By on May 24, 2017

[timbphotography/Bigstock.com]

Daring. Thinking outside the box, as it were (a three box, naturally). Putting forth a car which is a bit risky and against the grain of the accepted beige sedan CUV. Increasingly, automakers are unwilling or unable to play in this space. Regulations, fuel economy and stiff competition force each manufacturer in line with the others. A midsize vehicle that’s almost identical to the offering at the dealer across the street is not out of the question.

But there has to be an answer to my Question of the Day, which is thus: Which modern auto manufacturer is the most daring?

It’s a bit harder to narrow it down in 2017 than it would have been in, say, 1995. Fewer brands exist today, and more homogenized offerings clog up all the showrooms. Today I’m going to apply three very simple rules, as my crystal ball says you’ll need them.

  1. Daring means product offerings which have major features that go against the norm. A trim level, appearance package, or a nice paint color is not daring. We’re looking for something of significance here.
  2. Modern automakers which are in business in 2017, and have made at least one model you consider daring in the past five model years. Despite your opinion, the 1990 Celica All-Trac is not a modern and daring product offering.
  3. Your selected brand is just that — a singular brand. Selecting Toyota means there shouldn’t be any Lexus models in your argument.

I’m not going to give a singular answer today, just a couple examples of daring food for thought.

800px-2011_Nissan_Murano_CrossCabriolet_--_10-28-2011

Example number one: the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. It doesn’t matter if you like this vehicle, or if you’re a regular person and absolutely hate it — it was daring. For 2011 through 2014, Nissan offered a midsize, two-door convertible CUV. Nobody else has done this, ever (and there’s a reason for that). But Nissan dared to offer it, and it isn’t as though the engineering of that rear deck and removing two doors was simple. I applaud the chance they took.

Volvo V90 Detroit Auto Show, Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Secondly, the Volvo V90. This brand new model is certainly daring in the context of the North American market. It’s large, expensive, and a wagon. It’s stunning to behold, and has styling lacking the flim-flam present on most car designs today. And with front-wheel or all-wheel drive and 250 to 316 horsepower, it won’t be a slouch. The best part is how you can order this V90, and Volvo isn’t forcing the cladded Cross Country AWD model on you like other automakers would. See what I mean? Daring.

So off to you, B&B. What’s your pick for the most daring automaker? And don’t forget the rules.

[Image: timbphotography/Bigstock.com]

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138 Comments on “QOTD: What Modern Automaker is the Most Daring?...”


  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Dodge.

    Love them or hate them, Hellcats, Vipers, and Demons have to be considered daring in an era of 2.0t powered beige boxes…

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I agree. Definitely the boldest with their RWD cars and their capabilities.

      Unfortunately, this has come at a cost of having not significantly redesigned the cars in some time. In a way, I don’t blame them. The segment is hardly worth the effort unless you stand out, which is what they’re attempting (and succeeding, to the enthusiast) to do.

      They also “dare” to make no other cars, just two CUVs (one if which is terrible) and a lame-duck minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      kc1980

      I would say not that hugely daring because they are performance variants of already popular models. There’s no great risk in developing, and selling low quantities of them.

  • avatar
    vb9594

    Hell, Dodge deserves to be considered the most daring simply for building affordable and decent RWD V6 and V8 family sedans. The more I drive their products, the more I like them.

    They feel like cars.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Dodge. Setting aside the 840 HP upgrade to the Hellcat, all the other content (or lack thereof) in the Demon is definitely daring.

    Chrysler. In an era where large manufacturers are teaming up to make something as mundane as the next X-speed transmissions, The PHEV system in the Pacifica is home-grown. The fact that it debuted not on a typical sedan or small vehicle, but in a minivan, is likewise a risk.

    Chevrolet – Against all odds, you can purchase a brown manual diesel hatchback (not a wagon, but close enough) and you can buy it from none other than Chevrolet in the US of A.

    BMW – Continually inventing new segments. Some stick, some don’t, most are ridiculous, but all are daring.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Tesla. I mean, I don’t know how you could pick anyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      Rod Panhard

      They have an eager base of investors who are willing to pour money into them, regardless of realistic expectations. They also have an eager base of media and fanboy sycophants who are ready, willing and able to fellate their favorite CEO, his customers, the customer-service reps, the sales reps, the contract-tow truck drivers, and publicly placed electric chargers.

    • 0 avatar

      @Lank Ark

      Rule #2.

      Tesla have not had 5 model years of vehicles. In fact they don’t do model years which is in of itself pretty daring.

      It’s carefully crafted to exclude Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        Don’t forget the Roadster produced from 2008-2012.

