Category: Editorials

By on January 22, 2020

Kia is no stranger to the Ace of Base series, given its propensity to stuff its cars and SUVs to the gunwales with features generally found on cars one octave higher in price. What is a stranger to the AoB pages is the 2021 model year. Welcome to the future, folks (there are still no hoverboards).

While the little Seltos hasn’t yet been added to Kia’s build-n-price tool, the media site has more than enough collateral with which to determine the base car’s level of kit. Does it continue Kia’s value-added ways? Will it be another hit for Kia? Is it colder than the surface of Hoth outside your author’s home? The TTAC Magic 8 Ball says “signs point to yes” for all of these questions.

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By on January 21, 2020

Chrysler has certainly changed since emerging from the ashes of the Maxwell Motor Company in 1925, spending the better part of the 20th century purveying all manner of car to the American public. The current century has seen the company merge with Daimler, followed by Fiat. Now it’s cozying up to PSA Group, leaving many to wonder what purpose Chrysler serves beyond being the corporate namesake.

Officially, the merger isn’t supposed to impact any FCA or PSA brands. But the Chrysler brand isn’t exactly a model of industrial health. Its current lineup consists of four vehicles, one of which (Voyager) is just the lower-trim version of the non-hybrid Pacifica. The minivan sales are enviable, comprising over half of all vehicles sold within the segment for the United States last year — if you incorporate the Dodge Caravan — but Chrysler’s overall trajectory leaves much to be desired.  Read More >

By on January 21, 2020

Following confirmation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it will look into a petition calling on the agency to formally investigate 500,000 Tesla vehicles over reports of unintended acceleration, the automaker took to the internet to defend itself.

On Monday, Tesla issued a blog post to say the allegations against it are wrong. It believes claims of unintended acceleration are erroneous, pushed by someone hoping to scoop up Tesla shares at a lower price so they can be swiftly flipped.

The short-seller defense is a popular one with CEO Elon Musk. He’s previously called short sellers “value destroyers,” repeatedly suggesting that the practice should be made illegal. But it’s also in his interest to keep Tesla’s stock ludicrously high, which it is. Despite being several times smaller than either General Motors or Ford, Tesla’s market worth has surpassed their combined value.  Read More >

By on January 21, 2020

All of you have shared in my car shopping experience, which began at the end of 2019. Starting with a solicitation for recommendations back in October, the process of finding the right replacement for a 2012 Outback extended longer than planned and was punctuated with a particularly poor experience at a Volkswagen dealer.

But it was all worth it, because now I’ve got a new (used) wagon.

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By on January 20, 2020

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

While I don’t particularly agree with all the criticisms Lee Iacocca has thrown at Japan, his most polarizing claim (published in Playboy, no less) — that its citizens certainly know Jeep because “they saw enough of them in World War II” — has bizarrely continued to ring true. As far as American automotive brands go, Jeep has been Japan’s favorite for a while. And it only needed to tamp down its relationship to “The Big One” slightly to get there.

However, the sales game is always relative.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing brands on the market, Jeep only netted itself 13,360 deliveries in Japan for 2019. But consistent growth since 2013 has to account for something, especially when the overall market is performing so poorly. At the very least, it shows American brands can make some amount of headway on a nut Iacocca believed uncrackable.  Read More >

By on January 20, 2020

While other manufacturers are downsizing engines and sticking turbos anywhere they’ll fit, Mazda has attempted to maintain a home for naturally aspirated motors — engines it believes should be sized appropriately for their intended application. On paper, this appears to be giving the competition an edge. Yet Mazda remains committed to offering the right tool for the job, introducing naturally aspirated Skyactiv engines with unusually high compression ratios. The latest, Skyactiv-X, combines spark-controlled gasoline combustion and compression-ignition diesel tech with a 24-volt mild-hybrid system.

The system delivers 178 horsepower and 164 lb-ft of torque in 2.0-liter guise, plus MPG improvements of up to 20 percent vs the old Skyactiv-G. But there’s a problem. With Mazda attempting to go upmarket, an economy-focused powertrain has to deliver in whatever region it’s sold, and introductory Skyactiv-X units are now viewed as too small for the United States. The result? The technology’s delayed arrival in North America, despite its deployment via the new 2.0 liter found in the 2020 Mazda 3 and CX-30 sold in Japan and Europe.  Read More >

By on January 20, 2020

nissan

Japanese executives traditionally take company failings very personally, often performing penance in the wake of scandals and downturns. In the case of fresh-on-the-job Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida, his punishment for the automaker’s dismal financial situation and tumbling sales was an earful from a group of angry U.S. dealers.

