The Truth About Cars » Car Reviews http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:10:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 » Car Reviews http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/ Tesla Model X Referral Winner Accused of Spamming Referral Links http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/tesla-referral-contest-sure-get-ugly-hurry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/tesla-referral-contest-sure-get-ugly-hurry/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 19:02:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1160178 According to the Tesla Motors Club, the referral program that would award one Model X to a lucky loyalist in exchange for referring 10 new Model S buyers may already be over. “Kevin2686″ may likely be the North American winner for the free Model X considering he managed to refer 10 new buyers. Forum members say Kevin2686 spam […]

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Tesla Building Circa March 2015

According to the Tesla Motors Club, the referral program that would award one Model X to a lucky loyalist in exchange for referring 10 new Model S buyers may already be over. “Kevin2686″ may likely be the North American winner for the free Model X considering he managed to refer 10 new buyers.

Forum members say Kevin2686 spam posted his referral link, and indeed on a CNET news story about the promotion a user named “Tesla2000″ offered $1,000 up front and $1,000 later with a link to Kevin2686’s referral code. In Tesla’s relatively vague referral language:

“Please note that we may withhold credits, discounts or other awards where we believe customers are acting in bad faith or otherwise acting contrary to the intent of this program.”

This may not end well. 

We already know that the potential referrer would likely qualify for an income tax credit from the feds for referring 10 new Model S buyers. It now appears that, at least according to the Tesla community, the referring winner may have used unsavory means as well.

Should Tesla withhold the car for spam posting, it could be a fight over the “free” $133,000 car.

The only winner in Tesla’s referral program — at least in the U.S. — may very well be Tesla itself.

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Tesla’s ‘Free’ Model X for Referrals Probably Eligible for Federal Tax Credit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/teslas-free-model-x-referrals-probably-still-eligible-fed-tax-credit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/teslas-free-model-x-referrals-probably-still-eligible-fed-tax-credit/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:40:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159050 Details on Tesla’s “free” Model X for the first 10 referral buyers have been few since the beginning. First it appeared that the program would be limited by time, then it appeared it would be limited by country, now it appears that it’ll be limited by continent. The first person to refer ten friends in each […]

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Tesla Model X

Details on Tesla’s “free” Model X for the first 10 referral buyers have been few since the beginning. First it appeared that the program would be limited by time, then it appeared it would be limited by country, now it appears that it’ll be limited by continent.

The first person to refer ten friends in each sales region— North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific — will receive a free Founder Series Model X.

But even more unclear is exactly how Tesla will give its winner their new Model X. Depending on how that happens, there are very few scenarios in which the new Model X owner (with 10 friends wealthy enough to buy new Model S cars) wouldn’t qualify for up to $7,500 back from the feds.

A spokesperson from Tesla didn’t comment on whether the Model X referral winner would qualify for the federal tax credit. A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Energy, the government agency that administratively handles the incentive, said he was unaware of a situation similar to Tesla’s Model X incentive and said the vehicle would qualify for the tax credit if the referrer used it as a personal vehicle, and qualified under the law as the original “acquirer” — the IRS doesn’t designate that the person must “purchase” the EV.

The applicable tax code only states that for the car to qualify for the credit (IRC 30D):

  • the original use of which commences with the taxpayer,
  • which is acquired for use or lease by the taxpayer and not for resale,
  • which is made by a manufacturer,
  • which is treated as a motor vehicle for purposes of title II of the Clean Air Act [42 USCS §§ 7521 et seq.],
  • which has a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 14,000 pounds, and
  • which is propelled to a significant extent by an electric motor which draws electricity from a battery which–
    • has a capacity of not less than 4 kilowatt hours, and,
    • is capable of being recharged from an external source of electricity.

According to several accountants and CPAs, the $130,000+ cars would still be subject to significant income tax, under which there are extremely few scenarios that the qualifying referrer could escape (legally, anyway) paying tens of thousands for their finder’s fee prize.

But for the lucky one in North America who found 10 people to buy a Model S and get a Model X in return, Uncle Sam may have something for you for return for helping out the EV car business.

(Thanks TTAC legal readers!)

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Add Renault Alaskan to List of Cars Not Sold in Their Namesake Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/add-renault-alaskan-list-cars-not-sold-namesake-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/add-renault-alaskan-list-cars-not-sold-namesake-markets/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 17:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159578 Renault has released their latest global pickup concept, the Alaskan, and by global they mean almost everywhere except Alaska. Go figure. Regardless, the Alaskan looks like a beefed-up version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup concept revealed in Detroit. Renault said the Alaskan is part of a new global push for their LCV business. We bet […]

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Renault has released their latest global pickup concept, the Alaskan, and by global they mean almost everywhere except Alaska.

Go figure.

Regardless, the Alaskan looks like a beefed-up version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup concept revealed in Detroit. Renault said the Alaskan is part of a new global push for their LCV business. We bet Mercedes will have something to say about this very soon.

While just a “concept”, expect the Alaskan to spawn a production model in short order … or maybe two models.

Mercedes, who’s been working with Nissan-Renault in a fairly cozy fashion as of late, also announced they will have a pickup for global markets that doesn’t include Alaska — or the rest of the United States. Remove the diamond logo, slap on a tri-star, and call it a T-Class.

A bi-turbo, four-cylinder diesel engine is said to live under the hood. Those turbos are asymmetrical, with the smaller of the two providing “smooth acceleration” and a larger turbo for power at higher speeds.

Renault said a new “one-tonne” pickup will be revealed early next year.

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Chevrolet Finishes Work on 1,000,000th Corvette And It’s Pretty Rad http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/chevrolet-finishes-work-1000000th-corvette-pretty-rad/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/chevrolet-finishes-work-1000000th-corvette-pretty-rad/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:31:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159586 Chevrolet finished work restoring its 1,000,000th Corvette after it was damaged in a Kentucky sinkhole that swallowed it — and other Corvettes — at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the automaker announced. The celebratory 1992 Corvette had signatures on every part from auto workers at its Bowling Green, Kentucky plant. The restoration project […]

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Chevrolet finished work restoring its 1,000,000th Corvette after it was damaged in a Kentucky sinkhole that swallowed it — and other Corvettes — at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the automaker announced.

The celebratory 1992 Corvette had signatures on every part from auto workers at its Bowling Green, Kentucky plant. The restoration project included getting those signatures on refurbished parts, and on the two parts that couldn’t be saved, scanning and replicating the signatures.

The entire process took more than four months, and more than 1,200 man-hours to complete, according to Chevrolet. That works out to about two full-time employees working 40 hours a week, but it’s still very cool.

The details get better.

According to the automaker, several of the car’s interior pieces, including its headrests, needed significant work to be restored and were re-dyed to match.

The 1,000,000th banner across its windshield was re-printed using the original file from the first banner.

Other details:

  • Its wheels were damaged but refurbished and replaced with original Goodyear Eagle GS-C tires.
  • Its scuffed and scratched instrument panel wasn’t replaced, but refurbished to preserve signatures underneath it.
  • It’s chassis and powertrain were relatively unscathed from the attack by the earth.

Chevrolet didn’t provide an estimate for the total cost of restoration, or the value of the new car.

It also didn’t provide details about whether the process was documented because that would be instantly more interesting than anything currently running on the History Channel.

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Volkswagen’s CFO Poetsch Will Likely Be Its Next Chairman http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/volkswagens-cfo-poetsch-will-likely-next-chairman/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/volkswagens-cfo-poetsch-will-likely-next-chairman/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 15:50:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159530 Porsche Automobil Holding SE announced Thursday that it would propose its CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch to succeed Berthold Huber as chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board. The proposal was supported by Volkswagen AG. Huber was appointed interim chairman for the German automotive giant after Ferdinand Piech was ousted in a dustup among leadership. The announcement comes only a […]

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Volkswagen Wolfsburg

Porsche Automobil Holding SE announced Thursday that it would propose its CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch to succeed Berthold Huber as chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board. The proposal was supported by Volkswagen AG.

Huber was appointed interim chairman for the German automotive giant after Ferdinand Piech was ousted in a dustup among leadership.

