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. Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:30:36 +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/ Reader Review: 2015 BMW X3 28i http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/reader-review-2015-bmw-x3-28i/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/reader-review-2015-bmw-x3-28i/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991458 If you’ve been around the automotive journalism long enough (and by long enough, I mean like three months in total), you’ll begin to realize that a lot of press vehicles you drive aren’t indicative of what most people actually buy. Most test vehicles have five figures worth of options, with features that at most, an […]

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X3 Exterior

If you’ve been around the automotive journalism long enough (and by long enough, I mean like three months in total), you’ll begin to realize that a lot of press vehicles you drive aren’t indicative of what most people actually buy. Most test vehicles have five figures worth of options, with features that at most, an auto journalist will expend 50 words on. Meanwhile, on lots across the country, most dealers probably have one or two very loaded cars which end up being discounted heavily towards the end of the quarter.

My experience of full-optioned press cars had to do with a silver BMW 335i xDrive Gran Turismo at a local auto journalist event. While the base price of the car was $47,775, this car had almost $12,000 in options, or enough to buy an E36 M3 in good condition. “Let’s give it the more powerful engine, all-wheel-drive, the dynamic handling package, and the M Sport package” the person in charge of configuring the 3-Series GT must have thought, “at least auto journalists will say it handled very well and forget about the styling.” This car even had head-up display and the $650 M Sport brakes.

Even when I was searching for road tests of the X3 online, I good majority were reviews of the powerful xDrive35i version or for the new diesel model. So when I had access to a 2015 X3 xDrive28i for a few days, I leapt at the opportunity to write a review on it, because it was the version most X3 buyers purchased.

Now, this 2015 BMW X3 xDrive28i that I’m writing about is not a vehicle designated for press people. In fact, it belongs to my dad, and while he chose the color combination, I chose most of the options. As a result, I can’t blame whoever specs BMW’s press vehicles. So the fact it doesn’t have the navigation system, which saves me a paragraph describing it? My fault. That it doesn’t have heated seats? My lapse. The fact that it doesn’t have parking sensors or a rear-view camera? My bad. The fact that I still don’t know what the $500 “Enhanced USB/Bluetooth with Smartphone Integration” option does? I really need to get on that.

As for the things I am proud of, it’s the Deep Sea Blue exterior color and Oyster color interior. (A quick note on the Oyster leather: it’s surprisingly easy to stain, so be careful when wearing jeans or leaving a pen on the seat.) This one also has the Premium Package with a massive moonroof and keyless entry, the xenon lights, and the Harman/Kardon sound system. And all of it was available at an MSRP south of $50K.

Before reading the rest of the review, you might think, “He must have recommended this car to his dad if he’s writing about it! This is totally going to be a love story about the X3!” Believe it or not, I recommended the Jeep Grand Cherokee Ecodiesel, as a very well-equipped one came in easily under $50,000, got good fuel mileage, and I thought it handled very well for its size. But my dad drove it and dismissed it as too big.

Other cars considered were Lexus RX (too soccer mom-ish), Toyota 4Runner (too truck-ish), Toyota Highlander (this is for replacing the minivan). The Mercedes GLK, Audi Q5, and Range Rover Evoque were dismissed as my dad is a BMW person. (For background, the man kept an E39 530i running for 13 years, which is two more than the 1990 Accord he had.) I don’t think he drove any of those alternatives, and neither have I, so I won’t definitively say the X3 is the best out of all those alternatives.

First, I’ll focus on the interior, which is about the same size as the interior of the first-generation X5. It’s a pleasant place with chrome accents and wood trim in the right places. The Oyster interior helps considerably too. The cupholders are usable, which is important when coming from a car in which both cupholders (if you can call them those) are broken. The panoramic moonroof that’s part of the Premium package was great for the scenic photos when driving down Highway 1. In fact, the X3 managed to easily fit five adults and their luggage for a weekend. Moreover, the Harmon/Kardon sound system is a pretty good upgrade from the normal sound system.

However, if you’re over 6”3’, more than 200 pounds, and might need a third seat, don’t consider the X3. Otherwise, when sitting in the driver’s seat, your head will hit the ceiling and you’ll probably find the seat not wide enough. Additionally, while I wrote in the last paragraph that the X3 could seat 3 full-size adults, just make sure the cumulative weight doesn’t exceed 500 pounds. And if you’re a family of four who takes their dog with them on road trips, the X3 is not your car.

Though the options list is long, there’s surprisingly (for a BMW) a lot of standard features. The storage package, which includes cargo nets, a collapsible cargo box, and a reversible mat, is standard. So is the automatic climate control. Even the ambient lighting that I praised is standard. The tailgate and side mirrors are power-operated. However, the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is not power-operated, which coming from the 530i, was a disappointment.

Whenever I discuss the exterior, I generally don’t focus too much on styling. But the X3 was facelifted for the 2015 model year, with most of the differences being on the front clip, with the headlights that connect to the grille. BMW offers two appearance packages: the xLine package and the M Sport body kit. Personally, I don’t like the look of the M Sport package (or sport packages in general), while the xLine has the silver trim bits for the faux off-roader look, which I don’t mind. There are also turn signals on the side mirrors. One thing I did like was the exterior lighting beneath the door handles when getting into the car. BMW got the ambient lighting very, very right. Also, the X3 comes with the foot sensor as standard

Regarding performance, I didn’t push the X3 to its limits because a) it belongs to my dad and not BMW of North America, and b) it has less than 1400 miles on the odometer so the drivetrain still needed to be broken in. It has a 2.0-liter inline-four with a twin-scroll turbo that makes about 240 hp. According the BMW website, it can go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, which is quicker than the 530i it’s replacing. On the highway, I never found myself complaining about lack of power, even when it was fully loaded with five people. If you need something faster, the xDrive35i with 300 horsepower is about $5,000 more.

I briefly played with the different powertrain modes, which were: Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro. Eco Pro makes the X3 rear-drive only and ensures the transmission is in the highest gear possible for the best mileage. I found myself using it in high traffic situations, where quick throttle response wasn’t needed. Sport mode sharpened up throttle response, but I found myself never using it and suspect most owners won’t either. Usually I drove the X3 in its default mode, Comfort, in which I didn’t need to press the throttle closer to the floor and when all-wheel-drive was on.

For those of you contemplating the diesel version of the 2015 X3 (the xDrive28d model), I considered that one too. In fact, I even put a deposit on one until we were informed that Hawaii (no joke!) was allocated the last X3 diesel build slots for a 2014 delivery. However, since the diesel is $1,500 more expensive and the price of premium gas has gone down significantly, the normal xDrive28i is a viable alternative. Also, my dad test drove the diesel X3 (while I was in the back seat playing with the air vents) and found the power deficit noticeable compared to the normal version and noisy at lower speeds.

Ultimately, if you have $50,000 to spend on a luxury five-passenger crossover, you can’t go wrong with the X3. When we were buying the X3 at the end of last year, it became easier to find a 7-Series in a dealer’s inventory in Northern California than any version of the X3. It was even easier to find an Audi S4 than an X3. They’re that popular. So BMW must be doing something right with the X3 (or they’re exporting more abroad for higher profits, or the X4 took up a good portion of the assembly line) that people are snapping them up left and right.

In the end, I understand why. The xDrive28i is surprisingly well-priced as long as you don’t go overboard with the options.  It handles nicely, can accelerate quickly, has a pleasant interior, has four years of free maintenance, and can take a lot of cargo. My dad, and not me, made an excellent decision, and neither of us have any regrets. Except for the “Enhanced USB/Bluetooth with Smartphone Integration” option. I still haven’t figured that one out.

DSC_0174 DSC_0175 DSC_0177 DSC_0179 DSC_0184 IMG_20150130_201148 X3 Exterior X3 front X3 Rear

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end, once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He still prefers the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.

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Editorial: The People’s Champion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-peoples-champion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-peoples-champion/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991114 One thing that sets TTAC apart is our appreciation for the kind of cars that most people would write off as “boring”. Part of it is born from our commitment to serving our readers – more often than not, there is a strong desire to read about cars one would actually purchase, rather than just automotive […]

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One thing that sets TTAC apart is our appreciation for the kind of cars that most people would write off as “boring”. Part of it is born from our commitment to serving our readers – more often than not, there is a strong desire to read about cars one would actually purchase, rather than just automotive pornography featuring the latest supercars. The other half of it is a bit more selfish. The cars that drive the industry (no pun intended); the Corollas, Camrys, Accords and Escapes may not be terribly thrilling to drive (Jack will beg to differ), but they have their own merits, even if they tend to be sneered at by most of the enthusiast press. Case in point, the Honda CR-V.

