By on July 14, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Touring

After a brief history lesson underscoring just how important the Accord has been to North America throughout the last four decades, Honda unveiled the 10th generation of its midsize sedan to a semi-enthusiastic audience in Detroit today.

To be fair, it’s not the most exciting segment occupying the automotive landscape, but it is one of the most important — despite losing significant ground to crossovers and SUVs over the last few years. Honda clearly doesn’t want the Accord relegated exclusively to unimaginative buyers needing nothing more than basic transportation and fleet sales.

Despite sinking sales, automakers aren’t giving up on the midsize sedan, and Honda has placed some genuine effort behind the new Accord. That doesn’t mean they’ve converted it into a heart-stopping thrill ride, nor should they, since that’s not the kind of car it’s supposed to be. But they’ve taken steps to ensure the vehicle has improved in meaningful ways. While that didn’t stop Jeff Conrad, senior vice president of American Honda, from claiming it was “unquestionably the most dramatic remake of the Accord that we’ve ever done” at the unveiling, there is truth in that statement.

However, some the biggest changes coming to the 2018 Accord are what you won’t find in the upgraded model. (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry SE white - Image: ToyotaExcited at the prospect of an all-new midsize sedan despite a drastic decrease in demand for midsize sedans, Toyota is ramping up employment at the Camry’s assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.

With 700 additional manufacturing workers helping to launch the 2018 Toyota Camry, employment at Toyota’s Kentucky facility grew to 8,000, more than at any point in the plant’s three-decade history.

Toyota also builds Avalons and Lexus ES350s in Georgetown. (The Venza, a former Georgetown wagon, is dead.) But it’s the Camry, especially this all-new 2018 Camry, that will bring glory to the Kentucky plant if glory can indeed be brought.

Jack Hollis, the Toyota division’s group vice president and general manager, strongly believes the Camry is the beginning of a pro-sedan wave in America. In an extended interview with Autoline, Hollis spoke highly of the 2018 Camry’s potential, and of the potential for the entire car sector once the Camry stimulates demand.

“I think you’re going to see the entire sedan market pick up,” Hollis told Autoline, before hedging only a bit. “We’ll see a year from now.” (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry Canada reveal - Image: Toyota Canada

The all-new 2018 Toyota Camry’s new 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine generates 203 horsepower in the entry-level model, 206 horsepower in the 2018 Camry XSE.

This means the eighth-generation Camry offers the most standard horsepower of any car in America’s midsize segment, at least for the time being.

We know not yet what the 2018 Honda Accord will bring. Honda released some engine details last Friday, including information that reveals the death of the Accord’s V6 and future reliance on the 1.5-liter turbo from the Civic and CR-V — as well as the 2.0-liter turbo from the Civic Type R. But we don’t know how much power Honda, notoriously not a participant in any horsepower war, will allow the Accord’s basic 1.5T to produce.

Meanwhile, the Camry’s upgrade engine continues to be a 3.5-liter V6, and Toyota’s gone and done the right thing with that powerplant, too. Moar powah. (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2017

2018 Next Generation Honda Accord Camo - Image: HondaThe 10th generation of Honda’s venerable Accord will debut for 2018 without a V6 engine option.

A few months later to the all-new midsize party than the next-generation 2018 Toyota Camry, the new Accord will not follow the Camry’s entrenched path of providing customers with a base four-cylinder and a V6 upgrade.

Instead, Honda will make do with the 1.5-liter turbocharged four already under the hood of the 10th-generation Civic and the fifth-generation Honda CR-V. As an upgrade, Honda will offer the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit from the 2018 Honda Civic Type R. In both cases, Honda has not yet revealed the power output. Honda will continue with an Accord Hybrid, as well.

But the V6 is a goner. (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Passat, Image: Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Passat has a roomie.

Production of the Volkswagen Atlas, Volkswagen of America’s first three-row SUV and the automaker’s first three-row vehicle since the Dodge Grand Caravan-derived Volkswagen Routan fled the scene in 2014, began earlier this year in Chattanooga, Tennessee, previously known as the Passat’s factory.

