A reader sent us a link to a Mexican handling test of Nissan’s new, front-drive Kicks crossover, and one glimpse of the vehicle’s “moose test” will have you on your knees, thanking the deity of your choice for electronic safety nannies. We all know that high-riding vehicles suffer from an inherent top-heaviness, born of a high center of gravity and compounded by long suspension travel. As SUVs grew in popularity in the ’90s, a slew of alarming videos arose showing popular SUVs flipping or riding on two wheels while swerving sharply to avoid a object, then recovering. The moose test is the ultimate test of a vehicle’s stability, and it’s the test most likely to see a tall vehicle — thanks to rapid weight transfer — roll more than it yaws. Sometimes with disastrous results. The advent of electronic stability control was a godsend for these types of vehicles, helping overcome much of the roll and yaw, but, while it’s … [Read more...] about Be Thankful the U.S.-Market Nissan Kicks Has Standard Stability Control
Last year’s release of the radically revamped 2018 Toyota Camry lent buoyancy to a model seen as the troubled midsize sedan segment’s most resilient nameplate. It has history, name recognition, and a stigma for no-nonsense comfort and reliability. Could you ask for anything more? And so, as other sedans, including the equally fresh Honda Accord, started falling away, the Camry retained its sales volume, finishing the first half of 2018 with a slight year-to-date increase. July brought bad news, however. While the Toyota brand performed worse than the industry average last month — sales fell 6 percent, year over year — it was passenger cars that earned the brand its volume loss. And even the Camry’s partly to blame. Truth be told, the Camry’s U.S. sales began slipping in March, but the sales lead built up in the preceding months allowed it to coast till summer with a positive, but diminishing, year-to-date figure. July sales figures show that lead … [Read more...] about July 2018 Midsize Sedan Sales: Toyota Camry Finally Slips Into the Red
Ugh, you say. Wagons. A painfully uncool body type you swore off during childhood and haven’t reneged on since. A body type drooled over and feted by journalists who never put their meagre income where their mouth is. Yes, wagons. They remain part of our our automotive landscape, just a vanishingly small part of it. But who’s buying them, and where? We have the answers. Thanks to a study published by JATO Dynamics, we can now gauge the wagon market’s global health. As you might expect, the patient isn’t doing all that hot, but there’s promising signs of life in that market where all future automotive hopes lie: China. But you don’t care about that, do you? You want to know that the United States accounted for 9 percent of the wagons bought in 2017. Europeans ran off with 72 percent, while the Chinese matched America’s thirst for this sometimes stodgy, sometimes gorgeous body style. More on that in a bit. For 2018, the U.S. market picked up two … [Read more...] about Wagons Ho! What’s Going on With the Station Wagon/Shooting Brake/Estate Car Market?
The American car market in May reflected several stereotypes, not the least of which being that Jeep is the engine that’s currently driving the FCA machine. The picture as a whole? Well, it’s largely flat, with continued light truck demand seeming to offset dips in car sales. A good example of this is Toyota, which reported a 1.3 percent decline for the month of May before going on to explain that car deliveries were down 11 percent but light trucks were up nearly 6 percent. Like LeBron James, a man who single-handedly lifts the Cavs by scoring 50 points in a game only to see JR Smith throw it all away by thinking the score is tied, Jeep was largely responsible for FCA’s good fortunes in May. Proving the off-road brand remains the most valuable part of the empire, Jeep was up 28.8 percent last month — an increase of over 20,000 units. This is not an aberration; the brand has increased sales by 22.5 percent so far this year, up nearly 70,000 units during the … [Read more...] about May 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: FCA Is the House That Jeep Built
With an extra selling day compared to the March that came before it, last month saw U.S. new vehicle buyers continue doing what they’ve done for years. By that, we mean snap up trucks and SUVs like it’s going out of style. (There’s no indication it’s going out of style.) According to figures from Autodata, truck and SUV sales rose 16.3 percent in the U.S., year over year, while traditional passenger cars continued to fade from the minds of new vehicle buyers. That segment declined 9.2 percent, year over year. Monthly sales figures can be fickle, which is apparently the reason for General Motors’ switch to quarterly sales reports starting next month, but we prefer receiving data more often. And last month’s data paints a very different picture than February’s. Leaving SUVs aside, which pickups soared in March? If you suspect the bottom didn’t fall out of Ford F-Series demand, you’d be correct. Ford claims last month was the … [Read more...] about March 2018 U.S. Truck Sales: Springtime for Hauler