By on May 20, 2019

Listen, we’re not going to pretend that Ford’s F-Series is bulletproof. There have been enough recalls of the twelfth-generation’s transmission for us to immediately be accused of being the biggest and fattest of lairs were we to make that claim. However, as America’s best-selling model and an exceptionally popular fleet vehicle, it’s in the company’s best interest to make sure the F-150 is not a turd.

Ford took a risk when it went with an aluminum body for the current-gen model, inviting claims from rival manufacturers that it was no longer a serious contender in the pickup market, as real trucks have steel beds. While Chevrolet’s advertorial “testing procedures” often fell outside the boundaries of what a rational truck owner would do, Ford’s rival was attempting to creating a narrative where saying something was “built Ford tough” could be a considered an insult.  (Read More…)

By on March 25, 2019

Tesla Model S Grey - Image: Tesla

Over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk asked the world to “please note” that prices on all Tesla inventory would rise by about 3 percent on April 1st. While it sounds like the setup to a particularly bland April Fool’s prank, Musk followed up by saying, “To be clear, this doesn’t affect Tesla website order prices. Existing inventory prices are currently slightly lower than on website. This will bring them in line,” which is only slightly funny.

The automaker is also scrapping its extended service plans, intended to provide annual maintenance on its vehicles. Considering how often Tesla adjusts pricing, this is the bigger story. But let’s give the money matters a little attention before making our deep dive into the company’s bold reliability claims (which is Tesla’s stated reason for the yearly maintenance program’s kiboshing).  (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2019

Expanding by leaps and bounds in the new millennium, Subaru effectively quadrupled its share of the U.S. market in the process. However, most of its production growth occurred in the last decade — leading to quality control problems unbefitting for a company that prides itself in sharing the same love as its customers.

Recalls are to be expected. No automaker can escape faulty components forever. But the frequency and scope of Subaru’s recalls (and scandals) over the past few years are especially bothersome, as they hint at an inability to catch mistakes, or perhaps a willingness to cut corners, as the company’s production volume targets the stratosphere. A new recall looming on the horizon will probably be the company’s largest to date.  (Read More…)

By on January 18, 2019

In a rare victory for television, General Motors was forced to pull one of its obnoxious “Real People” ads earlier this week after Ford, Toyota, and Honda cried foul over its claims. If you missed our earlier coverage, the gist was that GM stated Chevrolet was the more dependable brand by surprising rival owners — who were definitely not paid actors — with totally reliable data…

One of the biggest problems with the spot was that the reliability-related praise heaped on Chevrolet’s vehicles was, in many cases, supported by data obtained from previous-generation vehicles. That gave the annoyed automakers solid footing to call the commercial misleading and deploy their lawyers. Earlier this month, GM’s legal team was sent a letter demanding the company stop making the reliability claims in its television campaign and was given until January 14th to respond to the demands.

General Motors ultimately responded by saying the ad had already stopped airing nationally and that it would be removed from local markets in the coming weeks. It noted that it stood by the claims. Then, earlier today, it also removed the commercial from the internet.  (Read More…)

By on October 24, 2018

Consumer Reports has released its reliability rankings for automotive brands. The results, based on responses from half million of its readers, are about what you’d expect, with a few exceptions. Normally, reliability rankings don’t change all that much per annum. However, this year’s tally saw some surprising slippage from domestic brands that had performed rather well over the past few years.

The biggest loser was Buick, which fell 11 spots in 2018. CR attributed it to lackluster performance from the redesigned Enclave. Owners cited repeated issues with its new nine-speed transmission and claimed the rest of the brand’s fleet was middling at best. Buick now occupies 19th place, or slightly below average. On the flip side of things, Mazda shot up 9 spots to occupy a comfy position in 3rd place overall. While minor HVAC issues continue to plight the CX-3, the outlet suggested that the rest of its lineup has gotten its act together.  (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2018

Image: 1993 Audi 90S

Back in January, we asked you B&B to tell us about the least reliable car you’d ever owned. The stories poured in, amounting to a shocking 240+ comments. It took us days to emotionally recover from the sad tales expressed in your replies.

