Ford Motor Company’s 2021 Model Year is full of new trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. The one hundred and seventeen-year-old company has a renewed focus on these profitable categories while no longer offering a sedan in North America. The Bronco, Bronco Sport, and Mustang Mach-E expand Ford’s vehicle portfolio while adding new segments for the brand. These are all very important products for the future of Ford Motor Company. However, none of those vehicles provide the company with the same level of revenue as the other new vehicle in the 2021 lineup; the 2021 Ford F-150.
It’s safe to say that the F-150 is Ford’s most important product. It has been the best-selling vehicle in America since 1977 and is in a segment where average transaction prices are near $50,000. In 2014, in order to create a more capable and more fuel-efficient truck, Ford moved the thirteenth-generation F-150 to an all-aluminum exterior. But between that release and today, the full-sized truck segment has become even more competitive. General Motors released an all-new Silverado 1500 and Sierra 1500 and FCA introduced a brand new RAM 1500.
When Honda sent out the press release detailing the updates for the 2021 model-year Accord and Accord Hybrid, I shed a tear (figuratively) for the loss of the manual-transmission option in the gas models, and wondered why they were bothering with the hybrid. There didn’t seem to be much changed.
That may be true, but perhaps it’s because there wasn’t much to fix to begin with?
Jeep loves to talk about its off-road heritage. And it has the goods to back the claims of boulder-bashing prowess that it makes.
That said, most utility vehicles spend most of their time on pavement. And sometimes, the tradeoffs made for off-road capability aren’t worth it.
Let me indulge in a bit of inside baseball for a moment. Those of us who make (at least something resembling) a living talking about cars tend to read a good bit of our colleagues’ work – and then discuss it at length via whatever channel we have at our disposal. Indeed, that’s what has made TTAC great over the years – we’ve brought light upon those who are clearly in this field for the perks.
At times, you get the feeling that some of these people don’t even like cars. It’s like sending a vegan to rank the best barbecue joints in North Carolina.
Anyhow, we who live most of our lives online have clucked our tongues lately at a number of automotive journalists trying to bring shame upon both the makers and buyers of modern trucks and SUVs, much like this 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe. These pearl-clutching writers have willfully ignored the strides that have been made in these markets over the past few years. Shame, really, because this latest Tahoe is a genuinely great SUV.
There’s a stereotype of the American tourist in Europe being loud, brash, crude, and rude – all while being what doctors would call “overweight.” It’s a popular trope to be mocked in pop culture – The Simpsons, Family Guy, and others have done it many, many times. I’m pretty sure both those two animated shows about buffoonish men and their families have hit on the theme in multiple episodes.
National Lampoon went there, too, in the ‘80s, with European Vacation, though Chevy Chase looked pretty skinny back then.
Maybe I am softening in my old age, or maybe crossovers are getting a bit better to drive, or both, but I found myself semi-charmed by Audi’s Q8 crossover. Of course, a luxury crossover should be somewhat enticing, lest the buyer feel he or she wasted money each month when that car payment auto drafts out of the bank account.
I say semi-charmed for a few reasons. One, the Q8 is still a crossover, not a sport sedan. Two, there were tradeoffs.
There was a time, not all that long ago, when I was all about Honda. I’ve lost count – at least seven variants of the big H have spent time in my various garages. Once, I even owned a Civic race car – no, it never raced in my care, but that’s a long story for another day.
Honda, despite the staid image presented by the majority of the lineup, makes it clear there are some gearheads building their vehicles. Full disclosure – some of those gearheads are friends of mine. They’ve always offered a few cars that make the experience of driving a genuine joy. Many have worn the red Si badge on the trunklid.
The thing is…after spending a week with the latest 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT, I don’t feel like I’ve driven the best that Honda can do. It leaves me wanting more. And that baffles me.
For many years, the Ford Raptor has lived without any competition. Sure, there are trucks out there that claim to be “Raptor killers,” but none have competed head-on with Dearborn’s flying aluminum monster. That is, until now. The 2021 Ram TRX is not only legitimate competition for the Raptor, it beats the Raptor in a lot of ways that matter.