        But I took rule #2 to mean they had to have produced a car within the last 5 years. So not Studebaker or Saturn.

        • 0 avatar
          Pete Skimmel

          Damn, I was going to nominate the Studebaker Golden Hawk. Oh well.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Not before a 1999 Saturn SL 5 speed with honest-to-God NO options. MANUAL steering, windows, locks, no ABS, AM/FM, no A/C (changing the serpentine belt is a breeze with no steering pump or compressor, actually the whole engine bay is very open accessible for service, especially for a FWD compact) no frills whatsoever. Well, didn’t have vinyl seats or rubber floors.

            Next QOTD, which automaker was the last to offer a car no power steering? I bet it was Saturn with the second gen S-series.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I was thinking maybe the Hyundai Accent Blue didn’t have power steering, but I’m not sure.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            The Alfa Romeo 4C is currently without power steering. I can’t think of any other production car that’s still doing that.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Land Ark is interpreting rule #2 correctly. It just means one of the models offered by a brand within the last five years is daring.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            “Next QOTD, which automaker was the last to offer a car no power steering?”

            Previous-gen smart car. EPS was optional. Last one before that was probably the LC2 Accent.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            See I can’t ask specific questions, or Bumpy comes and ends the comments section in 20 minutes.

          • 0 avatar
            Coopdeville

            Darn, there goes my ability to nominate Panhard for their wacky front-engined, RWD design.

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/an-illustrated-history-of-panhard/

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “Next QOTD, which automaker was the last to offer a car no power steering?”

            Alfa 4C has no power steering, still currently for sale.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            TMA1 and Chris got it. Forgot about that one, and I’m glad they do.

          • 0 avatar
            SPPPP

            The Kia Rio base model had manual steering until 2011. Made it kind of fun, in an odd way.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        The Model S came out in 2012, so it’s into 6 model years already.

        The answer has to be Tesla, whether anyone likes the company or its CEO or not.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    From a North American perspective, I’d say “Mazda.”
    – They are independent of the the Big 3 in the US, the Big 3 of Japan, the Big 3 of Europe, and anyone in China. Subaru and Volvo have backing of Toyota and China.
    – They don’t have the irrational exuberance of Wall Street behind them, like Tesla.
    – The Mazda3, Mazda6, and Miata are really niche cars.
    – They’re not pursuing electric cars.
    – They’re hedging their bets by being a contract builder for Toyota, who could pull the plug on that deal as sales allow.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Another early vote for Dodge.

    Mass-market RWD, Mass-market V8s for under $70K. Just having nontruck V8 offerings in general. Standard (naturally aspirated!) V6s in all but one of their products. Building nonupscale peoplemovers. A CUV that puts emphasis on style, towing, and power. And they call stuff “Hellcat”, “Demon”, “Citadel”, and “Daytona”.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I would say more broadly their total shift away from fuel efficient cars. I would call it confusing more than daring.

      Outside of the Dart (which is being discontinued), their next most fuel efficient model is the V6 Charger at 19 city / 30 hwy. Nothing else in the Dodge lineup does better than 26 mpg hwy.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Emphasis on fuel economy can be for the other FCA brands. Let Dodge stay knuckle-dragging.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          FCA has no other mainstream brand in North America.

          The Neon, a Fiat Tipo, is in the wings if it suddenly becomes advantageous to offer an economy car again.

          Would you rather them make terrible small cars with awful powertrain choices and less quality and reliability then even the Koreans?

          I honestly don’t know. I’d rather them offer some cheap no frills car (see my homage to the Saturn SL Ace of Base above), but I get why they don’t.

          The Neon (Tipo) would just troll you in the rental aisle between a Rio and a DCT Focus sedans.

          8 miles down the road, the ZF 9AT and everything else in the Turkish-built penalty box makes you consider returning it for the Focus.
          “DCT can’t be that bad.”

          The Neon isn’t bad looking, but its pretty 3rd world.

          https://www.dodge.com.mx/autos/neon/

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Kia

    Selling the K900 in the same showroom as the Forte and Soul, and across the street from it’s brother the Genesis

    Speaking of the Soul – remember how they used hamsters to sell the car?

    The upcoming Stinger and Telluride concepts fly in the face of everything anyone ever thought of the brand

    The Niro – it gets 50mpg but what exactly is it? Crossover, CUV,…? Weird name, too.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Strong case.

      The Soul itself is an example No one offers a small box/stylish wagon thingy anymore. The Cube, PT Cruiser, HHR, xB, even the Element are all gone. All that’s left are anonymous crossover blobs. And the Soul.

      If I bought a Kia, it’d be a Soul with a manual if they still offer it (I bet they do).