The announcement comes only a few days after Volkswagen said it extended its contract with its current CEO, Martin Winterkorn, for two more years and effectively ending his bid to replace Piech. Winterkorn and Piech publicly feuded over VW’s direction, eventually leading to Piech’s surprise resignation as chairman in April.

As a member of the board of majority shareholder in VW’s parent company, Porsche SE, Piech voted alongside the rest of the board unanimously to approve Poetsch as proposed chairman.

Hans Dieter Poetsch According to Automotive News, Poetsch is a relative insider for VW’s chairman position. As chief financial officer since 2003, Poetsch would be a non-polarizing figure with detailed knowledge of Volkswagen’s day-to-day operations.

Analysts earlier suspected that Winterkorn’s retention may open the door to an outsider to be placed in the chairman’s seat.

Poetsch was appointed CFO at Volkswagen in 2003, after leaving German engineering firm Durr AG, according to the automaker. Poetsch started his automotive career at BMW in 1979, working up to head of group controlling before he left in 1987.

Poetsch could be fully installed as chairman in November, at Volkswagen’s next general meeting.

 

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Tesla’s Model X Will Hit the Streets on September 29, Will Cost $133,000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/teslas-model-x-will-hit-streets-september-29/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/teslas-model-x-will-hit-streets-september-29/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 14:49:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159482 Tesla’s third production model, its Model X crossover, will start arriving to customers who have already ordered the car September 29, the automaker announced. Customers for the crossover, which costs $133,000 to $144,000, began ordering options and colors for their cars that include premium sound and “ludicrous speed” modes. The company announced it would hand […]

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Tesla’s third production model, its Model X crossover, will start arriving to customers who have already ordered the car September 29, the automaker announced.

Customers for the crossover, which costs $133,000 to $144,000, began ordering options and colors for their cars that include premium sound and “ludicrous speed” modes.

The company announced it would hand over its first few cars to new owners at their headquarters in California.

The Model X is the second model of Tesla’s planned expansion of its lineup. Following the Model S sedan, which went on sale in 2012, the Model X will offer a crossover to the electric carmaker’s lineup. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that its Model 3, a lower-cost sedan that could retail around $35,000, would likely start production in two years.

The Model X is a three-row crossover with “falcon” rear doors. After it was announced in 2012, orders for the car quickly flooded in. Last year, Tesla said orders for the car extend well into 2016. Competing automakers such as Audi have already announced competitors to the Model X.

Critics have targeted Tesla’s high-priced electric cars and their applicable state and federal tax credits as impetus for reforming the incentives. Already in California, lawmakers have capped incentives in that state based on household income.

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Maserati May Have Falsified Monthly Sales Before FCA Went Public http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/maserati-may-have-falsified-monthly-sales-before-fca-went-public/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/maserati-may-have-falsified-monthly-sales-before-fca-went-public/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 21:47:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159170 According to a report by Automotive News, Maserati North America may have falsified nearly half their sales in December 2014 and an undisclosed amount for other months through a demonstration car scheme that rewarded dealers for being complicit in the scheme. A lawsuit filed by Recovery Racing, owner of multiple Maserati stores in the northeastern U.S., […]

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According to a report by Automotive News, Maserati North America may have falsified nearly half their sales in December 2014 and an undisclosed amount for other months through a demonstration car scheme that rewarded dealers for being complicit in the scheme.

A lawsuit filed by Recovery Racing, owner of multiple Maserati stores in the northeastern U.S., claims a program aimed at falsely boosting sales numbers financially disadvantaged its business because of its reluctance to participate.

Court documents filed by Recovery Racing state former Maserati North America CEO Peter Grady communicated on Sept. 23, 2014, the details of a Ghibli Performance Bonus that would apply to new 2014 and 2015 Ghibis sold in a specific timeframe.

On Sept. 29, Regional Sales Vice President Rick Fuller demanded via email that dealers “punch” a 2015 Ghibli demonstrator unit, even though those units had not yet been delivered.

A “punched” vehicle is considered sold; when a digital retail delivery report — or RDR card — is filled out and submitted to the distributor. It also marks the vehicle as unavailable for dealer trade. Dealers commonly “punch” demonstrator units, but in small numbers — typically one per model available within a manufacturer’s lineup. Toward the end of a vehicle’s life as a demonstrator, the vehicle is sold as “new” to a customer — usually at a reduced price — and the RDR card is updated with the customer’s information.

A day after the first “punch” request, Fuller sent out another email demanding dealers do the same to their 2014 GranTurismo, GranTurismo Convertible Sport and GranTurismo Convertible MC demonstrator vehicles, threatening that Maserati would eliminate future incentives if dealers didn’t comply.

Maserati claimed a 300-percent increase in sales the following October with 1,367 vehicles sold, the same month FCA went public.

I’ll allow Automotive News to explain the kicker:

In December, Maserati again told dealers to punch vehicles into demonstrator status. On Dec. 31, Fuller forwarded an email indicating that Maserati of Westlake in Thousand Oaks, Calif., had sold 70 Maserati vehicles in December 2014, and Maserati as a whole had sold 743 vehicles that month, according to court documents.

But two days later, Fuller forwarded an email saying that Maserati of Westlake had sold 155 vehicles in that month and Maserati as a whole had sold 1,431 vehicles, according to the documents.

“The purported increase in vehicles allegedly sold by both Maserati of Westlake and Defendant Maserati in December 2014 was due to vehicles punched into demonstrator status and not yet sold to a retail customer,” the complaint said.

Maserati North America and former CEO Peter Grady declined to comment on the report with Automotive News.

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2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – Mix to Match http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-pro-mix-match/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-pro-mix-match/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158394 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 4-liter, DOHC V-6 with variable-valve timing (236 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm; 266 pound-feet @ 4,000 rpm) 5-speed ECT-i automatic 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway (EPA Rating, MPG) 17 mpg combined (observed, 40 percent highway/20 percent city/40 percent off road/100 percent totally bruh!) Tested Options: TRD Performance Air Filter $90; Bed Mat […]

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2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

4-liter, DOHC V-6 with variable-valve timing (236 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm; 266 pound-feet @ 4,000 rpm)

5-speed ECT-i automatic

16 mpg city/21 mpg highway (EPA Rating, MPG)

17 mpg combined (observed, 40 percent highway/20 percent city/40 percent off road/100 percent totally bruh!)

Tested Options: TRD Performance Air Filter $90; Bed Mat $120; Paint Protection Film $395; Security System $469; Front Skid Plate $205.

Base Price:
$38,300*
As Tested Price:
$39,579*

* Prices include $885 destination and handling fee.

Forgive me for getting all emotional here.

The 2015 Toyota Tacoma represents to me the end of the road for the truck I knew so well, complete with a growl more familiar to me than my own father’s voice. Like many mountain-state millennials, the Tacoma seemed for me to be just the right size for a party in the mountains, a last-minute move (or eviction, perhaps), a camping trip or hauling an over-welded pig smoker and cherry picker to a friend’s backyard.

I expected the 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro to be a greatest hits album, replaying the most successful tunes from my young adulthood through its chunky tires and searing orange paint package.

It turned out to be more of a remix.

When I had the chance to drive the all-new 2016 Toyota Tacoma and the 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro back-to-back, I presumed that I’d get misty-eyed and nostalgic for one; geezerly and cynical for another.

In a way, I am. The TRD Pro feels like a rough-and-tumble truck, the kind of burnt orange brick to throttle through your neighbor’s window if they call the cops too many times for loud music. The 2016 Tacoma has a 3.5-liter engine like a Camry for chrissakes.

I just didn’t count on the fact that I grew up.

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Exterior
If you ask me now, I’d take the burnt orange (or Inferno, as Toyota calls it) Tacoma or 4Runner. Ask me in five years and I may have a different opinion, but for now: yup, I’d take one.

The Macho Taco is really just a hyper-sexed version of the Tacoma we already know. The basic truck has gotten larger in the decades since we’ve had the Tacoma/Toyota pickup, but the proportions are still the same. The 5-foot box and double cab configuration has a barrel-chested silhouette, and the truck’s overall length — which is still about 2 feet shorter than a short-bed F-150 — belies its interior space.

