009 – as the Ford would need to outsell the Chevrolet by nearly 6600 units in December to top the year-end standings.

Auto
November
2014
November
2013
%
Change
11 mos.
2014
11 mos.
2013
%
Change
Chevrolet Camaro
4,385 5,068 -13.5% 79,669 75,552 5.4%
Dodge Challenger
4,157 2,757 50.8% 46,673 48,590 -3.9%
Ford Mustang
8,728 5,376 62.4% 73,124 71,459 2.3%
Total
17,270
13,201 30.8% 199,466 195,601 2.0%

The Camaro’s 13% November decline resulted in 4385 sales, just 228 more than the Challenger managed. The Mustang didn’t quite double up the Camaro’s total – the Ford’s sales were only 89% stronger than the Chevrolet’s.

But the conclusion, a predictable one, is obvious: a brand-new new sixth-generation Mustang was wildly more popular than a fifth-generation Camaro that’s been around since 2009. Inevitably, the Mustang is a hot ticket: Ford says Mustangs spent an average of just eight days on dealer lots in November 2014. It’s currently America’s 29th-best-selling car. The Camaro ranks 26th.

And what about those eight-year-old figures? Ford sold 10,230 Mustangs in November 2006, a 7% decline from the 11,030 sold in November 2005. Oh, the blissful state of going it alone. The Camaro and Challenger were nonexistent back then.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Audi Q7 Further Blurs The CUV/Wagon line http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/audi-q7-blurs-cuvwagon-line/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/audi-q7-blurs-cuvwagon-line/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 19:15:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960281 The current Audi Q7 is unequivocally a CUV. This one is some sort of David Bowie-esque androgynous mix of CUV and wagon. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Thanks to an aggressive lightweighting program, the Q7 sheds about 700 pounds from its current 5000 lb curb weight. A new 2.0T 4-cylinder will be optional […]

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The current Audi Q7 is unequivocally a CUV. This one is some sort of David Bowie-esque androgynous mix of CUV and wagon. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Thanks to an aggressive lightweighting program, the Q7 sheds about 700 pounds from its current 5000 lb curb weight. A new 2.0T 4-cylinder will be optional for the US market. Rear-wheel steering, similar to the Japanese systems of the 1980’s, will be available. An all-wheel drive diesel plug-in hybrid will be offered, with 373 horsepower and 516 lb-ft acheiving 138 mpgE. But so far, it hasn’t been confirmed for our market.

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A 21st Century 318is http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/21st-century-318is/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/21st-century-318is/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:22:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960225 You haven’t been able to buy a BMW 318is since L.A. Law was on the airwaves, but BMW just introduced the next best thing. A 3-cylinder BMW 2-Series Coupe. Jalopnik reports that BMW is introducing a 218i coupe, powered by the 1.5L 3-cylinder turbo mill from the base Mini Cooper. Pumping out 136 horsepower and 162 […]

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You haven’t been able to buy a BMW 318is since L.A. Law was on the airwaves, but BMW just introduced the next best thing. A 3-cylinder BMW 2-Series Coupe.

Jalopnik reports that BMW is introducing a 218i coupe, powered by the 1.5L 3-cylinder turbo mill from the base Mini Cooper. Pumping out 136 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, the 218i is about as quick as an old 318i, hitting 60 mph in roughly 9 seconds. By American standards, this is dreadfully slow for a BMW (even an X1 can hit the speed limit in 6 seconds), but in Europe, where the car will be sold, it’s just fine.

For now, if you want a BMW packing a triple, you have just one option: the i8 supercar.

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Toyota Will Introduce Redesigned Tacoma At Detroit Auto Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-will-introduce-redesigned-tacoma-detroit-auto-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-will-introduce-redesigned-tacoma-detroit-auto-show/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:09:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960201 After over a decade without any substantial changes, Toyota is finally redesigning the mid-size Tacoma pickup for 2016. Set to debut at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, the Tacoma’s updates are conveniently aligned with the introduction of the all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. While the GM trucks have a head start, the Taco is […]

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After over a decade without any substantial changes, Toyota is finally redesigning the mid-size Tacoma pickup for 2016.

Set to debut at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, the Tacoma’s updates are conveniently aligned with the introduction of the all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. While the GM trucks have a head start, the Taco is far and away the leader in the mid-size truck segment. And with the Nissan Frontier languishing on the market for a few more years, it’s likely that Toyota’s lead will only be extended.