      The Stinger looks/seems very promising. Perfect competitor for a redesigned and NAFTA approved Toyota Mark X, and whatever RWD cars Dodge gets on the Gulia’s platform.

      That would be great. Three decently (presumably) affordable, nice driving RWD cars. Then Ford can just stretch the Mustang into a sedan, Fairlane.

      Wait, people don’t want cars. Nevermind.

      OR…. I’ll sell it to em like this: The Journey, Sorento and Flex/Explorer could all migrate to their respective maker’s RWD platform for their next generations. I doubt the Flex would survive the trip, but oh well. Worth the risk.

  • avatar
    John R

    Another vote for Dodge.

    As has been mentioned above it is something to be applauded that (1) Hellcat Chargers, Challengers and Hellcat (Trackhawk) Grand Cherokees are not only things that exist, but are (2) relatively affordable.

    Honorable mention goes to Hyundai for their Genesis efforts.

  • avatar
    RS

    Any automaker that puts a CVT or Power Shift DCT in their vehicles…that’s pretty daring.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Agree with the author on the V90.

  • avatar
    jonnyanalog

    The Koenigsegg Regera is truly an engineering marvel. Love it or hate it its undeniably daring. As a brand I also think Koenisegg is a brand that’s not afraid to go against the grain.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I would like to say dodge, but have they really introduced a new model in the last 5 years? (Stuffing big engines or adding purple paint doesn’t count). Dodge is more of a “make due with the platforms from a decade ago” brand. Mazda is a more daring brand, but probably not intentionally.

    I guess smart cars are most daring – 2 seater electric cars? Can’t get more obscure than that.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    As much as I hate to say it, I’d have to agree with the first post: Dodge all the way.

    Straight-line performance or not, putting all that horsepower in several of their vehicles is not being shy!

    That being said, I’d still never buy one.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Easy.

    Morgan. Period.
    Why?
    Among many things they have not given in to the SUV temptation, see Maserati, Lambo, Bently as prime examples. Morgan is still privately owned and builds the same car(s) they did 75 years ago. I find this daring as they have never strayed from their mission yet adapted to market and regulatory forces to modernize their offerings for safety and emissions, again without losing the core feel of the product.

    You can custom order **any**color combo you like, any interior fabric and color. Daring to allow the end user to fully customize the product from the factory.

    I was going to say Dodge as well. But, if they were truly daring I would be able to order a Hellcat Charger with a 6 MT, or even a SRT Charger with a 6 MT. Would many order them? No.
    Would it be the sign of a daring company to offer it as an option? Yes.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Can you purchase a Morgan, new, in the US right now?

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        http://auto-europe-sales.ebizautos.com/plugin-detail.aspx?iid=16277569

        I was curious. Evidently you can.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Interesting. Though I was hoping that link would be for a 4-wheel model. I consider that one a motorcycle.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            You mean the 3 wheeler, and its loads of fun. Its the only “exotic” I’d really consider if I come to power, along with I suppose Ford GT (naturally), NSX, and a Z06 so nobody accuses me of being unfair.

            Well, that won’t be an issue when I come to power. I’ll see to that. ;)

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            I’d buy one of the kit replicas and make an electric trike out of it.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            If I come to power I’m having an XJ220.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      I think Morgans are extremely cool, and I even toured their plant in Malvern a couple of years back, but I’m not sure they should count since you can’t buy a current *car* in North America from them. I know the rules didn’t explicitly state this, but that’s just my narrow North American centric world view I guess. And while the 3 Wheeler is undeniably cool, I don’t really think of it as a car.

      While you can’t get a Charger with a 6MT, you can get a R/T, SRT, or Hellcat Challenger with a 6MT – and from the number of 6MT cars I see street parked, it appears that a few people *do* order them!

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        I agree with you Penguin Boy and others comments regarding the 3 wheeler.

        However, daring was the differentiation. One has to agree that bringing a model back to life that last reared it’s head as a new car from the 20’s or 30’s ( I really don’t know, nor want to look it up) is daring. The Prowler would be close to daring.

        As for the available in the U.S. It is a shame that Morgan has been regulated out of the U.S. Their is/was plenty of market demand (by Morgan standards 100-200 units a year) for the Aero or Plus 8. Seems like a compromise could have been reached. If I recall the primary issue is the Feds require 5 cars to be crash tested in order to federalize them. When you only build 400 cars a year that is a lot to ask.

        • 0 avatar
          PenguinBoy

          While it would be unlikely that something like a Plus 8 could meet modern North American crash standards, I agree that a compromise is appropriate for *very* low volume cars like a Morgan.

          I know a number of local Morgan owners, and while they all drive their cars regularly, they all have other cars they use for daily commuting in bad weather and other high risk situations.