2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(4_of_8)Around front, our tester sported the automotive equivalent of a manicured soul patch: a very visible, very silver front skid plate (which, surprisingly, was optional). The skid plate didn’t bother me as much as the blacked-out grille and TRD Pro badges up front, but don’t ask me why.

In all, the styling on the truck makes it look like a bit of a special edition can of Mountain Dew, and that’s what owners are presumably signing up for. Have you seen the nostrils on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon?

Shod with chunky 16-inch A/T BFGs, the Tacoma looks the part. Its Eibach springs, which are TRD tuned and 2 inches taller, and Bilsteins confirm what the tires promise: it’s at home in the dirty stuff.

Interior
I won’t surprise anyone at Toyota for saying that the Tacoma shows its age more on the inside than anywhere else. I can look past the black badges, the hair-on-fire orange or even the silver skid plate, but goodness, that instrument cluster.

Toyota Tacoma GaugesIn reality, the Macho Taco is a very old runner in compression leggings and cross-trainers — it only fools everyone for so long. The chunky climate controls and Spartan interior aren’t exactly what you’d expect from a truck that costs nearly $40,000 and its seating position isn’t much to write home to the folks about either.

But I’m the forgiving type, and I’d rather highlight the Tacoma TRD Pro’s infotainment system, which is actually better than the new generation’s touchscreen. The tactile buttons are better and that’s because I’m an old man, but also because windows down and dust and dirt in, the thing actually works without wiping it off too much.

As found in higher trims of the Tacoma, the 6-speaker audio system is remarkably good for an unbranded unit. (A few years ago, I drove a Tacoma with a flux capacitor-looking subwoofer in the back and that was just the best. I wish we could still get subs like those.)

In back, the double cab’s rear seats sport 32.3 inches of legroom, according to the automaker. It’s enough room for my 6-foot-2-inch lanky frame to fit without changing the driving position much, according to me.

As you would expect from a truck of its age, the Tacoma sports interior materials that you’d likely find on a 1992 Corolla. Its straightforward graphite fabric and plain, hard plastics are less exciting than hold music on the phone with the IRS, but think about the patina of dirt you could grind into those bad boys! See? Every atomic cloud has a silver lining.

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Powertrain
It’s not hyperbole: Firing up the 4-liter V-6 sounds like home to me. The Toyota’s roar and (hollow) growl is easy to deride; its 236 horsepower isn’t exactly pushing the limit. Its real power is in its twist, which it finds higher in the range that you’d expect in a truck, until you realize that very few buyers actually tow with their Tacomas. The replacement engine for 2016 has no material improvement in torque (266 vs. 265) and actually comes on higher in its range (4,000 rpm vs. 4,600 rpm). I suspect our truck’s might was boosted slightly by its performance air filter and TRD exhaust, but only just.

In reality, the base mill is just fine. Sifted through a five-speed automatic with one overdrive gear, the Tacoma could be accused of being eager — but probably not meaty. At altitude (around 10,000 feet), the truck wheezed and huffed, but who needs air conditioning anyway? Takes me back to the old days.

One of the benefits of buying a TRD Pro, of course, is the truck’s electronically locking rear differential, which may get an equal number of “What’s that do?” questions as the “ECT Power” button. The Taco Supreme’s rear locker may be two fewer than a G-Wagon and one less than a Rubicon, but it’s probably one more than most people need.

The TRD Pro’s limited run of 1,500 examples means all the six-speed manuals are long gone, slowly depreciating in Washington garages where the owners will inevitably sell them in five years for whatever they paid for them today. It’s a shame; the manual would have been more fun and should have been more accessible.

The Tacoma’s low-range is easy to find and shift into; a rotary knob near the key is all that stands between you and conquering that rock like a boss.

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Drive
There’s no reason, whatsoever, for the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro to ever find dry pavement. The reasons are two-fold.

First, the Taco Supreme is sublime off road. The faster you run down dirt roads, the better the truck’s mission comes into view. I won’t evoke baja trucks and Toyota off-road racing heritage (supposedly the 2016 truck does that for you), but rather I can say that it works and work very well.

Second, if you do happen to find pavement, keep the chiro on speed dial. The Tacoma TRD Pro’s stiffened spring rate and stiff sidewalls keep the truck harder than a $10 mattress.

2015_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro_(6_of_8)Ditto for the brakes, which stop harder than swearing at the dinner table on Thanksgiving. The pedal is unforgiving and so are my kidneys, which are moving around in my back like a paint shaker.

I have ridden in stiffer trucks before (Ram Power Wagon), but any fantasies of living with a TRD Pro in day-to-day commutes should end right now: it’s not that type of truck.

And that type of unforgiving truck is something I’m OK with. I appreciate automakers holding fast to their concepts, and staying true to their missions. The TRD Pro feels like a Tacoma that won’t give an inch to take an off-road mile.

It’s not the ultimate expression of what an old Tacoma should be, rather it’s the last in a line of Tacomas that are left to appreciate.

In that way it felt like the Jay-Z/Beatles “Grey Album.” That record wasn’t necessarily good (although I liked it) but rather it was good for what it was.

(Interior instrument shot courtesy of Toyota because I can’t shoot interiors apparently.)

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Model X Buyers Can Spec Out Their $100K Cars, Add $10K in Speed, Still Get Rebate http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/model-x-buyers-can-spec-100k-cars-add-10k-speed-still-get-rebate/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/model-x-buyers-can-spec-100k-cars-add-10k-speed-still-get-rebate/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:20:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158082 Prospective buyers of Tesla’s coming Model X SUV can go online Tuesday and pick out their color and options for their cars, which should be arriving at the end of September, Automotive News is reporting. The online configurator popped up Monday night for potential buyers and forum users started posting pictures of their cars online. The pictures are […]

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teaser@2x

Prospective buyers of Tesla’s coming Model X SUV can go online Tuesday and pick out their color and options for their cars, which should be arriving at the end of September, Automotive News is reporting.

The online configurator popped up Monday night for potential buyers and forum users started posting pictures of their cars online. The pictures are the first from the automaker before its official reveal.

The interior pictures detail seating for seven adults and the Model X’s falcon doors that will reportedly sport sensors that keep passengers from getting out hitting the doors on low garages.

20870112889_866fbd89a7_oAccording to the Automotive News report, the Model X Signature series will start at $132,000 and can be configured with Tesla’s “Ludicrous Speed” update that’ll boost performance.

A standard Model X can also get the “Ludicrous Speed” update, but buyers would have to opt first for the performance package and then “Ludicrous Speed” beyond that.

Other features on the Model X include the option to have the car park itself, leather seating, heated and ventilated seats and the ability to return your federal rebate satellite radio.

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(Photos courtesy the automaker and Flickr user tobi_wan_kenobi.)

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2017 Fiat 124 Spider Set for November Reveal in Los Angeles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2017-fiat-124-spider-set-november-reveal-los-angeles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2017-fiat-124-spider-set-november-reveal-los-angeles/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:03:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157914 Those really keen on the Mazda MX-5, but undeterred by reliability and resale issues are in luck. The reborn Fiat 124 Spider, built upon the fourth-generation MX-5, will be revealed in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show as expected, reports The Detroit Bureau. Citing a source within the company, the reborn 124 Spider nameplate will […]

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124 Spider_010

Those really keen on the Mazda MX-5, but undeterred by reliability and resale issues are in luck. The reborn Fiat 124 Spider, built upon the fourth-generation MX-5, will be revealed in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show as expected, reports The Detroit Bureau.

Citing a source within the company, the reborn 124 Spider nameplate will be the home of two flavors — normal and Abarth — with the latter receiving the same 1.75-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine as the Alfa Romeo 4C.

While Sergio Marchionne is openly courting General Motors, the Fiat 124 Spider project with Mazda is about to bear fruit.

The “normal” Spider is expected to be powered by the same 1.4-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine found in the Fiat 500 Turbo and Abarth, 500L, 500X and Jeep Renegade. However, it’s the Abarth version that’s far more interesting.