The dealers let Uchida have it during a recent meeting at Nissan’s U.S. headquarters — the first such meeting since Uchida’s elevation to CEO late last year. It’s not like he didn’t ask for it. Read More >

By on January 20, 2020

2002 BMW X5 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Now that I’ve been doing these Junkyard Finds for 13 years and having just written my annual 10 Best Junkyard Cars post, I’m taking a look back to see what historically significant vehicles I’ve neglected as I pursue weird examples of badge engineering and triviaquestion AWD versions. I’ve been working on filling in the blanks with junked BMW 3 and 5 Series cars lately, along with 21stcentury econoboxes, and now I will be trying to shoot more German luxury SUVs.

We’ll start off with this clean-looking ’02 X5, which I found in a yard just south of Denver. Read More >

By on January 17, 2020

Maserati’s Quattroporte has always been a large, sports-oriented luxury sedan, though the sports part occasionally waned in its influence. Through six total generations to date, Quatroporte serves as the pinnacle of the company’s sedan offerings.

Let’s have a look at where it all started, with this stunning first-gen example from 1967.

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By on January 17, 2020

Frank writes:

So, reading about the Lithium Mustang with its completely superfluous six-speed gearbox got me and some friends thinking about when you need a transmission and when you don’t.

We all know that steam engines and electric motors torque from the git-go and never need transmissions, whereas ICE engines can’t do that. But then we realized none of us knew why. So, that’s the question — why can’t ICE engines torque like those others? Read More >

By on January 16, 2020

Occasionally, the Ace of Base award will be trotted out not because a particular vehicle is the most desirable in its range, but because of the remarkable amount of kit or capability it offers for its entry level price. The truck you see before you definitely falls into the latter category.

Consider this: a base model F-250 serves up a 385 horsepower V8, 78.5 cubic feet of space in its 8-foot cargo box, and the ability to tow up to 13,300 pounds — all for less than the price of a loaded Camry.

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By on January 15, 2020

Thanks largely to its status as a niche product, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ have been on deathwatch for years. But their saving grace as stellar machines to drive has kept them from being abandoned. The Toyobaru Twins still receive quite a bit of love, even if the affection is not spread around all that liberally. Despite this, both models are expected to receive a successor.

While a quick glance at their sales record makes this seem like a losing strategy, Toyota remains obsessed with rebuilding its reputation within motorsport (often with help from another manufacturer). Toyota head Akio Toyoda has even expressed a personal dream of returning to an era where the company has revived — or replaced — its most iconic performance models. The Supra and 86 are already here, leaving room for the Celica and/or MR2. Ditching the 86 would be a step backwards, even if it only moved 3,398 units in the United States last year — its worst showing to date.  Read More >

By on January 15, 2020

best baby mirrors for cars

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


Snicker if you must at this topic, but it’s a tried-and-true fact that the vast majority of parents will spend heartily on safety equipment for their newborn child. Since we’re no longer allowed to let them roll around in the cargo area of a station wagon while taking a road trip, infants are strapped into rear facing car seats that essentially become part of the car’s structure when properly installed.

This, of course, makes it difficult to see the kid. Mirrors like these are designed to strap onto a backseat headrest, allowing the ‘rents to peer at a reflection of their offspring while glancing astern in the rearview mirror. This means, technically, one is looking at a reflection of a reflection. It all gets a bit Inception after awhile.

Here is an array of mirrors we think fit the bill.

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By on January 14, 2020

A short-lived Italian experiment, the ASA brand was created by Enzo Ferrari himself. Think of it as a stylish Sixties Scion, if you will.

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By on January 13, 2020

When your author’s 2019 Golf SportWagen (to be revealed soon) went into the shop for warranty work after just two weeks of ownership, the dealer provided a service loaner for a couple days (or four). And it was a brand new Passat, but one company PR would never release into the hands of any journalist: the most basic version.

Let’s see if the spacious S sedan is an Ace of Base.

Read More >

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