By on August 16, 2017

2018 Buick LaCrosse - Image: BuickAs General Motors seeks to get the company’s U.S. inventory down to the industry average of 70 days’ supply by the end of 2017, once-prominent passenger cars are inhibiting the company from achieving its vital goal.

At Cadillac, where even the company’s three utility vehicles have far more than 70 days of stock, the brand’s four car nameplates have 137 days’ supply. At Chevrolet, where the brand’s somewhat excessive light truck inventory is largely due to an intentional increase in Silverado stock, there’s a 128-day supply of passenger cars. Granted, that figure is worsened by a stop-sale on Chevrolet Sparks that limited the city car to only 1,132 U.S. sales in the last three months and by a necessary Corvette stockpile in advance of a Bowling Green shutdown.

But it’s at Buick, where new and old designs alike are suffering from dramatically lower-than-anticipated demand, that GM’s inventory reduction methodology doesn’t seem to be taking hold. According to Automotive News, Buick dealers have enough LaCrosses in stock to last until the July 4th holiday next summer.

How did Buick develop such a LaCrosse glut, and is there a silver lining to this black inventory cloud? (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

2016 Toyota Avalon - Image: ToyotaU.S. sales of full-size, volume-brand sedans fell 17 percent in the first seven months of 2017, a sharp drop following noteworthy declines in each of the last three years. Despite the growth the market has seen since the auto industry’s collapse in 2009, big sedans have lost 37 percent of their U.S. sales volume over the last four years.

Compared with 2013, that’s 18,000 fewer sales for the segment every month. Even compared with 2016, that’s 6,500 fewer sales every month.

In what was historically a fleet-dependent corner of the passenger-car market, many automakers’ reduced emphasis on sales to daily rental companies plays a major role. Numerous players in the segment also attempted to move upmarket, further away from the midsize cars that now offer the requisite interior volume. It hasn’t turned out so well for some. Remember the Mitsubishi Diamante and Mercury Montego? We’ll soon forget the discontinued Hyundai Azera. The Ford Taurus is likely not long for this market, either.

Yet in a market that’s lost 17 percent of its sales this year, the Toyota Avalon has shed 28 percent of its year-to-date volume, a loss of 7,475 sales. With an all-new 2018 Camry set to generate more than its fair share of Toyota sedan sales, does the Avalon even deserve a place in Toyota’s 2018 lineup?

Indeed it does, as Toyota will launch the fifth-generation, TNGA-based Avalon in 2018. “We’re committed to Avalon,” says Toyota North America’s executive vice president for sales, Bob Carter. (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2017

2016 Toyota Avalon - Image: ToyotaStiffer structures, a lower center of gravity for improved handling, more shared components, and a 20-percent cost cut are all benefits of the Toyota New Global Architecture. Eventually, Toyota wants all of its front-wheel-drive vehicles to use TNGA as a starting point.

You first witnessed TNGA in the 2016 Toyota Prius, then in the 2018 Toyota C-HR, and most recently in the 2018 Toyota Camry that’s trickling into dealers now.

But beyond the ability to improve existing nameplates and spawn dramatically different new cars, TNGA is also intended to improve plant efficiency. Yet a massive shift at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky assembly plant, detailed by Wards Auto, hasn’t yet resulted in the efficiency rewards.

“When we change over in the future with the Avalon, we’ll be able to pull that efficiency out of (the operation),” Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky president Wil James told Wards.

Ah yes, Avalon. How could we forget? (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2017

lincoln-continental-2017-iihs-crash-test

Like the rest of North America’s passenger car market, full-size sedan sales are waning. While luxury vehicles haven’t taken quite the same hit as more affordable models, big cars are not in fashion for 2017. However, some buyers still prefer the distinction and mass that only a full-size automobile can provide. They want a luxurious, low-slung ride and, if possible, an equally elegant crash experience.

While big cars tend to perform better in accidents than the majority of their petite contemporaries, very few vehicles do well in the small overlap crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently took six of its favorite picks from the segment to evaluate side impact crashes, roof strength, protection from head restraints, moderate overlap front crashes, and the dreaded small overlap front impact.

“This group of large cars includes some with stellar ratings, but our small overlap front test remains a hurdle for some vehicles,” explained David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer.  (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

2018 Cadillac XTS, Image: General Motors

Thanks to China’s media, as well as General Motors’ aggressive pursuit of new buyers in that populous, prestige-seeking country, we’ve already seen the facelifted 2018 XTS sedan. The Chinese market model appeared a month ago, powered by a downsized motor you won’t find in U.S. variants.

Despite this, the refreshed XTS is now official. Cadillac has released details and photos of a model that wasn’t supposed to have a second act — until it realized you don’t drop a vehicle with steady sales, no matter how outdated it may appear. Say hello to Cadillac’s front-drive full-sizer, now gussied up to look like Cadillac’s rear-drive full-sizer. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2016

2015 Chrysler 300S

Is Chrysler’s LX platform doomed to meet the same fate as the beloved Panther?

Replacing the aging Chrysler 300’s rear-wheel-drive architecture with that of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan is one idea festering in the mind of Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, judging by recent comments published by Automotive News. (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2016

2017 Chrysler 300S with Sport Appearance Packages

Chrysler’s venerable 300 has seen its fair share of wardrobe changes since debuting for the 2005 model year, and it’s now come back from the closet with more.

Not wanting to be absent from all the action happening at the New York Auto Show, Chrysler dutifully showed up to display the interior and exterior Sport Appearance Packages that will come standard on the V8-powered 2017 300S.

Dressing up a model that’s already been refreshed once since its second generation bowed five years ago can be a challenge, but the 300 is the torchbearer for the brand’s scant lineup and needs to stay visible.

(Read More…)

By on September 15, 2015

2015 Dodge Charger V6

Only weeks after TTAC’s managing editor publicly declared his yearning for a V8-powered Dodge Charger, I was driving the same V6-powered Charger that got Mr. Stevenson’s motor running.

His response, the response of a young man whose lifestyle necessitates no firm requirements from his transportation device: I want this car.

My response, the response of a slightly more aged man whose lifestyle necessitates the frequent carriage of strollers, the frequent installation of a Diono Radian RXT, and the frequent responsibility of ferrying lanky individuals in the rear seat: Big family cars ain’t what they used to be. (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2014

550x412xphaetons-550x412.jpg.pagespeed.ic.phcnXCd72w

The internet is abuzz with the possibility that the Volkswagen Phaeton might make a return to the United States – with a cheaper price point as well. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible idea. But not for the reason you might think.

(Read More…)

By on October 3, 2013

TTAC_large-car-sales-chart-September-2013

As America’s new vehicle market posted a 4% sales decline in an abbreviated September 2013 and total passenger car sales slid 7%, sales of large cars at mainstream brands rose 5%.

Growth was powered in large part by the Dodge Charger, which hasn’t sold this well since 2008.

Toyota reported its tenth consecutive significant Avalon sales increase. The Hyundai Azera’s 67% jump equalled 596 extra units. In its sixth month, Kia sold 926 Cadenzas, down 35% from the average it had achieved over the prior three months.

(Read More…)

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