“Abarth is all about performance, and so I’ve told my team to stop working on colors and trims. Any new version of an Abarth car should deliver some sort of a performance enhancement, otherwise it is useless,” said Fiat COO Alfredo Altavilla.

That performance is expected to come from the aforementioned 4C mill mated to a dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

With the Abarth model, Fiat could beat Mazda to the punch. Rumors of a Mazdaspeed version of the newest Miata have been weak at best.

The Fiat 124 Spider will be the first model from the company to wear the nameplate since production and marketing of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider was assumed by Pininfarina in 1983.

The addition to Fiat’s North American lineup is expected to hit dealer lots sometime during the sunny months next year.

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Peugeot Has This Whole Concept Thing Figured Out http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/peugeot-whole-concept-thing-figured/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/peugeot-whole-concept-thing-figured/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:02:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157954 Peugeot’s geometrically marvelous and electrically powered Fractal concept car will make its way to Frankfurt this year. The 201-horsepower coupe is powered by two electric motors for each axle and has a 280-mile range, according to the automaker. Probably a wholly separate electric sub-station exists for its “9.1.2” surround sound system that sports woofers in the seats to […]

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Peugeot-Fractal-Concept-19

Peugeot’s geometrically marvelous and electrically powered Fractal concept car will make its way to Frankfurt this year.

The 201-horsepower coupe is powered by two electric motors for each axle and has a 280-mile range, according to the automaker. Probably a wholly separate electric sub-station exists for its “9.1.2” surround sound system that sports woofers in the seats to acoustically relay information about what’s ahead like we’re all bats or something.

A heads up driver information system relays information via hologram, according to the automaker, and the rest is just the best.

Perhaps the only thing usable in real life from the Fractal would be the car’s interior production process. According to Peugeot, 80 percent of the car’s interior was 3D printed, which could make its way into mass market production cars eventually as suppliers look to produce more and make less.

Either way, the rest of the automaking world could learn a thing or two from Peugeot: this is how you make a concept car. Stop it with the “crossover concepts” already.

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What If Jeep’s Mid-size Pickup Was a Ram Instead? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/jeeps-mid-size-pickup-ram-instead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/jeeps-mid-size-pickup-ram-instead/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 17:16:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157666 Like an NFL expansion team in Los Angeles, music in the hallways during passing periods, “welfare queens” and the full-time McRib, Jeep’s mid-sized Wrangler-based pickup might be the only thing we ever talk about. Guess which one may happen now? According to Automotive News, the Wrangler-based pickup may make an appearance in 2018-ish, after the […]

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Jeep Wrangler Eliminator

Like an NFL expansion team in Los Angeles, music in the hallways during passing periods, “welfare queens” and the full-time McRib, Jeep’s mid-sized Wrangler-based pickup might be the only thing we ever talk about. Guess which one may happen now?

According to Automotive News, the Wrangler-based pickup may make an appearance in 2018-ish, after the iconic Jeep platform gets is overdue overhaul, moves to an 8-speed automatic (maybe diesel, too) and incorporates more aluminum into its structure.

The General Motors twins prove there’s room in the segment for something not called a Tacoma or Frontier, so a mid-size makes sense — but a seven-slot grille up front may not.

According to the 2014 long-range plan for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ram doesn’t have a mid-size on its radar until beyond 2018, at least, to replace its defunct Dakota. And Ram doesn’t have what it needs right now to make it happen — officially, at least.

“The formula hasn’t changed. The (North American) customer expects four elements in a compact or midsize pickup truck: the right size, right capability, right fuel efficiency and right price. We have yet to find a way to build a truck that meets all four of those criteria,” a Ram spokesman told us.

(Fiat will have a new mid-size pickup in 2016, but we’re more likely to get Elvis back from the dead than that car.)

The minute you start talking about a Wrangler-based pickup, Grandad’s fishing truck comes to mind; an upright-grille, standard cab and probably two-tone red and white paint with flannel-colored interiors. In other words: nothing like what mid-size pickups need to be today to satisfy fuel economy standards and expectations.

Ram has more flexibility with its design language to sculpt a body that makes more sense than a Jeep pickup ever would. Ram is also the caretaker of FCA’s trucks last I checked.

And in the words of Jack Baruth, “You really don’t want a Jeep pickup, you pansy.”

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Report: Toledo Plant Gains a Jeep Pickup, Loses a Cherokee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/report-toledo-plant-gains-jeep-pickup-loses-cherokee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/report-toledo-plant-gains-jeep-pickup-loses-cherokee/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 16:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157850 Automotive News is reporting that Jeep will produce a Wrangler-based pickup at its Toledo, Ohio plant and shift production of its Cherokee to another site. The details were reported by the outlet as part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ ongoing negotiations with the United Auto Workers union. Officials from FCA didn’t comment on the report.  According […]

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Jeep Wranglers Coming Down The Line In Toledo

Automotive News is reporting that Jeep will produce a Wrangler-based pickup at its Toledo, Ohio plant and shift production of its Cherokee to another site.

The details were reported by the outlet as part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ ongoing negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.

Officials from FCA didn’t comment on the report. 

According to the story, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne addressed the plan in vague details.

“We found a solution that accommodates a variety of other interests to us because of the way in which we can move some product around,” Marchionne told Automotive News. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (to know) that the only way I can move around the Wrangler is to move it into the other Toledo plant.”

Union officials said they would have liked to have kept Cherokee production in Ohio, however the plant’s unique supply structure, production requirements and Wrangler sales required Cherokee to move, according to the report.

Production of the Wrangler and its associated pickup could reach up to 350,000 units per year.

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Fields Are Fertile For Now, But Marchionne Has a Long View http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/fields-fertile-now-marchionne-long-view/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/fields-fertile-now-marchionne-long-view/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 15:09:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157570 Farmers are the ultimate craftsman when it comes to small-scale production. The level of management needed to stay competitive and above the high water line is, simply put, astounding. Consolidation in certain areas of agriculture has lead to factory farming, the widespread adoption of automation and genetically modified seeds that keep seed producers competitive. Private […]

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Farmers are the ultimate craftsman when it comes to small-scale production. The level of management needed to stay competitive and above the high water line is, simply put, astounding. Consolidation in certain areas of agriculture has lead to factory farming, the widespread adoption of automation and genetically modified seeds that keep seed producers competitive. Private farmers are constantly at war with the market and their own budgets.

The agriculture industry has wholly transformed itself over the last 100 years. The automotive industry, which has only really existed for that same period of time, has seen similar levels of change. We are now building more cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers, trikes and quadracycles than ever before, just like we are growing more food than we’ve ever seen in human history.

But, there’s one major stumbling block ahead — and Sergio Marchionne sees it.

Marchionne, at this point in his tenure as CEO of one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world, is a farmer with a cliff-side plot of land. He’s also the only farmer in his town with a massive debt bill to pay and no cash on hand to clear the ledger.

The reality of farming is, at the point of sale, the vast majority of consumers couldn’t care less where their produce is grown. On a macro level, produce buyers will purchase strawberries in the middle of winter, even if they are grown in Mexico. Locally, during in-season months, as long as those strawberries are juicy and ripe, produce buyers don’t check the label to figure out where they were grown. Sure, there are those who buy organic, gluten-free options at the grocery store — and they are a statistically significant in their numbers to deserve a whole aisle devoted to their tastes — but the rest of us are completely apathetic.

The same goes for cars.

Car enthusiasts — us folks who write, comment, drive, wrench on, wash and generally love our cars — are one percent of the overall consumer market. The other 99 percent of people are totally agnostic to the efforts of automotive research, engineering, manufacturing and branding, with a few exceptions for those who want to “Buy American!” or some other loyalties of varying degrees. Enthusiasts do buy a very specific type of product, and automakers are more than willing to provide those products to the degree they are demanded on the market, but we still only get a single aisle in a vast dealer lot.

Corn enthusiasts, if there is such a thing, might see the agriculture industry thusly:

“The General Farms corn stays fresh much, much longer than the new American-Italian corn from Marchionne Farms,” a connoisseur of corn might say.

“But, the Marchionne Farms’ Hellcat Corn tastes better,” an equally loyal corn enthusiast might rebuff.