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Audi RS3 Revealed With 5-Cylinder Turbo Engine http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/audi-rs3-revealed-5-cylinder-turbo-engine/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/audi-rs3-revealed-5-cylinder-turbo-engine/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 00:01:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958697 I’d never buy an Audi S3 because I can buy a VW Golf R for thousands less. But the RS3 is another story. Motivated by a 362 horsepower turbocharged 5-cylinder engine, the RS3 will hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds on its way to a 174 mph top speed. The only gearbox is a 7-speed […]

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I’d never buy an Audi S3 because I can buy a VW Golf R for thousands less. But the RS3 is another story.

Motivated by a 362 horsepower turbocharged 5-cylinder engine, the RS3 will hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds on its way to a 174 mph top speed. The only gearbox is a 7-speed DSG, which allows the RS3 to hit 35 mpg on the European cycle and emit 189 grams of CO2 per mile. Yes, a manual would be preferred, but the DSG helps the car achieve semi-respectable figures on the all important European fuel economy and carbon emissions tests.

Will the RS3 make it to America? Nobody knows. Audi has the S3 already, but a limited production RS3 would be a shot across the bow of the Mercedes GLA45 AMG – and likely cost a fortune, just like the M-B pocket rocket.

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Mercedes-Benz Hikes CLA Price Above $30k Threshold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mercedes-benz-hikes-cla-price-30k-threshold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mercedes-benz-hikes-cla-price-30k-threshold/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 17:35:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958585 The sub-$30,000 Mercedes-Benz is no more. For 2015, Mercedes is raising the price of its popular CLA sedan by about 5 percent, putting it above the critical psychological threshold. As CarsDirect reports The base MSRP for a front-wheel drive CLA250 jumps from $29,900 to $31,500, an increase of $1,600 or 5.4%. The all-wheel drive 4MATIC […]

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The sub-$30,000 Mercedes-Benz is no more. For 2015, Mercedes is raising the price of its popular CLA sedan by about 5 percent, putting it above the critical psychological threshold.

As CarsDirect reports

The base MSRP for a front-wheel drive CLA250 jumps from $29,900 to $31,500, an increase of $1,600 or 5.4%. The all-wheel drive 4MATIC goes from $31,900 to $33,500, the equivalent of $1,600 or 5.0%. The top-tier CLA45 AMG creeps up $1,050 or 2.2%, from $47,450 to $48,500. (All prices exclude a $925 destination charge.)

Sales of the CLA have been brisk, with tight inventories leading to minimal discounting on the baby Benz. But the Audi A3 is giving it some competition in the relatively new entry-level German luxury car segment. Whether Audi will follow M-B’s lead or stick to the $29,990 sticker price remains to be seen.

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Ford Focus RS Coming In Limited Quantities, Imported From Europe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-focus-rs-coming-limited-quantities-imported-europe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-focus-rs-coming-limited-quantities-imported-europe/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 16:57:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958561 Ford confirmed that the Focus RS will be sold in North America for the first time ever. But it won’t be built here. As we previously reported, the Focus RS will likely not be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant that builds the other Focus models. According to a Ford source, it won’t fit down […]

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Ford confirmed that the Focus RS will be sold in North America for the first time ever. But it won’t be built here.

As we previously reported, the Focus RS will likely not be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant that builds the other Focus models. According to a Ford source, it won’t fit down the line at MAP. That means it will almost certainly be built in Europe, and imported in limited quantities.

The Focus RS will feature a 2.3L Ecoboost engine, all-wheel drive and be priced a couple of thousand dollars higher than a loaded Ford Focus ST3. But it will also be sold in very limited quantities.

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Review: 2014 Chrysler 300 V6 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2014-chrysler-300-v6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2014-chrysler-300-v6/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957793 Hey! You! Over there in the corner! I see you looking at that leather-interior Accord or Camry or Altima or Fusion or whatever. How’d you like to buy a lot more car for just a little more money? The four-cylinder Honda Accord EX-L is $28,420. It’s a hell of a car and it has a […]

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Hey! You! Over there in the corner! I see you looking at that leather-interior Accord or Camry or Altima or Fusion or whatever. How’d you like to buy a lot more car for just a little more money?

