Want a fuel-sipping, tree-hugging sedan with stunning good looks? Ford thinks they have the answer in the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Can jamming a gasoline/electric drivetrain behind Ford’s sexy grille continue the love affair the press has had with Ford’s world-car? More importantly, can this Ford hybrid live up to its EPA numbers? Let’s find out.
The “family sedan” may not be very exciting, but without midsized sales auto makers would be in a pickle. Ponder this: the five best-selling midsized sedans in America accounted for 1.3 million of the 12.8 million vehicles sold in 2011. With numbers like that, it’s important to get your mass-market people mover right. This means competitive fuel economy, a low base price and swipe as much tech from your luxury brand as possible. Either that or just wear a Nissan badge on the front. Say what? The last generation Altima was the second best-selling car despite being long in the tooth and filled with Chrysler quality plastics. That made me ask an important question: Is the fifth-generation Altima any good, or is it selling well (now in third place thanks to the new Accord and Nissan’s model change over) just because it has a Nissan logo on the front?
Even though Project Volvo is geared towards the budget end of the scale, Sweden’s Polestar has been working on a factory backed S60 concept that puts out 508 horsepower and 424 lb-ft. The most surprising element, aside from the absurd power, is a 6-speed manual gearbox, something not readily available on North American Volvos. Polestar has apparently built one for an unspecified customer. We won’t get to drive it, but we hear there’s a brown XC70 kicking around the press fleet with a Polestar ECU flash.
Despite debuting over seven years ago, extensively refreshed in 2009 and nip/tucked again in 2011, the Acura RL remains a mystery. Flagship products usually sell in small numbers, but the RL is one of the rarest sedans in America. This isn’t exactly been a badge of honor for Acura. Overlooked by shoppers who flock to the cheaper Acura TL and largely forgotten by the automotive press (after all these years, TTAC has never fully reviewed the RL) With a full replacement due next year in the form of the RLX concept, I hit Acura up for an RL for a week to see how a flagship product from a major brand could manage to sell just 56 vehicles in Canada and 1,096 in the USA in 2011. For those who like statistics, the TL outsold the RL by 2,850%. Ouch.
Finally, we can dispense with the dumb teasers and show you the face of the 2013 Nissan Altima. Bad news – a CVT is standard across the board.
When the Chrysler Concorde and Chevrolet Camaro underwent redesigns in the late-1990s, automotive critics lamented the start of the “catfish” era in car design. The Kia KH is moving forward with the aquatic-creature theme, sporting a snout that resembles a monkfish, an even uglier sea-being.
Kia will debut their new luxury sedan at the Geneva Auto Show in March, but apparently won’t sell the car in Europe. It’s unclear whether the car will be sized closer to the Hyundai Genesis or Equus. The KH will not be the name of the car either – Kia is apparently crowdsourcing the name of the car via Facebook. Troll away.
Today, the Volvo 760 celebrates 30 years on this planet. Concieved in an uncertain time in the auto industry and launched in 1982, the 760′s various incarnations lasted until the S90 and V90 were laid to rest in 1998.
Like so many great cars, the 760 was built with whatever happened to be laying around at the time. Cost-effective was the operative word, and the 240′s basic architecture was lengthened slightly, while losing 220 lbs in the process. A 2.8L V6 (the famous PRV motor) was available, as well as a diesel, but the 760 Turbo would live on in the hearts and minds of enthusiasts.
My friend Chris, who took the above photograph, grudgingly gave up his own pristine 700-Series Turbo this summer, for a Lexus IS250. I only got the chance to drive it once, but reveled in the massive turbo lag and equally entertaining turbo boost and the utilitarian nature of the cabin. The 760 Turbo was arguably the last idiosyncratic Volvo (though the 740 and 900 Series carried on its lineage despite re-skins and name changes), with a host off oddities like the self-leveling Nivomat suspension, a turbo boost gauge without any calibration, and the “4-Speed plus Overdrive” manual gearbox.
The introduction of the 850 range in the early 1990s marked the end of an era, as front-wheel drive and transverse engines asserted their dominance in the Volvo lineup. While I’m a fan of the current cars (the S60, XC90 and XC90 are solid vehicles), the old, boxy rear-drivers are iconic vehicles and arguably the heart and soul of the marque.
Chrysler is facing a dilemma straight out of “Sophie’s Choice” – whether or not it should kill the wretched Dodge Avenger to help the marginally better Chrysler 200 thrive. But words straight from the mouth of Dodge boss Reid Bigland made it seem like it’s all but a done deal.
The Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid combines two entities hated most by car fans – the new Volkswagen Jetta, and hybrids – on to which auto enthusiasts can project their deep-seated anger issues.
Since ruling Americas roads in the heyday of the US auto industry, sales of large sedans (as a percentage of the overall market) have been in a decades-long slump. More recently, as SUVs have merged with large cars to form the modern crossover, the decline in large car sales has picked up speed. And there’s reason to expect that trend to continue, as a closer look at the data shows that market support for large sedans has eroded farther than even these numbers might suggest. One of TTAC’s well-placed sources reveals that the “large car” segment (admittedly, a notoriously difficult segment to accurately capture) is running at 50% fleet sales, year-to-date through October. That’s right, every second large sedan sold in this country end up as a fleet vehicle, many of them daily rentals.
Well, it’s that time again TTAC fans: the Midsized wars roll on with Camry retaking the top spot to extend its advantage in YTD sales. Altima continued its consistent year with a second place showing, and improving over its August 2010 number better than any nameplate besides… the Chrysler 200? Yes, Chrysler’s updated Sebring stopgap outsold the freshly-chic Optima on the month, and passed it in YTD sales. Meanwhile, the Hyundai Sonata may still have been 10k off the Camry’s pace, but its August volume was a mere 37 units from tying Mazda6′s YTD volume (through August). All in all though, this wasn’t an incredible month for midsizers, as half of the best-selling nameplates failed to improve on their year-over-year numbers. But what this segment lacks in volume growth it makes up for in drama, as a falling Accord runs the very real risk of being passed by Malibu and Sonata. Camry may be back in control, but the fight for the rest of the podium is as tight as ever.
With signs of change appearing in the midsized segment, I thought we would look at our archived sales results for the “Big Six” sedan nameplates in hopes of some historic context. And here it is: competitive convergence is turning what used to be Toyota and Honda’s wading pool into a bloody knife fight.