2018 North American International Auto Show Highlights

Man. Look at this mess.
The 2018 auto show circuit kicked off with the North American International Auto Show. From January 13th through to the 28th, the world’s top auto manufacturers gathered at the Cobo Center in Detroit, MI to showcase the new model year cars and trucks, upcoming future production models, and bespoke one-off concept designs that vary from extravagant to just plain weird. It was a venerable ‘Who’s Who’ of journalists, press and media, industry insiders, product reps, brand ambassadors, company spokespeople, and corporate executives before doors were opened to the public on Saturday the 20th. And of course, let’s not forget the all-star cast of the event: the vehicles, themselves.

Here are 5 of our favorite picks from this year’s NAIAS.

 

After a few years abroad, Ford's small/midsize pickup comes back home in 2018.

2019 FORD RANGER

The last time we saw a Ford Ranger on display in American showrooms was back in 2011. Due to Ford’s increased emphasis on full-size pickup trucks and SUVs, Ford abandoned the Ranger in the U.S. but continued production for the international markets; thus forfeiting their market share to the Toyota Tacoma, the Nissan Frontier, and–to a much lesser extent–the General Motors carbon-copy twins, Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon (a third badge-engineered corporate cousin, the Isuzu i-Series, went to the big scrapyard in the sky in 2008). Whisperings among enthusiasts, journalists, insiders, and trolls arguing with each other in the comments section of YouTube have circulated about a possible resurrection of the beloved Ford Ranger since 2012 but now, 6 years later in 2018, the rumours have become fact and an all-new Ford Ranger is set to debut for the 2019 model year. Now classified as a midsize pickup, the new Ranger features larger dimensions and bolder styling cues than its predecessor and will carry Ford’s widely-implemented 2.3 litre EcoBoost turbo 4-cylinder born from the Mazda L family of engines. Ford intends to knock the current reigning segment leader, the 2nd generation Chevrolet Colorado from archrival General Motors, from off the top of the midsize truck hierarchy. Hopefully, for Ford’s sake, they’ve gotten that little door latch issue figured out by now. Also, those airbags.

 

If Chevy can churn out ugly yellow 'Transformers' edition Camaros annually, Ford can re-release the Bullitt Mustang every couple or so years.

2019 FORD MUSTANG BULLITT

Historically, the Ford Mustang has always d̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶b̶e̶t̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶j̶o̶b̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶p̶l̶o̶w̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶r̶o̶u̶g̶h̶ ̶b̶y̶s̶t̶a̶n̶d̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶ ̶m̶e̶e̶t̶ outsold the Chevrolet Camaro (with the notable exception of a brief period between 2009 and 2014) whereas the Dodge Challenger was hardly a challenger to either (especially, not this one). Now entering its 54th straight year of continuous production, America’s Favorite C̶r̶o̶w̶d̶ ̶K̶i̶l̶l̶e̶r̶ Pony Car has been refreshed for 2018. Among this year’s checklist of numerous updates is a restyled front fascia, revised rear tail lamp design, an available LCD instrument cluster, new wheels, and a boost in horsepower for the V8 GT model from 435 to 460, besting the Chevrolet Camaro SS’s output by 5 ponies. Complementing the amended Mustang GT is the return of the special edition Mustang Bullitt, aptly named and styled after the iconic 1968 G.T. 390 fastback driven by Steve McQueen in the 1968 Action-Thriller, ‘Bullitt’.  This year marks the 4th appearance of the Mustang Bullitt, as well as the 50th anniversary of ‘Bullitt’.  To commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary, Ford pulled out all the stops, including a special presentation featuring the original 1968 movie car that was thought to have been lost for the past 44 years.  The new 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt improves upon the standard GT’s upgrades with additional enhancements of its own.  Differences between the standard GT and the Mustang Bullitt consist of a 15 horsepower bump to 475, a top speed of 163 MPH (VIA removal of the speed governor), a cold air intake and intake manifold borrowed from the Shelby GT350, recalibrated powertrain computer programming, special black retro wheels, a retro ball-shifter for the 6-speed manual, and a somewhat movie-inaccurate recreation of the famous Dark Highland Green paint color (also available in a 100% movie-inaccurate black).  The Mustang Bullitt stands out from lesser Mustangs with its distinct, badge-and-spoiler-free body save for the rear faux gas cap appliqué.  It acts as a temporary stopgap between the standard GT and the range-topping Shelby GT350.  That is, until the lineup gets jostled around again with inevitable return of the venomous Shelby GT500.

