Posts By: Timothy Cain

By on October 29, 2019

2019 Toyota Camry SE white - Image: Toyota

Remember the midsize sedan death watch?

When TTAC introduced the series, Americans were still acquiring over 2 million midsize cars per year. That fact, the 2M+ aspect of the segment and the 1M+ nature of the top models, combined with the category’s 12-percent market share, caused many readers to doubt the possibility that any other intermediate sedans would ever bid farewell.

Others have, of course, fallen by the wayside. Joining the long-lost Mercury Milan, Pontiac G6, Saturn Aura, Suzuki Kizashi, Mitsubishi Galant, and Dodge Avenger in that great midsize parking lot in the sky are cars such as the Chrysler 200 and Ford Fusion. The Chevrolet Malibu is not long for this world.

Meanwhile, sales of the remaining midsize cars continue to tank. The notion that America’s midsize segment is a reliable provider of more than 2 million units per year is now cast by the wayside. Americans are likely to purchase and lease fewer than 1.4 million midsize cars in 2019. That’s 15-percent fewer midsize cars than Americans drove home in 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2019

2020 Chevrolet Corvette

There’s a theory – and when I say there’s a theory, I mean that I quickly concocted one night as sleep began its wash over me – that says the Corvette you love most is the Corvette of your licensing year.

For me, that means the revolutionary C5 Corvette must, by law, take its place as my favourite Corvette. That bulbous rear end, those pop-up headlights, and three top options are memorable aspects to the fifth-generation Corvette. So too is the downmarket interior highlighted by miserable seats, surprisingly decent fuel economy, and remarkably strong sales figures of roughly 30,000 units per year in the U.S.

Objectively, of course, the Corvettes C6 and C7 are markedly, distinctly, better cars. They don’t abide by my favoritism rule, but they’re better cars. Thus, just as I always aspired to ownership of a new C5, I shifted that desire to the C6 in 2005 and the C7 in 2014. The Corvette’s consistently reasonable entry price has always made that aspiration relatively attainable.

But everything has changed with the arrival of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C8. No, it hasn’t become unobtainable, but it’s not clear that it’s an objectively better car. And even if it is, I still wouldn’t want one. (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2019

2020 Mazda 3 Hatchback - Image: Mazda2018 was the worst year for U.S. sales of the Mazda 3 since Bill Clinton was president. Back in 2000, the last time Mazda failed to sell more than 65,000 compacts, the Mazda 3 wasn’t even the Mazda 3 – it was the Mazda Protege.

Of course, 2018 was a different kind of year for Mazda’s primary passenger car. Mazda was putting its aging, third-generation Mazda 3 out to pasture in an increasingly anti-car market; preparing instead to launch a stylish new Mazda 3 with an all-wheel-drive option that would (theoretically) steer buyers away from crossovers.

That new car, however, is faring far worse in the U.S. market. Buyers are steering clear of Mazda’s newest car. Year-over-year, Mazda 3 volume is down by more than a fifth. In fact, 2019 is on track to be the lowest-volume year of the Protege/3 era.

Mazda is responding with a 2020 Mazda 3 that will hit the market with a higher base price. And significantly higher equipment levels. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2019

2019 Subaru AScent - Image: Subaru

Subaru didn’t believe the Ascent would add much to the brand’s monthly U.S. sales totals.

A year ago, it looked like Subaru’s forecasts were right on target. Roughly 5,000 U.S. sales per month? Check. Incremental brand-wide growth? Of course. Negligible impact on competitors? Indeed.

But the Ascent’s early capacity for helping Subaru keep its loyal customers loyal has evolved into something quite a bit more useful for the constantly-growing Japanese brand. Ascent volume is rising, rapidly so, and Subaru’s unparalleled streak of year-over-year sales growth – now at 93 consecutive months – now appears in little danger of collapsing. (Read More…)

By on August 29, 2019

2019 Toyota Tundra TRD PROWith remarkable consistency, Toyota has sold over 2.2 million Tundra pickups over the truck’s 20-year history.

