Category: Features

By on March 23, 2020

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD

General Motors’ revamped 2020 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra HD pickups are striking in appearance, but some buyers might be more enamored with the new 6.6-liter gas V8 under the hood. It’s a selling point, but it’s not something you want the truck showing off an inopportune times.

Like, say, when driving down the highway.

The possibility of unexpected underhood peep shows for the occupants of passing school buses are what prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a recall. Read More >

By on March 23, 2020

1980 Honda Accord in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn rust-prone regions, first-generation Honda Accords oxidized to oblivion well before the 1980s were finished, but elsewhere they held together for decade after decade. I still see the occasional 1977-1981 Accord when I walk the rows of car graveyards in Colorado and California, though nearly all of those cars are hatchbacks.

Here’s a hard-to-find ’80 Accord sedan in Denver. Read More >

By on March 20, 2020

Volvo is recalling every vehicle sold in the United States from the 2020 and 2019 model year. It turns out the automaker with the reputation for placing extra emphasis on safety has some bunk safety equipment. During tests late last year, the Federation of Danish Motorists noticed the automatic emergency braking (AEB) system in a Volvo XC60 consistently failed to operate as intended — smacking itself into numerous test dummies and automobiles.

After an internal investigation, Volvo Cars issued a global recall encompassing roughly 736,000 units on March 13th. Since the manufacturer has made the feature standard equipment on all vehicles, every single model produced by the automaker since January 21st, 2019 needs to be recalled. Read More >

By on March 20, 2020

gm

Lost in the madness of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic this week was the debut of a refreshed version of General Motors’ largest crossover, the Chevrolet Traverse.

The full-size, three-row people hauler enters the 2021 model year with updated front and rear styling, along with notable changes in content. Let’s take a closer look at this generously sized non-minivan. Read More >

By on March 19, 2020

tesla model 3

After a days-long jousting match between Tesla and county officials, the electric automaker has apparently come to terms with the fact it is not an essential service. Tesla will idle its assembly plant in Fremont, California on March 23rd, with its Buffalo, New York solar facility also going dark.

Controversy sprung up after Tesla continued operations in Fremont after the county, one of several in the Bay area to do so, issued a shelter-in-place order to aid in the battle against coronavirus. Read More >

By on March 19, 2020

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

Tesla has earned no shortage of criticism for being the only American manufacturer yet to suspend production as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than enact a full-blown shutdown, the California-based automaker opted to reduce its active workforce to just 2,500 employees — about a quarter of its total strength.

Six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area have issued a “shelter-in-place order” aimed at curtailing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Tesla’s Fremont facility is located in Alameda County — one of the municipalities telling residents to stay in their homes and close all nonessential businesses. Noticing that the factory had failed to comply with the notice, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office tweeted out that Tesla was “not an essential business as defined in the Alameda County Health Order.”

But we’re not even sure what the company is legally obligated to do.  Read More >

By on March 18, 2020

Last month we covered an alarming trend where Tesla appeared to be intentionally removing features from vehicles as they entered the secondhand market. Used automobiles are typically sold with their original equipment intact. The previous owner may have wanted to yank out the tape deck or remove the fuzzy steering wheel cover before handing it over, but these are things you probably negotiated before any money changed hands. Unfortunately, things have only grown more complicated in the (post)modern era.

Reports have rolled in of Tesla stripping cars of thousands of dollars worth of features (mainly Autopilot and Ludicrous Mode) simply because they’re in line for a new owner. This sets an ugly precedent for the industry and undermines the time-honored tradition of the private sale. However, there seems to be some amount of confusion surrounding the company’s official policy and its behavior.  Read More >

By on March 13, 2020

2018 Lexus LS500 AWD - Image: LexusOver the course of three decades, Lexus has accomplished remarkable feats in the U.S. marketplace. While the modern luxury landscape proves how challenging it is for a (non-Tesla) upstart such as Genesis to garner even an ounce of market share, Toyota’s premium brand generated relatively high volume levels from the get-go.

By 1991, only the third year on the market, Lexus had already overtaken all other import premium brands. By 1998, Lexus was able to top monthly luxury sales leaderboards. Then in 2000, Lexus became America’s top-selling premium marque. The Lexus LS, the brand’s flagship sedan, was an especially important piece of the puzzle in those early days. In fact, when Lexus first outsold Mercedes-Benz and BMW on an annual basis, the LS was one of just three Lexus nameplates. Nearly 43,000 copies of the LS were sold in 1990, for example, at a time when BMW’s 7 Series did just a quarter of that volume; and with Mercedes-Benz some 17,000 units abaft.

