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By on March 30, 2017

A striking neo-classic, the 1985 Armaretta

Initially, I drove to Penmar Golf Course expecting to find a Rolls-Royce.

My partner Leslie (a fine car spotter herself and the originator of the “Parked in Drive” name) mentioned seeing a swoopy car with a “flying lady” radiator mascot parked there for sale. When I pulled into the parking lot and saw this tan-on-brown behemoth, it was clear the Rolls was gone, replaced by something far more fascinating.

All the typical cues — separate fenders, landau top, whitewall tires — indicating a classic car also placed it in that most self-contradictory of categories: “Neo-Classic.” The coupe’s “bustle-back” trunk initially reminded me of the last Cadillac design approved by Bill Mitchell, the second-generation Cadillac Seville (which, in turn, took inspiration from the mid-1930s “Razor Edge” Bentley), and gave me a useful spread of dates to search: 1980-1985.

(Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 - Image: Mini USA

It’s can be difficult to wipe the smug look of a home field advantage off your face.

Yet in its home English market, the all-new second-generation 2017 Mini Countryman is failing to find favor with British car critics. evo Magazine, never one to pull its punches, published a review of the 2017 Mini Countryman chock full of significant objections.

“Mini’s new SUV has grown up, but it’s lost the Mini fun factor along the way,” Antony Ingram writes. evo says it expects “the BMW-owned company to turn out cars that are fun to drive and show up their rivals as sloppy, dull and character-free.” Yet, Ingram says, “the latest Mini Countryman doesn’t manage that.”

Citing poor value, disappointing acceleration in the hi-po S model, un-Mini-like dynamics, a cabin too twee, and a design that continues “to look ever more contrived,” evo suggests you may prefer — get this — a Toyota C-HR. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Image: Jaguar

Jaguar’s U.S. volume more than doubled in 2016, rising to a 12-year high thanks to the launch of an all-new entry-level sedan and the brand’s first-ever SUV.

The XE and F-Pace, which now account for nearly three-quarters of Jaguar’s U.S. volume, have taken the brand to a high-volume place (relatively speaking) Jaguar hasn’t visited since the X-Type roamed dealer forecourts.

One year ago, those models didn’t exist, and Jaguar was selling fewer than 50 cars per day in America.

Now Jaguar’s on fire. Year-over-year growth is explosive, with Jaguar’s U.S. volume more than doubling in each of the last ten months and more than tripling in each of 2016’s final three months.

That level of growth can’t be sustained. Jaguar Land Rover North America’s CEO Joachim Eberhardt told Wards Auto, “We have to continue to grow, but we are not looking to grow at the pace we have been.”

All that growth “still does not make us a giant luxury brand,” Eberhardt says. “It makes us a bigger luxury brand that now has scale but is still special and exclusive.”

There’s the key word. Exclusive. “I think that is part of our appeal and something to focus on maintaining,” claims Eberhardt.

What a revolutionary approach for a premium auto brand. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

Car Wash Show - Las Vegas, Image: www.carwash.org

That’s right, there’s an annual Car Wash Show.

And, of course, it’s in Vegas.

Next week, I’ll be knee-deep in cleaning supplies, equipment and professional services offered to the car wash industry. And I need your assistance to get the most from this opportunity. (Read More…)

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 29, 2017

eq concept mercedes-benz

After a Wednesday announcement stating it had failed to cut fleet emissions for the first time since 2007, Daimler has promised to expand its electric vehicle program and shorten the timeline. However, the automaker isn’t willing to shoulder all the blame for not being green enough. Consumer trends have shifted strongly toward larger, less efficient crossovers and SUVs in recent years. Daimler knows this better than anyone with global sales of the Mercedes-Benz GLA, GLC, and GLE gradually replacing its more-stagnant sedan deliveries.

Still, Europe has set very specific emissions requirements and the German company has fallen behind. It’s time to make amends by publicly promising new electrified models and a corporate goal closer to the state-sponsored pollution target.  (Read More…)

By on March 29, 2017

Aerostar and a Rainbow

This photo could only be better if there were a leprechaun pouring Skittles on the road, like a corn syrup carpet.

By on March 29, 2017

toyota-ft-4x-teaser-0

Four words. That’s the extent of the details dropped by Toyota today, along with a picture that displays not quite an entire wheel. Perhaps the automaker should take a page from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and release 397 feature-length films about each of the mystery vehicle’s components.

