By on February 25, 2019

DeLorean DMC-12

Even those with even the slightest passing interest in Hollywood movies know that the Oscars were doled out last night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Films are fine, but anytime a screenplay involves copious (and sometimes gratuitous!) volumes of cars, well, gearheads like us tend to sit up and take notice.

Never mind Best Actor or Best Screenplay. What’s your pick for Best Car?

(Read More…)

By on May 18, 2018

Mazda CX-9 blind spot monitoring - Image: Mazda

One of the criticisms of all the various pieces of technology that serve as driving aids is this: They make it too easy for drivers to fall into bad and lazy habits.

I thought of this while making a lane change near my Chicago home the other day. The test car I was in had blind spot monitoring, and I made the change without turning my head, and with barely a peep at the mirrors.

It was a harmless maneuver, as no one was near me. The system worked. But I chided myself – I’d let technology make me lazy.

(Read More…)

By on May 10, 2018

1974 Chevrolet El Camino in California junkyard, grille, © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

Forgive us for the gratuitous use of the R-word, but stereotypes loom so large that it’s the easiest way to describe this automotive subsegment. Unfair, perhaps, and potentially offensive to some, but that’s the way it is. Decades of conditioning — helped by our friends in Hollywood — have led us to associate certain vehicles with a certain socio-economic group of rural land owners.

Frankly, who doesn’t want to own a patch of God’s green earth and tear it up on lonely dirt roads in a rear-drive American car? Let’s see a show of hands.

Anyway, we’re not here to cast judgement on anyone, nor are we here to talk about any tweet-worthy social issues. We’re definitely steering clear of that. It’s the cars we’re interested in. (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2018

Despite the downturn of a few different motorsport series — witness the hemorrhaging of  NASCAR’s fan attendance — there’s plenty of great racing on this planet. Some of it, in fact, is absolutely bonkers.

In Australia, V8 Supercars run door handle to door handle in cars that resemble production machines, just like NASCAR used to do before Brian France decided we all needed a series with confusing points systems and asinine stage racing. IMSA races are generally entertaining, with the added bonus that most of them are livestreamed, then archived on YouTube.

One of the best shows currently on asphalt? Stadium Super Trucks, the gonzo brainchild of Robby Gordon.

(Read More…)

By on February 15, 2018

2019 Hyundai Veloster N

Amid the Chicago Auto Show hoopla last week came reports that Mercedes-Benz was considering dropping out of next year’s Detroit Auto Show, news that has since been confirmed. I was invited to a dinner with journalists by an OEM during the Chicago show, and while eating, the PR guy posed a question – “Does the auto show still matter to you guys?”

Immediately, all in attendance agreed that the shows are as important as ever to consumers and the dealers who sell them cars. Which makes sense – the shows are usually run by dealer associations, with the intent of generating sales leads.

For us in the media, though, it’s been an open question. Thanks to changes in technology and how both journalists and PR departments do their jobs, many journalists now find it easier (and cheaper) to cover the shows from home (especially if they snagged embargoed material in advance).

(Read More…)

By on December 29, 2017

Yesterday I talked about the worst kind of subprime lenders and how they misused the courts to collect their profits. There was a broad spectrum of reader response, including a few people who felt compelled to discuss the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and therefore won the presidency. (To which I can only respond: that’s like awarding the Super Bowl win to the team with the most rushing yards.)

Here’s what we didn’t discuss: our own experiences with subprime loans and/or bad car deals. I suspect that there are some members of the B&B who have never so much as walked by a subprime lender; I also suspect that there are plenty of readers who are currently in a subprime situation right now but don’t want to admit it.

So for today, let’s consider two topics: a) What’s the worst car deal you ever made? and b) did you ever use a subprime source? I’ll start, of course.

(Read More…)

By on December 12, 2017

public domain

As I type this, the first flakes of this winter’s first real dumping of snow are falling lazily outside my window. By morning, the landscape should resemble the countertop in a Studio 54 bathroom. Then the real fun begins.

