Ace of Base: 2019 Golf Alltrack S 1.8T

This variant of the Golf family inhabits a grey area in which it’s not quite a crossover but is also not quite a station wagon. VW will still happily sell you one of those, sans this model’s taller suspenders and black over-the-wheel trim. The Alltrack is kinda like a SportWagen that’s clomping around in dad’s big boots.

As always, we’re suckers for a good wagon. Let’s see what it has to offer in base S trim.

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QOTD: Stick It to the Man?

Some days, it seems as if the world is on an unending march to eradicate the manual transmission from our North American automotive landscape. The 911, various trucks, you name it — soon, there won’t be a stick to fetch anywhere.

Or will there? Fresh off writing a roundup of cars available in the Great White North with three pedals, I got to thinking: what would the B&B buy today if they had to select a stickshift vehicle?

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Ace of Base: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback SE

“No one wants small cars!” is the battle cry from a couple of American OEMs, primarily the one with a blue oval for its logo and a person sitting at the head table whose surname is on the building.

Toyota would like to have a word about that. Actually, so would Hyundai and a few other carmakers who seem to be doing just fine cranking out gee-whiz examples of small cars.

Like this Corolla Hatchback, for instance.

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Seven-speed Manual for the New Bronco? Could Be

Friend of TTAC, Bozi Tatarevic, had some GREAT NEWS about the upcoming Bronco this morning. In a post published by Jalopnik, he detailed what seems to be an airtight theory that the Ford We’ve All Been Waiting For will be available with a seven-speed manual transmission.

“Say what?” you ask, doing a double take and spraying your glass of whiskey all over the keyboard (I had a similar reaction). Yes, boys and girls, it may actually come to pass that the new Bronco will be a close-enough Wrangler competitor.

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Ace of Base: 2018 Chevrolet Cruze L

For years, this place has been saddled with accusations of an anti-GM bias, yet a quick headcount of current contributors who have a product from The General in their driveway reveal more of our own dollars being willingly spent on a Chevy or GMC than most may think – including your author, who just traded away his 2010 Ram for a 2018 Sierra. More on that in another post.

The car shown here occupies a segment of the market where margins are razor thin and profits are cut to the bone. FCA has bailed and Ford is following suit, leaving Chevy to soldier on as the lone Detroiter peddling a Civrollantra alternative.

Spoiler alert: it’s not a penalty box.

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2016 Honda Accord Sport 6MT Review - High Expectations

Quality of life is about making the best of your surroundings. There isn’t a car on the market today that reflects that ethos more than the Honda Accord.

After years of growing to make room for smaller models in the lineup, the Accord — which has gathered accolades as the most reliable choice in the family car segment for decades — has skipped having a midlife crisis, and is still playing like a kid. It would be easy to say the Accord has always been a favorite for us, but as the competition improves, we wanted to come back and give the Accord another go.

Here’s what we learned after several days of puttering around southern California in the Accord Sport, the value-priced model that hits the sweet spot of what you have and what you want.

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New Honda Civic Turbo Will Get Manual for 2017 Model Year

A purported screenshot of a Honda ordering screen over at CivicX shows the new turbo-powered, tenth-generation Civic will be made available with a six-speed manual transmission starting next year.

The only engine available with a row-your-own box for this year’s Civic is the naturally aspirated K20 2-liter four that cranks 158 horsepower — 16 horsepower fewer than the turbocharged mill — in the base LX model. Starting with the EX-T model, Honda is planting its 1.5-liter turbo into many of its trims with a CVT only to start.

The recently announced Civic Coupe will get the same powertrain options as the sedan — manual only on the base model, CVT everywhere else — when it goes on sale in March. It’s unclear if the coupe would receive a mid-year update to add manual transmissions.

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Jaguar XE Will Arrive in US With Manual Transmission

When Jaguar’s latest-and-greatest sedan arrives on American shores next spring, it will do so with an extra option on the order sheet — a manual transmission.

According to Car & Driver, the Jaguar XE will get a third pedal and a stick in the middle of the center console that does things. Apparently, there are still enough people out there that know what to do with that thing in the center console that Jaguar believes it will make up between 10 and 20 percent of overall sales.

“It is enough to be worth the investment, and we are happy with our decision,” North American CEO Joe Eberhardt told C&D.

