QOTD: Are You Missing the Coupe Yet?

It won’t have escaped your attention that Honda hauled the wraps off its 10th-generation Accord on Friday. Some good things were added: trunk space, a ten-speed automatic, and turbocharged engines. However, as Soiricho gives, Soiricho also taketh away: the V6 disappeared, as did the coupe.

The move wasn’t surprising, as coupes (and non-crossovers in general) are currently enjoying the popularity of fish-flavored toothpaste. With their numbers dwindling, what car currently on sale today would you like to see as a coupe?

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Junkyard Find: 1991 Toyota Camry DX With V6 Engine and Five-Speed Manual Transmission

When I poke through automotive graveyards in search of the rare and the interesting, I always take a look at late-1980s/early-1990s Toyota Camrys for the very rare All-Trac all-wheel-drive versions and extremely rare manual-transmission versions.

So rare that its existence in the wild is merely theoretical, however, is the V6-powered manual-transmission Camry… and I just found one in Denver. Let’s take a look!

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Ask Jack: My Name Is Camry McLeod, and I Cannot Die?

“The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride f***ing with you. F*** pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps.” Recognize that quote? It’s from Pulp Fiction, of course. There’s only so much wisdom you can take out of any Quentin Tarantino movie, but if you’re looking for some, there it is.

Unfortunately for you earnest advice takers out there, the auto business runs on pride. From the websites to the styling studios, from the wash rack to the RenCen, you’ll find insecure, petty, miserable people who allow their perpetually wounded pride to make astoundingly indefensible business decisions on their behalf. Here’s an example: I once worked at a dealership that was pretty much run into the ground by a pair of incompetent, dishonest managers. The owner was despondent and he had pretty much decided to sell the franchise, but at the last moment he changed his mind, took some good advice, and brought in a fellow who was kind of a superstar but also kind of a loose cannon.

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Toyota Takes an Open-source Approach to Infotainment, Establishes New Industry Standard

A modestly priced new vehicle costs roughly the same as a bathtub full of smartphones. However, if you want to check your email or get an update on the weather, you’ll find the car at a clear disadvantage. Automakers are beginning to bill themselves as tech companies, but the majority have yet to master the art of integrating a pleasurable electronic interface. While manufacturers certainly don’t need cutting-edge displays to construct a competent mode of transportation, consumers expect more from their automobiles. Now, the industry’s competitive spirit is driving things forward.

One way of delivering on those growing expectations is to switch to an open-source platform that allows software developers to get new applications onto devices lickety-split. It’s the path Toyota has decided to take by running a Linux-based platform on the revamped Camry. With those advantages comes some potential risks, but it hasn’t stopped automakers from pushing for a standardized platform more representative of mobile devices.

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2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 Update: Make It 13 Winters and 347,000 Miles

Is this the best car in the world?

Not necessarily this car, but the 2002-2006 XV30-generation Toyota Camry in general. Is this Camry better than all the rest?

It doesn’t handle like a modern Mazda 6, doesn’t stop as well as a modern F-150, doesn’t have the perceived interior quality or features of a modern Honda Fit, and has suffered greatly from the effects of alloy wheel corrosion over the last winter.

But the 2004 Toyota Camry LE V6 we told you about last fall just made its way through another harsh, Prince Edward Island winter. Another 7,000 miles were smeared across its odometer. One trip was taken all the way from Prince Edward Island to Toronto; another from Prince Edward Island to Hamilton, Ontario, and another from Prince Edward Island to Mont Tremblant, Quebec.

Credit a single oil change.

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Vellum Venom: 2017 North American International Auto Show (Part II)

My long-standing personal vendetta against DLO FAIL — an internet-slang definition of black plastic “ cheater panels— takes center stage in this episode of Detroit Auto Show coverage.

Consider this: if manufacturing and design teams cannot decide on the same roof, if they cheat to make it right, did they design something worthy of the auto show lights?

I complain report, you make the final decision!

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Who Killed The Camry?

Blame the Rebels.