          I think the risk exposure from allowing Morgans to be sold is low, not just due to the low volume of cars sold, but also due to the distance and conditions under which they are driven.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “Example number one: the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet…”

    I am not always daring, but when I am – it is an abject failure.

    Stay thirsty my friends.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      The Juke and GT-R can’t really make up for the sea of rubber-band-trans, tractor-engine 4 cylinder-powered (or the [email protected]$$ V-6) blandness elsewhere in various blobs of different sizes. Some tiny, some big, most terrible.

      Only, to me, the Maxima sticks its head above water. Too bad they don’t have a manual trans anymore (an option other than the CVT, in other words).

      Their trucks are okay, and I mean the RWD BOF fullsize truck/SUV products, not the damn Pathfinder. The Frontier gets a marginal rating for how outdated and unrefined it is compared to what else is out there in the segment, but is still reasonably competent at its basic functions.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Frontier I’ll wager turns a profit for Nissan even at fire sale prices.

        I’d imagine that the CrossCabriolet never sold enough copies to pay for the tooling required to make it. (Unique doors, unique quarter panels, convertible top frame, etc.)

    • 0 avatar
      runs_on_h8raide

      PD…the Murano CrossCabriolet is one of the most ugly vehicles ever made. Ever. That says a lot considering some of the automotive monstrosities that have been created. Daring…you bet. They dare you not to be repulsed by its looks lol.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    For daring, I looked for vehicles that do not have counterparts…that transcend segment and class…but are still cool and desirable.

    It’s Tesla…

    The Model S can be the quickest car in the world at the press of a button and then nearly the most efficient with the press of another. It makes the Demon look boneheaded and the S550e obsolete.

    They’ve created a new type of car that big manufacturers have pridefully rebuffed for years with a token parade of science experiments in exchange for a cache of participation ribbons.

    The entire global market is teetering on a daring bet, the success of the Model 3, and not enough people seem to want to realize it, least of all, the purveyors of tradition.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      “The entire global market is teetering on a daring bet, the success of the Model 3…”

      Exaggeration is indeed an art form.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Lol the next Mazda 3 will sell in similar levels, I bet (once the much-ballyhooed frenzy wears off), but is the world holding its breath for it?

        The Chevrolet Bolt is a competent entry in the segment already on sale, its doing alright, but isn’t exactly taking the world by storm. So, I guess the Tesla will do it on name alone? Or superior wonderfulness at the touch of a button.

        Morgan, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Porsche, Ford, Honda and I’m sure others sell models unequaled in the market place, for whatever reason. Are they as daring? By your qualifier, they all are, just as much as Tesla.

        Well, they’re not exactly the liberal’s choice, what with not being eco and from Kalifornication.

        Speaking of which, if you don’t have access to a decent charging network, but plenty of gas stations (which would be pretty much *anywhere* even remotely populated), is the big old dinosaur (and dino-juice-swilling) Benz still obsolete?

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “The Chevrolet Bolt is a competent entry in the segment already on sale, its doing alright, but isn’t exactly taking the world by storm. So, I guess the Tesla will do it on name alone? Or superior wonderfulness at the touch of a button.”

          Tesla will do it by making an appealing electric car, versus Chevy’s making an appealing electric drivetrain and shoving it into the least-appealing car type (tiny minivan) form they can possibly conjure up. Tesla is viewed as a forward thinking trend setter car, cars like the Bolt and Leaf are for that cheapskate who lives down the block who listens to too much NPR and lets all the dandelions grow in his yard because it’s “natural” and cheaper. If this sounds oddly specific, well, that’s because it is.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Lol, the Bolt is a subcompact, boxy hatchback, not a van or MPV.

            The Model 3, even though we can’t see it, really, will be a small hatchback (apparently) as well.

            So now Tesla will do it because their smoke-and-mirrors hatchback is more sexy than Chevy’s more practical box.

            And that “cheapskate” that wants a sub-$30k BEV like the Bolt is exactly who Tesla is targeting with the model 3. Why do you think there have been so many comparisons drawn between the two? Because they’re polar-opposite? Only because you’re enamored by one’s name and disgusted by the other’s. Bias trumps facts anyway, eh?*

            So, the Chevy suxs cuz its a small cheap hatchback. But Tesla will win because they will have a small cheap hatchback. Got it.

            * I didn’t really mean your bias, I mean those who view Tesla as you described Chris. That’s who the point was directed at.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I’m breaking my response into three parts:
            • “Tesla will do it by making an appealing electric car,…”
            — There’s going to be more to it than just, “an appealing electric car.” Tesla is bringing in ten years of BEV experience in controls and battery management to offer an appealing, electric PERFORMANCE car along the lines of what some used to call, “A personal luxury car.” With rear wheel drive and instant power, the Tesla 3 is going to offer a lot more fun than the Chevy Bolt.

