Two Countries Prepare to Launch Two Very Different Nissan Altimas

It’s the third high-profile midsize sedan launch in a year, and Nissan’s pretty confident that this — THIS — is the one that’s really going to turn the declining segment around. Or so U.S. chairman Denis Le Vot claim s. In our first drive review of the all-new 2019 Altima, scheduled for Friday morning, we’ll ponder if this revamped sedan and its revolutionary new engine makes for a worthy challenger to Toyota’s segment-leading Camry and the somewhat lagging Honda Accord.

Meanwhile, north of the border, Nissan Canada is busy preparing its own launch. We’ve discussed some of the similarities and glaring discrepancies between the two vehicle markets before, but for the 2019 Altima, the gap between the U.S. vehicle and Canadian one is vast. Maybe it has something to do with optimism vs. realism.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Subaru GL 4WD Wagon

Living in Colorado (as I do) and spending a lot of time in junkyards ( as I do), I see discarded Subarus. Lots of discarded Subarus, in fact, so many that I only notice the more interesting ones — say, an XT Turbo or a really ancient wagon out of a novelty song.

Today’s Junkyard Find isn’t particularly noteworthy by those standards, but it seems to embody so many Denver Subaru stereotypes that I decided to photograph it. High mileage, high final owner, and high levels of oxidation, all here at a mile-high junkyard.

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Piston Slap: Calibrate AWD for an SRT-4?
Geovanni writes,

Hi, I have a 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT-4 and for a while I’ve been looking for someone that might be able to help me convert it from FWD to AWD. I was wondering if you think there’s a way of making an AWD Caliber SRT-4 without dumping more money into it than its worth? I think a guy in Russia did it but haven’t found anyone in the states willing to help me out. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

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Junkyard Find: 1995 Jeep Cherokee Right-hand Drive
The XJ Jeep Cherokee has been in production for nearly 35 years (if you count the BAW Knight S12, which I do) and remains very popular as a daily driver in Colorado, so I see many discarded examples in Denver-area wrecking yards.It takes a special XJ to inspire me to shoot photographs for this series — a pink camouflage paint job, for example, or a tape-stripey Sport Cherokee with manual transmission. A right-hand drive, Japanese-market Cherokee qualifies, so let’s take a look at this one in a Denver self-service yard.
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Rare Rides: The 1992 Volkswagen Passat Syncro G60

Today’s Rare Ride is a reader submission by one Eric T. Perusing Craigslist in Frasier Crane’s hometown of Seattle, he came upon this quite uncommon Volkswagen Passat wagon. It’s a variant never sold by American dealers, but available on the Canadian side of the border in very limited quantities.

It’s all-wheel drive, has a manual transmission, and is supercharged.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Toasting a Luxury Minivan From 1994

When the Picture Time post for the Villager Nautica went up on these pages last year, the idea for this particular edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was already on my mind. In fact, in the big list of trios I keep for this series, this one has always been at the top of the list.

The year is 1994, and you’ve got a luxury minivan to set alight.

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All-wheel-drive Mazda 6 Prospects Looking Very Iffy

Back in January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration listed crash test ratings for the 2018 Mazda 6 in two distinctive flavors: the front-wheel model and the… all-wheel-drive variant? Wait a minute, Mazda isn’t making an AWD drive version of the sedan. Right?

While there’s been plenty of confirmation for the Mazda’s new 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, we hadn’t heard anything about all-wheel drive. When questioned, the automaker said it couldn’t say anything about it one way or the other. However, Mazda North America CEO Masahiro Moro has admitted there could be a layout issue that would make pairing the new engine with all-wheel drive exceedingly difficult.

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Piston Slap: Sanjeev Gets a Grip on Snow Tires?

Sanjeev writes:

Hello Sajeev, I am Sanjeev.

I moved to Michigan last year and have been driving a used 2006 Corolla. I can definitely afford a better car, but this one is serving me good. Agreed that it doesn’t have all the needed electronics and sex appeal; I am not swayed by that. The recent snow (about six inches) in Detroit area made me think of buying a car with needed ESC, ABS for better handling and driving. I have heard, read a lot about FWD and AWD cars and their handling on snowy roads but haven’t fully comprehended RWD cars on a snowy road.

Many online articles generally suggest that RWD is a bad idea during winter. Still, I see many of many colleagues driving RWD 300s, Durangos, and CTSes. Is RWD better or not on snowy roads?

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Topical: Nissan's Okay With a Front-drive Crossover, but Toyota Has Regrets

This morning’s Question of the Day was all about all-wheel drive and which models could stand a dose of four-wheel traction. So far, no one’s talking about the Nissan Versa Note.

Nissan, however, is more than happy to talk about the fact that its upcoming Kicks subcompact crossover will arrive with power relegated only to the front wheels. Hardly a brawny setup for a high-riding vehicle, but the automaker doesn’t seem to care much about the buyers it might be leaving behind. Toyota, on the other hand, harbors lingering regrets over its entry in the B-segment class, the C-HR.

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Rare Rides: The 1992 Plymouth Laser - a Manual, Turbo, All-Wheel Drive Beauty From DSM

Our last Rare Ride was the little hot hatch Isuzu I-Mark RS, which was just oh-so-80s. Today we move forward in time just four years, to a different sort of sporty hatch.