Nissan’s Rogue was the best-selling vehicle without a pickup bed in December of 2016, largely thanks to a massive advertising campaign that tied into one of the two recent Star Wars movies where only teenaged girls can be trusted to save the universe. Behind it, you had the usual suspects: CR-V, RAV4, Camry, Accord, Civic, Corolla. But even that state of affairs is a major change from business-as-usual a decade or two ago.

You can learn a lot about American society by looking at the best-selling car in any given year. So if we discount the Rogue’s Yavin IV-style moonshot performance, what’s changed about us since, say, 1967 — and what’s stayed the same? More importantly, who killed the Camry?

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Ace of Base: The End of 2016

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be a great choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

It’s the end of the year, which means the internet is awash with anodyne Best Of pieces, designed to distract readers from the fact that journalists are deep into their third consecutive forty-ouncer of Mohawk vodka and too blitzed to write original material in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. This piece may qualify in that vein.

Let’s coast over to Mr. Cain’s handy sales charts, shall we? Hmm. Which nameplates are expected to occupy the podium once all the deals are tallied for 2016? Can we do an Ace of Base on one of those? *swigs vodka straight from the bottle* Hmm. F-Series? Nope. Already done that. Silverado and Ram are similar propositions; no help there. Ah! The first actual car on the list. It’s the … oh, crap. Alright, let’s get this over with.

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Toyota Camry Wagon With Five-Speed
Car writers are expected to love wagons with manual transmissions, but most of my love is reserved for the likes of three-on-the-tree-equipped Ford Country Squires and maybe the occasional 4-speed Datsun F-10 Sportwagon. Still, when I run across a Junkyard Find as rare as a second-generation Camry wagon with five-speed, I photograph it.Here’s one that I spotted last week in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard.
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Let's Make American Cars Great Again, While Remembering That Some American Cars Are Already Great

Make America Great Again! It’s a dynamite slogan, simultaneously implying that America has fallen a little short of greatness lately and that a return to said greatness can absolutely be accomplished in short order. It’s a winner’s slogan, and it did wonders for that noted repeat winner, Ronald Reagan. By contrast, “I’m With Her,” the current slogan of choice for Mrs. Clinton, sounds like something a henpecked live-in boyfriend would tell a too-inquisitive salesperson at the Pottery Barn.

Whether or not Mr. Reagan truly made America great again is a discussion for another time. I will say, for the record, that I am on a particular side of that discussion, and the quasi-musician known as “Jello Biafra” is on the other.

What cannot be denied, however, is that the Reagan era saw the arrival of some truly great American cars. The C4 Corvette and its third-gen F-body cousin. The 225-horsepower Mustang GT. The Dodge Rampage 2.2. The list goes on and on, although you wouldn’t think that it does from the fact that I got to the Rampage 2.2 so quickly. I would also definitely include the Plymouth Turismo 2.2 in the list, although it would be after the Rampage because the Rampage had more cargo capacity.

Could a Trump presidency spur another era of great American cars? Or would Mrs. Clinton be the right choice to unleash a new generation of “superpredator” sports cars on the American public? While we wait for the American motor-voter to decide, let’s take a look at some of the current lows, and highs, in the domestic-brand arsenal of democracy.

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2016 Kia Optima SXL Review - Short Road to the Top (Video)

It’s easy to see why some automakers resist putting premium features in mass market models. All you need to do is look at that luxury showroom to the right. In the quest to differentiate, say, the Ford Fusion from its Lincoln counterpart, or the Toyota Avalon from the Lexus ES, and so forth, manufacturers limit the options and luxuries available on the more pedestrian models.

On the surface, the Optima SXL’s mission could be confused with that of competitors from other non-luxury marques — Accord Touring and Fusion Titanium to name two — but Kia takes its top-trim game a couple steps further. You see, Kia is in a different position as the Optima has no luxury branded sistership and Kia has nothing to lose by creating an Optima trim that could arguably compete with the Acura TLX and Lincoln MKZ.

However, the Optima SXL’s existence does give rise to a very important question: Can a gussied-up family sedan be a value alternative to a near-luxury option, such as the TLX or MKZ? Or is this a case of “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?”

Let’s find out.

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Nissan Confirms $23,325 Price For Altima; We Can Be Right - Once

Nissan announced Tuesday that its refreshed Altima would start at $23,325 (including $825 destination) when that car goes on sale later next month ( you read it here first!) and outlined pricing for its seven different trims.

