Tag: QOTD

By on June 22, 2017

2017 Chrysler 300C - Image: FCAThe American new vehicle market is evolving. Indeed, the rate of evolution suggests it may be evolving fast enough to be deemed a revolution.

Passenger car market share is down to 37 percent through the first five months of 2017. We’re not even a decade removed from a time when passenger cars accounted for more than half of all U.S. auto sales. Cars have lost 4 percentage points of U.S. market share in just the last year. While pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers added 225,000 sales, year-over-year, in the first five months of 2017, passenger car volume tumbled by more than 145,000 units.

As a result, automakers are giving up on cars. Not wholeheartedly, not across the board, not routinely. But in specific areas. And this couldn’t be more obvious at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, where the company no longer has entries in the two largest passenger car sectors. Heading into 2018, FCA’s car branch will market two Dodges, one Chrysler, and a handful of Fiats, Maseratis, and Alfa Romeos.

Is that enough? Or does Fiat Chrysler Automobiles need more cars? (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2017

18 -1992 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Lately, I’ve taken you back in time when it’s my turn to offer up a Question of the Day. Today is no exception, as we’re going to discuss the past and the future at the same time. Now, while your head is spinning and you reach for a VHS copy of Back to the Future, allow me to explain.

We’re going to discuss the car brand you’d like to resurrect, and the models it would offer today. Sound like fun? (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2017

Mercedes C230 Kompressor Sportcoupe, Image: M 93/wIKIMEDIA cOMMONS (CC BY-SA 3.0)]

Yesterday brought exciting news for future car shoppers, especially those whose pants aren’t exactly sagging under the weight of an overstuffed wallet.

You see, there’s a new Mercedes-Benz on the way. A small four-door one, though likely not much smaller than the existing CLA sedan coupe. Yes, it will be front-wheel drive — sacrilege, we know — and will boast any number of four-cylinder engines. It’s the A-Class and, according to dealers, it’s also Mercedes-Benz’s future entry-level model.

Bottom rung. A starting point for the brand. And it might just carry a starting price of less than $30,000. Holy cats, you say, that’s less than a V6 Honda Accord! Just think of what this could do for my status in the community!

Yeah, about that… (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

Mazda In Abandoned Dealership in Switzerland

Imagine for a second you’re living in Canada in the mid-‘80s. The Edmonton Oilers have brought the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1979, and it’ll stay in the Great White North until the next decade. A broad-chinned lawyer was just given a landslide victory to lead the country and the Tunagate scandal meant one could no longer enjoy tasty canned fish for supper.

That Detroit barge in the driveway is looking a bit haggard now, especially with the copious amounts of salt being dumped on the road every winter. Sure, we’re in the go-go ‘80s, but who wants to blow all that dough they’re charging for Hondas and Toyotas? A couple of new dealerships have set up shop in town, filled with cheap Eastern Bloc and Korean cars. But which one will you choose?

(Read More…)

By on June 15, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe - Image: © Timothy CainVehicle classifications are important. They enable governments to better regulate. They allow uninformed buyers to get a grip on the market. They foster competition. They clarify conversation.

The passenger car sector is subdivided in countless ways, and not just by size. In the car realm, there are hatchbacks and liftbacks, convertibles and roadsters, station wagons and shooting brakes, sedans and coupes.

Yet when it comes to utility vehicles, besides differentiating (or attempting to differentiate, if there’s even any point) between SUVs and crossovers, much of the classification conversation revolves purely around size, from the subcompact Honda HR-V to the full-size Chevrolet Suburban.

So what’s this? I’m driving a Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe this week. But we all know it’s not a coupe, which is traditionally known as a car with two doors and a fixed roof. Sometimes the coupe’s definition is even narrower. Yet never has the traditional coupe definition allowed for vehicles such as the GLC, BMW X4, BMW X6, or Mercedes-Benz’s GLE Coupe to be called coupes.

Still, we need to call them something. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2017

1991-ford-taurus-sho-beige-front-quarter

It’s been a couple of weeks since we took a stroll down memory lane together. I asked you in May about the worst car you could recall in your high school parking lot. The incoming responses made it seem like our enthusiast B&B members were often aware they were the winner of the bad car blue ribbon in school. That speaks to our level of enlightenment and self-awareness. Think of how many people go through life not ever realizing how bad their cars are.

For today though, we run away from the rust buckets and 75-horsepower Malaise Wonders. I want to hear about the most awesome car in your high school lot.

(Read More…)

By on June 13, 2017

1994 Toyota Camry coupe, Image: public domain

We’re all abuzz about Camrys here at TTAC, or so it would seem. Our website, our tweets, even our Slack conversations always manage to conjure up the specter of the Great One. No, not Gretzky – another consistent scorer.

The Camry.

Nine years on, and I’m still wracked with guilt over letting the best car I’ve ever owned — the most reliable and trustworthy car to ever find its way into my life — fade away into the automotive afterlife. It certainly didn’t deserve to be traded in at a used car lot for peanuts, and I can barely entertain the thought of what came next. No, it was wrong to let it go, but financial circumstances at the time necessitated a vehicle with no deferred backlog of minor repairs. Certainly, my job at the time didn’t jibe with an odometer reading approaching the half-million kilometer mark.

I’m of course talking about a rare beast born from a litter of lookalikes. A 1994 Toyota Camry. But not just any run-of-the-mill, plain-Jane Camry. Yes, it was beige — it was hard to find one that wasn’t — but my Camry stood out. It excelled. It impressed. It had two doors. Two doors … and a stick shift.

