A few Beloit College professors have made plenty of hay over the years by publicizing their Mindset Lists — lists of the things each new class of incoming freshmen will not be able to relate to. For example, a new class in college right now doesn’t know a world with Tupac or JonBenet Ramsey.
Kids today, amirite?
I’m of a different mindset when it comes to car prices. As I turn forty later this year — meaning if I had any sort of game in high school, I could have been the daddy of one of those incoming freshmen — I can clearly recall a time when a new car could be had for around $4,000. Not a good car, mind you — that would have been closer to $10k in 1986 — but it gives me an appropriate reference point for a modern car.
Thus, I clench a bit when I see a sticker price over $20k for a subcompact hatchback, like the one on this 2018 Kia Rio EX. It takes a mental reset to realize I can’t buy basic transportation so cheap anymore. I have to consider exactly what it is I’m getting for the money, and at that point the numbers start to make sense.
Imagine a world in which the crossover SUV, the blight of our roadways, was the default transportation option. Where most vehicles are tall, bloated, with poor handling.
Some might say that we’re already there — heck, we’ve been saying that.
But in our imaginary world where the crossover has been the standard for decades, consider what the impact of a marketplace disruptor like this 2018 Mazda 3 GT could be. All of the utility of a CUV, but with better fuel economy and handling. In this bizarro world, this revolutionary compact hatchback might indeed be all the rage. Thus, I’m calling the Mazda3 “The Crossunder.”
When an automaker decides to launch a new station wagon in Europe, it’s usually a pretty safe assumption that we won’t see it in North America. Kia’s new ProCeed, scheduled for a public debut at the Paris Motor Show next month, is the latest example of this relentless phenomenon.
Still, while we’re annoyed we have to go without yet another Eurowagon, maybe this wasn’t the one for us.
Midst the turmoil of a diesel emissions scandal and the crisis that followed in late 2015, there was a quiet but striking development inside Volkswagen’s U.S. showrooms.
Americans were buying Golfs. A lot of Golfs. More Golfs than at any point since Ronald Reagan was president. Volkswagen Golf volume nearly doubled, year-over-year, in 2015, and Volkswagen nearly sustained that level in 2016 before rising to a 31-year high of 68,978 sales in 2017.
A trend it was not. Seven months into 2018, Golf sales are nosediving.
German cars in North America are not immediately associated with base, no-option models or economical motoring. But that didn’t stop Adam Tonge from suggesting today’s trio. Which vehicle gets the Buy when you’re shopping at the bottom of the German luxury barrel in 2002?
Ladies and gentlemen, select your strippers.
It was one of those make or break moments. A company teetering on the financial verge which threw a Hail Mary at the right time — and at the right target. The company in question was Chrysler, and the Hail Mary was the K-car platform.
Today we ask you: What was peak K?
This isn’t the first time we’ve presented a utility-minded multipurpose hatchback in the Rare Rides series. Rather, it’s very nearly the culmination of the major players in the segment. In addition to today’s ride, we’ve had the Colt Vista, and Nissan’s Prairie (now owned by an enthusiast collector), as well as a pristine and pricey Tercel 4WD Wagon.
After today, we’re missing just two: an Eagle Summit/Mitsubishi Expo, and the last-of-breed Nissan Axxess. Onward, to Wagovan.
Yesterday, we discussed the merits of Suzuki’s Jimny and how North America could benefit from adding the brand back into its automotive market by any means necessary. I am going to do the same thing today with a model that has never traversed the purple mountain majesties or amber waves of grain — let alone graced the True North strong and free.
The Audi A1 enters its second generation for the 2019 model year, and it should be here. With Ford’s Fiesta about to take a dirt nap, the suggestion may sound counterintuitive, but bear with me.
The supermini and city car segments have dwindled over the last few years, especially the models that were fun to drive. After the Fiesta leaves us, we’ll be left with the Fiat 500 and its improved base engine, the fun-loving Abarth variant, Mini’s Cooper, and a bunch of economy vehicles that don’t prioritize fun on any trim level.
Today’s edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was inspired by our previous Question of the Day on hatchback crapwagons.
In the North American vehicle timeline, the fading days of the Personal Luxury Coupe (PLC) saw the rise of a different kind of two-door for the masses. Gone was the upright formal vinyl roof, opera lamps, and trunk. En vogue was a sporty fastback profile and a strut-supported liftgate. Attainable and economic sporty driving is the name of the game, and our front-drive trio was right in the heat of things in 1994.
Today is the start of a series of related Question of the Day posts. Each Wednesday QOTD for the next few weeks will be dedicated to selecting vehicles for a different section of an ideal Special Crapwagon Garage you’ll be compiling.
Up for Part I in the series are hatchback and liftback vehicles. Start your brains.
Cheap cars often get a bad rap. That’s not surprising – our status-obsessed society tends to look down upon any low-cost product, unless that product is so superior to its competition that it can be labeled a “value” or a “bargain.”
The Kia Rio probably isn’t good enough for that status, and there are other relatively inexpensive automobiles that perform better across various metrics, but if you need cheap wheels and don’t want to be punished, you could do worse.
We’re always surprised with what counts as a van in Europe. For example, Ford just showcased a new one based on the Fiesta at the Birmingham Commercial Vehicle Show — and it’s kind of wonderful. However, we’re unlikely to see it on our roads. A vehicle like this makes almost no sense for the North American market.
In fact, I can only think of a handful of applications for such an automobile: high-volume pizza delivery, flower delivery, amateur plumber, organ transport, and pet grooming for a business that only takes modestly sized animals. But they would all have to take place in an extremely-dense urban environment to rationalize the use of such a small vehicle. Otherwise, business owners are going to splurge on a proper small van like the Transit Connect.
Occasionally on the vast and wondrous expanse of the Internet of Cars, I’ll run across one of these uniquely shaped little Volvos. In past instances they were either not for sale, were lacking in condition, or had few available photos.
All that changed the other day, when I sought out a photo of the 480 to make a point on Twitter. Let’s check out this charcoal-colored box, shall we?
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- FreedMike Smart idea. EVs are a far easier sell to someone who can charge them at home.
- Dwford This is just going to become part of selling EVs. Automakers need to make it as simple as possible to buy an EV. And the process of hiring an electrician etc is a barrier many people will not want to deal with.
- MaintenanceCosts So I'm not the only TTAC reader who follows LPL.His channel basically teaches you that with the right knowledge there are very few security products that can't be defeated in a short amount of time.
- Analoggrotto Musta spent that solution development money on that fancy styling department aye Posky?
- Fred I like racing, especially F1 and IMSA where Cadilac races or will. I just wonder if most buyers of that car really care? For me it's that they don't race their sedans like BMW, Acura and others do. Even then the IMSA program could be branded with any GM model and has. What their F1 drivetrain will be I don't know.