By on April 5, 2019

Our recent first drive of Volkswagen’s warmed-up Jetta — the revamped and newly potent GLI — sparked a fair bit of discussion among the TTAC crew about front-drive cars that live double lives.

As sedans of all stripes cower beneath the executioner’s wavering blade, fears are mounting that we could lose even more practical and attainable fun vehicles in the years to come, forcing all of us into Ford EcoSport STs or something of that vein. Yes, front-wheel drive cars can be fun, and there’s certainly a lot to be said for a hotter, performance-focused mainstream FWD sedan that offers its driver a chance to work out the stress of a hard week on a twisty stretch of backroad. A roomy Jetta with the heart of a GTI, manual transmission box checked? Sign me up.

Drivers are slightly spoiled these days on that front, as the GLI pairs nicely on the shopping list with Honda’s Civic Si. But let’s travel back in time for a debate. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2018

2018 Nissan Kicks, Image: Nissan

Replacing the toenails-for-turn-signals Juke, Nissan created the Kicks and has been showing it off for some time now. Scheduled to appear on dealer lots later this spring, the company has been mum on pricing, no doubt in an effort to not show its hand in the murderously competitive subcompact crossover segment.

The Canadian arm of the company apparently has no such concerns, releasing pricing details this morning for that market. Safe to say, Nissan is angling for the budget crown, as its base price of $17,995 undercuts its competitors in the land of maple syrup and hockey sticks.

(Read More…)

By on April 3, 2018

In the last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we concerned ourselves with unpopular large luxury sedans. The general B&B consensus at the end of the day was that none of them were a great purchase idea (see, you’re getting the point now). In the comments, Brian E. suggested we cover a trio of compact-ish sporty sedans he evaluated in real life, back in 2006.

So let’s travel to those days before the Great Recession and pick apart some sporty import sedans. By they way, they all have automatic transmissions.

(Read More…)

By on February 2, 2018

Toyota Corolla Snow, Image: Auto Evolution

Sanjeev writes:

Hello Sajeev, I am Sanjeev.

I moved to Michigan last year and have been driving a used 2006 Corolla. I can definitely afford a better car, but this one is serving me good. Agreed that it doesn’t have all the needed electronics and sex appeal; I am not swayed by that. The recent snow (about six inches) in Detroit area made me think of buying a car with needed ESC, ABS for better handling and driving. I have heard, read a lot about FWD and AWD cars and their handling on snowy roads but haven’t fully comprehended RWD cars on a snowy road.

Many online articles generally suggest that RWD is a bad idea during winter. Still, I see many of many colleagues driving RWD 300s, Durangos, and CTSes. Is RWD better or not on snowy roads? (Read More…)

By on December 14, 2017

This morning’s Question of the Day was all about all-wheel drive and which models could stand a dose of four-wheel traction. So far, no one’s talking about the Nissan Versa Note.

Nissan, however, is more than happy to talk about the fact that its upcoming Kicks subcompact crossover will arrive with power relegated only to the front wheels. Hardly a brawny setup for a high-riding vehicle, but the automaker doesn’t seem to care much about the buyers it might be leaving behind. Toyota, on the other hand, harbors lingering regrets over its entry in the B-segment class, the C-HR. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

Renault 5, public domain

The late Janet Reno once described herself thusly: “The fact is I’m just an awkward old maid with a very great affection for men.” Similarly, I think of myself as a liberal-arts type with a very great affection for engineering. I’ve designed a few bicycles in my time, and I’ve earned most of my bread by programming in various languages, but I’m not qualified to draw a bridge, create a capacitor, or invent an engine. Those are special and particular disciplines that attract special and particular people. I ain’t one of them.

Nevertheless, even as an outsider it seems plain to me that there are two kinds of automotive engineering: the inventive kind, as practiced by Henry Ford and Colin Chapman, and the iterative kind as practiced by the vast majority of engineers currently working in the business. When Jim Hall put a wing on the Chaparral, he was doing inventive engineering; when the Mercedes F1 team runs through ten thousand CFD calculation sequences to remove crosswind drag by 0.5 percent, that’s iterative engineering.

Inventive engineering gets the headlines, but iterative engineering pays the bills. Which leads me to today’s question, which asks? Can’t we be inventive when it comes to front-wheel drive?

(Read More…)

By on April 25, 2017

2017 Audi A4 Quattro rear

Audi’s increasingly mature A4 stands to see less front-wheel motivation in the coming model year.

As the compact sedan’s clout and content grows, Audi plans to take one drivetrain configuration off the table come 2018. The move will mean that Quattro all-wheel drive will soon cover a larger slice of the lineup, but it could also mean crossing the 200-horsepower threshold in an A4 is about to become more expensive. (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2017

C1937 Cord 812 (Jane Nealing/Flickr)

DAG writes:

Why don’t automakers design front-wheel-drive cars with the transaxle in front of the engine? This moves the front wheels forward and improves weight distribution; offers better potential for aerodynamics and leaves space under the hood for pedestrian protection. With a turbo four-cylinder, the engine could have clearance from the firewall. Also, the engine and transaxle could be mounted on a pivoting subframe, hinged at the front, to drop down at the back for major maintenance; disconnect steering and exhaust to drop cradle.

