Category: News Blog

By on August 11, 2017

Image: 1990 Bentley Hooper Empress II, via Craigslist

Back in June, Rare Rides profiled a different blue British beauty in the form of the Aston Martin Lagonda. Down in the comments section, TTAC reader Heino requested coverage of a Hooper-bodied Bentley.

Frankly, I forgot about the request in short order. But it sprang back to mind as soon as I saw the awkward visage of what would become today’s Rare Ride: a Bentley Hooper Empress II. Ready for a history lesson?

Read More >

By on August 11, 2017

2018 Ram 3500 Cummins towing, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Healthy competition lowers the price of consumer goods, the economists tell us, but it also raises torque ratings. Nowhere is this more apparent than among the Detroit Three automakers, with Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles locking horns, crossing swords (keep it clean…), and firing arrows at each other in a heavy-duty pickup war that’s only heated up in recent years.

It comes down to stump-pulling, gravel-hauling, trailer-towing twist. In 2015, the Ram 3500’s 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six turbodiesel topped the Ford F-350 SuperDuty’s 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 by 5 lb-ft of torque — 865 to Ford’s 860. This clearly couldn’t stand, so for 2017 Ford upgraded the Power Stroke’s torque rating to 925 lb-ft, kiboshing Ram’s 2016 attempt to stay ahead with a 900 lb-ft rating.

With 2017 came further aggressions. This year saw GM pulling ahead to second place with its 6.6-liter Duramax V8, now upgraded to 910 lb-ft, knocking Ram down to third place.

Well, FCA’s having none of it. Just a day after Ford’s unveiling of a newly powerful second-generation 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 and 5.0-liter V8, Ram fires this salvo: a Cummins with more grunt than any other rival. Read More >

By on August 11, 2017

2006 Toyota Camry XLE - Image: Toyota“This was the harshest move in consumer preference the industry has ever seen.”
– Bob Carter, Executive Vice President, Toyota North America

37 percent of the new vehicles sold in the United States in the first seven months of 2017 were passenger cars. That’s correct. 63 percent of the new vehicles now sold in America are pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and vans.

But how did we get to this 37-percent basement? When did we get here? How long did it take to get here? And is it really the basement? Read More >

By on August 11, 2017

2018 Acura RLX

Acura is changing its flagship sedan for 2018 with a short list of important electronic upgrades and a much-needed makeover. Most evident is the absence of the chrome break the brand tried to make synonymous with its lineup for a decade. The RLX’s new hallmark is a diamond pentagon grille, already seen on the TLX and MDX.

It still looks like a bird of prey, but maybe one better suited for swooping down and plucking Acura’s tanking sales from the water like a fresh salmon — or perhaps a slightly smaller fish. Read More >

By on August 11, 2017

wells fargo

California’s insurance regulators have launched an investigation into Wells Fargo following the bank’s confession that it forced hundreds of thousands of auto loan borrowers to pay for insurance policies they didn’t need and, in many cases, were unaware of.

There’s also a congressional investigation underway, where U.S. senators are asking the company basic questions like who was affected, how broadly, whether they get a refund, and why the hell this occurred in the first place.

Unlike JPMorgan Chase or Bank of America, Wells Fargo’s auto loan contracts allowed the lender to obtain collateral protection insurance on a customer’s behalf if they failed to buy liability coverage themselves — or if the bank assumed they hadn’t. It’s not common practice and, when it causes paying customers to default and have their vehicle repossessed, it’s not difficult to see why.  Read More >

By on August 11, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Camaro RS - Image: GMThere’s more than one reason the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro has failed to live up to the fifth-gen Camaro’s U.S. marketplace success.

First, the drama of the (quite possibly) superior sixth-gen Camaro’s styling is diminished by the fact that it looks so very much like the fifth-gen car. To the casual muscle car buyer — of which there have to be tens of thousands of it’s going to be the high-volume sports car it was — it’s certainly not obvious that this is even an all-new car.

Then there’s the fact that the sixth-gen Camaro also continues the fifth-gen’s visibility trend: there is none. Added to that, GM always intended to sell fewer Camaros to daily rental fleets when the sixth-gen car arrived for the 2016 model year.

