Posts By: stephwillems

By on April 19, 2019

2016 Dodge Dart, Image: FCA

The Dodge Dart rolled unceremoniously out of the Fiat Chrysler stable after the 2016 model year, but the automaker now worries it may roll out of owners’ driveways.

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 298,439 Darts in the United States, 20,117 in Canada, and 3,400 in Mexico to fix a shift cable that can detach from the transmission, potentially leaving the car stuck in a gear that isn’t “park.” (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2019

2018 Mazda 6 Signature front quarter

It seems the idea of a sport-utility sedan just doesn’t resonate, despite automakers’ best efforts. Oh well, at least there’s still the prospect of greater traction and somewhat improved fuel economy coming to Mazda’s slinky 6 sedan.

During this week’s New York reveal of the much-delayed CX-5 diesel, the automaker mentioned that the 2.2-liter oil burner would also find a home in the company’s midsize sedan. More interestingly, Mazda confirmed that all-wheel drive will become available.

Want to take a guess on which feature Mazda fans actually want? (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2019

FCA Windsor minivan assembly Dodge Grand Caravan 2011 - Image: FCA

Hot on the heels of Fiat Chrysler’s announcement of a shift cut at its Windsor, Ontario minivan plant, officials from Canadian autoworkers’ union Unifor say the automaker has $355 million ready to invest in the facility.

Last month, FCA told Unifor it would cut the plant’s third shift by the end of September, the result of falling minivan sales on both sides of the border. Windsor Assembly employs 6,100 workers, some 1,500 of which stand to lose their jobs. Unifor President Jerry Dias claims the investment will see a new product built in Windsor. (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2019

2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class Power - Image: Mercedes-Benz

The promising partnership that kicked off at the tail end of the last decade might end before this one is over. Compounding rumors about the troubled relationship, a report in a German business publication claims incoming Daimler CEO Ola Kaellenius will pull the plug on the automaker’s tie-up with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

Cost savings are at the core of the unconfirmed plan, and a peek at the recent past makes it seem all the more likely that the two will go their separate ways. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2019

Image: Hyundai

José Muñoz, who resigned as Nissan’s chief performance officer in January, is now on the Hyundai payroll. Muñoz jumped ship as turmoil roiled Nissan’s upper ranks and investigations began in the wake of former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s arrest.

The exec, seen as a close ally to Ghosn, previously served as chairman of the automaker’s North American business — a region he’s returning to, albeit with another automaker. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2019

Image: Subaru

For 2020, Subaru’s revered Outback wagon undergoes a host of changes while remaining unmistakably an Outback. And, as New York is hardly the first locale that springs to mind when thinking “Outback,” Subaru decided to have the great outdoors accompany the next-generation wagon to this week’s auto show. The automaker brought both the Outback and an eye-catching display showcasing America’s national parks (as well as Subaru’s partnership with the National Park Foundation).

Yes, Outbacks look great with coniferous trees in the background. As for the car itself, we called it. As predicted, the turbocharged 2.4-liter Boxer four that appeared in the Subaru stable for 2019 didn’t remain the sole property of the Ascent crossover for long. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2019

Image: Hyundai

Staying true to its tradition of extremely bold styling revamps, Hyundai’s 2020 Sonata looks like something penned by a team of French and Italian designers. We explored the next-generation midsizer’s many styling highlights earlier this year.

Now that the upcoming Sonata has had its official New York debut, there’s more information to get across. Specifically, power, but also efficiency. The same engine technology that went into the pint-sized Venue unveiled Wednesday also makes an appearance in the Sonata, though the automaker hasn’t forgotten that horsepower (sometimes) sells.

The Sonata will be the second North American model to undergo the N Line treatment. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2019

Image: VW

A Volkswagen concept that’s not really a concept appeared in New York City this week, aimed at gauging the American public’s level of interest in a unibody pickup that leans heavily in the direction of “crossover with a bed.”

