By on December 7, 2016

1990 Eagle Talon

Chances are, if you read TTAC as part of a balanced breakfast, you probably had more than a few toy cars scattered around the house like rice at a wedding when you were an OshKosh B’gosh-clad tike. These diminutive metal replicas lurked deep within the shag-pile carpeting, lying with their pointy sides up, waiting to rend bare feet asunder.

In later years, these toys were supplanted by trips to real dealerships, where I no doubt made a nuisance of myself as a prepubescent boy who was interested in examining the new metal for that model year. There are three models whose image remain firmly imprinted on my mind after seeing them for the first time through the lens of a youngster’s eye. Surely, you’ve got one too.

(Read More…)

By on December 6, 2016

2017 Nissan Pathfinder blue front quarter

As we bring you one Question of the Day each weekday, we figured getting someone from TTAC’s commentariat to ask questions of the same commentariat above the fold would add a dose of flavor. That flavor comes from Ohio, and its name is CoreyDL. Welcome him to the headlines and bylines.

It’s entirely likely in 2016 that you or someone you’re very close to own one or more crossovers.  The CUV is as prevalent in the North American landscape these days as the midsize sedan was in about 1988.  But as with the body-on-frame SUV which came before, and the all-American wood-sided family wagon before that, the party can’t last forever.

Safety groups want pedestrians to giggle like the Pillsbury Dough Boy when struck by two-ton metallic death machines, necessitating ever softer edges. Stricter fuel regulations push the roofs lower for the sake of aerodynamics, shrinking space for people and cargo. Designers who don’t shower very often show us shapes inspired by used bars of soap.

How long can this go on before the party’s over, and the CUV isn’t the cool kid any more?

(Read More…)

By on December 5, 2016

2016 Chrysler 200C

You read it here this morning, but perhaps a friend already texted you the bad news. Maybe a few Facebook acquaintances or Twitter followers changed their avatar to reflect the loss.

Yes, the Chrysler 200, formerly the Chrysler Sebring, has shuffled off its mortal coil, leaving behind only memories and a hefty inventory of unsold models.

As TTAC’s Timothy Cain said in his heartfelt obituary, the 200’s passing is more than just the loss of a slow-selling model — it’s the death of FCA’s midsize car portfolio. Formerly numbering one (after the death of the barely facelifted Dodge Avenger), the warehouse’s tenant list now registers zero occupants.

Think back to any previous decade. Back then, could you picture a day when the Chrysler stable contained just two models? That’s where we’re at: an aging rear-wheel-drive sedan and a minivan are the only things keeping Chrysler from joining Plymouth, Eagle, and DeSoto in the cold, cold ground. (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 25, 2016

vehicle accessories

Did you make it out to the stores today? If so, we hope you’ve made it back home free of injuries. If you’re still in the thick of it, perhaps bartering with a stranger you’re a little bit scared of, well, best of luck.

No doubt some of you belong to that ambitious crop of Americans who valiantly fight off a food coma and struggle across floors flick with cranberry sauce, gravy and some sort of mashed root vegetable concoction to find your jacket and car keys on Black Friday morning. The sun hasn’t peeked above the horizon, but there’s deals to be had. You can smell them — that heated seat cushion that plugs into the cigarette lighter, cupholder vape dispensers, you name it — and no threat of long lineups, physical violence or crushing disappointment will deter you from achieving a Black Friday personal best.

So, we want to know: what automotive accessory lured you out of a warm home this morning? (Read More…)

By on November 23, 2016

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe interior

Gather round, gather round.

You probably know of a friend who’s just tickled pink over their recent vehicle purchase, someone who likely spends too much time describing in awed tones just how nifty, neat-o and awesome their luxury crossover’s standard equipment is. It does this, and this, and they’ll never accidentally back over a neighbor’s kid again, or spend all day shoulder checking before a lane change.

Meanwhile, you’re gently nodding, wondering where squirrels sleep or how birds turn in unison, because you’ve got the same tech in your midsize domestic car. You could have dropped even less cash on a compact with the same convenience and safety aids.