The four words and one picture depict the upcoming FT-4X, a Toyota concept bound for a New York Auto Show unveiling on April 12. From the few clues we have, this concept — in Toyotaland, “FT” prefixes mean “future Toyota” — should boast some measure of off-roading bona fides, possibly enough to make Jeep worried. (Read More…)

By on March 29, 2017

tdiengine

Earlier this week, we reported on an influx of complaints from diesel owners who were required by law to permit Volkswagen to rectify their emission rigged engines. The consensus was that the company has not done a great job. If a veterinarian fixed a pet in the same manner that VW “fixed” these cars, you would probably put it out of its misery and then throttle the vet for butchering your now-ruined family companion.

Owners of the vehicles have complained of units lacking their former oomph, shuddering, stalling, and even being difficult to restart. While not every driver reported identical problems, the majority agreed Volkswagen had ravaged the engines’ ability to make power. At the time, nobody knew exactly how extensive the losses were. But, as the powerband-sapping solution closes in on North America, those numbers have come in.  (Read More…)

By on March 29, 2017

technical-difficulties1

UPDATE

Everything is good now. Comment away on your phones, dear friends.


We’re having an issue with the site today where a bug is redirecting logged-in mobile users from TTAC’s main page to the forum. Currently, we don’t know when the issue will be fixed.

In the meantime, we have a workaround: log out of your commenter account on mobile. I know — it sucks. But for now, that’s the only solution we have.

Sorry, folks :(

By on March 29, 2017

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - Image: FCA

What will Alfa Romeo’s next vehicle be? According to Autocar, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Alfa Romeo, and Alfa boss Reid Bigland have not yet made a decision about what the segment in which the next Alfa Romeo will compete.

The Mito and Giulietta will remain in Alfa Romeo’s lineup indefinitely despite their limited appeal. Timing for their replacements, which Alfa says must have global appeal, is unknown.

Alfa Romeo’s next vehicle, therefore, will likely be an SUV, Bigland told Autocar.

But bigger than the Stelvio? Or smaller?

TBD. (Read More…)

By on March 29, 2017

keys car sale

A third of all subprime car loans are now being categorized into the ominous-sounding “deep subprime” group. The designation has become progressively more inclusive since America clawed its way out of the recession and now accounts for 32.5 percent of all high-risk loans — up from just 5.1 percent in 2010.

While consumers have fallen behind on most subprime auto loans, the deep classification is responsible for the most serious cases of nonpayment. Delinquencies surpassing 60-day periods have tripled since 2012 and indicate little sign of stabilizing.  (Read More…)

By on March 29, 2017

1996 Nissan Desert Runner, Image: via Craigslist

There’s a certain allure to a limited-run special edition that goes beyond “Special Edition” badging and discounted heated seats. Automakers give these ordinary vehicles a new angle (often at the end of the model cycle) to boost sales and margins by a few units and pesos. Down the line, these special vehicles become footnotes over which the ICE can obsess and drool.

And today’s Rare Ride is no exception, if you can handle it. Steel your nerves.

(Read More…)

By on March 29, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 - Image: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz USA’s AMG division now markets 34 different models. Added to the list of the outlandish vehicles, the likes of which made AMG famous in the first place, are a bevy of new, entry AMG models; AMG 43s that were initially badged as “AMG Sports” but now receive the badge treatment due the genuine article.

With the surge in the number of available AMG variants, there has been a surge in sales of Mercedes-AMG vehicles. U.S. volume rose 33 percent, year-over-year, in calendar year 2016 according to Automotive News Europe, and Mercedes-AMG product sales have risen 32 percent so far this year.

That rapid expansion won’t be sustained. Mercedes-Benz USA’s sales vice president, Adam Chamberlain, says growth “will dumb down a little bit through the year.”

But by how much? By the end of 2017, Mercedes-Benz will have expanded its U.S. AMG division from 34 different models to at least 42. (Read More…)

By on March 29, 2017

Saturn Vue Hybrid Engine Bay, Image: © 2017 Bozi Tatarevic

Last week, I noticed a new stain on the driveway in the spot where my wife parks our Saturn Vue Hybrid. A quick sniff test revealed it to be automatic transmission fluid and an inspection of the Vue showed a leak at the transmission pan gasket. The car has just crossed the 100,000 mile mark and the worn gasket decided to accelerate my plans for a transmission fluid change.

Like many modern cars, the transmission dipstick is absent on the Vue, so checking the level is not a quick task. Adding fluid is even more time consuming and requires removal and disassembly of multiple components just to get to the fill plug.

I went out and picked up a filter, gasket, and some ATF and decided to tackle the convoluted process of this transmission fluid change.

(Read More…)

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