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By on January 16, 2017

2018 Lexus LS

The next-generation Lexus LS flagship’s top-to-bottom revamp took some fans by surprise when it was revealed ahead of the Detroit auto show. Not only did it do away with a formal roofline, a V8 engine — which has powered the model since its inception — was no where to be found, replaced by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.

It appeared as if convention wasn’t the only thing Lexus planned to ditch, as a hybrid model was neither announced, nor teased. As it turns out, Lexus did tease an upcoming hybrid variant — we just needed to look closer. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

mazda skyactiv

While it wasn’t the only car company to make use of a rotary engine, it was certainly the only one to be competitive with them when pistons and pushrods would easily have sufficed. However, those days are gone. Mazda’s SkyActiv technology is well suited for squeezing out an engine’s true potential, but it doesn’t feel particularly quirky or unique.

That could change with the company’s second generation of SkyActiv engines. Mazda is one of only two automakers planning to introduce a motor with homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) sometime next year. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s a direct-injection gasoline-powered motor that uses compression, not spark, to ignite fuel — something typically reserved for diesel powerplants. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

traffic gridlock

A great philosopher once said that you can’t start a fire without a spark, followed by something about rhythmic movements in unlit spaces.

Well, if there’s a war brewing against autonomous technology and self-driving vehicles, the flashpoint might have occurred in New York — City and State — last week. A large trade group and labor union joined forces in denouncing the driverless scourge headed their way, with one of the groups angling for a 50-year-ban on the automotive heathens. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

ford logoAbout a month after Ford began deliveries of the 2013 Escape, it suddenly recalled every single unit equipped with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine. A faulty fuel line in the engine compartment posed a fire risk so bad that Ford actually urged people not to drive their cars until the necessary repairs had been carried out.

However, the 1.6 liter Ford Kugas sold in South Africa — essentially renamed world-market Escapes — never received the same sort of attention. Almost 50 Kugas have spontaneously combusted so far, leading to one fatality, and the Blue Oval is just now issuing a “voluntary” recall.

Anyone recall the 1970s Ford Pinto? Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

BMW X Models

Mercedes-Benz and BMW have more in common than just a bitter rivalry and the Fatherland — they both feel the need to get more crossover vehicles into North America.

Despite being known largely for their rich heritage of premium sedans and coupes, Bavaria’s Motoren Werke and Daimler’s Three-Pointed Star want to see utility vehicles replacing more of the cars they ship to the United States.

Last year, crossovers and SUVs comprised 42 percent of BMW’s sales in North America — an almost ten percent increase from 2015. Mercedes-Benz also saw an increase in truck sales. Sport utility vehicles now account for 47 percent of its passenger vehicle volume. However, both companies are anticipating a balanced ratio right around the corner.  Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

gmmansteptitle

General Motors loves to poke at its competitors, especially when it comes to trucks. We’re all familiar with its recent barrage of ads attacking Ford for using aluminum in the F-150’s bed, but another ad from 2009 may be coming back to bite them.

The ad in question made fun of a new feature that extended a step and handle from the tailgate of the F-150. Chevrolet didn’t have anything similar at the time, so it decided instead to make an ad mocking the step and making it seem like a feature for unmanly weaklings. Chevy resurrected a similar feature in the bumpers of some trucks a few years later, though a recent set of patents shows the automaker is almost replicating the step they ridiculed eight years ago. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

BMW Manufacturing plant

After being warned against producing vehicles in Mexico, German automakers are not scrambling to re-think their production plans.

In an interview with the German publication Bild, President-elect Trump issued a now-familiar warning to the country’s manufacturers — essentially, any vehicles imported into the U.S. from Mexico will face a 35 percent tax.

The Germans, for the most part, aren’t buying it. Meanwhile, the country’s economy minister saw Trump’s remarks as an opportunity to engage in some not-so-friendly automotive ribbing. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

FCA_Chrysler_-_Brampton_Assembly_Plant-118lv9otvitl46gf2onfsp57uvch1

(Update: The initial story detailing new Canadian auto incentives was published on January 12. It has been updated to reflect new information.)

Canada’s new government-funded incentive program for automakers isn’t as generous as initially reported.

Last week, the federal government made changes to the Automotive Innovation Fund to allow car manufacturers, parts suppliers and R&D companies access to conditional grants that do not require repayment. Unfortunately, a communications slip-up at the country’s Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development made the pile of cash a whole lot taller than intended. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

2016 Honda Civic Sedan - Image: Honda

The first Honda Civic made its way to the United States during the Nixon administration. Honda began building Civics in the United States in 1986. Two years later, Honda of Canada Manufacturing began Civic production, as well.

In 2016, with an assembly plant in Greensburg, Indiana, and Alliston, Ontario, Honda is building more than 38,000 Civics per month in North America.

Yet seven years after Honda discontinued the Civic in its Japanese home market, Civic production is returning to Japan.

Civic sales resume in Japan this summer, and some of those Japanese-built Civics, Automotive News reports, might make their way to America. Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

At the 2015 Palm Beach Auction, driver Herb – on his birthday – got to drive “Herbie” across the block. Image: Barrett-Jackson

This week, the deep-pocketed guys and girls of the car collecting world will descend upon the state of Arizona for the annual collector car auctions. From the televised glitz of Barrett-Jackson to the white-gloved stratosphere of RM Sotheby’s, there is something on the docket to fit everyone’s taste.

For years, I’d watch the events on television or follow the sale prices online with a certain amount of apoplexy. “They paid how much? For that?!?” I’d routinely fume, reliably waking my spouse and buying myself yet another night in the guest room.

A couple of years ago, though, I had a minor revelation.

Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

1983 Lincoln Continental Valentino Header Panel, Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

My supply of reader-submitted Piston Slap queries is running low! So in the coming weeks, please help re-fill the coffers. Just about anything goes! (Purchase queries go to Ask Bark.)

Email [email protected]com lest I spend the rest of my days updating everyone on my passion project, a Fox-body 1983 Continental Valentino restomod.

While you brainstorm your questions, let’s discuss headlight upgrades — because there’s a right and wrong way!  Read More >

By on January 15, 2017

tesla model-s-rear

Tesla pricing is about as predictable as the winning lottery numbers. This year it added numerous surprise fees onto its supercharging network and rearranged the pricing structure for its Model S sedan more times than I can remember. Most recently, the company increased the price of its base Model S 60 from $66,000 to $68,000 with an $8,500 software update that unlocks the battery’s full potential — since the 60 is just a 75 that has been digitally neutered and rebadged.

In some instances, almost 30 percent of the value of the vehicle can be unlocked through in-car purchases. There are all manner of software-upgradable items but keeping up with their pricing is nearly impossible, especially when Tesla doesn’t actively announce those changes.   Read More >

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