 

Nobody in the history of the world has ever said, 'WOW! That's a nice Hyundai!'

2019 HYUNDAI VELOSTER & VELOSTER N

Hyundai Motors’ surprise hit from 2011 has been thoroughly updated, revised, and refreshed for the 2019 model year.  The 2nd generation Hyundai Veloster compact K-tail coupe appeals to both the young demographic and the “young-at-heart automotive enthusiast”, according to Mike O’Brien, Vice President of Product, Corporate and Digital Planning at Hyundai Motor America. A youthful exterior replete with edgy bodywork that does not cut into real-world practicality, along with an abundance of modern infotainment and technological features, helps add to the broad appeal of the Veloster.

The Veloster N stacks well against the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI, but comes up short against the Focus ST and Golf R.
Joining the standard Veloster and Veloster Turbo models is the brand-new, performance-based Veloster N, which has its sights set on the Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Golf GTI, and Honda Civic Si. The Veloster N demonstrates the suspension and tuning magic of former-BMW M-Sport Division Vice President of Engineering/current-Hyundai President of Performance Development and High Performance Vehicle Division, Albert Biermann. Power output is improved over the Veloster Turbo’s base 2.0 litre turbocharged, direct-injection DOHC I4 from 201 horsepower and 132 lb. ft. of torque to 275 horsepower and up to 260 lb. ft. of torque. Specially-designed brakes, an enhanced front suspension setup to quell torque steer and improve steering, and a myriad of driver-selectable driving modes through the N Grin Control System transforms the commuter-friendly standard Veloster models into a capable, competent, and competitive enthusiast’s car. As capable, competent, and competitive as any compact economy car with wrong-wheel drive can be.

 

Aufstehen!

2019 MERCEDES-AMG: E53 & CLS53

Mercedes-Benz had a large showing in Detroit. The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Glass (W464) luxury SUV wowed audiences with its tall and sharp angular proportions; a powerful visage that only hints at its all-terrain muscle and off-road capabilities. Only three components just barely carry over from the previous W463 platform but otherwise, the new W464 is an all-new design built from the ground up. Now, for those who prefer carving corners, tearing through superhighways, and commuting with style and sophistication versus traversing through inhospitable territories, Mercedes-AMG presents the next evolution in their high-performance E-Class-based sport luxury saloons, the 53-Series E-Class saloon and coupe, cabriolet, and CLS saloon.

Made for the Autobahn but lives at the dealership service department.
Whether you want your Mercedes-AMG with 2 doorsa convertible top, or as a sleek and low-slung 4-door sedan with coupe-like fastback styling, Mercedes-AMG delivers the world’s finest in performance, luxury accouterments, and state-of-the-art engineering. The 53-Series does away with the previous M156 twin-turbo V8 in exchange for a new hybrid system that joins a 3.0 litre turbocharged inline 6-cylinder with EQ Boost starter-alternator. Also, there’s the standard AMG-specific 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system, the AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G multi-clutch automatic transmission with performance refinements, AMG DYNAMIC SELECT configurable drive modes, independent AMG RIDE CONTROL+ suspension, plus other enhancements that reflect AMG’s racetrack pedigree. Everything you need to remind everyone else on the road–as well as all the other cars behind you at the big corporate overpriced coffee franchise drive-thru, as you hold up the line arguing with the clerk because your Doubleshot Caffè Americano Doppio Espresso Caramel Mocha Macchiato Latte™® had SOY MILK when it should’ve had ALMOND–that you’re better than them.

 

The automotive equivalent of euthanasia, but with new sheet metal.