Carefully gauging your braking distance and leaving more room between your car and the car ahead, wondering all the while if that Rogue you can’t see around is hugging the back bumper of the car in front. Wondering what’s going to break loose first on a highway off-ramp — the front end or the rear. Trying to coax frozen wiper blades off the windshield without leaving the rubber strip behind. Downshifting at the top of hills. Trying to clear freezing rain off your windows without turning into William H. Macy in Fargo.

Never mind what happens in the ritzy ski lodges of Sweden and the Alps. Winter sucks. The only perk is it’s a lot easier to make a U-turn, assuming there’s no cops around and your vehicle’s e-brake isn’t of the electronic kind.

Depending on where you call home, you’ve probably switched your seasonal rubber by now. Or have you? (Read More…)

By on November 6, 2017

driving test, Image: public domain

I’m going to wager that, as a percentage, ninety-nine and a bunch more nines of TTAC readers have their driver’s license. I mean, it’s not like the ranks of our readers are filled with youth wielding keyboards their parents’ basements or anything.

With such an august readership, I’m certain there is a story or two here about getting one’s driver’s license. Like mine, for instance.

(Read More…)

By on October 19, 2017

Cadillac Escalade/Lincoln Continental - Images: Cadillac & LincolnCadillac enjoys some of the highest average transaction prices among premium auto brands operating in the United States. After years of Lincoln MKS disappointment, the new Lincoln Continental actually looks the part. Globally, Cadillac sales are rising month after month after month. In the U.S., Lincoln is rare among auto brands in a declining auto industry in 2017: sales at Ford’s upmarket brand have risen 3 percent this year.

Indeed, while discussing the apparent appeal of the Tesla brand last week, Jack Baruth said, “You might say that General Motors and Ford are going to build better, more reliable, and more thoroughly developed electric cars than Tesla can, and you’re probably right.”

“But the world doesn’t want an electric Cadillac or Lincoln,” Jack accurately points out, “for the same reasons it doesn’t want gasoline-powered Cadillacs or Lincolns.”

Regardless of how you grade the momentum of Cadillac and Lincoln, they are mere blips in the global luxury automobile market and remain rather inconsequential players in their U.S. home market, as well. Will that change in your lifetime? (Read More…)

By on October 12, 2017

2018 Ford EcoSport - Image: FordThere’s no need for detail. Nuance is unnecessary. Set aside demands for specifics.

What’s the worst type of vehicle known to humankind in 2017?

There are leaders in every category, of course. But the fact that the Ford Transit Connect is surprisingly fun to drive doesn’t make the small commercial van sector particularly appealing. Likewise, there are laggards in every category, too. Yet the Mitsubishi Lancer’s uncompetitive nature doesn’t cast a broad brush across the entire compact sedan segment.

Somewhere, however, in some corner of the vast U.S. auto industry, resides an entire segment of vehicles that is, as of 2017, the worst. It’s the segment that provides the worst return-on-investment. The vehicles in said segment haven’t moved the game forward in the same way full-size pickup trucks or American muscle cars have their own category. There’s no obvious class leader or class embarrassment because every vehicle in the category lacks true sensibility.

What vehicle category are we talking about? (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2017

1960-corvair-ad

This Question of the Day has its origin in a song, one which exists as something of a guilty pleasure. Actually, screw that, I’m a modern man (not postmodern, mind you) — I can admit it was Tiny Dancer by Elton John, which just happened to pop up on a Spotify playlist 15 minutes before I sat down to write this.

We often associate songs with a certain time and place in our lives, and that particular song — one of two by that artist I’ll admit to liking (the other being an apt description of a certain North Korean dictator) — immediately brought to mind a dark red, first-generation Chevrolet Corvair. A number of years back, nearing the end of a long road trip to Georgia and back, I found myself driving under leaden March skies in chilly Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, surely the sexiest city on the lower Susquehanna. Tiny Dancer came on the local station, and as I thought about life and mistakes, a burgundy-colored car came into view.

