The Truth About Cars » 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 02 Mar 2015 22:43:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 » 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Manuals Comprise 20 Percent Of All New USDM Models Available For Sale http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/manuals-comprise-20-percent-new-usdm-models-available/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/manuals-comprise-20-percent-new-usdm-models-available/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009330 Enjoy rowing your own instead of allowing Skynet to do the shifting? If you’re in the United States, your manual transmission options are few. Jalopnik‘s commentariat-driven Oppositelock recently compiled a list of every vehicle sold in the U.S. that has a manual transmission. Of note, nearly every subcompact and compact model gives the right to […]

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2011-audi-r8-42-spyder-shifter-photo-416617-s-1280x782

Enjoy rowing your own instead of allowing Skynet to do the shifting? If you’re in the United States, your manual transmission options are few.

Jalopnik‘s commentariat-driven Oppositelock recently compiled a list of every vehicle sold in the U.S. that has a manual transmission. Of note, nearly every subcompact and compact model gives the right to shift to the driver, including the Chevrolet Sonic, Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Versa and Kia Soul.

Among the midsizers, only five have manuals: Buick Regal, Honda Accord, Mazda6, and Volkswagen CC and Passat. SUVs, crossovers and trucks didn’t do so well, either, with most offerings found among Jeep, Mazda, Subaru and Mitsubishi models, and only one big truck — the Ram HD — standing with the mid-size pickups in the manual game.

Finally, quite a few sports cars landed on the row-row-your-car list, including the Audi R8, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Mazda MX5 Miata and Porsche 911, while a handful of luxury models — Cadillac’s ATS and Infiniti’s Q60 among them — threw down for the cause.

In total, 50 of 265 models sold in the U.S. come with manuals, making up 20 percent of the market in 2015. Most of the automakers offer them on 30 to 40 percent of their vehicles, while Mazda, Jeep, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen offer one on over 50 percent of their respective lineups.

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Review: 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude 4×4 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-jeep-grand-cherokee-altitude-4x4/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-jeep-grand-cherokee-altitude-4x4/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008770 The current Grand Cherokee has been a huge success for the Jeep brand. The handsome vehicle is available with four engines, five drivelines, and in many trims, best of which can give the Range Rover a run for its money. The Altitude, introduced for 2014, is an interesting model, where Jeep takes many desirable features, […]

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2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude side

The current Grand Cherokee has been a huge success for the Jeep brand. The handsome vehicle is available with four engines, five drivelines, and in many trims, best of which can give the Range Rover a run for its money. The Altitude, introduced for 2014, is an interesting model, where Jeep takes many desirable features, wraps them in a monotone exterior with sporty black wheels, and prices the package well.

In the past I have reviewed Grand Cherokees with V8 and diesel engines. The Overland V8 felt like a hot-rod with tons of instant power but the fuel economy was predictably poor. The EcoDiesel is a smooth operator with a ton of torque and great gas mileage, but it comes at a high price. Could this nicely optioned V6 model be the happy medium?

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude front

The Pentastar 3.6-liter generates 290hp, which is more than the hot rod 5.9 Limited did in the late 90s, and 260lb-ft of torque. In this configuration it is mated to a new-for-2014 eight-speed transmission and the base Quadra-Trac I 4WD system with a single-speed transfer case. The EPA rates this combination for 17mpg in the city and 24mph on the highway, with 19mpg combined. Those numbers are very close to the ones I got real world driving, where I averaged about 18mpg with somewhat of a heavy foot around southern Florida.

This engine is surprisingly smooth, quiet, and has plenty of power on tap. Acceleration and highway passing are effortless and it loves to cruise. The transmission has a regular mode, which makes things a little lethargic until you really stomp the gas pedal, and a sport mode which magically quickens the throttle response and changes shift points to where they should really be. There also an evil Eco button which is suppose to save more fuel when engaged but in really it just makes things slower.

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude interior details

The Pentastar-powered Grand Cherokees are rated to tow a maximum of 6200lbs. Unless towing is a serious buying objective, or you have a perfectly understandable diesel fetish, there is really is no good reason to select any of the other engines for the basic purposes of getting to work or hauling the kids around. The EcoDiesel and V8-powered Grand Cherokees, including the SRT, are rated to tow up to 7400lbs (7200lbs for 4×4 models).

The black twenty-inch wheels, which are wrapped in 265/50 GoodYear Fortera HL rubber, don’t exactly scream “Trail Rated” but the ride is surprisingly smooth and quiet. A tire’s side profile is the percentage of its width, so despite this being a dub, there is still a good amount meat to absorb potholes. I know a handful of people who own the JGC with twenty-inch wheels and none of them has bent a wheel yet. I reviewed the EcoDiesel Grand Cherokee with similarly sized wheels in the winter and that Jeep got through deep (6″-8″) fresh snow surprisingly well. The Altitude has the base coil-spring suspension with conventional shocks, unlike some other models that have the height adjustable air suspension. Like the V6 engine, for a vast majority of people this setup offers a very nice blend of ride comfort, handling, and payload.

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude side profile

The dash is cleanly laid out with the minimum amount of buttons and just the right amount of knobs. The gauge cluster consists of center screen which is configurable in a multitude of ways via steering wheel controls. The seats are comfortable but could use more support overall, and the headrests have a nice tilt feature which can support your neck on long drives without putting you to sleep. The center console has a cubby for your phone with all connections, two cup holders, and a large segregated closed compartment. The rear seats recline and are split 60:40, but don’t have a center pass-thru. The rear window does not pop up like it once used to.

The touchscreen Unconnect is one of the most user-friendly systems on the market, with soft buttons for all major functions and auxiliary audio controls on the back of the steering wheel. If there is a downside, it’s that the heated seats/wheel controls are also hidden in it. The system streams music over every phone app imaginable, including Pandora and IHeartRadio. Your phone can be connected via Bluetooth, USB, or auxiliary input. There is also an SD card slot. The system even has a hotspot (subscription required) to stream music independently of your phone data program.

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude other details

The interior is not perfect, however. The visibility is not great and there are blind spots in the back as well as in the front due to a large A-pillar, big side mirrors, and mirror mounts. Being picky, I noticed some wiring and not covered metal body under the seats, visible when you drop something, for instance, and uneven trim around the sunroof when looking from the outside in. The biggest annoyance is the electronic shifter which toggles like a joystick, requiring a look down or at the gauge cluster for gear indication.

The Altitude is priced and positioned between a loaded Laredo and Limited with some options. For $37,095 the Altitude offers SRT-like body-colored claddings, fascia, and grill, glossy black badges, black light trim, and black wheels. Inside are black heated leather and suede seats (the only color choice) and a large 8.4″ Uconnect touch-screen, sans nav. The driver gets a power seat but it lacks the memory feature. Power hatch, 115vAC receptacle, and a remote start round out the Altitude package. Sunroof is $1095 extra, 506-watt audio is $495, back-up camera with sensors is $395, and the destination charge is $995, for a total of $40,075 as seen here.