The other 99 percent of corn buyers are, well, not talking about corn. They don’t care where it comes from. They don’t care who made it. They look at the corn in the produce aisles, figure out the best deal for their needs, and buy the corn that makes the most sense — a combination of number of ears of corn and how much it costs. All the while, corn enthusiasts are trying to push their corn consuming friends one way or another. Sometimes they succeed in their suggestions, but not enough to make a real market impact. (See: SKYACTIV Corn.)

Standing at the cliff’s edge of his farm, Marchionne — with a hefty bank note on his mind — has an epiphany: Why am I spending all this money growing different corn than my neighbor? The components of corn — the cob, kernels and the way it’s packaged — are essentially the same. How you dress it up and sell it, that’s the only real difference!

But, it isn’t the sameness of corn — or automobiles — that’s the real issue here.

In probably a distant future, we aren’t going to need corn. We will plug some instructions into a machine, a whirring sound will emanate, and a meal will be replicated for consumption. You won’t need to own the food replicator. Instead, you will pay a fee to use it that’s magnitudes less than the current cost of food. The farm as we know it will be a thing of the past.

Automakers are staring down the barrel of a similar fate.

Google and automakers themselves are developing fully autonomous vehicles to be used by the masses. Their solutions are similar to the food replicator of the future: plug in a destination, a whirring sound will emanate and you’ll arrive at your destination. You won’t need to own the autonomous car of the future. Instead, you will pay a fee to use it that’s magnitudes less than the current cost of personal transportation. The car as we know it will be a thing of the past.

The autonomous car is the ocean lapping against the cliff’s edge, slowly — but with increased intensity — swallowing Marchionne’s farm.

Now, please, don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying that the things we love — cars as we know them today — will be gone next year or even in the next 20 years. There might be a few companies still catering to the enthusiast, offering cars as artisanal luxury good for those of us who enjoy the speed and knowledge needed to pilot just such a machine. But the days of the automobile as a privately owned consumer necessity are numbered. Those who enjoy the act of driving will be the gasoline-fed hipsters of tom0rrow.

Marchionne, I assume, knows this. The day his farm is needed is coming to an end. But not today. Today there’s corn to grow and money to be made, and he’s looking at his neighbor at General Farms that grows the same crop.

Farmer Barra, let’s grind some corn together, shall we?

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2016 Audi Q3 Quattro Review – New-To-You Utility [w/ Video] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2016-audi-q3-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2016-audi-q3-review-video/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155553 2016 Audi Q3 Prestige 2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT (200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm; 207 lbs-ft @ 1,700-5,000 rpm) 6-speed Tiptronic automatic 20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 20.2 mpg (Observed, MPG) Tested Options: Prestige Trim, Quattro AWD, Sport Package Base Price: $34,625* As Tested: $42,175* * Prices include $925 destination charge. Audi’s Q3 isn’t a new vehicle by any stretch. […]

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2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-002

2016 Audi Q3 Prestige

2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT (200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm; 207 lbs-ft @ 1,700-5,000 rpm)

6-speed Tiptronic automatic

20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

20.2 mpg (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Prestige Trim, Quattro AWD, Sport Package

Base Price:
$34,625*
As Tested:

$42,175*

* Prices include $925 destination charge.

Audi’s Q3 isn’t a new vehicle by any stretch. It was first launched in 2011 but didn’t make it to America until the 2015 model year. That’s because the Q3 plays in a segment that’s new to us — the even-smaller compact luxury crossover. This form factor isn’t new to the rest of the world, but until Land Rover brought the Range Rover Evoque to America and BMW followed up with the X1, there wasn’t a real focus on small luxury soft-roaders.

With crossovers being the latest craze and every luxury brand looking to move down-market to capture fresh young buyers, it was only a matter of time till Mercedes and Audi joined the party with the GLA and the Q3. With a “low” $33,700 starting MSRP, the baby Audi is the more practical counterpart to Audi’s sharp-looking A3 sedan. Although CamCord shoppers have to give up a great deal of room to upgrade to the A3, the Q3 has the potential to be a more sensible option.

Exterior
Outside, the Q3 plays the same farm girl card as the majority of the Audi lineup. The wholesome sheetmetal is attractive, but completely devoid of the dramatic styling cues that grace the new GLA. Closer inspection reveals that the headlamps and grille design are different from the 2015 Q5. That’s because the Q3 was one of the first Audis to wear the brand’s latest front end design. The sharper lines, crisper angles and new headlamp design can also be seen on the next generation Q5. The look is fresh and instantly recognizable, but some may call it is so restrained that it is almost boring. 

At 172.6 inches long, the Q3 is nearly a foot shorter than the X3, Q5, NX or XC60. That means the Q3 is aimed squarely at the BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes GLA. Unlike the GLA and X1, the Q3’s side profile screams miniaturized SUV, not jacked up hatchback.

The rear design is 8/10ths Q5 despite being totally unrelated. Unlike most crossovers, the tail lamps are housed solely on the hatch itself. You’d think that this would allow the opening to be larger, but access is somewhat limited much like its bigger brother Q5. Total cargo room suffers more than you would think since Audi decided to give the rear window a more dramatic rake than on its other crossovers.

2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard

Interior
Like the exterior, the interior design is simple almost to the point of being plain. Although the A3 came to the USA before the Q3, the latter houses an older design and that explains why the interior looks more like the rest of the Audi line up, not the minimalist design we see in the A3. Our model didn’t have the optional wood trim ($350) but I recommend it as it helps break up the black-on-black-on-black interior in our model. Also on the must-have list are the optional sport seats that add extending seat bottom cushions. Audi’s usual attention to detail is easily seen in the interior where fit and finish is notably higher than the mass-market Escape, CR-V or Tiguan.

In an unusual move, Audi makes 12-way power front seats standard and equips them with 4-way power lumbar support. This puts front seat adjustability above the GLA, which skimps on passenger seat comfort to keep the price low. Also surprising, leather seating surfaces are standard while most luxury brands have moved to imitation leather as the base material. The optional sport seats are the most comfortable seats in this segment, according to my back, besting the BMW and Mercedes. Helping my marriage out during the week I had the Q3, the passenger seat is just as comfortable (eliminating the complaints I received when I tested the RDX and GLA). Like Audi’s A3, the Q3 lacks driver’s seat memory, an odd omission when you can find that feature on less expensive Kias, not to mention the Range Rover, BMW and Mercedes. Heck, Mercedes even gives the front passenger standard 3 position seat memory.

Thanks to the Q3’s upright profile, the rear seats are surprisingly accommodating. Although combined front and rear legroom figures are lower than the Q5 and the overall vehicle is smaller than the larger Audi, the Q3 was better able to handle a rearward facing child seat behind a front passenger. The difference is down to the shape of the Q3’s dash which allows the right front seat to move farther forward, freeing up more room in the back. Headroom was equally impressive despite the panoramic moonroof. BMW is claiming a hair more room in the 2016 X1 which will mean the Audi and BMW are the best options if you plan on carrying folks in the rear. On the other hand, the GLA has a more cramped rear bench and my head touched the ceiling unless I leaned inboard. When it comes to cargo hauling, the Q3’s hold is 33-percent smaller than the next size crossover and right about the same as your average midsize sedan.

2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-004

Infotainment
The Germans have cornered the market in controller-knob based infotainment systems since BMW first introduced iDrive in 2001. Since then, BMW and Audi have been in a gadget arms race. Taken as a whole, MMI isn’t as intuitive as iDrive with more confusing menus and illogical button placement. While I’m sure you would get used to it over time, even after a week I found myself needing to stare at the array of buttons for way too long to find what I needed. If you have another Audi in the family, the Q3’s MMI button placement will take even more getting used to since they dropped it in the dash, not the center console. On the flip side, this means you’re less likely to spill your drink on your MMI controller.

On the flip side, MMI has probably one of the most advanced feature sets on the market thanks to their well-executed Google integration. While iDrive allows you to search for Google results (as do a number of other systems), MMI takes it a step further and overlays your traditional map images with Google satellite imagery and even allows you to zoom in and view Google Street View images so you can “creep” your neighbors. On the down side, the Google map function requires a $15-$30 a month subscription after the first few years for the built-in cellular modem, and the system has troubles downloading maps fast enough when traveling at freeway speeds, leaving you with a blank screen at times.

