2016 Hyundai Tucson Review - Hope On Four Wheels
When you are one of the world’s largest automakers, deep in what is a healthy growth period in American automotive sales, and you can’t muster sales gains … well, it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy.
This is the situation in which Hyundai finds itself.
After entering the U.S. utility market in 2000 with the Santa Fe, the Korean automaker has never fully expanded a solid line of compelling crossovers and SUVs to tantalize buyers. Instead, Hyundai has focused on building their quasi-luxury Genesis sub-brand as they crank out compact car after subcompact car, and growing when non-utility volume was good. Now, not so much. Utilities are the present and future.
Hyundai’s lineup is getting better, mind you, but there are still gaps. Compounding Hyundai’s sales woes is its smallest offroader offering — the Tucson — wearing age in not-the-most flattering of ways.
A little late to the party, Hyundai is looking to right the ship with a new Tucson. While the third-generation model looks good on the outside, it must be more than a pretty face if it wants to take on the Japanese army of CR-RAVs and their ilk.
2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible Review - No Respect
I pull up next to a previous-generation Mustang — its 5-liter V8 rumbling as it sits at a stop light — and look over to the driver. There is no acknowledgement from him that I exist. Not a nod, glance, nor a typical, Mustang-owner two-finger wave.
That’s not surprising though — he probably couldn’t hear me.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline four is but a whimper next to the eight cylinders of Detroit aluminum. I give the boosted four banger a slight tip of accelerator. Still nothing from the owner of the “five-point-oh.”
2015 Lamborghini Huracn Track Test
A short time ago, I left you with my impressions of the Porsche 911 GT3. Even now, I am still in love with that car (Tiffany…call me). However, love is blind and everyone’s a critic.
Just after the publication of that piece, I got a text from a buddy who published an outstanding review on the Lamborghini Huracán. It simply declared “No way a GT3 can keep up with a Huracán.” Well my limited resources were never going to make that track test happen, but I do have access to a pair of Huracáns…
So, why not see what the hype is about?
2015 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T Review (With Video)
Once upon a time, Volkswagen’s iconic Beetle sold primarily on its low sticker price, durability reputation and ease of maintenance. VW’s new Bug, however, sells on retro style and a healthy dollop of nostalgia.
The Bug before us today is the second generation “New Beetle” first resurrected in Europe as a 1998 model based on VW’s Golf and A3 platform. It was then redesigned for 2012, sharing its bones with the MK5 Golf and Jetta.
Redesigning retro is always tricky. This explains why the original Bug barely changed over the years and why the other retro-flashbacks like the PT Cruiser and Chevy HHR turned into one-hit wonders. If you don’t change enough, shoppers won’t see a reason to trade Herbie in for a new time capsule. Change it too much and you’re left with a caricature. Either way you slice it, retro comes at a cost.
2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD Review - Bringing the Kitty Into Shape
I know the experience is inauthentic. I know the sounds are manufactured somewhat. I know the marketing telling me about this car’s “soul” and “passion” is wholly disingenuous.
I don’t particularly care.
The 2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD is one of those genetically engineered chocolate-flavored bananas. It’s a trick; I get it. I just don’t care. Perhaps the Jaguar’s greatest trick is reminding you that your experience in the car is less organic than a Twinkie, then making you completely forget it.
2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Review - Four-Door Pony Car
Looking at all the full-size sedans available in America is certainly a case of “one of these things is not like the other.” Dodge’s latest iteration of the LX-platformed, rear-wheel drive sedan sticks out like a sore thumb covered in beer and barbecue sauce.
The freshly facelifted, second-generation new Charger (it’s the seventh generation overall to use the nameplate) is exactly what I want in a pony car with four doors: mean looks, lots of power and a suspension more tuned for going in a straight line than around corners.
But, I am not going to say its better than the new Maxima — another full-size(-ish) sedan that makes a sporty claim. Actually, it’s definitely not as good as the Maxima.
And I couldn’t care less.
2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SEL Review
Why yes, it has been only three weeks since our last Volkswagen Golf feature story. Why do you ask?
Maybe it’s because the little VW is on fire. The car is nearly single-handedly bringing back hatchback sales with the introduction last year of its 7th generation model. Winner of numerous national and international auto journo awards, MkVII Golf sales in the U.S. are up 230% through June over the same period last year, and are tracking towards a record-setting 84,000 sales for 2015.
There are two 2015 Golfs in my driveway this week: my own two-door GTI 6-speed and today’s tester, the above four-door TDI SEL with the DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. This is not a comparison test but the variation between the two cars’ equipment levels makes for some interesting perspectives.
2016 Scion IA Review With Video - Mono-Priced Zoom-Zoom
When is a Scion not a Scion? Since Scion is division of Toyota, this is both a trick question and a serious one.
Scions can be anything from tweaked Toyotas and foreign market Toyotas to cars built by other manufacturers for Scion. The first such product was the collaboratively developed Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86. The second is this Mazda-designed and Mazda-built Scion iA.
