The Truth About Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 21 Nov 2014 22:40:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Mazda2 Sedan Gives Hints To Next Scion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mazda2-sedan-gives-hints-next-scion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mazda2-sedan-gives-hints-next-scion/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 22:40:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949377 The long-rumored Mazda2-based Scion is a step closer to reality, with Mazda unveiling the sedan version of the Mazda2. With the Scion iM serving as the hatchback in Scion’s new lineup, the next Scion will be a traditional sedan. The unnamed Scion will be built at Mazda’s Mexican factory, and is likely to retain the […]

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The long-rumored Mazda2-based Scion is a step closer to reality, with Mazda unveiling the sedan version of the Mazda2.

With the Scion iM serving as the hatchback in Scion’s new lineup, the next Scion will be a traditional sedan. The unnamed Scion will be built at Mazda’s Mexican factory, and is likely to retain the 1.5L Skyactiv engine for superior fuel economy.

 

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Just Accept It: Autocross Isn’t Racing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/just-accept-autocross-isnt-racing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/just-accept-autocross-isnt-racing/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 22:30:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=939601 Back in 2006, when I started autocrossing my Mazda RX-8 on stock shocks and Dunlop all-seasons, I took great pride in telling all of my friends that I was “going racing” each weekend. They would look at me in awe, and say, “You race cars?” “I sure do,” I would reply, and I then I […]

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Back in 2006, when I started autocrossing my Mazda RX-8 on stock shocks and Dunlop all-seasons, I took great pride in telling all of my friends that I was “going racing” each weekend. They would look at me in awe, and say, “You race cars?”

“I sure do,” I would reply, and I then I would show them pictures of my car, resplendent with number and class magnets. I usually neglected to mention that I never got out of second gear during these “races,” or that I typically drove faster on the way to the event than I actually did at the event. Nor did I mention that these “races” tended to occur in parking lots, and that most of my competitors were dorky, middle-aged men with social anxiety disorder who wore funny hats and jorts.

No, I let them have their image in their mind of me as a modern-day James Hunt, a fast-living, hard-drinking rebel who carelessly risked his life every weekend in the name of glory and passion. What’s worse, however, is that I started to believe some of my own fiction. I really thought I was racing.

Frankly, I was never all that great at autocross—I trophied at several national tour events and pro solos, but I was never a contender to win a national title. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it immensely…or at least, I thought I did. No, actually, that’s not true at all. I hated it.

Here’s why: National-level Autocross can best be summed up this way—you spend incredible sums of money and drive thousands of miles to spend six minutes driving your car at relatively low speeds around a parking lot. The rest of your day is spent standing out in the middle of the parking lot and picking up cones that other drivers knock over. If you win, you probably had a good day. If you didn’t, you’ve got to drive those same thousands of miles home replaying your runs over and over in your head, wondering where you lost that two tenths of a second. However, you’ve got a pretty good shot at winning because there are 236 different classes.

Of course, this is a simplified and not entirely honest description. The speeds, while low, do seem very fast when you’re inside the car. The driving does require very precise inputs and footwork, and I have great respect for those who do it well.

The SCCA National Solo circuit is full of really good people. They compete in earnest, and they are mostly supportive of their competitors. They hardly ever cheat, and even when they give lifetime bans to competitors for cheating, they don’t really mean it. One gets the feeling that they are largely the kind of people who were slightly socially awkward in high school, but they have now found a group of a couple of thousand kindred souls who find solace and joy in tinkering around with cars and shaving thousandths of seconds off their course times.

I don’t mean to rob any of them of their joy in what they do, but every time I see a Facebook status update from an autocrosser saying, “I’m going racing in the morning!” I have to seriously restrain myself from saying, “No, you aren’t!”

Autocrossers love to talk about how much skill and car control is involved in their hobby, and how they see more turns than an F1 driver does, and how the course is different every time. I can’t dispute any of those points.

However, it isn’t racing.

Wheel-to-wheel racing requires every skill that autocross does, and sometimes exponentially so. In addition to those skills, a racer must learn how to drive in traffic, how to execute a pass, how to drive the course when his preferred line isn’t available, how to avoid a spinning car in the middle of the track, and how to drive at speeds that are more than double the fastest speed any autocrosser will ever experience. But that’s the least of his worries.

He must conquer fear.

Autocrossers don’t have walls to deal with. They don’t have multiple car crashes. They don’t have to worry about totaling a perfectly good car. They don’t have to worry about injury or death. They simply put on their open face helmets and drive. And that’s why it’s not racing.

Every time I frantically strap myself into a car during a driver change of an enduro race, I wonder: Is this the last time I will do this? Even if I drive perfectly, will another driver take my life in his hands today? Even though we’ve checked the brakes and tires compulsively, what if one of them fails and sends me hurtling toward a steel barrier? What if, God forbid, I endanger another man’s life with my mistake?

I keep waiting for that fear to subside. It never does. And I don’t think it ever will.

I could see myself autocrossing again for fun someday. The SCCA has re-classed the Boss 302 into the class where it should have been all along, F Street. But, if somebody asks me what I’m doing that weekend, I will say, “I’m going autocrossing.”

This article originally appeared at www.barkm.com

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Dispatches do Brasil: How I Killed the Sports Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dispatches-brasil-killed-sports-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dispatches-brasil-killed-sports-car/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:13:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949249 Reading here on TTAC that a BMW executive declared the sports car dead was a sad day for me. Yes, I am one of those who bemoan the passing of beautiful, personal cars like those, whether or not sprinkled with the fairy dust of power. I’m not talking Ferrari here, I’m talking simpler things, like an Opel […]

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Reading here on TTAC that a BMW executive declared the sports car dead was a sad day for me. Yes, I am one of those who bemoan the passing of beautiful, personal cars like those, whether or not sprinkled with the fairy dust of power. I’m not talking Ferrari here, I’m talking simpler things, like an Opel Tigra, or a Ford Puma, maybe even an old VW Karmann Ghia or a fiberglass, old Beetle motivated, Brazilian Puma GT. Cars like those allowed their everyday owners, with common pocketbooks, to dream of performance and a more enchanted life, in spite of sometime ordinary engines, as their designs were always something else.

Reflecting on the implications of the assertion I remembered that day. That day I had my favorite mainstream-make, exotic–inspired, common-hardware-bundled-up-in-a-an-affordable-package car all to myself. And thinking on that drive made me realize I’m partially responsible for this CUV-dominated, ignonimous state of affairs. You see, instead of living out my playboy fantasies, I decided to live out a fantasy of another kind, more country if you will, and bought a Ford Ranger. My 2-year experience with that ill-handling brute can best be resumed thus: So happy the day I bought it, happier still the day it was gone.

