Toyota Mulls Corolla As the Next Performance Model in GR Lineup

Ten years ago, Toyota fielded a solid lineup of passenger vehicles that were about as exciting as lukewarm tap water. However, the company has since embarked on a quest to change its trajectory and spice things up. Phase one included revision to the firm’s design language. Phase two involved tapping into the brand’s performance heritage and utilizing Gazoo Racing to help develop performance variants of existing models in Japan. Read More

2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport Review – Skipping Early Supper for Step Class

2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport

3.5-liter DOHC V6 (302 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm; 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic, front-wheel drive

22 city / 31 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

10.9 city, 7.5 highway, 9.4 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

18.1 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $45,160 (U.S) / $50,975 (Canada)

As Tested: $50,810 (U.S.) / $56,975 (Canada)

Prices include $1,025 destination charge in the United States and $2,175 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

First impressions have a way of biting you in the ass. After seeing the trailer for the first time, I declared with absolute conviction that a movie about a slow-witted Southerner who blunders his way through a tumultuous period in American history would leave theatre seats as empty as store shelves before a Category 5 hurricane. Alas, Forrest Gump was not the colossal flop I predicted. Read More

Tesla Board Gains Two Watchdogs As Musk Seeks a Way Out of His Cave Mess

Tesla’s nine-member board now numbers eleven, with many shareholders hoping that the addition of two independent directors — a key directive of Tesla’s SEC settlement — helps keep a lid on CEO Elon Musk’s stock-rocking shenanigans.

Whether or not the two new members can actually do this remains to be seen. Musk continued antagonizing the Securities and Exchange Commission even after agreeing to the settlement that saw him removed as chairman, and he insists no one’s vetting his tweets. Speaking of ill-considered tweets, Musk’s lawyers claim the British cave diver suing Musk for defamation should just let it go. Read More

Bark’s Bites: All The Cars I Rented in 2018

As all loyal Bark fans know (Hi Mom), I travel extensively for the ol’ day job. Thanks to Uber and Lyft, I don’t always have to rent a car when I’m on the road, but most of the time it’s actually cheaper to rent a car for $35 a day than it is to use ridesharing services, not to mention to increased convenience and saved time. Plus, I’m a firm believer in job creation, and somebody needs to keep those valets at the hotels employed. Read More

Vellum Venom Vignette: The Steak, the Sizzle

Fred writes:

What is it with all these fake vents on the front and rear grilles and valances of new cars?

I admit, I recently bought one of the worst offenders, a 2019 Avalon (I bought it for the Audi-esque interior). But for crying out loud, why all the black plastic trying in vain to fool the eye that these are… what, exactly? Read More

Officially Official: Land Rover Defender Returning to North America

On Thursday, Jaguar Land Rover announced that an all-new Defender SUV will be sold in the United States and Canada come 2020.

“On behalf of Land Rover and our retailers, we are proud to announce the voices of American and Canadian customers have been heard: the all-new Defender will be for sale here starting in 2020,” said Kim McCullough, Vice President of Marketing at JLR North America. “This announcement is a holiday gift to our Defender fans in North America and a hint of what’s to come in the New Year.” Read More

Ace of Base: 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe LS Custom

After consuming far too much turkey over the last couple of days, your humble author is suddenly a proponent of removing a few things from one’s plate. Sure, that third hot roast turkey smothered in hot gravy sounded like a good idea while ladling it onto my plate, but proved to be a fatal error just a couple of hours later as I slipped into yet another tryptophan-induced Christmas coma. Read More

2018 Volkswagen Golf S Review – Make Commuting Fun Again

2018 Volkswagen Golf S

1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (170 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm; 199 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm)

Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive

25 city / 34 highway / 29 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

9.3 city, 6.9 highway, 8.2 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $20,910 (U.S) / $22,295 (Canada)

As Tested: $21,805 (U.S.) / $24,080 (Canada)

Prices include $895 destination charge in the United States and $1,785 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Commuting sucks.