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude wheel

The Altitude has many desirable features and it certainly looks good. It is priced well by skipping the features that the majority of buyers won’t care for, but it lacks some things, such as the roof rack. Some options are not available on it, specifically blind spot detection and the active forward collision warning and crash migration which can literally save your life – those are only available on the loaded Limited and higher models. Other versions of the Grand Cherokee provide some very impressive off-road hardware and/or road performance but no one will buy the Altitude for its power or off-road abilities but rather for the peace of mind and functionality that an all-wheel-drive SUV provides.

2015 jeep grand cherokee altitude side rear

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. In the past he has owned two Jeeps, a CJ-7 and a TJ Wrangler. His mother just bought a new Wrangler which he may have started modding. 

FCA US LLC provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review while I was thawing out in Florida. 

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Volvo S60, V60 Polestar Enter Second Run, Middle East For 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/volvo-s60-v60-polestar-enter-second-run-middle-east-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/volvo-s60-v60-polestar-enter-second-run-middle-east-2015/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1007730 Been wanting a Volvo S60 or V60 Polestar? The Sino-Swedish automaker is making a second batch for 2015, with 13 countries to take delivery this time. Volvo plans to make 750 S60 and V60 Polestars this year for the 2016 model year, citing the performance vehicles’ sales success in 2014 for the second production run. […]

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Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar, model year 2016

Been wanting a Volvo S60 or V60 Polestar? The Sino-Swedish automaker is making a second batch for 2015, with 13 countries to take delivery this time.

Volvo plans to make 750 S60 and V60 Polestars this year for the 2016 model year, citing the performance vehicles’ sales success in 2014 for the second production run.

Meanwhile, the Middle East will see some of the blue Volvos on its roads this year, as Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates are the newest additions to the list of markets the automaker sells its high-performance wares, which currently include Australia, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

As for what they’ll receive, the Polestars feature power from a turbocharged 3-liter I6 pushing 345 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque through a Polestar-calibrated paddle-shifted six-speed automatic to the vehicle’s Haldex four-wheel drive system. The S60 goes from nil to 60 in 4.7 seconds, while the V60 does it in 4.8 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph, and Brembo brakes stop the 20-inch wheels — shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sports — before any moose are hit. Price of admission in the U.S. starts at around $60,000.

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Review: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i-premium/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i-premium/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995058 The SUV craze of the 1990s caught Subaru by surprise. The company simply did not have a product that everyone wanted. The North American division of Fuji Heavy Industries had no choice but to play the cards they were dealt.  The engineers looked into the VW Golf Country 4×4 for inspiration, then took a Legacy […]

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2015 Subaru Outback side

The SUV craze of the 1990s caught Subaru by surprise. The company simply did not have a product that everyone wanted. The North American division of Fuji Heavy Industries had no choice but to play the cards they were dealt.  The engineers looked into the VW Golf Country 4×4 for inspiration, then took a Legacy wagon and lifted it, added some molding, big fog lights with mesh screens, and a roof rack. The marketing people ingeniously called it the Outback and hired the best known Aussie in America, Paul Hogan, to promote it.

The results of this marketing brilliance were sales that exceeded expectations, possibly saving the company. The Outback was such a huge hit Volvo and Audi followed suit and jacked up their own wagons, creating the Cross Country XC and the allroad quattro.  At the 2014 New York International Auto Show, with yours truly in attendance, two models first dressed as vegan organic French-press coffee drinking hipster hikers, and later as that blissfully ignorant well-dressed couple that every thirty year old yuppie think they will always be, unveiled the fifth generation of the Outback.

2015 Subaru Outback front

Three inches taller, four inches longer, and five inches wider than the original, the new Outback is the same as the old Outback. Some found the styling of the new car lacking originality. Those are the same people who would have complained that Subaru killed a great product had the Outback looked any different. I was never a fan of the previous generation Legacy/Outback, so I found the new, dare I say more generic, look rather refreshing.

But Subarus have never been about looks. In fact I would go so far as to the say that most Subaru cars have been ugly in a cute way, sort of like a Pug or a Bulldog. Subarus have always been about functionality, reliability, all-weather traction, and price. The new Outback continues these traditions placing function over form and cost over perceived opulence. From the outside, the two-tone scheme of the original has been reduced, the fog lights got smaller, and the roof rack more pronounced but the two-box shape on stilts cannot be mistaken for anything other than an Outback.

2015 Subaru Outback interior frotn details

Inside, functionality and simplicity triumphs, but its quality has significantly improved over the previous generations. The infotainment system is much improved, it is now easier to see, and simpler to use and set up. The test vehicle did not have a navigational system, but controlling the radio, phone, and auxiliary input devices is similar to using a Windows tablet. In the front of the center console is an auxiliary audio input and two USB ports (that’s two more than Audi). The audio system did sound pretty good, too, for what is essentially a base vehicle. Looking from inside out, at night, the headlights are not overly bright given the recent technical advances in headlight technology.

Dual zone climate controls are equally simple to use, but there are no vents for rear passengers. There are cup-holders in the center console, bottle holders in the doors, big door pockets, sunglass holder on the roof, a simple covered cubby for phones, and a large glove box. It’s these little things that make daily life easy and it’s amazing how many automakers cannot get that right (I’m looking at you Range Rover). Nothing is perfect, however, and my eight year old daughter, who reads a dozen books a week, completely wrote the Outback off for not having reading lights for rear passengers.

The front seats are comfortable, but the headrests could use a rake adjustment and bottom cushions could be longer. Someone at Subaru finally figured out that heated seat buttons are invisible when they are located under the center armrest and moved them to climate control panel. The rear bench is wide with plenty of leg and head room. The seatback is split 60:40, but there is no center pass-thru, so skiers with more than two rear passengers have to use the meaty-looking roof rack. That roof rack itself is functional, too, with standard cross-bars that slide and fold into the rails when not in use. There are also four tie down loops which can secure up to 150 pounds of cargo.

2015 Subaru Outback details

With high ground clearance and a high center of gravity, Subaru did not intend to make a driver’s car out of the Outback. The 2.5-liter pancake engine also won’t impress anyone with its 175hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. Worse, this engine is attached to a continuously variable transmission. This powertrain combination makes buzzy and whiney noises turning an otherwise quiet cabin into a noisy one. For that noise buyers are rewarded with fuel economy of 25mpg in the city and 33mpg on the highway, which was once considered excellent for a small econobox. Despite all that, the Outback somehow manages not to be a soulless appliance and is somewhat fun to drive. Perhaps it’s the car-like seating position and the jacked-up ride height, along with suspension tuned to nicely absorb the winter ridden roads, that create the feeling of being a rally driver.

