Subaru Didn't Plan to Sell Many Ascents, but Subaru's Expectations Were Far Too Modest

Subaru didn’t believe the Ascent would add much to the brand’s monthly U.S. sales totals.

A year ago, it looked like Subaru’s forecasts were right on target. Roughly 5,000 U.S. sales per month? Check. Incremental brand-wide growth? Of course. Negligible impact on competitors? Indeed.

But the Ascent’s early capacity for helping Subaru keep its loyal customers loyal has evolved into something quite a bit more useful for the constantly-growing Japanese brand. Ascent volume is rising, rapidly so, and Subaru’s unparalleled streak of year-over-year sales growth – now at 93 consecutive months – now appears in little danger of collapsing.

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2020: The Dodge Journey's Last Dance?

We’ve already looked at the Nissan Sentra today, so it’s time to focus on the Dodge Journey. Yes, we’re all about the common man here at TTAC.

If it somehow escaped your attention, and we’re not sure how it could, we’re here to tell you that the Journey will stage a return for 2020, continuing a lineage that’s attracted only minor changes since the model’s appearance at the tail end of the Bush administration. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but Fiat Chrysler has a way of changing plans at the last minute.

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Honda Kicks Base Engine to the Curb, Adds Hybrid for 2020 CR-V

A slew of changes are on the way for the Honda CR-V’s mid-cycle refresh, though you might not be able to spot them from across a parking lot. For sure, there’s the obligatory tweaks to the compact CUV’s front and rear fascia, but the big news lies in its powertrain.

There’s still a choice of two propulsion sources, just not what greeted buyers for 2019. It seems Honda’s run away with the hybrid crown for too long.

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As Ford Grapples With 2020 Explorer and Lincoln Aviator Issues, One Reader Doesn't Like What He Discovered

You read all about Ford’s midsize crossover issues last week, perhaps with great dismay. According to an extensive report, serious and sometimes hazy quality defects have kept thousands of 2020 Ford Explorers and Lincoln Aviators away from dealer lots.

It seems the automaker is hauling vehicles directly from Chicago Assembly to a hastily-arranged fix-it space at Flat Rock Assembly in Michigan — a stopover for quality control and repair on the way to the dealer. Some vehicles reportedly wait up to a month for a fix.

Bad news for Ford, but is it also bad news for those awaiting these two critically important models? Surely having these issues remedied before delivery to dealer lots is better than no fix at all? Certainly, it’s a better outcome for the automaker and buyer than the alternative. And yet, after visiting his local Ford dealer, one reader walked away shaking his head.

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QOTD: Waiting on Perfection?

God knows we’ve talked up crossovers ad nauseum. Not in the same uniformly derisive manner as certain twenty-something bloggers, mind you, but the topic certainly has staying power — and with good reason. The thing about these (mostly) non-canyon-carving family boxes is that they insert themselves so easily into so many people’s lives, ticking a great number of boxes on a regular family’s list of must-haves. Hence the sales, the popularity, and the press.

So copious is the choice awaiting a would-be crossover buyer, he or she might become overwhelmed with indecision, ultimately requiring the intervention of medication and therapy. For others, the thought of bringing any one of these things home might leave a bad taste in their mouth. And for a certain few, the crossover of their dreams just hasn’t arrived yet. The love affair they didn’t think could happen awaits just over the horizon.

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Not Coming to America: 2020 Ford Puma

I don’t understand what Ford is doing anymore. While the company is branding itself as this tech-savvy mobility firm, bent on delivery cutting-edge electrics that will save the planet, it has also removed its most-economical models from the U.S. market — leaving us with the EcoSport, some plug-ins, and the soon-to-be-gone Fiesta. Meanwhile, an ocean away, Europe is getting more small cars that it knows what to do with.

Considering utilities, crossovers and trucks pay the bills, that’s not a problem in itself. But it muddles Ford’s corporate identity to a point where I just have to shrug my shoulders. I had another opportunity to raise those bad boys up to my freaking ears this week when Blue Oval debuted the brand-new Puma in its top-tier Titanium X trim — a product the manufacturer has already said it doesn’t plan on bringing to North America.

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Mazda CX-30 Confirmed for Mexican Production

Mazda’s Salamanca plant is adding the CX-30 to its production line, ensuring its cars-and-crossovers strategy launches as planned. With the Mexican facility already manufacturing the Mazda3, it’s not a shock to see the compact added to the factory lineup as the pair utilize the same platform. In fact, Salamanca is already undergoing retooling to make sure it can incorporate the CX-30 and there were swirling rumors that the company’s official factory announcement would happen sometime this month.

While no formal announcement has been made, the company confirmed the move with Automotive News on Wednesday. Miguel Barbeyto, president of Mazda Mexico, said the facility had been selected partially due to the CX-30’s role as a global product. Mexico has free-trade agreements with numerous nations that Mazda believes will help it efficiently distribute Mexican-made product throughout Europe and North/South America.