The year 2000, recently divorced, I decided that my new marital status deserved something more fun than the competent, but staid, Fiat Siena. I was no longer a family man, I didn’t need 5 seats, and neither a trunk. So I started looking into other things. It was a good time to buy cars like these. Due to the sudden freeing of importations in the early 90s, there was an abundance of different used cars available, things that up until then were uncommon here. Basically I started looking into jeeps and sports cars. I test drove a Daihatsu Feroza, a Suzuki Sidekick, found them all lacking. That off-road type vehicle search led me to pickups and I thought the Dodge Dakota would look fine in my garage, though eventually I chose the Ranger for better ride and more commodious cabin.

At the same time, I looked into two-seater cars. I test drove an Opel Calibra, a beast of a car, but an interior so pedestrian as to be off putting. Drove quite of few of the Japanese, too, but really, none inspired me except the Mazda Miata and MX3. However, the fact that all the small Japanese makes were getting their butts kicked in the market and falling like flies made me wary. Also, I was looking for something fun, but not desperate and oh-my-big-winged like a Mitsubishi Eclipse or a Hyundai Tiburon.

Finally, one day, I saw it. A Fiat Coupé. I was aware of it, of course, keenly aware as it drew my eyes like no other. But the thing was so expensive when it was brand new, it had slipped my radar. Now a 1996 model was going for the same price of a 1998 Ranger. Buyable indeed. Serendipity struck and I got a call from a friend.

He had decided to sell his green Coupé. It had very low mileage as it was basically his weekend car. Better yet, he was going off to Rio to work for the day and he would let me keep his car all day provided I took him to the airport at the crack of dawn and picked him up on his return at night. Of course!

There it was. Looking for all the world like a small Ferrari, the quality of the design oozed from every angle. The front was aggressive, but not overly so, and the head lights, encased in that plastic shroud, called all eyes. The high intensity projectors were something new here and at night you knew it was a Coupé coming just from the beam of light it projected. The hood was long as befits a sports car, the roof low, but no way claustrophobic, in fact sight lines were quite good for that kind of car, especially to the front and side. Backing up did require care and a prayer to be sure.

The wheel wells are the coolest I have ever seen. Cut like a knife, it as chiseled and suggested power. The wheels themselves made a nice composition with those lines. The back, of course, wow, those round lights! That and their positioning, immediately put me in mind of a Ferrari. Not only me of course, the car was known worldwide as Fiat’s mini-Ferrari. All the way, it was quite grownup, no hint of a wing or an extraneous line anywhere.

Inside, oh my gosh! Difficult to describe the beauty. The external color-coded-metallic-finished stripe on the dash immediately drew the eyes. Quite unusual and striking. The gauges lit up in a deep red, suggesting performance, and the idiot lights were aligned in a tastefully set up strip below the gauges. The steering wheel was the only deception inside. Common to other cars in the Fiat line, it only distinguished itself by being bound in leather. The seats were big and a perfect balance between comfort and support. As the name Coupé suggested, the car was a 2+2, and in the back, a couple of bags could be fit or two children. Not that I cared much, but the trunk held 310 liters, about the same as a Ford Focus hatch of today.

Of course, the famous Pininfarina logo emblazoned that dash. At the time I believed the car was his work, though later research showed that the famous Italian design house “only” did the interior. The exterior had been penned by Fiat’s in-house Centro de Stilo, that was at the time commanded by a talented American, none other than the famous Chris Bangle of BMW fame.

So, I dropped my friend off at the airport and hit the road. I decided to take the famously curvy BR-262 highway. Known as the road of death, there is a stretch further out into the country that has literally hundreds of curves in the less than 50 kilometers of road. I wouldn’t have time to venture out that far. Starting from Belo Horizonte, I decided to go to Itabira. In that stretch of road there is the famous Curva do Sabão (soap curve), near Caeté, a curve that was designed wrong and due to the inclination, tends to throw you car off into the wrong direction.

Getting there I explored the breadth of the engine. Though later Euro versions used more powerful and turbo equipped engines, the Brazilian version used the same 137 hp, 2.0, 16v of Fiat’s own Tipo Sedicivalvole. Putting out the same horsepower as in the Tipo, in the Coupé the engine was reworked as to noise. It was amazing, and no 4 cylinder engine has the right to sound so good. The noises made will be forever in my head. I remembered reading in Brazilian magazine at the time that the Coupé made the 0-62 mph dash in a hair over 10 seconds and got close to 205 km/h at top speed. Due to the heavy traffic and limits of the road, I couldn’t get near those limits.

However, I didn’t really care. I was enjoying too much the curves and trucks along the way. Powerful enough to provide strong bursts of speeds, getting around the trucks, buses and other slow moving cars was a simple as dropping a gear and stepping on it. The precise steering and handling guaranteed that it was a point it and it’ll get there affair. The suspension was a work of art. It soaked up the imperfections nicely and never got unsettled. Disc brakes all around guaranteed the necessary stepping power.

The car’s behavior was provided by an all independent suspension. McPherson struts were used up front and in the back there were longitudinally-mounted oscillating arms. The back never threatened to break out no matter how fast, at least on this road and in the hands of this driver. The Coupé made short work of the infamous curve mentioned previously and I went back on forth on this stretch of road maybe 20 times. It was clearly overkill the setup Fiat used. I can only imagine how the most powerful Coupé must have been. The figures were breathtaking and the top Euro turbo Coupé used a 2.0, 20v, 5 cylinder engine, good for 223 horses. Imagine greater indeed.

As I headed back into the city, crossing it, finding the car pliable enough for city driving as well, I pondered on what to do. The car tugged on me like no other. Beautifully designed, comfortable, it had an unmatchable and undeniable presence, especially in this country. However, only about 1,300 had been imported into Brazil, possibly making maintenance a problem (though that proved untrue as mechanically it was similar to the much more successful Tipo). Also, I had just asked to be transferred back from Brasília to Belo Horizonte and moving could be a problem in that car. If I bought a Ranger, I could do it myself as I would only be taking clothes, books and such…

Besides, this one was green. Had it been blue or red, or better yet, yellow (the most striking color for it in my evaluation) I would not have resisted, I think.

Thankfully such cars as the Mini Cooper, Fiat Cincuecento Abarth, Volkswagen Beetle R, BMW M3 still exist and serve and enthusiast well. However, they are the opposite of what a Coupé was. The modern cars take an extraordinary engine and drop it into a common car. The Coupé and others like it did the opposite, they took an ordinary engine and installed it into an unusual car. Works much better for me.

Alas, the world moves on and there seems to be no place for cars like that (being PSA with the Peugeot RCZ and Citroën DS3 and Mazda with the Miata, exceptions) anymore. They live on in the memories of guys like me who saw them there, in the flesh, and lusted for them. We can only hope they make a comeback.

Excuse me now as I have to go. Let me hop into my Renault Duster and go pick up my kid.

 

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NHTSA, USDOT Demand National Recall Action From Takata, Automakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949217 While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity […]

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While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity zone previously established in an earlier recall.