In August of 2009, I wrote in the Ode To The Suburban that I couldn’t imagine hauling seven people around without at least a cylinder per person. Thanks to Ford’s Ecoboost 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, the Expedition Max King Ranch does just fine with only six cylinders. This engine pairs well with the joint venture Ford/GM 10-speed automatic transmission.
Ford built the massive Excursion in its lineup to counter the market-leader Suburban until 2006. The Expedition Max was introduced for 2007, adding approximately one foot in length to the cargo space, which translates to about 15 more cubic feet of space thanks to a 9.1-inch wheelbase increase. This fourth and latest-generation Expedition was introduced in 2018.
Many automotive enthusiasts are excited about new luxury wagons or high powered sports cars. In TTAC’s case, many of our Best and Brightest are excited about H-Body Oldsmobiles. While I too share your excitement for the Olds Eighty Eight, the average new car buyer does not. They care about the crossovers. The compact crossover has become this generation’s Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, or Ford Taurus. The best-selling cars of yesteryear have been increasingly replaced in American garages by the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, or Nissan Rogue.
Because of their popularity, whenever an auto manufacturer releases a new high-volume crossover, it’s a big deal. Last year, full-sized trucks from the Detroit Three were the best selling vehicles in America. However, the next three best-selling vehicles were the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue. Manufacturers have been hyper-focused on making these vehicles the first choice for American families. Last year, the Nissan Rogue was America’s sixth-most purchased vehicle, despite the fact that it is seven years old. So when Nissan invited TTAC to drive the all-new 2021 Nissan Rogue, we were happy to attend.
Much ink has been spilled in the automotive press over the decades making reference to the “same sausage, different lengths” philosophy of product planning prevalent within the premium German marques. Generally, that’s been a rap on the highly-derivative styling between the three (or more) varieties of sedan each automaker would offer.
Today, sedans don’t matter. I mean, of course, they matter – but not so much as the almighty SUV. Who knew that when Dearborn slapped leather and a wagon body on their compact pickup truck those many years ago, it would evolve into Mercedes-Benz offering eight sorta distinct tall beasts across the lineup?
Today, we drive the smallest such offering from the three-pointed star, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA250. With a starting price under $37K, it’s attractively priced to woo customers looking up from mainstream brands. Is it enough to keep them from wandering the lot?
Auto high beams were not the feature I thought I’d miss when our family switched from a 2018 Honda Odyssey to a 2019 Honda Ridgeline. I spent more than three decades living in urban environments. High beam use was limited to vacations or weekend getaways in country idylls.
Even after three years of rural life, auto high beams still seemed to me to be just a frivolous luxury. At least they did, until we gave them up in the switch to the Ridgeline, which isn’t the top-spec model needed to acquire the auto high beams. It was a switch that occurred during some of the longest days of the year, when there are roughly 16 hours between sunrise and sunset on Prince Edward Island.
Now the daylight hours are shrinking and I am forced to repeatedly push and pull a signal stalk forward and back with the sheer strength of an index finger, like some sort of penurious Suzuki Equator driver. It’s cruel and unusual punishment, that’s what it is. DIY high beam engagement may well be an enhanced interrogation technique, the details of which have not yet been uncovered in a David Shepardson exposé.
Fortunately, almost everything else about the 2019 Honda Ridgeline has fostered an increasingly contented ownership experience, the likes of which I’ve ever encountered in a 5,000-mile/4-month test.
The 2020 Toyota Highlander is a pretty good improvement over the previous generation, building off an already strong foundation, but unfortunately for Toyota, it comes along just as Kia’s Telluride and Hyundai’s Palisade soar towards class dominance.
Ask anyone who made big plans for after March 1, 2020, and they’ll tell you – timing is everything.
In Toyota’s case, a very, very good three-row family hauler is getting lost in all the hype about the two outstanding Korean entries.
Somewhere, a Toyota sales manager sobs in his coffee in between Zooms.
I didn’t plan for it to happen. It just did.