In the end, however, it’s always down to money. Not only is the Chevrolet Camaro a costly ticket, but Camaros are also packaged in a way that shrinks appeal at the affordable end of the spectrum.

According to GM’s North American boss Mark Reuss, the company wants to fix that, though it’s not yet clear what the remedy is. Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

elio-otc-chart

The past year hasn’t been particularly kind to Elio Motors, the startup trying to launch an economical enclosed-tandem, front-wheel drive three-wheeler. The company seems to be no closer to starting production and in fact has shuttered most of their operations, including assembly of their production-validation prototypes, and laid off most of their staff, to concentrate on raising the money they need to start building trikes.

For a while Elio was flying high. They had over 60,000 reservations and a Reg A+ stock offering raised $16 million. That stock quadrupled in price and briefly gave the company a billion-dollar valuation. Then, starting late in 2016, a pattern started forming. Some kind of bad news for Elio would appear on folks’ screens, either another production delay, a SEC filing with ominous-sounding boilerplate, or local politicians in Louisiana, where Elio promised to start building vehicles in what was formerly a GM assembly plant in Shreveport, would start complaining about a lack of progress. The bad news would get amplified by Elio’s critics, and their over-the-counter stock price would take a hit. A year ago the OTC shares were pretty stable at around $20/share. Down from the high of $60, but still significantly above the initial offering price of $14/share. By the end of 2016, however, it had dropped to about $15/share and since then it’s had a series of drops to about $8, then $7 and most recently about $5/share. Elio seemed headed for penny-stock status, or worse.

Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

autonomous testing tesla

Autonomous vehicles are about as polarizing a subject as you could possibly bring up around a group of car enthusiasts. Plenty of gearheads get hot under the collar at the mere concept of a self-driving car. Meanwhile, automotive tech fetishists cannot wait to plant their — I’m assuming — khaki Chinos into the seat of an autonomous vehicle and enjoy a coffee without the hindrance of having to actually drive the thing to their destination.

I’ve previously discussed how autonomous cabs will become unparalleled filth-boxes, destined for salacious behavior. Because without driver oversight, why not sneeze into your hand and wipe it on the seat back? Now, surveys are beginning to indicate privately owned computer-controlled cars will be subject to similar activities — with some drivers suggesting they’ll have no qualms about having sex, drinking booze, or binge eating behind the wheel.

That’s the future we’re being promised, but a lot of autonomous features have already made it into modern production cars. Word is, they’re starting to make us terrible drivers. It’s enough to worry automakers to a point where they’re considering implementing an array of systems to more actively encourage driver involvement on a platform that’s designed to do the opposite.

Get ready to drive your self-driving car.  Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

2013 Opel Monza Concept - Image: OpelIt was to be called the Monza.

GM Europe expected to assemble the Opel Insignia-based SUV, roughly the size of the Ford Edge, right alongside the Opel Insignia at its Rüsselsheim, Germany, assembly plant. Which is in Rüsselsheim.

But development of the so-called Monza was either lost in the shuffle or used as a bargaining chip, depending on whom you ask, when Groupe PSA (Peugeot and Citroën) announced the $2.3-billion purchase of its European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. Now it appears the Monza project is suspended, according to AutoExpress, as PSA decides to “freeze all GM-related projects.”

What’s it mean for Buick? Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Screenshots of preliminary information added to the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealer network computer system suggest the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, due for a late-November reveal, breaks with tradition in more than a few ways. The largest break involves how the 2018 Wrangler puts its power down to all four wheels.

The dealer system images, shared by JL Wrangler Forums, show the Wrangler adopting a Selec-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system, among other drivetrain details. Is this a goodbye to the manly transfer case lever? Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

Ford F-150

As promised, Ford is updating the engine lineup in the company’s best-selling F-150 for the 2018 model year, providing improved fuel economy and maximum towing capacity across the board.

While it’s always a good idea to hold out a bit of skepticism until review time, Ford previously low-balled its economy estimates for the F-Series — as such, we’re working with some previously existing good faith.

