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By on February 23, 2017

2017 Honda CR-V Touring Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Timothy Cain

We’re all supposed to enjoy, or endure, an Alfa Romeo ownership experience at some point in our lives.

The 2017 Honda CR-V is diametrically opposed to everything the Alfa Romeo SZ stands for.

You’re supposed to drive a car that reveals its character through its flaws, as if a shifter that only slots into third at 2,755 rpm is somehow symbolic of soul.

The 2017 Honda CR-V doesn’t shift. At all.

You’re supposed to tell a great breakdown story that involves a leafy Vermont village, a greedy mechanic, and a 48-hour wait for a repair that resulted in the best drive ever with an ex-girlfriend who severed your relationship the next day.

Not a single word of that could possibly apply to a 2017 Honda CR-V.

You’re an enthusiast, you have taste, you’re vulnerable. We get it. But maybe you should just drive a Honda CR-V and accept the fact that boring, or dull, or soulless cars can be wonderfully effective ways of transporting one’s family.

I’m not thrilled by the realization. But I’m impressed by the all-new, fifth-generation Honda CR-V. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Carlos Ghosn (Image: Nissan)

Carlos Ghosn, the aggressive figurehead who brought a nosediving Nissan back from the brink, is stepping down as CEO after 16 years on the job.

The industry titan will remain CEO of Renault, where he staged a similar turnaround, and will continue to serve as chairman of Nissan, Renault and lowly Mitsubishi — the latter company being added to the alliance last year. Apparently, the decision to step down was prompted by Mitsubishi’s deeply-ingrained woes. In order to work some Nissan-style magic on the struggling automaker, Ghosn needed to hand over the reins.

Meanwhile, a man who stuck with Nissan for 40 years has seen his loyalty pay off. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback LT Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

It wasn’t long ago that the Detroit Three were fending off the Japanese on home soil as the Land of the Rising Sun cranked out reliable car after reliable car for the American masses. Then came the Koreans — Kia and Hyundai — who brought over cheap metal to win market share but quickly turned around their quality and reliability woes and produced some of the best products in the industry.

So why is it that, after 108 years of building automobiles, General Motors still manufactures abysmal garbage?

Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Accord-Camry-Passat-Altima V6 sedans - Images: Nissan/Honda/Toyota/VW

Horsepower doesn’t necessarily cure all that ails you. Potent powertrains aren’t invariably linked to progress. The greater pony count is not unfailingly found under the hood of the greater car.

All too often, auto enthusiasts fall into the trap of believing that a deeply flawed car can be made better if they’d only put a proper engine under the hood. In reality, huge power increases often do more to highlight, rather than mask, a car’s flaws.

The overwhelming majority of 2017’s crop of midsize sedans are not deeply flawed cars, of course. But it’s generally accepted, at least by people like you and me, that they can all be made better by upgrading the basic four-cylinder powerplant with an optional V6. By spending a fair chunk of extra change. By tolerating a sharp increase in fuel consumption. By challenging two front wheels to sometimes fulfill two starkly different missions. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

Jiffy Lube in Durham, Image: By Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Last year, I told you that your quick-lube place was probably snitching on you to your insurance company — and to Carfax. Did you make any changes in the way you have your car serviced because of that? I’m thinking that you did not, because you probably have nothing to hide. A surprising number of the commenters on that article were on the side of the insurance companies and Carfax, and their rationale was generally some variant on “I’m not going to commit insurance fraud, nor will I commit odometer fraud, so why should I care if my car’s mileage is in a database somewhere?”

Earlier this week, Scott Adams learned the hard way what you, the TTAC reader, already know about the relationship between small auto business and Big Data. For him, however, the lesson might come at a major cost. Because this time, the data was wrong.

Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

Flint Silverado assembly plant

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s former attorney general, was sworn in to his new role as Environmental Protection Agency administrator late Friday following a 52-46 Senate vote earlier in the day.

While it isn’t known what Pruitt did over the weekend, it’s safe to say that members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spent at least part of that downtime drafting a letter, likely mirroring one they’ve already sent to President Donald Trump.

The group, representing 12 automakers that build 77 percent of the light-duty vehicles sold in the U.S., wants action on lowering the industry’s fuel economy and emissions targets. Urgent action, ideally. Now that there’s been a change at the top, the group feels that it might finally get its wish. Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

q-by-aston-martin2

Aston Martin is allowing customers to ruin tailor any of its current models through its updated Q commission service. These bespoke Astons allow shoppers to choose specialty themes or create a completely unique car from scratch. Some of the early results are reminiscent of Bentley’s more interesting factory customizations of the Continental, but Aston Martin seems to be taking it even further.