Subaru makes a big deal of their AWD system, so it was a nice coincidence that the Northeast got hit with a big snow storm while the Outback was in my possession. It is common knowledge that tires are the most important thing in winter driving but this car was equipped with a set mediocre Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport. Automakers like to use these tires because they are cheap, quiet, comfortable, and last long. I have personally had some bad experiences with these tires, so I was very cautions driving the Outback in the snow. To my surprise, the big wagon proved capable; granted the snow was packed and it wasn’t deep. In an empty lot near my work I turned the hoon knob up a little and even then, with stability control off, the vehicle stayed totally composed and controllable. There is a good reason why New England and Denver are Subaru’s biggest markets – with a proper set of snow tires this would be an amazing winter vehicle.

2015 Subaru Outback rear hatch open

The test vehicle was equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight system, which is optional on all but the base Outback. The system works off two cameras mounted between the rear view mirror and the windshield. The system is able to detect speed differentials, brake lights, pedestrians, and bicycles. It has the ability to cut power, apply brakes, and bring the vehicle to a complete stop, if not avoiding an accident completely, than at least minimizing the impact. It tells those who bury their heads into their phones at traffic lights that the vehicle in front has moved. When reversing, it calmly alerts you that a vehicle is coming from the side. The whole system can be fully disabled for those with mad driving skillz, but for the majority of buyers this is a no-brainer option – it can protect the not only vehicle occupants but everyone else on the road, too, and will likely repay for itself in the first near-hit.

The base Outback, steel wheels and all, starts at about $26,045. The 2.5i Premium model seen here starts at $27,295. EyeSight with power tailgate package is $1695, mirror compass is $199, and rubber floor mats are a bargain at $72. For some reason Subaru charges a mandatory $300 for the vehicle to meet the Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standard. Total price, with destination charges, is a very reasonable $30,111. Other options on the 2.5i Premium are sunroof and a nav system. Limited model comes with leather and the 3.5R Limited has more powah!

For thirty grand, the mid-level Outback gives you large SUV functionality, solid reliability, and all-weather traction while not looking like a cookie-cutter CRA-V4. Fun-to-drive factor, latest and greatest safety systems, and good gas mileage are the icing on this frosty cake. I was surprised by home much I liked this Outback and I would put it high on my shopping list of two-row SUV-ish vehicles, along with the Grand Cherokee and the 4Runner.

2015 Subaru Outback rear

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. He is known to enjoy organic coffee made in a French press, day hikes, and nights out on the town. He has yet to find one ideal vehicle for all those activities.

Subaru of America, Inc. provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. 

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Peak Emblem http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:40:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997690   Most design students don’t consider Peak Oil in their studies, but The Reckoning was on my reading list back then. While Peak Oil is tangentially connected to car design, we clearly reached Peak Emblem. It cannot get any worse than what’s being introduced in Chicago this week. Emblem size, just like wheel size and body/firewall (versus glass) height has […]

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This just happened. (photo courtesy: Ram)

Most design students don’t consider Peak Oil in their studies, but The Reckoning was on my reading list back then. While Peak Oil is tangentially connected to car design, we clearly reached Peak Emblem.

It cannot get any worse than what’s being introduced in Chicago this week.

Emblem size, just like wheel size and body/firewall (versus glass) height has been on the rise for over a decade.  Park a new Corolla next to a 1995-2000 model for proof.  The problem is empty real estate, sheets of painted metal with no landscaping. A big problem for a top-tier RAM, for the Laramie Limited trim. How do you visually separate a premium model when even the mid-level model has that in-yo-face look from a huge grille and acres of chrome?

Larger and larger emblems, apparently: on the grille and the tailgate.  Damn Son, dat tailgate!

As mentioned before, it’s all about proportioning: big butts need MOAR BLING. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless the proportions are so extreme that creativity is stifled and the sheet metal cannot to rest on its design laurels.  A shame, as the RAM (like many new Chrysler designs) are quite fetching by themselves.

Here’s my suggestion:

1985 Dodge Power Ram (photo courtesy: www.fortrucksonly.com/truckforum)

Stamp a (unique to trim levels like the Laramie Limited) tailgate with negative area, then add a metal insert with small(er that what you did) lettering. Of course Ye Old School Dodge has a much smaller tailgate, but applying the concept of negative area to the Laramie makes sense.  Well, perhaps not the financial sense of slapping the biggest emblems you can make on dat butt.

Peak Emblem is real, it happened.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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Credit Suisse Picks Tesla As One Of Its Favorites For 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/credit-suisse-picks-tesla-one-favorites-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/credit-suisse-picks-tesla-one-favorites-2015/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994858 Looking for new stock to add to your portfolio in 2015? Credit Suisse has one for your consideration: Tesla. Bidness Etc reports the investment firm’s analyst picked the Californian EV automaker as its one of its favorites in the Auto and Auto Parts Industry category. Dan Galves, who led the investment research on Tesla, says […]

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2013 Tesla Model S P85 Fishing boat

Looking for new stock to add to your portfolio in 2015? Credit Suisse has one for your consideration: Tesla.

Bidness Etc reports the investment firm’s analyst picked the Californian EV automaker as its one of its favorites in the Auto and Auto Parts Industry category. Dan Galves, who led the investment research on Tesla, says the automaker’s biggest selling point for the medium term is its Gigafactory and lithium-battery pack technology. He and his fellow analysts believe the main goal of the factory — to reduce production costs — is probable, with parity compared to coventionally powered vehicles to come by 2017.

Credit Suisse also projects the Model X — when it finally does arrive — “will be a potential positive catalyst in the process of slowly shifting the industry toward EVs.” Increased production volume visibility during H2 2015 is also expected to provide a view of the automaker’s EBIT margin potential, with the firm bestowing an Outperform rating and a $325 price target on the stock.

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Ghosn: One-Third Of Russia’s Auto Market Will Vanish Under Recession http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ghosn-one-third-russias-auto-market-will-vanish-recession/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ghosn-one-third-russias-auto-market-will-vanish-recession/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 15:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993658 Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn warned Monday that Russia’s auto market will lose a third of itself under the nation’s recession. Automotive News Europe reports Ghosn spoke with Bloomberg about the issue after the unveiling of the Renault Kadjar in Paris, stating the market was well on its way to losing a fifth of itself this […]

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Carlos Ghosn and Renault Kadjar

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn warned Monday that Russia’s auto market will lose a third of itself under the nation’s recession.

Automotive News Europe reports Ghosn spoke with Bloomberg about the issue after the unveiling of the Renault Kadjar in Paris, stating the market was well on its way to losing a fifth of itself this year, adding up to “one-third of the Russian market disappearing in a couple of years.” He added that while there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, whether that light is an opening or an oncoming train remains uncertain.

The overall market witnessed a sales decline of 10 percent in 2014, with around 2.5 million units sold. According to the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses, the forecast calls for a 24 percent decline in 2015.