COTASamsung 002

The four-cylinder Honda Accord EX-L is $28,420. It’s a hell of a car and it has a remarkably complete set of virtues. A Camry XLE with a moonrood is $30,060. That, too, is a solid automobile. I could go on, but you see the point, right? A four-cylinder family car with most of the options will run you between twenty-eight and thirty-two grand, depending on what badge you want on the nose and what you need in the way of particular equipment. You can also plump for a six-cylinder or turbocharged four-cylinder engine in nearly all the segment contenders, but most people don’t bother to do so. The modern big-stroke four-bangers (hee hee) offer enough power for daily use and they make up a majority of purchases that is both considerable and continuing to grow.

For $33,645, you can have the Chrysler 300 pictured above, complete with panoramic two-row sunroof. That’s before the deals and the discounting and the rebates for this and that. We all know that you’ll get a better price at a Chrysler dealer than you will at a Honda shop, although the days when our very own Steve Lynch reigned sort-of-supreme over Honda dealer allocation and ADP stickers were SuperGlued to the window of every Accord hatchback are long gone. I paid under invoice for my Accord V6 and I think you probably should as well. But Honda will never do the kind of rebates and incentives that are just part of business as usual under the Pentastar.

I had the good fortune to rent this nearly-new, extremely low-mileage 300 for a recent trip to Oklahoma. Back and forth I went from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, driving a mix of 75mph toll roads and unimproved dirt tracks. I’m very well acqainted with the five-speed old-school Pentastar Charger, but this was my first chance to sample the eight-speed automatic and the V6 together, not to mention the wide range of interior and exterior upgrades that differentiate the Charger and 300 in this soon-to-be-replaced generation. (Derek’s driving the new one even as we speak.)

COTASamsung 006

As much as I loved the Pentastar Charger, I have to admit that I have always found the tiny uConnect screen and the acres of vaguely/variously dark plastic to be a real letdown. For that reason alone, I’d take a 300 with my own money over the Dodge. Every surface you see and touch is improved, from the decent leather in the seats to the cheerful luminescent gauges. While the shifter takes some getting used to — am I in Park? If so, why? How do I get out? Why can’t I get back in? — it’s a much more upscale-feeling affair than the old five-speed gate, which felt and looked like something that didn’t quite make the cut for the pre-facelift Avenger.

There’s also a real improvement in acceleration and responsiveness with the extra three cogs between engine and rear wheels. This now feels like a quick car and I have no doubt that it will dust all the four-cylinder family sedans out there. How it would fare against a Camry V6 is a different matter; this is, after all, a larger and heavier automobile than any of the FWD competition. Still, it’s no trouble to run up to eighty or so out of a toll booth in a hurry, something you’ll do fairly often in the Southwest.

Once at speed, two things about the 300 immediately stand out vis-a-vis both the Charger and the competition:

* The lack of road noise, which is wonderful.
* The stereo system, which is very good for the class.

There’s a “Beats” audio upgrade available for this car but surely only the most boom-bastic of pimp-juices will require it. Really, this has to be the best standard-equipment offering in the class. For all the hype about the ELS system in the Acura TLX, most of that hype being well-deserved, this is just as good, and it has the advantage of operating in a quiet, more soothing automobile. The rest of the uConnect system is just as good as it’s always been, by the way.

Dynamically, the 300 is absolutely perfect for American freeways. Although it’s probably the spiritual successor of the M-body Gran Fury and Diplomat, it rolls down the road with a stateliness more reminiscent of the last truly full-sized New Yorkers. Yet there’s still a suggestion of the Daimler contributions beneath; when I had to dodge a blown retread on fairly short notice, the change of direction was prompt and easily handled without flashing the ESC or plowing the nose. Control efforts are light, reassuring, and well-matched.

While this 300 continues to share many components with the egg-crate-grille 2005 model, there’s simply nothing to indicate that to the driver except the annoyingly small windows. It’s faster, quieter, better-behaved, more comfortable, better-built, and far better in all the little details. Now, as then, it continues to have no direct competition. Everybody else is offering a front-wheel-drive platform or a much smaller footprint for the same money. In fact, they usually offer both. Probably the competitor offering the nearest match in terms of general virtues is Lexus with the ES350, but I find that the Camry/Avalon origins of that vehicle are too indifferently disguised in the current model.