But today will not be a day of tears. We want to know: what’s the most reliable car you’ve ever owned?

(Read More…)

By on February 7, 2018

Palo Alto, we have a problem.

That’s essentially the message one Tesla owner had for the automaker, and one I couldn’t stop thinking about during yesterday’s excitement.

You see, on Tuesday, in a feat of technological prowess and bravado, Tesla CEO Elon Musk shot his personal Tesla Roadster into deep space by mounting it atop the final stage of the Falcon Heavy rocket — the latest and certainly greatest space vehicle constructed by Musk’s very own SpaceX.

After becoming the fourth car in space (GM built the first three for NASA’s Apollo program), and the first factory production car to leave Earth’s atmosphere, that Roadster and its dummy astronaut driver are now headed for a point beyond Mars, near the solar system’s asteroid belt. The plan is for the car to orbit the Red Planet, or maybe crash into it, who knows.

Mars is, on average, about 140 million miles from Earth.

However, Kingston, Ontario is a scant 215 miles from Cambridge, Ontario. That’s the distance one Tesla driver was attempted to span when the trip, as Margaret Thatcher would say, went pear-shaped. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2018

Ah, a lack of reliability. No, we’re not talking about your friends or employees, but cars. Whether it’s a reliable Toyota or something German, if you’ve been driving for any extended period over a number of different vehicles, you’ve likely got a story about unreliability.

Today you get a chance to let it all out — tell us the tale of the most unreliable vehicle you’ve ever owned. We’ve got the tissues handy.

(Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

2017 Lexus ES300h panel gaps - Image: © Timothy CainWe’re auto writers. By our very nature, we’re irritable complainers, apt to harp and carp. Yet while we enjoy a humorous headline, needling readers, and looking far into the future, you’ll more likely find us sharing photos of horrendous automotive disappointments on TTAC’s digital HQ, Slack.

Sometimes the disappointments are obvious and consequently publicized. Departed managing editor Mark Stevenson, for example, profiled a 2015 Ford Edge Titanium’s build issues in late 2015.

Panel gaps are one means of quantifying perceived quality. Industry observers and many customers use perceived quality to make educated guesses about future real quality. If a vehicle appears to be built well, surely it is. If a vehicle appears to be built poorly, how much worse is the quality of assembly under the skin? (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti - Image: FCAWe can’t call it The Big Mo. Medium Mo might also be too strong a term.

But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Alfa Romeo division is beginning to pick up a measure of Giulia sales momentum in the United States. And with the launch of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Alfa’s first utility vehicle, occurring now, we should expect to see major improvements in the third and fourth-quarter of 2017.

But this big medium modest momentum comes as high-profile Alfa Romeo Giulias, the Giulias that land in the hands of the people who tell the world about the Giulia, fail with shocking regularity.

The latest failure? Last night, in the hands of a Jalopnik crew that lived to tell the tale. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

Repair Auto Mechanic Car Automobile Service

How did you celebrate Warren Brown Day? What? You didn’t know about Warren Brown Day? Well, my friend, allow me to fill you in. If you are a subject of the Washington, DC metro area, then June 15th was officially Warren Brown Day for you. The day celebrates Warren Brown’s contributions to automotive journalism. This came as a great surprise to me; as far as I knew, Mr. Brown’s primary contribution to automotive journalism was finding a way to get around the Washington Post‘s policy on accepting luxury travel.

It occurred to me that maybe the city was honoring a different Warren Brown, so I went back and checked the original article in American Journalism Review to make sure that I had the right guy. Once I started re-reading it, however, I quickly forgot all about Mr. Brown and his Italian vacation, because the most important story Frank Greves tells in his overview of automotive journalism has nothing whatsoever to do with the perks of the business.

