Latest auto news, reviews, editorials, and podcasts

By on May 21, 2020

Multiple dam failures brought on by prolonged and intense rain in central Michigan saw a record surge of water sent down the Tittabawassee River last night. Following the breach of the Edenville and Sanford dams, water levels peaked at 35 feet in downstream Midland, MI, breaking the previous record by more than a foot.

In the affected area, the dam failures left uprooted trees and lives, unmoored buildings, a lake drained nearly dry, and a catastrophe of the automotive kind.  Read More >

By on May 21, 2020

Kia

A rumor that began spreading last year seems to be borne out. Those whispers, which grew in volume after company executives failed to downplay the suggestion, hinted that Kia’s midsize Optima could see a name change for the 2021 model year.

Following its Hyundai Sonata sibling by a year, the radically redesigned midsizer could be the automaker’s last attempt to woo the American public and solidify its standing in the shrinking segment. At this point in the game, will a name change help at all? Maybe the better question is: would it hurt? Read More >

By on May 21, 2020

toyota

I can’t quite remember what it was that jogged my brain the other night, but whatever it was, it conjured up a wholesome yet frustrating memory. A memory of a person and a car from my childhood.

The person was my oldest friend’s mother — one of the kindest women I’ve ever known, matched easily by the daughter she clearly raised right. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. As for the car, it was a blue, mid-’80s Toyota Tercel 5-door. For me, that car is just a memory, and a somewhat annoying one at that, but for the owner — my friend’s mother — it was the first of many.

Toyota. They’re like the mob; easy to get in, awfully hard to leave. And that’s the way it was with my friend’s mother, who never again owned a car from any other brand. Read More >

By on May 20, 2020

Every time we think the United States’ fueling fracas had concluded, something new emerges to remind us that we’re utter morons. Despite the Trump administration finally wrapping up the fuel rollback of Obama-era emission standards on March 31st, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) has sent another letter asking Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to look into the new rules.

Carper asked the inspector general last February to conduct an investigation into “potentially unlawful efforts and procedural problems” stemming from their implementation. His assertion is that the EPA was circumventing various procedural requirements and attempted to hide data that would have conflicted with some of the rollback’s claimed benefits.

Did it?
Read More >

By on May 20, 2020

Sometimes a commercial runs afoul of government overseers for reasons only an uptight, power-hungry bureaucrat could understand. Recall the UK giving Ford a hard time for suggesting its Mustang could go fast — perhaps even being capable of exceeding the speed limit. Worse yet, Ford implied that a driver might like it.

Over in Germany, an Instagram ad for the new Mk8 Golf took things in a more unsettling direction. We’re courting controversy ourselves just mentioning the incident, knowing that very concerned parties monitor our material regularly for the purpose of expressing online outrage over imagined word crimes. However, this occurrence is real, and it’s clearly something Volkswagen wishes had never happened. Read More >

By on May 20, 2020

Last year, Acura previewed the Type S Concept at Pebble Beach, making itself an exciting brand for the first time in years. The model heralds the return of the marque’s performance nomenclature and gives us a taste of the next-generation TLX sports sedan — which will be the first Acura product to wear the Type S badge in quite a while.

On Wednesday, the company announced the new model will debut on May 28th. Not surprisingly, it also confirmed the next TLX will share as much with the concept car as regulators allow.  Read More >

By on May 20, 2020

GM

Today’s letter is clearly “T” — as far as GMC’s concerned, anyway. With little else to show off during These Trying Times, General Motors’ truck division decided to remind the public that its plan to release a large electric pickup bearing the Hummer name hasn’t changed. Just the timing.

In said truck, which was bound for a May 20th debut before the coronavirus pandemic kiboshed those plans, gazing at the stars or taking shots at enemy aircraft in some sort of Mad Max-like post-apocalyptic scenario will be made all the more easier with removable roof panels. Read More >

By on May 20, 2020

On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that his company’s full self-driving (FSD) suite stands to become more expensive starting in July. Intended to serve as the prerequisite hardware for truly autonomous functionality once the software is ready, it’s proven a pricey way to get into brand’s more advance driver assistance features. Of course, the company sells it as a way to buy into complete vehicular autonomy — something that has yet to be realized anywhere in the industry — and has so far failed to deliver on that front.