But as the LS gained license to move upmarket, as the Great Recession came and went, as the tastes of luxury car buyers became the tastes of luxury SUV buyers, the LS became something of a forgotten flagship. By the end of the fourth-generation LS’s tenure, Lexus was selling barely more than 300 LSs per month in America.

Yet with the launch of a new model in 2018, Lexus intended to dramatically increase the U.S. sales volume for its biggest and most costly sedan. And if at first it looked as though Lexus might just have forecasted accurately, a second glance reveals just how far off the mark even Lexus can be. Read More >

By on March 12, 2020

The hosts of the Discovery Channel’s Diesel Brothers have been fined $851,451 for selling modified pickups that violate Utah law and the federally recognized Clean Air Act.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby also said the plaintiffs, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, could submit their attorney fees for the defendants to pay. Cole Cannon, lawyer to the stars, has said the plaintiffs’ attorneys previously told the judge they were seeking $1.2 million.

Friday’s court documents stipulate that David “Heavy D” Sparks, Joshua Stuart, Keaton Hoskins, and “Diesel Dave” Kiley pay $761,451 to the U.S. government with the remaining $90,000 going to Davis County in Utah. The group has already been found guilty of removing particulate filters and exhaust recirculation systems on the cars used for the television program. The only genuine surprise was the sizable fine —  as well as some court-appointed rules that will probably make the show less exciting to watch.  Read More >

By on March 11, 2020

When rumors began to spread that Jaguar was on the cusp of axing its long-running XJ (seen above) in favor of an electric car with a more versatile body, the purist in everyone no doubt squirmed at the thought. The XJ is meant to be a flagship sedan, and part of that role involves looking like one.

Jaguar did end up discontinuing the model. Now, as the XJ’s replacement draws near, we can at least inform you that it won’t look like a made-over Citroën C6 that hums. Read More >

By on March 9, 2020

2019 Ford F150 Lariat FX4 blue oval badge

Animosity continues to linger from Ford’s decision to cull its low-priced passenger car models… perhaps even here at TTAC World Headquarters. Few would claim that the Ford EcoSport makes an attractive bottom rung on a product ladder that increasingly caters to the middle-class truck or SUV buyer.

That said, CEO Jim Hackett’s promise not to abandon low-end buyers seems to carry weight. Dealers have begun whispering about an upcoming product that should start just below $20,000, and comes with a bed. Read More >

By on March 6, 2020

2020 Kia Telluride

My review of the all-new 2020 Kia Telluride last year was mostly positive.

There’s a reason for this – I thought it was pretty damn good. Especially given its price point, and that it was Kia coming up with a very good three-row crossover, seemingly out of nowhere.

Yep, Kia, a brand that hadn’t been a player in this segment since its last attempt, a body-on-frame SUV called Borrego, ran into the economic headwinds of the Great Recession. Kia had help from corporate partner Hyundai – that brand’s Palisade is the more urbane sibling to Telluride – but still, Kia’s reentry to the segment seemed remarkable.

After living with the Telluride for a week as opposed to a day, that remains true.

Read More >

By on March 5, 2020

With the California Farm Bureau effectively giving away the right of farmers to repair their own equipment without involving the distributor in the spring of 2019, the right-to-repair movement fell back on its heels. Horrified by the ground lost, the group has rallied to better incorporate those hoping to fix or modify mobile devices and automobiles. Despite being disparate products, members share a common goal of returning control to consumers and preventing various industries from having a stranglehold on products they were supposed to relinquish ownership of when sold.

Hoping to better illustrate the plight of farmers, Bloomberg published an article outlining one man’s struggle with John Deere. Kevin Kenney is a Nebraska-based engineer who’s also a member of a grassroots campaign to undermine the corporate mandate against repairing its tractors. He believes farmers owe it to themselves to know how to fix their own equipment or risk finding themselves perpetually at the mercy of the manufacturer — while losing the skills to be self-reliant.

Why should you care? It’s presumed automakers will follow a similar business plan as vehicles become increasingly networked and electric, and as executives redefine what constitutes ownership while using proprietary software as their shield. Pretty much exactly what John Deere is doing.   Read More >

By on March 3, 2020

Given the avalanche of new domestic pickups smothering the American marketplace over the past couple of years, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the Toyota Tundra, last revamped during the latter part of the Bush administration.

And yet, after Ford comes out with a new F-150 later this year and Nissan gets its midsize offering in order, there’ll be a new full-sizer from Toyota. Read More >

By on March 2, 2020

Volvo’s not whispering in anyone’s ear, but Volvo dealers surely are. That’s how we’ve learned that Volvo Cars plans to insert two new vehicles at the top and near the bottom of its current lineup.

According to dealers, a range-topping XC100 will soon take its place atop the model ladder, with a coupe-like crossover slotted well below. How else is Volvo supposed to keep its sales momentum? Read More >

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