Tag: New Car

By on October 12, 2018

Ford Focus ST, Image: FlickrPatrick writes:

Sajeev,

Thanks for the column and the sage advice, but mostly for the generosity as lemons perp. (FYI Piston Slap queries don’t count as bribes – SM)

Recently purchased a Focus ST, and though I have rebuilt/broken in conventional engines in the past, new car recommendations of oil changes at 5,000 miles plus and no mention of an engine break-in procedure leave me nervous. Especially with the new breed of HO turbo motors. I know better than to push the motor for the initial 500 – 1,000 miles. Reading forums and interwebs, a number recommend an initial oil change at 1,000 to clear out the initial break in filings, then adhere to a 5k oil change schedule with synthetic fluids.

What say you? Running the initial fluids to 10k sounds like an introduction to premature wear to me. (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2018

principal

Lou writes:

Hi, Sajeev:

Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve bounced between leasing/buying cars in my two-car family. Because of a severe case of always wanting what I don’t have (thankfully, this only happens with cars and bicycles), I’ve owned quite a few cars over this time period. Sometimes I think I want to own long-term and take pride in my ride of choice (2006 Mazda 6 wagon, for example), and other times I get fed up with issues, such as a $4,000 transmission replacement bill for said wagon, and I then decide I want the security and added features of a newer ride (just finished a three-year lease of a 2015 Outback 2.5 Limited).

So, with my car shopping neurosis briefly explained, what type of car should I be looking for, and what type of preventative maintenance should I undertake, if I decide to buy and keep? I don’t necessarily mean a specific make and model. What I mean is, since I do make quite a few short trips of about a mile throughout the day (I live and work in the same town), and the car barely has a chance to warm up in the morning, is there a specific engine specification I should look for? Whether the car was purchased or leased, I’ve always taken it easy in the bitter cold, and I’d even drive a bit out of my way to get the car closer to operating temperature before reaching my school.

Also, before the B&B tells me to ride my bicycle or walk, I’m a K-5 Principal with other duties that can take me away from my school at any moment, so I don’t want to ride my bike around town when I have to see the Superintendent, or when I visit the high school to conduct bullying investigations. I also pick up my kids’ friends in the morning, and their parents reciprocate as well, so any car I have for the foreseeable future will have to perform many short trips.

Many thanks, and keep up the good work! (Read More…)

By on May 12, 2016

2016 Honda HR-V Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

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.

Based on numbers from GoodCarBadCar, the Jeep Renegade is outselling the HR-V at a clip of 1.4:1 so far this year. Even Buick shifted more Encores — just — than Honda sold HR-Vs.

What gives? Have subcompact CUV shoppers forsaken Honda? Is the Renegade that good? Or is there some other explanation?

(Read More…)

By on May 5, 2016

2016 Lincoln MKX EcoBoost Exterior, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

The Lexus RX isn’t a sales success; it’s a sales phenomenon. It’s a magical cash generating unicorn that can seemingly do no wrong. The RX outsells every other luxury vehicle in America. Despite sales being down 6.5 percent in 2015, the RX crossover nearly outsold the entire Lincoln brand. When the numbers were tallied, Lincoln brand as a whole beat the single Lexus model by just 617 units.

Why do I bring up the Lexus RX so early in a review ostensibly about a Lincoln crossover? Two reasons. We might as well talk about the elephant in the room and I genuinely don’t understand why the RX outsells the MKX by nearly 5:1. As I discovered during a week with the latest incarnation of Lincoln’s MKX, the Lincoln is quite simply a better Lexus than the RX.

(Read More…)

By on April 26, 2016

Mark's Saturn Astra, Image: © 2016 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

Over the weekend and earlier this week, my girlfriend and I negotiated over and agreed to purchase a new car. No, it isn’t that.

(Read More…)

By on March 8, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

In case you didn’t know it, Kia’s on a roll. Sales have more than doubled since 2009, propelling Kia from a Mazda-sized player in the American market to one that outsold established brands like Subaru, GMC, Chrysler and Volkswagen.

Kia’s transformation may seem like a night-and-day makeover, but closer inspection reveals that it’s really the result of consistent incremental improvements to its products, frequent designs and refreshes, and astute pricing.

You can think of the Sportage as the final piece of Kia’s evolving puzzle. Sales may be on a roll for the Korean automaker, but the Sportage has never sold in large numbers. It finished 14th in a segment of 17 models last year. (The Sportage beat the Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Chevrolet Captiva Sport). It could be that the Kia Sorento did a better job of nipping at the heels of mid-trim Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V models. For 2017, Kia gives us a new Sportage targeted more at Mazda and Ford than Toyota.

(Read More…)

By on March 1, 2016

2015 BMW X4, Image: BMW

Amsterdam’s port facility is more crowded than a Walmart on Black Friday and it’s all China’s fault.

That, BMW wonders how it all went wrong, Millennials bare their souls to a salesman, Toyota walks down memory lane, and a safety regulator has some explaining to do … after the break!

(Read More…)

By on February 24, 2016

2017 Audi Q7 Front 3/4 Exterior, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

We recently reviewed the 2016 Volvo XC90, the long overdue redesign of Volvo’s family hauler. First introduced as a 2002 model, the XC90 was a teenager by the time it was finally replaced. Oddly enough, it’s a similar story with the Audi Q7.

In response to Volvo’s then-new XC90, Audi began development of the seven-seater Q7 in 2002, which later hit the market in 2005. It received a facelift in 2009, but the basics of the slab-sided Audi remained. Eleven years later, and at around the same time as the new XC90, Audi has finally reinvented the Q7 as a sort of soft-road A8 Avant.

Can it compete against the new XC90 for the hearts and minds of luxury-minded families?

