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By on August 20, 2019

It’s no secret that Volvo dealers aren’t keen on the factory subscription plan. Last December, the California New Car Dealers Association even asked the manufacturer to end Care By Volvo on the grounds that it was taking business away from storefronts. The automaker responded by saying the service had proven popular with consumers, attracting new customers to the brand while reassuring dealers that version 2.0 of the subscription plan had been approved by the Volvo Retailer Advisory Board and would give shops more to do.

Rather than take the wait-and-see approach, the California New Car Dealers Association petitioned the state’s New Motor Vehicle Board. Last week, the group unanimously voted to direct the state’s DMV to investigate Care by Volvo and four claims that the service violates provisions of the California vehicle code — potentially leading to disciplinary actions.  Read More >

By on August 20, 2019

best blind spot mirrors

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.


If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: check yer bind spot! More than a few collisions (notice we didn’t call them “accidents”) occur because drivers heedlessly heave their car over into the next lane only to find themselves occupying the same time and space as another vehicle. This leads to Expensive Noises.

Plenty of machines on the road today are equipped with blind-spot monitoring systems, most of which use a system that detects when another vehicle is in one’s blind spot and flashes an amber light, usually on the face of the car’s sideview mirror. One of the best alert systems is employed by Audi, which places a big amber light on the inside of the mirror housing instead of on the mirror itself. That light then fades in and out like an Iowa radio station rather than winking abruptly like a horny teenager.

Still, there are plenty of cars which don’t have this tech — and more than a few rolling around in which it was not available when they were built — so we assembled eight options found on Amazon.

Read More >

By on August 20, 2019

All 2019 Minivans Available: Odyssey, Sienna, Pacifica, Grand Caravan, Sedona - Images: ManufacturersThe minivan as we know it is not dead. Credit for the minivan segment’s still-beating heart belongs in large part to the disappearance of most contenders – so few competitors remain that a handful of remaining minivan nameplates may well still sell in six figures in the United States in 2019.

Most automakers determined years ago that sticking their forks into this pie isn’t worth it; the pie was just too small. The absence of GM, Ford, Hyundai, and Volkswagen, along with the steady rise of the family-oriented crossover, caused the pie’s shrinkage to continue. Nissan and Mazda left, too, and the pie kept shrinking.

In fact, the rate at which the minivan pie is shrinking has picked up speed. Auto sales are slowing, to be fair, but U.S. minivan sales volume in 2019 is slowing nearly seven times faster. And no, for FCA and Toyota and Honda and Kia, the whole “bigger slice of a smaller pie” argument just isn’t holding water these days.  Read More >

By on August 20, 2019

2017 GMC Canyon SLT Diesel - Image: GMC

Adventurous types looking for off-road fun from their local GM dealer already have the option of choosing the brawny Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and its butchier Bison variant, which leaves GM’s truck-only GMC brand as something as a spectator. GMC hasn’t gone whole-hog into the off-road midsizer niche, though it does offer its Canyon pickup in All Terrain trim. Cutaway front fenders are most definitely not included.

The same dynamic may exist after 2020, but the All Terrain will be gone, replaced with an AT4 trim that hopefully goes the extra mile in terms of off-the-beaten-track capability. Read More >

By on August 20, 2019

If everything goes as planned, electric utility vehicle startup Rivian will start production on its RT1 pickup and RS1 SUV next year, utilizing plenty of Michigan and SoCal brainpower and a former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois.

Of all EV startups, Rivian is widely believed to have the best chance for success — and big-bucks investments from Amazon and Ford back up that assertion. While it’s well known that the automaker plans to offer its vehicles in three battery flavors, little in the way of new details have emerged this year. So here’s a tidbit: as far as the SUV is concerned, owners will be be able to choose just how much wind they want in their hair. Read More >

By on August 20, 2019

2017 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Sahara - Image: Jeep

For no reason in particular, your author found himself researching the various attributes and eccentricities of Greenland these past couple of days. Again, no reason. And while Greenland itself is pretty sparse and remote, you can’t actually drive very far from what passes for civilization in that big island sort-of country. Something to do with fjords and glaciers and such.