The NHTSA also issued a General Order to the airbag supplier and 10 automakers — BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota — requiring all to submit documents regarding “completed, ongoing or planned testing” of the supplier’s inflators outside of the current recall zone, with the goal of having all involved come correct with the agency and the American public about what they all plan to do about the airbags. Takata alone received a Special Order, regarding the propellent used in its airbags.

Responses to both orders are due by December 5.

Three of the 10 automakers involved with the General Order — Ford, GM and Honda — may likely have the hardest time replacing Takata completely. Per Bloomberg, the trio worked closely with the supplier to develop special features for their vehicles — Ford’s Adaptive Steering system, GM’s front center airbags — features that would take a while to work out with a new supplier if a deeper relationship were to take hold.

Meanwhile, only 6 percent of the 8 million vehicles equipped with Takata’s airbags have been repaired thus far, a rate critics of the supplier and its client base find appalling. The pace isn’t likely to quicken, however; Toyota says it would take a year at minimum to test and replace its units with those from other suppliers, while Nissan said doing the same for itself wasn’t feasible.

Returning to the Beltway, Reuters reports Takata had presented documents to the NHTSA linked to a 2009 accident involving its airbags, only for the agency to decline, as it had closed its investigation on the supplier and Honda, whose vehicle was involved in said accident. The NHTSA informed the news agency that the documents “would not have added to the agency’s understanding of the issues involved in that particular investigation.”

Speaking of Honda, senior executive Rick Schostek admitted before Congress that his company failed to notify the NHTSA or its customer base about the issues with Takata’s airbags, promising to offer consumers a loaner if their affected vehicles are repaired quickly due to supply shortages. As for Takata’s Hiroshi Shimizu, Automotive News says he went on the defensive, going so far as to claim that it was “hard” for him to “answer yes or no” to several questions asked by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, much to the dismay and bemusement of the committee members.

Prior to the call for a nationwide recall, the regional-specific actions, as well as the NHTSA’s order to consumers to have their airbags replaced immediately, contributed to public anxiety over whether or not the airbag before them would disfigure or kill in an accident. According to Bloomberg, Takata itself believes a national recall would only further exacerbate those fears, potentially diverting resources “from where they’re needed, putting lives at risk.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Monclova, Mexico facility where the defective units were assembled had issues from the moment it opened its doors in 2000. Aside from the units made in 2001, 2002 and 2012, an explosion in 2006 — one some workers claim was fueled by the same ammonium nitrate used in Takata’s airbags as a propellent — jump-started a production run where quality slipped against hourly quotas. Whether the top brass knew of the problems, however, is a different story, as it never sent permanent staff to Mexico from its headquarters in Japan.

Over in Germany, BMW is working with the supplier to have its airbags made closer to home in Freiberg, transferring production from Mexico. The move only applies to BMW, who expects additional production to come online by mid-December. Alternative arrangements would take two years and “divert attention from current recall efforts,” per the automaker.

Finally, U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Stephanie Erdman gave her testimony before Congress, detailing what had happened to her when a vehicle turned in front of her 2002 Honda Civic in September 2013. According to The Detroit News, the resulting injuries and ongoing surgeries led to a lawsuit against Honda, whose certified dealership in Destin, Fla. failed to notify Erdman of the February 2010 driver’s side airbag recall or what would happen if the airbag deployed in the wrong conditions, nor did the dealership replace the unit in question. She also feared that once the spotlight subsides on Takata et al, the problems would still be there, and urged Congress to continue to hold all accountable for their actions.

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De Nysschen: $250K Cadillac Flagship Ready By 2029 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/de-nysschen-250k-cadillac-flagship-ready-2029/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/de-nysschen-250k-cadillac-flagship-ready-2029/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949177 The upcoming Cadillac CT6 may be the premium brand’s flagship for now, but president Johan de Nysschen has a grander flagship in mind for the next decade. Reuters reports the future flagship would likely arrive in 2029 with a price of $250,000, bringing Cadillac up to par against the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley. This […]

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Cadillac President de Nysschen poses with the Cadillac ATS-V during the model's world debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles

The upcoming Cadillac CT6 may be the premium brand’s flagship for now, but president Johan de Nysschen has a grander flagship in mind for the next decade.

Reuters reports the future flagship would likely arrive in 2029 with a price of $250,000, bringing Cadillac up to par against the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley. This would supercede not only the CT6, but a planned range-topping flagship due to arrive by 2020 per de Nysschen’s roadmap for his brand.

In the meantime, the CT6 is expected to be priced “in the 70s,” just above the current XTS. De Nysschen is also eyeing a vehicle below the ATS that would go up against the Mercedes-Benz CLA, as well as pondering additional crossovers to lend aid to the SRX, citing the Germans’ wide array of crossovers for inspiration.

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Grand Cherokee, Durango Going Grayscale Until February 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949153 Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months. Automotive News reports […]

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-004

Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months.

Automotive News reports the grayscale look will be in until at least next February due to upgrades at Chrysler Group’s Jefferson North Assembly’s paint shop in Detroit. The upgrades would allow the shop to paint vehicles with more complex colors than it could prior to the changeover.

The changeover, which follows those at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ subsidary’s Warren Truck and Sterling Heights facilities, will also shut production down for three weeks beginning December 22, the first time the plant has been shut down for that long in several years.

Until then, shoppers can comb through the lot to find a red or maximum steel SUV of their dreams: around 19 percent of 24,500 unsold 2015 Grand Cherokees and 8 percent of 719 unsold Dodge Durangos come in colors outside of the grayscale range.

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Versa Still Rules Roost As Fit Sales Reach 42-Month High In October http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/versa-still-rules-roost-fit-sales-reach-42-month-high-october/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/versa-still-rules-roost-fit-sales-reach-42-month-high-october/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:21:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=947057 American Honda reported the Fit’s best October ever last month. At 6851 U.S. sales, Fit volume was up 83% year-over-year to the highest total since April 2011, when Fit sales shot up 73% to 8116. The new Fit, the third version of Honda’s sub-Civic car for North America has certainly been well-received early on in […]

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Honda Fit EXLAmerican Honda reported the Fit’s best October ever last month. At 6851 U.S. sales, Fit volume was up 83% year-over-year to the highest total since April 2011, when Fit sales shot up 73% to 8116.

The new Fit, the third version of Honda’s sub-Civic car for North America has certainly been well-received early on in its tenure. With Honda sales rising to the highest October level ever and a new Mexican-built version of the brand’s least costly car finally readily available, seeing the Fit rise to new heights was not an unexpected occurrence.