Technology once reserved for high-end models has trickled down into plebeian rides, making it commonplace, affordable, and thus mundane. So, does “luxury” really matter anymore? (Read More…)

By on November 22, 2016

2016 Ford Mustang V6 Convertible interior, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Hey, let’s give this a try again.

Do you hear that sound? It’s the collective silence of every cheerleader in America not giving a single care to the possible death of a V6-powered Mustang. Even though the automatic, drop-top, V6 Mustang is colloquially called the Cheerleader Edition, do you think Sally McJumpyskirt really cares if four or six or eight pistons are doing battle with physics under the hood? Nope.

But we’re different. We care that the V6 offers a more aurally pleasing soundtrack than the cookie-cutter 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder model. We care that, in the real world, the V6 will likely return fuel economy that’s nearly as good as its smaller, boosted cousin. We care that the tried-and-true 3.7-liter V6 is just that — tried and true.

Yet, I can’t help but not care about its death.

(Read More…)

By on November 26, 2015

bambam

Editor’s note: BMW losing its way has been a hot topic ever since the E30 went out of production. This QOTD from Doug is probably one of the most commented articles in TTAC history. It originally ran January 23rd, 2015.

Twenty years ago, BMW was the coolest automaker in the world. I know this because I – as a young lad of less than ten, growing up in the 1990s – desperately wanted my father to purchase a BMW. And he – as a rational, middle-aged man in his 40s – ended up in a Camry with cloth seats and a tape player. He wasn’t the BMW type. He wasn’t cool enough. Back then, few were.

(Read More…)

By on October 1, 2015

Jim Ellis VW

Twenty-two vehicles on the front line and not a single one of them a Volkswagen.

This wouldn’t be surprising if this were a used car lot or a new car store that sold a different brand, but this is Jim Ellis VW — the most successful Volkswagen dealership in the entire metro-Atlanta area.

How successful? They have two locations and sold Volkswagens every day for well over 44 years. This dealership was founded on day one with Volkswagens exclusively in their blood. No competitor in the southeast can come close to that level of enduring success.

So what does it mean when one of your most loyal dealers in the entire nation won’t even put your vehicles on their front line?

(Read More…)

By on September 25, 2015

golf_tdi_sets_guinness_world_records_achievement__5069

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it has officially emerged that Volkswagen has been lying to the general public like one of those guys who approaches you at a gas station and says his car has broken down and he just needs three more dollars for a bus fare.

This is surprising. Anyone who ever owned a Volkswagen knew that they were a bit sleazy, in the sense that they told you they offered “solid German engineering” when what they really offered was a bunch of untested parts farmed out to the lowest bidder. But we never really expected them to be overtly lying about stuff. Especially stuff as important as emissions results.

Or at least, I say “important,” but then I stop and think about it for a second, and I wonder: How important really are emissions numbers?

(Read More…)

By on September 18, 2015

Dodge Grand Caravan American Value Package

Today, I’m going to talk about a dramatically unloved segment of the automotive population: base models. You probably know base models from their lack of window tint and tremendously ugly steel wheels.

Base models aren’t discussed very often, because they’re often not very cheerful. In some cases, nobody even really buys them. For instance: I was walking along the other day, glanced inside a new Forester that was parked on the street, and it had a stick shift. I also noticed it had no sunroof, steel wheels, and cloth seats. This thing is probably rarer than a Lamborghini.

But automakers like the fact that nobody buys their base models. In fact, the entire point of the base model is basically to ensure people want to spend more money for a nicer version of the car. Dealers tell you the car “starts at” twenty-four grand, but then you show up on the lot, and there it is: twenty-four grand of no air conditioning or radio. To get a decent car, you’ve got to spend a few thousand more.

(Read More…)

By on September 4, 2015

2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon

I recently attended the press launch for the new Lexus RX, which is a competitively priced, midsize luxury crossover that was styled by an angry man with a sword.

At this press launch, several topics came up. For instance: why did they give the styling job to this angry sword-man? Why was he so angry? What sort of sword did he have? And when are they going to put out a new plate of shrimp for us to eat?

There was also one other topic I discussed with a few people: the fact that the Lexus RX still doesn’t have three-row seating.

(Read More…)

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