I had requested a Shelby GT500 loan because I’d driven the car on the launch but wanted to see what it’s like to live with the king of current Mustangs in the real world. Because the car is likely in high demand among Chicago-area automotive journalists, the loan would be short. So I’d have a gap in my schedule.
I don’t need test cars to get around. I am not dependent on them – I don’t feel beholden to the fleets or the automakers. I have other ways to get around, whether it be walking, biking, using a cab/Uber, or whatever. But I try to schedule cars each week, either so I can review them for TTAC (even if it takes a while to actually get around to the write-up, sorry gang) or at least use them as background for knowledge and comparison.
Some of the best driving roads on the continent, the Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio, lie roughly one hour from my front door. Not coincidentally, those roads are also merely four hours from every Detroit-based ride-and-handling engineer, not to mention the buff books. These twisties, shaped by the glaciers, have been worn smooth by generations of gearheads.
The hour of driving to get to the hills, however, is via a mind-numbing highway slog, often well patrolled by the local constabulary and the notorious Ohio Highway Patrol. There’s no shortcut.
This is where the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray shines. Making a sportscar manage sportscar things, while certainly no easy feat, is right in the wheelhouse of the speed-addled engineers. Making that same car not just livable on the highway, but genuinely excellent, takes some serious doing. Chevrolet has done exactly that here with the C8.
Hey there, Mr. or Mrs. CEO who just got charged with making your company more “green”. Lexus has a car for you.
It carries a hybrid powertrain and boasts features meant to coddle.
You just have to get past the styling. This LS is curvy and bears a large “spindle” grille that has become a hallmark of Lexus of late — and that grille is quite polarizing.
Sedans continue to take up a significant chunk of the marketplace, but with the ever-evolving and more functional crossover SUV becoming less compromised in terms of efficiency and safety, the crossover sales takeover continues. That said, lighter-weight sedans, especially hybrids, can still net you some fuel savings.
To wit – the 2020 Lexus ES300h.
The bad news comes at you daily, it seems. No, I’m not talking about the pandemic, the state of our economy, politics, or the dumpster fire that passes for public discourse these days. I’m talking about bad news that hits even closer to our hearts – the slow demise of the traditional manual transmission.
Pundits may wring hands. Activists may cling to Save The Manuals hashtags. But we know that automakers, while occasionally misguided by trends, are not collectively idiots. They only build what can sell – and very few cars with three pedals will sell anymore.
Mazda may be our last hope. The company that singlehandedly revived the affordable roadster market offers a stick in this, the 2020 Mazda 3 hatchback. Might it finally revive the enthusiast we hope lies deep within every compact car buyer?
Last week marked the Ford Bronco’s 55th anniversary, with the model’s creator celebrating the momentous occasion by throwing an exclusive and socially distanced Bronco party in Holly, MI.
At this off-road soiree, Ford showed off its Bronco family adventure concepts, announced that 165,000 Broncos have been reserved since the July 13 reveal, and proclaimed that Austin, TX would be the first location of the Bronco Off-Roadeo (Ford’s spelling, not a typo) off-road adventure playground.
While all these pieces of information are great, they aren’t exciting enough to headline a Bronco Anniversary party. Instead, the headliners of this party were the off-road ride-alongs in the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport and the 2021 Ford Bronco 2-door.
Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury arm, is the new kid on the block. And it’s already fitting in well, if not embarrassing the established players.
Consider a flagship luxury car that’s priced below most of the competition while performing on par and offering the requisite comfort and convenience features. The new kid might just be showing up the regulars.
Crossovers often get mocked by auto journalists as “tall wagons.” These scribes – and there are many, myself included, who have used this term – don’t understand why people don’t buy actual wagons.
Indeed, just the other day, the section of the Twitterverse reserved for auto writers had a discussion about why the public likes the much-loathed crossover so much.
There’s the obvious reason, of course – most of the people in the car-buying public are either not car enthusiasts, or they’re enthusiasts forced into crossover life by budget and life needs. We’ve been over this before.
Just when Toyota’s Yaris finally adorned the name of a fun car, the brand kills it.