The newly introduced SR trim, with smoked headlights, rear spoiler (probably adds 10 percent fast or so), 18-inch wheels and other unique features, will start at $25,295 for the 2.5-liter four, or $28,215 for the 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine.

The base S trim is $200 more than the current model; the top-trimmed 2016 3.6 SL is priced $260 lower than the 2015 model.

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Today's Most Over-styled Car Is ...

I recently started to think about automotive over styling. This is because many of today’s cars are styled to the point where you wonder if they had some contractual obligation with the supplier to put in as many unnecessary curves and creases as humanly possible.

This all got started when I walked by an E36 BMW 3 Series a few weeks ago. That is a handsome car. It has clean lines, and clean panels, and virtually no unnecessary curves or surfaces or trim. The thing is all purpose, all business, and somehow it still manages to be beautiful. I love it.

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QOTD: What's the Best Taxi?

I was driving around the other night in New York City and decided to see how many miles are on all the taxi cabs. This is something you can do with a $25-a-month subscription to the Carfax app. You just type in the taxi’s license plate number and — BOOM! — you have the entire Carfax report complete with mileage, service history and precise dates of all nine of each taxi’s accidents.

So I ran maybe 20 or 25 taxi cabs through Carfax and I discovered something: the Ford Crown Victorias aren’t the highest mileage cabs in New York. Not even close. In fact, I had trouble finding a Crown Vic with more than 200,000 miles on the odometer and more than three accidents, which is “just broken in” by New York City taxi standards.

It wasn’t the Toyotas, either. When you go to New York City now, the yellow cab fleet is dominated by Toyota Camrys of the two most recent generations, which seem to be a little zippier than the old Crown Vics. However, I didn’t find a Camry older than the 2012 model year, so I guess these haven’t been in service long enough to rack up the serious miles.

Same goes for the new Nissan NV200 van, the “taxi of tomorrow.” These are starting to get pretty common in Manhattan now, but they just haven’t been on the road long enough to rack up serious miles. I only ran one or two, and neither came back with more than 100,000 ticks on the odometer.

So the winner of the great What New York City Taxi Has The Most Miles On It competition? That would be…

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New 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Starts at $22,500

Chevrolet will sell its next-generation Malibu for $22,500, including delivery, the automaker announced Thursday.

The pricing for the sedan, which sports a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, 2-liter turbo four or a hybrid powertrain, is aggressive in a difficult sales world for mid-size sedans. The base model L undercuts nearly all of its competition, which includes the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Only the Hyundai Sonata and Mazda6 are less expensive than the Malibu.

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  • Lou_BC Too much money.
  • Lou_BC "The Cannonball Run" "The Gumball Rally""Corvette Summer""Duel""Gone in 60 Seconds"
  • Wjtinfwb I really don't care about charging stations, EVs, their drivers or the issues that seem to plague them and the ownership experience. My use case requires much better range and fueling options than what EVs offer, at least current state. If an EV works for you, great. It doesn't work for me and that's OK as well. hat I object to however, is the Government involvement in a personal use decision and trying to force a technology into widespread adoption when it and its support network is clearly not ready. I also object to Federal dollars, gleaned from the taxpayers being used to subsidize this nascent technology and most importantly, I object to the gaslighting by the Administration that tries to convince consumers that range isn't an issue. Recharging isn't an issue. Cold weather isn't an issue. Fires aren't an issue. The ownership experience disappointment is validated by the poor resale value of EV's and the McKinsey report that states that 50% of EV owners plan to switch back to a gas powered vehicle. I don't have the disposable income to make a 40k mistake and take a beating on getting rid of it. But again, if it works for you, that's what matters. Cheers.
  • MKizzy The top executives of many of the Fortune 500 companies support GOP candidates with their votes and donations while happily filling their corporate coffers with Progressive dollars. Unlike Musk however, they're smart enough to at least try to keep it to themselves. Perhaps Musk's political openness combined with his seemingly declining interest in Tesla is a sign he'll abandon Tesla by the end of the decade.
  • Jpolicke I don't know of any gas stations with a single pump.