News has been trickling out regarding Ford’s upcoming styling tweaks, advanced safety tech, and a powerful new diesel engine for the 2018 model. We also knew the F-150’s gas engines would be getting upgraded specs and, while some alterations are minor, there are a few big numbers worth disclosing.

And they have little to do with the 5.0-liter V8.

Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

Ferrari Dino 206 GT - Image: Ferrari2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Ferrari’s V6-engined Dino, an entry-level Ferrari that never actually wore Ferrari’s prancing horse badge.

With challenging regulatory environments and emissions targets to meet, 2018 surely seems like a fine time to resurrect the Dino name and concept. Yet it appears far more likely Ferrari will look to burst through its 10,000-unit annual production barrier with an FUV, rather than a Dino that, Automotive News reports, would likely be priced 20-percent below the current entry-level Ferrari.

The California T stickers from $202,723.

“We need to explore ways to attract customers to traditional values of the brand such as style, performance and engine sound before downgrading the entry level price for the brand,” Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne told analysts.

Downgrade. Pfft. Downgrading is for Porsche and McLaren.
Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

2017 Volvo XC90 Excellence - Image: VolvoIn anticipation of a welcoming party for 2018 models, non-Volvo luxury car owners are currently eligible for a discount valued at $23,500 on a handful of remaining copies of the 2017 Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence.

There’s only one problem. The Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence is not exactly the most affordable member of the second-generation XC90 lineup. In fact, the T8 Excellence is the most expensive XC90 in America — by a wide margin. While the XC90 range opens at $46,745 for a five-seat front-wheel-drive variant, the T8 Hybrid turns on the lights with 400-horsepower for $69,895. Bump up another couple of trim levels and you’ll find yourself at the — let me clear my throat — $105,895 XC90 T8 Excellence.

Yet the $20,000 bonus Volvo is paying to dealers for XC90s in T8 Excellence trim means the laughably high $105,895 price — $1,005 more than a Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged — and a $3,500 conquest bonus drops the $105,895 XC90 T8 Excellence way down to $82,395.

It also means you lay hold on what CarsDirect’s Alex Bernstein says is, “the single largest discount on any vehicle at the moment.” Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

ford explorer police interceptor utility

Ford has assembled five squads of investigators to help police departments cope with the growing number of reports of exhaust fumes incapacitating on-duty officers in Explorer-based Interceptor Utility vehicles. While the problem appears to exist in civilian spec SUVs as well, police vehicles are getting the most attention from Ford and the press, especially after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cited three wrecked patrol vehicles and numerous drivers looking green in the gills.

The NHTSA ramped up its engineering analysis since then, which could lead to a recall on all Explorer-based models from 2011 to 2017. But Ford hopes to get out ahead of the issue by making good on an earlier promise, dispatching its own investigative teams to ensure police departments don’t look to other automakers the next time they need to replenish their fleets.

According to Ford, it’s already making headway in solving the problem.  Read More >

By on August 9, 2017

presidio-terrace-malin-giddings

This is one of those stories that is bound to provoke a range of emotions. It involves a homeowners’ association, rich and powerful property owners, real-estate speculators and parking. None of those first three are likely to engender sympathy but in this case you sort of have to root for the little guys, the speculators.

San Francisco has some of the most expensive real estate in the United States. Pacific Heights is one of the more exclusive neighborhoods in San Fran and Presidio Terrace, a gated, guarded, private street is one of the priciest locations in that area. It’s across the street from the private Presidio Golf & Concordia Club. Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi used to live on the circular street, as has Sen. Diane Feinstein. When one of the 35 mansions on Presidio Terrace go on the market, they fetch big money. There’s a house currently listed for $14.9 million dollars.

Read More >

Recent Comments

  • SuperCarEnthusiast: Me too! The Acura designers love to screw it up big time in the Acura version. LOL!
  • SuperCarEnthusiast: Honda is unsure of how they are going to forward with the Acura brand. If I were Honda...
  • SuperCarEnthusiast: I am getting use to the Buick LaCross! It is a car that I maybe getting in the future. Still kind...
  • Lou_BC: @nemosdad -I have a 2010 with the 5.4. Mine seats 6 as well. It has been the most reliable vehicle I have...
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