            • “…versus Chevy’s making an appealing electric drivetrain…”
            — Wrong, that’s LG’s drivetrain and it is hardly appealing; it’s the same drivetrain you would find in the Renault Zoe almost part-for-part. The only thing GM did was put a body on it.

            • “…and shoving it into the least-appealing car type (tiny minivan) form they can possibly conjure up.”
            — Not exactly a minivan form but rather a sub-compact 5-door hatch only marginally different from the Chevy Sonic.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “Lol, the Bolt is a subcompact, boxy hatchback, not a van or MPV.”

            Come on man, you can see the difference between a mini-minivan one-box form factor, and a sleek fastback hatch. The Bolt (and the Leaf) is dorky as f*** man. It just is. It’s the mom jeans of cars. It is entirely left-brain centered, no emotional appeal whatsoever. Versus the 3, which assuming it’s like a mini S, is sleek, sexy, stylish, and desirable.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Volkswagen.

    Their attempt to dodge emissions standards demonstrates a level of daring not seen in ages.

  • avatar
    scent tree

    The CrossCabriolet was like the reincarnation of the convertible AMC Eagle coupe. If you have the parts, and someone wants their family truckster with a drop top, why not?

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Trivia: Do you know the special name of the Eagle convertible?

      A: Sundowner

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        Wiki says it was a Pacer? I’d be impressed with anyone who can find a picture of that!

        Not to be confused with the SunChaser Celica convertible.

        Aaaaand there was also a Sundowner Mazda pickup.

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1984-mazda-b2000-sundowner-pickup/

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Hang on a second, I know I’m not making this up entirely.

          https://amcsundancer.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/81-sundancer-in-beige.jpg

          Sundancer. I was a bit off.

          • 0 avatar
            Land Ark

            There it is.

            Also, not to be confused by the TV show on AMC called Sundowner.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Guess the subject of our next edition of Rare Rides ;).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I actually like that thing. Too bad I couldn’t afford to buy it when it was out.

            Then again, I was highly interested in AMC’s offerings pretty much across the board… but my parents pretty much said, “if you buy one, we’ll disown you,” or words to that intent. Then again, they later complained about the Camaro I bought… telling me, “It’s just a status symbol.” Well, I put 160,000 miles on that ‘status symbol.’

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The Murano convertible was the first thing that popped into my head, followed closely by the Leaf and the Juke-R. Infiniti didn’t produce the Eau Rouge, but the 400hp Q50 isn’t a bad substitute.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    Honestly, I’m thinking GM, although it isn’t as flashy. Here’s why:

    Probably the only manufacturer that has the engineering crew to design everything from full on race cars to Bolts to econo cars and all the parts within in-house.

    Building high risk, expensive platforms that they know ill take a long time to recoup and only make sense in ‘sporty’ cars (ie not some world architecture that you’ll put in everything from 5000lbs suvs to 3000lb hatchbacks). Then you take how good that platform is (gt4r, zl1, 1ss). Even the styling was pretty daring, and they double downed despite the press on the ‘bunker’.

    Although they still are putting a pushrod v8 in some cars, they have been doing the turbo, directed injected, sand cast block small 4s and 6s for a long time. (I think 2002?). They were putting together LNFs i-4 turbos in front and rear drive applications with factory 300hp kits since 2008.

    They abandoned Pontiac and went all in on Cadillac and Buick.

    The Corvette is now in a league of it’s own but when you look at the price/performance nothing is really close.

    Going back just a little and the Aztek has been copied by sooooo many cars.

    They have some bland cars. They’ve had some execution problems. They have some amazing cars. They have some questionable decision making. But, they are pretty daring for a company that size.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      “They abandoned Pontiac and went all in on Cadillac and Buick.”

      By order of the government in the bankruptcy proceedings. I’m not one of those “gub-a-ment motors” haters but don’t give GM credit for that. It would be like giving Chrysler credit for “offering” themselves to Fiat.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I wouldn’t call GM daring, they have the power train and the know how, but literally they only use the good stuff in the vehicles that they “have” to maintain as legacy nameplates. Nothing really all that interesting coming out imo.

    • 0 avatar
      Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

      I agree MrIcky, Camaro, Bolt, Volt, Vette, SS, Regal, Cruze hatch and diesel, and Cadillac V stuff. They are definitely in the game.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    My leading contenders:
    Ford: for becoming a “mobility company”, whatever that is, and which Wall Street has no idea how to value yet. Also, the aluminum Fiso [sic].
    Volvo: for betting the company on 4-banger power.
    Cadillac: For becoming a coffee purveyor in Soho. That is daring greatly.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    Tesla is an outsized example.
    Elio and Fisker do not qualify.