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Piston Slap: A Spoonful of Sugar for Bitter Medicine?
Peter writes:Hi Sajeev,My mother-in-law in New England drives a fifteen-year-old Mazda Tribute with a manual transmission that is way overdue for replacement. She won’t settle for anything that doesn’t have 1) the ability to power all four wheels equally at the same time (I think her Mazda has a button or lever to engage the 4WD, so it doesn’t have to be a full-time 4WD system), and 2) a manual transmission. She is suspicious of the modern “all-wheel-drive” systems found on Subaru, etc., and swears that nothing works in the snow like 4WD.
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Piston Slap: Sam Hell's Scion Grab Bag

TTAC Commentator Sam Hell Jr. writes:

Hi, Sajeev!

I read with deep concern your notice that the Piston Slap mailbag was empty. You kindly answered my previous query about putting more conservative tires on my ’11 automatic tC (now at 51,000 miles), despite the fact that I erroneously addressed the email to your parasitic e-twin Sanjeev, and I’m happy to pester you/be of service once more. Please find, below, my questions, and thank you for your time.

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Piston Slap: Justy-fied Freestylin' Over CVTs, Part V

TTAC commentator Anomaly149 writes:

Sajeev, here’s one for you:

I have a CVT-equipped 2004 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe with ~140,000 miles. While you can write a book on the things that are weird with the car (key won’t release from cylinder sometimes unless you push this button inside the steering column, sometimes the neutral safety switch actuator machine-guns when stopped at a stoplight, it eats front sway links like it’s a contest, etc.), so far it’s been reliable and efficient.

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2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek Manual Review - Field Manual

In 1919, then-Army Major Dwight D. Eisenhower embarked on a transcontinental journey with a military convoy to show off to the country the mechanical might used to conquer the Kaiser.

From Washington D.C. to San Francisco, Eisenhower traversed the Lincoln Highway over 62 days. The going was relatively easy until Kansas, but the hardest part, he wrote, came in Utah.

“Aug. 20 (1919) Departed Salt Lake City, 6:30 am. … Last 6 miles was natural desert trail of alkali dust and fine sand up to 2 (feet) deep, with numerous chuckholes. No rain for 18 weeks and traction exceedingly difficult,” Eisenhower wrote in his journal.

“Aug. 22 (1919) Departed Granite Rock (Utah) 6:30 a.m. … Personnel utterly exhausted by tremendous efforts, and will rest at Black Point. … Reduced morale.”

Admittedly, my journey in a 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek would be less dramatic. In Utah, Eisenhower reported the convoy of 80 vehicles took 7.5 hours to do 15 miles in near-biblical sand in lieu of bad roads. I could manage 80 miles an hour in the diminutive hatchback with 148 horsepower — which likely has more horsepower than the entire 1919 convoy. Resemblance? I have a few.

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2015 Nissan Micra S Review - Lively Lilliputian

Staring at a Monroney sticker with a four-digit MSRP would only excite you if spending a weekend clipping Sam’s Club coupons while sipping Faygo is a “fun night in.”

With a base price of $9,998 in the Great White North, the Nissan Micra is the definition of Quebec Special: an entry-level car in the lowest of trims and absolutely zero options. Wind-up windows. Manual locks. An actual, honest-to-goodness metal key. All it needs is a cassette deck and a bench seat to take you back to a time when parachute pants were cool and Wesley Snipes was paying taxes.

Yet, this diminutive, red hatchback is much more than its price and lack of options suggest. While my predecessor likened the Micra to the EK Civic, I’m going to take it one step further: The Nissan Micra is a four-door Mazda Miata.

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Audi Confirms 2017 A4 Diesel for US

The ninth-generation 2017 Audi A4 will sport a diesel engine for the first time in the U.S., Motor Authority is reporting.

When the sedan launches next March, the 2.0-liter turbocharged oil burner will make 190 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of twist. That’s on top of the 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that’ll make 252 hp and 273 lb-ft.

But that may not be the best part.

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QOTD: Is It Time We Give Up The 'Save The Manuals' War?

With news that BMW’s M division might give up offering manual transmissions altogether along with the plethora of automatic-only performance options from other automakers on the market, the battle to keep the manual looks bleak.

Not only that, but automatics seem to just be the better choice for a number of other non-performance options as well.

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  • Jwee You can avoid American cities, and both you and the Americans would be happier.
  • Bryan I used Costco a while back, and didn't care for it - you still wind up going to the dealership.The last time I bought a new car I used an actual car broker and I'll use one again the next time. Whatever they charged me was the best money I spent that year.
  • SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
  • SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
  • SCE to AUX Maybe those union dues will help soften the landing. Employment there used to be 4000 people, and the plant has been at risk for 15 years. Stellantis did recently say that it would be trimming dead wood so it could rebuild the company. The Cherokee is finished, but I bet the plant reopens with a smaller workforce once Stellantis figures out what to do with it.