Meanwhile, Renault-Nissan and partner AvtoVAZ saw sales of their offerings drop 7 percent in 2014 to 764,245 units. Market share did increase to 30.7 percent in the same period, up from 29.6 percent in 2013. The Franco-Japanese automaker indirectly owns 50.01 percent of the Russian manufacturer, with the aim of gaining 40 percent of the Russian market by 2016.

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Korean Market Hyundai Veloster Receives Seven-Speed DCT For 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/korean-market-hyundai-veloster-receives-seven-speed-dct-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/korean-market-hyundai-veloster-receives-seven-speed-dct-2015/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 11:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985290 The current Hyundai Veloster will gain some new features for this year, but only in its home market for the time being. Autoblog reports the biggest feature for the hatchback is the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that will replace the outgoing six-speed unit in the Turbo variant. The DCT will help funnel the 1.6-liter turbo-four’s 204 […]

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KDM 2015 Hyundai Veloster 01

The current Hyundai Veloster will gain some new features for this year, but only in its home market for the time being.

Autoblog reports the biggest feature for the hatchback is the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that will replace the outgoing six-speed unit in the Turbo variant. The DCT will help funnel the 1.6-liter turbo-four’s 204 horses and 195 lb-ft of torque to the front.

Other features include new wheels, Turbo upholstery graphics on the seats, an engine sound equalizer with six sounds from which drivers can choose, and a revised instrument cluster.

Price of admission for the newish Veloster ranges from ₩18.45 million ($18,550 USD) for the base Younique edition, to ₩23.7 ($22,000) for the Turbo model. No word thus far on whether any of these features will be headed to North American showrooms down the road.

Below are the spec/price sheets for those who can read Hangul:

KDM 2015 Hyundai Veloster Spec + Price Sheet 01

KDM 2015 Hyundai Veloster Spec + Price Sheet 02

KDM 2015 Hyundai Veloster 01 hyundai-veloster-refresh-023-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-025-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-022-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-024-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-008-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-028-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-021-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-033-1 hyundai-veloster-refresh-032-1

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Changan-Ford Introduces New Edge For Chinese Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/changan-ford-introduces-new-edge-chinese-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/changan-ford-introduces-new-edge-chinese-market/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=969281 It’s official: This is the Chinese-made Ford Edge Sport and Edge Limited. CarNewsChina reports the new crossover for the Chinese market will be leaving for the showroom from Changan-Ford factories beginning in May 2015, arriving just before the Everest SUV. Power for the seven-passenger Limited and five-passenger Sport will come from either a 2-liter turbo-four […]

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It’s official: This is the Chinese-made Ford Edge Sport and Edge Limited.

CarNewsChina reports the new crossover for the Chinese market will be leaving for the showroom from Changan-Ford factories beginning in May 2015, arriving just before the Everest SUV.

Power for the seven-passenger Limited and five-passenger Sport will come from either a 2-liter turbo-four producing 252 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, or a larger 2.7-liter turbo V6 making 300 horses and 370 lb-ft of torque. Both engines will send their power through a six-speed automatic to all four corners, with the 2-liter offering FWD as standard.

Price of admission begins at ¥280,000 ($45,000 USD), topping off at ¥450,000 ($72,400). The Limited will be limited to China for the near-term.

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EIA: US Average Fuel Savings Climb To $550 In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/eia-us-average-fuel-savings-climb-550-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/eia-us-average-fuel-savings-climb-550-2015/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=964498 With fuel prices still falling as of this writing, the U.S. Energy Information Administration issued a report forecasting an average of $550 in savings at the pump for a typical family in 2015. The new average cost in gasoline expenditures for 2015 is expected to hit $1,962, the first time said spending fell below $2,000/year […]

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Fuel Price Circa Mid-December 2014

With fuel prices still falling as of this writing, the U.S. Energy Information Administration issued a report forecasting an average of $550 in savings at the pump for a typical family in 2015.

The new average cost in gasoline expenditures for 2015 is expected to hit $1,962, the first time said spending fell below $2,000/year since 2009.

As for what people are likely to do with their $550 that would have gone into the tank, the EIA believes that savings will go into “other goods and services, pay down debt, and/or increase savings.” The agency also noted that demand is “very price inelastic over short time periods,” as consumers will fill their tanks to as much as they see fit despite how much a gallon is priced.

Down on the trading floor, the EIA expects Brent crude to average $68/barrel in 2015, while West Texas Intermediate will land around $63/barrel over the same period. Increases in fuel economy and U.S. oil production, as well as OPEC’s decision to hold the line regarding its own output, are contributing to the forecasted savings, as well.

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2015 US Auto Sales Expected To Push Past 17M Units http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/2015-us-auto-sales-expected-push-past-17m-units/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/2015-us-auto-sales-expected-push-past-17m-units/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=964410 This year is set to end on a high note as far as U.S. car sales are concerned, with 2015 shaping up to be the best year in a long time. The Detroit Bureau reports a combination of falling gas prices and an improving U.S. economy is setting the coming year up for a new-car […]

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Happy Face Car Lot

This year is set to end on a high note as far as U.S. car sales are concerned, with 2015 shaping up to be the best year in a long time.

The Detroit Bureau reports a combination of falling gas prices and an improving U.S. economy is setting the coming year up for a new-car sales record of over 17 million, with total sales going over 55.7 million in the same period. The previous peak new-car annual sales figure was in 2000, when 17.4 million units left the showroom floor.

Transaction prices are set to climb higher in 2015, as well, with new-car averages rising 2.4 percent from this year to a record $32,589, and used-car averages scaling 2.1 percent to $16,678.

As for the segments that will see the biggest growth in revenue, luxury and utility vehicles will lead the way, pulling in $116.7 billion and $192.1 billion, respectively. Trucks are forecasted to take third on the podium, with $95.7 billion in revenue.

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Alfa Romeo Readies New Engines For 2015 Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/alfa-romeo-readies-new-engines-2015-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/alfa-romeo-readies-new-engines-2015-debut/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962314 Aside from rebuilding itself in North America, Alfa Romeo is set to introduce a new family of high-performance engines into the lineup, the first of which will come in the next six months. Automotive News Europe reports three of those engines — two gasoline, one diesel — will debut with the automaker’s new midsize sedan […]

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Alfa_Romeo_Brera_V6_engine

Aside from rebuilding itself in North America, Alfa Romeo is set to introduce a new family of high-performance engines into the lineup, the first of which will come in the next six months.

Automotive News Europe reports three of those engines — two gasoline, one diesel — will debut with the automaker’s new midsize sedan in June 2015, hitting showrooms sometime in 2016.

The main unit will be a direct-injection 2-liter turbo-four with MultiAir VVT on-board. That engine, dubbed the Global Medium Engine, is expected to produce 180-330 horsepower, with the power directed to the back or all four corners via a range of automatic and manual transmissions. A 2.2-liter turbodiesel four-pot will also be available, delivering 135 to 210 horses in the same manner.