    Nissan certainly makes oddballs and justifies its place.

    I would say Buick with manual Regal should qualify.

    Cadillac daring greatly may qualify with offering coarse cramped sedan (ATS) in a crossover market

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “I would say Buick with manual Regal should qualify.”

      But they lose credit for canceling it.

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/04/all-wheel-drive-v6-buick-regal-gs-says-goodbye-to-the-stick-document-shows/

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Jaguar. 3 reasons:

    – XJ – Jag took the definition of stodgy and it made it into the most creative and beautiful shape in it’s segment.
    – F-Type – It snorts, you can get a V6 or V8, it looks sexy inside and out.
    – They’re making an XF wagon and bringing it to the US

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    Here is one sure to draw some ire.
    Lexus
    They had built quite a rep for reliable but mostly staid cars (RX350 anyone?). So, they went to their new “Alien vs. Predator” grill and styling. Love it or hate it you can’t say it’s mainstream.
    Additionally, (I think this in Corey’s strict parameters) the Lexus LFA was a halo car that they dared to bring to market instead of letting a one-off do the car show circuit

  • avatar
    stingray65

    BMW wins hands down. CUV coupes: X6, X4; Purpose built high tech eco-mobiles: i3, i8 (both way more technologically interesting than the Tesla), ultra-high performance small sports sedans that are still rear-drive and 6 cylinder: M2, M235i, 5 door hatchbacks for the hatchback hating US market: 5 and 3 series GTs, 4 series “coupes”.

    Dodge is disqualified because their current line-up is the way it is because they have no resources to develop new models.

    Tesla is disqualified because their current models break no new ground in materials or engineering – electrics are so 1905, and gullwings are so 1955.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “Dodge is disqualified because their current line-up is the way it is because they have no resources to develop new models.”

      I disagree – the question was who is the most daring, it didn’t consider what the motivation for the daring might be.

      You do make a strong case for BMW – even though I think that BMW has more or less lost the plot since around 2011 or so, and none of the models you list other than the 2 series have even the slightest appeal to me, their current lineup is undeniably “daring”…

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Tesla is disqualified because their current models break no new ground in materials or engineering – electrics are so 1905, and gullwings are so 1955.”

      Not only is your dismissive comment incorrect, it’s also made on the wrong basis. You could say the same thing about the Demon’s engine being so 1896. Exactly what materials and engineering would qualify under your broad guidelines? Every car uses some combination of metals, plastics, and rubber.

      Technology alone doesn’t make a company daring, it’s also having the nerve to try and sell something unique. Dodge and Tesla certainly do that.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Pure electrics are much easier to engineer and produce than hybrids or high tech diesels or gasoline vehicles. The Tesla body/chassis itself is also pretty conventional, and not nearly as advanced in construction as the BMW i3 or i8. Tesla isn’t unique because of its vehicles (nice looking and driving as they are), it is unique because it chooses to build high-end cars that don’t make profits – so in that sense you could say they are daring.

        The Demon engine itself is not 1896 technology, but probably closer to 1955 – OHV, Fuel Injection, Supercharging were all available by then in reasonably mass-market form.

        • 0 avatar
          PenguinBoy

          “The Demon engine itself is not 1896 technology, but probably closer to 1955 – OHV, Fuel Injection, Supercharging were all available by then in reasonably mass-market form.”

          I think it’s a bit disingenuous to call the Demon engine 1955 technology since it is an OHV, fuel injected and supercharged design. While those basic technologies were available in 1955, nobody was using them to build an 800+ hp engine that is reasonably civilized and meets modern emissions standards.

          You could extend your argument to cover pretty much any modern car – gasoline direct injection was also available on a regular production car in 1955, and overhead cam engines were available even earlier. Both electric and hybrid gas/electric cars were offered for sale 100 years ago.

          My current daily driver is a BMW product. I’ve never owned an FCA or DaimlerChrysler product (I did own one Dodge, but that was 35 years ago and the car was made 40 years ago, so very much a product of the “old” Chrysler Corporation). FCA may have their share of problems as a company, but I think it’s fair to describe several current Dodge products as daring, and unlike the admittedly daring X6M, I also find them interesting and am glad they exist. In an automotive landscape filled with boring beige boxes and predator grilles, that’s got to count for something.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I hate to be predictable, but Ford.