The first 1,610 copies of the Atlas were sold in May 2017.

Volkswagen, which built the Tennessee assembly plant as part of a goal that would see the brand selling 800,000 vehicles in America per year by 2018, originally intended to build 150,000 vehicles annually in Chattanooga. Only half that capacity was used last year.

If the Volkswagen Atlas becomes the hit the Volkswagen Passat never was, what might that say about the North Americanized Volkswagen Passat’s future?  (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2017

lexus-es-silver-lining-metallic-gallery-overlay-1204x677-lex-esg-my16-0011

In a manner of speaking, that is. A recent report cast doubt on the future of Lexus’ rear-drive performance sedan, the GS, claiming that development of a next-generation model was off the table. That would make next year the GS’ last.

While Lexus wouldn’t confirm the report, a spokesperson’s choice of words was enough to add to the rumor. In a marketplace that’s big on SUVs and downright miserable to cars, it would make sense for Lexus to get ahead of the “too many cars” problem faced by the likes of Hyundai and pare down its lineup.

Now, another report says Lexus will call on a different model to fill the gap. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

Refreshed 2018 Acura TLX to Make World Debut

Slowly but surely, the inhabitants of the Acura stable are dropping the toned-down version of the brand’s polarizing “shield” grille in favor of the far more appealing “diamond pentagon” mouth.

That grille debuted on Acura’s Precision concept car before appearing on the redesigned 2017 MDX. Now, it’s the TLX sedan’s turn for plastic surgery. The automaker promises a refreshed and shieldless TLX at the New York International Auto Show on April 11, hoping that a new face might turn the tide on the midsize sedan’s flagging fortunes. (Read More…)

By on March 18, 2017

2016 Lexus GS350 red

When the second-generation Lexus GS 400 arrived in North America in late 1997, the automaker paired the introduction with a can’t-miss-it ad campaign. “Something wicked this way comes,” the glossy advertisements warned of the looming V8 model.

Well, that ominous late-90s tagline would soon be a lie, as rumor states that the 2018 model year could be the last for Lexus’ sporty midsize luxury sedan. There just might not be room in the lineup for this once-boastworthy rear-driver. (Read More…)

By on February 28, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Passat V6 rear - Image: © Timothy Cain

Time flies. 2017 is the sixth model year for the Chattanooga, Tennessee-built Volkswagen Passat, the Americanized family sedan that aimed for the heart of the market so routinely missed by its forerunners.

The other Passat, the Passat designed more for Europe’s tastes than yours, has since launched in new, eighth-generation form. Yet having lost all of the momentum created by Tennessee’s Passat in 2012, Volkswagen of America forges on with one particularly American cue: displacement.

An optional V6 engine is not entirely outside the midsize norm. In fact, the three best-selling midsize cars in America all currently offer a V6 powerplant. But it has become increasingly normal for competitors to skip the V6 in favor of turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder powerplants. That’s how Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, and (until recently) Ford play the game.

The 2017 Volkswagen Passat’s V6 is a 3.6-liter unit with 280 enthusiastic horsepower. All 280 ponies burble melodically at idle, as if to contradict the sober invisibility of the exterior design while heaping shame on the childish intake rasp of competitors’ four-pots.

Horsepower is undeniably intoxicating.

This new Passat, however, even with 280 intoxicating horsepower, is not a new car. And these 3,597 CCs cost a minimum of eight bucks per unit, or nearly ten bucks per CC in the case of our tester.

Unfortunately, there’s no replacement for displacement is only a valid statement if you’re willing to supplement your payment. (Read More…)

By on December 2, 2016

1992 Nissan Altima (public domain)

I had somewhat of a unique high school experience, in the sense that it was the most after-school special, stereotypical experience possible. I went to a suburban school with just the right amount of ethnic diversity — which is to say that even the black and Hispanic and Asian kids listened to Pearl Jam and wore Ralph Lauren.