It’s especially bad at speeds below “parking lot.” Foot off brake, crawl, foot on brake, repeat. It’s even worse when you’re piloting a stick – shift to first, release clutch pedal, roll, brake, clutch in, shift to neutral. And repeat.

Not all commuting is that slow, of course. There’s also the block-to-block drag race. First to the next stop sign or stoplight wins. If you’re lucky, you’ll hit 30 mph and get to third gear before doing it all over again. Read More

Envoy to the Horde: GMC Trademarks a Name From Its Past

Someone at General Motors has been studying the company history books again. Fresh news earlier this year taught us the company is bringing back the storied Blazer nameplate, appending it to a FWD-based crossover in a move that disappointed some fans but will surely delight GM beancounters as they’ll probably sell every one they can make to a crossover-thirsty public, the majority of whom care not one whit about the old body-on-frame machine. Read More

QOTD: Which Trend Do You Want to Wish Away?

Like 26-year-olds playing oddly mature high schoolers in films and on TV, some trends evolve into industry standards — the go-to blueprint for success. If the big guys are doing it, then by God, the creators say, so will we. This is the way to go.

The auto industry functions much like Hollywood in this regard, though the major players would insist that careful and predictive analysis of consumer buying behavior are behind their pursuit of the Next. Big. Thing. In crafting the vehicular landscape OEMs are convinced will make you hot, trends materialize. Rivals swerve into the same lane, desperate not to be left behind. Suddenly, once-unique attributes become ubiquitous. Departures become the norm. Think tailfins in the late 1950s, landau roofs in the late ’60s to early ’80s, plastic cladding in the late ’90s/early ’00s, and ginormous, child-swallowing grilles in the 2010s. Read More

QOTD: Best Wishes for Future Success?

It’s that special holiday time of year again. For a few short weeks, people go out of their way to be nice to others, and to wish one another the best in the upcoming new year. While the niceness still abounds, we want to know which car manufacturer receives your well-wishes for the future.

It’s not an easy time in the car-making business. Ford’s experiencing low share prices and is implementing irritating buzz-wordy “mobility” talk. Nissan’s CEO recently had a little compensation scandal. General Motors is closing down several plants. And Tesla is finishing their cars in tents purchased from Bass Pro or wherever. Read More

Tata Motors: Seriously, We’re Totally Not Interested in Dropping Jaguar Land Rover

It apparently needed to be said. As forces conspire against it, Indian auto conglomerate Tata Motors decided to pour cold water on rumors that it’s mulling a sell-off of Jaguar Land Rover, or perhaps some part of it.

Sure, there’s many troubles facing its British subsidiary, not least of which is the hazy future promised under Brexit. Then there’s cooling sales in the West and trouble in China — oh, and regulatory pressure in Europe and the continued decline of the traditional sedan. JLR lost a lot of money this year. Rumors abound of a big job cull in the New Year, too. Still, Tata says it has a plan, and that the plan will work. Read More

2018 Fiat 500 Abarth Review – Clinging To Hot Hatch Tradition

2018 Fiat 500 Abarth

1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four (160 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 170 lb/ft @ 2,500 rpm)

Five-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive

28 city / 33 highway / 30 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

31.7 (observed mileage, MPG)

8.4 city / 7.0 highway / 7.8 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $21,790 US / $30, 490 CAD

As Tested: $25,510 US / $32,825 CAD

Prices include $1,295 destination charge in the United States and $1,998 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Anyone else fondly recall Sport Compact Car magazine? For over two decades, that dead-tree, updated-monthly blog brought the latest in import performance trends to newsstands and mailboxes. I know that I waited for my copy impatiently, just knowing that this month would be the one where I found the perfect stuff with which I could poorly modify my ancient Accord. Read More

Subaru Bringing Dynamic Duo to Tokyo Auto Salon

Subaru is preparing a couple of rather interesting concepts for next month’s Tokyo Auto Salon, which is essentially the Japanese equivalent of SEMA.