While Tim Cain was able to test a top-spec Honda CR-V Touring, mine was the equivalent to a CRV EX (known as the SE in Canada). Neverthless, my assesment of the CR-V was the same as Tim’s, even though my example lacked a sunroof, leather interior or some of the other touches that are found on competitors

The CR-V is certainly not the most exciting small utility vehicle on the market today, nor is it the only one capable of cramming a shocking amount of humankind and stuff into a small space. But it does most things better than most of its potential competitors.

The CR-V doesn’t handle like a Mazda CX-5, have the quirky appeal and sophisticated AWD of a Subaru Forester, the off-road cred of a Jeep Cherokee or the high-end tech of a Ford Escape. It’s not much to look at outside, and the interior, while improved in terms of cabin materials, is arguably a step back from the version first introduced in 2012. The new touch screen system looks as dated as the non-touch unit in the first generation Acura RDX, the menus are not intuitive and the tiny buttons are a hassle to operate. The seats are on the wrong side of firm.

On the other hand, the CR-Vs rap for being a boring drive is unfounded. It’s not thrilling, but the steering is decently weighted and fairly accurate, the brakes are linear and strong and the CVT transmission is a great match to the 2.4L four-cylinder engine. I couldn’t see myself buying one ever, but a week with this trucklet immediately opened my eyes as to why Honda sells over 300,000 annually.

The current generation CR-V is without a doubt one of the best packaged cars in the history of the automobile. The H-point is just about perfect, making for one of the most natural ingress/egresses you can find in a new vehicle. The ride height is just high enough, the flat floor in the rear means that three adults can sit in relative comfort in the rear and with the seats in place, there’s still 37 cubic feet of cargo room.

Most brilliant is the load floor. At 5’10 and a 32 inch inseam, the cargo floor hits just at my knee. It may seem like an inconsequential detail, but the difference in ease of loading is immeasurable. Loading anything from grocery bags to strollers to walkers is made so much easier. If the seats need to go down, all it takes is one tug of the strap-like lever and the rear row folds instantly. I’d be willing to bet that those two features, demo’d on the showroom floor by a minimally trained salesman, do more to sell the CR-V than any advanced powertrain, AWD-system or infotainment package. The well-known virtues of Honda reliability and resale value don’t hurt either.

Unlike most enthusiasts, I don’t reflexively hate the CUV. I think they offer a lot of value and practicality in the real world of boring commutes, errands, carpooling and recreation activities, and they’ve gotten to the point where buying one doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning the idea of having fun behind the wheel (see: CX-5, Juke ). The CR-V wouldn’t necessarily be my choice in the segment, but it would be the one I’d recommend to somebody who needs to ask for advice on what car to buy. After all, 300,000 people can’t be wrong.

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Land Rover Breaks U.S. Sales Records With High-End Models, Discovery Sport Is Almost Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rover-breaks-u-s-sales-records-high-end-models-discovery-sport-almost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rover-breaks-u-s-sales-records-high-end-models-discovery-sport-almost/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:30:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990562 2014 was a record-setting year for the Land Rover brand in the United States, and the brand accomplished this feat even though the majority of Land Rover sales were generated by upper-crust Range Rover vehicles. With the Discovery Sport set to arrive shortly in place of the oft-rejected LR2 (née Freelander), the potential for greater […]

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Land Rover Discovery Sport2014 was a record-setting year for the Land Rover brand in the United States, and the brand accomplished this feat even though the majority of Land Rover sales were generated by upper-crust Range Rover vehicles.

With the Discovery Sport set to arrive shortly in place of the oft-rejected LR2 (née Freelander), the potential for greater growth at the Land Rover brand becomes much more apparent.


• 51,465 Land Rovers sold in America in 2014

• Two top tier models account for six out of every ten Land Rover sales

• Discovery Sport expected to be volume model


60% of Land Rover sales in the U.S. in 2014 were produced by the Range Rover Sport (base price: $63,350) and Range Rover (base price: $83,495). The Range Rover Evoque, a very premium-priced small luxury utility, was the brand’s third-ranked vehicle. The Evoque was responsible for nearly a quarter of all Land Rover sales, more than the LR2 and LR4 combined.

Combined sales of the Range Rover trio rose 9% to 43,167. Land Rover sold more Range Rover Sports than at any time since 2006, its first full year on sale. Range Rover sales rose to a nine-year high. Range Rover Evoque volume increased for the third consecutive year. 34,990 Evoques have been sold since the nameplate went on sale in the U.S. early in the fourth-quarter of 2011.Jaguar Land Rover U.S. sales chart

Regardless of status – luxury, premium, upmarket, volume, mainstream, niche – it’s very unusual to see a brand ignited by its most costly models. At BMW, for example, the brand’s two entry-level car lines and two entry-level utilities account for 61% of U.S. sales.

Look at Mazda on the opposite side of the coin: only 23% of its sales are produced by its flagship sedan and top-tier crossover, the 6 and CX-9. At Audi, it’s the A3, A4, Q3, and Q5 that do the heavy lifting (to the tune of 59% of all Audi USA sales), not the A6, A7, A8, R8, and Q7, which account for only 31% of Audi sales.

Land Rover
2014
2013
%
Change
Range Rover Sport 17,897 15,976 12.0%
Range Rover 12,830 12,221 5.0%
Range Rover Evoque 12,440 11,405 9.1%
LR4 4,679 7,093 -34.0%
LR2 3,619 3,315 9.2%
Land Rover Total 51,465 50,010 2.9%

Thus, if Land Rover’s top-tier Range Rover models continue to steadily increase their popularity but are finally joined by an entry-level variant that bears a traditional portion of the burden, Land Rover’s record-setting sales accumulation is likely to expand at a much faster pace than it did in 2014.

Range Rover SportOverall new vehicle sales rose 6% and SUV/crossover sales were up 12%. Land Rover, which did indeed sell more SUVs than at any time in its history, only posted a 3% year-over-year improvement. Even if Discovery Sport sales begin at mid-pack levels in the small luxury utility vehicle arena – 20,000 annual U.S. sales, for instance – and the brand’s other models failed to increase their volume, Land Rover could still potentially sell more than 65,000 vehicles in 2015. Who knows, diesel engines might help, too.

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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Would You Buy a Used Rental Car? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/buy-used-rental-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/buy-used-rental-car/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990522 Most car enthusiasts know that rental cars are the most abused vehicles on the road. We know this, of course, because we are the ones who abuse them. Seriously: when a normal person picks up a rental car, they see it as little more than basic transportation. A simple, cheap vehicle designed to bring them […]

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rentals

Most car enthusiasts know that rental cars are the most abused vehicles on the road. We know this, of course, because we are the ones who abuse them.

Seriously: when a normal person picks up a rental car, they see it as little more than basic transportation. A simple, cheap vehicle designed to bring them from the Houston airport to a suburban office park, where they will give a presentation about something like The Efficacy of Automated Stapler Software to a company with a nondescript name like “RidgeTech” or “The Matheson Group.”

But car enthusiasts see it differently. When a car enthusiast gets inside a rental car, he doesn’t wonder where the lights are, or how to turn on the wipers. Instead, he thinks: How fast can I go before it locks me out of park? And then he tests this, repeatedly, until finally the transmission dies, at which point he goes home and tells his friends that whatever Chrysler he rented is an unreliable piece of shit.

For further proof of how car enthusiasts beat on rental cars, allow me to share my most recent rental car experience. It was in Europe, and I was tremendously excited, because I had rental car insurance. When a customer eagerly opts for rental car insurance, this is a bad sign. If you run a rental car company, and the customer asks “Can I get even MORE rental car insurance?”, you can be pretty sure you will never see the car again with all of its doors attached.

So anyway: I rented something small and pathetic, some French car called the C-Elysee, and it was awful. I mean, truly terrible. It was ugly, it was cheap, it was boring, it was plasticky, and it accelerated at the same rate as melting ice. So I decided that the best thing to do – the best way to really enjoy this car – would be to pull the handbrake in every possible situation, including when stopping at red lights.

Now, it’s been about six months since this trip, so this car has probably found its way into the hands of a real customer by now. A normal person, maybe even a young driver, highly excited to receive her very first car, with absolutely no knowledge that a previous driver drove 37 miles of the French Riviera with the handbrake up “just to see if it would let me.”

