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By on November 29, 2016

2018 Kia GT

A photo of what looks like a pre-production Kia GT was leaked to the interwebs today, revealing the upcoming premium midsize tapped to carry the brand’s performance torch.

Bowing next year as a 2018 model, Kia’s rear-wheel-drive sports sedan faces an uphill battle against a well-established competition, changing consumer preferences, and itself. (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2016

Fiat 500 Backside Badging

Fiat heir Lapo Elkann, 39, allegedly faked his own kidnapping during a Thanksgiving weekend bender in order to get ransom money to pay for the drug binge. Elkann, the grandson of the late Fiat Automobiles patriarch Gianni Agnelli, was taken into custody by the NYPD and charged for falsely reporting the incident. (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2016

NIssan Nalley Showroom: Image - Nissan USA

After the U.S. auto industry reported all-time record sales volume in calendar year 2015, the industry grew by more than 1 percent, year-over-year, in the first-half of 2016.

But since the second-half began, auto sales have trended in the opposite direction. Compared with the July-October period of 2015, sales in the same period one year later were down 2.5 percent. U.S. auto sales declined in August, again in September, and again in October. Since July, year-over-year volume has fallen by nearly 150,000 units, dragging 2016’s year-to-date ten-month tally below last year’s record results.

Yet forecasters say November 2016 will produce a sudden turnaround. (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2016

breathalyzer DUI (KOMUnews/Flickr)

Thanksgiving is past and the coming month promises plenty of opportunities for socially acceptable, clove-scented boozing. Some beverages placed in hand — egg nog, for example — can easily pack enough liquor to make a sailor’s eyes water, while the drinker remains unaware of the serving size.

No problem, you say. You’ve bought a civilian breathalyzer, or perhaps the bar you’re at provides one. Got it all covered. Once that device delivers the green light, bam — it’s motoring time! Any police impaired driving checkpoint you encounter should pass your sober ass with flying colors, right?

So wrong. The majority of breathalyzers tested in a recent study failed miserably. (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2016

1998 Toyota Sienna XLE Front 3/4, Image: Toyota

TTAC commenter MatadorX writes:

Sajeev, I wonder if you wouldn’t be able to offer some of your wisdom on the continuing saga of the van.

The new automatic went in and worked perfectly. The engine got fully rebuilt. New crate short block direct from Toyota, heads rebuilt-surfaced/valve job/adjusted/stem seals. Entire engine re-gasketed with Toyota FIPG/OEM gaskets. New pretty much everything else on the front of the car. Wires, plugs, all three O2 sensors (Denso), IAC, Coolant Temp sensor, MAF, resealed injectors, OEM fuel filter. Brand new main TWC catalytic converter. Converted both the exhaust manifolds to 1998 Sienna California emissions spec (integrated warm-up cats), so now the car has a total of THREE catalytic converters.

Broke in the entire setup for 1,000 miles the proper way with varying RPMs, letting off gas to allow rings to seat, and occasional three-quarter throttle bursts, special break in oil for the first 500, then over to Mobil1. Tons of power, smooth, quiet. At idle she is so smooth you can’t even tell the van is on. Checked the entirety of the engine for vacuum leaks — nothing. Compression is strong across the board. Zero blow by.

However, I live in California, and — you guessed it — the van still failed the smog check. (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2016

Toyota Gazoo WRC

Toyota is pondering using its Gazoo Racing unit as a performance brand for future road cars, not unlike BMW’s M Division and Mercedes-AMG.

The timing couldn’t be better, as it was really starting to seem like Toyota was intentionally trying to make itself the least-exciting brand in the world. The Supra vanished in North America by 1998, the MR2 followed suit after 2005, the underwhelming seventh generation Celica came and went with no replacement, and Toyota Racing Development seemed unhealthily fixated on the off-roading capabilities of the Tacoma.

Thankfully, it looks like the company is finally coming to its senses.

(Read More…)

By on November 28, 2016

Texting and Driving

There’s no denying that distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic, but consumer and safety advocates are split on the best ways to tackle it.

While the proposed guidelines for mobile device makers issued last week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration won applause from safety groups, one consumer technology organization has accused the regulator of overreach.

It’s a “slippery slope” argument, now that the federal government wants mobile devices to operate in the same way as in-car infotainment systems. (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2016

crash test dummies

Since President Johnson signed the bills requiring all passenger vehicles to include safety belts in 1968, they have saved countless lives. However, with over 36 million of today’s American drivers over the age of sixty-five, current seatbelt designs might not pass muster for older bodies. It’s the same reason you don’t see a lot of old people involved in extreme sports or professional wrestling. An aged frame just can’t take the same sort of physical abuse as a malleable younger form.

So, with the elderly and frail in mind, the Ohio State University College of Medicine wants to design new seat belts to better protect older drivers.  (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2016

Bentley Continental GT V8 S

Rising insurance premiums are a plump grape in the cornucopia of adult annoyances, but they grow into a ripe apple when forces outside of your control cause them to skyrocket.

Now, imagine that there’s only one insurance provider, and you already pay taxes towards it. That’s the reality in several provinces north of the border, but one jurisdiction just crashed head-on into an unforeseen problem: new money, and the skyrocketing increase in six-figure vehicle ownership that came with it.

To save the owners of Malibus and Journeys from a major jump in premiums caused by ultra-pricey supercar repairs, one Canadian province has taken drastic steps. (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2016

VW Arteon VW

Volkswagen has only revealed one entirely new model since the emissions scandal began, and with CC sales tanking hard, now seems a good time to start on a second.

Planned to be revealed in full at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, VW is teasing the public with some specs on its upcoming range-topper.  (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2016

Hop out of your 1992 Toyota Camry Wagon in the Costco parking lot and tell me what you see. Plenty of Accords and Altimas and Camrys, I’m assuming. Large numbers of F-150s and Silverados and Rams, maybe even the odd Tacoma here and there. Some minivans and big SUVs. And legions of small crossovers. Many of […]

By on November 28, 2016

2013 Ford Fusion

The tsunami of pre-owned vehicles flooding dealer lots is great news for those seeking an affordable, low-wear used car, but the previous owners are taking a hit.

More than ever before, owners returning their vehicle for a trade-in are discovering their old car’s value sank faster than their ability to pay it off. New car buyers, take warning. (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2016

Jaguar straight 6 engine

As a parent of two young children, I watch a lot of movies at home. Most of the blockbuster movies I’ve watched this year are remakes. This month alone, I watched Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. All three are part of franchises that died a decade (or more) ago and have been reborn successfully in 2016.

In the same way, inline-six engines have returned to Mercedes-Benz after nearly a 20 year hiatus in North America.

Why are straight six engines making a comeback?

(Read More…)

By on November 28, 2016

A friend once asked me — jokingly, mind you — what vehicle would be the ride least likely to arouse suspicion from the police. The anti-heat score, if you will. As a proud (multiple) past owner, I knew the correct answer — a grey, ubiquitous, anonymous five- to 10-year-old General Motors sedan. At least, I thought […]

By on November 28, 2016

2004 Suzuki Verona in California wrecking yard, front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

What American car buyers in 2004 really needed was a lengthened Daewoo Leganza with Giorgetto Giugiaro styling, a transverse-mounted straight-six engine, and Suzuki badging … or so GM Daewoo Auto & Technology believed. Not so surprisingly, American car buyers weren’t so excited about the Verona, and these things are now nearly as rare as the similarly puzzling Isuzu Oasis.

Here’s one that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)

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