By on August 21, 2019

honda

Not surprisingly, one change bound for the 2020 Honda Civic Si is its price, but fans of Honda’s sensible middle ground between Civic Sport and Civic Type R won’t be driving away empty handed.

For the coming model year, the bearer of Honda’s hotter 1.5-liter gains a mild change in appearance, additional content, and a nod towards improved performance. (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2019

Image: Audi

Months of teasing gave way to an admission of intent late Tuesday. After dangling Avants wagons of yesteryear in front of social media watchers since the spring, Audi finally came out and admitted the beastly RS6 Avant wagon will make its way stateside.

Sporting all-wheel drive, a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, and endlessly customizable drive settings, the next-generation RS 6 Avant lands in America in 2020, but don’t expect to see many polluting showroom floors. (Read More…)

By on August 20, 2019

2017 GMC Canyon SLT Diesel - Image: GMC

Adventurous types looking for off-road fun from their local GM dealer already have the option of choosing the brawny Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and its butchier Bison variant, which leaves GM’s truck-only GMC brand as something as a spectator. GMC hasn’t gone whole-hog into the off-road midsizer niche, though it does offer its Canyon pickup in All Terrain trim. Cutaway front fenders are most definitely not included.

The same dynamic may exist after 2020, but the All Terrain will be gone, replaced with an AT4 trim that hopefully goes the extra mile in terms of off-the-beaten-track capability. (Read More…)

By on August 20, 2019

If everything goes as planned, electric utility vehicle startup Rivian will start production on its RT1 pickup and RS1 SUV next year, utilizing plenty of Michigan and SoCal brainpower and a former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois.

Of all EV startups, Rivian is widely believed to have the best chance for success — and big-bucks investments from Amazon and Ford back up that assertion. While it’s well known that the automaker plans to offer its vehicles in three battery flavors, little in the way of new details have emerged this year. So here’s a tidbit: as far as the SUV is concerned, owners will be be able to choose just how much wind they want in their hair. (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2019

ford logo

While Ford has a “Mustang-inspired” electric crossover on the way for 2020 and a ICE-free F-150 coming down the pipe, the automaker’s future green product offensive remained murky — until now, apparently. The company’s Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant will give birth to two electric vehicles in three years’ time, a new report claims.

Both vehicles are — quelle surprise — crossovers, bearing both the Ford and Lincoln logos. To make it happen, however, a famous nameplate will almost certainly have to die. (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2019

2018 Fiat 500 Abarth cover

Fiat, the ancient automotive brand found at the top of very few American shopping lists, finds itself in the midst of a transformation. On its European home turf, emissions rules have grown ever more strict; meanwhile, many buyers are gravitating towards the type of vehicles offered by corporate sibling Jeep, and Fiat Chrysler would prefer they purchase the seven-slot brand. That leaves Fiat with a mandate to think small.

As details emerge from the latest meeting of Fiat brass, it looks like the brand’s future holds efficiency but precious little flash. (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2019

Despite wagons facing a growing unpopularity that rivals that of free speech, Audi continues winking and nudging at North America, sneakily hinting that the king of all long-roofs might make its way to this side of the Atlantic.

There, it could see dozens, perhaps even hundreds of orders. Cynical? Perhaps, but a niche pocket of enthusiasm does greet any mention of the A6 Avant midsize wagon and its upcoming, beastly RS 6 Avant performance variant. Believed to pack a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 and a boatload of horsepower, the next-generation RS 6 launches for the 2020 model year, but it remains to be seen whether any of these wagons arrive on these shores.

Certainly, Audi wants fans to think they will. (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2019

Regular readers of these digital pages are well aware of the pressures facing Nissan’s Infiniti brand. While the premium marque’s status is better than in years past, it is not where the brand would like it to be. U.S. volume has declined since 2017, and the marque recently gave up on Europe.

Perhaps a slinky new crossover will draw eyes — and buyers — in an overly crowded segment? (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2019

Image: Honda

Unlike its predecessor, the accolades heaped on the 10th-generation Honda Civic far outweigh any criticism levelled against it. And yet while a next-gen model looms just over the horizon (a 2021 model year intro seems likely), Honda’s not resigning the Civic to the status quo for 2020.

