Just slightly over twenty-nine months since taking delivery of my 2014 Accord V6 Coupe 6MT and I’m already out of warranty. That’s not strictly true; there’s still powertrain coverage until the 50,000-mile mark. Certain items, like seatbelts and airbags and catalytic converters, will be replaced on Honda’s time for the rest of this decade, if not longer. But that 3/36,000 bumper-to-bumper honeymoon period of being able to take the car to the dealer for noises and clunks and little broken parts? As my future third wife, Este, would say — those days are gone.
The SUV’s rise to king of the automotive fiefdom is well documented. Seizing the chance for fat profits and sales glory, manufacturers took their existing product, added a couple of doors and ladled on the chrome. Buyers flocked to them like Brexiters lining up to change their vote. In time, thanks to Prius driving tofu-twinks wearing nuclear-free peace sandals, these brutes became as politically correct as a Monsanto home fracking kit and, with a few exceptions, have been resigned to the dustbin of history.
OEMs recognized the trend, slowly backing away from the behemoth machines. Modifying their smaller unibody offerings, tall two-box crossovers soon dotted the landscape, watering down the SUV formula until buyers were left with the automotive equivalent of Metamucil.
The new Fiat 124 Spider may be thought of as a spiritual successor to the classic Fiat 2000 Spider. It’s no secret, however, that the new car is really a re-skinned Mazda MX-5 Miata powered by the same engine as the current Fiat 500 Abarth. The only parts truly new to the Fiat are some exterior panels. That’s not a bad thing as the new Miata seems to be quite amazing in all regards.
The question, despite Jack’s opinions, is whether the Abarth engine and some suspension tuning will give the 124 Spider that much coveted Italian flair, the sales numbers Fiat desperately needs, and the passion and drama that we all love so much. For better or worse, that’s been somewhat absent from the Miata over the years.
To answer that question, and to discover the ingredients in that secret Italian sauce, I recently spent some time in the classic Fiat roadster.
Let’s face it: Nobody wants to drive what their parents drove, even if it’s the right vehicle for the task at hand. Minivan shoppers balked at their parent’s station wagon, and CUV shoppers seem to believe that minivans are the gateway to mom-jeans and velcro sneakers.
My sister-in-law is the perfect example of a conflicted minivan shopper. With four kids, she needs a minivan. However, because she grew up sitting in the back of a string of Chevrolet Astro vans, she has a special hatred reserved for minivans. It probably doesn’t help that her parents recently traded in an Oldsmobile Silhouette for a Chrysler Town & Country.
Technically, a family of six will fit in your average three-row crossover, but even the biggest CUVs have a cramped back seat and limited cargo compared to the average minivan.
Seeing an opportunity to differentiate itself, Kia decided to put a different twist on the Sedona when it was redesigned for 2015. The latest Sedona gives up some traditional minivan practicality in an attempt to appeal to crossover shoppers on the fence.
When Mazda initially launched the CX-9, it aimed the crossover firmly at American buyers — 80 percent of CX-9 production came to the U.S., and exactly 0 percent stayed in Japan. It was an American under the sheetmetal, too, built on an older platform shared with Ford.
For 2016, Mazda completely redesigned its large, three-row crossover with an eye on improving dynamics, efficiency and giving the brand a near-luxury alternative. Yep, Mazda believes its new Signature trim — featuring such adornments as heads-up display, Nappa leather, and real wood trim — is an alternative to the Acura MDX.
From krill-hungry Lincolns to Predator-style Lexus grilles, the automotive market is littered with luxury crossovers like rocks covering the landscape of my home province of Newfoundland. With few exceptions, they’re all ponderous boxes offering the driving dynamics of tapioca pudding. Adding a sport package to these machines simply upgrades them to slightly warmer tapioca pudding.
The 2016 Infiniti QX50, though, surprised me … and I like surprises — for example, buying a new type of beer and finding it to my liking, or having a tool work better than expected. These are all experiences that give me pure joy. Heck, I even bought my first house largely based on the fact its floorplan wasn’t what I expected.
The Ford Edge has always grabbed my attention due to its styling.
From a distance, the look — especially that of the second-generation Edge — is certainly pleasing to the eye. The front grille, fog light assembly, stylish wheels and a nice silhouette give the midsize crossover an Edge — pardon the pun. And the 2016 model can be configured in a number of ways to suit consumers’ needs, with a choice of powertrains and a nice choice of optional equipment.
But, as they say, the devil is in the details, and that’s where the Edge starts to lose its sharpness. The main issue is one we’ve seen here before: quality of the fit of the exterior panels of the Edge. However, I have another major gripe about the Blue Oval’s lifestyle-mobile, and it sits under its misaligned hood.
When a concept car is introduced at a major auto show, it provides a glimpse into the future of an automaker’s next model. Some concepts are really cool. Some are not. Most never make it into production. A few do. The Baja Bug-inspired VW New Beetle Dune Concept was unveiled at the 2000 Los Angeles Auto Show. It was an off-road-ready New Beetle powered by a 2.3-liter VR5 that sent its power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.
More than a decade later, a similar, but water-downed, Beetle Dune Concept was shown at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. That car was raised two inches, had a 210 horsepower engine, a cool ski rack, but was front wheel drive. That concept car finally made it into production this year with relatively minor changes — but should it have?
It’s no secret that Honda strives to offer a “Goldilocks-just-right” option in just about every segment — not too big, not too small; not too cheap, not too expensive; not too flashy, not too bland, and with a dollop of practicality on top. This formula has led to a lineup of sales successes with few exceptions. Oddly enough, Honda’s new-to-America HR-V is one of those exceptions.