The engine would sit in the space where rack and pinion generally resides; steering gear design would be a challenge for direct mechanical actuation. Perhaps traction would be reduced. Would crashworthiness also be affected? (Read More…)

By on March 7, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version)

If you’re an enthusiast in your thirties, there’s a good chance you’ve coveted Honda’s Civic Type R from a distance for the majority of your adult life. While the Civic Si made it to North American shores, it seemed like the whole rest of the world was enjoying its racier sibling without us. I personally knew at least two people in high school who stuck false Type R badges onto unsporting Civics, rounding out the lie with cheap aftermarket rims and a noisy exhaust.

The opportunity for those dishonest people to redeem themselves is now closer than ever. Honda has finally dished on the Civic, reassuring westerners that this Type R will be true to form while reminding us that the wait is nearly over. Just make sure you’ve budgeted some extra dough for new front tires and are practicing your lift-off oversteer technique. (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2017

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid Hotel Emma, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

Remember MTV? Back on September 18, 1983, the once-music-oriented television station — before its foray into an endless stream of mindless reality programming — broadcast a momentous event in rock history. The members of KISS, who’d never previously showed their bare faces in public, appeared in front of a camera without makeup for the very first time.

Instantly, the members of New York City rock band were normal — as far as rockers can be considered normal, I suppose.

In that same vein, Kia’s new Niro is the unmasking of the hybrid. Its crossover shape wouldn’t look out of place as a conventional, dino-juice powered vehicle on any dealer lot. The Niro sports no folded sheetmetal, no oddly proportioned kammback, and no spaghettified headlights.

It’s normal — as far as hybrids can be considered normal, I suppose. And that’s the point.

(Read More…)

By on February 8, 2016

2016 BMW X1 Exterior-008

When is a BMW not a BMW? Some would say: when it has four wheels. Others will say: when it’s front wheel drive. But here we are. BMW’s smallest crossover has ditched its BMW 3-Series roots for underpinnings shared with the Mini Countryman.

Say what?

Americans may be surprised to hear that the X1 is not BMW’s first front driver. Neither is it the last BMW with a transverse engine. Our European friends will soon be seeing the 2 Series Gran Tourer — a small 7-seat … minivan. Yes, a BMW minivan. What’s that sound, you ask? Minds blowing.

For purists, the notion of a trio of transverse-engined BMWs prowling around the countryside is an abomination; an affront to everything E46 M3 owners holds sacred.

For the rest of you? It’s no big deal. Seriously.

(Read More…)

By on January 25, 2016

022

Stress and nervous tension are now serious social problems in all parts of the Galaxy, and it is in order that this situation should not be in any way exacerbated that the following facts will now be revealed in advance.

Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

The Cadillac XTS is a good car.

Those who wish to know why I feel this to be true, or to shout angrily at me in the comments, may feel free to click the “Read More” button now.

(Read More…)

By on January 8, 2016

Photo courtesy of Washington State DOT: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov

Suppose you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle and you’re looking to fit a set of winter tires. Also, let’s assume that two of those tires have much more tread depth than the other two. On which end of the car do you install the better rubber?

According to the CBC, a woman in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada (that’s my town!) ran into just this problem, complete with conflicting advice from two repair shops: One said putting the fresher rubber up front is safer as the vehicle is front-wheel drive, while the other said giving the rear more grip is the best course of action to reduce the chance of a spin out.

Which one is correct?

(Read More…)

By on January 5, 2016

1998-2000_Honda_Accord_sedan_--_03-16-2012

Pete writes:

I find myself in a situation uniquely suited to seek out the counsel of the wise and insightful folks at TTAC (Sajeev, Mark, and the B&B).

I have been a long time resident of Tampa, Florida, where my ’98 Honda Accord and my wife’s ’04 Honda Accord perfectly suit the needs of my family (which includes our two boys, ages one and three). The ’98 has about 175,000 miles on the clock. I am just handy enough to do all required maintenance and repairs myself.

My employer has offered me the opportunity to relocate to Ottawa for the next three years. My wife works as a CPA and all of her clients are here in Tampa or greater Florida. The plan for now is for her to spend the tax seasons in Tampa with the boys while I enjoy the Ottawa winters solo.

(Read More…)

By on December 21, 2015

continental

Three years ago, around this time, I begged the nice people at Ford to build a proper Lincoln. This was shortly after I begged Cadillac to put a V-8 in the ATS. If you put the two articles together, you might get the sense that I have the completely antediluvian mindset that an American luxury car needs a V-8 and rear-wheel drive and main-battle-tank proportions to be completely legitimate. And you would be correct, because that is how I feel and, last time I checked, the nice people at Lexus and BMW and Mercedes-Benz felt the same way because most of the cars that they put on the cover of the Robb Report and the like seem to at least meet those basic criteria.

Well, the spy photos of the new Lincoln Continental are making the rounds. I can see that they have deliberately failed to honor my requests, the same way Cadillac stuck two fingers in my eye by afflicting the ATS-V with the asthmatic blown six when the same-platform Camaro SS has the mighty LT1 from the sublime Stingray. This is a retro Continental alright, but the retro-rockets are only firing back to 1988 instead of 1963.

You remember that 1988 Continental?
(Read More…)

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