It was once the Scion iA, but a couple years ago, Toyota bestowed it with the Yaris moniker after retiring the Scion brand. Once attached to underwhelming subcompacts, the name was now slapped on the side of a more-fun small car.
It’s not shocking that the brand killed the Mazda 2-based Yaris sedan. The culprits? Slow sales and new regulations.
Slow sales is a big story in the subcompact class, and in 2019 the Yaris was down 5,000 units from the year before. Coronavirus may have ushered the Yaris out the door, too, since Toyota planned to limit North American production to adjust to the difficulties posed by the pandemic.
According to pre-COVID-19 data from the American Automobile Association, 53 million Americans were expected to pack themselves and their stuff into 12 million automobiles and hit the road for an average 300-mile road trip in 2020. Most point to the relatively low cost, schedule flexibility, and reduced packing constraints as reasons to use their car versus anther conveyance.
But it’s the joy of the journey, baked together with a healthy dose of nostalgia, that drives me. Cars are necessary mobility implements in most of our day-to-day lives, but come road trip time they transform into chariots of adventure. Conduits to discovery.
As a kid, a 1979 full-size Chevrolet Van was my family’s dutiful wagon of exploration. We crisscrossed the West from Glacier National Park on the U.S.-Canadian border to Yosemite National Park in the central Sierra, up and down the Pacific Coast Highway, and points between. Road trips were coveted family time and these van-born experiences played no small part in the development of my love for the American West, as well as the automobile. And like all parents, I want to share the peak experiences of my childhood with my progeny.
Jeep sent me a desert-running rig, and I took it to the grocery store.
Let’s back up a bit. Jeep introduced the Gladiator Mojave at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show, with the intent of this trim being meant for blasts across the desert, while still being as capable as any Gladiator, if not more so, on a rocky trail.
I was all set to join others in the automotive media on a junket to drive the Mojave, almost certainly in the actual desert, in Southern California this spring. Then the world shut down.
First, a disclaimer. I appreciate the Mustang and maintain that it belongs on the short list of anyone shopping sub-$50,000 performance cars. However, this is not a Mustang review. This is a Saleen S302 White Label review. Saleen has been a purveyor of modified Mustangs since 1984.
The White Label is the entry offering from their S302 White, Yellow, Black Label range.
At a glance, the S302 White Label’s over-car stripe and copious badging place it in good company with its predecessors. They also put it at risk of presenting as a stripe and sticker package. There are no fewer than 12 Saleen badges on the exterior, 10 on the interior, and one under hood (I may have missed some). A look beyond the badges reveals bespoke 20-inch wheels (20×9.5 front, 20×11 rear) wrapped in ZR-rated rubber tucked neatly into the wheel arches, a relatively subtle high air-flow grill, and a high down-force rear spoiler. In addition to the interior brand reminders are a substantial shift knob on shortened shaft, white-face gauges, Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, and the obligatory serialized plaque under the passenger side binnacle. Underneath are RaceCraft front and rear springs and sway bar pivot bushings, as well as mildly upgraded brakes. Saleen also adds its PowerFlash calibration, which nets owners a 15 horsepower bump over stock to a new peak of 475 horsepower.
All this comes at about an $8,000 premium over whatever Mustang GT you select. So, is Saleen trading on its racing heritage and hoping some supercar over-boost will sell Mustangs, or has it built a compelling performance proposition? To address this burning question, I sacrificed one long weekend.
If you read nothing else about the 2020 Mazda CX-9, let me be clear: this is the first car in which I’ve experienced a llama gnawing on the exterior trim, and yet I didn’t need to make a dreaded phone call to the automaker to explain any unusual damage.
Day 124 since lockdown yielded, for once, a new experience. Rather than our usual day of driving somewhere remote to get away from humanity, we drove somewhere remote to get closer to nature. Well, caged nature, at least, as we trekked to a drive-through safari/zoo in northern Ohio just to break the kids away from YouTube and Netflix for a few hours.
This biggest Mazda not only shed the licks and nibbles of captive animals – the mark from a bison’s horns wiped off with a towel – but it proved a comfortable long-distance hauler with better than expected fuel economy.