The crown jewel, however, will be a 2.9-liter direct-injection twin-turbo V6 — remade from Ferrari’s 3-liter unit found in the Maserati Quattroporte and Ghibli — which will throw down up to 480 stallions for the trouble.

VM Motori has also been called upon, working with Alfa to develop a new version of the 3-liter V6 diesel found in a handful of Jeep and Maserati products. Two variants are expected, ranging from 275 horsepower — like the current mill — to 340 horsepower. The engines will be used in AWD applications, and will only be found under the hoods of a large sedan and midsize SUV down the road.

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Seven Finalists Announced For Europe’s 2015 Car of the Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961993 After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists. Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year: BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Citroën C4 Cactus Ford Mondeo Mercedes-Benz C-Class Nissan Qashqai Renault Twingo Volkswagen Passat The […]

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After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists.

Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year:

  • BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
  • Citroën C4 Cactus
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Nissan Qashqai
  • Renault Twingo
  • Volkswagen Passat

The winner will be announced during the 2015 Geneva Auto Show this coming March. Previous winners include the Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf and Opel Ampera, with the first title awarded 50 years ago to the 1964 Rover 2000.

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Two-Tier Wage System Targeted For 2015 UAW Negotiations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/two-tier-wage-system-targeted-2015-uaw-negotiations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/two-tier-wage-system-targeted-2015-uaw-negotiations/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961777 2015 is only 15 days away, which means new contract negotiations between the Detroit Three and the United Auto Workers are coming, the main focus being the elimination the two-tier wage system implemented in 2007. The Detroit News reports the UAW’s hourly members are calling for the abolition of the system, which has done nothing […]

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Dennis Williams

2015 is only 15 days away, which means new contract negotiations between the Detroit Three and the United Auto Workers are coming, the main focus being the elimination the two-tier wage system implemented in 2007.

The Detroit News reports the UAW’s hourly members are calling for the abolition of the system, which has done nothing but “cause a divide” up and down the roll “on both sides of the aisle,” per Local 2209 president Brian Hartman.

There may be trouble within, however, as Tier 2 employees receive bonuses and profit-sharing checks in lieu of being on parity with Tier 1 workers. The former may not be so willing to see lowered or disappeared bonuses just to level up to those making more, while the latter would like to not only see the system die, but to gain a raise in pay — including the restoration of holiday and cost-of-living adjustment payments — in so doing.

Other issues on the table for 2015 include securing overtime pay after eight hours per day — instead of overtime after 40 hours per week — ensuring all employees receive a defined pension scheme, and hiring temporary employees for permanent positions after 90 days.

The environment for the negotiations will be different compared to those held since 2007: UAW workers at General Motors and Chrysler Group will be able to strike for the first time since 2011, while non-union employees now have the right to remain as such via Michigan’s right-to-work law. UAW president Dennis Williams hasn’t focused too much on the right-to-work situation, believing that if one does their job in representing those under their care, the people would give their undying support to the leadership.

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Iowa DOT Introducing Driver’s License App In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/iowa-dot-introducing-drivers-license-app-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/iowa-dot-introducing-drivers-license-app-2015/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=959217 Live and drive in Iowa? The state’s DOT will soon have an app that will act as your license. The Des Moines Register reports the app will be free of charge to all Iowa drivers when it arrives sometime next year, and is as official as the traditional plastic license card one receives after waiting […]

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Iowa Drivers License App

Live and drive in Iowa? The state’s DOT will soon have an app that will act as your license.

The Des Moines Register reports the app will be free of charge to all Iowa drivers when it arrives sometime next year, and is as official as the traditional plastic license card one receives after waiting forever and a day in the DMV; drivers can still get the more tangible version if so desired.

Iowa is also one of 30 states that allows drivers to present insurance information in electronic form during a traffic stop. Per Iowa DOT director Paul Trombino, having a digital license is only logical. He adds that the app will be secure via PIN verification, and will be accepted by security in Iowa’s airports, as well.

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GM Laying Off 100 More From Lansing Grand River This January http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/gm-laying-off-100-lansing-grand-river-january/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/gm-laying-off-100-lansing-grand-river-january/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957362 General Motors will lay off 100 more employees from its Lansing Grand River facility next month, joining the 350 already scheduled for said action. Detroit Free Press reports the layoffs are the result of the second shift at Lansing Grand River being cut due to low sales of the Cadillac ATS and CTS, both of […]

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Lansing_Grand_River_Plant

General Motors will lay off 100 more employees from its Lansing Grand River facility next month, joining the 350 already scheduled for said action.

Detroit Free Press reports the layoffs are the result of the second shift at Lansing Grand River being cut due to low sales of the Cadillac ATS and CTS, both of which are assembled at the plant. Most of those being laid off are new hires.

GM plans to move 200 of the workers to the nearby Lansing Delta Township plant, where the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia are assembled, with the remainder to be transferred elsewhere.

The layoffs are expected to be temporary, with employees brought back to Lansing Grand River when production of the next-gen Chevrolet Camaro begins sometime around the fall of 2015 at the earliest. GM could lay off more or fewer employees still, however, as the automaker is still working out the final total.

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Review: 2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2015-5-volvo-xc60-t6-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/review-2015-5-volvo-xc60-t6-awd/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 17:24:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955474 Volvo is in midst of a turnaround. Sold by Ford and acquired by Chinese Geely Automobile, Volvo representatives see the company heading on a path similar to Jaguar and Land Rover. With this fresh injection of money, in recent years we have seen many concept cars, existing product updates, amazing new engines, and the first all-new […]

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2015 volvo xc60 t6 side 2

Volvo is in midst of a turnaround. Sold by Ford and acquired by Chinese Geely Automobile, Volvo representatives see the company heading on a path similar to Jaguar and Land Rover. With this fresh injection of money, in recent years we have seen many concept cars, existing product updates, amazing new engines, and the first all-new post-Ford model, the handsome XC90. Refreshed for 2014, the 2015.5 XC60 receives further minor upgrades, including an app!

2015 volvo iphone app screenshot

Smart phones, as they are called, are all the rage among kids these days. They say that kids even care more about their fancy phones with intentionally cracked screens than they do about cars, which is equally sad and puzzling. Automakers have their hands full with cell phones, too. From distracted driving, proper connectivity, to charging ports and cubbies, cars must be fully cell phone friendly. Several automakers have even gone as far as integrating cell phone-like apps into their infotainment systems and even developing their own apps, which is what Volvo just did.

