Mario Berthiaume will never forget May 21, 2015.
The rookie racer from Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada is laying down pre-season testing laps in a brand-new racecar prior to the first race of the Nissan Micra Cup. The car feels good. Mario’s lap times are falling, albeit gradually, thanks in part to a new set of tires. His approach is methodical. He’s taking on one corner at a time; after perfecting one turn as much as he can, he moves on to the next. After all, mastering braking points, lines, and apexes at Mont-Tremblant is key to getting the most out of the low power, pint-size racer.
Everything is going as planned.
That is, until seven laps into the fourth shakedown session of the day. Mario makes a rookie mistake and it happens. The rear of the #7 Micra swings right-then-left like a pendulum. The fresh rubber digs into the warming tarmac on the inside of Circuit Mont-Tremblant’s turn 10, causing the Micra to tip and roll. In under 10 seconds, Mario’s racing dream has turned into a $30,000 nightmare — and the twisted aftermath is resting on its side on the outside of turn 10.
His season is over before it even begins.
Japanese car companies have been trying to break into the American full-sized pickup market for decades. Despite Japanese trucks having a sterling reputation for dependability and reliability internationally, ‘Muricans are a different bunch. Not even Ford’s switch to “European-style” twin-turbo engines and aluminum bodies could stop the freight train that is the F-Series sales chart.
On the opposite end of that sales chart is the last-place Titan. Nissan sold just 12,140 Titans last year, 1/10th of Toyota’s own meager volume and 1/65th of Ford’s truck sales.
Rather than picking up its marbles and going home, Nissan thought outside the box and came up with a novel idea. Why not “right-size” a 3/4 ton truck and sell it for a little more than your average 1/2 ton? With the Detroit Three engaged in serious towing and payload wars, the heavy-duty pickup segment looks more like a Freightliner convention.
That’s where the diesel Titan XD comes in.
The BMW 3 Series has been the benchmark to which all manner of vehicles are measured. The comparisons go beyond the likes of the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Volvo S60, and include BMW M3 vs Chevy Camaro and BMW 328d vs Toyota Prius. It seems that every car company in America makes at least one “3-Series fighter.” But there’s a problem with your largest volume product being put on this kind of pedestal: die-hard fans hate change.
Enthusiasts claim that BMW ruined the 3 Series when they redesigned it in 2012. The “F30” sedan got bigger, fatter, softer, and more gadget-filled than ever before. BMW fanbois cried in their gemüsesuppe, Road & Track called it an “also ran” and … BMW laughed all the way to the bank.
For 2016 the 3-Series gets a facelift, new engines and a redesigned suspension. What isn’t changed, however, is BMW’s new direction. And that’s a good thing in my book.
There are longer minivan jumps you could watch, even some with explosions, but no flying family hauler can match the poise and grace of this 1980s Toyota Tarago.
Somewhere in rural Australia — possibly near a dingo — this sturdy conveyance not only survived its flight seemingly unscathed, it probably stopped off for a case of Fosters after the jump before driving a pack of blonde teens home.
What’s Mazda going to show tonight in New York City? So far, the Japanese purveyor of droptop fun has been mum on details, but all hints point to a hardtop version of the fourth-generation MX-5 Miata.
Will it be a targa (a la Honda Civic del Sol) with a removable panel that can be stored in the trunk? Or will Mazda bring back a power retractable hardtop model — or PRHT for short — to make the roadster more accessible to skinny-armed boomers who don’t have the physical fortitude to manipulate polycarbonate roof panels? We don’t know right now — but we will know at 7:25 p.m. ET.
Hit the jump to watch the live stream!
Today, Honda is expected to take the wraps off the new Honda Civic Hatchback via live stream on YouTube prior to showing the car at the New York International Auto Show later this week. The Japanese automaker also promises to show a surprise: a “race car” announcement rumored to be based on the NSX.
Hit the jump to follow the live stream with us!
Luxury car companies are practiced at the art of completely redesigning a car, yet styling those new models so much like their predecessors that you’d need an illustrated guide to tell them apart. Jaguar was the king of this design exercise in the ’90s and 2000s. My personal 2005 Jaguar Super V8 may look like Jags of yore inside and out, but under the wood and leather is a thoroughly modern aluminum luxury chassis that — with updates — underpins the modern XJ.
On the other side of the equation we have the XF. The 2008 model signaled a major shift for Jaguar’s styling, but under the sleek and modern exterior sat a reworked Jaguar S-Type chassis. The first generation XF won praise for the M5-chasing XFR and a design that came to define the modern Jaguar.
For the second generation of the XF, Jaguar played it safe with an image retaining the bulk of the styling from the previous generation. Under the familiar styling is Jaguar’s all new, aluminum-intensive iQ platform that’ll be the basis for the XF, XE, F-Pace and two other mysterious Jaguar Land Rover products in the next few years.
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.
YouTube has finally processed our counterclaim to Volkswagen’s claim of copyright infringement. And guess what? YouTube’s copyright bots decided in our favor! I’m right chuffed about it.
What does that mean? Well, not so much for you, but it means we can do our jobs a bit more effectively. Also, it means David can still take on Goliath — and win.
The promise of improved performance and tree-hugging fuel economy has made turbocharged engines all the rage in luxury cars. Despite the often failure of those boosted motors to meet their lofty, published fuel economy ratings in the real world, forced induction has a significant — and positive — impact on performance.
It seems Infiniti had gotten the memo.
A few short weeks ago, I was inside a very purple 2016 RAV4 marveling that Toyota’s compact crossover nearly outsells the Mazda brand. My bottom line for that RAV4 read like this:
Why are the RAV4’s sales so high when there are more fun options out there? The reasons can be found in its strong value proposition, a soft ride about which journalists often complain, included scheduled maintenance and Toyota’s reputation for reliability.
The 2016 RAV4 isn’t going to light many souls on fire, but it gives the average CUV shopper more of what they obviously want.
Except fuel economy or performance.
That’s where the first full-hybrid compact crossover since Ford abandoned the Escape Hybrid five years ago comes in.
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?
This weekend, Alex dropped a bonus video review of the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Volt for us to enjoy. Unfortunately, he’s also been too busy building sheds to do a full review, so this is all we’ve got.
(It’s okay, though. The best work happens in a shed.)
Want to check it out? Hit up the video after jump.
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.
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- Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
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- CEastwood From zero there is nowhere to go but up . BYD isn't sold in the U.S. and most Teslas are ugly azz 90s looking plain jane drone mobiles . I've only seen one Rivian on the road and it 's not looking good for them . I live out in the sticks of NW NJ and EVs just aren't practical here , but the local drag strip thrives in the warmer months with most cars making the trip from New York .
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