But here’s the thing about modern cars: in large part, they can usually take the abuse. I say this because I spent a summer in college working for Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and I discovered that modern cars are capable of handling just about anything that modern car renters can do to them. Blowout on the highway? No problem. Mud in the trunk? Not a worry. Didn’t realize the parking brake was in the footwell, so you drove around with it engaged all weekend? Who cares!

Indeed, it seems that modern cars are almost manufactured to the lowest common denominator. It’s as if, when an automobile engineer is designing a vehicle, he thinks to himself: what about the guy who tucks in his shirt even though he doesn’t have a belt? And then they add a bunch more screws and nuts and bolts just to make sure even that guy doesn’t break the thing.

And so today’s question is this. We all know how much rental cars can be abused – whether intentionally or unintentionally, whether by car enthusiasts or complete idiots. And yet, we all know how reliable modern cars are: the days of breakdowns and mechanical failures and unexplained noises are generally over, unless you’re driving a Land Rover. So is a used rental car worthy of your consideration? Is it an acceptable possibility? And if not: at what price would you change your mind?

Me, I’d have no problem buying a used rental car, provided it a) passes a thorough mechanical inspection, b) feels perfectly fine on a test drive, and c) is not a Dodge Avenger. What about you?


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Land Rovers, Jaguars Et Al Leave Höegh Osaka After Month At Sea http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rovers-jaguars-et-al-leave-hoegh-osaka-month-sea/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rovers-jaguars-et-al-leave-hoegh-osaka-month-sea/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991122 Having spent most of January on its side, the Höegh Osaka returned to Southampton, England Tuesday to unload 1,400 premium vehicles bound for Germany. According to The Daily Mail, the car carrier was intentionally run aground in the Solent off the Isle of Wight January 3 when it began to list at 52 degrees shortly […]

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Land Rover Hoegh Osaka

Having spent most of January on its side, the Höegh Osaka returned to Southampton, England Tuesday to unload 1,400 premium vehicles bound for Germany.

According to The Daily Mail, the car carrier was intentionally run aground in the Solent off the Isle of Wight January 3 when it began to list at 52 degrees shortly after departing for Germany through the English Channel. Around 1,400 premium vehicles were onboard, including Land Rover Defenders, Jaguar XFs, MINIs, a Rolls-Royce Wraith, and a Porsche Boxster.

Presently, each of the 1,400 vehicles aboard are being inspected for any damage, especially the type that would mean a final ride to the crusher. The final total won’t come until early next week at the latest, though a decision to follow in Mazda’s footsteps — the automaker scrapped 4,700 units aboard the Cougar Ace in 2006 — would prove costly; the total value of Höegh Osaka’s cargo stands at £30 million ($45 million USD).

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Toyota Marketing Mirai With $8K Hydrogen Credit Despite Expiration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989970 Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened. Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would […]

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Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened.

Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would fall to $49,500. Other state and local credits would drop the price further, as well; California customers would pay just $44,500 for their FCVs, for example.

The problem, per the automaker’s energy and regulatory affairs director Robert Wimmer, is predicting where the tax process would go:

The two challenges we have now are that both houses of Congress are Republican and also that there has been talk for a while about comprehensive tax reform. If that moves forward, then extenders would probably be put on the back burner as comprehensive tax reform is discussed.

Even if the credit was reinstated, it may only last as long as year or two instead of the three years Toyota wants for the first-gen Mirai. The automaker has been lobbying Congress to act, though Wimmer could not say to what extent.

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Costs, Currency Issues Killed Mitsubishi-Renault Deal http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/costs-currency-issues-killed-mitsubishi-renault-deal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/costs-currency-issues-killed-mitsubishi-renault-deal/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:09:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989674 Currency fluctuations and a lack of volume helped bring an end to a deal that would have seen Mitsubishi sell Renault-Samsung vehicles as their own in North America, according to a report by Just-Auto. While Renault-Nissan and Mitsubishi will continue to share production of a kei-class minicar in Japan, proposed plans to sell a large Renault-Samsung vehicle […]

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Currency fluctuations and a lack of volume helped bring an end to a deal that would have seen Mitsubishi sell Renault-Samsung vehicles as their own in North America, according to a report by Just-Auto.

While Renault-Nissan and Mitsubishi will continue to share production of a kei-class minicar in Japan, proposed plans to sell a large Renault-Samsung vehicle as a Mitsubishi in North America have been put on hold, along with the potential to export other models in the future. Currency issues and a lack of profitability for Renault-Nissan were cited as the main reasons that the deal fell through. Mitsubishi is apparently still open to searching for a new partner, while dealers are said to be growing anxious about a lack of competitive sedans in North America.

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Nissan Looking Beyond Federal Credits For Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nissan-looking-beyond-federal-credits-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nissan-looking-beyond-federal-credits-leaf/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989562 Though Nissan has sold over 77,000 Leafs since 2010, the automaker has plans for when the federal credits end with the 200,000th unit of the popular EV. According to Ward’s Auto, Nissan North America product planning chief Pierre Loing says the automaker is looking to negotiate increasing the limit, proclaiming that the current 200,000-unit limit […]

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Though Nissan has sold over 77,000 Leafs since 2010, the automaker has plans for when the federal credits end with the 200,000th unit of the popular EV.

According to Ward’s Auto, Nissan North America product planning chief Pierre Loing says the automaker is looking to negotiate increasing the limit, proclaiming that the current 200,000-unit limit harms EV adoption:

Being the first ones on the market, we should be among the first ones to reach 200,000, and you penalize those who’ve tried to be first?

That said, even when the $7,500 credit goes away, Nissan has plans to make the Leaf more attractive, from increasing the range to reducing the cost of the EV’s lithium-ion battery pack. Loing admits that the latter’s cost issue hasn’t improved quickly enough, and worries that falling oil prices aren’t going to help much either.

He was pleased with how well the Leaf fared in 2014, however; 30,200 units left U.S. showrooms that year, an all-time record for Nissan.

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Dispatches do Brasil: Volkswagen’s Inferno and the Gol’s Fall from Grace http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-volkswagens-inferno-gols-fall-grace/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-volkswagens-inferno-gols-fall-grace/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:27:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989258 How much is first place worth? How much difference would it make to you as an automaker to see a decades old tradition die? How much would you do to try to keep first place and how much would it hurt to see it all go away? Those are the questions Volkswagen do Brasil is […]

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How much is first place worth? How much difference would it make to you as an automaker to see a decades old tradition die? How much would you do to try to keep first place and how much would it hurt to see it all go away?

Those are the questions Volkswagen do Brasil is facing. Not being Brazilians’ favorite brand for 13 years now, falling away to third place, watching General Motors taking second and Fiat pulling away ever more in first, VW must now confront the reality it cannot even claim the most sold car title either. Costing them it is, after all the Brazilian press is having a field day analyzing Volkswagen’s fall from grace. It must also smart that the Palio edged the Gol by a little under 400 cars, while GM managed just 2,000 more sales overall than the Germans.

After 27 years as the most sold car in Brazil, the Volkswagen Gol ceded the crown to its main rival, the Fiat Palio. Not only that, the German company saw its participation shrink more than the others who make up the Brazilian Big 4 (Fiat, GM, VW and Ford). In traditional fashion, not recognizing their mistakes, Volkswagen do Brasil released a statement trying to explain:

“the Gol is a winner, having been the favorite of Brazilians for 27 years in a row. It is the most produced (more then 7.5 million units), sold and exported (more than 1.2 million units to 66 countries) car in the history of Brazil. Even in 2014, the model was chosen by 183,367 clients, a difference of only 0.2% (even with the exit of the G4 version from the market) in relation to its competitor (that is still maintains two versions of the car under the same name in its line: the old and the new one.”

This statement hides as much as it reveals. With the beginning of 2014, all cars in Brazil had to be sold with double frontal airbags and ABS. As such, all companies had to revise their strategies and Volkswagen started the year confident that the new up! would be more than enough to buoy the brand and take sales from the Uno, while the Gol would go head-to-head with the Palio. Fiat meanwhile took a different route, being that the old Palio Fire was a much more modern car than the its own old Uno Mille and VW’s Gol G4, it decided to go on building the old Palio with the mandated equipment, dressed it up in it pseudo-off road aventureiro decorations. It also revamped the new Uno, especially in its interior.