Although navigation and the Google Map love is optional, the large LCD and iPod integration are standard, things not found in the 2015 Mercedes GLA. Likely due to the Q3’s standard LCD and upcoming 2016 X1, Mercedes has announced the 2016+ GLA will get a 7-inch LCD standard.

2016 Audi Q3 Engine-001

Drivetrain
Nestled sideways under the hood is one of VW/Audi’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engines. Despite having the latest in direct injection and variable valve timing tech, the engine is a little short on twist. Output comes in at 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. This is essentially the same as the related Volkswagen Tiguan, but notably lower than the X1 (228 hp/258 lb-ft), Evoque (240 hp/250 lb-ft) or the GLA (208 hp/258 lb-ft). This is also lower than the nearly identical 2.0-liter engine in the Q5, which produces 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque in 2015 and 245 hp, 273 lb-ft in the upcoming next generation Q5.

In order to keep costs down, American bound Q3 models ditch Audi’s 7-speed dual clutch for a more traditional 6-speed Tiptronic automatic. This means that in addition to being down on power, the Q5 is short on gears. Although 6-speeds is the norm in the mass-market segment, the GLA has a 7-speed DCT, the X1 uses an 8-speed and the Evoque a 9-speed. While the engine is partly to blame, the lack of gears has a distinct impact on fuel economy and acceleration. Despite being heavier, producing more power, and being faster to 60, the larger Q5 2.0T nets the same EPA combined score of 23 mpg in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive models. That’s behind the 24 mpg rating for the Evoque, 27 mpg for the 2015 X1 and significantly lower than the 29 mpg delivered by the GLA 250. In a week of mixed driving, our Q3 averaged under 21 mpg.

2016 Audi Q3 Instrument Cluster

Drive
Out on the road, the first thing you need to know is that the rear wheel drive 2015 BMW X1 is not long for this world. While you may find them on dealer lots now, between the time I had the Q3 and me writing this review BMW announced the new FWD-based X1 will be arriving in the fall. This means two things. First, if you want a small luxury crossover with tail-happy RWD dynamics, you need to hurry. Second, TTAC hasn’t driven the new X1 so it’s not possible to comment on it in an intelligent fashion, but we can make some educated assumptions.

BMW is making all US-bound X1 models AWD. The logic is likely driving dynamics (like Jaguar with their ill-fated X-Type sedan) and not supposed off-road ability as found in the Land Rover Evoque. That sets the BMW apart from the Audi and Mercedes which both have front-wheel drive. Standard all-wheel drive solves the traction and torque steer problems found in a front driver, but it does little to address the nearly 60/40 weight balance found in most transverse engined vehicles. While the 2016 X1 may be the best balanced in this shoe box sized category, 56/44 (front/rear) is a far cry from BMW’s almost religious dedication to 50/50 weight balanced vehicles. This means that when chucking your 2016 crossover into a corner, the BMW no longer has a neutral handling advantage, and it’s where the strangely wide tires on the Q3 make a surprising difference.

2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-010

BMW shoes the new X1 with 225-width tires, the narrowest in the segment, while the GLA and Evoque start with 235s. Audi starts with 235s on the base model, but the Premium trim and an $800 option on the base model kick the rubber up two sizes to 255/40R18s — two sizes larger than the GLA 45 AMG and three sizes ahead of the X1. While suspension tuning obviously plays a big role in road holding, the Audi starts with more grip and then adds an excellent suspension to boot. Despite the wide 40-series tires, the Q3’s suspension is tuned more compliant than the GLA 250 and lacks the unsettled behavior on broken pavement I noted in the Evoque. While BMW’s FWD models I’ve tested in Europe aren’t as dynamic as their RWD models, they are excellent for front drivers.

Although there is clearly more body roll in the Audi than in the GLA or GLA AMG, the Audi is quite simply more sure footed. Sure, the GLA is lighter at about 3,500lbs vs the Q3’s nearly 3,700, but the 200 pound difference can’t make up for the wider rubber on the Audi. While the 2015 BMW X1 with the M Sport package was the best handling vehicle in this segment by a hair, 2016 transfers the crown to the Q3. (And the difference in 2015 was smaller than X1 buyers would like to admit.)

2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-012

On the downside, the Q3’s heritage does reveal. You see, the Q3 is not based on VW-Audi’s new MQB platform like the current Golf and A3, instead related to the older A3. That shows itself in steering feel. There isn’t any. While the rest of the competition also employs electric power steering, the Q3’s rack is particularly vague, although it is precise and well weighted. Also a problem is the Q3’s acceleration. The Audi’s 0-60 acceleration time clocked in at 7.6 seconds, slower than a Hybrid Camry and about the same as a Honda CR-V. That’s 8/10ths slower than the Evoque, a full second slower than the GLA 250 and 1.3 seconds behind BMW’s claim for the new 2016 X1. That’s before we consider the 2016 Mercedes GLA 45 AMG with its blistering 4.3 second 0-60 sprint thanks to a whopping 375 horsepower.

Although the Q3 is slower and thirstier than the GLA, value, interior accommodations and handling are where the Audi shines. Even though the $33,700 starting price of the Q3 is higher than the 2015 GLA 250 at $31,300, the Audi comes with standard leather seating, dual-zone climate control, xenon headlamps, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and keyless go, backup camera, iPod interface, auto dimming mirror, and HD and SiriusXM radio. All of these are extra on the Mercedes. This makes a comparably equipped GLA $3,000 more than the Audi. The Evoque is the most expensive, running $7,000-10,000 more than the Q3, and the 2016 X1 starts at $34,800 and would crest $37,000 when equipped comparably to a base Q3.

2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-011

The surprising thing about the Q3’s pricing structure is how slowly the pricing builds compared to the other luxury options. This makes the Q3 perhaps the easiest upsell from a Hyundai Tucson or a VW Tiguan. Hyundai’s 2016 Tucson Limited ranges from $29,900-34,900 with equipment levels similar to a $33,700-39,000 Q3 making the bump a reasonable $5,000 or so. That’s much narrower than the distance between the Tuscon and GLA 250, which would end up $6,400-10,000 more when comparably equipped. The Range Rover Evoque? The Baby Rover is by far the premium entry and will set you back $15,000-20,000 more than a comparable Hyundai.

I know it sounds odd to compare an Audi and a Hyundai. In most other segments I would say it’s an inappropriate comparison. However, this crop of “inexpensive” luxury vehicles was designed to attract mainstream brand shoppers, so the comparison makes sense. In this light, the Q3 also makes sense. It’s a much easier up-sell over a mainstream crossover while delivering a luxury brand, luxury interior and the best handling in the segment. The X1 and GLA are faster to 60, the Mercedes is arguably a more premium brand and the Evoque offers a level of customization that higher-end luxury shoppers demand, but none of them is as easy of a cross-shop with the top-end mainstream CUVs. For that value proposition and handling performance the Q3 is my favorite entry in this segment, and it’s a new engine and 7-speed DCT away from perfection. Let’s hope someone at Audi is listening.

Audi provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.85 Seconds

0-60: 7.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16 Seconds @ 89.2 MPH

2016 Audi Q3 Cargo Area 2016 Audi Q3 Cargo Area-001 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-001 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-002 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-003 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-004 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-005 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-006 2016 Audi Q3 Engine 2016 Audi Q3 Engine-001 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-001 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-002 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-003 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-004 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-007 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-008 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-009 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-010 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-011 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-012 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-013 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-014 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-015 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-016 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-017 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-018 2016 Audi Q3 Front Seats 2016 Audi Q3 Grille 2016 Audi Q3 Grille-001 2016 Audi Q3 Headlamps 2016 Audi Q3 HVAC Controls 2016 Audi Q3 Instrument Cluster 2016 Audi Q3 Instrument Cluster-001 2016 Audi Q3 Seat Controls 2016 Audi Q3 Seats 2016 Audi Q3 Seats-001

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Honda Won’t Sell Tiny S660 in America, Because of Course Not http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/honda-wont-sell-tiny-s660-america-course-not/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/honda-wont-sell-tiny-s660-america-course-not/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157082 Honda won’t import its tiny S660 convertible to the United States because we are a nation of giant people who drive giant cars, Automotive News is reporting. John Mendel, executive vice president for Honda, said three weeks ago that the S660 could bring some “spice” to the American Honda lineup, but apparently he looked at […]

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Honda won’t import its tiny S660 convertible to the United States because we are a nation of giant people who drive giant cars, Automotive News is reporting.