It’s no E-Type on the outside, but the Fit’s purposeful design pays dividends inside for owners and even passengers. It is in some ways a mini-MPV with a very monobox shape. It’s not conventional, but its flexibility makes it strangely desirable as a result. Honda’s share of the subcompact category grew to 17.8% in October 2014, up from 10.8% a year ago and 10.6% in calendar year 2013 as a whole. It’s worth noting, as well, that the Fit is available only as a hatchback, while the four other members of the subcompact category’s October top five are sold as hatchbacks and sedans.

It’s also worth noting that the category continues to be controlled in large part by the cheap-and-roomy Nissan Versa, sales of which improved 29% in October 2014 to 11,097 units, 28.8% of the segment’s total.

With a higher price tag and fewer build options, it’s hard to see the Fit unseating the Versa any time soon, even on a semi-long-term basis.

Added competition may pose the greater danger to the Fit over the next few years, however. And we don’t mean competition from more subcompact hatchbacks. While Nissan Canada has seen Versa sales tumble 43% over the last three months as the Micra slotted in below and stole sales (and added many more), Honda will challenge their own Fit and Civic with the new HR-V, set to be displayed in detail at the Los Angeles auto show this week.

It’s a long-running theme. America’s new vehicle market is expanding at a 5.5% clip in 2014, and while subcompact sales shot up 11.5% in the month of October, specifically, subcompact volume is up just 3.4% this year. That outpaces the overall passenger car market, which is up just 1.2%. But combined sales of the Buick Encore, Mini Countryman and Paceman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, and Subaru XV Crosstrek are up 28.2% to a combined 181,370 units. Sure, as a group they’re not as popular as subcompact cars – they’re certainly more costly, too. Yet their growth does represent a real turning of the tide.

Nissan Versa NoteBack in the here and now, Detroit subcompacts, in the form of the Chevrolet Sonic and Ford Fiesta, have earned 31% market share in 2014. Sales of the Hyundai Accent rose 34% to 4839 in October and are up 5% this year; Kia Rio volume was down 12% both in October and through the first ten months. Combined Prius C/Yaris sales are down 19% in Toyota showrooms in 2014. Mazda 2 sales have increased 34% in advance of the next 2’s arrival, but October volume plunged 38% to just 457 units.

Meanwhile, America’s four top-selling compacts – Corolla, Civic, Cruze, Focus – combine to outsell the whole subcompact category by more than two-to-one.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Accuracy Issues Real Reason For Free Hydrogen For FCV Owners http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/accuracy-issues-real-reason-free-hydrogen-fcv-owners/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/accuracy-issues-real-reason-free-hydrogen-fcv-owners/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949129 Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell owners will be able to refuel their new FCVs for free for three years, but only because it’s hard to put a price on hydrogen. According to Autoblog, a seminar held at the Mirai launch regarding hydrogen revealed the fueling stations currently in place in the United States […]

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Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell owners will be able to refuel their new FCVs for free for three years, but only because it’s hard to put a price on hydrogen.

According to Autoblog, a seminar held at the Mirai launch regarding hydrogen revealed the fueling stations currently in place in the United States aren’t able to accurately measure how much hydrogen is pumped into a given vehicle. Without that accuracy, no FCV owner can be charged for the fuel, a problem the California Air Resources Board is working to fix. Deputy Executive Officer Alberto Ayala explains:

If you think about it, it’s a real simple yet real practical challenge. If you’re going to pay for X amount of hydrogen, you’re actually getting that amount of hydrogen… We are at a point where we are solving multiple remaining questions [with hydrogen infrastructure], and that just happens to be one of them.

National Fuel Cell Research Center director Scott Samuelsen adds that this was once the issue with gasoline, with agencies like California’s Department of Food and Agriculture and Department of Weights and Measures setting standards for fuel pumps, then routinely inspecting said pumps to ensure they remained accurate. Once “the right meter” to measure hydrogen is in place, the new consumer fuel source would fall in line.

A solution to this problem is expected to arrive within a year’s time at the latest.

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Obama Nominates Rosekind To Top NHTSA Post http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/obama-nominates-rosekind-top-nhtsa-post/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/obama-nominates-rosekind-top-nhtsa-post/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949105 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may have finally found its new administrator. Autoblog reports President Barack Obama nominated National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind to the agency’s top post. Rosekind served on the NTSB for four years, where he focused on accident investigations, impaired driving and fatigue concerns. He also directed NASA’s Fatigue […]

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may have finally found its new administrator.

Autoblog reports President Barack Obama nominated National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind to the agency’s top post. Rosekind served on the NTSB for four years, where he focused on accident investigations, impaired driving and fatigue concerns. He also directed NASA’s Fatigue Countermeasures Program, and headed the space agency’s aviation operations branch in flight management and human factors division.

Rosekind would replace deputy administrator David Friedman, whose 10-month tenure has been fraught with accountability issues regarding the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall, as well as the ongoing Takata airbag recall crisis.

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Arizona AG Files $3B Lawsuit Against GM Over Ignition Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/arizona-ag-files-3b-lawsuit-gm-ignition-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/arizona-ag-files-3b-lawsuit-gm-ignition-recall/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949089 Going its own way, Arizona has filed a $3 billion lawsuit against General Motors over the February 2014 ignition switch recall. The New York Times reports Arizona attorney general Thomas C. Horne threw down the lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the automaker defrauded the state’s consumers through advertising, public statements and its website. In so doing, Horne […]

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Recalled GM ignition switch

Going its own way, Arizona has filed a $3 billion lawsuit against General Motors over the February 2014 ignition switch recall.

The New York Times reports Arizona attorney general Thomas C. Horne threw down the lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the automaker defrauded the state’s consumers through advertising, public statements and its website. In so doing, Horne and Arizona are going it alone, breaking off from a group of 48 states pursuing a multi-state investigation into the recall; Arizona was on the executive committee of said investigation:

We’re proceeding with our own suit because it’s the best way to protect the citizens of Arizona. General Motors represented that it was taking care of the safety of its cars, and in fact there were serious defects that it did not disclose to the public for years.

The suit also asserts some of GM’s senior execs — including CEO Mary Barra — knew of the defects at the same time as those below their status. Arizona is fining the automaker $10,000 per vehicle found in violation of state statutes, totalling $3 billion for 300,000 units.

For its part, GM vows to fight the suit, proclaiming it “misrepresents the facts” behind the performance of its vehicles, as well as its commitment to the safety of its customer base.

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Los Angeles 2014: 2016 Acura ILX Fully Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-acura-ilx-fully-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-acura-ilx-fully-revealed/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:30:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948753 To the soothing strains of The Sex Pistols, Acura fully revealed the second-gen ILX at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show [UPDATE - 12:05 p.m. Pacific, 11/20/2014: Live photos now available - CA]. The entry-level luxury sedan’s powertrain is a standard 2.4-liter four sending 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed dual-clutch […]

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2016 Acura ILX

To the soothing strains of The Sex Pistols, Acura fully revealed the second-gen ILX at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show [UPDATE - 12:05 p.m. Pacific, 11/20/2014: Live photos now available - CA].