While both companies lost sales in a declining market, Volkswagen lost market faster than Fiat. While critically acclaimed, including by yours truly, the up! could not maintain the same fleet sales as the old G4. Fleet buyers became increasingly interested in the Palio Fire as it sported the same basic architecture as it always had and made use of time honored engines. VW meanwhile was launching a new three-cylinder engine with the up! and fleet buyers showed hesitation to fully embrace the new engine, as recent VW engine launches have been fraught with trouble.

Private buyers also balked at the new VW launch. The up!’s design was deigned to dainty for a Volkswagen and while it brought some conquest sales surely, VW-loyalists rejected the car.

Just as importantly, Volkswagen, making use again of their own time-honored tradition of not heeding to the market and not learning from the mistakes of the past, refused to acknowledge the emergence of the new Brazilian consumer who rejects entry-level cars. Aiming straight at that new figure, Chevy’s Onix and Ford’s Ka had a very big year and seemingly took more sales from the Gol than the Palio. They did so by offering more equipment for the same price and putting in some wow-me technology, equipment and better finished interiors (all of which is optional on ups!).

Fiat was quick to acknowledge this new reality. The Uno got a pretty thorough re-design on the outside and a completely new and better interior, not to mention new equipment and technologies as standard, leading the model to have a year of growth. The Palio did likewise, and in the new Palio line, extra equipment was added without raised prices, while the old Palio Fire got a new interior, some new exterior touches, and the all-important aventureiro dressing (plastic cladding, an extra inch or two of height, bigger wheels and tires, stickers, etc.).

As the year of 2014 progressed, the market increasingly saw Volkswagen in trouble. The up! was off to a slow start. The Gol’s redesign seemingly didn’t work (as VW should have known it wouldn’t if they were paying attention) because what the market was buying was equipment. The Palio was growing month over month. The Uno reclaiming its traditional top spots. Even better for Fiat the Strada was having a banner year taking the sales crown in February (the first time ever a pickup achieved this in Brazil) and finished the year in third place, the highest place a pickup has ever managed in the history of Brazil.

After the middle of the year the race between Gol and Palio reached a fevered pitch, with the Palio winning every month and outpacing the Gol’s sales by ever larger margins. As November ended, the Palio had managed a YTD advantage over the Gol of over 1,800 units. In a desperate measure and going against previously revealed plans for the nameplate, VW launched the Gol Special, special in its 2-door nothingness. Stripped to its utter bare bones to entice back fleet buyers, the Gol Special is in effect VW’s Palio Fire model.

In December, an orgiastic climax was reached. Volkswagen pulled no stops. As the first fortnight of that month ended, sales numbers revealed the Gol was edging out the Palio again. This was done with non-stop production at VW factories, writing off cars to dealerships as sold, huge discounts for fleet buyers of Gol G6 and Special models, exceptional financing opportunities to consumers and cash on the hood offers. Fiat reacted, and made use of much of the same tactics to defend the Palio’s lead. Both Fiat and Volkswagen have huge distribution channels in Brazil and both pumped out the cars in ever increasing numbers, saturating the market with officially sold cars that languished at dealers.

On December 31, 2014, the race ended. When the numbers were tallied a couple of days later, December went down into the history books as the third best selling month in the history of the automobile in Brazil. So much so that in a market that was plummeting by a little over 9% throughout the year, finished with a softer loss of 6%. More importantly, the Palio, old and new, had sold 183,744 cars. Volkswagen’s Gol moved 183,366. A difference of 378 cars. 378.

Overall, Fiat finished in first with 21% of the market and a total of 698,255 sales. Volkswagen had a participation of 17.3% and 576,635 units moved, which was good for only third place. General Motors managed second place on the strength of it almost all knew GM Korea line and sold 2,167 more cars than VW and had a market participation 0.1% greater than the Germans’.

As 2015 begins, January’s first fortnight numbers are available. The Palio, now that the market is cleansing itself of the dirty tactics of the last month of the previous year is kicking the Gol’s ass. It outsold the Gol by a large margin (7,600 to 4,500 in a very bad month), as did the Onix, second this month, the Strada in third, even Hyundai’s HB20 beat the Gol and is in fourth. The mighty, 27-years-in-a-row-leader Gol managed just fifth this month.

The week started off with Fiat announcing that the Uno and Palio will all offer air-conditioning in all versions, besides power steering, power locks and of course the mandated equipment, making them even more attractive to the more discerning Brazilian consumer. General Motors is pumping out the Onix and Onix-derived Prisma sedan in high number and is enjoying seeing its sedan outselling both Fiat’s Siena and VW’s Voyage. Ford is tweaking the Ka and watching its sales grow, planning for extra production capacity as the Ka gains more and more participation. Volkswagen is busy explaining the Gol’s demise and claiming no errors.

2015 will surely be fun. Except maybe for the Germans.

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Question Of The Day: Can Nissan Sell 100,000 Titans Annually? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/question-day-can-nissan-sell-100000-titans-annually/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/question-day-can-nissan-sell-100000-titans-annually/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 13:35:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988698 In the nameplate’s best-ever year, Nissan sold 86,945 Titans in the United States. Nissan USA wants to sell 100,000 Titans annually when the new model, with its more extensive lineup, arrives for the 2016 model year. • Titan sales declined 20% in 2014 • Titan volume peaked at 87K in 2005 • F-Series, GM, Ram […]

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2016 Nissan Titan XDIn the nameplate’s best-ever year, Nissan sold 86,945 Titans in the United States.

Nissan USA wants to sell 100,000 Titans annually when the new model, with its more extensive lineup, arrives for the 2016 model year.


• Titan sales declined 20% in 2014

• Titan volume peaked at 87K in 2005

• F-Series, GM, Ram combined for 1.9M full-size truck sales in 2014


A 15% uptick from that record-setting year – the Titan’s second full year in the U.S., 2005 – doesn’t sound like an insurmountable leap forward. But an increase to 100,000 units would represent a six-fold improvement over the Titan’s U.S. sales average from the last three years.

According to Automotive News, Nissan North America’s chairman, Jose Munoz, told a crowd at the J.D. Power Automotive Summit that their aspirations are “modest,” and that when it comes to the automaker’s expectations for the Titan, “We’re very bullish.”

But is it reasonable to expect that the Titan could penetrate the market with Toyota Tundra-like force?

With 118,493 sales in 2014, Toyota USA reported their best Tundra sales year since 2008 and earned 5.7% market share in the full-size category. Nissan feels that less than 5% market share in the full-size category, “would be considered by us as not very successful.”

2016 Nissan Titan XDIn other words, Nissan needs to sell Titans at a record-setting pace even though the market for full-size trucks, at least in 2014, was down 16% compared with 2005, when Titan volume was at its previous best.

To earn 5% market share in the full-size truck category in 2014, Nissan would have needed to sell 103,000 Titans. Nissan sold 12,527 Titans in 2014.

Recent performances may mean very little aside from the fact that, without so much as a facelift or new powertrain, the first-gen Titan became something of a laughingstock in the truck world. In 2004, Nissan was marketing a 305-horsepower, 5.6L V8-powered truck with a 5-speed automatic and an EPA-rated 17 mpg on the highway at a time when Ford was offering a 231-horsepower, 4.6L V8, a 4-speed automatic, and 17 mpg on the highway. Fair enough.

2016 Nissan Titan XDA decade later, however, Nissan was still selling the same truck (albeit with 12 more ponies), but it was up against gas-fired six and eight-cylinder pickups from Ram with EPA highway ratings between 21 and 23 miles per gallon, 305 or 395 horsepower, and 8-speed automatics. The lack of redevelopment may not have done the Titan nameplate any favours, particularly not in a category where hundreds of thousands of buyers have already attached their loyalty to top-selling trucks.

But the new Titan is most definitely new. There will be an available Cummins diesel, a semi-heavy-duty XD version with a unique frame, and more available configurations across the board. Nissan will therefore be tackling a far larger portion of the pickup market. But will they do so with as much success as they anticipate and apparently require?

Here’s a scenario full of assumptions that would work in the new Titan’s favour. The full-size truck market grows 8% in 2015, just as it did in 2014, and then does so again in 2016, when the Titan is readily available. Now the full-size market is nearly the same size as it was in 2005, when the Titan performed at its best. With 2.41 million sales to split and Nissan needing 100,000 units (equal to 4.1% market share), the competitors must only generate 2.31 million sales. (They generated 2,053,721 sales in 2014.) This would mean that the F-Series, Silverado, Sierra, Ram, and Tundra collectively rose 12.5% over the course of two years, a healthy boost to their own volume which would still, in turn, create space for bigger Titan numbers, too.

