By on March 30, 2017

2017 Acura TLX – Image: Acura

The Acura TLX did not start poorly. When the TL/TSX replacement arrived nearly three years ago, we asked whether the TLX could restore Acura’s car business. First month results were strong.

The next month, the TLX’s early results suggested that, by Acura standards, the core Acura sedan might be a hit.

The Acura TLX then produced some very impressive results in just its third month of availability. In fact, so great were those results, when nearly 5,000 TLXs were sold in October 2014, that Acura has only exceeded that total once in the 28 months since. Instead, TLX sales have rapidly declined, sliding 5 percent in 2015’s fourth-quarter, plunging 21 percent in calendar year 2016, and falling 19 percent so far this year. TLX sales have declined in 14 of the last 16 months, year-over-year.

But 2017’s New York International Auto Show will host the reveal of a refreshed, facelifted Acura TLX next month. Acura says the TLX will feature “a design direction that has already successfully influenced the styling of the 2017 Acura MDX.”

U.S. sales of Acura’s car sales are down 27 percent this year. The Acura brand is down 13 percent. The loss of more than 1,000 TLX sales in just two months is a big factor in the brand’s decline.

Is a refreshed Acura TLX way too little, way too late? (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

2015-Corvette-Z06-rear-spoiler

Maybe the answer’s a no-brainer, but perhaps it’s more complicated than that. We’re living in an era where traditional norms no longer apply to the auto industry.

Yesterday, we told you how ex-General Motors product man Bob Lutz is totally open to the idea of turning Corvette into its own brand — a progression of an opinion he’s held for years. Corvette needn’t offer just two-seat hardtops and convertibles, at least not in this day and age, he claims. SUVs are simply too big to ignore, and everybody’s doing it, don’t you know?

Maybe Corvette aficionados don’t want to leave those checkered flags in the garage when they pick up the kids at soccer practice. And what about those times when Home Depot is closing in 14 minutes and you really need that slab of particle board? (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

Porsche - Kills Bugs Fast

Last week, Jack opined it’s high time a certain American nameplate needs to start leading itself with marketing — brash, notice-it-even-if-you-don’t-want-to marketing — instead of by the short leash provided when one tries engineering their way into the hearts and wallets of American consumers.

Never one to pass up a chance to dive down the rabbit hole of automotive marketing, it didn’t take long for my browser history to be clogged with search terms, finding great car ads I remember from when, as a kid, my grubby little hands would anticipate the arrival of a new car magazine.

(Read More…)

By on March 22, 2017

LFA airborne. Picture courtesy Team Gazoo

Stereotyping is something we all do, for better or worse. It’s in the normative for people to establish an immediate set of parameters around a person, place, or thing (so, nouns) without a second thought. The human brain is comfortable within these predetermined expectations. Similarly, consumers have expectations and stereotypes of brands. X/Y/Z brand are expected to offer a particular style, model, or paint color — and many brands exist in these stereotypes entirely without any joie de vivre, or whatever French phrases people throw out to sound intellectual.

But today I want to know what cars stand out within their brand. Which models past or present threw the marque’s guideline book out the window to become par excellence? (Ugh.)

(Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue SL

I was talking with a friend last night, telling him about the Buick LaCrosse tester currently in my stable and describing the declining fortunes of the traditional passenger car market. Full-size cars, especially.

Now, let me tell you about this friend. Ex-military. Practical. Lives in the city but enjoys occasional forays into the bush. Sensible with his money, and prefers products with a natural versatility. Now, guess what he drives? If your answer was anything other than, “A crossover, obviously! Stop wasting my time!” you’d be correct. (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2017

1989 Lincoln Mark VII LSC

A couple of weeks ago, Steph asked about the one that got away. From Aussie coupes to strange French sedans — which, by the way, require such a deep love of all things Gallic that one must have garlic toothpaste in their medicine cabinet — the B&B had some great examples of forbidden fruit for which they yearn.

Thing is, though, all those examples were denied us by the manufacturers. This time, we’re going for something far more personal. What’s the one that got away … because you sold it?

(Read More…)

By on March 17, 2017

20170316_131301

There’s something ironic about it, and I don’t mean in the way Alanis Morissette uses the term: The media days at the major auto shows offer unmatched access to the vast majority of vehicles on sale in the United States today. The stuff that gets locked up and put behind barriers once the shows open to the public is usually open and available for your inspection.

Want to try out the back seat in a Mulsanne, or rub your dirty fingers all over the steering wheel of your favorite supercar? It’s all possible — and usually without the lines, disruption, and drama that you’d expect once the average Joes get in the door. Not even the $500-a-head charity previews will get you the unfettered touch time with your favorite high-end automobile that comes as standard equipment with a zero-buck press pass.

Yet if you are “working” a show, that means spending nine hours a day literally running between press conferences, frantically uploading photos or writing summaries, and staying in motion until you’re dead on your feet. Then it’s time to go to a series of all-you-can-drink parties where you’ll be surrounded all night by the kind of people who whine about Republicans then wave nonchalantly for a Rolls-Royce to take them to a $699 per night hotel. Wake up the next morning, rinse and repeat.

In other words, even though the media days at the major shows are a car enthusiast’s dream, the circumstances of auto-journo employment tend to interfere with that dream. Yesterday, I tried taking an antidote to that poisonous mindset, in the form of a no-expenses-paid trip to the Columbus, Ohio auto show.