John Mendel, executive vice president for Honda, said three weeks ago that the S660 could bring some “spice” to the American Honda lineup, but apparently he looked at a nearby parking lot and changed his mind.

“When the practicalities of the market come in, and the car only so big, that might not be the best car for the U.S. market,” Mendel told Automotive News. “It might be better for India or China or somewhere else.”

Mendel said the “baby NSX” rendering that came out was a “design study” from their R&D labs in California, but stopped short of saying anything further about that car.

According to the report, the long-awaited Civic Type R should arrive in North America next year, which means we won’t have to make do with the Civic Si and exciting redesigned CR-Z as the fastest Hondas money can buy much longer.

Honda is expected to reveal its next-generation Civic at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September.

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Columnist: Consumer Reports ‘Prostituted’ Itself With Tesla Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/columnist-consumer-reports-prostituted-tesla-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/columnist-consumer-reports-prostituted-tesla-review/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:30:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157098 Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins (great name) slammed Consumer Reports for its glowing review and better-than-perfect score for the Tesla Model S P85D, in part, because the $127,000 car still qualifies for a government tax break. “Prostitute is not too strong a word,” he wrote. “… (Consumer Reports) is shilling not only for the […]

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2012 Tesla Model S

Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins (great name) slammed Consumer Reports for its glowing review and better-than-perfect score for the Tesla Model S P85D, in part, because the $127,000 car still qualifies for a government tax break.

“Prostitute is not too strong a word,” he wrote. “… (Consumer Reports) is shilling not only for the car but the government policies that subsidize it.”

Jenkins takes aim at the state and federal tax incentives still available for the vehicle — which are going away in many places — and at the magazine for hyping its review so heavily, and subsequently giving it away for free on its subscription-based website.

Jenkins’ point is re-enforced by the fact that Consumer Reports sent to media an embargoed statement summarizing their review the day before it was published, which is unusual for the consumer magazine.

Included in the statement:

“The P85D represents a glimpse into the future of automotive technology in which cars will be more energy-efficient than ever, while still delivering a terrific blend of performance and practicality,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing in the statement. “The Tesla is a shining example of how higher fuel economy standards can be achieved without sacrificing performance.”

Jenkins aimed at that performance by saying that if Consumer Reports was concerned with energy efficiency, it wouldn’t hype the battery draining “insane” and “ludicrous” speed modes in its review.

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2016 Smart Fortwo Won’t Hit Magic 40 MPG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-smart-fortwo-wont-hit-magic-40-mpg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-smart-fortwo-wont-hit-magic-40-mpg/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 16:04:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1156354 The next-generation Smart Fortwo, expected to go on sale in North America shortly, won’t achieve the magical 40-mpg benchmark in highway driving, reports Car & Driver. Fuel economy for the Mercedes microcar will stay similar to the current generation at 33 mpg city and 39 mpg highway when equipped with the automatic transmission. Manual models will […]

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The next-generation Smart Fortwo, expected to go on sale in North America shortly, won’t achieve the magical 40-mpg benchmark in highway driving, reports Car & Driver.

Fuel economy for the Mercedes microcar will stay similar to the current generation at 33 mpg city and 39 mpg highway when equipped with the automatic transmission. Manual models will get the same highway fuel economy, but give up 1 mpg on the city cycle.

Not all is bad. Performance of the 2016 Smart Fortwo will increase thanks to a 19 horsepower bump in output, from 70 hp to 89 hp. Torque receives a relatively massive increase from 68 lb-ft to 100 lb-ft.

Those looking for increased efficiency will be able to shell out for the Fortwo Electric Drive toward the end of next year, but prepare to spend big bucks for it if the current model is any indication. The base price of the Fortwo ED is $25,000 before federal and local incentives in the U.S.

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BMW Didn’t Receive “Save The Manuals” Christmas Card for MY2016, Retaliates [UPDATE] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/bmw-didnt-receive-save-the-manuals-christmas-card-for-my2016-retaliates/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/bmw-didnt-receive-save-the-manuals-christmas-card-for-my2016-retaliates/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155962 UPDATE: According to commenter krhodes1 and Facebook commenter Michael Smith, the 228i manual (order code 162A) is still available and there is a bug in the configurator. Which reminds me, you should like The Truth About Cars on Facebook. Jalopnik is reporting that a number of BMW models — namely the 228i, 328i, and 428i […]

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UPDATE: According to commenter krhodes1 and Facebook commenter Michael Smith, the 228i manual (order code 162A) is still available and there is a bug in the configurator. Which reminds me, you should like The Truth About Cars on Facebook.

Jalopnik is reporting that a number of BMW models — namely the 228i, 328i, and 428i — have lost their manual options for 2016. BMW’s online configurator for the 2016 model year shows the cars as automatic-only options, effectively making the manual transmission a premium option by forcing manual-loving customers into higher trims.

Does this mean the end of the manual transmission as we know it? Probably not. (Yet.)

The models relieved of their manual transmission options represent the base models in their respective ranges, with the exception of the 320i. The base model 3-Series will still be available with a manual gearbox. Aside from the 320i, the 235i, 340i, and 435i are the new entry models for the row-your-own set.

This should come as no surprise considering more and more BMW customers are opting for the automatic, even those who purchase M cars such as the M3 and M4.

What is surprising is that these models have already been engineered and tested with manual transmissions and BMW is opting not to offer them even though the costs have already been incurred. Automakers typically wait for a generational change before dropping stick shift options, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with BMW.

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Attention Californians: Here’s Your 2016 Toyota Prius http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/attention-californians-heres-your-2016-toyota-prius/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/attention-californians-heres-your-2016-toyota-prius/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:21:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1156298 The next-generation Toyota Prius, set to be revealed on September 8 in Las Vegas, has been caught without camouflage as it sits in what looks to be an aircraft hold. The undisputed hybrid sales leader picks up numerous design cues from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, including its swept-back headlights and triangular fog light […]

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The next-generation Toyota Prius, set to be revealed on September 8 in Las Vegas, has been caught without camouflage as it sits in what looks to be an aircraft hold.

The undisputed hybrid sales leader picks up numerous design cues from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, including its swept-back headlights and triangular fog light pods.

Details on the new Prius are unknown at this point, but expect a more-refined interior, increased battery capacity for up to 35 miles of all-electric driving, and increased efficiency from the drivetrain. Inductive charging remains a possibility. The Prius will also be built atop the Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA).

Last updated in 2011 with a mild refresh, sales of the Toyota Prius have fallen since 2007 and 2008 amidst lower gas prices.

2016-toyota-prius-spotted-in-the-metal-camouflage-is-gone-we-see-many-mirai-features_2

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[Source: Prius Club Malaysia]

 

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VIDEO: Ford GT LM GTE Sounds Like A Four-wheeled Warzone http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/video-ford-gt-lm-gte-sounds-like-a-four-wheeled-warzone/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/video-ford-gt-lm-gte-sounds-like-a-four-wheeled-warzone/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 14:58:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1156250 Ford is out at Sebring testing their newest toy — the Ford GT LM GTE — in preparation for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship. Thankfully, someone was on location and captured a few laps on video. I’d like to personally thank this intrepid track video reporter. The car sounds like a four-wheeled warzone, completely with […]

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Ford is out at Sebring testing their newest toy — the Ford GT LM GTE — in preparation for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship. Thankfully, someone was on location and captured a few laps on video.

I’d like to personally thank this intrepid track video reporter. The car sounds like a four-wheeled warzone, completely with six turbocharged AK-47-esque cylinders.

Ford’s third iteration of the GT will be more track ready than its immediate predecessor. The Blue Oval plans to bring the pain to Ferrari at LeMans next year — and every other possible competitor in the GTE category.