2016 Nissan Titan XD interiorIn other words, growth in the overall truck market would allow the Titan to expand its volume without needing to steal sales from the established players, something it didn’t need to do in its 2004 debut year, either. That year, full-size sales jumped by 177,000 units, or 8%, and Nissan added more than 80,000 of those sales.

And if the full-size truck market doesn’t grow? If plans for growth are stalled by the shocking success of a revitalized small/midsize truck segment? If there is substantial growth but consumers don’t take kindly to the Titan’s new face? If Nissan is taken aback by Detroit’s willingness to incentivize their trucks at all cost to avoid losing market share? In those cases, all bets are off.

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: Nissan Is Not Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-nissan-is-not-volkswagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-nissan-is-not-volkswagen/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:43:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988858 Here’s a question that will determine your reaction to the editorial below. What does a car company need more: a strong lineup of volume offerings, or a few niche products that exist in this world, but will likely never cross your path? If you chose the second answer, you may want to stop reading. News of […]

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Here’s a question that will determine your reaction to the editorial below. What does a car company need more: a strong lineup of volume offerings, or a few niche products that exist in this world, but will likely never cross your path?

If you chose the second answer, you may want to stop reading.

News of the indefinite delay of exciting products like the Nissan IDx concept and the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge prompted the usual wailing/gnashing of teeth from Jalopnik.

In an editorial titled “Nissan Steps Back From IDx And Q50 Eau Rouge To Focus On Boring Junk”Patrick George suggests that Nissan’s decision to focus on the core products in their lineup is a bad one.

“Ugh. Basically, their plan is to shy away from compelling products and double-down on boring ones to chase volume. That’s awesome. That’s what the world needs. It’s worked so well for Volkswagen, hasn’t it?”

We can go right past the long-beaten dead horse of “enthusiast cars don’t make money, nobody buys them, boring sells”, pass go, collect $200 and hone in on the Volkswagen analogy. It is wildly inaccurate.

As it stands now, Nissan is on a tear. The Altima, Versa and Rogue are strong sellers, at or near the top of their respective segments. The Juke isn’t a particularly strong seller in the United States, but it’s a global success. Even the Sentra, which is a particularly dreadful car to drive, does well. Nissan has a large dealer network, a long, successful history of manufacturing cars in the United States and a full lineup of passenger cars, trucks, SUVs, CUVs, commercial vehicles and sports cars.

Volkswagen has…none of that. Its history in the United States consists of the Beetle, Microbus and then a long history of mis-steps and an utter failure to understand the American marketplace, let alone even market vehicles that Americans want. The prior generation of Euro-oriented Passats and Jettas didn’t move the needle with the American public. Neither did this generation of Americanized cars. That doesn’t mean that Nissan’s approach to future strategy is *anything* like VW.

Not that it’s even about America. Lost in all the pandering and faux indignation is the fact that this is a globally-focused move, one that will help Nissan (and Renault and Dacia and Samsung) compete with VW in world markets, where Volkswagen is supposedly hoarding its best products. While VW is stumbling in the dark, Nissan is busy working on their own modular platforms, and they’re not keeping them away from North America either. The new CMF platform that underpins the Rogue is the same as the European X-Trail. Expect more of that in the future.

Aside from the lore of the Z-Car, the SE-Rs and the 240SXs, Nissan had a tumultuous experience in the 1990s, prior to Carlos Ghosn’s ascension to the throne. Despite being one of the more interesting Japanese performance car manufacturers, the company was a mess financially and organizationally. Ghosn turned the company around, at the expense of a lot of the interesting product that we fetishize.  Not pursuing the I is a good move – one look at how well the Scion FR-S is selling and you’d have to be delusional (or willfully ignorant in the pursuit of pageview clicks) to suggest a similar model for Nissan. As for the Q50 Eau Rouge? The lack of Sebastian Vettel and any coherent direction for Infiniti likely had more to do with that decision than anything else.

By focusing on the volume product, Nissan is sticking with what works – and perhaps, it will get better in terms of driving dynamics, styling, interior quality and the other metrics we value. At least we’ll see a good mid-size truck out of it.

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2017 Ford Raptor Makes 450 Horsepower http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/2017-ford-raptor-makes-450-horsepower/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/2017-ford-raptor-makes-450-horsepower/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:56:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988834 From our friends at Jalopnik comes news that the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 in the all-new Ford Raptor will make 450 horsepower (and weigh 500 lbs less). How about dropping it in the Mustang while we’re at it?

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From our friends at Jalopnik comes news that the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 in the all-new Ford Raptor will make 450 horsepower (and weigh 500 lbs less). How about dropping it in the Mustang while we’re at it?

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Mitsubishi Won’t Be Getting Renault-Samsung Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mitsubishi-wont-getting-renault-samsung-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mitsubishi-wont-getting-renault-samsung-sedan/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:33:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988818 Mitsubishi dealers are in for a rush of new product, including a new Outlander PHEV and a Mirage sedan. But one vehicle that won’t be arriving is an all-new sedan based on a Renault-Samsung vehicle. The plan, which called for Renault-Samsung sedans to be sold as Mitsubishi vehicles in North America, has apparently stalled. According […]

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Mitsubishi dealers are in for a rush of new product, including a new Outlander PHEV and a Mirage sedan. But one vehicle that won’t be arriving is an all-new sedan based on a Renault-Samsung vehicle.

The plan, which called for Renault-Samsung sedans to be sold as Mitsubishi vehicles in North America, has apparently stalled. According to Automotive News, Mitsubishi’s Don Swearingen told dealers at the NADA conference that the plan had hit an unspecified roadblock.

Mitsubishi has no D-segment sedan and an aging Lancer that competes in the C-segment. The deal with Renault-Samsung was said to provide vehicles for both segments.

Earlier this month, Renault-Samsung released the SM5 Nova, an all-new sedan that was likely to become a Mitsubishi branded sedan.

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Carlypso: PHEVs To Reach 1 Percent Market Share In Q1 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carlypso-phevs-reach-1-percent-market-share-q1-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carlypso-phevs-reach-1-percent-market-share-q1-2015/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988434 By the end of Q1 2015, PHEVs are expected to take 1 percent of the overall U.S. domestic market despite fuel prices continuing their downward spiral. Online used-car resell agent Carlypso reports that while just over 50 percent of U.S. new-car sales are focused on light-duty pickups, falling fuel prices haven’t done much to boost […]

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By the end of Q1 2015, PHEVs are expected to take 1 percent of the overall U.S. domestic market despite fuel prices continuing their downward spiral.

Online used-car resell agent Carlypso reports that while just over 50 percent of U.S. new-car sales are focused on light-duty pickups, falling fuel prices haven’t done much to boost sales during the January 2013 – December 2014 period from whence the report collected its data, based on a sample of 16.3 million units.

The report also looked at over 28 million car sales in the same period, finding that PHEVs and EVs like the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 made up 217,217 — or 0.86 percent — of said sales. In December 2014 alone, the Leaf, Volt, i3 and Tesla Model S collectively made up over 70 percent of U.S. PHEV/EV sales, despite the average price at the pump hitting $2.43/gallon that month; the current average is $2.05/gallon, down $1.23 from a year ago.

Carlypso co-founder Nicholas Hinrichsen says the findings show that consumers aren’t changing their behavior with the pump, opting to buy whatever they want as far as features and branding are concerned. He added that a vehicle’s value and demand isn’t going to change with the oil market either, advising consumers to let investors worry about how much West Texas Intermediate will go for per barrel.

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Mercedes-Benz CLA And Audi A3 Are Selling At An Identical Pace In The U.S. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mercedes-benz-cla-audi-a3-selling-identical-pace-u-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mercedes-benz-cla-audi-a3-selling-identical-pace-u-s/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 13:30:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988234 The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class and Audi A3 attained almost identical levels of popularity in the United States in 2014. True, Mercedes-Benz sold 27,365 CLAs over the last twelve months; Audi sold only 22,250 A3s during that period. That’s 23% more CLA sales than A3 sales. • GLA arrival didn’t slow down CLA • A3 and CLA […]

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A3 vs CLA sales chartThe Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class and Audi A3 attained almost identical levels of popularity in the United States in 2014.

True, Mercedes-Benz sold 27,365 CLAs over the last twelve months; Audi sold only 22,250 A3s during that period. That’s 23% more CLA sales than A3 sales.


• GLA arrival didn’t slow down CLA

• A3 and CLA increasingly popular, but not yet top sellers


But you’ll remember that the CLA arrived at the end of 2013’s third-quarter. The A3 sedan, a replacement for the A3 hatch which never sold as often as this new car, began trickling into dealers in February of this year but wasn’t readily available until April.

