Category: Features

By on December 7, 2019

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Sometimes the little guy wins.

Elon Musk, founder of a rocket ship company and CEO of a rising automobile company/cult, left a federal courtroom on Friday more emboldened than ever to say whatever he wants. A unanimous verdict handed down by the jury declared that calling an unknown British diver “pedo guy” on Twitter did not constitute defamation, thus allowing Musk, who has 30 million followers on the social media platform, to sidestep $190 million in damages. Read More >

By on December 5, 2019

The largest automotive recall in history just got a little more inclusive. Takata is recalling another 1.4 million vehicles after the airbag-related death of a BMW driver. The German manufacturer has issued three recalls covering roughly 116,000 U.S. vehicles containing the faulty equipment, saying it is aware of at least one fatality in Australia, plus a few injuries.

By now, you’re probably familiar with the issue. Takata supplied tens of millions of defective air-bag inflators over several years. The units are prone to exploding in the event of a crash, spraying metal shrapnel inside the cabin, after its propellant becomes compromised by nothing more than moisture. This has led to many senseless deaths, the largest automotive recall in history, and Takata declaring bankruptcy two years ago before its purchase by China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp.  Read More >

By on December 2, 2019

When Ford lined its domestic passenger car offerings against a brick wall, gangster-style, and unleashed its 50-round drum, one nameplate was singled out for potential preservation: Fusion. Actually, another name was supposed to live on in the form of the overseas Focus Active, but the Blue Oval kiboshed that model’s boat trip.

Acrimony over the Focus, Fiesta, and Taurus’ North American death ran high, perhaps more so than that of the doomed Fusion sedan, but the latter model’s name seemed to hold a special purpose. Recall back in the summer of 2018, when sources told Bloomberg that Ford intended to develop some sort of Subaru Outback fighter under the Fusion name. Spokesman Mike Levine backed up, to some degree, the name-preservation side of the story.

Real, physical proof of that program may now exist. Read More >

By on December 2, 2019

Like Jeep’s Wrangler, Mazda’s MX-5 Miata is a vehicle both beloved by purists and under threat from changing norms. Little has changed about the model since its inception, and redesigns — especially the last one — are the product of untold levels of scrutiny, calculation, and deliberation.

It’s a vehicle with an inherent purity. Weight, power, and balance are all arrived at after months and years of careful planning, and any upset to the recipe carries with it the danger of alienating owners and intenders alike. And this is why high-level talk of electrification for the ND’s successor is bound to raise eyebrows. Read More >

By on November 26, 2019

A late — but hopefully (for Fiat Chrysler) not too-late — entry in the full-size SUV segment is drawing closer to fruition, now appearing on Michigan roads wrapped in camo. That vehicle is the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, a boxy ute destined for the top of the Jeep food chain.

While past spy photos have shown a Ram 1500 test mule with an abbreviated back end, the latest shots are the first to show the vehicle in its final prototype form. Read More >

By on November 25, 2019

2019 Honda Civic Type R profile

As I’ve mentioned before, reviewing cars here at TTAC is not my primary career. At best, I get a few hours a week working in my basement office to pound out prose that the Best and Brightest loves to critique. As such, I don’t always get around to writing about each car I’ve driven until several weeks (or more) later.

As the calendar pages tear away furiously toward a new year, like many I’ve taken stock of what I’ve done over the past eleven months. I’m realizing that of the cars I’ve had the pleasure of wheeling, there are only a few that I can legitimately picture myself buying. These cars are objects of desire and obsession for a gearhead like yours truly.

The 2019 Honda Civic Type R is at the top of the list, certainly. The blend of incredible performance and everyday utility make it a favorite of many reviewers. But that’s the problem – everybody’s written about it. What can this part-time auto scribe say about it that hasn’t yet been said?

Read More >

By on November 22, 2019

Given what Tesla revealed last night, it seemed appropriate to reference a movie from the early ’80s — an era from which the automaker’s “futuristic” Cybertruck appears to have emerged. Looking like a stainless steel pup tent with a delicatessen counter serving as a dash, the Cybertruck’s Thursday night reveal generated a critical mass of hot takes, resulting in an megaton-level explosion of ridicule heard to the farthest reaches of space.

Perhaps even on Mars.

While the term “half baked” appeared to be one of the more popular descriptors for the vehicle (and may be a contributing factor to the vehicle’s design), market analysts are a sober-minded crowd. Friday morning, they let loose. Read More >

By on November 22, 2019

Taking a moment away from my cheese sandwich, I looked at the countdown. Only four more minutes. Four minutes were all that separated me from Tesla Motors’ live unveiling of Cybertruck. Another bite while I checked my phone messages; just two minutes left now. Dear Lord, was I ready? Needing to calm myself, I poured a glass of cold water, drinking most of it before splashing a bit on my face. Thirty seconds. Things were serious now. Pretty soon, Elon Musk was going to appear and change the face of motoring once again. This will be the automotive announcement by which all others will be measured for weeks.

