Posts By: stephwillems

By on July 10, 2020

toyota

Fall holiday discounts aside, the height of summer is typically a good time to head out and buy a car. The weather’s good, new models are rolling into dealers, and markdowns are appearing on older stock taking up precious space. Yet 2020 is anything but a normal year.

As the industry struggles to regain the volume it once enjoyed, threadbare inventories continue to plague automakers, though not everyone’s equal in this exercise. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2020

Amazon

As you read earlier this morning, Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe isn’t all that impressed with the ability of some EV startups to wow Wall Street with lofty talk and exciting, but perhaps empty, promises. He’s more concerned with getting product out the door.

It’s perhaps because of Rivian’s conventional approach to car building that big-name firms seem more than willing to put their cash behind it. On Friday, the EV startup landed another bundle, and it’s a big one. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2020

Image: FCA

There’s plenty of things Americans can’t get their hands on these days — hand sanitizer, inexpensive front-drive coupes, and a predictable future, to name a few — but those dreaming of the chance to drive a four-door convertible pickup powered by a compression-ignition engine haven’t long to wait before seeing their wish granted.

As many assumed Jeep would, the off-road brand is adding the 3.0-liter diesel V6 to its Gladiator engine roster for 2021. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2020

Ford cautioned that some of its American assembly plants could be put on ice as early as next week, as shortages persist at a Mexican plant still not running at full capacity.

The potential engine shortages stemming from coronavirus fears at Ford’s Chihuahua Engine Plant and in the surrounding countryside would stymie production of key Ford products, including the new-for-2020 Super Duty line. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2020

Among electric vehicle startups, Rivian is the nonconformist. Compared to its braggadocious contemporaries, many of which are still years away from building anything, the Michigan-based company is well-poised to deliver a drivable product within a year’s time, with only scant attention paid to the possibilities of going public on a raft of promises.

We’ve already seen what Rivian plans to offer. Metal has met eyes. An assembly plant is already gearing up, with a list of suppliers on hand to pull off production of the R1S SUV and R1T pickup, and, most important of all, there’s money to fund it. It all sounds so… conventional. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2020

Image: 2017 Dodge Journey SE, via FCA

By now you’ve heard, been told, or simply noticed that the Dodge lineup for 2021 contains but three models: the Charger, Challenger, and Durango. A trifecta of AARP members, now endowed with as much horsepower as Fiat Chrysler could rustle up from its deep parts bin.

Gone for ’21, but hardly forgotten, is the Grand Caravan, a pioneer of the minivan segment and a stalwart Dodge model seemingly immune to inflation. We knew its demise was coming. Same goes for the other model axed for 2021 — the Dodge Journey — though the discontinuation of this vehicle isn’t nearly as likely to elicit tearful, glowing eulogies at the wake.

Perhaps you’d like to say a few words? (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2020

Nissan Frontier production line Canton Mississippi - Image: Nissan

As Nissan flings an old truck with a shiny new powertrain at midsize truck buyers, a top-down replacement waits in the wings.

To say a successor for the Frontier has been a long time coming would be the ultimate understatement. The current body has soldiered on since late 2004, when the second-generation truck appeared as a 2005 model. You author has gone through six cars since that long-ago year.

But the wait’s nearly over. And there’s even something to look at. (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2020

Cadillac President Steve Carlisle just got a promotion. Following the announced departure of General Motors North America President Barry Engle, GM tapped the 58-year-old Canadian for the spot.

Arriving at Cadillac in 2018 after the ouster of former brand boss Johan de Nysschen, Carlisle has overseen the introduction of new product and the development of the first of Cadillac’s future range of electric vehicles. It’s a direction GM’s pursuing heavily across all brands, making Carlisle an obvious pick for Engle’s job. (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2020

General Motors Renaissance Center

General Motors’ racketeering lawsuit against rival Fiat Chrysler is dead in the water after a federal judge dismissed the case on Wednesday.

The move comes after GM appealed U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman’s order that the CEOs of the battling automakers should meet in private and hash out a resolution themselves. The General won half of its appeal, and the meeting was scrapped, but Borman, who described the lawsuit as a “nuclear” option that only served to clog up the courts in a time of COVID-19, stayed on the case — against GM’s wishes.

Now, the case has come to an end, though the battle might still rage on. (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2020

toyota

A strange new animal has appeared overseas, bearing a name that’s very, very familiar to American drivers. Corolla Cross, by Toyota.

It’s a Corolla, only a crossover.

Let’s explore. (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2020

The Twitterverse — which is a horrible place, by the way — finds itself rocked this week, torn asunder and factionalized by the mass signing of a remarkably anodyne letter supporting free speech and open discussion. Twenty-six-year-old NYC bloggers are up in arms; here at Casa Steph, the popcorn bucket’s working overtime.

But while these warriors clash in the online streets over the core tenet of liberal democracy, a great number of opinions, beliefs, and offbeat thoughts remain behind lock and key in our own minds. The subjects these thoughts cover are vast in scope, and one of them is surely cars. Yes, cars. And trucks, and those who build them.

Let’s exercise a little free speech today. (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2020

2019 Genesis G70 rear quarter

The G70 has thus far proven to be the most popular model in the Genesis lineup, attracting new buyers in the premium compact passenger car space since its late-2018 introduction.

Last year, the brand drew 56 percent of its volume from the G70. Through the first half of 2020, the G70 boasted more than double the sales of the next closest model, the G80. With quality awards adorning its trophy shelf, a pleasing design that fits its role as a rear-drive sports-luxury sedan, a window sticker capable of luring customers from German and Japanese brands, and power to spare, the G70 has a lot going for it.

But perhaps there’s a way for Genesis to boost its margins… (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2020

hyundai

There’s an all-new Hyundai Elantra arriving for 2021, and not a moment too soon. Your author was not a fan of the 2019 refresh, though the basic package remained as competent as before, if a little boring. And the new-generation sedan retains that basic thrift and utility, but not every Elantra driver longs for a life of numbing okay-ness.

That’s where the N Line comes in. (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2020

gm

The seemingly cursed mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette, aka the C8, probably spends its nights dreaming of clear skies and a vaccine. Early development problems, a lengthy strike, a deferred production start, then a pandemic-prompted production shutdown all conspired to make for a hellish entry into the world for the new-generation 2020 ‘Vette.

For 2021, the entry-level Stingray model doesn’t try anything wild, maintaining its entry price while adding a few things buyers might like… and one thing no one asked for. (Read More…)

By on July 8, 2020

mazda

Mazda appears to have embraced a two-pronged strategy to generate interest in its redesigned-for-2019 3 hatchback and sedan. For the coming model year, the automaker plans to add two engines to the lineup — one a potent, uplevel offering designed to give enthusiasts the oomph they so desire; the other, a returning cast member that never went away north of the border.

After this latest move, Mazda may well be out of options for luring eyes and wallets. (Read More…)

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