Toyota began building the first-generation Tundra in Indiana in May 1999; the truck went on sale 20 years ago this summer. Not surprisingly, Toyota’s celebratory words as the Tundra turns 20 relate in large part to longevity: a million-mile ‘07 Tundra; an ‘18 driven repeatedly through a forest fire on rescue missions.

It’s not as though Toyota is going to flaunt any newfangled technology or headline-grabbing capabilities. The Tundra is basically the same truck it’s been since production of the second-gen Tundra began in Texas in 2007.

Just as the truck fails to evolve, so too does its sales performance: the Tundra just keeps on selling. (Read More…)

By on August 20, 2019

All 2019 Minivans Available: Odyssey, Sienna, Pacifica, Grand Caravan, Sedona - Images: ManufacturersThe minivan as we know it is not dead. Credit for the minivan segment’s still-beating heart belongs in large part to the disappearance of most contenders – so few competitors remain that a handful of remaining minivan nameplates may well still sell in six figures in the United States in 2019.

Most automakers determined years ago that sticking their forks into this pie isn’t worth it; the pie was just too small. The absence of GM, Ford, Hyundai, and Volkswagen, along with the steady rise of the family-oriented crossover, caused the pie’s shrinkage to continue. Nissan and Mazda left, too, and the pie kept shrinking.

In fact, the rate at which the minivan pie is shrinking has picked up speed. Auto sales are slowing, to be fair, but U.S. minivan sales volume in 2019 is slowing nearly seven times faster. And no, for FCA and Toyota and Honda and Kia, the whole “bigger slice of a smaller pie” argument just isn’t holding water these days.  (Read More…)

By on July 29, 2019

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray - Image: Chevrolet

In accordance with all that is true in the U.S. sports car market, General Motors is about to sell 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingrays by the truckload before settling in to a few years of significantly less volume.

Even casual industry observers understand that trend. Between the hype, the early adoption fervor, and the performance leaps generally represented by a new species of sportus caricus, shoppers tend to turn en masse to the newest, flashiest, boldest two-door. That pattern is amplified by vehicles with legendary status.

Fortunately, the legends aren’t as inherently prone to suffering from dramatic, post-hype declines in demand (See: FR-S, Scion.) History tells us General Motors’ 66-year-old sports car will surge some 40 percent in 2020 and then continue rising in 2021 before dipping somewhat in 2022.

The Corvette average buyer age is a whole ‘nuther story. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2019

Buick Regal Mistaken Identity commercial screenshot - Image: Buick/Youtube

Encore, not Regal. Regal TourX if you please, not the Cascada. No to the LaCrosse, yes to the Enclave. Regal Sportback shunned, Envision approved.

This isn’t an elementary analysis of the pro-crossover/anti-car trends of the marketplace or GM’s China-centric Buick brand. Rather, it’s the message Buick seems to be sending in its own advertising.

Of course, that’s not the official line from Buick PR. But the more you watch the six-month-old “Mistaken Identity” commercial, the more you wonder what Buick must think of its own cars. (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2019

2019 Volvo Cars USA full lineup - Image: Volvo

Thanks to the increasing popularity of its two most affordable models, 2019 appears to be the year in which Volvo’s U.S. operations will appear firmly and solidly back on track.

For the first time since 2007, Volvo is set to sell more than 100,000 vehicles in the United States. At the current 6 percent growth rate, Volvo is on track for a 12-year high. 60 years since the Swedish brand landed in America, and nearly a decade since its U.S. ownership phase ended at the hands of Ford, the now Chinese-owned marque is on the ascent for very much the same reason it was when setting sales records in 2004.

A mix of popular utility vehicles and growth from its entry-level models. (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2019

You needn’t be an automotive writer to know that when a key is tossed in your direction, you catch it. If it’s the key to a winter-garaged, low-mileage, 2005 Lexus LS430, you grab the key and run. I rode to a work two weeks ago on the new Suzuki DR-Z400SM with which I replaced my 2013 Scion […]

By on May 29, 2019

2020 Toyota Supra – Image: Toyota Canada“You only produce one car less than the demand for the vehicle,” the late Sergio Marchionne said of Ferrari’s founding marketplace strategy. Of course, that translates to thousands more cars per year than it did in decades past. But Ferrari remains largely committed to that principle.