(Read More…)

By on June 13, 2017

1994 Toyota Camry coupe, Image: public domain

We’re all abuzz about Camrys here at TTAC, or so it would seem. Our website, our tweets, even our Slack conversations always manage to conjure up the specter of the Great One. No, not Gretzky – another consistent scorer.

The Camry.

Nine years on, and I’m still wracked with guilt over letting the best car I’ve ever owned — the most reliable and trustworthy car to ever find its way into my life — fade away into the automotive afterlife. It certainly didn’t deserve to be traded in at a used car lot for peanuts, and I can barely entertain the thought of what came next. No, it was wrong to let it go, but financial circumstances at the time necessitated a vehicle with no deferred backlog of minor repairs. Certainly, my job at the time didn’t jibe with an odometer reading approaching the half-million kilometer mark.

I’m of course talking about a rare beast born from a litter of lookalikes. A 1994 Toyota Camry. But not just any run-of-the-mill, plain-Jane Camry. Yes, it was beige — it was hard to find one that wasn’t — but my Camry stood out. It excelled. It impressed. It had two doors. Two doors … and a stick shift.

Truly the Greatest Generation, the North American market Camrys of model years 1992 to 1996 were big, roomy, comfortable, efficient, and — above all else — reliable. It was a better Buick, and in (admittedly conservative) coupe form, something special. (Read More…)

By on May 25, 2017

2014 Honda Accord Coupe Pedals, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

It’s time to refill the hopper on the questions that keep you awake at night. Send them to [email protected]. Help me help you. If you’ve sent me a question and you don’t yet have an answer, feel free to send it again or just remind me to look for your email. You would be amazed at the volume of correspondence I get every day, most of it from people who want to learn how to get press cars. Why would you ask me that? Ask a mommyblogger.

With that out of the way, let’s get to a question that, truthfully, should be asked a lot more often than it currently is being asked, both by customers and manufacturers.

(Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

tesla model x

Despite garnering below-average reliability ratings, Tesla is probably the one car brand with the most fervent disciples. While not all Tesla fans are blindly loyal, most are willing to cut the company much more slack than you would Ford the next time your Focus’ bum transmission acts up. Granted, Tesla’s automobiles do possess elements that most Fords do not — namely prestige and a highly unique driving experience.

An elegantly fashionable car will, of course, be more easily forgiven for its missteps than some plain-Jane model. However, the Model S and X have suffered more than just the occasional mechanical error. The Model X is infamous for its malfunctioning electronic doors and wonky electronic interface, while the Model S has suffered from quality control issues since day one. Still, every time an owner voices a concern about reliability or the company’s lackluster ability to service its vehicles, their complaint usually comes with an addendum specifying that they still adore their purchase.  (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio - Image: FCA

Jalopnik published its review of the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (man, Quadrifoglio takes forever to type) and the world discovered that Jalopnik’s Giulia did not require a tow truck.

That sounds terribly sarcastic, but we wouldn’t be compelled to point out the relative reliability of Jalopnik’s Giulia Quadrifoglio (my goodness, Quadrifoglio takes forever to type) if Giulias hadn’t failed so miserably at other prominent publications in the recent past.

Jalopnik’s 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio didn’t struggle with remote starts, spend time getting fixed at a dealer, stall while parking, or die in traffic. Bless its thumping Italian heart. But Jalopnik’s Giulia Quadrifoglio was far from perfect. Editor-in-chief Patrick George says he doesn’t care: “I am willing to do what the Alfisti have done for decades and chalk up most of its flaws to that thing that is so elusive in modern cars: character.”

But George told me yesterday, “It’s not weirdo enthusiasts like me that Alfa Romeo has to convince. It’s normal folks who might otherwise buy a BMW or a Lexus.”

“And they’re not going to put up with these issues.” (Read More…)

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