In a perfect world, everybody who was going to buy a cheap Bimmer or Audi would try this Chrysler out. They’d see that it offers the same rock-solid feel, comparable interior materials, and acceptable performance, all in a platform that more closely resembles the next size up of the sausage by dint of being a distant cousin to an old E-Class. No, the 300 isn’t perfect. It has cliff-face interior panels and about as much window area as a 688-class submarine. It weighs more than it should and offers less rear-seat room than you expect. The “five-meter car” justification for having the short trunk on the Chrysler compared to the Dodge should have been jettisoned when the 300’s pretensions to Euro-market relevance hit the recycle bin seven years ago. Surely the next platform for this car will offer the same quiet ride and bump resistance through the miracle of a modern unibody, not a Lena Dunham level of interior panel padding.

When all is said and done, however, the 300’s biggest enemy is the HEMI-engined 300. The omnipresence in the media of that automobile, particularly in dearly-departed SRT-8 form, made the Pentastar look like a weak sister or a bargain-basement choice instead of the perfectly decent automobile it truly is. Yeah, the V-8 is well worth the additional money, but that doesn’t mean that the six is a bad deal. If you’re planning on buying a $45,000 mid-luxury car, there are more modern, more dynamically capable, and more feature-laden choices available than the loaded 300C. At thirty-three grand, however, wouldn’t you really rather have a… Chrysler?

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VW Inches Closer To Badly Needed Crossover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/vw-inches-closer-badly-needed-crossover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/vw-inches-closer-badly-needed-crossover/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 17:15:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958305 After throwing enthusiasts a few wagon-shaped bones at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen is set to debut the long-roof product that really matters for the auto maker’s American division: a crossover. A concept version of a future Tennessee-built crossover is set to debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Unlike the high-end Touraeg and the […]

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After throwing enthusiasts a few wagon-shaped bones at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen is set to debut the long-roof product that really matters for the auto maker’s American division: a crossover.

A concept version of a future Tennessee-built crossover is set to debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Unlike the high-end Touraeg and the compact Tiguan, the future CUV will be a traditional five and seven seat affair, like a Ford Explorer or a Honda Pilot.

A VW CUV may be anathema to the enthusiast idea of VW as a purveyor of Euro-diesels and GTI hatchbacks, but the CUV represents a way to fill a glaring hole in VW’s American lineup, which is not getting much traction in a constantly-growing American car market.

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Quebec Hikes Vehicle Registration Pegged To Engine Displacement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/quebec-hikes-vehicle-registration-pegged-engine-displacement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/quebec-hikes-vehicle-registration-pegged-engine-displacement/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 13:30:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957570 Quebec’s love affair with small, efficient cars is well-known around these parts. And a new government measure will only further enable that, as Quebec is set to raise annual vehicle registration fees based o vehicle’s displacement size. In an economic update released by the province, new measures were announced for vehicles with displacements of 4.0L or higher. […]

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Quebec’s love affair with small, efficient cars is well-known around these parts. And a new government measure will only further enable that, as Quebec is set to raise annual vehicle registration fees based o vehicle’s displacement size.

In an economic update released by the province, new measures were announced for vehicles with displacements of 4.0L or higher. The fees will rise by about 10 percent for engines ranging from 4 to 5.2L, while an additional 19 tiers of tariffs will be enacted for engines 5.3L or larger. At the highest end, a 7.0L engine will cost an additional $214.20 according to the CAA.

In addition, new one-time fees will be enacted for new vehicle purchases. The fee schedule is

  • $50 for a 4.0L to 4.9 L engine
  • $100 for a 5.0L to 5.9 L engine
  • $200 for a 6.0L engine

The fee will largely impact buyers of pickup trucks, as most passenger cars, CUVs and SUVs offer engines below the threshold. Expect the 2.7L and 3.5L Ford Ecoboost, the 3.6L GM mid-sizers and the 3.6L Ram trucks to become very popular among Quebec’s truck buyers.

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Undisguised Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe Still Looks Like A Mash-Up Of An S-Class And A Wart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/undisguised-mercedes-benz-gle-still-looks-like-mash-s-class-wart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/undisguised-mercedes-benz-gle-still-looks-like-mash-s-class-wart/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 23:28:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957610 Not long ago, I described the Mercedes-Benz GLE as “a cross between the new S-Class coupe and a growth of the Human Papilloma Virus.” I stand by that statement. A completely unoriginal derivative turd, the GLE is basically an X6 rip-off made by Mercedes-Benz. Even worse, it wears an “AMG” badge, despite sharing nothing with the […]

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Not long ago, I described the Mercedes-Benz GLE as “a cross between the new S-Class coupe and a growth of the Human Papilloma Virus.” I stand by that statement.