This one’s Japanese and American. It’s also turbocharged and all-wheel drive. Can you handle some extreme Diamond Star?

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Ford Tempo All Wheel Drive

Ford Tempos (and their Mercury Topaz siblings) were sold in such vast numbers during their 1984-1994 run that I encounter plenty of examples during my junkyard explorations. Normally, I wouldn’t bother photographing a discarded Tempo/Topaz, for the same reason I won’t photograph a Chrysler Cirrus or Kia Sephia, but there are two exceptions to my No Tempos rule: the diesel-engined cars and the all-wheel-drive cars.

Here’s an extremely rare example of the latter type, spotted in a Denver area self-service yard last week.

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License to Print Money: Lexus to Introduce a Three-row RX

The grandpappy of all luxury crossovers, the Lexus RX, has long been the runaway sales leader in its segment. Last year, the RX crushed its competition like beetles under its feet, selling 109,435 units. That’s nearly one-in-five midsize luxury crossovers.

Intent on proving that too much of a good thing is a good thing, the RX will further cement its domination with the introduction of a three-row version, set to appear at this year’s L.A. Auto Show.

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Piston Slap: Spare Me Your AWD Drama

TTAC Reader DeSoto writes:

Greetings, Sajeev — longtime reader, first time writer, and I enjoy the content your column adds to TTAC! (Woot! — SM)

I recently acquired an all-wheel drive 2014 Cadillac CTS with about 15,000 miles on its factory 255/35 R19 Pirelli P7 run-flat tires. Looking ahead to an upcoming 3,500 mile driving trip, I have concern for the durability/drivability of the run-flats. The CTS is not equipped with any wheel-changing tools (jack, wrench, spare tire/wheel). A spare tire assembly (for the CT6) is available online, but I believe the standard compact spare is too small in diameter to be compatible with the 19-inch wheels on the AWD drivetrain. I prefer the freedom of having the option of changing a tire myself and continuing on my way, rather than waiting hours for assistance. I am thus considering, in order of my current preference:

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Ask Jack: All (Wheel Drive) or Nothing at All?

Politics, the man once said, is downstream from culture. It applies to cars as well. Maybe cars are in fact downstream from both politics and culture. You never know.

Everybody who was alive in the 1950s tells me it was kind of a dicey time. Children kneeling beneath a combined 1.25 inches of plywood that was supposed to have some sort of palliative effect on a locally detonated hydrogen bomb with a thousand times the power of Little Boy. The Iron Curtain clamping down across Europe, hundreds of millions of people disappearing into a regime where twisted social science operated a political machine lubricated liberally by the blood of kulaks and a generation of Soviet O’Briens insisting they could float off the ground if they just wished it so. Meanwhile, the United States was grinding through the task of reintegrating a few million young men who had often gone directly from their shoeless rural existence to the meat grinders of Iwo Jima and Normandy Beach.

Yet I defy you to look at a ’57 Chevrolet and not tell me somebody was feeling optimistic. The roads were covered in pastels and chrome and the good times were surely just around the corner. It was as if the styling chiefs of the Big Four (or however many there were) looked at the world around them and said, “Oh, the hell with this, let’s PUT FINS ON CARS!”

Sixty years later we’ve got all the Netflix and chill we can handle but most people look at the future as something that will impoverish, assail, endanger, or boil them. The climate and the economy seem to have more malevolence than the old Soviet shoe-bangers could ever muster but, instead of responding with Bel Airs, we’ve all decided to lock ourselves into tall, tippy metal boxes that promise to isolate us from every possible contaminant or concern. Each box must be sufficient for all imagined tasks, whether it’s clearing the Rubicon or circling the Nurburgring.

Most of these things scale half a ton more than a ’76 Cutlass Supreme Brougham with the 403. They are chock full of features we neither need nor want, and the hunchback king of those assembled unnecessaries is called All. Wheel. Drive.

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Honda Ridgeline AWD Takes a Huge Price Jump for 2018 - Is Honda Shooting It in the Foot Again?

Suggesting that the automaker is “providing a more compelling value,” American Honda is removing the second-from-the-bottom RTS trim level from the 2018 Honda Ridgeline lineup and extinguishing the all-wheel-drive option on basic RT Ridgelines.

As a result, after a 2017 run in which all-wheel-drive Ridgelines could be purchased for $32,315, the 2018 Honda Ridgeline AWD now has a base price $3,695 higher than before.

$36,010.

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  • Syke Just got my Bolt's battery recall done yesterday. Happily, we've got a dealer that's supporting the Bolt competently, getting the battery kit was supposed to take five weeks since I signed the work order. It took two and a half. Pulled the car in 0730 Monday, got a call at 1600 that afternoon saying I could pick it up. Didn't get down there until this morning, 255 miles range with frost on the windows. I'm happy.
  • Syke Nice. Competent. Definitely a useful tool.
  • Dukeisduke VinFast? More like SinkingFast.
  • FreedMike Layoffs are so much fun.
  • Corey Lewis Priced about $7k too high, especially since the pano roof will leak water and it's now fully out of warranty.