With fun passenger cars gradually disappearing from the market, performance-enhanced crossovers are becoming more common. In fact, they could be the next hot industry trend — and Subaru Tecnica International doesn’t want to be caught with its pants around its ankles. As a result, the team will bring an STI-ified Forester and the sort of WRX STI one third of all boxer fans have begged the automaker to build for nearly half a decade.  Read More

Too Warm: Ford Recalls Nearly 900,000 F-150s Over Block Heater Fault

Harnessing the magic of electricity to keep your engine block toasty is a better option than crossing your fingers and saying a silent prayer before turning the key (or pressing the button) on cold mornings. Unfortunately for Ford F-150 owners living in northern climes, the block heater residing beneath their truck’s hood might pose a danger to their vehicle — and perhaps their house. Read More

Housekeeping: Enjoy the Holidays, Folks

Christmas and New Year’s are upon us, and that means we’re gonna be off Monday and Tuesday each of the next two weeks, and with light posting in between.

What does that mean? Here’s how it’s gonna go…

We won’t be working on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day, but we may have some pre-planned posts popping up for you to read as you suck down the last of the eggnog. For the week between Presents Day and Hangover Day, we’ll be posting, but at around half-speed. Junkyard Find will move to Wednesday, December 26th and Wednesday, January 2nd for your perusal, before returning to Mondays on January 7th. Read More

House Has a New Plan to Pass Self-driving Bill in 2019

Frustrated with House Democrats’ inability to push through legislation on autonomous vehicle development and testing, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) believes the new Congress needs to reassess the situation and rally together behind a tweaked proposal Senate Republicans are still willing to back.

Dingell claimed Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who will chair the Energy & Commerce Committee when Democrats take control of the House, and Rep. Bob Latta, (R-OH), who currently heads the digital commerce subcommittee, have agreed the smartest plan is to build consensus in the Senate so both chambers can deliberate on the same bill — potentially getting something done in the process.  Read More

Rare Rides: A Tiny and Stylish Saab 99 From 1973

Saab was always a fan of the number nine, and it proved its dedication to the special digit by using two nines for their pre-900 era compact executive car.

Let’s take a look at a little blue Saab 99.

In the early Sixties, executives at Saab headquarters were desirous of a larger car to extend the brand’s appeal beyond the very small 96 model. Project approval secured, the so-called Gudmund vehicle was underway. Read More

2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD Review – Maybe You Don’t Need a V8

2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

3.6-liter V6 (305 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm; 268 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

18 city / 27 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

12.8 city, 8.7 highway, 11.0 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $33,495 (U.S) / $41,240 (Canada)

As Tested: $38,965 (U.S.) / $44,195 (Canada)

Prices include $1,095 destination charge in the United States. Canadian pricing for freight, PDI, and A/C tax is unavailable. Because of cross-border equipment differences, pricing can’t be directly compared.

At one point during my time with the 2018 Dodge Challenger GT, I fired it up and shook my head.

“That can’t be right,” I thought. “It sounds like a V8, but the GT is a V6.”

Which it is – all-wheel drive GT models are powered by a 3.6-liter V6 making 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque. No V8 on offer here. Read More

Chevrolet Volt’s Discontinuation Leaves Battery Plant Employees Out of a Job

The vehicle they provide batteries for has less than three months to live, and this week brought news to 50 workers at General Motors’ Brownstown Battery plant that their positions are even more short-lived. In a filing with the state of Michigan, GM said it will cut 37 hourly and 13 salaried workers at the Detroit-area facility, adding an extra dollop of job losses to the mass culling announced late last month. Read More

Analyze This: Cars of 2018

Year-end lists are great. Music-themed roundups of the last twelve months rock, no pun intended. You know what’s the best, though? Exactly. Stories of this ilk which focus on cars.

Because he is a total anorak with an unhealthy interest in data, your author kept a spreadsheet of the 39 local press fleet machines which passed through his slovenly hands during 2018, not counting First Drives occurring in other locations. Read More

Carlos Ghosn Re-arrested Following New Allegation

Just yesterday, it looked as if Renault CEO and former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn might make it out of jail by the weekend. Japanese prosecutors had another idea, however. The industry titan was re-arrested Friday morning on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust, pushing the possibility of bail and a hotel Christmas further from the realm of possibility. Read More

Piston Slap: Roughing It in Tucson?