2019 TOYOTA AVALON

Toyota’s Camry and Corolla are bonafide sales winners. Think of just how many of them you see while on your daily drive to and from work or how they dominate your local neighborhood supermarket’s parking lot. However, as these two comatose commuters continue to swallow up market share in their respective midsize and compact segments, their full-size bretheren, the Avalon, hasn’t quite enjoyed the same kind of success as of late. Factors that contribute to the Avalon’s consistent downward spiral include America’s stubborn preference towards crossovers and SUVs and an overall shrinking of the full-size car market. For the past 4 years, the Avalon has continued to lose ground to the Dodge Charger (although the 707 horsepower SRT Hellcat doesn’t make up for the fact that most customers are mass-purchasing the V6 base model for fleet and rental agencies), Chevrolet Impala, and the Nissan Maxima but Toyota looks to change their fortunes with an all-new Avalon for the 2019 model year. The 2019 Toyota Avalon rides on a brand new platform called the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), a production method that employs a single structure to be utilized across all of Toyota’s car and car-based vehicles. The ideology is not too dissimilar to the reviled but necessary (for the times) Chrysler K-car platform from the Lee Iacocca days. Now with the XX50 designation, the 2019 Avalon does away with the previous XX40 Avalon’s anonymous and uninspired styling (or lack thereof) and substitutes it with bold curves, sharp body lines, and that awkwardly-placed giant Corolla-esque front end has been supplanted by an even uglier, even more grotesque grille treatment that resembles meth mouth.  It doesn’t just take the whole design scheme down a few rungs, it knocks it completely off the ladder. Butthen againugly front ends are what’s hot in today’s automotive world. It’s quite apparent that for the top flagship Toyota car model, they’ve decided to borrow elements from their Lexus division. The Avalon proudly advertises a host of technological advancements in regards to driving dynamics, infotainment, and crash mitigation features as well as a contemporary approach to style that, while modern, will not be off-putting to their dedicated clientele (IE: senior citizens). In contrast, the 2GR-FE V6, a Toyota mainstay, reappears under the hood of the new Avalon and is a welcome departure from the slew of overwound, turbocharged 4-bangers that are taking their place. An alternative TNGA 2.5 litre 4-cylinder hybrid is available as an alternative to the no-frills V6. Power is sent to the front wheels through a Toyota/Aisin AW-designed transverse 8-speed DirectShift automatic transmission and features new logic programming in order to get the most out of whichever powertrain is equipped. The XX50 Avalon’s greater attention to build quality and detail encroaches on the territory of Toyota’s own Lexus ES but the Japanese manufacturer hopes that they can woo full-size car shoppers away from the Chevrolet dealership and into a Toyota showroom to look at the new Avalon. Well, at least one visit before they inevitably go back to the Chevy dealer and buy that Impala for stupid cheap.

Have you been following the 2018 North American International Auto Show news? If so, which one is your favorite? Which new vehicle can you picture sitting in your driveway?

Review: 2018 Honda Civic Type R

After 2 decades, the 2018 Honda Civic Type R is FINALLY on American shores.
Well, boys and girls, it’s finally here. The new Honda Civic Type R, which was first revealed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, has finally hit dealer showrooms and is on sale now in the U.S. of A. 2017 marks the 5th generation of the Type R variant of the Honda Civic and the 10th generation overall for the Civic, which has been in continuous production since 1972.

 

The 1973 Honda Civic epitomized the practical, affordable, environmentally-conscious, and budget-friendly economy car. Driving it was just as fun and engaging as walking or taking the bus.
A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON…

The original Honda Civic made its debut on July 11th, 1972 (as a 1973 model), replacing the N600 as the subcompact economy entry in Honda’s vehicle lineup. It was an immediate hit right out of the box in its native Japan, overtaking its domestic rivals from Nissan and Toyota. The Civic also achieved international success in both England and the United States as it specifically catered to motorists who were affected by the 1973 Oil Crisis and had grown jaded of the increasing banality of traditional, full-sized land barges. The Civic’s mass appeal as an inexpensive, fuel-friendly, and reliable (albeit, boring and uninspired) commuter car, combined with Honda’s growing reputation for hardiness, legions of Civic aficionados and Honda brand loyalists were formed as a result. In 1997, Honda’s famed Type R performance treatment was finally applied to the Civic, granting the little economy car to oin the legendary NSX supercarDC2 and DC5 Integra, and CH/CL Accord in the Honda Type R stable of high-performance vehicles. The Honda Civic Type R remained unavailable in the North American market since its initial release but now, just in time for the first Civic Type R’s 20th anniversary, the newest iteration of the Civic Type R has finally made its way to American shores to do battle against other performance-oriented “hot hatches” such as the Volkswagen Golf R and the Ford Focus RS.