What gives? Have subcompact CUV shoppers forsaken Honda? Is the Renegade that good? Or is there some other explanation?
Upon its introduction in 2003, the Murano possessed a unique combination of traits that, in retrospect, make its La Jolla, California design studio and Design Chief Taiji Toyota look genius.
The Murano was built on the Altima platform, making it relatively inexpensive to build. It had a segment-first four-wheel independent suspension, imparting a genuine car-like driving experience. It featured generous proportions, yet eschewed three-rows in favor of spacious seating for five. Combined with its catchy anti-establishment styling, snappy 245-horsepower V6, and total lack of off-road pretension, it was the 21st century spiritual successor to the personal luxury car.
Japanese car companies have been trying to break into the American full-sized pickup market for decades. Despite Japanese trucks having a sterling reputation for dependability and reliability internationally, ‘Muricans are a different bunch. Not even Ford’s switch to “European-style” twin-turbo engines and aluminum bodies could stop the freight train that is the F-Series sales chart.
On the opposite end of that sales chart is the last-place Titan. Nissan sold just 12,140 Titans last year, 1/10th of Toyota’s own meager volume and 1/65th of Ford’s truck sales.
Rather than picking up its marbles and going home, Nissan thought outside the box and came up with a novel idea. Why not “right-size” a 3/4 ton truck and sell it for a little more than your average 1/2 ton? With the Detroit Three engaged in serious towing and payload wars, the heavy-duty pickup segment looks more like a Freightliner convention.
That’s where the diesel Titan XD comes in.
The automotive press expends much effort (present company included) telling OEMs what they should and should not do. Automakers may not always take action, much less seem to care, but they value your opinion. Otherwise they wouldn’t have given me a car for a week in hopes of influencing your next buying decision.
I’m thankful they did. The 2016 Ford Mustang contains a long list of items the fourth estate has been asking for: contemporary design, competitive interior, independent rear-suspension, and a roaring V8. And this from a nameplate that’s been near death multiple times, almost been forced to go front-wheel drive, and was inches away from shedding cylinders in favor of forced induction.
Thankfully, none of those doomsday scenarios came to pass. This is now the pony journalists have been asking for in Mustang reviews from the last decade.
It can take you a long time to start truly missing someone. Three years ago, I was dating a lovely federal attorney who had ordered herself a six-speed Wrangler Unlimited Sahara as a sort of step-stool to get her to the more adventurous life she thought we’d end up living together. In March of 2013, after taking delivery of her Jeep, she left it in my custody, got on a plane, and joined one of her oldest friends on a sight-seeing trip to Utah. She’d asked me to go but I’d refused; I had a date with someone else planned for the same week and at the time I took a sort of cruel joy in crushing every dream she had about our future. “I’m busy. Go to Moab,” I told her, “and see the Delicate Arch.”
“Too far north,” she replied. “Anyway, I want to save it for a trip with you.” We never took that trip. The last time I saw her was when she came to visit me in the hospital eight months later, the day after my January 2014 crash. I was incandescent with pain and incoherent from painkillers. She did something to upset me. I told her to leave the room and never come back. In the years between now and then, I didn’t think about her much. Too many other people and things on my mind.
Luxury car companies are practiced at the art of completely redesigning a car, yet styling those new models so much like their predecessors that you’d need an illustrated guide to tell them apart. Jaguar was the king of this design exercise in the ’90s and 2000s. My personal 2005 Jaguar Super V8 may look like Jags of yore inside and out, but under the wood and leather is a thoroughly modern aluminum luxury chassis that — with updates — underpins the modern XJ.
On the other side of the equation we have the XF. The 2008 model signaled a major shift for Jaguar’s styling, but under the sleek and modern exterior sat a reworked Jaguar S-Type chassis. The first generation XF won praise for the M5-chasing XFR and a design that came to define the modern Jaguar.
For the second generation of the XF, Jaguar played it safe with an image retaining the bulk of the styling from the previous generation. Under the familiar styling is Jaguar’s all new, aluminum-intensive iQ platform that’ll be the basis for the XF, XE, F-Pace and two other mysterious Jaguar Land Rover products in the next few years.
Ask people in the know which full-size pickup is arguably the worst new purchase you can make today and you’ll receive a resounding answer: the Titan.
Nissan’s foray into full-size pickups was a breath of fresh air when it debuted for the 2004 model year. But like all merchandise that sits stagnant on retail shelves, it quickly went out of style, became unrefined in comparison to ever-improving competitors, and could only be had with a thirsty V8 during the doldrums of the Great Recession.
It’s this languishing at the low end of the totem pole that must have cajoled Nissan engineers to seriously analyze its truck strategy going forward. Surely, if Nissan was to compete in the pickup game, it would need to update its model at the same pace as everyone else — or, the very least, at the same pace as Toyota. That’s an expensive undertaking considering an all-new model’s development is now priced well into the billions of dollars. And it’s a risky bet to invest that much cash in a segment known for ownership loyalty and domestic domination.
So, Nissan had an idea: hit ’em where they ain’t, and steal a seasoned truck guy to push the new-“class” pickup.
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- 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.
- Zipper69 The Bronco is a soft option and has the style that the Jeep lacks. The actual ability of the respective vehicles is irrelevant, they "compete" on image alone. The Bronco is new and trendy and production can't keep pace with demand