New Nissan Titan: Finally a Worthy Full-Size Competitor


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The 2015 version of the truck was widely panned as an outdated and underpowered entry in the market.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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Will Aston Martin Become the Next Porsche?


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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Does the U.S. Have the World’s Best Car Selection?


There was a time when Europe got all the cool cars.

A decade ago, Europe had the small, fast, and efficient cars that folks in the U.S. could only envy from across the Atlantic. Even the domestic Big 3 automakers seemed to send their best metal to Europe while leaving the clunky, fuel-thirsty cars stateside.

Americans became especially jealous in 2008, because the price of gas climbed well above $4 per gallon and Europe’s fuel-sipping diesels and small-displacement motors seemed to taunt our oversized V8 SUVs.

Today it’s a different story. Some of the best cars in the world are available for sale here, including some that people in Europe can only dream of someday owning.

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How Many Cars Does the Average American Family Need?


How many cars should a family own?

According to Experian, the average family owns two cars, while 35 percent of American households own three cars or more.

Ownership rates vary greatly across the country and are influenced more by location than income levels. In fact, households with incomes over $250,000 are just as likely to own a single vehicle as households with incomes of $25,000. No matter what your income, is it better to own one car that is an all-purpose, all-season vehicle, or two or more cars that each serve a specific purpose and are used only in certain conditions?

For many families, owning a single car can mean splurging on a luxury brand or buying brand new, while a 4-car family might prefer older used cars that can be purchased with cash.

Let’s look at a couple of scenarios. Which one is closest to your family’s preference?

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Ford Surprises Itself with New 3.5-Liter EcoBoost


Ford’s EcoBoost technology has been a wild success in everything from the Mustang to the F-150.

EcoBoost is, of course, Ford’s name for a direct-injected turbocharged gasoline engine. While the EcoBoost name is specific to Ford, nearly every automaker sells an EcoBoost engine. They just call it a direct-injected turbocharged engine.

Regardless, buyers of the Expedition, Explorer, Taurus, Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta have also had the EcoBoost experience. Owners love them because they offer similar power to larger-displacement engines, but with better fuel economy and lower emissions.

Automakers love them because they get to charge a premium for the privilege of driving one.

Now there’s an additional benefit to driving an EcoBoost. Ford’s second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine has even more power than the automaker originally thought it would.

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What the New CAFE Standards Mean for Auto Buyers

White House Infographic, fuel economy standards

There has been a lot of news this week regarding the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issuing new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The reports seem to suggest the government has gone lax on the issue of fuel economy because most Americans don’t seem to care about it.

One analyst, however, suggests the opposite may be true. Stephanie Brinley, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive, read the entire 1217-page midterm report that discussed the standards (something probably 99 percent of journalists didn’t do, including me).

She wrote in Forbes, “The (CAFE) standard and NHTSA projected figures for the 2025 model year targets, however, have now been revealed as a projection rather than a legal requirement. The report is supportive of the progress and direction of the existing standards. The agencies believe automakers can meet the challenge, and that consumers want it.”

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GM’s Attack Ads Against Ford: Did They Work?


Not long ago we wrote about GM’s attack ads against the Ford F-150 trucks. The ads compared the durability and strength of Chevrolet’s high-strength steel truck bed against Ford’s aluminum bed.

Of course, the test results skewed heavily in Chevrolet’s favor, showing multiple puncture holes in the Ford bed while the Chevy bed escaped mostly unscathed after a front-loader dropped a heavy load of landscaping blocks into each.

Chevy hoped the strategy would scare buyers away from Ford dealerships and cement the Silverado’s reputation as the toughest truck on the market.

Did the campaign work? Not if we base the results on recent sales numbers.

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The Most Popular Cars in Each Time Zone

2016 Ford F-150

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.

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How Long Should Automakers Be on the Hook for Defective Parts?


How long should an automaker remain responsible for poor workmanship?

Traditional car warranties range from about 36,000 to 100,000 miles, or between 3 and 10 years. Typically, if something major is going to go wrong with the vehicle, it’ll happen within the warranted time frame.

Sometimes, however, poor workmanship or defective materials surface after a warranty expires. Automakers can issue recalls to deal with these kinds of problems, and they sometimes do–but usually a car owner is left responsible for repairs.

In 2012, Volkswagen settled a $69 million class-action lawsuit to address the issue of leaking sunroofs in nearly 3 million cars between model years 1997 and 2009. The Audi A4, A6, and A8 were included in the settlement.

The 2007-2009 Audi Q7 was excluded, but owners across the country are now experiencing flooded interiors due to the same problem. Should Audi be on the hook?

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Audi, Toyota Ready Subcompact SUVs


The unofficial car of Seattle is the Audi Q5.

Driving through the Emerald City is like navigating an Audi showroom, as it seems every third car on Interstate 5 sports the 4-ringed logo up front.

It’s grown so common that my family now plays the “Q5 game,” where the first person to spot a Q5 gets to punch someone in the shoulder. It’s a lot like an updated version of the old “slug bug” game involving the Volkswagen Beetle.

This weekend my wife punched my arm, then quickly had to retract it when she noticed the passing car was a Q3, a smaller sibling to the Q5 that we had both forgotten existed.

The Q3 competes against the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA, some of the smallest SUVs on the market, but Audi is now going even smaller with the upcoming Q2.

How small can SUVs get?

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