(Read More…)

By on March 16, 2017

Honda Canada Utility Commercial: Image: Honda Canada/YouTube

Underneath its skin, the Honda Ridgeline is a significantly altered Honda Pilot, a large three-row utility vehicle related to the next-generation Honda Odyssey minivan. That’s hardly the stuff of which traditional, body-on-frame pickups are made.

But the Ridgeline has a separate, exposed bed, an elevated ride height, and competitive payload ratings. Therefore, it’s a pickup truck.

Or is it? In one recent Honda Canada commercial, the Ridgeline is portrayed alongside the HR-V, CR-V, and Pilot under the Honda Utility banner.

“Go where you wanna go,” The Mamas & the Papas sing, as a tree-lined bike trail appears with the CR-V in the HR-V’s rear seat, as a mountainside Pilot scene materializes in the CR-V’s cargo area, as the Ridgeline’s soccer setting unfolds from the Pilot’s third row.

Has Honda decided the Ridgeline is a sport-utility vehicle? A CUV? (Read More…)

By on March 15, 2017

2017 Land Rover Discovery

Ahh, style. The word that means different things to different people. The khaki-clad middle manager and the 20-something hipster from Seattle both have a sense of it, even if wildly divergent. And this equally applies to cars.

For example, though many of the B&B complain about how all cars look the same now, I don’t think that’s true.

Your assignment today is to think about present-day exterior styling as applied to cars, and come up with a suggestion that’s suitably timeless.

(Read More…)

By on March 9, 2017

2017 Toyota Corolla LE - Image: Toyota

Which car models need to die immediately, TTAC asked two days ago.

What if they all died, all of them except one? Which one, individual, solitary new vehicle should be left behind to cater to the demands of every new car buyer in the world?

It will have to be a vehicle that perfectly balances an immensely broad range of requirements. This universal car has to be affordable, but let’s not pretend the Dacia Logan is up to the standards of Beverly Hills, let alone Dubai. It will have to be sufficiently environmentally sensitive to get past regulations in green-conscious markets, but can a Toyota Prius Prime fill the void left by a Mercedes-AMG GLS63? A two-seater surely won’t do, but a nine-seat Chevrolet Suburban is probably too large if every Amsterdammer trades in their bicycle. And if we don’t demand more than 250 horsepower, do enthusiasts get to have input?

If you could have just one car, and if your neighbor and all their neighbors and every global citizen had access to the very same vehicle, what should The Universal Car be? (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2017

2018 Toyota C-HR, Image: Toyota

Today’s marketplace is a crowded affair. Each manufacturer seems to sit down at the table every new model year with more. More variants, more things with all-wheel drive, more CUVs, and more vehicles which split the pieces of the sales pie down to ever smaller fragments. This fragmentation leads to the eye splinter above, whatever the hell Toyota thinks it is, which will clog up parking lots everywhere starting next year.

To cure this portion issue, I think some models need to die, and I want you to help me choose which ones.

(Read More…)

By on March 7, 2017

2001 Nissan Pathfinder, Image: Nissan

Every Friday, I ask you, the TTAC reader, a Question Of The Day. But at the same time, you’re asking us questions. Hundreds of them each and every day. Mostly it’s courtesy of Google Search, but it turns out that there are other minor-scale search engines out there for specialized users, such as DuckDuckGo, Northern Lights, AltaVista, and “Bing.”

After the jump, I’ll be answering some of your most interesting questions and soliciting additional answers from the B&B.

(Read More…)

By on March 6, 2017

Barrett Jackson Scottsdale, Jan 2017

It’s the dream of us all, isn’t it? Knowing tomorrow’s lottery numbers. Correctly predicting the long-shot Super Bowl winner before putting down a big bet in Vegas. I don’t know about you, but as a gearhead I harbor similar fantasies about the Next Big Thing in collector cars.

The collector car market has waned somewhat from the breathless heights of 10 years ago. Sure, there are still pockets of crazy money — witness Hemi ‘Cudas that can still trade for outrageous sums, not to mention air-cooled Porsches and Pebble Beach with their Holy Grail Ferraris hammering away for many tens of millions of dollars.

(Read More…)

By on March 3, 2017

Toyota Corolla and Kia Niro, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

Crossover — it’s such a magical term. To the average consumer and the shiny marketing executive, adventure and utility come standard with a crossover. The consumers who own a crossover can rest assured they’re interesting, well-rounded, and worthwhile people. The marketing executive can also rest assured with the knowledge the CUV is without a doubt the fastest growing segment in the entire North American market.

But you are neither consumer nor person of marketing lineage, you’re the B&B. So tell me, what defines a crossover for you? (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2017

Alpine A110

Tantalizing. Alluring. Desirable. And yet, just out of reach.

We’ve all pined for a vehicle made all the more exotic and lustworthy by its complete unavailability in the country in which we live. It’s the automotive equivalent of that would-be significant other — you know, the one you once shared a fleeting moment with, knowing with bittersweet regret that if circumstances were different, this could be Bogie and Bacall.

In Europe, it was the American pony car. The Mustang, that American icon of big-bore, go-where-the-wind-takes-me freedom, remained nothing but a tease for decades. Until, of course, Ford realized it could cash in.

The Chevrolet El Camino’s death in the late 1980s prompted many truck-car hybrid aficionados’ eyes to turn to Australia, where not one but two utes beckoned from afar. Now, teary eyed Aussies are busy stocking shrimp for that bodystyle’s funeral barbie.

Maybe the object of your affection is a Europe- or Japan-only sports car or hot hatch. You’ve investigated steep import costs and searched classified ads in a vain attempt to snap up an enterprising importer’s cast-off, to no avail. Yet the heart still yearns. (Read More…)

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