    Case: aluminum body F-Series and Expedition/Navigator, EcoBoost V-6 in them too. Twin turbo and an aluminum body? That’s the realm of expensive Euro cars, until Ford did it with a good old American truck/SUV.

    Performance vehicles like Fiesta and Focus ST, Focus RS, Fusion Sport, F-150 Raptor, several of which are basically unchallenged.

    They get credit for reviving the segment they created in 1964 (pony/performance affordable cars). I’m sure we’ll see a higher output version soon to take on the higher-power bowtie and the billy goat (even if they did surrender that logo) offerings.

    Plus the GT super car goes way beyond HELLCATs and ‘Vettes, although clearly not as attainable. They set out to do well in LeMons, and they did exceptionally well. Its a super car by a mainstream automaker. Only the Nissan GTR and possibly the upcoming BMW Supra could also claim such. I’m not sure if the NSX is applicable since its technically an Acura, but its an Honorable Mention at the very least.

    From top to bottom, Ford takes the most risk and pushes the envelope in many different segments. Their mistakes (DCT) are far out-weighed by their hits and out-of-the-box wins (despite the opinion of those down unda, sales* do prove otherwise).

    The upcoming Bronco promises to be something special, even if we don’t know quite what it’ll be yet.

    * of course the F-Series is HORRIBLY UNSELLABLE outside of North America, but they do outsell each of the supposedly better midsize trucks globally, even though they’re not sold in 3/4 of the world. That just makes it that much more amazing. And inconvenient for Big/Ryan’s propaganda.

    • 0 avatar
      Noble713

      Was just about to post “Ford!”, then decided to skim up the comments and found you’ve already covered it.

      Aluminum F-150, Twin turbo V6 in an American Halo car, and a flat plane crank and carbon wheels on a Mustang. All of that is ballsy IMO, far moreso than Dodge turning the horsepower dial up to 11.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @JohnTaurus – I have to concur. Ford is more daring than Dodge since Ford is engineering new vehicles. Dodge is just putting BIG HP into older platforms.

      A 350 HP AWD Focus RS is more daring than a HellCat.

      If you (or anybody) ever listens to Big Al from Oz, an aluminum pickup body is as daring as it gets. LOL

      A twin turbo V6 in a pickup let alone a desert pre-runner is daring.

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      Ford was my first thought, for essentially the same reasons. They build performance cars in just about every category, and all but the GT and Shelby Mustangs are relatively affordable. Who else has stuffed a 300+ twin turbo V6 and AWD into a mainstream family sedan?

      With the i3 and i8, BMW is a good call, but otherwise they’ve started to follow trends instead of establish benchmarks, as they did for so long. I also like the case for Kia (K900, Soul, Stinger, etc.), and even Cadillac, who bucked market trends by going for light weight and handling in their sedans. It hasn’t translated into sales yet, but the engineering should pay off eventually. The ATS-V and CTS-V show a willingness to take on the German high performance sedans unlike any other U.S. or Japanese manufacturer, which is daring IMO.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I’m going to call it a tie between FCA and Tesla; each is incredibly daring in what they’re doing.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It is daring to use the profits from Jeep and RAM to fund the expansion of a zombie brand into the US while delaying the launches of other possibly profitable vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Glad I’m not the only one who thinks Alfa is bound for death…

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          I’ve been saying that since the beginning. They’ll never make it here, and it’s not worth wasting your time when you’ve got two other sporty Italian brands already.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            the thing was, there wasn’t anything wrong with the idea of bringing Alfa back here. They already had the FIAT dealer network set up, so Alfa could have been a few niche performance/lux models. But noooooo, Sergio and the Elkanns wanted a big push to sell 400,000 a year by 2018 for some reason.

            that last bit was the stupid part.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            JMO but I suspect someone crunched some numbers and determined Alfa could not be profitable without the economies of scale savings one gets with 400K annual sales. So a faction in the company started pushing for just that otherwise the board prob would not have approved the move.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Granted, it’s early in the game, but Alfa could have succeeded…IF…they’d proven the brand was over its’ quality issues. Clearly, it isn’t. Put differently: has any car mag put a Giulia into its’ long term test fleet? Not that I’ve seen. And we all know why.

            That’s a damn shame – the luxury segment desperately needed some new blood.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          No way, they spent eleventy billion dollars on Alfa and it won’t be allowed to fail/die.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            This is the same outfit that nuked the 200 after two years. Yes, it can be allowed to die.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Depends on whose baby it is/was so to speak. Something tells me the 200 was Auburn Hills’ and ultimately they don’t call the shots.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    I thought Ford was pretty daring when they launched the Raptor during a recession/gas crunch. Also, GT–how soon we forget how everybody was floored by the launch secrecy–GT350 with flat-plane crank, various RSes, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      The Raptor is a trim package of the F-150. Rule #1.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy67

        Duly noted.

