By on August 16, 2017

1966 Chevrolet Impala in Colorado wrecking yard, air conditioning decal - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Yesterday, Tim Cain reported on the new Chevrolet Tahoe Custom trim, which lowers the point of entry on the Tahoe by $3,750 for 2018. If you’re a nerd and enjoy trim-level discussions like I do, this is an important moment. For the first time since the Tahoe grew to four doors in 1995, you’ll be able to buy a trim lower than the LS.

This new (relatively) low-cost trim is seen by many Internet Car Enthusiasts here at TTAC as the way forward: dispensing with unnecessary options like infotainment, large wheels, and a third row seat that rarely sees use. Seems like a decent enough idea, so let’s take it across the board today.

Which vehicles deserve a cost-cutting trim level?

(Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

FCA China flag

As you’re probably aware, this week began with rumblings that several Chinese automakers, some of them state-owned, are taking an interest in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Not entirely surprising, as we all know FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s spent the past year or so positioning his company for a potential takeover. Slashing debt, consolidating its operations, all to look pretty for that potential mate.

Sure, General Motors and Volkswagen rebuffed the company’s awkward advances, but there’s plenty of fish in the sea for a company with an urge to merge. However, with cash-flush Chinese manufacturers, buyouts are more likely than partnerships.

If it comes to pass, it might not be a bad thing for the volatile American automaker. China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., owner of Volvo Cars, did great things for the Swedish brand, overcoming its financial issues while affording the automaker a hands-off approach. Is Volvo making great cars again? Is it on solid footing?

All signs point to “yes.” (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

broken old chair chairs, Image: juriskraulis/Bigstock

Most readers know of our weekly Ace of Base series, which turns a jaundiced eye to the instant-ramen end of the price scale for a particular model. Thanks for all the comments on those, by the way.

Sometimes, though, there is no cut-rate model. No trim on which to hang the placard of “Value Leader.” Let’s fix that, shall we?

(Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2015 Nissan Juke, Image: Nissan

Today’s Question of the Day is the inverse of one I posited back in March of this year. At that time, we took your suggestions for current vehicle designs which you thought would stand the test of time.

It’s now time to cover the other side of the ugly coin; the vehicles on sale today which will become dated-looking quicker than all others.

(Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

car crash (Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr)

The Civic Holiday I mentioned yesterday didn’t prove very civil for yours truly and his red Chevrolet Cruze Eco. Sadly, a second-generation Volkswagen Passat made mostly of rust, primer, and pure, simmering evil decided to make a play at the poor Cruze in the midst of a nightmarish traffic jam. I don’t want to get too specific about the locale for fear of tarring a whole community of drivers with the same brush. (It was Montreal.)

While the Cruze escaped intact, it didn’t leave the scrap unmolested. Looks like I’ll be heading out in search of paint and rubbing compound tonight (Note: first-gen Cruze bumpers seem to hold up under pressure; I can’t speak for the second-generation models).

The incident nonetheless reminded me of past run-ins, be it with large animals or large vehicles. My 1993 Corsica of years gone by didn’t weather a front-quarter hit from a circa 2000 Impala all that well. Curtain call. Six feet under. Pushing up daisies. Contrast the Corsica’s  “folded like Superman on laundry day” performance to my beloved ’94 Camry, which soaked up two whitetail deer and politely asked for more. Zero dollars spent on repairs with that one. Just a minute or two spent evening out the hood with my rear end and some wooden shims inserted for headlight alignment. Duct tape wasn’t required.

What a tank that car was. Bland? Absolutely. Beige? What else? But beastly when push comes to shove. (Read More…)

By on August 7, 2017

welders teamwork, Image: lisafx/Bigstock

On Friday, Matt Posky brought us the news that Mazda and Toyota are shacking up, striking a deal to construct a joint-venture manufacturing facility plus a sharing of EV tech. Mazda’s no stranger to cooperating with other car companies, from churning out sister vehicles to Ford in the 90s and lending the MX-5 platform to Fiat just last year.

These partnerships make sense, given the scale and complexity of auto manufacturing. Tossing aside geography, finance, and politics for a moment, let us ask you this: what two companies would you like to see collaborate with the goal of making something truly fantastic?

(Read More…)

By on August 4, 2017

Lincoln Mk. V (public domain)

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends. In this special edition of QOTD, I answer your search engine queries with all the sincerity I can muster. So let’s start with your above question: Where is Silverado made? The answer is simple. Silverado, the alt-Western starring basically the cast of The Big Chill, was filmed on location in New Mexico.

Let’s roll the tape and see what else you asked.