The entry-level luxury sedan’s powertrain is a standard 2.4-liter four sending 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission — with torque converter for smooth launches to the office park — to the front. A retuned suspension and added sound-deadening help keep things quiet and stable.

Trim levels are also doubled for the 2016 model, with six to select from the catalog. Additionally, one can select the A-SPEC package — which can be combined with the Premium and Technology packages for maximum luxury — to bestow upon the ILX a trunk spoiler, front fog lights, 18-inch alloys, red instrument illumination et al.

Technology-wise, ILX shoppers can use the sedan’s AcuraLink nav system to connect their smartphone to the car for mapping out the best routes to Applebee’s, while AcuraWatch keeps all safe with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, lane departure and collision mitigation.

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Los Angeles 2014: Next Chevrolet Volt Partially Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-next-chevrolet-volt-partially-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-next-chevrolet-volt-partially-revealed/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:13:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948697 You’ll have to wait until Detroit to see the Full Monty. So far, we know that the Volt will have a larger 1.5L engine and an electric drive unit weighing 100 lbs less than the current one. No word on range figures or whether the price will come down.

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Chevy-Volt-Teaser

You’ll have to wait until Detroit to see the Full Monty.

So far, we know that the Volt will have a larger 1.5L engine and an electric drive unit weighing 100 lbs less than the current one. No word on range figures or whether the price will come down.

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Los Angeles 2014: Scion iMatrix http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-scion-imatrix/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-scion-imatrix/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:58:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948617 If you needed another reason why Toyota decided to kill off the Matrix, here it is. The Scion iM, based on the European Toyota Auris, is basically the same thing as the Matrix, but developed by Toyota’s European arm. Hatchback buyers now have yet another choice in the segment, and according to Ronnie Schreiber, we […]

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If you needed another reason why Toyota decided to kill off the Matrix, here it is.

The Scion iM, based on the European Toyota Auris, is basically the same thing as the Matrix, but developed by Toyota’s European arm. Hatchback buyers now have yet another choice in the segment, and according to Ronnie Schreiber, we all stand to benefit.

 

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Los Angeles 2014: A Modest Proposal For Volkswagen Of America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-modest-proposal-volkswagen-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-modest-proposal-volkswagen-america/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:37:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948545 Despite teasing us with the Volkswagen Golf R station wagon, it’s pretty clear that we aren’t going to get it in North America. A standard Golf R costs a hair under $37,000, and nobody is going to pay that much for the wagon version (and before you protest, remember that 3 people on the internet […]

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Despite teasing us with the Volkswagen Golf R station wagon, it’s pretty clear that we aren’t going to get it in North America. A standard Golf R costs a hair under $37,000, and nobody is going to pay that much for the wagon version (and before you protest, remember that 3 people on the internet does not make a business case for a new vehicle line). But maybe VW of America can meet us half way.

Back in 2006, Volkswagen offered a Jetta 2.0T, with the engine and suspension from the GLI, but without the body kit, big wheels, red brake calipers and tartan seats. I was fortunate enough to drive one during my college years, and found it a nice compromise between the boy racer GLI and the bog standard 2.5L Jetta.

Maybe we can get a Golf wagon 2.0T? Take the GTI’s engine and chassis tuning, but leave out the AWD, the big wheels and all the other expensive stuff that will lead to a bloated price tag and excess inventory (ahem, Golf R32).

 

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Los Angeles 2014: Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Packs Diesel Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-chevrolet-colorado-zr2-packs-diesel-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-chevrolet-colorado-zr2-packs-diesel-power/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:20:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948489 The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is officially a concept car, but the 2.8L Duramax diesel I4 is coming to showrooms within a year. Putting out 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, the diesel will be a first for the mid-size pickup segment. The ZR2 is four inches wider, and features front and rear skid plates, […]

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The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is officially a concept car, but the 2.8L Duramax diesel I4 is coming to showrooms within a year.

Putting out 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, the diesel will be a first for the mid-size pickup segment. The ZR2 is four inches wider, and features front and rear skid plates, King coil-over shocks and locking rear differentials. For now, customers will have to make do with a less extreme Z71 package.

 

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Coast to Coast 2014: New Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-new-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-new-mexico/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:40:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948473 The Dodge Dart is the hero in town in Albuquerque NM * You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! * After detailing the history and highlights of the Old Route 66 from Oklahoma to New Mexico, we now pause in New Mexico to analyse the vehicle landscape in Albuquerque and Gallup. This, a special feature on ethnic […]

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1. Dodge Dart Albuquerque 2The Dodge Dart is the hero in town in Albuquerque NM

You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

After detailing the history and highlights of the Old Route 66 from Oklahoma to New Mexico, we now pause in New Mexico to analyse the vehicle landscape in Albuquerque and Gallup. This, a special feature on ethnic car buyers’ preferences and state-wide sales data below.

2. Ford F-250 GallupFord F-250 in Gallup NM

First a bit of trivia about New Mexico: this state is the 5th most extensive (121,589 sq mi or 315,194 km2), the 36th most populous (2.1 million inhabitants) and the 6th least densely populated of the 50 United States. Inhabited by indigenous peoples of the Americas for centuries before European exploration, New Mexico then belonged to the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain, then part of Mexico, a U.S. territory before finally becoming the 47th state in 1912. During World War II, the first atomic bombs were designed and manufactured at Los Alamos NM.

3. Ford F-150 GallupFord F-150 in Gallup NM

New Mexico is often mistakenly believed to have borrowed its name from the nation of Mexico. This couldn’t be further from actual facts: New Mexico was originally given its name in 1563 by Spanish explorers who believed the area contained wealthy Indian cultures similar to those of the Mexica (Aztec) Empire. It was only centuries later in 1821 that Mexico, formerly known as New Spain, adopted its name after winning independence from Spain. Interestingly, the two developed as neighbouring Spanish speaking communities, with relatively independent histories.

4. Chevy GallupVintage Chevrolet in Gallup NM

Population-wise, among U.S. states New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanics (47%), including descendants of Spanish colonists and more recent Latin American immigrants. We will see a little further that this has an impact on new car sales in the state. It also has the second-highest percentage of Native Americans after Alaska, and the fourth-highest total number of Native Americans after California, Oklahoma, and Arizona – notably Navajo, Apache and Pueblo tribes.

7. New Mexico License plateNew Mexico licence plate

As a result, New Mexico’s culture is unique in the United States for its strong Hispanic and Native-American influences, both of which translated into the state flag: the red and gold colours are inspired from the flag of Spain, while the ancient sun symbol comes from the Zia, a Pueblo-related tribe. Last bit of trivia more closely related to my Coast to Coast Photo Report: we have now driven 4.000 miles since departure from New York City… That’s it for the trivia, now let’s get into the car landscape in the state, with a focus on its largest city Albuquerque as well as Gallup, further down the Old Route 66.

