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.