If you’re looking to really get away from it all behind the wheel of a vehicle, there’s better choices closer to home. And, obviously, further. But maybe you already know that… Read More >

By on August 20, 2019

2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

It will surprise exactly no one to learn that a diesel engine option needs some sort of killer app in order to command the cash. Whether it’s power, towing capacity, or fuel economy matters not so long as it has some sort of advantage over its gasoline-powered brethren. Unfortunately for Ram’s EcoDiesel, the old engines were scarce on all three.

Being first to market is sometimes fraught with peril, but also has its advantages. Ram learned this in a number of different ways with its first couple of forays into the half-ton diesel game. Now that Ford and GM also have compression-powered arrows in their quivers, Ram is back with a third kick at the EcoDiesel jerry can.

This time around, it’s more than just a curious sideshow. This time around, it’s the first Ram EcoDiesel with a pulse.

Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

Ford may be phasing out the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans in the near future, that doesn’t mean you won’t see some the next time you’re visiting the dealership. Last week, the company announced a recall of 103,374 vehicles in the United States, 4,002 in Canada and 1,023 in Mexico due to bunk seatbelt anchor pretensioners.

According to the notice, increased temperatures generated during deployment of the driver or front-passenger pretensioner could degrade the tensile strength of the cable below the level needed to effectively restrain an occupant. Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

Image: Ford

We’re not going to sugarcoat it — Cadillac routinely bests Lincoln in terms of sales. General Motors’ luxury marque constantly carves out a larger portion of the domestic market and has managed to make global inroads Ford’s premium division has not. For example, Cadillac saw 228,043 deliveries in the People’s Republic of China last year. Lincoln only saw 55,315.

However, the race at home is much closer. Last year in the United States, GM shipped 154,702 premium-badged cars to Ford’s 103,587. But Cadillac has been losing ground in North America while Lincoln has remained comparatively stable, slowly rebuilding its strength. Cadillac may still outsell Lincoln overall, but the gap is beginning to narrow.  Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

ford logo

While Ford has a “Mustang-inspired” electric crossover on the way for 2020 and a ICE-free F-150 coming down the pipe, the automaker’s future green product offensive remained murky — until now, apparently. The company’s Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant will give birth to two electric vehicles in three years’ time, a new report claims.

Both vehicles are — quelle surprise — crossovers, bearing both the Ford and Lincoln logos. To make it happen, however, a famous nameplate will almost certainly have to die. Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

vision 2.0 NHTSA Autonomous vehicles

Over the past year the automotive industry has carefully walked back the expectations surrounding autonomous cars. Yet pretty much any change in rhetoric constitutes retracted goals. With numerous companies predicting self-driving fleets of commercial vehicles before 2021, the bar couldn’t have been set much higher.

A lack of progress is partly to blame. However, a bundle of high-profile accidents have also shaken public trust — especially after it was found that Uber whistleblower Robbie Miller was trying to alert the company to issues with its self-driving program just days before one of the company’s autonomous Volvos was involved in a fatal accident with a pedestrian.

That’s not the half of it. In April, Miller released a study claiming self-driving vehicles were actually recording incident rates higher than that of your typical motorist. Contrasting data from the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) and the California DMV, he concluded that autonomous test vehicles created more injuries per mile than the average human motorist with a few years of practice.  Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

2018 Subaru Crosstrek: Image: Subaru

Spend a few minutes talking to a normal, regular person, and they’ll probably reveal very little knowledge of a vehicle’s mechanics or specs while boasting plenty of knowledge of a brand’s (or vehicle’s) marketing efforts and media coverage.

The general consensus, at least according to your author’s mother, is that dogs help sell cars. Full stop. At the very least, they sprinkle a helping of feel-good fairy dust over a brand, leaving a positive impression of the company in the minds of viewers. Audience manipulation is the sole purpose of advertising.

As Subaru walks away from its most recent sales month with yet another healthy volume increase, however, one model seems to have run out of momentum. It remains to be seen if a heaping helping of dogs can turn it around. Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

2019 Lexus ES 300h

Automotive journalists have long labeled the Lexus ES, and especially the hybrid version, as “boring.”

Count me among that number.

To its credit, Lexus has worked to remedy that reputation. The current-gen ES is still no sex machine or thrilling sports ride, but it’s more engaging than before without sacrificing the isolating comfort Lexus is known for. A new F Sport model does provide a bit more pizzazz, but even the fuel-saving hybrid is less of a snooze-fest than before.

I got my hands on one in North Carolina earlier this year, just to get a sense of how much less yawn-inducing it is than before.

Read More >

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 >

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