 

This instant rice cooks in just 5.9 seconds.
SO, WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

The Type R badge indicates the ultimate level of Honda-bred factory performance. Akin to BMW’s M-SportMercedes-AMG, the Lexus F Sport brand, and (to a lesser degree) Cadillac V-Series and the Chevrolet SS designation, Honda’s Type R incorporates advanced factory modifications to production cars in the name of performance. Optimal engine tuning and suspension setup, weight reduction, and enhanced braking and handling capabilities are the ingredients that go into breeding a Honda car that’s worthy enough to wear the exclusive red Honda H emblem. The Honda Civic Type R was already long available in the Japanese Domestic (JDM) and European markets, but was always restricted from entering the North American market. Reasons for this include the differences in structural architecture for North American-spec and the Japanese/European versions, US government-imposed crash safety, emissions, and fuel-economy regulations, and possibly an effort by Honda themselves to eliminate any potential product overlap with their own Acura brand. To compensate for their own refusal to sell the Civic Type R in North America, Honda positioned the Si (Sport Injected) trim level (which began with the 1985 Civic CRX) over time to incorporate an increasing blend of performance and comfort amenities, but not to Acura-esque levels. That’s not to say that the Sis were Zonk prizes. Sis have went on to amass their own devoted following across the worldwide Tuner landscape. But for the JDM enthusiast in America, the Civic Type R remained an unattainable treasure, much like the Australian-only duo of the FPV GT-F and HSV GTSR for Muscle Car fans.

 
My, my. We certainly have come a long way, haven't we?
Unlike Honda Civics of the past, the current 10th generation now utilizes a single globalized platform on which it is built. The term ‘globalized platform’ means that a specific model (or models) built in multiple factories across the world use the same architecture as opposed to separate, regionalized constructs. In the case of the Honda Civic, they’ll all have the same bones, regardless of whether they come from Canada, the US, or the UK. The Honda of the UK Manufacturing plant in Swindon, Wiltshire is the birthplace of the new Type R, as well as all 10th generation Civic hatchbacks and the Civic-based CR-V compact crossover SUV.

Appearance-wise, the 10th generation Honda Civic (also known as FC/FK) is a polarizing vehicle. It’s one of those ‘love it or hate it’-type designs that attracts as strongly as it repels; a stark contrast to the comparatively sedate and almost-comatose styling of the 8th and 9th generations from 2005 to 2016. Depending on your point of view, the Type R either builds upon or grossly exaggerates Honda’s current design philosophy which is clearly inspired by the reborn NSX. The chrome brightwork found on the base model’s grille and window trim is replaced with solid black accents. REAL carbon fibre—not the fake stuff that can be bought in THAT AISLE at THAT STORE—can be found as it makes up the side skirts, front splitter, and that cartoonishly ridiculous-looking rear spoiler that, according to Honda, actually serves an aerodynamic purpose. There’s even a finned row of vortex generators on the roof that smooths airflow coming out the back, a functional inlet scoop on the new aluminum hood to extract engine bay heat while adding front downforce, functional front bumper air curtains and front side fender vents, new widened fender flares that coincide with the larger 20” black alloy wheels, and topped off with a questionable triple tailpipe exhaust (more on that one, later). The interior is typical FC/FK Honda Civic fare, save for all-new racing-style front bucket seats, Alcantara faux suede inserts along the interior touchpoint, and the juvenile red accents and carbon fibre-look trim that’s all part of the trademark Type R look. Exterior paint colors include Crystal Black Pearl, Rallye Red, Aegean Blue Metallic, Polished Metal Metallic, and Championship White; a Honda hallmark since 1992. And, of course, that iconic red Honda H badge.

