By on July 29, 2015

x5manual

BMW may be coy about it, but there’s no denying that manual transmissions are dying a fairly ignominious death in most cars. It’s a shame. Manuals are more often found as slushboxes in econo-drones with cloth everything paired to a remedial engine.

Cheap manual transmissions aren’t worth saving. In 20 years, when everything except your mountain bike comes with an automatic transmission, will you look fondly on the Chevy Cobalt’s 5-speed guessing game? Probably not.

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By on July 28, 2015

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage ES

I am going to make a couple assumptions about Mitsubishi, our loyal TTAC readers, and where the two intersect.

For one, I don’t think a single person who comments or reads TTAC on a regular basis owns a Mitsubishi built after 1993. Also, I am going to make an educated guess that not a single Mirage owner reads automotive websites or blogs or any information source that offers proper opinions on Mitsubishi’s smallest of offerings.

Last — but certainly not least — I am going to point out there aren’t many people who read TTAC that care about Mitsubishi in the slightest. This, my friends, isn’t just a guess.

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By on July 27, 2015

nissan gtr lm

When was the last time you saw a pretty race car? Maybe I’m turning into Walt Kowalski, but it seems to me that the racing machines of my youth looked nicer. Is there a purer shape than Jim Clark’s Indy 500 winning Lotus 38? Is not the Lola T70 sensuous? Some of Jim Hall’s Chaparrals, like the 2H “vacuum” car and the 2J streamliner with its center mounted high wing look a little odd, but even the 2J has an aesthetically pleasing shape, something you can’t say about a modern Formula One racer, with it’s dizzying array of airfoils, winglets and canards. Read More >

By on July 24, 2015

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I recently had the opportunity to test drive an automobile, and I remembered why I hate it so much: because test drives are insanely short.

They’re not just a little short. They’re wildly, absurdly, ridiculously short. Some test drives last for eight minutes, even though you will likely own the vehicle you’re driving for several years, you will pay tens of thousands of dollars for it, and you will spend several hours in it every day of your life.

Obviously, we know why this is: dealers don’t want to waste time with test drives. They want these things to go by quickly, so the cars don’t accumulate very many miles, and then they want you to get back into the showroom and start arguing over the price. This is how they get ya. The more time you spend arguing over the price, the more you want the car. “I don’t really want this car,” you think to yourself. “But I’ve already devoted six hours to arguing about the price. So I’d better get it.” This is how Chevrolet sold so many Cobalts.

But is the car buying public really content with these test drives?

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By on July 22, 2015

2016 Ford F-150 Limited

An unnamed product planner for an unnamed truck company candidly told me off the record once: “There is no ceiling for trucks right now. It’s incredible.”

He’s right. Ford’s announcement yesterday of a truck that’ll likely sniff $60,000 to start is a far cry from your grandfather’s Ram that he bought for three dairy cows and a handful of sawdust.

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By on July 21, 2015

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Front 3/4

Automakers are busy re-jigging their product mix to better meet the crossover hunger of an ever-shifting buying public.

Chevrolet is adding a new crossover to their lineup — according to “sources” — that shrinks the Equinox and puts a new, three-row model between it and the Traverse. Mazda has a new cute ute in the forum of a jacked-up Mazda2. Same with Honda’s HR-V which, by all accounts, is a massive hit out of the gate. Toyota has their new subcompact utility on the way. And Buick — oh, Buick — has finally rectified the Encore’s asthma with a decent puffer.

However, there was news about a new Cadillac ATS Midnight Edition yesterday and we didn’t run it. That’s because nobody, or at least nearly nobody, cares about sedans.

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By on July 17, 2015

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Several times in the last few weeks I have had a friend come up to me and tell me that they bought a used car, there is some problem with it, and now they want to sue the dealer. And if not a lawsuit, then at least they want some sort of compensation, like a free replacement car.

I generally listen intently to their problem, and confirm that I’m understanding it, and make eye contact to show that I care, and then tell them something along the lines of the fact that this is the single stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

Here’s a newsflash for everyone out there who bought a used car with a problem: You bought your vehicle in as-is condition. This means you must accept it “as it is,” even if how it “is” is fitted with brake pads that are actually USB sticks. Even if its mirrors are sun visor mirrors taped on the mirror housings. Even if it is a Pontiac G6. You now own this car and you signed the papers saying so. The dealership held up its part of the obligation in selling you the car. Now you must hold up your part of the obligation in getting the thing the hell off the dealer’s lot.

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By on July 13, 2015

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I’m a big fan of goofy engine swaps, but I must admit that I get tired of seeing small-block Chevy engines in everything. Still, engine swapping is an American tradition that goes way back, and the rise of online discourse has led to a huge increase in the level of heretic-seeking, brand-loyal, anti-engine-swap sentiment in the last decade or so. Why, our very own Crabspirits may have to go into a witness-protection program after stuffing a Nissan VG30 V6 into his Toyota Cressida, and I’ve received some disapproval for putting a GM engine in a 1941 Plymouth (not a huge amount, because prewar Plymouth fanatics tend to be 115 years old and not so online-savvy). AMC guys wig out when they see an LS in a Javelin, BMW fanatics get all red-faced when they see an E30 with a Detroit V8, and so on with just about any cross-marque swap you can name.

How do you feel? Read More >

By on July 10, 2015

Escape to which mountain?

Another day, another recall. Or, at least, this seems to be the growing trend lately in the automotive industry.

Years ago, I remember recalls being a rarity. My mom owns a Ford Escape that she bought new in 2003, and I distinctly remember her thinking about getting something else because she was worried about all the recalls. It had, at the most, three. This is what used to pass for a high-recall vehicle.

No longer.

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By on July 7, 2015

2015 Dodge Challenger 6-speed manual shifter

With news that BMW’s M division might give up offering manual transmissions altogether along with the plethora of automatic-only performance options from other automakers on the market, the battle to keep the manual looks bleak.

Not only that, but automatics seem to just be the better choice for a number of other non-performance options as well.

Read More >

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