5. Albert AlbuquerqueMy Ram 1500 ecoDiesel Albert in Albuquerque NM

The best-selling models in New Mexico over the Full Year 2013 were as follows:

Pos Model 2013
1 Ford F-150 4,757
2 Chevrolet Silverado 3,601
3 Ram Pickup 3,368
4 GMC Sierra 2,214
5 Ford F-250 Super Duty 1,837

Source: JATO

8. Ram Pickup AlbuquerqueRam Pickup in Albuquerque NM

These figures make New Mexico the second state only so far along my Coast to Coast trip to crown 5 pickup trucks as its Top 5 most popular vehicles, after Oklahoma. Again this can be attributed to the relative rurality of the state but is still a remarkable achievement. At some stages during our crossing of New Mexico in remote areas towards the border with Arizona, up to 60% of all vehicles in circulation were pickup trucks. In Albuquerque, the Ford F-250 lifts its game to almost come as high in popularity as the F-150 as it has sometimes been the case in a few towns so far in this trip. In Gallup NM, the Chevy Silverado seems even stronger than usual and the Ram Pickup’s most popular variant is the Tradesman base model like the one I have been driving (Albert), and this for the first time in this Coast to Coast adventure.

5. Ford Econovan AlbuquerqueFord Econovan in Albuquerque NM

Onto real-life observations in the busy streets of Albuquerque and Gallup. The age of cars is stuck at a much older level than I have been used to during this crossing of the nation, only difference is in New Mexico a lot of these vintage items reach levels of cool unheard of before. Cue 1970s Ford Econovan, 1980s Ford F-150, and a plethora of souped up older generations Dodge Ram Pickups and Chevy Silverados. They say New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment, I say it’s the Land of Car Coolness.

6. Hyundai Elantra AlbuquerqueHyundai Elantra in front of the legendary Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque NM

In a fascinating turn and in complete contrast to the Top 5 best-sellers state-wise, the most striking element of the car landscape in Albuquerque is the strength of smaller passenger cars, both in numbers and diversity, to a level that I had not seen since Washington DC. I will advance a very simple reason for this phenomenon:  the high ratio of students in town, which houses the University of New Mexico. I saw the first two Fiat 500L of this entire trip in this city, as well as very healthy numbers of Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, Versa, Kia Soul, Toyota Corolla and VW Jetta.

8. Albert New MexicoAlbert on the New Mexico state line

But 3 passenger cars stand out even more, and on top of them a complete surprise: the Dodge Dart. A failure since its botched “manual only” launch 2.5 years ago, the Dart has struggled to break into the 50 most popular vehicles in the country. In Albuquerque however, it is as common as the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, up there among its competitors in its segment. This is also supported by a very strong heritage of Dodge Neon which was the predecessor to the Dart, discontinued in 2005. So we have an Albuquerque community clearly fond of compact Dodge sedans here, which is an extremely rare feat!

15. Dodge Dart AlbuquerqueMercury Sable and Dodge Dart in Albuquerque NM

Decades of precise vehicle landscape observation in hundreds of cities around the world have given me a solid experience at estimating the best-sellers based on their frequency in traffic, and I rarely get it very wrong. I would see the Dart snapping up a spot in the overall Top 10 Albuquerque best-sellers, at least for a few months since launch. I was not able to confirm nor infirm this observation with hard figures, and if in fact the Dart is at its best in the USA in Albuquerque, this is the most well-kept secret in US car sales statistics as both Melloy Dodge and Larry H. Miller, the two Dodge dealerships in town, repeatedly refused to comment on this (positive) anomaly. Bizarre. If one town has unlocked the Dart’s sales potential, I’d have assumed they’d show off about it. I’m still making the Dodge Dart the Hero in Town in Albuquerque.

9. Toyota Tacoma AlbuquerqueToyota Tacoma in Albuquerque NM

The second passenger car standing out in town is the Chevrolet Impala, and although it is notorious that a large part of Impala sales are to fleets and rentals, Albuquerque is among the towns I have visited so far where it is the most popular, and being neither the most touristic nor the more corporate town of them all, a boost from ‘real’ private sales has to be in order. The third one is a new entrant in my long list of successful cars in various states, regions and cities along this Coast to Coast trip: the Ford Fiesta sedan. Very discreet up until now, a whole herd of them is bustling through the streets of Albuquerque as I write these lines. Here again a perfect student car which could explain its popularity in town.

14. Fiat 500L New MexicoFiat 500L in Albuquerque NM

These last 3 models were the most striking standouts compared to their national ranking, but a large majority of passenger cars are Japanese, with Toyota, Nissan and Honda the most common. I have already covered the fact that as we get closer to the border with Mexico where it is #1 overall with a world-best 26% market share, Nissan’s popularity rockets up. This is also true in New Mexico and Albuquerque, and a recent study of new car sales to ethnic buyers by IHS Automotive confirms it all.

Most ethnic brands - USABrands with the highest rate of ethnic buyers (Source IHS via Autonews)

According to IHS, new vehicle consumption among ethnic consumers, defined as African-American, Asian and Hispanic buyers, is up 8% year-on-year over the first 6 months of 2014 vs. 4% for the overall industry, with Hispanic consumption up an even more impressive 10%, in effect lifting the overall US car market up. Ethnic population growing faster than the national average, this is a very important trend in the U.S. new vehicle market as the share of ethnic buyers in the overall market is bound to become more and more prominent. The side-effect of this is manufacturers doing well with ethnic buyers have great chances to see their national market share outperform the market in the next decade. There should be a red flag here for the Detroit Big 3 as ethnic buyer patterns show a strong preference for foreign brands – albeit most of the cars they purchase still being made in the U.S.

13. Nissan Versa AlbuquerqueNissan Versa in Albuquerque NM. Nissan buyers are 36% ethnic, the highest of any brand.

Unsurprisingly based on our observations during this Coast to Coast trip so far, Nissan is the brand with the highest share of ethnic buyers in America at 36%, followed by Mitsubishi (35%), Toyota (33%) and Honda (31%) while Dodge is the only American brand in the Top 13 brands with the highest rate of ethnic buyers in 5th place with 30%. Could this partly explain the tremendous success of the Dodge Dart in Albuquerque? Notice the exceptional strength of premium marques such as Lexus, BMW both at 29% of ethnic buyers, Mercedes at 28%, Acura at 28% and Maserati at 27%.

Top 10 brands to Ethnic buyersBrands with the highest volumes to ethnic buyers (Source IHS via Autonews)

In terms of market share, Toyota holds almost 18% of the 1.6 million new vehicles ethnic consumers have bought over the first 6 months of 2014 vs. 12.2% share of the overall national market, followed by Honda at 12.2% vs. 8.1% and Nissan at 11.1% vs. 7.9%, Chevrolet at a timid 4th place with 8.6% share vs. 12.6% nationally, while Ford is at an even more unimpressive 8.4% share, that’s almost half the market share it has with the entire American population at 15%.

