As we noted Wednesday, muscle cars sold very well in 2014 and 2015, which we took as a sign the car business was healthy. But the first 7 months of 2016 saw Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger sales drop by 5.5% year over year while the redesigned Chevrolet Camaro’s sales dropped by 15.4%. What’s the problem?
Ford has long declared the F-150 the best-selling vehicle in the nation. Though the official sales numbers agree, we thought we’d put that claim to the test ourselves and measure the Ford F-150’s success by gauging consumer interest on CarGurus. Well, it turns out Ford’s right. The F-150 accounts for an extremely high percentage of the leads generated on CarGurus relative to every other vehicle. It’s the top dog in almost every region in the country and was not far behind in the couple of areas where it wasn’t. As such, we declare it the undisputed champ of consumer interest across the country. Its popularity transcends climate demands, geographic challenges, and cultural differences. Turns out contractors need to work across the country, and so Ford’s popularity cannot be touched.
It’s that time of year again. The sun’s beginning to shine just a little too much, and the weather’s transitioning from pleasant and refreshing to downright oppressive. And while some people will turn to more traditional methods of respite—air conditioning is understandably a very popular option, especially in a car—we believe a convertible may be the best cure for the summer heat. We have said it time and time again: that classic feeling of cruising with the top down will never get old. In fact, it seems to get better with time. If you aren’t currently a convertible owner, there are plenty of options out there with a wide range of styles and price tags.
We love cars, but find the fact that it took almost 1.6 million U.S. motor-vehicle fatalities to make wearing a seat belt mandatory in America troubling. Happily, annual fatalities have declined fairly steadily since their early-‘70s peak, despite the fact that Americans now drive well over one and a half times the number of miles they did then, often while using a smartphone. And with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing and rating vehicles for safety and crashworthiness, we have to admit it’s getting better.
Smartphones can, of course, pose huge risks to drivers, so much so that NHTSA partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation to create the distraction.gov website, and “distracted driving” now has its own Wikipedia entry. But the connectivity and processing power of smartphones can also be used to help drivers avoid accidents and to make sure authorities get alerted quickly and with all the information they’ll need to respond to an accident. And those capabilities will definitely be required for any future “self-driving,” “autonomous,” or Autopilot-equipped cars. As we learned at NEMPA/MIT’s recent panel on the intersection of technology and design, a whole new world of car safety and driver-assistance technologies is available–and evolving–so we’re going to take a look at some of the more important and effective new tech.
In The Tempest, William Shakespeare once wrote, “what’s past is prologue.” The quotation implies that one’s history can dictate his or her future actions. It’s written outside the United States National Archives Building, and I had a particularly intelligent and entertaining professor who reflected on it often. Looking at the auto industry, it’s clear that the sentiment extends beyond Shakespeare’s verse.
New automotive technologies emerge every year. We covered some of them last week. Some, like the airbag or the seat belt, have ushered in a new era of motoring, changing the landscape forever. Others fall flat—despite Saab’s creative thinking with the 9000 Prometheus, steering via joystick never really got off the ground (the Prometheus didn’t even make it to production). What I find most interesting is looking back on these advancements and seeing how they’ve impacted cars today, despite their often lackluster starts.
Cars and safety have had a long and difficult relationship, but it became way more complex with the arrival of the smartphone. A Pew survey last year determined that 64% of American adults own a smartphone, and anyone who’s spent any time on American roads within the last couple of years knows many people use those phones while driving. In fact, we’re just concluding April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month, during which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched its “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign.
We strongly urge everyone reading this post to take NHTSA’s recommended steps to minimize their distractions while behind the wheel and avoid getting pulled over–and not just in April, but year-round. Unfortunately, there’s very little any driver can do about to prevent other drivers from getting distracted. So here are ten 2016 cars that should meet the needs and budgets of a wide variety of drivers, all with 5-star overall safety ratings from NHTSA. We hope none of you will ever have to test your car’s safety features, but just in case….
The best way to validate the existence of the Ford Mustang is to offer it for sale in a land where it shouldn’t be popular.
The Mustang, of course, has been a hot seller for as long as it’s been on the market in the United States. In the past, however, foreign markets have seen it as an outdated and mechanically inferior excuse for a sports car. It’s a car that was built for straight-line acceleration and paled in comparison to true sports cars, most of which hailed from Germany.
Now, though, the car has a true independent rear suspension and can hold its own against any other sports car, no matter where it’s from.
Ford felt like it had something special with the latest Mustang and decided to roll it out in the country famous for producing Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. Surely, if it could sell there, it could sell anywhere in the world.
The Germans, though, would have a superiority complex and shun the Mustang, right?
Not so much.
To most people, spring means longer days, sunny skies, and flowers in bloom. For us, however, spring also means great deals on outgoing model-year vehicles. While some cars, like the Honda Civic and Mitsubishi Outlander, received enormous changes between the 2015 and 2016 model years, others enjoyed more modest enhancements or were complete holdovers from the year before. It’s these cars — the unchanged models — that we want to find.
As more and more 2016 cars pour onto (and off of) dealership lots and our planet Earth approaches yet another successful revolution around the Sun, it’s time to wave farewell to the automotive Class of 2015. In 2014, BMW brought us the spaceship-like i8 and first showed us its new 2 and 4 Series coupes. Jaguar rolled onto the scene with its convertible F-TYPE, putting the rest of the sports-car world on notice, and Chevrolet responded with authority as it unveiled the C7 Corvette. But, if anything, 2015 brought even more excitement to the market. Dodge began selling 707-hp Hellcats, Jaguar put a roof on the F-Type, Volvo brought a stunning new wagon to the United States, and Jeep gave us a Renegade that is surprisingly good off-road.
The next time you find yourself leafing through your copy of Wikipedia, take a close look at some of the antique car pages. The early days of the automobile were undoubtedly exciting, but change was actually very slow for individual makes and models. The car synonymous with brass era automobiles, the Ford Model T, ran its course for 19 years with hardly any cosmetic changes. Beyond some tweaks to the hood, cowl, and fenders, a ‘27 Model T can be easily confused with a model 10 years older. Think of it as the Porsche 911 design philosophy.