Resting just off a parking lot, it was, a “For Sale” sign stuck hopefully in its windshield. You never saw a more honest-looking 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza. (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2017

2018 Subaru Outback - Image: SubaruIn September 2017, Subaru reported the company’s 70th consecutive year-over-year U.S. sales increase. That’s nearly six complete years of steadily improving U.S. sales volume.

Think of it this way: 2013 was a huge year for Subaru of America as sales had risen 59 percent over the span of just two years. But in 2013, Subaru sold 424,683 over the course of the entire calendar year. In 2017, that’s a total Subaru blasted past in the first week of September.

But have you ever stopped to notice that Subaru is accomplishing much of its success with three remarkably similar variations of the same theme? Crosstrek, Forester, Outback. A bit of extra length there, a touch of extra height here, a smidgen of savings there, a dose of extra equipment here. This is hardly the historically obvious 3 Series to 5 Series to 7 Series lineup. The Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback are conceptually similar vehicles with overlapping price spectrums. And recently, with a huge leap in Crosstrek popularity, they’re all similarly popular, too.

You almost get the sense Subaru could squeeze an Outback “four-door coupe” in there and sell 12,000 of those each month, too. (Read More…)

By on September 21, 2017

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe - Image: © Timothy CainAt new car dealerships, coupes are thin on the ground. The demise of the Honda Accord coupe at the end of the 2017 model year shutters the mainstream midsize coupe segment, a category long since diminished by the disappearance of two-door Camrys, Altimas, and the Avengers.

Compact coupes are rare, too. You won’t find two-door versions of the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla, or Volkswagen Jetta, although their predecessors all offered coupe variants.

Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chrysler Cordoba, Ford Thunderbird? Long gone. But coupes — genuine two-doors such as the pillarless Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic I’m driving (and being massaged by) this week, or the Honda Civic, or the Infiniti Q60, or the Rolls-Royce Wraith — are still available.

Would you buy one? (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Grande sliding doors - Image: Chevrolet, FCA, The Truth About CarsWould a minivan with all-wheel drive, added ground clearance, and wheel arch cladding ever stand a chance of being called an SUV?

It’s not so far-fetched. There was a time when the Subaru Outback was perceived as nothing more than a wagon, but times changed.

What about the other way around: does the Chevrolet Tahoe Grande’s sliding doors necessitate a minivan designation for America’s top-selling full-size SUV? In other words, is a full-size SUV with sliding doors no longer an SUV?  (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2017

Eight Toyota Camry Generations - Images: ToyotaThe launch of the 2018 Toyota Camry in July 2017 marked the arrival of America’s eighth Camry. Near the end of Ronald Reagan’s first term, the first Camry — not the first Camry, but the first Camry available for U.S. consumption — was launched in front-wheel-drive sedan and hatchback formats.

By 1997, the Camry was America’s best-selling car — a title it has held in each of the last 15 years.

The second-generation Camry spawned a V6 powerplant, available all-wheel drive, and a hatchback-replacing wagon. The third-generation Camry kept the sedan and wagon, dropped the AWD, added a coupe, and was built in America. The fourth iteration of the Camry, 1997-2001, dropped the wagon and began to be seen as the automatic choice for America’s midsize sedan buyers. The fifth Camry, which ran from 2002-2006, was sturdy enough to be form the foundation for two more Camry generations. The sixth Camry was the first to be available as a hybrid, but it put an end to the coupe, which in the prior two generations was known as Camry Solara. The seventh Camry, 2012-2017, sometimes hailed as the most American-made of all cars, benefited from a thorough refresh for 2015. The eighth Camry, at dealers now, represents much more than a major overhaul, with significant increases in fuel economy standing out as a leading improvement.

But which Toyota Camry is best of all? (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • SC5door: Fiat build quality for $30K? Pass.
  • SC5door: Only way to get 201 HP is to require premium fuel for the 1.6T. Some Kona owner ran theirs only on premium...
  • Carlson Fan: This is good news. Hopefully it will help flood the market in a few years with used lease return...
  • Tele Vision: Gasoline and its fractions will be around for many years. Diesel makes nearly everything that cars drive...
  • NormSV650: Probably the most miles it will see for the rest of the decade….

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States