The next time certain product planners in Wolfsburg look in the mirror, they have a question to ask themselves: “How did we let the Volkswagen Passat get so damn dull?”
Especially after a refresh.
It’s not like the company is incapable of producing quality, fun sedans. The Jetta GLI is a hoot. The Arteon might struggle to find buyers, but that has little to do with the car’s dynamics, as it’s pretty fun to pilot. Even the non-GLI Jetta mixes practicality and pleasure well enough.
Why, then, did the Passat, which was once relatively engaging, if not an outright sports sedan, get so boring?
The idea of Honda and Toyota slugging it out for midsize sedan supremacy, with every other contender — from the very good to the mediocre to the also-rans — fighting it out for sales scraps, is pretty much an auto-journalism cliché at this point.
Other contenders dance in and out of the ring, but never quite stay part of the conversation. Hyundai’s Sonata has long been one of those. Certain generations of the Sonata were very much a part of the mix at the top of the class. Others were forgettable, hanging out in the muddled middle.
The Fiat 500X counts as a crossover, somehow. Yes, it shares a platform with the Jeep Renegade, but then again, it also shares that platform with the Fiat 500L.
At least it looks better than that rolling blob of anonymity.
New for 2020 is a Sport model, although how much sport is gained is debatable.
I have long been a family sedan buyer and was looking at replacing my aging ride. I have enjoyed rowing my own gears for more than two decades now, with the occasional automatic transmission thrown in the mix.
This time was a little different, in that there are so many extracurricular activities with three kids. My wife and I frequently find ourselves having to divide and conquer to get it all done. Making the challenge more difficult has always been the fact that I prefer a manual transmission, while she avoids driving a stick-shift like the plague, despite being fairly well versed in the three-pedal dance. I guess, like the market in general, she just doesn’t find joy in that level of engagement.
So, the writing was on the wall: An automatic transmission was in my future when I began hunting for a new whip.
Have you seen a Volkswagen Arteon in traffic?
Odds are, you probably haven’t.
According to our friends at GoodCarBadCar, Volkswagen sold less than 3,000 units in 2019, and 788 through March of this year. To date, there hasn’t been a month in which more than 400 units were sold.
There are certain flagship luxury cars that suggest the driver has “made it” – assuming “making it” means climbing the corporate ladder to the point that owning and driving a large, imported luxury sedan with a six-figure price tag is no sweat, financially speaking.
The Lexus LS, BMW 7 Series and 8 Series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class have typically been the cars most people think of when the phrase “flagship luxury sedan” is spoken. And rightfully so – those are all worthy vehicles. But sometimes, the boss likes to cut loose.
Which is why the LS has an F Sport trim, and Merc has an AMG S-Class, and so on. As you no doubt know, “M” is the magic letter when it comes to BMWs.
On paper, a midsize truck with a diesel powertrain and bad-ass off-road gear sounds like a recipe for fun.
And based on our first drive of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, it is – provided you actually get an opportunity to leave the pavement behind.
On road, however, in an urban environment — well, you get a truck that’s not much fun at all.
Add the Toyota Corolla to the list of nameplates that were accused of losing the plot in recent years, before being righted — at least partially — by a redesign or refresh.
I got my grubby mitts on a Corolla Hybrid and put it through its paces around Chicago. I’ve been critical of the car before – the last-generation model’s steering felt like it was constantly out to lunch, and the seating position was uncomfortable, especially for a tall, beer-gutted dude like me.
These flaws might’ve been acceptable if the car didn’t also feel downmarket, even accounting for its price point. Honda, Hyundai, and others were offering compact sedans that were even with (or better) than the Corolla for similar money.
Mitsubishi burned a lot of what little street cred it had left by taking the name of a once-beloved affordable sports coupe and plunking it onto yet another crossover.
The good news, if there is any, is that the crossover that now bears the nameplate is more than a little quirky.
The bad news – it’s not an affordable, fun-to-drive sports coupe.
Not to mention that the brand may soon be history, at least on these shores.