This app, available on iOS, Android, or Windows Phone (respect and apologies to all the BlackBerry users) enables to user to get vehicle information, location, status, as well as remote unlocking and start. It’s basically all the information that is selectable on the gauge cluster of most modern vehicles, in the palm of your hand. It even sends you push notifications if your Volvo is unlocked. Its best feature is probably being able to unlock and start the car from your phone and spy on its location when it is used by someone else. VIN number, user passcode, and code generated by the vehicle were needed for the initial setup. Only the user passcode was needed for further usage. The app is part of the 2015.5 update which includes Sensus Connect, an OnStar-like service which I did not try out.

2015 volvo xc60 t6 front

Recently Volvo has also introduced a new family engines called Drive-E. I had a chance to drive an S60 with the 302hp supercharged and turbocharged version of that engine and simply fell in love with it. The engine had plenty of low-end power and pulled to the redline with authority, all while achieving almost 30mpg overall. Unfortunately the Drive-E engines are currently available only in FWD configuration. The vehicle in pictures is an AWD T6 model powered by an older 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine with 300hp and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a powerful engine, and it moves the boxy XC60 with ease, but it is neither as refined as the new Drive-E nor nearly as efficient at 17mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway.

Despite its age, the recently updated XC60 still looks fresh and really stood out when I parked in a garage full of gray generic cars. It’s still a modern and handsome design, one that draws attention but is also quickly forgotten, and almost invisible to cops. It’s also unmistakably Volvo, thanks to the family headlight and grill design, as well as the huge six inch male symbol logo front and center.

2015 volvo xc60 t6 dash

The driver and passengers are rather isolated from road in the XC60. The vehicle is very quiet and the body feels very stiff, allowing only deep thumps from road imperfections to be transmitted inside. The ride is very comfortable overall but the twenty-inch wheels and 255/45 Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires are a bit of overkill and probably not the best choice for winter. The few buyers who will throw the XC60 into a curve at speed will be rewarded with minimal body roll and general composure similar to many European sedans.

The interior has premium and solid feel to it. All of the interior materials are soft and nice to touch, gauges are easy to read, and the two-tone sports seats are very comfortable and supportive, finished in soft leather. Rear passengers might complain about legroom, and fitting three booster seats across the bench seat will be challenging. The center stack is full of small buttons but the primary controls are performed via the four big knobs and steering wheel controls. The infotainment system could use a bigger screen and it could be a bit higher in the dash.

2015 volvo xc60 t6 interior details

The 2015 Volvo XC60 T5 Drive-E FWD starts at $36,200. The vehicle reviewed here is $42,400. Platinum package is $4400 and it includes a power tailgate, Xenon headlights, keyless entry, backup camera, HomeLink™, Harmon Kardon audio, adaptive cruise control and many other active safety features such as collision warning and avoidance, pedestrian/cyclist detection, and lane departure warning. Climate Package & Child Booster Seats is $1550, sport seats are $500Blind Spot Information System Package is another item that should be standard on a Volvo but costs $900. Metallic paint is $550, dub wheels are $1000, and the destination/delivery charge is $925. The total for the tested vehicle comes to $52,225. The top of the line XC60 T6 AWD R-Design Platinum is $50,750 before options.

2015 volvo xc60 t6 trunk

For decades Volvo has been know as the safety brand. Looking at the Monroney sticker and where the company is today, I would love to see all of those new active safety features become standard across the model range. Furthermore, all of that technology and those great new engines are not going to contribute to additional sales if price is significantly higher than the sales leaders such as Jeep’s equally equipped Grand Cherokee or the Lexus RX 350. The XC60 is a pleasurable vehicle to live with but it is out-pricing itself in a very competitive market segment.

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Volvo Cars of North America, LLC provided the vehicle for this review.

2015 volvo xc60 t6 rear 34 2

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Alfa Romeo Sedan Entering Showrooms Next June http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/alfa-romeo-sedan-entering-showrooms-next-june/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/alfa-romeo-sedan-entering-showrooms-next-june/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951881 Right now, the only Alfa Romeo anyone in the United States can buy is the 4C, a model one of our B&B recently talked about in their ownership AMA. By next June, though, a sedan could be on the showroom floor, as well. Automotive News Europe reports the sedan — codenamed 952 — will be […]

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Right now, the only Alfa Romeo anyone in the United States can buy is the 4C, a model one of our B&B recently talked about in their ownership AMA. By next June, though, a sedan could be on the showroom floor, as well.

Automotive News Europe reports the sedan — codenamed 952 — will be the successor to the 159, and will be positioned between the BMW 3 and 5 series. As for the name, it was to have been dubbed the Giulia when it was expected to go on sale this year, but will have a new name instead.

The new sedan is part of eight models set to help build up Alfa Romeo’s portfolio by 2018, leading field that will include a midsize SUV and a large flagship sedan. The portfolio expansion is part of an overall plan to boost the brand’s sales, with a goal of 400,000 sold annually by 2018, and a jump from nil to 150,000/year in the North American market in the same period.

As for the 4C, the first few U.S.-bound models will sell for $70,000 once they leave the container dock, while the $55,000 base model will follow later. Those cars will head for 84 Fiat and Maserati dealers in the U.S. and Canada, a number that will expand to 200 by the end of 2015.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-golf-1-8-tsi/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:30:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949281 For all its foibles, I loved the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine in the Volkswagen parts bin. It provided an audible grunt you couldn’t get anywhere else for the same amount of money and, in its early days, was the best way to buy cheap torque without going diesel or turbo. Thanks to a finer focus on […]

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2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (4 of 30)

For all its foibles, I loved the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine in the Volkswagen parts bin. It provided an audible grunt you couldn’t get anywhere else for the same amount of money and, in its early days, was the best way to buy cheap torque without going diesel or turbo.

Thanks to a finer focus on fuel efficiency — a strength the five-pot did not possess — the base 2.5-litre is now gone. Instead, we have a new 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, dubbed 1.8T or 1.8 TSI, delivering the same amount of horsepower, more torque, and better fuel economy than the outgoing 2.5 five-cylinder.

Our tester for the week, a 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI Comfortline (Canada), is the mid-trim option in the Golf lineup and equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. Ticking off the optional Convenience Package adds automatic headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Climatronic dual-zone electronic climate control, light assist, Panorama tilt and slide power sunroof, and rain sensing wipers. The whole package before taxes and freight rings in at $24,590 CAD.

(For you folks living in Canada’s pants bemoaning my Canadian pricing, it’s hard to find an equivalent in the US Golf trim matrix that matches up, so you’ll have to do a little digging on your own.)

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (28 of 30)

The new 1.8 TSI is a fantastic little motor but does miss some of the charm of the old 2.5 inline-5. Thanks to the wizardry of turbocharging, the four-cylinder produces a very healthy 170 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. It also does duty in other Volkswagen lineup models, such as the Beetle and Jetta.

It won’t leave your wallet empty at the pumps either, returning 7.6L/100km (31 MPG) and running on regular gas instead of premium.

