By on October 23, 2017

wilt-chamberlain-volkswagen-beetle

Ages ago, we asked about your favorite car-related marketing campaign. Your answers were varied as they were well-thought out – Nissan’s toy 300ZX, Iacocca daring us to find a better car, and VW’s Star Wars ad.

Absent from all of the above? Celebrity endorsements… unless you count Ken & Barbie in the Z ad. This time around, we’re asking you what’s the most memorable car ad (for better or worse) featuring someone straight out of central casting?

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By on October 19, 2017

Cadillac Escalade/Lincoln Continental - Images: Cadillac & LincolnCadillac enjoys some of the highest average transaction prices among premium auto brands operating in the United States. After years of Lincoln MKS disappointment, the new Lincoln Continental actually looks the part. Globally, Cadillac sales are rising month after month after month. In the U.S., Lincoln is rare among auto brands in a declining auto industry in 2017: sales at Ford’s upmarket brand have risen 3 percent this year.

Indeed, while discussing the apparent appeal of the Tesla brand last week, Jack Baruth said, “You might say that General Motors and Ford are going to build better, more reliable, and more thoroughly developed electric cars than Tesla can, and you’re probably right.”

“But the world doesn’t want an electric Cadillac or Lincoln,” Jack accurately points out, “for the same reasons it doesn’t want gasoline-powered Cadillacs or Lincolns.”

Regardless of how you grade the momentum of Cadillac and Lincoln, they are mere blips in the global luxury automobile market and remain rather inconsequential players in their U.S. home market, as well. Will that change in your lifetime? Read More >

By on October 18, 2017

1997 Honda PreludeWe’ve asked you before about the particular brand you’d resurrect if given the power to bring just one back from the dead. A different Question of the Day also inquired which models trumped the previous generation by bringing fresh ideas and improvements to the redesign.

Today, we follow similar lines and ask which model was killed off too soon; which vehicle deserved one more generation.

Read More >

By on October 17, 2017

1994 Dodge Ram, Image: Brian Cantoni/Flickr

There’s a questionable spy photo of the next-generation Ram 1500 floating around. “Questionable,” because since the dawn of time, a Ram pickup, whether prefixed by “Dodge” or not, has retained solid, distinctive, and simple lines.

Unfortunately, the 2019 model seen in the photo appears with an odd mish-mash of Silverado and Tundra styling cues in place of today’s handsome front fenders and traditional crosshair grille. This got the TTAC chatroom talking. After all, the Ram nameplate is well-known for taking a styling direction and running with it for decades. Two styles over 40 years, essentially.

That got us talking about the most memorable Rams, the most quintessential and #iconic Rams, and, eventually, to the most famous Ram of them all. Read More >

By on October 12, 2017

2018 Ford EcoSport - Image: FordThere’s no need for detail. Nuance is unnecessary. Set aside demands for specifics.

What’s the worst type of vehicle known to humankind in 2017?

There are leaders in every category, of course. But the fact that the Ford Transit Connect is surprisingly fun to drive doesn’t make the small commercial van sector particularly appealing. Likewise, there are laggards in every category, too. Yet the Mitsubishi Lancer’s uncompetitive nature doesn’t cast a broad brush across the entire compact sedan segment.

Somewhere, however, in some corner of the vast U.S. auto industry, resides an entire segment of vehicles that is, as of 2017, the worst. It’s the segment that provides the worst return-on-investment. The vehicles in said segment haven’t moved the game forward in the same way full-size pickup trucks or American muscle cars have their own category. There’s no obvious class leader or class embarrassment because every vehicle in the category lacks true sensibility.

What vehicle category are we talking about? Read More >

By on October 11, 2017

1983 Oldsmobile Toronado brochure pageLast month we featured a Question of the Day about the worst model names ever glued onto the back of a vehicle. Everyone had fun trashing corny, little-known nameplates from here and abroad, as well as the various and oft-nonsensical letters applied to the back of many North American offerings today.

Today we flip this question and talk about the best model names. What’s your selection for the best vehicle names out there?

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By on October 10, 2017

1960-corvair-ad

This Question of the Day has its origin in a song, one which exists as something of a guilty pleasure. Actually, screw that, I’m a modern man (not postmodern, mind you) — I can admit it was Tiny Dancer by Elton John, which just happened to pop up on a Spotify playlist 15 minutes before I sat down to write this.

We often associate songs with a certain time and place in our lives, and that particular song — one of two by that artist I’ll admit to liking (the other being an apt description of a certain North Korean dictator) — immediately brought to mind a dark red, first-generation Chevrolet Corvair. A number of years back, nearing the end of a long road trip to Georgia and back, I found myself driving under leaden March skies in chilly Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, surely the sexiest city on the lower Susquehanna. Tiny Dancer came on the local station, and as I thought about life and mistakes, a burgundy-colored car came into view.

Resting just off a parking lot, it was, a “For Sale” sign stuck hopefully in its windshield. You never saw a more honest-looking 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza. Read More >

By on October 9, 2017

Winter city snow

Alert readers will have noted by this time that I have lived my entire life in the refrigerator that is Eastern Canada. Snow appears early, sticks around like an unwelcome houseguest, only to begrudgingly depart sometime after Cinco de Mayo. My father often says his retirement plan consists of loading a snowblower into the bed of a pickup truck and heading south. The first place he stops where someone asks “What’s that?” is where he makes his new home.