Steven writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I have a 2016 Hyundai Tucson 1.6T with 90K and I have an intermittent issue of a rough idle with the A/C on — it feels very jumpy and did not have this issue before. When you turn it back off the idle becomes smooth again. I’ve cleaned the MAP and boost pressure sensors as well as removed the throttle body to clean it — it had a little gunk at the bottom of it but it looked really clean. That seemed to clear up the problem, but the issue came back again. I know it’s due for another spark plug change (as Hyundai says every 45K) so I’ll get that done soon. but I’d like to trace this down while I’m doing the work under there. Read More

2019 Mini John Cooper Works: Dodging the Regulatory Bullet

At the very start of 2018, Mini announced an update to its Cooper line. Were it not for their help, plus the marginally tacky inclusion of Union Jack taillights, we’d probably never have noticed the refresh.

Now, with 2019 bearing down on us, it’s the John Cooper Works’ turn. Predictably, the JCWs get all of the same upgrades the standard Coopers did — more interior customization, new 17-inch wheels (which are unique for Works), and the patriotic tail lamps. The biggest change is actually something you’d probably rather not see on a performance trim like the JCW, but it’s not Mini’s fault. It’s doing everything in its power to ensure it doesn’t sap power from the motor.  Read More

Why American Muscle Might Outlive the Standard Sedan

Domestic sedans are currently being walked up to the edge of a mass grave. Beneath them rests their two-doored brethren and the first wave of four-doors previously executed by the Big Three. Ford has promised a lineup comprised almost entirely of pickups and utility vehicles in the coming years and General Motors is in the process of doing the same. Fiat Chrysler wisely kept its automotive killing spree under the radar by being the first to pull the trigger and not making a big deal of it. But consider what’s left within its domestic nameplates: SUVs, pickups, a few vans and the endangered Chrysler 300 — which is really a more of a commoner’s luxury vehicle. Read More

Nissan Seeks Trademark for Confusing Model Names, Hints At Future EV Lineup

Luckily for no one, the addition of electric model ranges to various OEM portfolios will only make today’s alphanumeric naming situation worse, including at Nissan. Mercedes-Benz and BMW deserve honorable mentions in this naming crime, but it’s really an industry-wide problem.

That brings us to this tidbit: the names IMQ and IMS, which just appeared in a trademark application. Until now, we’ve only heard about the Nissan IMX, which fails the name-recognition test compared to more more well-known monikers like CRX, MDX, and, um, DMX. The sought-after names point to two future vehicles, both of which might accompany the IMX electric crossover into production. Read More

Rare Rides: Grab a Pair of Suzuki Jimnys From 1972

The occasionally sane group of people known as Car Twitter elevated the new Suzuki Jimny to superstar status recently, as soon as it debuted in its home market of Japan. Immediately, it received the Forbidden Fruit Award, followed by the Why Can’t We Have blue ribbon. It’s not coming here, though, and that’s really all there is to it. Read More

Ford’s Bronco: Not So Global After All

Relaunching the Bronco is a no-brainer for North America. With credits like Longmire and the O.J. Simpson police chase under its belt, there is just too much buzz around the model not to bring it back. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t have the same rich history with the vehicle — leaving them in the lurch. Read More

2019 Mazda CX-5 Turbo First Drive – Your Italian Alternative

If a gearhead is asked for car shopping advice, there’s a pretty good chance one of their recommendations will be a Mazda. The little Hiroshima Highway Hawks generally land on the sporty side of the segments in which they compete, whether one is talking about compact cars or SUVs.