The rush of torque comes on fairly early and the most fun is had when shifting at least 1,000 rpm before redline so you can feel the torque through each gear change. This is a car that will actually reward you for shifting slowly and letting the revs drop a bit.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (17 of 30)

The five-speed manual is crisp, notchy, and great for people who actually enjoy rowing their way through the gears. With solid feedback and tight gating, the gearbox might be a little too much for the novice driver though. I’d suggest the Fiesta with its long throws and lighter feedback for that crowd. But, for those who’ve already mastered the third pedal, this is as good a choice as any, except for the fact it is down a gear versus a few of its competitors.

Being the first Golf to ride on the new MQB Volkswagen platform also brings with it new characteristics in ride and handling. The Golf now rides like a much bigger car, smoothing out the bumps in the road while the body stays relatively stable. The softer ride does mean the Golf suffers slightly when chucking it around corners. But, unless you are trying to recreate the car chase scene from Ronin, you should be just fine.

There are two trends Volkswagen has bucked with the new Golf — one for the better and the other for the worse.

The first one comes down to design, as the Golf eschews the sloped rear glass used by the Mazda3 Sport and other hatchbacks in favour of a more two-box silhouette. This gives the Golf decent cargo space in the rear. Also, and this is the big kicker, Volkswagen hasn’t brought the beltline up to such a level that makes it hard to see out of the rear of the car. While the Golf gets a nifty backup camera hidden behind the VW badge, you don’t need to rely on the camera to reverse from a parking space. That’s a very welcomed surprise.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (6 of 30)

But, the one trend where Volkswagen really needs to play catch up is from an infotainment point of you. Specifically, the Golf has a serious lack of USB ports, and by that I mean it has exactly zero of them. Instead, Volkswagen still wants you to use the proprietary iPod connector and a car charger that pops into the plug that used to be a cigarette lighter. VW — you should really know better.

Also a point of pain is the beige-and-black two tone interior available on Comfortline models in Canada. While the materials are top drawer, the two-tone scheme cheapens it all just a bit. Again, VW — you should really know better.

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI (14 of 30)

Even with these slight issues, the Golf is a solid contender (though, if I were at Motor Trend, I wouldn’t be giving the Golf a Car of the Year award). For those who enjoy driving but don’t necessarily enjoy the firm ride, compromised visibility, or stick-on infotainment screen of the Mazda3, this is your next choice. Also, turbocharging makes everything a bit more fun.

But, if you desire something with slightly sharper handling, USB ports, or an interior that doesn’t mutter how boring you are, there are other options.

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McKenna: MINI Coupe, Roadster Dead By 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mckenna-mini-coupe-roadster-dead-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/mckenna-mini-coupe-roadster-dead-2015/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950897 The backwards-cap-wearing MINI Coupe and its Roadster brother are being taken out behind the shed, both going out of production next year. AutoGuide reports MINI USA product chief Patrick McKenna made the announcement during last week’s LA Auto Show, proclaiming both had “run their life cycle.” The duo also were redundant compared with the hardtop […]

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2012_mini_roadster_29

The backwards-cap-wearing MINI Coupe and its Roadster brother are being taken out behind the shed, both going out of production next year.

AutoGuide reports MINI USA product chief Patrick McKenna made the announcement during last week’s LA Auto Show, proclaiming both had “run their life cycle.” The duo also were redundant compared with the hardtop and convertible already in the portfolio, and differences in styling and price didn’t attract many customers.

In their place, McKenna says higher-volume models over niche product will be the order of the day going forward, beginning with the launch of a four-door MINI for those who feel claustrophobic inside the main two-door unit.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Mercedes Benz GLA45 AMG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/review-2015-mercedes-benz-gla45-amg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/review-2015-mercedes-benz-gla45-amg/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945145 Per Mercedes-Benz’s own naming strategy, anything with a G is considered an SUV, even if the GLA45 AMG is classified as a car. That would make this GLA45 AMG a hatchback – a hot-hatch if you will. Since no one in United States buys hatchbacks, it’s being called an SUV anyways. I went along with […]

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Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG side

Per Mercedes-Benz’s own naming strategy, anything with a G is considered an SUV, even if the GLA45 AMG is classified as a car. That would make this GLA45 AMG a hatchback – a hot-hatch if you will. Since no one in United States buys hatchbacks, it’s being called an SUV anyways. I went along with this until I pulled up next to a cross-over SUV called Range Rover at a light and noticed that its door handle was above this cute-ute’s roofline. Truth is that it doesn’t matter what you call it because it’s a blast!

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG engine

The 2.0-liter 355hp engine sounds mean at startup, letting everyone know that this isn’t a plain olde’ Benzito, but it doesn’t sound like a tuned child’s toy either (Fiat 500 Abarth, I’m looking at you).  Select sport mode, start driving and you really wouldn’t know what is under the hood. There is plenty of low-end power and the engine is not screaming in agony on its way to a relatively low 6250rpm redline. It doesn’t feel like any 2.0-liter or turbo motor I have ever experienced; smooth and linear power from idle to redline. Very impressive.

The gear changes from the 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission are fast, accompanied by exotic car-like gurgling backfire noises that were clearly designed in the most sophisticated of anechoic chambers. These noises may not be to everyone’s liking but will let the slower drivers know that they have just been passed by something special. The transmission’s only issues were at very low speeds, where it sometimes couldn’t decide exactly which gear to chose or when to fully disengage the clutch.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG dash

The speed and power of this vehicle are really deceptive, especially on the highway where triple-digit speeds are achieved rather effortlessly. Surprisingly, even in sport mode, it doesn’t launch off the line with authority (I didn’t abuse the vehicle by holding both pedals in) but then really takes off once it built up some speed. Buff books say that a quarter mile run can completed in high 12-second range, which was exotic car territory just a few years ago, now accomplished in a four-banger hatchback with a transversely mounted engine.

Toss this SUV wagon hatchback vehicle into a highway on-ramp and it will stick surprisingly well, with minimum body roll. The steering is very quick and direct, and may just be one of the best of FWD/AWD-based cars. On public roads I obviously didn’t drive anywhere near its or my own limits, but even then the little Benz telegraphed its intended part of travel and tire adhesion very well, with safe and predictable intentions toward understeer. There is a downside to all that fancy handling, however. When the smooth pavement ends, the bumpy ride begins. It’s not as bad as some so-called sport sedans with stiff springs and no-profile tires, but it’s certainly worse than any MB I have ever been in – something like GM’s Magnetic Ride Control would make a huge improvement.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG interior details

The interior will be familiar to anyone who has recently sat in a new MB. The infotainment system is heavy in buttons but generally easy to use, similar to other German makers, with the use of large console mounted knob but with Ford-esque steering wheel buttons. The sports seats are supportive and comfortable, a combination that is not always exclusive. Other AMG cues are visible in big clear gauges, flattened steering wheel, shifter paddles, and a really nice carbonfiber trim.

