Posts By: stephwillems

By on November 21, 2019

hyundai

No one wants to come in last. With the Volkswagen e-Golf and Smart Fortwo EQ Electric Drive Whatever discontinued, Hyundai’s compact Ioniq Electric hatchback was poised to be the lowest-range electric vehicle in the North American market (minus, of course, the limited-availability, lease-only Honda Clarity EV).

Clearly, this looming position at the bottom of the ladder left a bad taste in Hyundai’s mouth. Preferring to see Nissan there, it set about making the necessary changes. (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2019

1968 Ford LTD in Colorado wrecking yard, trunk - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Wednesday night marked the first time this season that yours truly was called upon to perform an annual ritual; one that falls on random days throughout the cold and dark months. A friend called me for a boost. While jumping dead batteries is a task I loathe — all stemming from a childhood fear of electricity — I perform the task at least once a winter, sometimes several times, and have for two decades.

Why? I’m always the guy with the cables. And it’s only during battery-reviving excursions like this that I pause to think about all the crap that accumulates in a person’s trunk during the year and how, quite often, most of that junk is of zero usefulness to the owner in the event of a breakdown or emergency.

So, how much of what’s in your trunk actually serves a useful purpose? (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2019

gm

Not to be left behind as rival automakers unveiled their latest and greatest in L.A., Chevrolet pulled the remaining wraps off its upcoming Trailblazer. Arriving this spring as a 2021 model, the Trailblazer — like its Buick Encore GX sibling — fills a questionably-sized gap between the compact and subcompact class. The brand’s other returning nameplate, the Blazer, plugged a hole between the compact and midsize class a year ago.

While we now know more about the Trailblazer, its starting price might be its most unique feature. (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2019

UAW

The reforms announced by UAW Acting President Rory Gamble last week are already resulting in casualties. On Wednesday, the United Auto Workers Executive Board filed charges against President Gary Jones and Region 5 Director Vance Pearson under Article 30 of the UAW Constitution in a bid to oust them from the scandal-rocked union.

Jones, who took a leave of absence earlier this month amid growing suspicion of criminality, resigned almost immediately. Pearson, charged with embezzlement of union funds and money laundering, remains on his own leave of absence — one that’s likely to become permanent. (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2019

General Motors Renaissance Center

As members of the media swarm over new vehicles in Los Angeles, a legal drama is playing out in Detroit. General Motors has filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against cross-town rival Fiat Chrysler, alleging FCA conspired to undermine the collective bargaining process and create unfair advantages by bribing UAW officials.

This cost GM lots of money, the automaker claims, and now it wants to collect.

“This lawsuit is intended to hold FCA accountable for the harm its actions have caused our company and to ensure a level playing field going forward,” said Craig Glidden, GM Executive Vice President and General Counsel, in a statement. (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2019

If you’re keeping track, the Vision T Plug-in Hybrid SUV Concept is the seventh design study to roll out of Hyundai’s styling studio in recent memory. Appearing Wednesday at the L.A. Auto Show, the plug-in utility vehicle has the bad timing of debuting at the same moment Toyota unveiled a plug-in crossover you’ll soon be able to buy and drive home.

Unfortunate timing aside, the concept does give us a glimpse of Hyundai’s future. (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2019

2018 Kia Stinger - Image: Kia

Kia earned applause for being ballsy enough to launch a rear-drive sports sedan at a time when buyers were heading in the other direction. Don’t go, Kia said, we’ve got a more affordable option for traditional driving!

Rear- or all-wheel drive greeted buyers looking for something fresh, with four- or six-cylinder power doing the motivating. Since its late-2017 arrival, the Stinger’s sales have fallen off a bit from last year’s tally, when it sold in low but consistent numbers. For 2020, the brand may be looking to reduce build configurations.

That means less four-cylinder choice and the removal of the model’s entry-level model. Apparently, this won’t cause much pain to your wallet. (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2019

After years of rumors and real-world development, Aston Martin has finally joined the SUV crew. Among its members these days? Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, and Jaguar, with the likes of Lotus and Ferrari eager to join this high-riding posse of automotive misfits.

The DBX is a two-row utility vehicle boasting a profile you can find elsewhere in the industry and an engine sourced from the Germans. It’s a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 borrowed from AMG, and it motivates this largest-ever Aston with 542 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Price? If you need to ask, you cannot afford. (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2019

toyota

It seems the automotive industry has learned that the instant torque and potency potential afforded by electric motors can be a selling feature all its own, relegating the usual save-the-planet messaging to the back burner. Even the traditionally staid and sensible Toyota is getting in on the game.

Not just Toyota, but even the RAV4 — a compact and newly revamped crossover most often associated with placid nuclear families boasting at least one parent who works for the public sector. Toyota is eager to tell you that an upcoming variant, revealed this week at the L.A. Auto Show, will get you to 60 mph quicker than any RAV4 that came before.

And it’ll do so without using gas. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2019

nissan

With America now fully retreated from the compact car space, Japan is left holding the bag in a dwindling market. For two automakers — Honda and Toyota — the abandonment of the compact car market has added wind to slackening sails, but their gain comes at the expense of other players. Nissan is one of those players.

With its next-generation Sentra, Nissan hopes to steal from its rivals’ plates and amass a bigger slice of the pie. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2019

audi

And then there were two. Volkswagen Group, which is leading the (mainstream) charge on vehicle electrification, has a second high-end electric vehicle to tempt cozy greenies, and like its sibling, its styling aims to comfort, not repel.

The Audi E-Tron Sportback (“e-tron” Sportback in Audi parlance) is a slightly more curvaceous, sportier version of the E-Tron two-row crossover that began appearing earlier this year. Like that model, the Sportback doesn’t turn away traditional premium buyers with Jetsons-like styling and overbearing nods to the technology that lurks beneath its surface. It’s all-electric, yes, but you’d hardly know it from standing next to one. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2019

gm

Yes, that’s the name of an old Ford engine with double the cylinder count as the subject of this piece, but it’s still a great name. As for the star of this show, Buick’s upcoming Encore GX is a tweener vehicle imported from the other side of the Pacific to fill a gap between the existing Encore and the larger Envision. It’s a gap not many people took notice of, but it’s one GM is nonetheless choosing to fill in its Buick and Chevrolet lineups.

As splashier products land at the L.A. Auto Show, the automaker has filled in a few information gaps on its first-ever three-pot Buick. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2019

Since Tesla CEO Elon Musk first uttered the word, we’ve avoided mentioning what seemed to be a nerd-fantasy placeholder name for the automaker’s upcoming electric pickup. Unfortunately, trademark applications reveal Tesla might actually make use of the word that dare not speak its name: “Cybertruck,” or, even worse, “Cybrtrk,” because vowels aren’t cool in Silicon Valley.

Speaking personally, it’s an unfortunate turn of events. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2019

Peugeot 208, Image: PSA Group

There’s a ways to go before Fiat Chrysler and France’s Groupe PSA officially slip the ring onto the other’s finger, but the engagement seems strong. Stronger, in fact, now that a majority of labor unions representing PSA workers have voiced approval for the proposed merger.

As the wedding day approaches, European labor bosses promise to dig through any and all agreements, searching for any clause or decision that might hurt their members. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2019

Forgive us for this post, one which yet again delves into a vehicle that, for good or bad, came in like the proverbial wrecking ball. Busted up the joint. People are abuzz, and so is Adam, whose opinions on the Ford Mustang Mach-E flowed like water through a breached dam on Monday.

Again and again (and not just from Adam) a hypothetical scenario reared its head — what if the Mustang Mach-E emerged from behind the curtain wearing another badge? (Read More…)

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