2016 Scion IM Review - Toyota's Tweener Takes a Turn
To wonder aloud: How long can cool be, you know, cool?
For Scion, “cool” has a half-life of around 12 years and the youth-oriented brand from Toyota has a significant turn to right the ship back toward sales from the its first year in America. Last month, Scion posted a 20-percent dip in sales, discontinued two models — iQ and xD — and spelled out an end for its xB — the only Scion to post anything resembling sales growth.
Is it better to be dead or cool? Didn’t Kurt Cobain write a song about this?
2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Platinum 4X4 Review
It’s been said that with the last Crown Victoria produced, the death of Ford’s Panther platform represented the extinction of the species, American sedanus body-on-framus, the last of the dinosaurs. Keeping in a biological frame of mind, it seems to me that the BOF American sedan didn’t go extinct, but transformed. Its trunk developed into an open cargo bed and those varieties with high ground clearance seem to have been particularly adaptive.
That’s the closest analogy I can come up with to describe how the 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Plantinum drives – it reminds me of the big American cars that were on the road when I got my driver’s license back in the early 1970s, and it should. It has body-on-frame construction, double A arm suspension up front, a live axle on leaf springs in the back, seats as flat as a sofa, and a powerful V8 engine up front, just like those old land yachts of yore. Oh, and it’s big.
2016 Acura RDX AWD Review (With Video)
Acura has been a brand of highs and lows for a while. The MDX has been a perennial best-seller while their large sedans have largely sat unsold. The RDX, meanwhile, has had an interesting history.
Acura’s first attempt at a 2-row crossover was ahead of its time with a 2.3L turbocharged engine producing 240 horsepower and Acura’s Super Handling AWD system capable of sending 90 percent of engine power to the rear. The ride was criticized by Motor Trend as “harsh” and folks complained about turbo lag from the segment’s only four-cylinder turbo engine.
As the segment grew, most entries used naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engines and RDX sales failed to achieve orbit. All indications were that Acura’s compact crossover was destined to be a low-volume niche player in one of the fastest growing segments. Then Acura did something unexpected.
2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2WD LT Crew Cab Reader Review
Just a couple of months ago, GM quietly announced their factory 5 year/100k mile powertrain warranty was going to henceforth be downgraded to a 60k mile powertrain warranty because their cars are all fine now and customers don’t care about long-term warranties.
About 48 hours after this was announced, my wife found herself limping along the side of a major road in our 2010 Malibu with 90k miles on the odometer, engine revving, but little transmission of power taking place between the engine and the wheels.
2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 3.5L Ecoboost Review [With Video]
Ford’s F-150 is an important vehicle for Ford and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say it’s an important vehicle for America. In 2014, the F-150 was not just the most popular truck in America, it was the most popular anything in America, selling more than 740,000 examples. For those that love their numbers, that is more F-150s than everything Hyundai sold in the USA put together.
Redesigning the F-150 isn’t just putting Ford’s profits on the line. Hundreds of suppliers and countless employees are worried about Ford’s aluminum gamble.
1998 Alfa Romeo 164 2.5 TD European Review
One clever man who likes powaaah, steaks and punching people once said that you are not a real petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. Seeing how Alfas are either considered terrible, unreliable crap by sane and rational people or totally revered by devoted fans, I assumed there has to be something about them. Maybe it really is that fabled “automotive soul” everyone talks about.
When I drove modern Alfas, I tended to lean towards the “they’re crap” crowd. The Mito is just a Fiat Punto that’s been made worse and more expensive, while the Giulietta can be a hoot to drive, but you want to douse it in gasoline and light on fire every time you need to use it as transportation. It’s like someone did the first 90% of development and then decided to have some chianti instead of finishing the rest. Which is probably what happened.
2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Review - The Loneliest Number
Diesel torque? Fuel efficiency? Compact three-box sheetmetal? You only have two non-premium choices in the U.S.: the Chevrolet Cruze and this, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI.
That’s a serious dearth of variety.
Even after expanding body style and size limitations to mid-size sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes, that still only includes two brands offering up all of the available diesel cars in the non-premium bracket. More importantly, Volkswagen has embedded itself into the collective diesel consciousness and Chevrolet isn’t even a blip on the radar. You need to actively think of today’s diesel options before you remember the Cruze even exists.
VW’s ingrained diesel association and the Jetta’s more affordable compression-ignition cost of entry compared to the Cruze shows in the sales numbers. The Jetta TDI outsells the Cruze 2.0TD by more than 5 to 1. In fact, GM sells so few Cruze diesels, a California DMV employee is more likely to register a new e-Golf – yes, the all-electric VW Golf that wasn’t even on sale last year – or the California compliance Fiat 500e than a Cruze diesel.
So, when it comes to arrive-and-drive-away compact diesel sedans, there’s only one real option. But, does that alone make the Jetta worth buying?