The Nissan Altima was once in the mix with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in the mid-size sedan conversation.
That’s no longer the case, and hasn’t been for some time.
Nissan is working hard to get back in that mix, and while the 2020 Altima takes the right strides forward, there’s still more work to be done.
The study of user experience, often shortened to UX (since everything needs to fit in a neat 140-character limit), looks at how humans interact with a particular system. Often applied to computers, cell phones, and the like, UX looks at usability, ergonomics, and human feelings as they pertain to whatever system is being studied.
Lexus has a different definition for UX. The brand’s UX is this 2020 Lexus UX 250h, an “Urban Crossover.” While budget constraints have affected city infrastructure maintenance nationwide, leaving many roads a pockmarked hellscape, I’m not completely certain I buy the crossover story. So I grabbed the keyfob, prepared to thrash this pretender in the old TTAC tradition.
As I wrote in April, the Toyota Avalon has taken great strides in moving from being a snoozer to a touring sedan with a bit of spice up its sleeve.
That was in reference to the hybrid. Try the gas-engine Avalon for a truly transformed experience.
Much of the overall hybrid experience remains true in models carrying the gas-only powertrain – the Avalon is sportier and rides more stiffly, though it remains more of a highway cruiser than a true sports sedan – yet the trade-off of a bit more power for a bit less fuel economy livens the car up even more.
Cadillac is a brand beleaguered. Part of the reason is its misadventures in Crossover Land.
In a world where Acura, Lexus, and others are serving up premium crossovers at premium prices, and building competitive vehicles while so doing, Cadillac has served up something that’s more like a glorified Chevy.
That, obviously, is a problem.
When people complain about Jeep Wranglers, it’s often to remark on how the on-road dynamics suffer in the name of off-road capability.
Jeep has come a long way in that regard, with the current Wrangler better balancing its off-road mission against the need for on-road comfort and competence. But one complaint remains: the common observation that, with either gas engine, the Wrangler could stand to gain some low-end grunt.
Enter the EcoDiesel.
The days of the stately, sedate, and silent luxury provided by the Lexus LS are over.
As it’s done with virtually every vehicle in its lineup, Lexus has made an F Sport trim available. Whether this is done to combat the stereotype of Lexus as staid or to give well-heeled buyers a chance to have their cake and eat it too, or both, I don’t know. I do know that whatever spring the F Sport puts in the LS’s step, it’s still more of a luxury cruiser than an all-out flagship sports sedan. And that’s not a bad thing.
Ever since Jaguar launched the XE a few years ago, I’ve held high hopes for it. As much as I, like most auto journalists, dig the BMW 3 Series, I’ve always pined for more compact luxury sport sedan competition.
Mercedes has the C-Class, sure, and Lexus’ IS has often been a solid challenger, especially in certain trims. But the more the merrier, I say, and this particular Jag had a chance at contention.
We were never a family that splurged on high-end brands. Store-brand staples were generally good enough for most household needs. Our TVs and stereo equipment were Sony only because my dad sold electronics at a big retailer in the Eighties. We straddled the fine line between frugality and cheapness. We just weren’t those kinds of people.
If there was a luxury brand of car, it was certain that we wouldn’t have it. Chevy or Olds, not Cadillac. Ford, not Lincoln – at least until I was out of the house. Dad, when choosing yet another car to ferry him on his sales calls around the Great Lakes, finally splurged on a late ‘90s front-drive Continental. As I recall, it was fine, but it didn’t wow me with the luxury I’d expect from the Lincoln nameplate.
Today, however, Lincoln is staging a comeback. First, the brand restored ACTUAL NAMES to its vehicles, rather than tacking MK-whatever on everything. Now, this genuinely elegant 2020 Lincoln Aviator makes a legitimate claim to the luxury SUV throne.
The Kia is boxy and bold, looking trail-ready, even though it’s not an off-roader (nor will it ever see much off-roading beyond a grass parking area at the soccer complex). Hyundai’s counterpart, however, softens the edges as bit, rounding things off. And while both have interiors that belie their pricing, Hyundai’s is more modern minimalist than what’s on offer in the Kia.