This is it for New Mexico, next stop is Monument Valley at the border of Arizona and Utah, so stay tuned!

Many thanks to David Curry for the photos in this report.

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a car sales statistics website and consultancy: BestSellingCars which just celebrated its 4th anniversary.

10. Chevrolet Silverado AlbuquerqueChevrolet Silverado in Albuquerque NM

11. Toyota Prius AlbuquerqueToyota Prius in front of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque NM

12. Ford F-150 AlbuquerqueFord F-150 in Albuquerque NM

16. Ford F-250 AlbuquerqueFord F-250 in Albuquerque NM

17. Albert Nissan Versa Note GallupAlbert and Nissan Versa Note in Gallup NM

Chevrolet Silverado Albuquerque 2Chevrolet Silverado in Albuquerque NM

Toyota Corolla AlbuquerqueToyota Corolla in Albuquerque NM

Chevrolet Impala New MexicoChevrolet Impala in Albuquerque NM

Albuquerque street 3Street scene in Albuquerque NM

Hummer AlbuquerqueHummer in Albuquerque NM

Albuquerque street 1Street scene in Albuquerque NM

Nissan Sentra GallupNissan Sentra in Gallup NM

Albuquerque street 2Street scene in Albuquerque NM

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Nissan Quest U.S. Sales Reach 45-Month Low In October 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nissan-quest-u-s-sales-reach-45-month-low-october-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nissan-quest-u-s-sales-reach-45-month-low-october-2014/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:03:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946689 October 2014 was the lowest-volume U.S. sales month for the latest, fourth-generation Nissan Quest since the van debuted nearly four years ago in January 2011. Minivan sales in America slid 2% in October 2014 but have risen 5% this year. Quest volume plunged 54% in October. Quest sales are down 23% this year. No minivan […]

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Nissan Quest sales chartOctober 2014 was the lowest-volume U.S. sales month for the latest, fourth-generation Nissan Quest since the van debuted nearly four years ago in January 2011.

Minivan sales in America slid 2% in October 2014 but have risen 5% this year. Quest volume plunged 54% in October. Quest sales are down 23% this year. No minivan sold less often than the Quest in October, not even the cancelled Mazda 5.

Year-to-date, the Quest leads the Kia Sedona by a slim margin of 633 units, but that figure will swiftly flip: the Sedona outsold the Quest by 2006 units in October thanks to the arrival of an all-new third-gen model.

Historically, Nissan has sold Quests in much greater numbers, but it’s never been a pillar of the minivan movement. When 46,430 Quests were sold in calendar year 2004, that represented just 4.2% of total minivan sales. (It’s unlikely Nissan will even sell 10,000 in 2014.) The Quest’s market share during the first ten months of 2014: 1.8%.

It’s too early to say Nissan USA has given up on the Quest. There is a MY2015 variant. Indeed, that 2015 model accounts for 38% of the current stock listed on Cars.com. But this isn’t a product you’ll find in large numbers in Nissan showrooms across America.

North of the border, in the much stronger minivan market that is Canada, the Quest was first moved to special order status and has since been removed from the company’s consumer website. It’s not even mentioned in the company’s 2015 product plans.

2014 Nissan Quest grey rearThe numbers? In the U.S. in October 2014, only 370 Quests were sold, down from 812 in October 2013 and 395 in September of this year. Nissan has reached four digits with the Quest only three times this year after averaging 1073 monthly Quest sales in 2013, 1523/month in 2012, and 1131/month in the latter 83% of 2011.

The vast majority of automakers would truly struggle to break into this category. The fact that Nissan’s been a long-time player seems to make little difference, perhaps because of the avant-garde styling of the last two iterations. Even during a month in which sales of the fifth-ranked van (Sedona) jumped 251% to 2376 units, the top four owned a staggering 92% of the segment, with Chrysler and Dodge grabbing slightly more than half of all minivan sales.

The fourth-gen Quest has flopped, and now it’s being kicked while it’s flat on the mat. Is it the looks; the difficult task of balancing low demand with the need to increase supply if greater volume is to be generated; the simple fact that it’s not a Grand Caravan, Town & Country, Sienna, or Odyssey; or something else altogether?

It’s not as though the overall Nissan brand is struggling to conquer greater swathes of the U.S. market. Few brands with mainstream appeal are growing faster.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Pontiac LeMans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1988-pontiac-lemans-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1988-pontiac-lemans-2/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946817 Back when I saw this red ’88 LeMans at a California wrecking yard last year, I figured that would be the last Pontiac-badged Daewoo LeMans I’d ever see in a self-service wrecking yard. After all, these things sold poorly, were built like crap, and mostly lasted about five years before being stuffed into the nearest […]

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09 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBack when I saw this red ’88 LeMans at a California wrecking yard last year, I figured that would be the last Pontiac-badged Daewoo LeMans I’d ever see in a self-service wrecking yard. After all, these things sold poorly, were built like crap, and mostly lasted about five years before being stuffed into the nearest car shredder. But no, here’s another example that I saw in Denver a couple of weeks ago.
17 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis won-pinching Korean managed over 150,000 miles before expiring, which is pretty impressive.
06 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s no ’64 Catalina, that’s for sure.
16 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStripes!
10 - 1988 Pontiac LeMans Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere can’t be many of these hubcaps left in the universe.

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Los Angeles 2014: Lexus LF-C2 Concept Unmasked http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-lexus-lf-c2-concept-unmasked/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-lexus-lf-c2-concept-unmasked/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 01:10:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948401 Not everything that glitters is gold, that shooting stars — like Lexus — can break the mold one time too many. This golden concept, the LF-C2, serves as both a harbinger of design cues for the Japanese premium brand, and the foundation for a grand-touring convertible to replace the aging IS C. The concept rides […]

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Not everything that glitters is gold, that shooting stars — like Lexus — can break the mold one time too many.

This golden concept, the LF-C2, serves as both a harbinger of design cues for the Japanese premium brand, and the foundation for a grand-touring convertible to replace the aging IS C. The concept rides upon the bones of the RC 350, with a width of 72.4 inches; the former’s length is slightly longer at 185.6 inches.

If the business case is there — convertible sales are falling in the United States, after all — the 2+2 LF-C2 could become an RC convertible, with power derived from the RC 350’s 3.5-liter V6.

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Los Angeles 2014: Toyota Prius C, V Revised http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-toyota-prius-c-v-revised/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-toyota-prius-c-v-revised/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 00:30:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948233 For 2015, the Toyota Prius c and V models both receive slight revisements to their respective styles and beyond. The larger V has three new color options available for the curious: Attitude Black Metallic (not related to Catherine Wheel’s reggae smash hit with a similar name), Absolutely Red and Toasted Walnut Pearl. New LED and […]

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For 2015, the Toyota Prius c and V models both receive slight revisements to their respective styles and beyond.