Luckily for Tesla, the company remains on the bleeding edge of available automotive technologies while continuing to improve the basic fit and finish of its products. As no one else is delivering self-driving vehicles, the Californian EV manufacturer can get away with making certain claims about FSD — like how it’s inching closer to figuring out how to navigate a car through an urban environment.

Musk actually signaled that new features would be coming to the suite earlier this year, noting incoming price increases through 2020. Starting July 1st, FSD becomes an $8,000 option (tacking on a grand to the current price) and may eventually become a subscription model.  Read More >

By on May 20, 2020

Grindstone Media Group/Shutterstock.com

I’m a relatively casual racing fan.

Daytona and Indy are appointment viewing for me each year, but the rest of the racing season, I sort of tune in and out as I please.

I used to follow NASCAR more closely, but over the years I’ve drifted away. I suspect that’s because the drivers I grew up watching got old and now either pilot a lounge chair in their living rooms on Sundays, or have a cushy broadcast gig.

Read More >

By on May 20, 2020

Authorities arrested a former U.S. special forces member and his son in Massachusetts Wednesday, accusing them of helping former Renault and Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn escape from Japanese justice. Just after Christmas, Ghosn, under house arrest awaiting trial for financial crimes, turned up in the safe country of Lebanon following a complex and hazy escape plan.

Such a plan was beyond the abilities of Ghosn to pull off on his own, but it seems just such an extraction was Michael Taylor’s specialty. Taylor, 59, a former Green Beret, was arrested along with his 27-year-old son Peter. Read More >

By on May 20, 2020

Here at TTAC World Headquarters, talk of sedans is never far away. While automakers have decided the three-box bodystyle is an afterthought, and while consumers aren’t helping by choosing cargo capacity over tradition, we still lust after a nice trunk.

Over at the Blue Oval, this summer’s shaping up to be a grim one for workers whose hearts bleed at the thought of such a noble bodystyle fading from the company’s lineup. July in particular will be painful for longstanding Ford employees who harbor fond memories of the Maverick, Granada, and Contour. Also: the Fairlane, Custom, LTD, Galaxie, Crown Victoria, Escort, Taurus, Fiesta, Focus, Falcon, Fairmont, Tempo, and Five Hundred. Read More >

By on May 20, 2020

If your vehicle spends any time — or will spend any time — suspended on jack stands bought from Harbor Freight, heed this warning: those stands might not suspend anything.

The company has issued recalls on its 3-ton and 6-ton jack stands, sold under the Pittsburgh name, out of fear they could collapse suddenly. Read More >

By on May 20, 2020

Some new vehicles remain mired in the muck of mediocrity, never to emerge in an improved form before their inevitable replacement. Others are able to reinvent themselves and become better vehicles than they were previously. They rise like a phoenix, changing from caterpillar to butterfly (or some other trite verbiage).

Today we talk about those vehicle models which raised the bar over their predecessor.

Read More >

By on May 19, 2020

2020 Nissan Frontier

Nissan isn’t ready to discuss the 2021 Frontier just yet, but the brand has set pricing for the 2020 version of its aging midsize pickup.

If you’re cool with two-wheel drive and a King Cab model, you can get in the door for $26,790.

Read More >

By on May 19, 2020

bmw

The UK auto industry pales in comparison to the nearby German juggernaut, though Britons looking to purchase a new vehicle in the coming years might discover their preferred Teutonic ride has suddenly jumped in price.

That’ll be the reality come 2021 if the UK can’t come up with a new trade deal with its newly distant European Union neighbors. Post-Brexit, the country has no other choice at the current time but to impose default World Trade Organization tariffs of 10 percent on all European-built vehicles. Read More >

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