Subaru has a dual reputation. Car people know it as the company that gives us WRX and STi (and a good chunk of the BRZ/Toyota FT 86 partnership), while the rest of the world thinks of the brand as one that puts out a lot of wagon-esque crossovers that appeal to granola types, academics, and families that prioritize safety but aren’t in a Volvo tax bracket.
The Forester Touring definitely fits in to that latter stereotype. And that’s not a pejorative – it’s okay to embrace what one does best.
For the Forester, that means serving as a solid if not spectacular commuting wagon that’s road-trip ready.
The Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring exists to fill a niche in the Civic lineup.
If the Civic Hatchback Sport presents as the value “sporty” choice – a sleeper version of the cranked-up Si and pumped-to-the-max Type R, complete with available manual – the Sport Touring aspires to be a more luxurious version of that car while retaining characteristics that make it an enthusiast’s choice. The #savethemanuals crowd will be happy – you can get it with a stick.
It also is the nicest Civic hatch you can get with three pedals, and arguably the nicest Civic you can get in hatchback form, period – and very possibly Honda’s nod to Si intenders who bemoan that car’s lack of an available hatchback body style.
In addition to being a gearhead, I’m a sports fan.
The long-time play-by-play man for my favorite baseball team called it quits a year or two ago, presumably deciding the golf course was more appealing than the broadcast booth as he approached his eighth decade of life.
This gentleman, long ago given the nickname of Hawk, had a whole bunch of catchphrases in his verbal toolbox. One of them was “right size, wrong shape” – meant to describe a foul ball that traveled home run-worthy distance but landed on the wrong side of the foul pole.
And this particular Hawkism came to mind when I tested the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer last year. It does a lot right – but the price made me blanch.
A lot of us pack on pounds as we age. I should know – it happened to me as I voyaged through my 30s.
We all know it’s been happening across the car world, too. Just about every model has grown in size and packed on pounds over the past two decades.
Problem is, that turns some vehicles that were once known as svelte sports sedans into bloated versions of themselves. The good news is that some of these vehicles can still do a lot of what they once did – but the swell is unfortunately noticeable.
Yes, one day this could all be yours. When the last leases signed for this now defunct model run their course, the base Chevy Cruze could be the depreciation special that finds its way into your driveway.
I’ll still be paying mine off.
Of course, you can’t criticize anything you read here today too harshly, as, regardless of what you think of the purchase decision, I spent my own damn money on this unexciting, domestic, high-MPG compact sedan. Yes, a person who types car-related words foolishly spent his meager income on a sensible new vehicle that suits his day-to-day needs, rather than a Peugeot or Porsche project car. I guess it’s now up to General Motors to retain me — again — as a customer.
And that nearly didn’t happen back in May of 2018, until Hyundai gave me plenty of reason to reconsider.
Crossovers don’t have to be totally boring.
Consider the 2020 Acura MDX A-Spec. It could just be another yawn-inducing luxo-box on wheels, but Acura has at least tried to imbue it with some sort of spirit.
Well, as much spirit as is possible with a 4,200-pound crossover.
Jaguar’s I-Pace electric hatchback provides an interesting driving experience. When it has enough charge to be driven, that is.
The I-Pace I drove for a weekend last summer spent much of that time at the dealership, charging, because it failed to charge anywhere else near my home.
More on that in a minute.
As long as individual private vehicles exist for sale, there will be a place for cheap commuter vehicles.
They don’t get much love, few aspire to buy them, but they exist to make sure that even those on a budget can get wheels that aren’t used.
Nissan’s Kicks is one such vehicle, and a pretty good one at that — as long as it sticks to its narrowly-defined mission.
Even Range Rovers need to go green.
Or, at the very least, offer “green” engine options to accrue cred with the right kind of well-heeled buyers.
While I believe some of the greenies with plenty of green in their bank account are sincere about their intentions to save the planet (and I definitely believe the climate is changing, and we’re at fault), other green types are simply signaling virtue. Still others think they’re doing the right thing, without considering that not all hybrids are the same.