Forward visibility is not great, with large A-pillars and low sitting position and/or high beltline. The mirrors are rather small, too. From the driver’s seat, the hood has a visible dome in it but I am not sure if it is there to reaffirm that this is a sports, in a WRX sort of way, car or a truck in a 4Runner sort of way. Things get worse looking back; small windows and huge C-pillar make reversing or parallel parking downright challenging. There are sensors and a back-up camera to help assist with this, but the overall process is more difficult than it should be.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG exterior details

To test this vehicle’s abilities to do SUV things I filled up the trunk with week’s worth of groceries, a booster seat and a toddler seat in the back seat, and then instructed everyone to take their seats, with my wife in the front. Shockingly, everyone was comfortable. The back seat is short on legroom but the kids didn’t care. The trunk is small but swallowed up the groceries and a diaper bag. It may not be a large vehicle, but it is functional in a typical hatchback fashion.

The base Mercedes-Benz GLA250 starts at $33,300. But this GLA45 AMG is anything but base and therefore it starts at $48,300. Add to that your choice of packages: Premium Package, Driver’s Assistance Package, Multimedia Package, and/or Aerodynamic Package, and the total price can easily surpass the $60,000 mark. That is a lot of coin for a car that Mercedes representatives themselves referred to as “a Subaru WRX for grownups”, which may just be the best way to classify this vehicle.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG front 34

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC provided the vehicle for this review.

Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG rear 34

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Jaguar Launches New Historic Racing Series For 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/jaguar-launches-new-historic-racing-series-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/jaguar-launches-new-historic-racing-series-2015/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946170 Own a particular, race-ready Jaguar from the mid-1960s or earlier? The English brand is preparing a racing series just for you. Dubbed the Jaguar Heritage Challenge, the five-race historic series will begin its first season next year, and is open to XK, C-Type, D-Type, pre-1966 E-Type, MK I and MK II models. Per Jaguar Land […]

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Jaguar Heritage Challenge

Own a particular, race-ready Jaguar from the mid-1960s or earlier? The English brand is preparing a racing series just for you.

Dubbed the Jaguar Heritage Challenge, the five-race historic series will begin its first season next year, and is open to XK, C-Type, D-Type, pre-1966 E-Type, MK I and MK II models. Per Jaguar Land Rover Heritage Business Director Derek Weale, the race series further boosts Jaguar’s presence on the heritage racing scene, which includes famed events like the Mille Miglia and Goodwood Revival.

Operated by the Silverstone, England-based Historic Sports Car Club, the Jaguar Heritage Classic will hold four of its five races in the U.K. in 2015, with the remaining race held somewhere in Continental Europe. Dates, classes and venues are expected to come in the near future.

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Acura May Unleash New Integra As Early As 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/acura-may-unleash-new-integra-early-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/acura-may-unleash-new-integra-early-2017/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943465 The last time one could buy an Acura Integra/RSX new off the showroom floor was in the mid-2000s. That time could come again soon to help the upcoming NSX, and the brand overall. Car & Driver reports Acura’s chief designer, Dave Marek, said a performance brand such as his employer “needs a flagship and… an […]

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Honda Integra Type R DC2

The last time one could buy an Acura Integra/RSX new off the showroom floor was in the mid-2000s. That time could come again soon to help the upcoming NSX, and the brand overall.

Car & Driver reports Acura’s chief designer, Dave Marek, said a performance brand such as his employer “needs a flagship and… an accessible sport car. Not a sports car, but a sport car.” While the flagship — the NSX — is set to leave Ohio beginning next year, the reincarnated Integra/RSX would likely begin its return to the showroom floor in 2017 at the earliest.

Though Marek couldn’t be more specific regarding the supporting actor, he did acknowledge that Honda went the wrong way in making Acura too upscale, not at all helped by the Great Recession that turned what would have been the next NSX into a non-homologated Super GT combatant.

Meanwhile, Acura will debut a refreshed ILX next week at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, which he says is a harbinger of things to come:

There are changes coming, and then there are more changes coming. It’s not what our direction is going to be, but it’s a step in that direction. There are lots of resources and activity going into making Acura back into what it was.

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Williams: UAW To Be More Open Before Members, Public http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/williams-uaw-open-members-public/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/williams-uaw-open-members-public/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 12:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943433 With major negotiations between the Detroit Three coming up in 2015, United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams has vowed to be more open before the union’s membership and the general public in his leadership. Reuters reports Williams established a small social media department to help communicate with the 390,000 members during the upcoming negotiations: I […]

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United Auto Workers (UAW) union president Dennis Williams poses for a portrait in Detroit

With major negotiations between the Detroit Three coming up in 2015, United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams has vowed to be more open before the union’s membership and the general public in his leadership.

Reuters reports Williams established a small social media department to help communicate with the 390,000 members during the upcoming negotiations:

I don’t have a Twitter account. I don’t have a Facebook or any of that. I’m not an expert on it, that’s why we hire experts.

The inspiration to create the department likely came after a recent meeting with UAW relations chief for General Motors, Cindy Estrada, who showed photos of workers using their smartphones or tablets in the break room. Williams wanted to make sure the union was able to talk to these workers in the venues the workers were likely to visit.

The union is no stranger to social media, having used the tools available in 2011 during its last round of negotiations under the leadership of now-former president Bob King.

Outside of the social network, Williams recently brought on-board Brian Rothenberg into the role of head of communications, with the aim of being more open to the press [including those of us at the TTAC Zaibatsu, we hope – CA]. Rothenberg was the executive director of non-profit liberal super PAC ProgressOhio, a group he founded in 2006.

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FCA Spinning Ferrari Off From Parent Company By 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/fca-spinning-ferrari-parent-company-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/fca-spinning-ferrari-parent-company-2015/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:19:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938057 By this time next year, Ferrari will no longer be a part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, thanks to a plan announced today that will spin the exotic brand off from the rest of the Italo-American automaker. Bloomberg reports FCA will sell 10 percent of its stake to the public, giving the remaining 90 percent to […]

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Ferrari-458-Speciale-A-1

By this time next year, Ferrari will no longer be a part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, thanks to a plan announced today that will spin the exotic brand off from the rest of the Italo-American automaker.

Bloomberg reports FCA will sell 10 percent of its stake to the public, giving the remaining 90 percent to the automaker’s own shareholders. The shares will be listed in the United States stock market, with Europe possibly receiving some of those shares, as well.

According to Morningstar analyst Richard Hilgert, the split “unlocks the value” in the Ferrari brand, which could be worth as much as $7.4 billion. He adds that the move helps pull Ferrari out of the shadow of FCA, citing “the street’s perception of low profitability to no profitability” regarding the automaker’s market performance.

Speaking of performance, FCA stock climbed to $11.56 Wednesday after opening at $11.31, falling to $10.85 at the closing bell. Ferrari stock, meanwhile, would go for $5.90/share for FCA shareholders.

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