(Read More…)

By on August 2, 2017

CT6 Continental

Today’s Question of the Day isn’t our typical lighthearted, open-ended Choose Your Own Adventure inquiry. It’s serious business, pitting two serious flagship sedans against one another.

At the end of this post, you’ll have to choose: Lincoln Continental, or Cadillac CT6?

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2017

2017 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Sahara - Image: Jeep

As we told you yesterday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne is spooked. He can’t count on diesel engines for fuel economy gains anymore — at least, not for long. With governments big and small braying for lower emissions and cracking down on the use of diesel vehicles, FCA’s future lineup requires a gas-sipping solution.

And so, after sitting on the fence for years, the Auburn Hills automaker (which still carries a big, albeit shrinking, debt) has given in. It’ll pour money into electrifying its lineup. In five years, 50-percent of its models should boast some form of electric propulsion, Marchionne claims.

As we’ve learned from the past, FCA’s product promises — and especially its timelines — carry a big grain of salt. But let’s say the company sticks to its goal. And, because this question can go any way the author chooses, you’re replacing Marchionne at the helm. (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2017

abandoned rusty Datsun truck, Image: Mr Hicks46/Flickr

You know the type: it’s the one who starts their ad with “RARE!” and ends it with “I know what I’ve got!!!1!” No matter what type of cars you’re into – classic muscle, JDM imports, or modern supercars – there’s almost always one person in the crew who thinks what they own is worth a king’s ransom.

Never, though, have I even seen someone so massively, incredibly, ginormously overvalue their car like this seller.

(Read More…)

By on July 26, 2017

Acura Legend Coupe

Earlier this week in his Question of the Day, Matthew Guy asked everyone to share a favorite vehicle from their year of birth. An interesting walk through history ensued in the days following, and I encourage each of you to head there and read through the comments if you haven’t done so already. You’ve probably already guessed from the title above where I’m going with this particular question.

Today’s inquiry is all about the worst, steamiest pile of junk on sale the year you were born. Let’s get down and dirty.

(Read More…)

By on July 25, 2017

I2018 ford F-150, mage: Ford Motor Co.

If I had my way, and I’m sure others feel the same, Ford would dial back its styling about 40 years, return the 300 cubic-inch straight-six back to the F-150’s engine lineup, and dust off the column-mounted three-speed manual. We could all tool around like Uncle Jesse, confident in knowing we made a solid buying decision. As our need for fancy driver’s aids and entertainment systems and seats that do everything but propose marriage fade into hazy recollections, our only gripe would be the stickiness of the vinyl bench seat on hot, un-air conditioned days.

Never fear, though. The truck’s filled with refreshing watermelon and beer and lemonade!

Okay, enough of this fantasy, as it’s never going to happen. Not possible. Automakers are addicted to pickup truck revenue, and consumers are only too happy to play the enabler, topping up those coffers ever higher thanks to a never-ending thirst for more options, more features, more luxury.

Have we gone too far? (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

04 - 1987 Saab 900 in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Ages ago in this series, I asked the 20-year question and you, the Best & Brightest, did not disappoint with your answers. Today, your mission is to simply answer the following: what car do you desire from the year of your birth?

For me, that model year is 1980. Let’s see what was shiny and new on the showroom floor back when interest rates were larger than the salesman’s lapels.

(Read More…)

By on July 21, 2017

1995 Plymouth Neon, Image: Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a believer in the idea of authentically American small cars, then you’ve had a rough couple of years. The last compact or subcompact to be engineered ground-up by an American corporation was probably the ’95 Dodge/Plymouth Neon, although some kind of argument might be possible for the Chevrolet Cobalt. In 2017, the Big Three have been reduced to selling locally assembled versions of a German car, a Korean car, and an Italian car. We’re basically where Brazil was in 1990.

Things are going to get worse. GM might discontinue some small cars altogether. Ford is going to build the Focus in China. FCA probably has no plans to bring a Dart successor here. This is the end, beautiful friend. Do you care?

(Read More…)

By on July 19, 2017

2014 Fiat 500L Exterior-003

Each week, TTAC’s basic car correspondent Matthew Guy brings you an Ace of Base article. Matt’s carefully selected examples are base models which tick many desirability boxes, proving you don’t need thousands of dollars in engine upgrades, brakes, pieces of trim, or tech packages to have good and enjoyable transportation. Overall, the Ace of Base series is positive and uplifting, presenting us with the best of the best of base. The other half of the basic coin is being ignored, however, and that’s where you come in.

Today we seek your nominations for the new vehicle which best represents a Waste of Base. 

(Read More…)

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