Over the final three-quarters of 2014, Audi USA reported 21,387 A3 sales, 151 more than the figure achieved by the CLA over the same period.

CLA250With great frequency, the vehicles marketed by rival German luxury brands aren’t necessarily direct competitors. The CLS, for instance, is a $66,000 sedan with no diesel option; Audi’s A7 is a $66,000 hatchback with diesel availability. S-Class pricing starts 28% beyond the BMW 7-Series’ base MSRP. The E-Class Benz is available as a wagon; BMW’s 5-Series is sadly offered as a ghastly hatchback instead.

The members of this entry-level duo, however, could hardly target the other with greater precision. They are closely aligned in terms of pricing, are available with turbocharged four-cylinders, and send power to the front or all four wheels.The fact that they sell at the exact same pace speaks volumes about the differing tastes of consumers who are looking for the same type of car. 50.184% of the clientele goes Audi’s conservatively-designed direction; 49.82% head to the Mercedes-Benz showroom for swoopier styling.

Mercedes-Benz made greater headway at the end of 2014. Q4 sales, at 9158 units, accounted for one-third of the CLA’s year-end total. Granted, year-over-year volume in the fourth-quarter plummeted 22% compared with the same period one year earlier when the CLA was the freshest produce on the shelves. But fourth-quarter volume rose to the highest level of the year, as if to clarify that the arrival of the GLA crossover/hatch was not going to have an impact on the CLA’s success. The GLA went on sale in September. Q4 volume for that vehicle totalled 5893 units.

At Audi, the fourth-quarter also represented the best period yet for the A3, though at 7581 units, the Audi was well back of the Benz. Audi’s GLA-fighting Q3 went on sale in August. 1092 were sold in September but monthly volume in the fourth-quarter predictably fell from that high. 2319 Q3s were sold between October and December.

2015 Audi A3 sedanAs for other potential competitors, the more performance-oriented BMW 2-Series (including leftover copies of the 1-Series) earned the business of 7345 U.S. customers in 2014, the second-lowest year ever for the 1-Series/2-Series family. More than 13,000 1-Series’ were sold in 2010. Buick Verano volume slid 4% to 43,743 units. Acura ILX sales dropped 13% to 17,854.

Top-tier luxury nameplates are both more expensive and significantly more common. BMW’s wide-ranging 3-Series/4-Series family generated a 19% increase to 142,232 sales in 2014. Mercedes-Benz sold more than 75,000 C-Classes and more than 66,000 E-Classes in a down year. The Lexus ES, BMW 5-Series, Lexus IS, Audi A4, Infiniti Q50, Lincoln MKZ, Cadillac CTS, and Cadillac ATS each produced more U.S. sales in 2014 than either the CLA and A3, as well.

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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QOTD: When Did BMW Lose Its Edge? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/qotd-bmw-lose-edge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/qotd-bmw-lose-edge/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:11:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988002 Twenty years ago, BMW was the coolest automaker in the world. I know this because I – as a young lad of less than ten, growing up in the 1990s – desperately wanted my father to purchase a BMW. And he – as a rational, middle-aged man in his 40s – ended up in a […]

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Twenty years ago, BMW was the coolest automaker in the world. I know this because I – as a young lad of less than ten, growing up in the 1990s – desperately wanted my father to purchase a BMW. And he – as a rational, middle-aged man in his 40s – ended up in a Camry with cloth seats and a tape player. He wasn’t the BMW type. He wasn’t cool enough. Back then, few were.

Remember the BMW of yore? The sharknose 6 Series. That late-1990s 7 Series (E38) that looked like the kind of thing the devil would drive, if he was late to a board meeting in Hell. The beautiful mid-1990s 5 Series (E34), and the perfect late-1990s 5 Series (E39) that followed it. The Z8. The Z3, which – although it hasn’t aged well – came out to universal acclaim in the mid-90s, and made its way into a Bond movie soon after. And then there was the 3 Series: the E30. The E36. The E46. The brand’s bread-and-butter, perfectly executed, perfectly sized, perfect to drive.

Little did we know, it was the brand’s all-time peak.

Twenty years later, here we are: the BMW of now. Gran Coupes. Gran Turismos. xDrive35i. Sports activity vehicles. iDrive. And a front-wheel drive electric car with a trim level called Giga World. I swear that if a meeting ever took place between the two BMW eras, 1990s BMW would punch 2010s BMW in the face and give it a wedgie while it was lying on the ground.

Things have gotten so bad that there’s kind of a running understanding among modern car enthusiasts that BMW has turned to crap. It’s like when you’re on a boat, and you’re rapidly taking on water. Nobody says you’re taking on water, but it’s plain to see: there you are, in the middle of the ocean, with minnows swimming around your ankles.

Essentially, the problems are as follows: the cars are bloated. The segments make no sense. The names are bizarre. And what the hell is the 2 Series Active Sports Tourer? Is that a joke? Are we supposed to pretend that thing simply doesn’t exist?

So my question today is: what the hell happened? Where did BMW go wrong? When did the once almighty BMW, the ambassador of cool, the diplomat of debonair (eh? EH?!), finally go off into the deep end and lose the plot? I’ll give you my theory – and below, you can submit yours.

My theory: it wasn’t a car that caused BMW to lose it. It was an all-out, no-holds-barred sales-chasing mentality; the kind of mentality Chrysler has with the rental fleets. I think it was this strategy – and not the vehicles themselves – that led to the decline of BMW. Essentially, it was the moment the automaker went from “How can we make this car cooler?” to “Why don’t we have a vehicle in the all-wheel drive rhombus segment?”

Of course, the “sell everything” mentality dramatically affected the products. Out went the careful styling decisions and the restrained lineup; in came segment-busting products and low-payment lease deals. The 3 Series grew huge. The X1 came into existence. And the 5 Series went from “desirable and stealthy” to “enormous and anonymous.”

But in my opinion, none of that would’ve happened if BMW had remained happy with the status quo: build cool cars, and sell a lot of them. Not tons of them, mind you. Not zillions. Not eleven crossovers and twelve variants of the 3 Series. But enough cars to generate a big profit while retaining the “cool guy” image.

So, what say you? Where do you think BMW took a wrong turn?

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Capsule Review: 2015 Jeep Renegade http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-jeep-renegade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-jeep-renegade/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987530 When the Jeep Renegade made its official debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show, I initially described it as “… a Panda 4×4 dressed up in Carhartt jeans and Red Wing boots.” With a Fiat platform, powertrain and assembly plant, the Renegade isn’t the first CUV to come from the Fiat Chrysler braintrust – but […]

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When the Jeep Renegade made its official debut at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show, I initially described it as “… a Panda 4×4 dressed up in Carhartt jeans and Red Wing boots.”

With a Fiat platform, powertrain and assembly plant, the Renegade isn’t the first CUV to come from the Fiat Chrysler braintrust – but represents the most ambitious attempt to create a global crossover suitable for all markets. And it’s also FCA’s best effort yet.

The Alfa Romeo – excuse, Compact U.S. Wide – platform underpinning the Jeep Cherokee ended up providing the mid-size Jeep with some sub-optimal packaging characteristics, namely inadequate rear seat space and a dearth of cargo room. While I happened to like the controversial styling, the Cherokee’s look polarized many observers. For the Renegade, Jeep has played it safe, with a slab-sided exterior that looks like a “super-deformed” version of a Wrangler Unlimited.

Although the Renegade’s footprint is about the same size as a Nissan Juke or Kia Soul (which FCA had on hand as competitive vehicles), the Renegade is far heavier. While the Juke weighs in on either side of 3,000 lbs depending on spec, the Renegade starts at 3,300 lbs, and can approach 3,500 lbs at its heftiest. And you feel every additional pound behind the wheel.

In a vacuum, it’s not such a bad thing. The extra el-bees lend a substantial feel to the car, which makes it feel like a more solid vehicle than a B-segment crossover that shares a common ancestor with the less-than-stellar Fiat 500L. Half of the drive route consisted of winding, Northern California backroads, which we tackled in a fairly simple 1.4T equipped Latitude FWD model. While the 6-speed Renegade is no speed demon, it felt as lively and responsive as a Nissan Juke – which is a pretty fun vehicle in its own right. The long, EPA-optimized gearing of the 6-speed box means constant shifting between second and third to keep the buzzy little 1.4 motor on the boil, but it only adds to the fun of whipping the boxy little Jeep through switchbacks. The clutch is easy enough to modulate and the shifter is decidedly mid-pack in the “transverse shift quality” sweepstakes.

