New Nissan Titan: Finally a Worthy Full-Size Competitor

2017_Nissan_Titan

The Nissan Titan has been all but forgotten in the minds of full-size truck shoppers. Last month, the Titan placed dead last in truck sales, if we don’t include the extinct Chevy Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT.

Almost 234,000 trucks were sold in the U.S. in July. The Titan accounted for just 1,143 of those sales, which amounts to a fairly average month when looking at the last six years of Titan sales data.

The 2015 version of the truck was widely panned as an outdated and underpowered entry in the market. Nissan overhauled the truck for 2016 and included a Cummins turbodiesel V8 engine in its Titan XD model, making it the only “light-duty” truck capable of towing more than 11,000 pounds.

So far sales numbers haven’t improved much.

For 2017, though, Nissan will make the standard half-ton Titan available. It won’t knock the Ford F-150 off its perch, but Nissan hopes it will at least move the Titan out of last place.

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Coming Soon: A Ford Without a Steering Wheel

ford-self-driving-car

Fully autonomous cars were once the pipe dream of a utopian future.

Ten years ago, self-driving cars seemed so far-fetched that it wasn’t even worth bringing them up in conversation. We might as well have discussed the feasibility of bubble-powered fighter jets.

Today the reality of an autonomous future is closer than most of us realize.

Many major automakers, led by Tesla, have recently boasted about their autonomous plans and showed off early versions of their technology. Ford has quietly sat on the sidelines. So quietly, in fact, that it’s been criticized for not announcing plans for a self-driving future.

Ford shook things up recently, though, when it finally broke its silence and said it hopes for fully autonomous cars in just five years. The company’s vision brings up some new possibilities that could change transportation as we know it.

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Volkswagen’s Worldwide Sales Up, But Criminal Charges Could Loom

Volkswagen-TDI

It’s been almost one year since news broke of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. At the time, we wondered how deep this scandal would go and if VW’s TDI plans were irreparable.

So far, Volkswagen has shown no interest in bringing its TDI line back to the U.S., but seems to have been doing just fine without it. Last month CNN said,

Global sales of Volkswagen cars and trucks have eked out about a 1% gain in the first five months of the year, despite the scandal. May sales gains were even stronger, a sign that the automaker is starting to put the diesel scandal behind it. Its U.S. sales have been down 7% in the first half of the year, although the United States accounts for only about 5% of its global sales.

Volkswagen’s outlook isn’t all rosy, though. This week investigators with the U.S. Department of Justice have found evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the case.

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Should New GM Pay for Old GM’s Mistakes?

GM-ignition-recall

General Motors knew about a fault in some ignition switches as far back as 2001, but didn’t issue a recall until early 2014.

The fault, which can cause a vehicle to turn off while being driven, has been linked to at least 124 deaths and has already cost the company $2 billion in settlements.

That’s just the beginning, though, as another $10 billion in lawsuits looms on the horizon. GM doesn’t want to pay up and is using its 2009 bankruptcy as a shield against taking responsibility for the fatalities.

An appeals court ruling last month said the U.S. automaker can’t do that, but GM disagrees.

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Canine-Friendly Cars for the Dog Days of Summer

Nigel, Erik Ross's Dog

Nigel the terrier loves feeling the wind in his face

We may be CarGurus, first and foremost, but that doesn’t prevent us from being proud pet owners, too. From French Bulldogs and Miniature Pinschers to Labradors and Great Danes, the dogs of CarGurus are a widely varied bunch. My own dog, Taylor, looks enough like a Labrador to keep landlords and kennels at ease, but her mix of breeds puts her solidly in the “mutt” camp. Regardless of size or breed, however, dogs are always a hit at CarGurus. Maybe that’s because dogs have such a social history with the automobile. They chase them, they hang their heads out the windows, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a dog who didn’t get a case of the wiggles every time it hears, “Want to go for a ride in the car?”

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New, More Aggressive Legislation Targets Distracted Driving

new-jersey-coffee-ban-driving

Drinking and driving has been rightly outlawed for decades. Not only is doing so a distraction, it severely alters a driver’s ability to see and respond to hazards in a timely manner.

Texting and driving is equally as dangerous. Writing a single text can take a driver’s eyes off the road for a minimum of five seconds and have deadly consequences.

Distracted driving is a huge problem in this country and costs people their lives every day. Of course, alcohol and texting aren’t the only causes of car crashes. Other crash-causing distractions include putting on makeup, eating burritos, and drinking coffee.

One state believes it can reduce car crashes by making it illegal to do any of those things behind the wheel.

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Will Aston Martin Become the Next Porsche?

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Since the days of early James Bond, British automaker Aston Martin has focused on a lineup of handmade performance luxury sports cars that have been called some of the most beautiful in the world.

The trouble with such a niche is money. Even selling cars that can cost $200,000 or more can create a profit problem when selling in low volume. To address that problem, many of the world’s top-end automakers are producing vehicles that appeal to a larger audience.

It all started when Porsche introduced the Cayenne SUV. Now Bentley and Lamborghini are doing the same. For Aston Martin to survive in this new world, it can’t rely on its old strategy and will add seven new models in the next few years, including a luxury sedan and crossover SUV.

For those who believe that’s good news, it gets even better: the United States is a prime market for Aston’s expansion.

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A Whole New Way to Look at Fiat?

Fiat_ads

Fiat has a problem.

Sales in the United States continue to fall as American car shoppers fail to recognize Fiat’s value proposition. Either that, or the marginal reviews of Fiat’s cars to this point have turned buyers off the brand.

Sales so far for the year are down over 16 percent from last year.

Fiat has some great things going for it now, though, including the 500X mini crossover and the 124 Spider roadster.

To help change how Americans perceive the Fiat brand, FCA has launched a series of video ads aimed at giving U.S. shoppers a “Whole New Way to Look at Fiat.” The ads feature innovative camera techniques, but will that be enough to convince people to put Fiat on their lists?

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Automakers Can Reach 54.5 MPG, But That Doesn’t Mean They Will

2016 Jeep® Renegade Trailhawk

We’ve all been there: January 1st nears, excitement builds, and you set a lofty goal for yourself. Eat healthier. Hit the gym 5 days a week. Engage friends and family in conversations that are not exclusively about cars. You know, your typical New Year’s resolution. In the following weeks, Whole Foods will record record sales and gym memberships will spike. But by mid-February or so, we’ll return to our old habits, and my loved ones will still be trying to remember which seemingly random collection of letters and numbers is made by Cadillac and which by Mercedes-Benz. Our resolutions—promises we made and agreed to stand behind—have become more akin to suggestions. They’re now goals to strive for and be congratulated on, not requirements by which to live. Don’t feel too bad: as it turns out, the auto industry isn’t too different.

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Lotus Prepares New Elise for U.S. Market

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For about eight glorious years, U.S. buyers had the privilege of being able to purchase the lightweight Lotus Elise sports car. The car, fully assembled and ready to take on America’s highways and race tracks, was a hit with buyers thirsty for true driving thrills.

The car first became available in the United States in 2004 and offered a unique combination of speed, efficiency, and striking looks at a reasonable price. The Lotus dream in America lasted until 2011, when the British company had to pull the Elise out of the market due to non-compliant airbags.

Today Lotus is preparing for re-entry into the market with a new Elise and, potentially, an SUV.

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