By on June 27, 2017

2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock

While there are some who still proudly use the old slogan “Buy American,” the concept is only loosely applicable to automobiles. While you can certainly support American brands, every automobile on the road is an amalgamation of parts from all over the world — and has been for quite some time.

This year, the automotive research website Cars.com, which began ranking the country’s “most-American” vehicles in 2006, was forced to change its criteria after only three models qualified under the old system of measurement.

For 2017, Cars.com has added country of engine origin, country of transmission origin, and U.S. factory employment relative to a company’s sales to its previous criteria of American parts content and final assembly location. It was also forced to lower the overall percentage of domestic parts a car needs to qualify by a full fifteen percent — from 75 to 60 percent.  (Read More…)

By on October 6, 2016

Fidanza Ford Mustang

They say impersonation is the greatest form of flattery, but that flattery has some serious financial consequences in the world of aftermarket parts.

Ohio-based Fidanza Performance, a supplier of aftermarket clutches, flywheels, and other parts, is the latest victim of Chinese knockoff artists selling “Fidanza-like” products on eBay and through unauthorized retailers.

Needless to say, Fidanza president Jeff Jenkins isn’t thrilled by the mimicry.

(Read More…)

By on June 28, 2016

2015 Toyota Camry XLE

In its 2016 American-Made Index, Cars.com returned a familiar nameplate to the top spot, but it isn’t built by a domestic automaker.

According to the annual ranking, Toyota Camry retains the American-made crown this year with 75-percent domestic content. Other Japanese models, each wrapped up in red, white and blue, fill up the top five.

The findings fly in the face of the Kogod Made in America Auto Index published last week, which had domestic automakers on top. (Read More…)

By on December 22, 2015

2016 Kia Optima SXL Exterior-012

It’s easy to see why some automakers resist putting premium features in mass market models. All you need to do is look at that luxury showroom to the right. In the quest to differentiate, say, the Ford Fusion from its Lincoln counterpart, or the Toyota Avalon from the Lexus ES, and so forth, manufacturers limit the options and luxuries available on the more pedestrian models.

On the surface, the Optima SXL’s mission could be confused with that of competitors from other non-luxury marques — Accord Touring and Fusion Titanium to name two — but Kia takes its top-trim game a couple steps further. You see, Kia is in a different position as the Optima has no luxury branded sistership and Kia has nothing to lose by creating an Optima trim that could arguably compete with the Acura TLX and Lincoln MKZ.

However, the Optima SXL’s existence does give rise to a very important question: Can a gussied-up family sedan be a value alternative to a near-luxury option, such as the TLX or MKZ? Or is this a case of “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?”

Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

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