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Driving the Renegade was such a hoot that I completely forgot to take pictures of the interior. The photo above, borrowed from Auto Express, shows what a well-equipped Renegade looks like on the inside. You will get a smaller version of UConnect, and Cherokee-like HVAC knobs and an electronic parking brake. Lower trim models get a more stripped down version of UConnect, with a less intricate display unit. Both of our demos had light fabric interiors which were quite handsome, especially when paired with the earth tone exterior colors. Avoid the black and heavier hues, lest you be mistaken for a Patriot owner.

The other half of the drive route was set up on an off-road course at California’s Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area. In addition to the 2.4L/9-speed Renegade, we also took out a Soul, a Juke, (both of which had been tested not long ago) and a Buick Encore. And holy hell does the Jeep feel like a porker. Despite handling the twisty roads with aplomb, the weight penalty over the competition (including the 3200 lb Encore) was immediately noticeable when getting out of the AWD 2.4L Renegade. Between the need for a diesel engine, a stout, Trail Rated 4×4 system, five-star crash test ratings on multiple continents and the appropriate “macho” looks, FCA engineers had to juggle numerous competing requirements that conceivably led to the Renegade weighing as much as 200 lbs more than a brand new Honda CR-V. Still it’s hard to wrap your head around such a porky figure for a B-segment CUV.

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While Jeep laid out two different off-road courses for us to test the Renegade Trailhawk on, it’s difficult to evaluate its prowess, namely because I’m a city kid who thinks that a gravel driveway calls for switching into 4WD. With a five-mode selector switch and a first-gear low range (ala the Cherokee Trailhawk), the automatic only Trailhawk version of the Renegade easily handled the rocks and whoops on the Jeep designed course. A more qualified off-road driver is a better source of impartial information. On road, the 9-speed seems to have become a smoother, more civilized gearbox than the frenetic iterations found in other FCA vehicles.

Starting at $17,995 for a bare bones Sport (and we’re talking A/C as an option), the Renegade slots in between the $16,995 Patriot and the $18,995 Compass, which are vastly outdated, less visually appealing both inside and out, and likely unable to match the Renegade’s off-road abilities. But they represent a greater hurdle for the Renegade, even more so than the Juke, the Soul or any of the upcoming compact CUVs from Honda, Mazda and Chevrolet. Just as the qualitatively inferior Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger torpedoed sales of the Dart, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where heavy incentives and a dealer body eager to move the older CUVs could push prospective buyers into a Patriot or Compass – especially if they want an automatic vehicle but don’t want to pony up for the 2.4/9-Speed versions. Assuming the two older vehicles are phased out (or replaced by a single model), volumes in the USA should rise from our initial estimates of between 60,000-70,000 units. FCA didn’t mention a number during their briefings, but that’s our best guess.

In any case, North America is hardly the most important market for the Renegade. China, India, Brazil, Russia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East…these are the locales where the Renegade must really make it happen for Jeep. The B-Segment CUV is the hottest segment in the world market, and the combination of Fiat diesel engines, Jeep styling and brand image and a global manufacturing base will help the Renegade achieve FCA’s long desired push to turn Jeep into a global SUV brand – and a premium one at that. Don’t bet against it.

 

IMG_9628 IMG_9650 IMG_9632 IMG_9631 IMG_9630 IMG_9627 IMG_9626

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US Transportation Department Recommends Automatic Braking For NCAP http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/us-transportation-department-recommends-automatic-braking-ncap/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/us-transportation-department-recommends-automatic-braking-ncap/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987866 Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would add two forms of automatic emergency braking as recommended systems for its New Car Assessment Program. The Detroit News reports crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support will be included as safety feature recommendations for the program’s five-star rating system, though automakers won’t be mandated to […]

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U.S. Department of Transportation Carousel

Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it would add two forms of automatic emergency braking as recommended systems for its New Car Assessment Program.

The Detroit News reports crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support will be included as safety feature recommendations for the program’s five-star rating system, though automakers won’t be mandated to have them on all of their new models. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx encouraged them to consider doing so, however:

Today marks an enormous leap in the evolution of auto safety by encouraging adoption of new technologies to keep drivers and their passengers safe on our roads. Making it very clear that the technology will be one of the criteria on which auto manufacturers are graded is a pretty big step. They all want to be a five-star company.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had considered making automatic braking mandatory, setting a deadline of the end of 2013 to decide whether to press forward or to include it in the program. Administrator Mark Rosekind says the agency is still looking over the subject, while Foxx added that he wouldn’t put the idea completely on the shelf down the road.

The new recommendations will come into force 60 days after the public has had a chance to comment, followed by responses from the NHTSA. The 16-page proposal details the testing parameters automakers would need to pass before being listed as having automatic braking.

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Jeep Renegade Pricing Leaked, AWD 6-Speed Manual Confirmed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/jeep-renegade-pricing-leaked-awd-6-speed-manual-confirmed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/jeep-renegade-pricing-leaked-awd-6-speed-manual-confirmed/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 22:01:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987314 Although driving impressions for the Jeep Renegade are still embargoed, pricing has leaked on a third party site, and we can confirm that a 4×4 model with a  6-speed manual will be available – but not on the top trim Trailhawk version. The 1.4T Multiair 4-cylinder turbo engine will be available with a 6-speed manual […]

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Although driving impressions for the Jeep Renegade are still embargoed, pricing has leaked on a third party site, and we can confirm that a 4×4 model with a  6-speed manual will be available – but not on the top trim Trailhawk version.

The 1.4T Multiair 4-cylinder turbo engine will be available with a 6-speed manual exclusively, while the 2.4L Tigershark I4 will come with 9-speed ZF automatic. Both configurations can be had in either FWD or AWD, while the TrailHawk gets an uprated AWD with 20:1 crawl ratio, five different modes and a low range mode in first gear, similar to the Cherokee Trailhawk.

Per the Jeep Renegade Forum:

Sport: $17,995
Latitude: $21,295
Limited: $24,795
Trailhawk: $25,995

4×4 adds $2,000

Our review will go live tomorrow.

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Mitsubishi To Revive Montero? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mitsubishi-revive-montero/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/mitsubishi-revive-montero/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 21:49:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987290   The Outlander hasn’t proved terribly popular among TTAC reviewers, but this teaser from Mitsubishi promises something more rugged.   This teaser from Mitsubishi seems to allude to a revived Montero debuting at the Chicago Auto Show next month. The Montero is more than likely some kind of PHEV concept, as Mitsubishi seems to be going all-in […]

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The Outlander hasn’t proved terribly popular among TTAC reviewers, but this teaser from Mitsubishi promises something more rugged.

 

This teaser from Mitsubishi seems to allude to a revived Montero debuting at the Chicago Auto Show next month. The Montero is more than likely some kind of PHEV concept, as Mitsubishi seems to be going all-in on their plug-in strategy – with the plug-in Outlander selling very well in world markets.

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While You Were Sleeping: January 20th, 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/sleeping-january-20th-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/sleeping-january-20th-2015/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 15:17:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985666 We are off to Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area to test out the new Jeep Renegade. In the meantime, here’s what you missed. Ford is starting LHD exports of the Mustang, with RHD exports coming soon. Soon, all Porsche 911 models will have turbo engines. Ssangyong is getting all new models in preperation for […]

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Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept

We are off to Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area to test out the new Jeep Renegade. In the meantime, here’s what you missed.

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Holden Retaining Name For Next-Gen FWD Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/holde-retaining-commodore-name-next-gen-fwd-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/holde-retaining-commodore-name-next-gen-fwd-sedan/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 15:02:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985650 Holden will retain the Commodore nameplate for its next-generation large sedan, even though the new “Commodore” will bear no resemblance to the large, rear-drive car currently sold in Australia. Just-Auto is reporting that the new Commodore will be a front-drive vehicle based on the next generation Opel Insignia/Buick Regal. While Holden previously stated that the […]

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Holden will retain the Commodore nameplate for its next-generation large sedan, even though the new “Commodore” will bear no resemblance to the large, rear-drive car currently sold in Australia.

Just-Auto is reporting that the new Commodore will be a front-drive vehicle based on the next generation Opel Insignia/Buick Regal. While Holden previously stated that the new Commodore would be built in Australia, the end of Holden’s manufacturing operations has now made it necessary to import it from another location. 