 

More than just decals and stick-on plastic bits and bobs.
We’ve discussed this skin. Now, let’s talk about the guts. This is what separates the Type R from lesser Civic models. In addition to the structural improvements Honda incorporated into the FC/FK Civic in the name of smooth airflow and chassis rigidity, the Type R replaces the entire front end suspension with extensive use of lightweight aluminum and a new system called Dual-Axis. Like GM’s HiPer Strut and Ford’s RevoKnuckle, the Dual-Axis front suspension is designed to help quell the bane of wrong-wheel drive vehicles: torque steer. Front-end twist is suppressed while fortifying ability and steering feel. Out back, the multi-link rear suspension that replaces the previous torsion beam (dead axle) improves ride quality and at-speed stability. 20” black alloy wheels with 245 width tires grip the road while the bespoke Brembo high-performance brake setup brings it all to a dead stop. Integrated brake ducts from the front end to the wheel wells prevent the Brembos from overheating. The standard Civic’s electric power steering has been retuned and revised with a new variable ratio to deliver a more direct steering feel and response. An electronic adaptive suspension features G-sensors and four-wheel continuously variable electromagnetic dampers while Honda’s optimized Agile Handling Assist stability program keeps the Civic Type R planted in high-speed turns, plus adds selectable driving modes to suit the driver’s preference. Under the hood resides the heart of the Type R; the 2.0L VTEC TURBO K-series engine named K20C1, the first Honda Type R engine to be built in America. Churning out an unbelievable 306 horsepower and 295 pound feet of torque, this little 4-cylinder—with the help of a massive turbocharger and other assorted engine programming hocus pocus—makes more power than many V6 engines and some V8s from not too long ago. An air-to-air intercooler, 2-piece water-cooled cylinder head manifold, and internal cooling channels in the engine block keep rising temperatures in check. Power is delivered VIA a 6-speed manual transmission featuring a helical limited slip front differential and an auxiliary transmission oil cooler. A lightened flywheel and special gear ratio optimized for performance connects the driver to the machine with greater throttle response and speed control. Spent gasses are sent through the previously-mentioned custom triple-exit exhaust that terminates at the rear of the vehicle and placed within the center of the rear diffuser. The two main pipes expel exhaust fumes while the smaller center pipe controls the tone and volume of the exhaust. It works in a similar fashion to cutouts and the active butterfly valves, only using exhaust gas pressure versus electronically-controlled solenoids.

That red 'H' emblem lets 'em all know that YOU MEAN BUSINESS! Unless, of course, the car next to you is wearing an M-Sport, AMG, GT3, GT-R NISMO, F Sport, V, Z06, SS, 1LE, Shelby, or SRT badge. Oh, Well. If it's any consolation to you, at least you paid less and get better gas mileage.
Together, this formula of new sheetmetal, new bones, new guts, and new brain(s) is what gives the Honda Civic Type R the credentials to sit atop the Type R ladder as the most powerful model in all of the marque’s storied history.

 

With a Nordschleife lap time of 7:43.80, the 2018 Honda Civic Type R is officially the World's Quickest Grocery Getter.
WHO CARES?

By now, most auto rags and every fanboy on the Internet has waxed poetic about the Civic Type R’s record-setting lap time of 7:43.80 at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. That’s faster than some of the world’s most decorated entries in the upper echelon of performance, including the Porsche 911 GT3Audi R8Pagani Zonda SFerrari 599, and the Lamborghini Murciélago LP640. Perhaps, most shocking of all, is that this feat was accomplished through the front wheels which, typically, is not an ideal drivetrain layout for true performance cars. Some of the world’s greatest supercars were beaten by a daily beater on the grandest stage of them all, the “Green Hell” of Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife. But what does that mean in the real world of daily commuting to and from work, going to the grocery store to pick up milk and eggs, or driving across state lines to spend a weekend with the relatives? Absolutely nothing. Sure, the stats all look good on paper and you’re bound to stir up some kind of pointless argument in the comments section of any car video on YouTube, but in all reality, it means nothing.