Sitting just ahead of the rear wheels is a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 with the horsepower knob turned up to 600.

Those looking to buy a street-legal version of the Ford GT will have to go through an application process and be accepted by Ford before parting with an estimated $350,000 in exchange for the car.

Maybe Bernie Ecclestone should buy 24 of these engines for Formula 1 next year.

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Suzuki: “I Feel Refreshed” After Win Against Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-i-feel-refreshed-after-win-against-volkswagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-i-feel-refreshed-after-win-against-volkswagen/#comments Sun, 30 Aug 2015 14:22:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1156202 Osamu Suzuki (middle right), chairman of Suzuki Motor Corporation, can finally celebrate his biggest win. After a failed alliance with Volkswagen put Suzuki — the chairman and company — on the back foot for almost four years, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in London has decided in the Japanese company’s […]

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Volkswagen and Suzuki agreed to establish a comprehensive partnership

Osamu Suzuki (middle right), chairman of Suzuki Motor Corporation, can finally celebrate his biggest win. After a failed alliance with Volkswagen put Suzuki — the chairman and company — on the back foot for almost four years, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in London has decided in the Japanese company’s favor. Suzuki will purchase back their own stock from Volkswagen.

Suzuki received news of the ruling Saturday and filed the information with the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Sunday.

“It’s good that a resolution came. I feel refreshed. It’s like clearing a bone stuck in my throat,” said to reporters gathered at a news conference in Tokyo, reports Automotive News. “I’m very satisfied with the resolution. Through it, Suzuki was able to attain its biggest objective.”

In a statement released today, Suzuki Motor Corporation “requested Volkswagen AG to terminate their business and capital alliance through amicable negotiation. However, as VW failed to respond to Suzuki’s request, Suzuki served on 18 November 2011 a notice of termination of the Framework Agreement that was made with VW. Further, on 24 November 2011, based on the parties’ agreement, Suzuki filed a request for arbitration in London, which is the place of arbitration with the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.”

The tribunal found in favor for Suzuki in two areas: a termination of the “Framework Agreement” and Volkswagen’s divestment of shared in Suzuki.

From Suzuki:

The Tribunal found that the Framework Agreement was validly terminated by Suzuki’s notice of termination dated 18 November 2011 mentioned above, such termination being effective from 18 May 2012.

The Tribunal upheld Suzuki’s claim regarding VW’s disposal of its shares in Suzuki and ordered VW to divest forthwith those shares to Suzuki or a third party designated by Suzuki using a method which is reasonably determined by Suzuki.

Volkswagen’s 19.9-percent share in Suzuki will be purchased by the Japanese company through the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

However, Suzuki could still incur financial penalties later, as Volkswagen’s counterclaim of breach of contract was also partially upheld. That claim will be “addressed in a further stage of the arbitration,” stated Suzuki Motor Corporation. According to Volkswagen in a statement, Suzuki “failed to give Volkswagen last-call rights for the delivery of diesel engines. Volkswagen reserves the right to claim damages against Suzuki.”

The official end of the alliance will likely trigger more succession planning for the Japanese auto and motorcycle manufacturer. In June 2015, Osamu Suzuki appointed his eldest son, Toshihiro, to the role of president.

 

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Marchionne: “To Be Perfectly Honest, We’ve All Fucked with the UAW, Right? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/marchionne-to-be-perfectly-honest-weve-all-fucked-with-the-uaw-right/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/marchionne-to-be-perfectly-honest-weve-all-fucked-with-the-uaw-right/#comments Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:15:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155986 Sergio Marchionne seems to be taking a different tactic in this year’s UAW negotiations. Instead of threatening to take product out of North America and send it to China, the head of FCA is playing to the hearts and minds of the union membership, even going so far as to admit all automakers have screwed workers […]

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Sergio Marchionne seems to be taking a different tactic in this year’s UAW negotiations. Instead of threatening to take product out of North America and send it to China, the head of FCA is playing to the hearts and minds of the union membership, even going so far as to admit all automakers have screwed workers in the past.

“To be perfectly honest, we’ve all fucked with the UAW, right? We were threatened by them, so we took all the pickup trucks that we sell — and 90 percent of those pickup trucks are sold in this country, right — we took it away, and then we delocalized them” Marchionne told Automotive News’ Larry P. Vellequette.

Marchionne believes he and UAW President Dennis Williams “share a view about the fact that, in some fashion, to the extent that we are successful in creating wealth out of these car companies, real wealth, then we should be able to distribute that,” he said.

Bringing Mexican pickup production back to the United States would be a massive win for the UAW. Since March 2014, Ram has sold fewer than 30,000 pickups only once (January 2015).

Ram pickups are built at FCA’s Warren Assembly Plant in Michigan and Saltillo Truck Assembly.

“What a wonderful idea, distributing cash when you have it,” Marchionne said.

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Toyota Wants $500 From Canadian Owners To Fix Odometers (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-wants-500-canadian-owners-fix-odometers-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-wants-500-canadian-owners-fix-odometers-video/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155522 Owners of some Toyota cars in Canada say that the Japanese automaker is asking them to foot the bill for replacement odometers due to a glitch that won’t allow the gauges to roll over after 299,999 kilometers, CTV is reporting (via AutoFocus). The glitchy odometers are found in 2003-2008 Toyota Matrix and Corolla models, and […]

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Toyota Odometer Stuck

Owners of some Toyota cars in Canada say that the Japanese automaker is asking them to foot the bill for replacement odometers due to a glitch that won’t allow the gauges to roll over after 299,999 kilometers, CTV is reporting (via AutoFocus).

The glitchy odometers are found in 2003-2008 Toyota Matrix and Corolla models, and some 2004 and 2005 Toyota Prius models.

There are a few videos on YouTube of people expecting to hit 300,000, but they never do.

We reached out to a Toyota spokesman in the U.S. but haven’t heard back. According to the CTV report, Toyota is replacing the odometer but asking owners to pay for the replacement (for now).

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Can Ford Control Ford GT Ownership Through Applications? Lexus Did http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/can-ford-control-ford-gt-ownership-applications-lexus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/can-ford-control-ford-gt-ownership-applications-lexus/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155385 If Ford wants to control sales of its extremely small production of Ford GT and vet its owners, it only needs to look at the Lexus playbook from 2010 to see how. On Thursday, Ford’s Group Vice President for Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer Raj Nair told a group of last-gen Ford GT […]

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If Ford wants to control sales of its extremely small production of Ford GT and vet its owners, it only needs to look at the Lexus playbook from 2010 to see how.

On Thursday, Ford’s Group Vice President for Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer Raj Nair told a group of last-gen Ford GT owners that it would ask potential owners to submit an application through the automaker to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the supercar. Official pricing for the car hasn’t been announced, nor has the criteria for ownership been made public.

Ford said it would only make available 250 cars each year worldwide. There are more than 3,200 dealerships in America alone and more than 7,500 worldwide.

If all this sounds familiar (as in, 500 Lexus LF-A cars at $400,000 for thousands of Toyota dealers) you might be right.

In 2010, Autoblog detailed the extraordinary process that potential LF-A buyers had to go through to qualify to buy the car.

Included was a “lease” option with $60,000 in deposits required before getting the car, $297,000 due upon receipt of the car, and a $93,000 option to buy the car after the 24-month lease expired. The “lease” amount was $12,398.44 per month.

Ford hasn’t announced how much it will sell the Ford GT for, or how it would collect that money, but it appears that every part of the buying process for the supercar will be unique to the Ford GT alone.

In 2005, when the last generation of Ford GTs were sold in America, the first cars were going nearly $100,000 over the MSRP price, as chronicled by the defunct FordGTPrices.com. As production ramped up on that car in 2006, prices eventually normalized to MSRP, but as the former site’s administrator Paul Allen told us, the 4,000+ volume of the last generation car and the 250-per-year production of this car makes it a whole different animal.

In its bulletin to dealers, Ford said it would make available to dealership owners a separate number of cars — available by application as well — for them to buy. Those cars would still come from the 250 produced each year, but a Ford spokesman declined to say how many would be allocated to dealer owners.

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