By on August 15, 2019

2018 Ford Europe Fiesta range - Image: Ford

If the global economy were weather, yesterday brought dark clouds, an unsettling calm, and that weird ozone smell that heralds a violent storm. The bond market is waving its hands and flashing a warning sign. Spooked traders waded through a sea of red as Wall Street and other foreign exchanges began resembling the elevator scene in The Shining.

It’s quite possible all those warnings issued by major automakers of a looming recession weren’t made out of an abundance of caution, but something a little more concrete. No wonder the likes of Ford and General Motors find themselves in the midst of “downturn planning.”

As you read yesterday, one possible consequence of another economic meltdown is a return of smaller, more affordable vehicles — products both Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler spent the last few years dropping from their lineups. While the entirety of these small vehicles wouldn’t return in such a scenario, some might. Which cars deserve a green light? (Read More…)

By on August 6, 2019

2019 Mazda Mazda3 front quarter

While professional sports in America are generally the envy of the world – especially when it comes to the variety of high-level team sports available to the fan – soccer (football to the rest of the world) does wonders for maintaining a competitive balance amongst teams due to the system of promotions and relegations. For those uninitiated, the last-place teams in the top level of the various soccer/football leagues are relegated to the next lower league, while the top teams in the lower levels move up a rung on the ladder.

Imagine this system were in place in mainstream American sports. The Cleveland Browns would be competing against high school teams by now.

I can see eyes glazing over already. “Stick to cars! Stay in your lane!” – just like every sports reporter hears any time they venture into politics. I’m getting to that. Basically, Mazda has long been compared to other mainstream Japanese brands – Honda, Toyota, Nissan. But now, they’ve put forth efforts to be promoted to an entry-level luxury brand, and the newest 2019 Mazda 3 AWD sedan seen here is ready to play in that league.

(Read More…)

By on June 13, 2019

Car manufacturers don’t always strike a chord with consumers, and even studious brand Lexus is not immune from model flops. Back in 2012, the company offered three compact vehicles nobody wanted.

Today you’ll select one to take home for keeps, whether you like it or not.

(Read More…)

By on June 10, 2019

Vehicles from plucky AMC are always welcome here at Rare Rides. Thus far, the series has featured a Metropolitan, a concept Van, a Matador Barcelona, and a very tasty Sundancer. The latter is a cousin of today’s relentlessly beige Concord two-door sedan.

Ready for some malaise?

(Read More…)

By on April 5, 2019

Rare Rides has featured a couple of Plymouths before, both of which were sporty and boasted two doors. Today’s Plymouth also has two doors, but is perhaps not quite as performance oriented as its brethren on these pages.

Hailing from 1980, it’s a super Malaisey Champ hatchback.

(Read More…)

By on March 25, 2019

Earlier this year, Mazda showed off its all-new 3 sedan in Los Angeles. The new compact’s intent is to impress a revised, upscale image on the brand. While the 3 delivered in quality, overall refinement, and driving enjoyment, it managed only middling marks with regard to power.

Now, Mazda has upped its game with a more stylish hatchback variant and the additional capability of an all-wheel drive system. But do style and substance mesh in the more expensive hatchback? We went back to California to find out.

(Read More…)

By on March 22, 2019

Recently, we featured a grandiose convertible Hudson once owned by actor and car enthusiast Steve McQueen. Today’s Rare Ride came originally from Nash, the other company which combined with Hudson to form American Motors.

Let’s get Metropolitan.
(Read More…)

By on March 8, 2019

Today Rare Rides takes a look at another one of Nissan’s special Pike cars from the turn of the Nineties. This tiny van is definitely the oddball of the Pike family. It’s an S-Cargo, from 1989.

(Read More…)

By on January 28, 2019

Corey lewis

We travelled to the small and traffic-free city of Los Angeles last week to check out the newly revamped 2019 Mazda 3, the first product launched under the automaker’s equally new premium philosophy. The next-gen compact apparently heralds the introduction of other higher-end models.

So, is this all-important foundational compact car any good? Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

By on January 21, 2019

Today’s Rare Ride is a Nissan Be-1 from 1987. As the first of four Pike cars, it set the stage for the upcoming Pike cars and commanded immediate attention from consumers. Come along as we check out this hatchback cheerful economy car.

(Read More…)

By on January 15, 2019

What’s Datsun, Nissan, and Sunny all over? It’s this pristine Nissan Sentra wagon, hailing from 1982.

(Read More…)

By on December 21, 2018

Saab was always a fan of the number nine, and it proved its dedication to the special digit by using two nines for their pre-900 era compact executive car.

Let’s take a look at a little blue Saab 99.

(Read More…)

By on December 4, 2018

Continuing sadness. That’s all this writer feels when he gazes at the small car space these days, what with GM culling the Cruze, Ford’s Focus inventory dwindling like SPAM supplies before a hurricane, and the Dodge Dart….well, maybe it’s not all that sad after all.

Meanwhile, departing domestic compact customers aren’t heading over to their foreign competitors in the amount those automakers would like. Honda Civic sales? Down 13.4 percent this year, through the end of November. Toyota’s Corolla, now bolstered by a better hatchback variant? Down 10 percent this year. Hyundai Elantra sales are up, actually, by 4.8 percent, though its volume falls far below that of its Japanese rivals. Nissan Sentra sales are down 3 percent.

So far, the American consumer shows no signs of falling out of love with light trucks of every size and description. (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2018

The looks of an old Volkswagen Jetta, the reliability of an old Italian car, and the inconvenience of right-hand drive. All of your dreams can come true in today’s Rare Ride — a Fiat Tempra. It made its way from 1990s Italy to England, then stormed up the banks of Rhode Island.

(Read More…)

By on September 14, 2018

Not to hammer too obvious a point here, but the decreasing popularity of a certain car model, combined with increasing incentivization, can seriously influence that model’s depreciation. Ask Cadillac about that. While a boon for savvy used car buyers a few years down the road, it doesn’t help anyone’s lease payment and can leave you upside down on a long-term loan.

In its annual Your Driving Costs study, the American Automobile Association broke down the average vehicle, fuel, insurance, maintenance, loan interest, and depreciation costs of various vehicle segments to show what a hypothetical new car buyer can expect to pay, annually, over the course of a five-year loan.

Naturally, your overall bill’s going to be lower with a smaller, cheaper, thriftier vehicle. That said, after looking at the findings of last year’s study, cars in certain segments are shedding their value at a growing clip. And you’ll pay for that. (Read More…)

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