While much of the new paint and fabrics on offer are absolutely gorgeous, especially those in the aptly named heritage collection, it would be very easy to assemble some of the other collections into a legendary eyesore. Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

2017 Land Rover Discovery

Call it a case of thinking out loud, or perhaps the spark that could propel a company in a new and potentially disastrous direction.

Either way, Land Rover and Range Rover’s design chief, Gerry McGovern, is pretty open-minded about a future where a British automaker famous for making utility vehicles — and only utility vehicles — spawns a car-like model or two. And by open-minded, we mean in a first-year university kind of way. Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

ZIL-4112R Limousine

Do you enjoy luxury? Do you like prestige and exclusivity of the highest order? How about leather, wood, and lighted barware? Well, it’s all available to you today, and you don’t even have to visit Trump Tower.

Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

2016 Ford Mustang GT

Perhaps we’ve finally hit a point where the old ways actually are the best. Gizmo-centric problems seem more important than ever to J.D. Power and Associates in this year’s dependability ranking, which examined problems experienced over the last 12 months on three-year-old vehicles and highlighted electronic accessories as a major issue.

So, a car that has a rock-solid drivetrain still might not make the grade due to a wonky multimedia system. A good example of this was J.D. Power’s chosen pickup, the Ford F-150. While the Ford achieved top marks for the quality of its interior, exterior, and electrics, the Toyota Tundra possessed vastly superior powertrain reliability.

It’s a similar story with the minivan segment. While the Toyota Sienna was given the crown, the Chrysler Town & Country actually had fewer reported problems in every area except the powertrain — and even that was still rated above average. It makes you wonder how much of the long-term quality being tested here is influenced by J.D. Power’s initial quality categories, which it splits into separate mechanical and “design” groups. Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

2018 Lexus LS at NAIAS Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

Lexus’ next-generation LS has already thrown design heritage out the window and kicked its traditional V8 to the curb, so why not add more totally new hardware?

For 2018, the brand’s redesigned flagship sedan will again offer a hybrid variant, but that last version is yesterday’s news. Lexus didn’t need to look far to find a replacement. Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

Opel Insignia Sport Tourer

Opel autoworkers and executives worried that a French takeover will see their pretzels and bratwurst replaced by baguettes and brie can rest easy, or so the automaker looking to buy their company claims.

France’s PSA Group, which could submit a bid to buy Opel and sister division Vauxhall this week, would give the German automaker the autonomy it desperately craves, the company’s CEO told labor reps and Germany’s chancellor.

That elongated “Z” won’t become a fleur-de-lis. Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

range rover velar

Land Rover has confirmed Velar as the name of Range Rover’s new luxury crossover, positioned to rival Porsche’s Macan.

While Velar sounds hand-picked to hang in the air and mimic the vowel placement of the Macan, Land Rover has used it before. According to the company, the name is derived from the original Range Rover prototypes from 1969, dubbed Velar as a way to disguise or veil them. Although why any vehicle before the Defender would need a secret working title is rather baffling when the company called almost every product it made before 1983 either “Range Rover” or “Land Rover” — sometimes tacking on a generational identifier, like “Series III.”

Still, any tieback you can make to your heritage is a win when it comes to marketing. Velar also fits Range Rover’s premium image and borderline sensual naming strategy that started with the Evoque. These are names that would work just as well being whispered by a model in a perfume advertisement; they just so happen to also be the names of two British sport utility vehicles. Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

2009 Toyota Venza - Image: Toyota Canada

Maybe they should have called it the Toyota Camry SportWagon.

Maybe it wouldn’t have made a hint of a difference.

The first-generation Toyota Venza lingered for seven model years in the United States, ending its run with MY2015 before managing to collect 593 sales since, including four in January 2017. (They’re not easy to clear out, apparently.)

But the end of the Venza’s U.S. run in June 2015 was not the end for the Venza in America. Venza production at the Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant continued through the first 11 months of 2016 because of insatiable Canadian demand.

Well, now that demand has been sated. The Toyota Venza is officially dead. Kaput. Gone. Defunct.

Did it have to be this way?  Read More >

By on February 22, 2017

congrats

It’s been about seven months since I ran out of warranty in my 2014 Accord EX-L V6 6MT. We’re now just a touch over 45,500 miles at the third anniversary of purchase, and I’ll confess I’m starting to get a little itchy about the idea of keeping a new car for this long. Only four times in my life have I kept a street-titled car past the three-year mark: my 1990 Fox stuck around 67 months, my 944 was in my possession for the better part of 10 years, and I still have two Porsches I bought during the first term of the G.W. Bush administration. Other than that, it’s been churn-and-burn, usually somewhere between the 18-month and 30-month marks.

There are sound reasons to swap the Accord out, and sound reasons to keep it, as you’ll see below. I’ve also had a few interesting incidents with the car, one of which might even be considered a legitimate blotting of the proverbial copybook.

Read More >

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