When it came to our first cars, we didn’t just go down to the local dirt lot and buy something with our savings from fast food jobs. No, we were spoiled brats who were given sensible compact to mid-sized sedans by our parents. We didn’t lust after MK II GTIs or Geo Storms — no, we sat around the lunch table in 1994 and debated the merits of the fifth-gen Honda Accord, the basic but steady Ford Taurus, and the GOAT XV10 Toyota Camry, especially the blingy “American Edition.”

As for me, I had my heart set on the recently introduced Nissan Stanza Altima.

(Read More…)

By on November 17, 2016

passat_gt_concept_ (Image: Volkswagen of America)

A concept, or the first of many? That’s what Volkswagen execs need to decide once feedback rolls in from the conservatively sporting Passat GT concept shown off at this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

Hot, but not too hot, a Passat GT would be an affordable enthusiast offering for the embattled automaker, spicing up an aging model that’s slipping in the U.S. market. The public’s reaction — be it interest or yawns — is the real deciding factor, but here at TTAC, we’ve been of two minds. (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2016

2017 Subaru Legacy SportThis is the fifth overall edition of TTAC’s Midsize Sedan Deathwatch. The midsize sedan as we know it — “midsizedus sedanicus” in the original latin — isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but the ongoing sales contraction will result in a reduction of mainstream intermediate sedans in the U.S. market.

How do we know? It already has.


U.S. sales of midsize cars plunged by 20 percent in October 2016, a year-over-year loss of nearly 39,000 sales for a segment that was already down by nearly 195,000 through the first three-quarters of 2016.

American consumers, businesses, government agencies, and daily rental fleets are still on pace to purchase and lease more than two million midsize cars in calendar year 2016. Of course, Americans had already purchased and leased more than two million midsize cars at this point in 2015, when the midsize sedan decline was already underway.

Regardless of what came before, October’s results were a punch in the midsize sector’s gut, as total sales fell by a fifth because of declines reported by every player in the category.

Save for the Subaru Legacy. (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2016

2015-2017 Toyota Camry SE silver

This is the fourth overall edition of TTAC’s Midsize Sedan Deathwatch. The midsize sedan as we know it  — “midsizedus sedanicus” in the original latin — isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but the ongoing sales contraction will result in a reduction of mainstream intermediate sedans in the U.S. market. How do we know? It already has.


As more proof of a struggling midsize sedan sector, September 2016 sales tumbled 11 percent year-over-year, a loss of more than 21,400 U.S. sales for a segment that was already losing an average of 21,600 sales per month during the first two-thirds of 2016.

The Toyota Camry, America’s top-selling midsize car and the most popular car in America over the last 14 consecutive years, was outsold by its own compact sibling in September. Yet the Camry’s sales decline, in line with the segment average, was by no means unusual in September. Aside from a modest Nissan Altima increase and a jump in sales of the new Chevrolet Malibu, every midsize nameplate generated fewer sales this September than last. (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2016

2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R LimitedThere will always be a place in the American market for the conventional midsize sedan.

Despite harsh declines in recent months, consumers are still on track to register more than 2 million midsize cars in calendar year 2016. In fact, a handful of nameplates — Accord, Legacy, Malibu — are attracting more buyers this year than they did in the first two-thirds of 2015.

But U.S. sales of midsize cars are now falling with a special kind of speed, plunging 26 percent in August, a loss of nearly 58,000 sales over the span of just one month. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2016

2016 RAV4 and CamryWill the Toyota RAV4 outsell Toyota’s long-running best-selling car, the Toyota Camry, within the next five years? Nine months ago, Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. boss, Bob Carter, said, “I’ll bet you lunch that will happen.”

It didn’t take five years.

To be fair, Carter wasn’t referring to a single month’s results. Indeed, through the first two-thirds of 2016,  the Camry produced nearly 36,000 more U.S. sales — about one month’s worth — than the RAV4.

But in August 2016, for the first time in Toyota’s U.S. history, the Toyota RAV4 was more popular than the Toyota Camry. And the RAV4 was by no means the only vehicle to outsell the most popular car in America. (Read More…)

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