Category: News Blog

By on August 19, 2019

1991 Pontiac Trans Sport, Images: RM Auctions, Inc.

Over the weekend at Monterey, RM Sotheby’s executed what will forever remain one of the worst screw-ups in auction history. With a piece of is-it-or-isn’t-it Porsche history on the block, the auctioneer started his patter at what the crowd (and the media screen) thought was thirty million dollars. That same media screen quickly rocketed to seventy mil before said auctioneer clarified he was saying seven-teen not seven-ty. Boos rained down upon the room and bidding predictably evaporated like chloroform. The car failed to sell.

Conspiracy theorists will forever debate what really happened, but our question for you today is this: what’s the biggest error — either in buying or selling — you’ve ever seen at a car auction?

Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

2018 Fiat 500 Abarth cover

Fiat, the ancient automotive brand found at the top of very few American shopping lists, finds itself in the midst of a transformation. On its European home turf, emissions rules have grown ever more strict; meanwhile, many buyers are gravitating towards the type of vehicles offered by corporate sibling Jeep, and Fiat Chrysler would prefer they purchase the seven-slot brand. That leaves Fiat with a mandate to think small.

As details emerge from the latest meeting of Fiat brass, it looks like the brand’s future holds efficiency but precious little flash. Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

Our last couple of Buy/Drive/Burn posts covered two different flavors of compact Japanese SUVs from the 1990s. Today we branch out and review larger, luxury-oriented SUVs hailing from places other than Japan.

Twelve miles per gallon? That’s plenty.

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By on August 17, 2019

Despite wagons facing a growing unpopularity that rivals that of free speech, Audi continues winking and nudging at North America, sneakily hinting that the king of all long-roofs might make its way to this side of the Atlantic.

There, it could see dozens, perhaps even hundreds of orders. Cynical? Perhaps, but a niche pocket of enthusiasm does greet any mention of the A6 Avant midsize wagon and its upcoming, beastly RS 6 Avant performance variant. Believed to pack a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 and a boatload of horsepower, the next-generation RS 6 launches for the 2020 model year, but it remains to be seen whether any of these wagons arrive on these shores.

Certainly, Audi wants fans to think they will. Read More >

By on August 16, 2019

Image: Subaru

Earlier this month the insurance comparison site Insurify passed around a study of the car models most likely to receiving speeding tickets. The worst offenders were all rather predictable, with Subaru’s WRX leading the charge. Other models, like the Scion FR-S and Volkswagen Golf GTI, helped paint a clearer picture — one that pointed toward younger motorists with a preexisting interest in speed.

While “Quick Cars Go Fast” isn’t the most compelling headline, Insurify released another study this week detailing America’s most accident-prone vehicles. The speeding study was pretty cut and dried, but this one is a bit more mysterious. What goes into an automobile that makes it perfect for crashing?  Read More >

By on August 16, 2019

best racing simulator cockpits

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.


It’s a fantasy harbored by every single gearhead on the planet: the ability to jump aboard any supercar or race machine in the world and rip off a lap of their favorite racetrack. The likes of Forza, Gran Turismo, and iRacing now affords us that opportunity, albeit digitally. Still, you’re left with steering your way around Eau Rouge with a joystick or d-pad and mashing the throttle of a McLaren Senna with your right index finger.

The advent of sim steering wheel and pedal kits solved that problem and the units shown here take that a step further. You’ll need a healthy amount of footprint space dedicated to one of these racing sim cockpits, so expect to be banished to the garage or basement with it once the novelty has worn off for the rest of the family.

Presented here are seven of the best we could find on Amazon. Note that some units being hawked online don’t come with a seat, so read the fine print carefully. All of the ones listed here do have a chair as of this writing.

Your author also wondered how long it would take writing these posts for him to unholster his Visa debit card and buy one of the units on which he is writing. The UPS truck arrives next Thursday.

Read More >

By on August 16, 2019

Image: BMW Group

Longtime luxury rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz may have signed onto an autonomous vehicle/ride-hailing partnership earlier this year, but that doesn’t mean the two companies go around holding hands. The competitive spirit is still there; AV development just carries a price tag neither company wants to pay in full.

For BMW as well as M-B, the lucrative core business of selling luxury vehicles to a well-heeled clientele remains top of mind, and Bimmer’s new boss isn’t happy that his Stuttgart rivals are running away with the sales crown. Read More >

By on August 16, 2019

A federal probe that’s been dropping United Auto Workers staff like flies has another one in its crosshairs, this time with ties to General Motors. Up until now, the investigation has primarily involved members connected to the union’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles department or the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. But, according to court records filed Wednesday, retired UAW-GM Center for Human Resources board member Michael Grimes is also formally accused of corruption.