The larger V has three new color options available for the curious: Attitude Black Metallic (not related to Catherine Wheel’s reggae smash hit with a similar name), Absolutely Red and Toasted Walnut Pearl. New LED and fog lighting illuminate the road ahead, while the eight-way adjustable power seating keeps the driver comfortable, and the V’s advanced tech system — including adaptive cruise control and pre-collision — keep all safe.

The c, meanwhile, receives its own trio of shades — Electric Lime Metallic, Tangerine Splash Pearl and Sparkling Sea Metallic — piano black and chrome accents inside and out, height-adjustable driver’s seat, and 60/40 fold-down rear seating.

Price of admission for the V falls $75 to $27,500 on the ground floor, while the upper end climbs $540 to $31,760. No price was available for the c as of this writing.

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Los Angeles 2014: 2016 Mazda CX-5 Unmasked http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-mazda-cx-5-unmasked/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-mazda-cx-5-unmasked/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 00:05:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948169 Completing the Mazda trifecta of the all-new CX-3 and refreshed Mazda6 comes the revised CX-5. The 2016 update gives the crossover a face updated for the times, LED accents, 19-inch wheels, and nine colors from which to paint your world. As for the interior, higher-quality materials, improved NVH and seating, and more places to store […]

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Completing the Mazda trifecta of the all-new CX-3 and refreshed Mazda6 comes the revised CX-5.

The 2016 update gives the crossover a face updated for the times, LED accents, 19-inch wheels, and nine colors from which to paint your world. As for the interior, higher-quality materials, improved NVH and seating, and more places to store all the things are now available, as well as an electronic parking brake to keep things in place.

Under the hood, two engines deliver the power to the front or all four wheels: a 2-liter four-pot, and a 2.5-liter variant that is expected to save the driver from spending more at the pump than necessary.

Finally, the cyborgs in your life can enjoy the automaker’s Mazda Connect infotainment system, as well as the i-Activsense safety suite, which makes driving a little easier with features like radar-based cruise control and smart braking.

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Los Angeles 2014: 2016 Mazda6 Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-mazda6-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-mazda6-revealed/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 23:50:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948121 Meet the new boss, almost the same as the old boss. Refreshed for the 2016 model year, the Mazda6 has a revised smile, LED headlamps, and nine colors from which to choose. Meanwhile, the inside provides the driver with a first-ever-for-the-brand electric parking brake, minimized gaps between interior panels, and a 10 percent reduction in […]

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Meet the new boss, almost the same as the old boss.

Refreshed for the 2016 model year, the Mazda6 has a revised smile, LED headlamps, and nine colors from which to choose. Meanwhile, the inside provides the driver with a first-ever-for-the-brand electric parking brake, minimized gaps between interior panels, and a 10 percent reduction in NVH levels on rougher roads, 25 percent on properly paved highways.

Motivation is reduced to one engine: the 2.5-liter four-pot capable of moving 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque to the front. Six-speed auto and manual transmissions make the connection possible.

Tech goodies include the Mazda Connect infotainment system and the automaker’s i-Activsense safety suite, which has features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and smart braking.

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Los Angeles 2014: Porsche Panamera Exclusive Series Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-porsche-panamera-exclusive-series-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-porsche-panamera-exclusive-series-debuts/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 23:10:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948041 In the market for a new Panamera, yet fear it may be a tad pedestrian? Porsche’s got you covered. For just $264,895 to start — approximately the same base price for the Rolls-Royce Ghost — one can purchase the Panamera Exclusive Series, based upon the Turbo S Executive. Each of the 100 limited-edition models possess […]

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In the market for a new Panamera, yet fear it may be a tad pedestrian? Porsche’s got you covered.

For just $264,895 to start — approximately the same base price for the Rolls-Royce Ghost — one can purchase the Panamera Exclusive Series, based upon the Turbo S Executive.

Each of the 100 limited-edition models possess a 4.8-liter turbocharged V8 upfront that will send 570 horses with 590 lb-ft of overboosted torque to all four corners. The sedans also receive a hand-painted two-tone suit, 20-inch wheels, multi-toned Italian leather, and a newly developed entertainment system — dubbed plus — to keep your friends entertained. The more jet-set crew can enjoy made-to-measure luggage, as well.

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Los Angeles 2014: BMW X5 M, X6 M Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-bmw-x5-m-x6-m-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-bmw-x5-m-x6-m-revealed/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:50:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=947953 Forget DMX: BMW is giving it to you times two, with the unveiling of its M-enhanced X5 and X6 crossovers. Both Xs boast a 4.4-liter V8 with twin-scroll turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and BMW’s Valvetronic airflow-regulation system. The end result: 567 horses and 553 lb-ft of torque pushed through all four corners via an M-tuned […]

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Forget DMX: BMW is giving it to you times two, with the unveiling of its M-enhanced X5 and X6 crossovers.

Both Xs boast a 4.4-liter V8 with twin-scroll turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and BMW’s Valvetronic airflow-regulation system. The end result: 567 horses and 553 lb-ft of torque pushed through all four corners via an M-tuned eight-speed auto, moving the crossovers from naught to 60 in 4 seconds.

The X5 M and X6 M receive the usual M-specific treatments throughout, while also saving the driver’s wallet at the pump, delivering a 20 percent boost in fuel efficiency per the European cycle; EPA cycle figures will come soon enough.

That said, the wallet will feel pain: $100,000 base for the X5 M, $103,000 for the base X6 M. Both crossovers will arrive in U.S. showrooms next spring.

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Los Angeles 2014: Mercedes-Maybach S600 Bows http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-mercedes-maybach-s600-bows/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-mercedes-maybach-s600-bows/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:30:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=947873 Jay Z, Kanye, meet your new Otis. Mercedes-Benz unveiled the first vehicle from the Mercedes-Maybach lineup, dubbed the S600. The ultra-exclusive, ultra-premium sedan receives power from a twin-turbo 6-liter V12, punching 523 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque to the back as it speeds the S600 from nil to 62 mph in five seconds, topping […]

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Jay Z, Kanye, meet your new Otis.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the first vehicle from the Mercedes-Maybach lineup, dubbed the S600. The ultra-exclusive, ultra-premium sedan receives power from a twin-turbo 6-liter V12, punching 523 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque to the back as it speeds the S600 from nil to 62 mph in five seconds, topping out at 155 mph.

Performance aside, the sedan offers CEOs and dictators alike more rear headroom and 6.3 inches of legroom due to its lengthened wheelbase. The power barons of the world can also enjoy an onboard bar with a pair of silver champagne flutes, reclining seats with calf supports, fold-out tables with leather inserts et al.

The first U.S.-bound Mercedes-Maybachs are expected in showrooms by April 2015 at the earliest.

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