Truly the Greatest Generation, the North American market Camrys of model years 1992 to 1996 were big, roomy, comfortable, efficient, and — above all else — reliable. It was a better Buick, and in (admittedly conservative) coupe form, something special. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2017

Route 330, Newfoundland

Growing up a million years ago in Canada’s most eastern province, everyone – young, old, tall, short – had a primo spot for their favored recreational activity. Fishing? We all did that … and you’d better believe there was a location or two better than all the others. The old folks used to go berry-picking and everyone knew not to muscle in on Uncle Eli’s favorite blueberry patch.

Me? Then, as ever, I enjoyed driving cars … and I had a favorite spot for that, too.

(Read More…)

By on June 9, 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr, Wikimedia Commons

The story goes something like this: A dealership claims to have Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s C6-generation Corvette ZR1 for sale. The Drive publishes a breathless piece on this Corvette. Then Junior happens to notice the post and corrects them.

A print magazine would publish a correction. It’s been suggested that The Drive deep-six the post entirely. What’s the appropriate course of action here, for this and other situations like it?

(Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

2017 Hyundai Tucson - Image: HyundaiThis is not what you’d call a long history of sales difficulties for Hyundai, the seventh-best-selling auto brand in America. The 2016 calendar year was Hyundai Motor America’s best ever, the culmination of eight consecutive years of growth.

Yet while Hyundai rapidly — and not unpredictably — grew its U.S. sales coming out of the recession, nearly doubling its sales between 2008 and 2016, the rate of growth was notably slower in 2016 than in prior years. Blame capacity constraints, blame a car-centric lineup in an SUV-leaning world, blame conservative redesigns, blame whatever you want.

Regardless, Hyundai is feeling the pinch now. Year-over-year, sales have declined in each of the last six months. Hyundai’s U.S. CEO, Dave Zuchowski, was ousted just before Christmas 2016. In May 2017, for the first time ever, Kia outsold Hyundai in the United States. And on June 6, 2017, Hyundai Motor America’s vice president for sales, Derrick Hatami, exited the building as well.

All is not well. So then, more SUVs? (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2017

2017 Mazda 3 5-door – Image: Mazda

About three weeks ago, my Question Of The Day focused on public statements about Mazda’s future plans. The statements came from the CEO of Mazda North America, as reported in an article by Tim Cain. Many of you responded and agreed with the assertions and opinions I put forth, while some were brave enough to disagree. By and large, it was a fairly productive conversation, with over 150 replies in the comments.

Now that some time has passed and the comments have largely ceased, I can fulfill a request made by commenter slow_poke: a summation of your top recommendations, in our first Mazda QOTD FU (follow-up). Let’s see what you had to say.

(Read More…)

By on June 6, 2017

(Public domain)

We’re deep into a nebulous time of the year called “driving season.” This, of course, is the part of the calendar when it suddenly becomes possible for vehicle owners to leave their homes and drive away. So, driving season it is.

If you’re a Northerner, the season holds far more emotional and spiritual importance than for those in sunnier climes. The open road simply doesn’t beckon if the landscape mimics a scene from Fargo, unless it’s to escape south. But come summer, every road’s a destination. Every street, highway, and back laneway is another opportunity to enjoy the miracle of the Earth’s tilting axis, the glorious wobble that lurches our side of the planet towards the sun for half a year, melting the snow that covers our cigarette butts, coffee cups and corpses.

The road beckons, yet many of us fail to properly heed its call.

Be it time, money, family obligations, or maybe just a general lack of adventure (perhaps you’re already dead inside?), countless roads remain untouched by our Goodyears or Bridgestones. (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2017

FH3 Press Photo

Most gearheads of a certain age got their first tastes of behind-the-wheel speed not through their right foot but through their right thumb. Atari, Nintendo, PC … or – for the youngsters among us – PlayStation and Xbox.

Me? Well, here’s the one that hooked me into the world of pixelated dashboards and synthesized exhausts.

(Read More…)

By on June 1, 2017

2018 Toyota C-HR, Image: © Timothy Cain

People want to talk to me about the 2018 Toyota C-HR.

Since I took possession of a Toyota Canada-supplied C-HR last Friday, more people have approached me to discuss the C-HR than any other car I’ve ever had the pleasure or displeasure of testing.

Naturally, I assume they’re not going to have kind things to say. Let’s be honest: the Toyota C-HR is not a conventional beauty. “It’s not mine,” I quickly declare to a couple examining the C-HR in the grocery store parking lot as I approach it, bags in hand. “You can say whatever you think.”

And then they do. But the words they speak are not in keeping with my expectations. (Read More…)

By on May 31, 2017

Image: Capture from YouTube

In a classic case of fight-or-flight response, a Milwaukee woman named Melissa Smith has just filled up her Subaru Outback and realizes there’s a man on the driver’s side about to steal her off-roading vehicle. Rather than let the thief drive off with her ride, she takes action. Immediately jumping up onto the hood, Melissa stares the criminal right in the eyes. According to an interview the victim provided to various news outlets, the thief laughed in her face and turned the wipers on, in an attempt to brush her off like mere precipitation. That didn’t work. She grabs onto the wipers for dear life. Then in two successive attempts, the would-be thief accelerates quickly and brakes, trying to shake Ms. Smith from the hood.

(Read More…)

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