Now, in Ferrari-like language, Toyota says, “We’re operating on the basis that it’s better to have one too few than far too many,” when it comes to the new Supra.

Toyota spokesperson Nancy Hubbell revealed to TTAC early sales goals for the fifth-generation Supra that are distinctly tempered compared with the lofty expectations Toyota divulged the last time it launched a high-end coupe. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2019

2013 Scion FRS front snow - Image: © Timothy Cain

A lot of life changes occurred in conjunction with the sale of my old website, GoodCarBadCar. We also sold the family home in Nova Scotia, moved to rural Prince Edward Island, and quickly began spending more time behind the wheel of a Husqvarna lawn tractor than behind the wheel of any car.

From an automotive standpoint, however, the major ensuing change involved the acquisition of an older Miata. A lifelong dream became a 14-month possession, costing scarcely a dollar while entirely living up to expectations. But with a second toy acquired, in the form of a Suzuki Kingquad, attempting to justify the use of a seasonal two-seater seemed laughable considering there are two young children at home.

Naturally, I sold the Miata and bought that famed minivan alternative, a 2013 Scion FR-S. (Our family vehicle is a 2018 Honda Odyssey.)

10 months later, with most of the time spent on winter tires, the FR-S is gone. It was just too practical. Too flexible. Too reasonable. Too functional. Too pragmatic. (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2019

2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 - Image: © Timothy CainThe story of the 340,000-mile 2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 that became the 15-winter story of a 347,000-mile Camry now belongs to another author.

My in-laws’ beautifully-maintained Camry ticked up to 352,000 miles – 567,013 kilometres on the odometer, to be precise – when they finally replaced their stalwart sedan with a 2019 Kia Optima.

The decision was not prompted by a breakdown. The Camry isn’t destined for a junkyard. It’s not being parted out.

We listed the Camry for $1,200 on Kijiji, quickly fielded 26 inquiries, and ended up selling this famous Camry to, you guessed it, a Camry owner who wants to add to his Camry stable. (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2019

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature Skyactiv-D - Image: Mazda

Finally.

Mazda’s promised diesel-powered CX-5 is now open for pre-order in the United States, years after we began chronicling the Skyactiv-D’s lethargic march to North America.

TTAC’s coverage of Mazda diesel delays goes back nearly six years, when the future of Mazda’s Skyactiv-D was linked to a future Mazda 6. It was a story that received more attention in 2014. Eventually, in late 2016, there was confirmation of a Mazda CX-5 diesel. Arrival date: second half of 2017.

By the second half of 2017, however, the timing of the diesel CX-5’s arrival was unknown. Fast forward past a promising NHTSA filing, then a CARB certification, and then the release of EPA fuel economy ratings to the 2019 New York International Auto Show.

The Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD Diesel is ready, Mazda insists. But at $42,045, there’s simply no reason for its existence in America. (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2019

2020 Toyota Corolla - Image: Toyota CanadaPromises that “This will be the sedan that saves cars” and “The passenger car comeback starts here” are so 2017.

2018 welcomed the arrival of high expectations in the form of an all-new Toyota Camry and an all-new Honda Accord. The results were predictable, if not in the eyes of automaker CEOs, then surely for the rest of us. Camry and Accord sales each fell to a seven-year low, the refreshed Hyundai Sonata plunged to a 15-year low, and Mazda 6 volume hit an all-time annual low.

Now it’s time for an all-new version of the Toyota Corolla.  Rather than suggest the Corolla will revitalize the compact car segment by generating renewed demand across the board and ending a mass migration to crossovers, Toyota’s prediction is much more realistic.

According to Toyota, sales of the all-new-much-improved Corolla will decline. (Read More…)

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