On Friday, I regaled you with my tale of finally paying off a car (thanks for the kind words in the comments, readers). Since I’ll be keeping the Charger, and live well into the snow belt, I will soon need to get it ready for winter.

Read More >

By on October 6, 2017

2018-jeep-wrangler-jl-towing-4

Time to eat my words. Two years ago, I said the real reason there’s no Jeep pickup is this: A Jeep and a pickup are the same thing. I was wrong. The JL Wrangler Pickup is apparently a sure thing, although I’ll believe the existence of a two-door version when I see it in showrooms.

Let’s assume for a moment that Jeep will start by selling a four-door Wrangler with a 6.5 foot bed, pretty much like all the mules that have been spotted running around. Where will the volume for this vehicle originate? And how much of that volume will there be?

Read More >

By on October 5, 2017

2018 Subaru Outback - Image: SubaruIn September 2017, Subaru reported the company’s 70th consecutive year-over-year U.S. sales increase. That’s nearly six complete years of steadily improving U.S. sales volume.

Think of it this way: 2013 was a huge year for Subaru of America as sales had risen 59 percent over the span of just two years. But in 2013, Subaru sold 424,683 over the course of the entire calendar year. In 2017, that’s a total Subaru blasted past in the first week of September.

But have you ever stopped to notice that Subaru is accomplishing much of its success with three remarkably similar variations of the same theme? Crosstrek, Forester, Outback. A bit of extra length there, a touch of extra height here, a smidgen of savings there, a dose of extra equipment here. This is hardly the historically obvious 3 Series to 5 Series to 7 Series lineup. The Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback are conceptually similar vehicles with overlapping price spectrums. And recently, with a huge leap in Crosstrek popularity, they’re all similarly popular, too.

You almost get the sense Subaru could squeeze an Outback “four-door coupe” in there and sell 12,000 of those each month, too. Read More >

By on October 4, 2017

2011-audi-r8-42-spyder-shifter-photo-416617-s-1280x782Yesterday, Steph Willems penned a little Question of the Day about the manual transmission. In it, he asked what would have to occur to get you, the buying public, back into the manual transmission in a large-scale way.

As of this writing, it’s blowing up the comment counts as everyone lists the particulars of how they hem and haw over the manual transmission. Shifting a vehicle yourself is romanticized and desirable; a bygone art to be treasured and maintained for future generations of drivers.

Except when it isn’t. What would force you from a manual transmission vehicle for the rest of your days?

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By on October 3, 2017

gearshift stick shift manual transmission

A telling conversation took place last week. A longtime friend, who’s now more gainfully employed than in years past and owns a current-generation Nissan Rogue, texted me about the 2018 Nissan Qashqai — known as the Rogue Sport south of the border.

As he rarely uses his Rogue for cargo or passenger-hauling duties, the reduction in volume isn’t a concern. My friend wants more content for the same price as his larger vehicle. I informed him that, unlike in America, he could choose a Qashqai/Rogue Sport with a manual transmission, provided he’s willing to live with whatever Nissan Canada’s base trim amounts to.

“No way,” he told me. “I like features. I’ll never bother with standard transmissions again.”

This is coming from a guy who for years drove a base Volkswagen Fox, followed by a base GMC Sonoma, each equipped with a three-pedal setup. Granted, no one looked towards the Fox or Sonoma for spirited driving. Still, it seems age and income has done its work — no longer is my friend interested in anything but enjoying a lifestyle of convenience.

Are you the same way? Read More >

By on October 2, 2017

2018 Chevy Silverado 3500 Dually

People have been predicting it for years, we foreshadowed it a few months ago, and on Thursday it finally happened: one can now waltz into a dealership and spoil the better part of a hundred grand on a pickup truck.

See that 2018 Silverado 3500 Crew Cab Dually up top, though? It doesn’t cost $100,000. It doesn’t even cost $50,000. It is, in fact, only $340 more expensive than a top-rung Honda Ridgeline.

Wait. What?

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By on September 29, 2017

devillpickup

This is the day of the expanding man… and of the expanding pickup truck trim level. I’ve speculated elsewhere about a truck-based luxury sedan from General Motors, but other possibilities exist for the current GM full-sized platform.

There’s just one problem with the idea of a Cadillac-badged pickup: it might force GM, and the automotive media, to come to grips with some unpleasant truths about what really sits on top of the Sloan Plan nowadays.

Read More >

By on September 28, 2017

1996 Chevrolet Impala SS - Image: ChevroletAztek. Cimarron. Le Mans. General Motors has gotten it wrong more than once.

But General Motors, in business for nearly 110 years — and eight years in its current post-bankruptcy iteration — also gets it right. Sometimes GM gets the styling right. Sometimes GM perfectly meets the segment’s needs. Sometimes the performance bargain is unbeatable. Every now and then, those factors merge together and General Motors introduces a thoroughly impressive vehicle.

You could make a case for the C7 Chevrolet Corvette. A 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham is a stunning example of GM knowing precisely what Cadillac should be. A mid-90s Chevrolet Impala SS represents GM boldly thumbing its nose at conventional performance. Cars such as the Pontiac GTO, Buick Regal GNX, and Chevrolet Nomad hold a special place in the hearts of many.

But what do you believe is the best General Motors vehicle of all time? Read More >

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