Some reports have suggested that China may be the location of the Commodore’s assembly. According to previous reports, the new, Chinese-made Commodore would have a standard 4-cylinder engine, with an optional V6. Though it would be close in size to the current car, it would look more European, with coupe-like styling rather than the current car’s brawny, slab-sided proportions. Holden is currently importing the Insignia VXR as a high-performance model, and perhaps as a test case for a future Commodore.

 

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This Year’s Definitive Detroit Auto Show Wrap-Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/years-definitive-detroit-auto-show-wrap/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/years-definitive-detroit-auto-show-wrap/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 14:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985234   As I look back on my career in automotive journalism – which has now officially outlasted an elephant’s gestation period – I am reminded of several important highlights; several moments where I rolled out of bed, crawled over to the mirror, flashed a big smile, and said to myself, using an especially cheery, positive […]

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As I look back on my career in automotive journalism – which has now officially outlasted an elephant’s gestation period – I am reminded of several important highlights; several moments where I rolled out of bed, crawled over to the mirror, flashed a big smile, and said to myself, using an especially cheery, positive tone: If you really work at this, someday you might be able to make $19,000 a year.

One of those moments was the very first column I ever wrote for The Truth About Cars, almost exactly two years ago today, wherein I provided a rather unique perspective on the Detroit Auto Show without actually attending the event. So when Derek asked me to reprise my role as an occasional contributor to TTAC, I did the obvious: I said yes, and then I spent approximately nine minutes getting up to speed on Detroit.

So, without further ado, here is this year’s definitive wrap-up of the Detroit Auto Show, as told by a bona fide Detroit Auto Show expert in the sense that I looked at a few photos from 1,000 miles away.

We’re going to start with Acura, as we always do, because their name is first in the alphabet – a concoction undoubtedly dreamt up by 1980s marketers, who shrewdly realized it was the only way anyone would consider their cars.

Anyway: Acura’s big debut at this year’s Detroit show was the all-new, second-generation NSX. Coincidentally, this has been Acura’s big debut at every auto show since Plymouth announced fuel injection at the 1907 Los Angeles Auto Show, which was hosted on a vacant lot in Northridge. When reached for comment, Acura PR staff said: “Wait until you see the NSX we have in store for New York.”

One major showstopper was Audi, who released the all-new Q7 luxury SUV to the oohs and aahs of eleven journalists who could tell it apart from the old model. To help distinguish it from last year’s Q7, Audi painted the new one bright blue.  “That’s a good idea,” said Acura PR staff, diligently taking notes with the same quill pens they’ve been using since the NSX was first announced.  “In Frankfurt, the NSX will be blue.”

Chevrolet was responsible for two huge debuts, when they rolled out the Bolt Concept – with a 200-mile range – and the all-new Volt, with a 50-mile range and a “range extending” gasoline engine. Rumors are swirling that the next model in the series will offer 80-mile electric capabilities, plus “range extending” feathers. It will be called the Chevrolet Molt.

The all-new Ford GT drew the largest crowds in Detroit, largely because Ford offered free parking validation to any journalist who didn’t complain about its V6 engine.

My personal favorite debut at this year’s Detroit show came from Hyundai, who rolled out a concept pickup truck dubbed the Santa Cruz Truck Concept. According to a Hyundai press release, this truck was designed to serve as a “bold, aggressive reminder that Nissan and Toyota aren’t the only ones who can compete for full-size pickup leftovers.”

It wouldn’t be an auto show without a concept car from Infiniti, who used Detroit to reveal the all-new Q60 Concept – the brand’s seventh concept car in three years.  When asked about this curious strategy, Infiniti PR representatives replied: “We employ a lot of people who worked on the NSX.”

Journalists in attendance were foaming at the mouth to condemn the Lincoln MKX, which is objectively an excellent car that would compete closely with Lexus and Mercedes-Benz if it were wearing literally any other badge, including the Comcast logo.

The strangest vehicle in the entire show was a concept car from Mercedes-Benz dubbed the F015 Luxury In Motion. Features include – all of this is true – “lounge-style” seating with four chairs that face one another, wood flooring, and six display screens mounted on various interior panels.  “With this car, we didn’t want to create a traditional automobile,” said Mercedes-Benz PR representatives, who spent years striving for a master’s degree in communications so they could stand next to the vehicle and ask journalists to remove their shoes before climbing inside.  “We wanted to create a giant slug with wood flooring.”

Nissan heralded the arrival of an all-new Titan, which will be a highly popular choice for Nissan employees interested in moving heavy furniture around greater Nashville.

Tiny automaker Smart debuted a run-out version of its Fortwo city car, inexplicably dubbed the “Flashlight Edition” despite the fact that the car doesn’t have any apparent connection to a flashlight. Other potential names reportedly included the Fortwo Gift Card and the Legal Pad Edition.

After safely watching from the sidelines as the midsize SUV segment gradually expanded over the last 25 years, Volkswagen finally rolled out an SUV concept car at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, a mere two years after they rolled out their last SUV concept car. Industry insiders expect Volkswagen to debut an actual midsize SUV in the second half of 2061, beating the Acura NSX to the market by six months.

So there you go, ladies and gentlemen: everything that mattered at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, as told to you by someone who was nowhere near the place. It’s good to be back.

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Korean Market Hyundai Veloster Receives Seven-Speed DCT For 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/korean-market-hyundai-veloster-receives-seven-speed-dct-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/korean-market-hyundai-veloster-receives-seven-speed-dct-2015/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 11:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985290 The current Hyundai Veloster will gain some new features for this year, but only in its home market for the time being. Autoblog reports the biggest feature for the hatchback is the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that will replace the outgoing six-speed unit in the Turbo variant. The DCT will help funnel the 1.6-liter turbo-four’s 204 […]

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KDM 2015 Hyundai Veloster 01

The current Hyundai Veloster will gain some new features for this year, but only in its home market for the time being.

Autoblog reports the biggest feature for the hatchback is the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that will replace the outgoing six-speed unit in the Turbo variant. The DCT will help funnel the 1.6-liter turbo-four’s 204 horses and 195 lb-ft of torque to the front.

Other features include new wheels, Turbo upholstery graphics on the seats, an engine sound equalizer with six sounds from which drivers can choose, and a revised instrument cluster.

Price of admission for the newish Veloster ranges from ₩18.45 million ($18,550 USD) for the base Younique edition, to ₩23.7 ($22,000) for the Turbo model. No word thus far on whether any of these features will be headed to North American showrooms down the road.

Below are the spec/price sheets for those who can read Hangul:

KDM 2015 Hyundai Veloster Spec + Price Sheet 01

KDM 2015 Hyundai Veloster Spec + Price Sheet 02

KDM 2015 Hyundai Veloster 01 hyundai-veloster-refresh-023-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-025-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-022-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-024-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-008-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-028-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-021-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-033-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-032-1

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Lower Fuel Prices Mean More Savings On Green Vehicle Purchases http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/lower-fuel-prices-mean-savings-green-vehicle-purchases/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/lower-fuel-prices-mean-savings-green-vehicle-purchases/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985106 Just like when high fuel prices knocked down the sale price of many a truck and SUV, the current drop in price at the pump is pulling down the prices for many a hybrid, PHEV and EV. Per TrueCar, the No. 1 green vehicle in January to leave more money in its buyer’s wallet is […]

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Just like when high fuel prices knocked down the sale price of many a truck and SUV, the current drop in price at the pump is pulling down the prices for many a hybrid, PHEV and EV.

Per TrueCar, the No. 1 green vehicle in January to leave more money in its buyer’s wallet is the Ford Focus Electric, which is leaving the lot with 16 percent off of its $29,995 MSRP. The market average for the EV comes out to $25,168.

Taking silver and bronze on the podium are the Ram 1500 Tradesman 4×2 with regular cab and standard bed, and the Toyota Venza XLE, coming with an average of around 11 percent savings off MSRP. Both vehicles are the only ones in the top five that aren’t green vehicles, though the 1500 can be had in EcoDiesel and EcoDiesel HFE trims.

Rounding out the quintet are the Kia Optima Hybrid and Toyota Prius Two, both saving their fans around 10 percent off MSRP for a total of $29,411 and $22,498, respectively.

President John Krafcik said that with automakers “heavily discounting their most fuel-efficient cars to clear inventories,” as well as the majority of consumers becoming more focused on the fuel pump over fuel economy, now is the time to buy a hybrid or EV. He added that “when the pendulum swings the other way,” such vehicles would become more attractive, with pricing to match.

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