Archives for January 2016

Poll: your Top 5 cars from Detroit

After Kriss’ list of his Top 5 cars from the North American International Auto Show (Detroit 2016 to you and me), now it’s time for you to tell us – what do you think were the Top 5 cars that made their debut at the auto show?… Continue Reading …

Detroit 2016: Top 5

1.  Chrysler Pacifica

A huge return to form for Chrysler, not only in terms of styling but in terms of innovation: it’s the world’s first plug-in minivan. Looks good enough to lure some people away from their family SUVs.

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Lincoln Continental: missed opportunity

Unlike Lexus, which changed only a few minor details when turning the LF-LC concept car into the LC500 production vehicle, Lincoln has watered down the cool and sexy Continental Concept from the New York Auto Show last year. That doesn’t mean the production version is ugly or dull, it’s still one of the best looking Lincolns of the last decade, but I can’t help feeling a bit let down by the final design. Maybe it just looks better in dark colors and the white of the press images doesn’t really help it, but you’d think the marketing folks would figure that out themselves, wouldn’t you?

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Take for example the rear fenders: the Continental Concept had pronounced shoulders, giving it a bit of a rear-wheel drive look. The flared fenders have been flattened and straightened out in the production version, which makes the Continental looks less energetic and less powerful. It also seems like the C-pillar flows into the rear quarter more smoothly in the concept than in the final version.… Continue Reading …

Honda Ridgeline: the feminine pick-up truck

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Honda introduced the second generation Ridgeline mid-sized pick-up truck at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which is launched at the perfect moment as the US mid-sized pick-up segment is booming thanks to the rebirth of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, the new generation Toyota Tacoma and hopefully later this year a new Nissan Frontier (a.k.a. Navara or NP300 in other parts of the world). That would mean all entrants in this segment, which appeared to have been forgotten just a few years ago, will be less than 3 years old by the end of this year. And then there are rumors that Ford may re-enter the segment with a new Ranger (and Bronco!) as well, so exciting times indeed.

The first generation Honda Ridgeline stood out from the crowd both technically and aesthetically and hasn’t really been a huge sales success in North America, peaking at 50.000 US sales in 2006 but quickly dropping to 10.000-18.000 annual sales. But Honda clearly thought that the odd exterior design with the high rear side-panels must have been one of the main stumbling blocks, as the brand has opted for a more straightforward design, not to call it plain dull in a time when the competition is putting some flair into their mid-sized trucks.… Continue Reading …

New Japanese luxury coupes: Lexus LC & Infiniti Q60

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The two Japanese luxury brands Lexus and Infiniti stole the show at the North American International Auto Show with sexy production versions of their new luxury sports coupes, and both stunned the audience by looking surprisingly similar to their concept versions. That’s always a good thing, because concept cars are usually sexy, futuristic and out-of-this-world, but then often the resulting production version is no more than a watered down, compromised and ordinary rehash with all the things that made the concept so sexy removed. Ask Subaru, they know all about this strategy.

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None of that disappointment with these two, as both have a low, wide look and an aggressive appearance, the Lexus LC clearly even more so than the Infiniti Q60. Lexus has designed a wild looking, widebody coupe with angular lines, a mesh spindle grille, grey detailing around the triangular headlights, and droopy Prius-style rear lights. The Infiniti Q60 is less extreme, but not less sexy with its low grille and long, wide nose and a muscular shoulder line above the rear wheels, ending in a wide rear end.… Continue Reading …

Blast from the past: Chrysler’s stillborn “Pacifica” SUV

Seems Chrysler didn’t always plan for the original Pacifica to be a minivan crossover – around 1999 it thought it could build an SUV, seemingly on the basis of the then-new Dodge Durango.… Continue Reading …

Poll results: Megane vs. Astra in 2016

Three weeks ago I wrote an article about the predictions for the two renewed compact cars in Europe, the Renault Megane and the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, and we asked you guys what your thoughts about these forecasts were. With 122 voters, this has been one of the most popular polls so far and the article seems to have created a bit of a stir.

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More than half of you thought that the Astra isn’t going to sell 300.000 units this year, but the Megane will easily beat the expected 190.000. There may have been some misunderstanding, as I concluded from the comments below that article. These are not the long-term sales volumes, but strictly limited to 2016, which means the new generation Megane will start with a disadvantage from not having a full year of sales.… Continue Reading …

Chrysler debuts new Town&Cou… Pacifica [w/ Poll]

Earlier today Chrysler revealed its crucial new model, the Pacifica minivan. “Wait, isn’t this the new Town&Country?” I hear you say? Yes, the name change is pretty surprising, given that the Town & Country and Voyager were pioneers of the segment and enjoy great name-recognition, but Chrysler’s logic is that they’ve become too synonymous with the old-style minivan and were tainted by the lackluster predecessor. Enter the “Pacifica” name, which last served on an upmarket minivan/crossover model, sort of like the Mercedes-Benz R-Class, that Chrysler retired in 2008 after only five years of sales. Such a name change is not unprecedented, but only time will tell if the new name will stick (as it did when Ford replaced the Escort with the Focus) or whether the carmaker will have a change of heart (as Ford had when it replaced the Taurus with the Five Hundred, only to  change the name back a few years later).… Continue Reading …

US sales: 2015, brands

European-car-sales-ranking-november-2014-Jeep-Renegade-CherokeeUS car sales in 2015 were up by by 5.7% compared to 2014, and while it was the slowest growth since 2011, it was enough to set a new record of annual sales. The total number of cars sold, 17.5 million, surpassed the record set in 2000, just before the dot-com bubble burst. The drivers in this record year were low gas prices, an ever-stronger economy and intense competition between carmakers that led them to offer ever-better products at good prices. Consumers in the US have never had it this good, and 2016 looks only to build on this further.

Please note: for those of you interested in US auto sales statistics, Bart & Kriss have been working very hard these last couple of months to add US brand- and model specific pages to the already existing European and Chinese car sales data pages. Use the drop-down menu on the top right-hand corner of this site to browse for car sales data of every brand and model sold in the US since 2003.Continue Reading …

Car cultures around the world: Bali, Indonesia

In our series of car cultures around the world/international street scenes, after Morocco, Africa, Monaco, Europe and Nagoya, Japan, we’ll stay in Asia for a bit to observe the car culture of Bali, the Indonesian “Bounty Island”. The streets of Bali are actually flooded with small motorbikes, but I’ve still managed to find a few cars among those thousands of bikes. Don’t forget to check out my videos at the bottom of the page!

Daihatsu_Gran_max_Luxio-Toyota_Vios_Taxi-Suzuki_APV-Bali-Indonesia-street_scene-2015Daihatsu Gran Max Luxio MPV, 2 generations of Toyota Vios Taxi and Suzuki APV

And then I noticed that the Balinese are very single minded when it comes to their cars, as there’s not a lot of variation on the road. If I had to estimate, I’d say that 80% of the cars on the island are within a handful of models, which are the Toyota Avanza and its clone Daihatsu Xenia (4 out of 10 cars are one of these two), Toyota Kijang Innova, Suzuki APV, Daihatsu Gran Max in both the Luxio MPV version as the utilitarian and pick-up versions, Toyota Ayla minicar and its clone Daihatsu Agya, and Toyota Vios, which is the standard taxi in Bali.… Continue Reading …