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Nissan Previews New Compact Crossover for Dealers

Despite bringing the electric Leaf to market while the rest of the industry was still scratching its head over how to handle EVs, Nissan has since lost its lead. Eager to get back into the race, the automaker is putting together what it hopes will be a market-friendly model utilizing battery power. It previewed a pre-production concept to U.S. dealers last month.

While the clandestine nature of its debut leaves a lot up in the air, it’s clearly aimed at besting the latest and greatest coming from rival manufacturers. Range will be in the neighborhood of 300 miles, with room for five and sprightly acceleration. The shape? Crossover, obviously.

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2019 Honda Passport Review - Go (Almost) Anywhere

For those who don’t know, my day job isn’t in the automotive industry. Rather, I’m in sales – I represent various product lines in an industrial setting, and I talk to countless small business owners and technicians who look to me to help get their job done.

I’d like to think that the better part of two decades in sales has inoculated me to obvious marketingspeak – I can see through the jargon and bullshit most of the time, as I’m usually the one distilling the bullshit for my clients. It carries over outside the office, of course, so I was skeptical when presented with Honda’s tagline for this two-row crossover: “Passport To Adventure.” Surely the 2019 Honda Passport isn’t an overlanding rig meant to tackle the worst terrain the world can offer. That said, some of Ohio’s roads must be some of the worst terrain to be called “paved” in the western world.

Every commute is an adventure.

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Porsche Macan Turbo Grows Even Hotter for 2020, Just in Time for It All to End

Think of it as a swan song for gasoline propulsion, not the Macan itself. For the 2020 model year, the hottest version of Porsche’s entry-level ute returns with more power and less displacement on tap, but the Macan Turbo sings its siren song against a funeral dirge backdrop.

This vehicle is a get-one-while-you-still-can proposition.

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12 MPG in 10 Years: Ford Explorer Hybrid's Fuel Economy Figures Come to Light

Barring the development of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the slow march towards better fuel economy, especially in larger vehicles, has been just that: slow. Yet incremental improvements continue, and the latest large family vehicle to see a darker shade of green is Ford’s new-for-2020 Explorer.

Now bearing rear-drive architecture it shares with the Lincoln Aviator, the Explorer drives into its sixth generation with a hybrid and high-performance model in tow. The greenest of the bunch, unlike the Aviator, is not a plug-in proposition, so fuel economy gains are limited. It’s up to buyers to decide if the just-released EPA numbers are worth the extra coin.

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Going Green: America's Most Cash-laden Utility Vehicle Is the Base Ford EcoSport

Lovers of low-rent vehicles bemoaned Ford’s decision to cull its small-car herd, shedding tears at the loss of the Fiesta and Focus, and no doubt choking back a few sobs at the impending loss of the midsize Fusion sedan. Finding a five-passenger vehicle priced below $20,000 is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, they cried.

Indeed, the supply of low-cost cars is shrinking, though Nissan seems to tuned in to the laments of penny-pinching shoppers. Over at Ford, the discontinuation of the Fiesta and Focus means the three-cylinder, front-drive EcoSport S — a subcompact Indian import we’ve, um, mentioned on this website in the past — is the only Blue Oval ride with an MSRP south of $20k, though adding a destination charge pole-vaults it over that threshold.

Before incentives, that is.

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Get Yer Freak On: Next-gen Hyundai Tucson Appears in Camo Dress, but Can It Match the Hype?

You’re probably thinking two things right now. First, what’s up with suggesting an upcoming compact crossover will be anything approaching wild and crazy and, secondly, why no spy shot of a camo-clad Tucson?

Easy answers! We’re promised something nutso from Hyundai. This won’t just be a visually updated compact CUV, Sangyup Lee, veep of design at Hyundai, told Motor Authority back in April. No, no. “The whole world will freak out over (next-generation Tucson),” he said following the release of the 2020 Sonata, suggesting that the controversially radical Sonata might be the tame, demure one in the family.

Freak out. Hyundai Tucson. That’s some promise.

The answer to the second question is that the corporate mothership ain’t likely to spend dough on pics of a vehicle that, while covered in camo, isn’t likely to cause anyone to freak out. Not around here, at least.

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Pricing Surfaces for 2020 Ford Escape

Ford’s Escape has become the bread and butter of many Blue Oval dealership across the nation, usurping Explorer as the default choice for most families that choose to wander onto a Ford lot in search of an SUV or crossover. Sales have routinely hovered around the 300,000 mark for each of the last eight years.

The 2020 rethink, complete with styling apparently inspired by a Salofalk suppository, brings a solid amount of skin to this cutthroat segment, deploying new hybrid tech and all manner of driver assist technology. Its build and price tool is now live, allowing us a peek at what it’ll cost the Smith family to trade up.

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With Its Purpose-built Comeback Car, Lincoln Aims to Dethrone Cadillac

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.

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  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.