The hatchback variant undergoes a minor refresh for the coming model year, a year after its sedan and coupe siblings, but you’ll probably have to carry a photo of a 2019 model to tell them apart. Most notable of the changes is something a dwindling number of people care about: manual transmissions. No, the base LX will not gain the six-speed stick found on the base sedan, but Civic hatch buyers who like nice things will soon be able to row their own. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2019

fca

The United Kingdom, a highly populous (and heavily taxed) country that’s smaller than 11 U.S. states, may serve as a canary in the coal mine for electric vehicle adoption. If there’s enough places to charge up your EV, will buyers make the switch?

From across the pond comes news that, for the first time, the number of public electric vehicle charging stations has surpassed that of gasoline and diesel stations. It’s been a long road, as “normal” stations have been on a steady decline since 1970. EV stations popped up in earnest earlier this decade, fueled by government investments and green group initiatives, as well as efforts by automakers eager to provide fuel sources for their new vehicles.

Battery-electric vehicle market share in the UK in July? 1.4 percent. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2019

Image: fca

Dodge’s Charger and Challenger are rolling anachronisms we’ll miss after they’re gone. For now, the two full-size rear-drivers soldier on into the future atop their ancient underpinnings, with Fiat Chrysler bestowing an ever-growing list of variants upon still-interested buyers.

The latest corrects what some Mopar fans may have viewed as an oversight. Last year, following the release of the long-teased Challenger SRT Demon, Dodge pushed the Challenger SRT Hellcat’s supercharged 6.2-liter up to 717 horses, giving would-be buyers 10 more reasons to desire the model. A Redeye version delivered 797 hp, a downgrade (if it can really be called that) from the limited-edition Demon’s 840 hp.

Meanwhile, the Charger was left to “suffer” with only 707 hp. Not anymore. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2019

In the bittersweet recent history of the traditional full-size sedan, no move comes across quite as desperate as Toyota’s TRD-ification of the admittedly competent Avalon. No one — repeat, no one — thinks of the Avalon as a taught, corner carving sports sedan, though the model did gain stiffer bones and better handling via its 2019 model year revamp. Frankly, few people think of the Avalon at all.

Which is a shame, as no one loves large, conservative cars more than your author. Add to that the fact that the current inhabitants of the full-size segment have a lot going for them, cargo capacity excluded, and the Avalon is well-known for being among the longest-lasting vehicles on the road.

In donning the Toyota Racing Development badge, the Avalon can’t help but get noticed, though the reaction of passers-by might fall along the lines of “WTF,” rather than “Oh, dammnnnn…” That’s assuming they ever see one. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2019

Image: Ford

In all fairness, the newly announced FX2 Package does boost the off-road cred of the two-wheel drive Ford Ranger, albeit modestly. If memory serves this writer correctly, RWD trucks can be a load of fun in the rough, assuming that backcountry trail isn’t too slick, greasy, or soupy.

An obvious ploy to capture the hearts and minds of those enamored by Ford’s popular (4×4) FX4 Off-Road Package, the FX2 seeks to slightly improve the off-roadability of rear-drive Rangers while elevating the truck’s visual brawn. (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

Image: Acura

Acura pulled the digital wraps off its Type S Concept two days ahead of its public debut at Monterey Car Week, heralding the Type S designation’s return to the brand’s model line. The car seen here hints at what to expect of the looming next-generation TLX and its confirmed Type S performance variant.

“Performance.” That implies something more than just a racy appearance package and maybe an upgraded brake and suspension setup, right? Ideally, yes, but in this case Acura does promise more “go” to back up the show.
(Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

Image: Nissan

Nissan won’t be extending the same commitment it has for small cars to its full-size pickup line. The automaker recently told U.S. dealers that it would begin scaling back its Titan offerings, partly due to a new Titan looming on the horizon. Nissan intends to unveil the new pickup in the fall. Meanwhile, existing Titan sales could be a lot stronger. The model can’t really compete against domestic brands, despite also being manufactured in the U.S.

The Titan’s annual sales are less than monthly Ford F-Series deliveries. Extrapolated, Nissan moved 50,459 units in 2018 against the pickup sales king’s 909,330. But the Titan even has trouble competing with the likes of the GMC Sierra, which saw 219,554 domestic deliveries last year.

According to Automotive News, Nissan’s evolved pickup strategy focuses on prioritizing what works for the passenger market — which means turnings its back on single-cab models and the Cummins diesel engine available in the Titan XD. (Read More…)

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