A completely unoriginal derivative turd, the GLE is basically an X6 rip-off made by Mercedes-Benz. Even worse, it wears an “AMG” badge, despite sharing nothing with the great AMG cars of past and present. It is little more than a sop to consumers in the BRIC countries, and a naked play at profit and volume by Daimler.

One part of me wishes them well for shrewdly playing off the needs and wants of the legions of people who would buy this thing. The other part of me wants to reach for the liquid nitrogen canister and cryo-therapy this thing off the face of the earth.

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Toyota Increasing Mirai Production To Meet Strengthening Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-increasing-mirai-production-meet-strengthening-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/toyota-increasing-mirai-production-meet-strengthening-demand/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957394 Its looks leave the B&B cold, and is powered by a fuel whose infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. So, how popular could the Toyota Mirai possibly be? Better than you’d expect. Nikkei Asian Review reports Toyota will be investing ¥20 billion ($165 million USD) to triple local production in order to meet corporate […]

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Toyota Mirai in Red

Its looks leave the B&B cold, and is powered by a fuel whose infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. So, how popular could the Toyota Mirai possibly be? Better than you’d expect.

Nikkei Asian Review reports Toyota will be investing ¥20 billion ($165 million USD) to triple local production in order to meet corporate and public-sector demand, which is likely to exceed the 700 units currently planned for assembly by the FCV’s showroom debut December 15.

The investment will allow for increased fuel stack and hydrogen tank production at its main factory in Toyota City, with upgrades planned at a nearby facility where final assembly of the Mirai is conducted. In turn, the move could spur on related investments in infrastructure and other products by interested companies.

Toyota expects to sell 400 Mirais in its home market by the end of 2015, with 3,000-plus moved in the United States by the same period in 2017, and around 50 to 100 in Europe in 2016. Exports to the U.S. and Europe are set to begin next summer.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI Manual http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi-manual/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi-manual/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 13:31:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950089 13 years ago, the Golf-based Volkswagen GTI produced 180 horsepower from a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant. Over the last week, I’ve been driving a brand new Golf that’s also fitted with a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder. It generates 170 horsepower. In 2002, you could pair Volkswagen’s 1.8T with a 6-speed manual transmission. Our test car used […]

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2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI13 years ago, the Golf-based Volkswagen GTI produced 180 horsepower from a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant. Over the last week, I’ve been driving a brand new Golf that’s also fitted with a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder. It generates 170 horsepower.

In 2002, you could pair Volkswagen’s 1.8T with a 6-speed manual transmission. Our test car used a 5-speed manual.

Is this progress? Strangely, yes.

To begin with, the horsepower comparison is deceiving. The new car makes way more torque: 185 lb-ft at 1600 rpm compared with 173 lb-ft at 1950 rpm. There’s also progress in the form of efficiency: It travels 25% farther on a gallon of fuel, according to EPA testing procedures. On regular fuel. The old car drank premium.

Though it’s not a spec-sheet superstar, the new 1.8T is still a very quick car when mated to the 5-speed manual. And though the transmission would surely benefit from a tall sixth gear and feels as though it could use more tightly spaced ratios, shift quality is excellent. The clutch is friendly, with no learning curve required.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSIOver the course of a decade and multiple generations, the Golf has made gains. Not in terms of outright power, but in overall refinement and the quality of the driving experience. These upgrades are unlikely to change the fact that most American small car buyers won’t consider a Golf. Like the well-behaved child who always carries his dishes back to the sink with two hands and efficiently and correctly finishes his homework, but who still sees all his parents’ attention paid to his delinquent little brother, der neue base Golf does its level best but still isn’t as desirable as its siblings.

This four-door, manual-shift Golf, loaned to us for a week-long visit by Volkswagen Canada, would carry a USD base price of $21,515, delivery included. As a mid-grade Comfortline example with one option package, this Golf featured a sunroof, leatherette upholstery, and dual-zone climate control. Absent the optional Fender system, audio quality was still more than acceptable. Volkswagen’s 2.0L turbodiesel adds $1300 or less to the cost in the United States. In Canada, where the price of diesel fuel is more closely comparable to the price of regular gasoline, it’s a $2500 upcharge.