An ominous horn sounded as my screen illuminated to show me a blood-red stage. This was it. It was like they were announcing the first Terminator. Dark music subsided to a rowdy crowd, as a hologram told us we were addicted to oil. The solution? Cybertruck. Fashionable. Functional. Electric. Elon Musk walked out on stage like God Himself. Everyone started screaming. Humble, he chatted briefly with the front row.

“We need something different,” said after accusing all other truck models to be largely indistinguishable.

Then Cybertruck blasted on stage and I couldn’t believe what I saw.  Read More >

By on November 20, 2019

General Motors Renaissance Center

As members of the media swarm over new vehicles in Los Angeles, a legal drama is playing out in Detroit. General Motors has filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against cross-town rival Fiat Chrysler, alleging FCA conspired to undermine the collective bargaining process and create unfair advantages by bribing UAW officials.

This cost GM lots of money, the automaker claims, and now it wants to collect.

“This lawsuit is intended to hold FCA accountable for the harm its actions have caused our company and to ensure a level playing field going forward,” said Craig Glidden, GM Executive Vice President and General Counsel, in a statement. Read More >

By on November 19, 2019

2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Velocity Blue On Track

I’m so glad that the collective internet reacted calmly and rationally to the launch of the Mustang Mach-E yesterday. I was worried that people would succumb to the “Sucks or Rocks” philosophy that is so completely pervasive in not only automotive journalism but spreading throughout society at large. Thanks be to the God of your understanding, most people opted for a measured response to Ford’s first (relatively) high volume electric effort.

Nah, just kidding. Y’all went apeshit, just like Ford wanted you to.

I admit, as one of the very few automotive journalists who’s ever actually spent his own money on a brand-new Mustang, I overreacted a bit to the initial leaks, as well. You’re calling this coal-powered, ugly-ass, Tesla wannabe a MUSTANG? Go choke on Steve McQueen’s dong (as seen on Jalopnik)!

But the more I think about it, the more I understand that Ford did exactly the right thing by calling this new electrified crossover a Mustang. Read on.

Read More >

By on November 17, 2019

The newest Mustang is here, like it or not.

Whether the idea of a Mustang that’s both an EV and a crossover – Ford calls it an SUV – gives you hives or excites you, the four-door battery-electric Mustang Mach-E has officially been revealed to the world, following some leaks. Read More >

By on November 14, 2019

Image: GM

A new report from Edmunds tries to make a case against Ford and General Motors placing their small- and medium-sized cars on an iceberg and setting it adrift. We don’t even need to see the metrics to agree. Ditching cars for higher-margin crossovers and SUVs always seemed a little short-sighted. Without entry-level models, you’re likely to get fewer entry-level (i.e. new) customers, and several of the models axed from North American lineups happened to be the most enjoyable to drive.

Selfishly, we like to see plenty of variety among mainstream brands.

Edmunds’ concern isn’t so much about Ford and GM losing money; rather, it’s more about the automakers setting themselves up for failure further down the line. The analysis revealed that 42 percent of Cruze and Focus owners are choosing to stay in the passenger car segment, rather than spending a little (or lot) more to purchase crossovers and SUVs. Meanwhile, 23 percent of Cruze owners and 31 percent of Focus owners who traded in their car in 2019 ended up buying something similar from a competing automakerRead More >

By on November 12, 2019

A yet-to-be-revealed engine that’s kept the rumor mill in Mopar circles churning continues to make its possible presence known. It’s an engine supposedly tapped for a new line of Fiat Chrysler products, and might find a home in existing vehicles, too.

It’s an engine that comes to the table with (arguably) the sexiest cylinder layout on the market: six of ’em, all in a row. Read More >

By on November 12, 2019

2019 Hyundai Kona front quarter

Crossovers are our future, it seems. Every time I crack open another issue of this dusty website, I’m confronted and confounded by the proliferation of tall (and not-so-tall) hatchbacks in every possible size category.

The 2019 Hyundai Kona is, for the moment, the smallest of five crossovers in the Hyundai lineup – at least until the inexplicably-smaller Venue shows up very soon. Where does it fit? Or is it destined to be a misfit?

Read More >

By on November 8, 2019

Every car sitting abandoned in a parking lot has a story to tell. Yours truly often wonders what circumstances led to the abandonment of a pickup outside a notorious strip club not far from Casa Steph. A tree has now emerged from the broken asphalt directly in front of the truck’s prow.

In the (only) Canadian city of Toronto, a well-kept Kia sedan sat observed but unmolested outside a hospital for over four years, prompting a security guard to embark on a search for its owner. It’s a story worth reading, given the time of year. As it turns out, the guard wasn’t the only one searching. Read More >

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