Grimes becomes the ninth individual to be slapped with corruption charges and the first with links to an automaker outside of FCA. He is not, however, alone. Court documents suggest he’s one of several UAW officials suspected of accepting bribes and kickbacks from automakers; they’ve just yet to be named.  Read More >

By on August 16, 2019

Regular readers of these digital pages are well aware of the pressures facing Nissan’s Infiniti brand. While the premium marque’s status is better than in years past, it is not where the brand would like it to be. U.S. volume has declined since 2017, and the marque recently gave up on Europe.

Perhaps a slinky new crossover will draw eyes — and buyers — in an overly crowded segment? Read More >

By on August 16, 2019

Audi’s E-Tron has become the first battery electric vehicle to receive the coveted Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+ award. However, considering the group rarely tests EVs, it may soon find itself with company. The IIHS requires an automobile to earn high marks in six crashworthiness evaluations, as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and a good headlight rating to be eligible for the commendation.

Chevrolet’s Bolt managed to achieve the necessary ratings in all categories, save for headlight illumination. The same was true for Tesla’s Model S — though that vehicle also received an “acceptable” rating for the small frontal overlap crash test. Other EVs have yet to undertake a full complement of tests, potentially giving the E-Tron a bit of a head start.  Read More >

By on August 16, 2019

Fresh off giving Chevy a good drubbing in the American sales race, Ram has announced pricing for its new batch of EcoDiesel half-ton pickup trucks.

We’ll save you a click and tell you above the fold that the cheapest way to get into a new Ram EcoDiesel is by way of two-wheel drive Tradesman wearing Quad Cab clothes. That truck stickers for $36,890 plus destination. There’s more to it than that, of course, so you’ll want to hit the jump to learn why Ram feels the need to offer not one but two different EcoDiesels in their showrooms at the same time.

Read More >

By on August 16, 2019

2017 Toyota Camry rear, Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

It’s normal to worry about — or at least give a passing though to — the possibility that the airliner you’re about to step onto may, in fact, never reach its destination. The same goes for thinking, hoping, or praying that a road trip you’re about to embark on goes well, with no cataclysmic incidents along the way. It only becomes a problem if these concerns dominate the mind, leading to paralyzing fears and a determined avoidance of certain activities that negatively impacts your life. At that point it’s time to see a psychologist.

We’ve talked in the past about our worst driving fears, the most obvious being the accidental running over of a human being. Understandable! But sometimes, despite our fearlessness behind the wheel, we bake into our daily lives strange little habits, performing these rituals unconsciously until a friend or family member calls us out on our neurosis. Read More >

By on August 15, 2019

Image: Honda

Unlike its predecessor, the accolades heaped on the 10th-generation Honda Civic far outweigh any criticism levelled against it. And yet while a next-gen model looms just over the horizon (a 2021 model year intro seems likely), Honda’s not resigning the Civic to the status quo for 2020.

The hatchback variant undergoes a minor refresh for the coming model year, a year after its sedan and coupe siblings, but you’ll probably have to carry a photo of a 2019 model to tell them apart. Most notable of the changes is something a dwindling number of people care about: manual transmissions. No, the base LX will not gain the six-speed stick found on the base sedan, but Civic hatch buyers who like nice things will soon be able to row their own. Read More >

By on August 15, 2019

Nio, one of China’s biggest EV startups, is confronting difficult times, though the primary reasons for its plight are less than obvious. Automotive startups have a low survival rate, but Nio was presumed to be the next big thing in vehicular electrification. It looked poised to become one of the few EV companies that would survive in Asia, likely serving as China’s response to Tesla, and even had a successful Formula E racing team to showcase its engineering might.

We sad had because Nio sold that team this year. It also needed to recall 4,800 vehicles after reports of three catching fire, endured a sizable sales drop, witnessed its share price plummet, announced plans to layoff 10 percent of its workforce, and just lost one of its co-founders.  Read More >

By on August 15, 2019

Image: VW

One hopes, anyway. While marketing won’t save you from a roadside breakdown (it might, in a roundabout way, get you into that situation), it nonetheless exists on the periphery of the automotive realm, subtly impacting sales. If a campaign is successful, the impact might be more than subtle. If it’s bad, the automaker is suddenly open to jokes and criticism.

Then the PR types in the comms department go to work.

One company that’s seen plenty of action in both departments in the recent past is Volkswagen. If you’re unfamiliar with this obscure German brand, you may remember it as the company selling “clean diesel” cars with fantastic fuel economy a number of years back. With that scandal now fading in the rear-view, the effort to rebrand the company as a receptive steward of the earth is well underway. And the man who’ll lead that charge in America is Saad Chehab, former communications dude for Kia Motors America. Read More >

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