With fuzzy carpeting spread across the front doors’ storage compartments and a dash covered in material so squeezable I expected fruit juice to come pouring out, there’s no doubt that the Golf’s perceived quality quotient tops the class. The infotainment system, on the other hand, lags — both in actual use and behind the segment leaders like Mazda Connect. It’s not a terrible system to use – I liked how it allowed me to scroll through satellite radio stations without actually selecting one – but the graphics and operational speed are behind the times. The 5.8-inch screen also seems too small for a proper backup camera, or is it just that the camera isn’t a particularly good one, washed out as it was in daylight and too dim later in the day?

Golf (13 of 13)Comfort is a key Golf edge, with first-rate seats and a huge range of adjustment for both seats and steering wheel. Wind and road noise is just something the owners of other small cars encounter; the Golf offers a proper luxury car ambience, only decontented.

Rear seat space doesn’t impress, however, as the placement of the especially narrow Diono Radian RXT carseat in the middle position required adults alongside to slam the door directly into their hip. Sure, it’s a small car, but many small cars these days offer more usable interior width. Hatchback versions of the Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, and Subaru Impreza all have more overall space for humans.

The Golf does possess a bit more space behind the rear seat than the 3 and Impreza, however, and the cargo area is shaped like a box with little intrusion. Seats-down capacity beats the Elantra, as well. Of course, all are surprisingly practical cars, yet they also help to clarify the appeal of small crossovers, as our Baby Jogger Summit X3 needed its wheels removed if it was to fit under the cargo cover in the Golf. Where’s the Golf R wagon when you need it?

Like virtually all continuing nameplates, the Golf has certainly grown over the span of generations. This Mk7 car is 167.5 inches long on a wheelbase of 103.8 inches; 2.6 inches longer than the Mk4 car we mentioned earlier with a wheelbase that’s been stretched nearly five inches. Yet the growth has been contained. Relative to modern machines, the current Golf is just under two feet shorter than a new Toyota Camry and just 7.5 inches longer than the 2015 Honda Fit. It’s 14.7 inches shorter than the latest Jetta, with slightly less wheelbase and slightly greater width.

Golf (3 of 13)Those tidy dimensions are central to the Golf’s on-road appeal. It’s as tossable as a properly set-up subcompact but as unflustered as a much larger car. Mid-corner pavement protrusions don’t bother the Golf even when you’re driving as enthusiastically as you might in its GTI sibling. The Golf’s brake pedal could be firmed up, but the weight of other controls is in keeping with the car’s mission. It’s not a hot hatch, but there’s no mistaking this ordinary Golf (on unaggressive 205/55R16 Continental ContiProContacts) for anything other than the foundation of a great hot hatch. With quicker turn in, sharper throttle response, and just a little more stiffness in the suspension, it would be a wonderful all-rounder. It is not crying out for more torque.

A Mazda 3 offers much of the Golf’s driving appeal but lacks its hushed cabin and always-serene ride quality. Subaru’s Impreza does not come close to matching the Golf’s upmarket interior but offers Vermont’s favourite all-wheel-drive system. It’s obviously difficult for the Golf to match the value and content of the Hyundai Elantra GT and Kia Forte5, but the driving experiences between those cars and the remarkable Golf are worlds apart.

Over the course of the last ten months – but not in the last two – the Golf lineup has been outsold in the U.S. by its own offspring, the GTI. With the Mk7 now widely available, the non-GTI/R/E Golf lineup doubled its U.S. October volume. Yet at 2351 units, it was by no means a popular car in America. According to HybridCars.com, diesels account for 41% of the non-GTI Golfs sold this year. The Golf family is Germany’s best-selling vehicle line, the UK’s fourth-best-selling vehicle, and Canada’s tenth-best-selling car in October.

2015 Volkswagen Golf cargoAside from a frumpy radio and a sunroof visor which crudely slides back and forth, the Golf is an impressive piece, not just lacking in glaring faults but full of admirable elements. One might wonder why Americans are so indifferent, until one realizes that this compact hatch costs about as much as a base Camry. The Golf 1.8 TSI is a car I want, it’s just not a car I want to pay for, not with these interior dimensions and not on this continent. Not when this car travelled 28 miles per gallon in a mix of city and highway driving while the last Golf TDI we tested did 41.

Oh, summon a little compassion for the well-behaved gas-fired Golf. Even when reviewed positively, the whole story deteriorates into praise of its oil-burning sibling. We might as well pile on by mentioning the superior styling of the Mk1’s round headlights.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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