Some hybrids aren’t even meant to maximize fuel economy – their electrified hardware strives mainly for enhanced performance.
When I first drove the newest generation of Toyota’s popular RAV4, I was lukewarm on the hybrid model. I liked the previous-gen hybrid better. At the time, I wrote that the best new RAV4, in this reviewer’s opinion, is the Adventure trim.
I stand by that statement, but I also think, upon further reflection, that I was a bit too harsh on the hybrid.
A week’s worth of time with a vehicle will do that. Sometimes week-long loans expose flaws that aren’t apparent in the stage-managed environs of a press junket, and sometimes it’s the other way around.
This is an example of the latter.
Somebody had to ruin the party. Five years ago the Dieselgate scandal broke, and automakers everywhere slowed down the development of their own oil-burning engines for the U.S. market. Until that point, many automakers were looking at bringing “clean” diesel tech from Europe to the U.S.
Of course, compression-ignition engines have been quite common in the truck market – though generally confined to the heavy-duty, three-quarter-ton and larger models for many years. In the last couple of years, each member of the Detroit Three has revealed a smaller diesel for their half-ton pickups. This 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is powered by a Duramax 3.0-liter inline six, backed up by a 10-speed automatic.
I’m not sure I’ve ever fallen so hard for a powertrain.
Time was, you couldn’t pay me to drive a Toyota Avalon.
Okay, that’s not true – part of this job I’m paid to do requires me to drive cars and review them. Including many vehicles that would never be on my wish list.
Allow me to rephrase, then: There was a time I wouldn’t have driven an Avalon unless I was being paid.
You’ve seen them lurking in your neighborhood. The suburban ninja. Clad head to toe in skintight black – usually from Lululemon, but other brands work here, too – they jog early in the morning and late at night, oblivious to the world beyond their AirPods. They’ll never jog on the sidewalk, either. They’re always in the street, ready to strike the hood of your car.
Drivers are taking back the streets, however, defending themselves and their precious rides by all means necessary. Cadillac has upped the game with the available Night Vision camera on the 2020 Cadillac XT6. No joke, the feature saved the good folks at Cadillac PR from headlines such as “Hack Journalist Slays Jogger.”
“Schläfer” is the German word for sleeper, or so Google tells me (I spent my foreign language education on Spanish, and I can perhaps order in a restaurant using that language. Maybe). Perhaps it should just be changed to 2019 Volkswagen GLI.
Yeah, there are still sleeper cars on the market – and this delightful spin on an already reliable German econobox is one of them.
I’ve found the normal Jetta to be solid, affordable transport. But for those who want to spice up their schnitzel, so to speak, the GLI does the trick nicely. And unlike just about all of the other sporty compacts, include corporate stablemate Golf GTI, it does so without advertising what it is. Your mother-in-law won’t know this is a performance car, unless you dig deep into the throttle. Or downshift in anger to pass a slowpoke.
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- Kat Laneaux Wonder if they will be able to be hacked into (the license plates) and then you get pulled over for invalid license plates or better yet, someone steal your car and transpose numbers to show that they are the owners. Just a food for thought.
- Tassos Government cheese for millionaires, while idiot Joe biden adds trillions to the debt.What a country (IT ONCE WAS!)
- Tassos screw the fat cat incompetents. Let them rot. No deal.
- MaintenanceCosts I think if there's one thing we can be sure of given Toyota's recent decisions it's that the strongest version of the next Camry will be a hybrid. Sadly, the buttery V6 is toast.A Camry with the Highlander/Sienna PSD powertrain would be basically competitive in the sedan market, with the slow death of V6 and big-turbo options. But for whatever reason it seems like that powertrain is capacity challenged. Not sure why, as there's nothing exotic in it.A Camry with the Hybrid Max powertrain would be bonkers, easily the fastest thing in segment. It would likewise be easy to build; again, there's nothing exotic in the Hybrid Max powertrain. (And Hybrid Max products don't seem to be all that constrained, so far.)
- Analoggrotto The readers of TTAC deserve better than a bunch of Kia shills posing as journalists.