Ask The Best And Brightest: Does The Outgoing Explorer Earn Its "Exploder" Nickname?
Ask The Best And Brightest: How Much Do European Cars Need To Be Changed For The US Market?
Ask The Best And Brightest: Can Fiat Sell 50k-100k Cars In The US Next Year?

The Fiat brand returns to the US later this year, spearheaded by the Mexican-built 500 minicar and followed next year by Abarth and convertible versions of the A-segment hatchback. With some 200 Chrysler dealers in major urban centers preparing to add the Fiat brand to their portfolios, Automotive News [sub] reports that the brand hopes to reach at least 50k units and as many as 100k units by next year. For comparison, the MINI brand sold 45,293 units in the last 12 months (ending in June) and 48,562 in the previous 12 months.

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Ask The Best And Brightest: Can You Buy A Chrysler With Zero Regrets?

More to the point, is it better to acknowledge that regrets might be common among Chrysler buyers and address the problem with an ad like this one… or does this campaign feed the perception that it’s trying to address?

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Ask The Best And Brightest: WWDDD?

The upcoming season of Mad Men is on its way, and with it a whole new set of questions and expectations. One question that boggles my mind is: What car would Don Draper drive?

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Ask The Best And Brightest: Could Kia Disappear?

24/7 Wall Street seems to believe that Hyundai’s junior brand could go away in the next year and a half, as it named Kia to its “Ten Brands That Will Disappear in 2011” list. This despite the fact that Kia’s first-half sales were up 15 percent over the first half of 2009, and Kia’s rolling 12-month sales are over 22 percent higher than its performance in the previous 12 months. So, why does 24/7 Wall Street see Kia disappearing?

Kia Motors Corporation is one of the two car brands of Hyundai of South Korea. It has always been a marginal brand. Its stable mate, Hyundai USA, has a reputation for high quality cars like the Sonata and Genesis. Kia sells “low rent” cars and SUV nameplates like the Sorento and Rio. As GM and Ford have already discovered, it is expensive to maintain multiple brands and storied car names, including Pontiac, Saturn, and Mercury, are disappearing. Most Kia cars sell for $14,000 to $25,000. Hyundai has several cars in the same price range. Hyundai’s Sonata has quickly become one of the best-selling cars in America, and its Genesis flagship model competes with mid-sized BMWs and Mercedes. The parent company will take a page from several other global car companies and dump its weakest brand.

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Ask The Best And Brightest: What Have Hippies Done For Cars?

What did the hippie say to the horse? Woooaahh. What the figurative hippie said to the car is an entirely more ambiguous matter…

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Ask The Best And Brightest: Is This Why Ridiculously Fast Cars Exist?
Ask The Best And Brightest: Can Mazda Sell 30k Mazda5s Every Year?

Just yesterday, I noted in my write-up on Mazda’s June sales performance that

with a Nagare-saddled Mazda5 replacement waiting in the wings, Mazda isn’t even well positioned to defend the segment it helped define in the US market, just as GM finally starts taking it seriously

Well, today Mazda announced to Automotive News [sub] that it would be targeting 30k annual sales of the Mazda5’s “Nagare-saddled” replacement. Last year’s 18,488 units was the second-best sales year on record for the 5, as sales fell from 2008’s all-time high of 22,021. In short, Mazda’s compact CUV has always been at least 8k units away from its new Mazda5 sales goal. On the other hand, Mazda never properly marketed the 5, and both GM and Ford are moving into the segment with the GMC Granite and Ford C-Max. Will Detroit’s move into this otherwise-ignored segment (currently contested by only the 5 and the Kia Rondo) bring buyers in, or force already-marginalized players like Mazda out? The fate of the 5 seems to hang on the answer to that one question.

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Ask The Best And Brightest: Does GM Need A Manhattan Flagship Salon?
Ask The Best And Brightest: What Car Would You Build For 25 Years?
Ask The Best And Brightest: How Do You Make Racing Work As Marketing?
Ask The Best And Brightest: Was GM's Corvette Giveaway Worth It?

To be perfectly honest, I wrote about half a post on GM’s decision to give Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a new Corvette after he was robbed of a perfect game by a bad call, before deciding not to run it. Why? Well, the story is classic Detroit: Galarraga’s victimhood is exactly the image GM would like to associate itself with (remember, everything was going fine before the credit markets collapsed), and The General owed the Tigers anyway because of owner Mike Ilitch’s decision to not charge GM for ad space on the stadium’s fountain when it was in bankruptcy (Ilitch added free Ford and Chrysler ads in the interest of fairness). In short, there was plenty of room for some trademark TTAC cynicism… and yet I couldn’t quite bring myself to twist the knife.

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Ask The Best And Brightest: What Car Do You Remember Best?
Ask The Best And Brightest: Mandatory Manual Training?

With the autoblogosphere abuzz over Peter Cheney’s “unintended acceleration event,” Jill McIntosh has made a fascinating connection between one auto-journo’s son’s voyage of manual transmission discovery, and a former Ontario Attorney General’s killing of a cyclist back in September. Linking to a Toronto Star report on the trial of Michael Bryant, who killed cyclist Darcy Allan Shephard, McIntosh notes a strange similarity between that fatal incident and Cheney Junior’s garage door tango:

According to a statement read in court, reprinted in the Toronto Star today: Bryant hits the brakes. His vehicle stalls. Bryant tries to start his car, but it stalls again, lurching forward … Bryant tries to start the car again. He’s concentrating on the Saab’s sensitive clutch with his head down. He succeeds at restarting the engine and the Saab accelerates into Sheppard, who lands on the hood.

Obviously, two incidents do not a crisis make, but this is hardly the only evidence suggesting that manual gear-swapping is fast becoming a lost art. But do we really want to further stigmatize manual transmissions by mandating special licenses for manual-equipped cars, as McIntosh suggests?

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  • EBFlex "I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles"Assuming you went from 0 gallons to full (17.2), you have averaged almost 50MPG over those 2500 miles. 50 MPG in a Jeep Wrangler. To all of you EV nut jobs, tell me again how PHEVs are not the absolute best thing to happen to automobiles since the wheel. And tell me how they don't make EVs look like the awful play toys that they are.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird The Buick 215/3.5-liter aluminum V8 was one of GMs great engines. Unfortunately GM being GM in one of their greatest mistakes was selling off the tooling to BL. If they kept it around and improved upon it it would have been a fine motor for their compacts and midsize models through the OPEC oil crisis.
  • Chris P Bacon Not sure why a '21 is getting reviewed, because there have been improvements to the 4xe. I've got a '22 4xe Sahara. May 2022 build in High-Velocity yellow with a soft top. As soon as it was announced I knew I wanted to try it, not for the fuel mileage, but for the technology. I don't have a Level 2 charger, it charges fully overnight on the included Level 1. I see an indicated range of 27 miles regularly. Today it indicated 29 when I unplugged. I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles, a full charge costs me about $3 based on my current electricity supplier. I don't experience the rough transitions between electric and gas, so maybe Jeep figured it out? It's stupid fast when using all the power off the line. So much so that it will break the rear wheels loose when you stomp on it. I agree that plugin hybrids are the future. I see no need for a pure electric. This is the way to go.
  • RHD The word B R O N C O written in contrasting paint on the dashboard is quite unnecessary. The passenger certainly knows what kind of vehicle he or she is in. That detail is a big fail. The red and white Bronco looks great, especially with tires that have honest-to-goodness sidewalls on them.
  • Luke42 Aren't those trim levels just different colors of paint?That's what they sound like, at least. 🤷‍♂️