      • 0 avatar
        ErichLOL

        “The Raptor is a trim package of the F-150. Rule #1.”

        It’s not a trim package. The entire front clip and hood are different parts, the axles are different, obviously the entire suspension is different, parts of the 6.2L engine, injectors, cams, etc are different.

        On the 2nd gen Raptor the engine is all new and doesn’t exist anywhere else in their lineup, the frame is also different than the regular F150.

        Your logic would disqualify a lot of other vehicles that share platforms; RWD Dodges are all “trim packages”.

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    The most daring? I’d say Mitsubishi, for continuing to dare people into buying their cars when they have no business being in America at this point in time, and will most likely fold shop in the States before 2020.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Funny you’d mention them. Lately, I’m hearing aggressive radio ads for a local *Mitsubishi-only* dealer (can you imagine?!) pushing its great prices.

      I had no idea this dealer even existed; I don’t know how they eat.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The money doesn’t come from the new car sales floor, the service department and used car sales are the profit centers of a new car dealership. So the question is how many used cars particularly to credit challenged customers that the can get away with a nice rate bump on.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Sorry I’m late. What Modern Automaker is the Most Daring?

    DARE GREATLY.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    Cadillac. They dared to roll out four sedans of relatively similar size when the market was increasingly going to CUVs and SUVs. Their lone CUV may outsell all their sedans combined, but they Dared Greatly.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Buick:

    Cascada – the only affordable 4-passenger convertible you can buy today based on FWD architecture al a a long list of defunct vehicles, in an era where the only mainstream convertibles left are the 2-seat Miata or the asphalt eating even in turbo-4 or V6 trim Mustang and Camaro – which isn’t a sedate cruiser. Love it or hate it, it’s bold, wait there is more.

    Regal TourX: A midsize wagon in a world where people don’t buy midsize because they want their midsize wagons lifted 1-1/2 inches

    Regal Sportback: DLO fail from Hell aside, a modern 5-door that isn’t an Audi A7 and doesn’t have the A7 price tag.

    Encore: Ya, I know, the B&B hates it. I know that building a sub-compact CUV isn’t “bold” anymore, but Buick created the sub-compact CUV segment and the B&B predicted first it wouldn’t sell, then predicted they would never get the prices they were asking, then predicted as each other sub-compact CUV entered the market the Encore would die a horrible death of no buyers. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. Buick created the class and is still a strong player.

    Verano turbo with a 6-speed manual: Never mind that the Verano was anything but a rebadged Cruze, you could get one with the 2.0T and a 6-speed manual, providing a very pleasing near luxury c-segment performance bargain. Ya, I know, it’s going away, but they went there.

    You may not like these products, but take away the LaCrosse, Envision, and Enclave, and just about everything else they sell is non-traditional.

    • 0 avatar
      Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

      I agree APaGttH. They lit a fire under their dealerships too. I bought an Encore for my wife and she loves it and the dealer. Don’t get me wrong, GM still misses some obvious stuff, but they are darn close.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Their boldest move is taking off their USA mask and selling cars made in and for their most important market. The Envision is by far the most important thing about Buick’s appendix US dealer network. Otherwise, US Buick is just a nightmare re-imagining of GEO. Instead of a collection of cars from a country synonymous with the finest engineering and assembly, they offer cars from a collection of countries known for neither of those things.

  • avatar
    Null Set

    Tesla. No contest.

  • avatar
    Bercilak

    As many others have said, Dodge has to be considered:

    1. Dodge introduced an 840hp purpose-built track monster in an era of milquetoast “everything to everyone” hatchbacks, cross-overs, and SUVs. The motor, alone, is a major feature that goes against the norm.

    2. Dodge introduced the Demon this year and the Hellcat two years ago. That’s two daring models in the last five years (even though the Demon is really a Hellcat on steroids and factory drag radials).

    3. Dodge, as a maker, meets this requirement.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Volkswagen – they dared to sell cheating diesels for many years, right under the noses of regulators worldwide.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Nissan. Being daring isn’t the same thing as knowing what to do.

  • avatar
    kc1980

    To me its Volkswagen. A hatchback as is bread a butter seller, with not 1 but 2 performance variants. A Niche retro coupe called the Bettle that almost no one buy’s but is still around. Diesel engines proliferating the lineup…..until recently of course. A sport wagon, and lifted all track version of said wagon, in a country that hate’s wagons. Very hesitant to jump on the Crossover trend, until recently.

    Very restrained evolutionary styling is also a bit of a risk in these times. People want flash.


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