While South American customers will soon be able to purchase a VW Tarok, the automaker says the model won’t come here. But something like it might. Unlike the company’s brawny Tanoak concept, a vehicle mimicking the Tarok could be offered at a lower price point, and that’s something that interests VW of America head Scott Keogh. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2019

Image: Ford

“Ford’s future is not about giving up the car,” company CEO Jim Hackett said in November 2017, not long before taking an axe to all Ford passenger car models, save the Mustang.

“We want to give them what they’re telling us they really want. We’re simply reinventing the American car,” Hackett continued in May of 2018, adding, “We don’t want anyone to think we’re leaving anything. We’re just moving to a modern version. This is an exciting new generation of vehicles coming from Ford.”

A year on from that last statement, the Ford Focus and Taurus are dead, the Fiesta bites the dust next month, and the Fusion lives on borrowed time. Also dead is the promise that the mildly lifted, faux-crossover Focus Active would make its way here from overseas. What’s left? A new product promise, and a long wait. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2019

It’s strange how, after an automaker goes to the trouble of building a car aimed at the perpetually cranky enthusiast crowd, you can sometimes forget the vehicle exists. That’s the case with the Kia Stinger. Introduced in 2017, the liftback sedan — offered in turbo four-cylinder and V6 guise, rear- or all-wheel drive — still eludes some minds when thinking of modern sport sedans.

Well, Kia doesn’t want you to forget. To sucker-punch consumers back into coherence, the Korean brand brought a new, limited edition variant of the Stinger to the New York Auto Show, and the changes are more than paint deep. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2019

By now, you’ve all had a chance to digest Lincoln’s new take on a compact CUV. Underpinned by a platform shared with the equally new 2020 Ford Escape and boasting a model-specific rear multi-link type setup (“integral bush suspension” in Lincoln parlance), the 2020 Corsair is the brand’s latest attempt to restore Lincoln’s faded lustre.

“We are American luxury,” said brand boss Joy Falotico during the model’s New York Auto Show debut. Surely, the Corsair embodies this mantra better than its MKC predecessor, with a stronger commitment to interior trappings and exterior style. But what of the plug-in variant that wasn’t a part of today’s debut? (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2019

Hyundai

Hyundai’s new Venue is not a large vehicle. At 158.9 inches in length, the sub-subcompact crossover is 5.1 inches shorter than the already petite Kona and 5.9 inches shorter than the Elantra GT. Despite its modest length, the upcoming 2020 Venue, pegged as a cheaper entry point to the Hyundai crossover lineup, doesn’t make many concessions in terms of interior room.

If you’re a hip, urban entrepreneur, Hyundai wants to get you into this front-drive-only Venue. C’mon, you had no intention of taking this thing off-road. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2019

While Lincoln’s compact MKC crossover sold reliably following its mid-2014 introduction, the still-vulnerable brand couldn’t let it grow stale in a hotly competitive segment. Thanks to shrinking sedan sales, Lincoln took a sales hit in 2018 as it awaited salvation in the form of the midsize, rear-drive Aviator — a vehicle designed to add heavily to the profits generated by the top-flight Navigator.

In a market like this, utility vehicles need to pull more than just their own weight. With that in mind, after making the decision to kill off the confusing MK(?) naming strategy, Lincoln set about turning the MKC into a stronger, more compelling entry in the compact premium class.

Enter the Corsair. (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2019

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

Studies have shown that purchasing a new Jeep Wrangler is almost as stable an investment as buying gold. In terms of retaining value, the Wrangler is king, boasting a rate of depreciation that undercuts the industry average by half.

With this in mind, it’s not common to see people shopping around, sniffing out boffo bargains on hard-to-sell Wranglers polluting local dealer lots. It simply isn’t a thing. If you’re in the market for one, however, now may be a good time to start searching. (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2019

Aston Martin’s Rapide, a super-sedan created by stretching the DB9, is essentially dead, with the last remaining examples of the limited-run Rapide AMR finding deep-pocketed buyers. And yet, like Frankenstein’s monster, the Rapide lives on, having had its V12 heart replaced by something altogether new.

Aston Martin has a “new” electric car to show off at Auto Shanghai 2019. It’s a discontinued Rapide converted to electric power and saddled with the Rapide E name, and it can be yours for a considerable sum of money. It’s anything but a green car for the masses. (Read More…)

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