By on July 26, 2018

“We buy year… then we buy mileage… then we buy condition.” That was a favorite axiom of the used-car appraiser at my old Ford dealership. What he meant was this: In the first few years of a car’s life, people will pay more money if it’s a bit newer than a similar model sitting right next to it. Once it’s about five years old, the conversation switches to mileage: you’d rather have a 2012 ECTO-300def with 75,000 miles than a 2014 model with 105,000.

Usually by the time a car reaches the decade mark, and certainly by the fifteenth anniversary, it’s all about condition, condition, condition. Are you in the market for an Eighties Porsche? Condition is king. Are you limited by fate and circumstance to something like a 2005 Ford Focus? Then it’s doubly true.

Which leads us to today’s episode of Ask Jack, in which the person doing the asking is… uh… me.

(Read More…)

By on December 8, 2017

Ding dong, fake luxury is dead. I should be more specific — I don’t mean Fake Luxury in the Caddy-Calais-vs-Ninety-Eight-Regency sense. I mean just plain old fake luxury. You know what fake luxury is. Invicta watches, Michael Kors suits, everything you could possibly buy at the Pottery Barn or in most American malls. Mass-produced sweatshop junk gilded and pimped for the administrative assistant nervously considering how to spend a $250 Christmas bonus.

Real luxury is on a roll everywhere from Savile Row to Maranello, swept away on a wave of Gilded Age cash and the ever-increasing leverage power of capital, but fake luxury is in a tailspin. Patek and Vacheron will thrive, Rolex will hold steady, Breitling will collapse. Airlines are feverishly revamping their widebodies into “super-high-J” configurations, replacing rows of packed prole seats with sleeper beds and sliding-door suites. It’s a good time to be a private jet pilot, a good time to be an UberPool driver, hell on earth to be anything in between.

Two weeks ago I told you about the Chinese Volvo S90, the Volvo S90 that is built in China. It’s the equivalent of a department store suit “designed in Sweden” but constructed by the lowest bidder. I told readers on my site that the market would adjust for this, that the price of Chinese Volvos would quickly drop into the basement while Swedish Volvos stayed strong.

I was right, young Skywalker… about a great many things.

(Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio - Image: FCACritics love the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

And they hate it.

American luxury car buyers, however, are increasingly interested. The Alfa Romeo Giulia lineup has been available since the tail end of 2016. And every month, right through the spring and into the summer, stories of breakdowns and limp-home modes and on-track failures had no apparent impact on increased demand.

July 2017 was the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s best month on the U.S. market to date. (Read More…)

By on April 17, 2015

Mercedes-Benz CLA250As Mercedes-Benz USA levels off with slightly less than 2000 GLA SUV/crossover/hatchback/whatever-it-is sales per month, U.S. sales of the GLA’s sedan donor vehicle, the CLA, haven’t slowed at all.

In other words, the GLA’s presence in Mercedes-Benz showrooms is not a deterrent to the CLA.

Yes, America, buyers continue to flock to the sedan even though there’s a crossover version of that sedan available. Believe it.

Granted, the CLA isn’t selling like it did during its launch period. Anticipated and hyped, the CLA generated 8518 U.S. sales in its first full two months, October and November 2013. (Read More…)

By on January 25, 2015

A3 vs CLA sales chartThe Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class and Audi A3 attained almost identical levels of popularity in the United States in 2014.

True, Mercedes-Benz sold 27,365 CLAs over the last twelve months; Audi sold only 22,250 A3s during that period. That’s 23% more CLA sales than A3 sales.


• GLA arrival didn’t slow down CLA

• A3 and CLA increasingly popular, but not yet top sellers


But you’ll remember that the CLA arrived at the end of 2013’s third-quarter. The A3 sedan, a replacement for the A3 hatch which never sold as often as this new car, began trickling into dealers in February of this year but wasn’t readily available until April.

(Read More…)

By on June 3, 2010


Ah, segment analysis. Each automaker has its own product strategy, and none of them are designed to make apples-to-apples comparisons easy. So we’ve lumped large family sedans from automakers with a mass-market sedan positioned above their mainline D-segment sedan (Impala, Azera, Avalon, Taurus) in with entry-premium FWD cars like the ES350 and Buick LaCrosse. Since we’re comparing a nebulous segment anyway, we threw in the entire sales performances from entry-premium brands like Volvo, Saab and Acura. Not a perfect comparison in many ways (Impala would be better compared to the D-segment sedans below, for starters), but then we’re not charging you a damn consulting fee, are we?

By on November 11, 2009

The American version of a Chinese rebadge of a German sedan to be built in Canada will be available at your local Buick dealer starting in the second quarter of next year. According to GM’s presser, the new Regal will initially be offered with the direct-injected 2.4 Ecotec, making 182 hp. Which, you gotta say, doesn’t sound like luxury-level motivation for a 3,600 lb car. A 2.0 turbocharged version with 220 horsepower will be offered later next summer. There will be no manual transmission option (both get 6-speed autos), and in a weird turn towards the Acura side of life, only one trim level (CXL) will be available. Accordingly, the 2009 Acura TSX and Volvo S60 are shown as competitors, although the 2.4l Buick comes up short of both in standard horsepower and rear headroom. In the real world though, GM picked some pretty safe competition: the S60 sold under 9,000 units in 2008 while the TSX sold just under 32,000 units. The Regal competition that Buick should really be worried about is its slightly-larger, more-optionable Epsilon II platform-mate, the LaCrosse.

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