For ages, the CX-5 has been a stylish entrant in the compact crossover class and is Mazda’s best-selling vehicle in America. It is a car notable for not being imbued with “Handling by Novocain (TM)” like so many of its competitors. For 2019, the CX-5 gains an optional 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four, meaning the CX-5 finally has a mouth to match its trousers. Read More

Report: Certain Canadians Getting Boned At the Gas Pump

Barely a day goes by when the TTAC chatroom doesn’t devolve into a discussion of the weird differences between the U.S. and Canada. Chris Tonn wants to take a Nissan Micra across Canada, eating various poutines along the way, while this writer drools over certain (unavailable) civil liberties offered just 45 minutes to his south. Vast gulfs in pricing and taxation usually spring up as topic fodder, too. Read More

QOTD: What’s Your Ridiculous Solution to Our Traffic Woes?

Sitting motionless in traffic can be almost as painful as slogging through a live feed of one of Elon Musk’s futuristic transportation reveals. In a desperate bid to eliminate daily blood pressure spikes, some of us stagger our commute times (a rare option), some take public transit (often, a grim compromise), others car-pool (like it’s WW2), and those living close enough to their jobs swap the car for a bike and the often insufferable lifestyle that comes with it. Read More

Video: Toyota Touts ‘Sound of Supra’ in the Latest in a Never-ending Cavalcade of Teasers

I’ve reached a point where Toyota’s non-stop procession of Supra teasers has made me dead to the world… or so I thought.

Since this summer, covering the Supra has become a chore, all thanks to Toyota’s absolute lack of restraint in preemptive marketing. I went from being enthralled — excitedly telling everyone that “the Supra is back, baby” after news broke of the automaker’s 2014 filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office  — to experiencing a deep malaise anytime I read about the upcoming model. You know this because I’ve complained about it before. Read More

Here’s the 57 Models That Received IIHS Safety Awards for 2019 (Spoiler: There Aren’t Many Americans)

Despite perpetually raising the bar on what constitutes automotive safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just gilded nearly five dozen models with Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus awards. The metrics, which now hinge largely on a vehicle possessing crash avoidance systems and superior headlamps, require the highest rating available in passenger-side protection during its small overlap front crash to get the coveted Plus decoration — which 30 vehicles qualified for in the initial 2019 model year evaluation. Read More

GM Files Trademark Application; Are You Ready to Get Enspired?

We know, we know — you just wrapped up a lengthy and animated conversation about Buick with your coworkers, and you’re all Buicked out. Well, here’s something extra to chew on.

General Motors has filed a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for use of the name “Enspire” on motor vehicles. No, this doesn’t concern Chevrolet or Cadillac or GMC, that’s for sure. It does, however, concern Buick, as Enspire is the name given to a concept vehicle revealed last spring in China. But what would a production Enspire look like? Read More

Corvettes Are Getting More Expensive Just in Time for the Holidays

As the media obsessively focuses on the upcoming, mid-engined C8 Corvette, the C7 languishes. Vette sales exploded in 2014 following the release of the seventh-generation model, declining ever since. Chevrolet only sold 25,079 Corvettes domestically in 2017 and, even though year-end sales aren’t yet in, General Motors looks ready to fall short of last year’s volume for 2018. Read More

2019 Nissan Murano First Drive – Status, Quo

Nissan’s strategy for both the 2019 Maxima large sedan and the 2019 Murano crossover is the same – make minor tweaks as part of a mild refresh.

My thoughts on the Maxima are stated here. As for the Murano, well, read on.

(Full disclosure: Nissan flew me to San Francisco, put me up in a beautiful hotel, and fed me some great meals. They left us with snacks and a candle – I ate the snacks but left the candle.). Read More

Ford F-150 Fans Won’t Have to Wait Very Long for a New Truck

With all the light-truck product buzz surrounding Ford, one thing that’s gone relatively unmentioned is the impending debut of a new F-150. Yes, the world’s best-selling vehicle since the dawn of time, or at least it seems that way.

The 2019 Ranger midsize pickup garnered plenty of page space this week, and oceans of digital ink keep the upcoming Bronco afloat in speculative press, but it’s looking like we’ll see a new F-150 before any of us get a chance to lay a finger on Ford’s retro off-roader. Read More

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