(Read More…)

By on February 16, 2016

2016 Toyota RAV4 LImited Exterior

Compact crossovers are big business and the Toyota RAV4 is one of the segment’s corporate all-stars.

In 2015, the RAV4 almost outsold Mazda. I’m not talking about the RAV4 outselling the Mazda CX-5, which it did handily by over 200,000 units. No, I’m talking about the RAV4 outselling Mazda in its entirely. Everything Mazda sells. All model sales put together. The RAV4 almost outsold MAZDA.

Toyota’s fourth-generation crossover has received a nip-tuck to keep it fresh after just three model years on the market. Its lineup is bolstered this year with the addition of the new RAV4 Hybrid, which we’ll be getting our hands on that in a few weeks. In the meantime, let’s take a deep dive into the second best-selling CUV in the USA in traditional gas-burner guise.

(Read More…)

By on February 1, 2016

2016 Nissan Sentra-006

Traditional car shoppers are moving away from small sedans and toward compact crossovers. That’s the conventional wisdom used to explain the slowing sales we see in some models. But could there be another reason? Could it simply be a lack of focus and attention to the compact segment?

There is one model that’s seen a meteoric rise in sales since 2013: the Sentra. Nissan’s complete overhaul three years ago and aggressive pricing doubled Sentra sales since then, moving it from a “top 15” player in sales to number five in 2015.

In an effort to maintain the trajectory, Nissan opted for a major refresh after just three years on sale. (Sounds like the Honda plan with the Civic, doesn’t it?) Perhaps the key to compact success is a combination of frequent updates and more gadgets for shoppers to choose from. That sums up the 2016 Sentra perfectly.

(Read More…)

By on January 28, 2016

2016 Honda Civic EX Exterior

Honda received much flogging from the press for the last-generation Civic. The 2012 model was the result of Honda improperly reading the Magic 8-Ball amid the global slowdown. Honda’s decision makers assumed shoppers would be looking for something more modest, perhaps even austere, and changed direction to suit. The competition, assuming shoppers would be looking for greater creature comforts in a smaller package, went the opposite direction and doubled down on luxury features.

The conventional wisdom has been that Honda “stepped in it” with the ninth-generation sedan. Journalists complained about the plastic quality, the styling and … customers paid little attention. The Civic’s sales dipped slightly in 2011 during the changeover, but rapidly rebounded to over 315,000 units a year since. Some would say that Honda’s “emergency refreshes” were the reason for the sales success, but I propose a different answer: the continued sales success of the lesser-than Civic and an increase in sales of “premium” compacts showed there was plenty of room in the segment for both.

Whatever the reality, one thing is for certain: When it came time to design the tenth-generation Civic, Honda had “austere” removed from the company dictionary.

(Read More…)

By on January 13, 2016

2016 Audi TT Roadster Exterior-002

Most luxury roadsters are related to a practical, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan, but Audi prefers to march to a different drummer.

Since its inception in 1998, the Audi TT has been based not on the A4, but on the Volkswagen Golf. The original TT was the product of Audi’s best and brightest and it not only blew minds at its debut for its design, it was a hoot to drive as well.

The second generation of the TT on the other hand, failed to impress. It’s not that it was a bad car, it just didn’t excite me like the first generation did. The handling was good, but BMW’s Z4 and Mercedes’ SLK were more fun. The exterior was bolder and meaner than the original, but the interior was too “VW Golf” for the price tag. Every time I sat in one I would say to myself, “Something is missing.”

As luck would have it, Audi’s engineers were also searching for that “something.” And they found it.

(Read More…)

By on January 7, 2016

The 2017 Cruze Hatch offers the design, engineering and technolo

No, you aren’t seeing things this morning. Chevrolet announced late Wednesday night a five-door version of their staple compact Cruze will be heading to Detroit for the 2016 North American International Auto Show — and they published some photos to prove it.

The first-generation Cruze, while available as a hatchback in other markets, was never marketed as a five-door in North America. The addition of a the new hatchback looks to fix that for the Cruze’s second generation.

As a current owner of the long-forgotten Saturn Astra, this intrigues me.

(Read More…)

By on December 29, 2015

 

2001 nissan maxima. image: nissan

TTAC Commentator Eliyahu writes:

Sajeev,

My 2001 Maxima, bought new, just rolled past 100,000 miles. It’s still a good car, but the mechanic says it has a very slight oil leak from the main seal. While not strictly necessary, the pitted original windshield could be replaced, the radio only gets Click and Clack, and the driver’s window motor sounds tired. The engine control module was replaced six months ago. Apart from that, repairs have been limited to motor mounts, suspension components with bushings, shocks, steering rack, and the usual tires and batteries. Oh, and new front brake pads.

(Read More…)

By on December 14, 2015

2016 Mazda MX 5 Miata Exterior Front

If there is one constant in the automotive world, it is that every redesigned vehicle gets bigger, more powerful, heavier and more complex. Bucking that trend is Mazda’s latest MX-5, one of the smallest and lightest cars sold in the United States.

Since the launch of the Miata in 1989, Mazda’s tiny roadster has been a beacon of light to those who prefer a “pure” driving experience. The MX-5’s core mission of being an affordable, lightweight, two-seat convertible has hardly changed. More impressive: The 2016 MX-5 is about the same size as the original Miata, and the new roadster is only 182 pounds heavier despite producing 50-percent more power and being 30-percent more fuel efficient. The price tag has also been kept in check. The 2016 model still costs about the same as a mid-sized sedan.

Making the MX-5 even more special is that it stands alone in America. Sure, Alfa is now selling their sexy and expensive 4C here, BMW still has a Z4 roadster, and Scion and Subaru are selling their two-door coupé — but none of these are like the MX-5 and that’s a good thing for Mazda.

(Read More…)

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