 

I'll bet you dollars to yen that this thing will never see track time and is destined to spend its entire life hardparked outside of Starbucks.
Remember: this is a still just a daily commuter, not a full-blown race car. It’s purpose is to live everyday life, not to compete against GTS Aston Martins, GT Le Mans Ferraris, and Daytona Prototypes on the banks and infield twisties of the Daytona International Speedway sports course. The 2018 Honda Civic Type R stickers for around $35,000. That is, of course, after you eliminate all those greedy, dishonest, bloodsucking dealerships who have the gall to charge up to an 80% premium over the MSRP.

$35,000 can buy you one of the most highly-anticipated new car releases in the past 10 years and a long-desired model that was never-before offered for sale in the United States. In comparison, the base Civic sedan starts at $18,840. The coupe, oddly enough, commands a 2.17% increase over the sedan for a base price of $19,250. The hatchback tops the Honda Civic hierarchy for a starting price of $19,900. Start adding options and moving up the list of available options packages and the price balloons up into the neighborhood of over $30,000. $5,000 more nets you the Type R. That’s quite a bit of coin for what is, at its very core, a basic front-wheel drive economy car. If looking at price alone, $35,000 can let you drive home in your choice of a new, 2018 base model Audi A3BMW 3-SeriesMercedes-Benz CLA-ClassCadillac ATS, or Infiniti Q50—all of which carry higher brand prestige and curb appeal than the lowly Honda Civic. On the other hand, absolutely NONE of them offer anywhere near the amount of raw power as the Civic Type R. None of them boast the same blend of performance and practicality as the Civic Type R, and none of them will be as cheap and inexpensive to maintain as the Civic Type R.

 

Against the AWD Ford, VW, and Subaru, the Civic Type R is the proverbial knife in a gunfight. But with 306 horsepower, it's quite a big knife that should be handled very carefully.
If you’re cross-shopping the direct competition, the top-dog Ford Focus RS commands a $2,000 upcharge against the Civic Type R. Hefty, but what you’re getting for the money is best-in-class power in an overall superior performing machine that, depending on your personal preferences, might be just a bit too extreme and downright violent for the everyday commute. The 2017 Volkswagen Golf R asks for only $600 over the Civic Type R, but offers legendary German chassis engineering and and the only dual-clutch DSG transmission of the lot while the current Subaru WRX STi (only $200 more than the Civic Type R) carries Subaru’s reputation for diehard reliability and is also the only competitor to feature the unique flat “boxer” engine design. The Focus RS, Golf R, and WRX STi all come standard with all-wheel-drive while the Civic Type R has to make due with putting its power through the same set of wheels that also steer the car. Ford and Volkswagen have available two lesser variants of their high-performance hatchbacks that also compete in the same segment as their beefier brethren; the Focus ST and Golf GTI, respectively. Both models are significantly less pricier than the Honda Civic Type R, nearly $10,000 less, but are also far less capable than the Honda and, at this point, probably far less desirable.

 

Granny shiftin' not double clutchin' like you should.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you, to decide what’s right for you and what you’re in the market to buy. Not your friends, not the musings of some self-absorbed writer in an overblown manufacturer-sponsored advertisement in any of the big name car magazines, not what the anonymous basement dwellers and social media trolls comment and post about on the Internet. It’s up to you, the shopper. The Honda Civic Type R is an automotive engineering marvel; a marriage made in Heaven between Japanese engineering and English-style sport driving dynamics, and a gift to the JDM Honda fans who kept the faith for so long while others across the globe got to enjoy what was never before accessible until now. Try one out for yourself and you be the judge. Tanoshinde kudasai, mates!

Old Car Commercials – The NEW 1982 Nissan Sentra

This is the first of many old car commercials we’ll be posting over the upcoming weeks. For whatever reason these old ads are memorizing. Maybe its a sign of the times or a look back into what life once was. Sometimes just thinking about how grainy the TV looked is interesting. Today’s old car ad is for the 1982 Nissan Sentra. This was right in the middle of the name transition from Datsun to Nissan where people would shop the Datsun dealer for the newest Nissan models. 

The Sentra was released in 1982 as a replacement for the Datsun 210 model. The US base price for a base model 1982 Sentra was just $4949 with an EPA mileage rating of 43 mpg! In 1982 this little econo-box got 43 mpg and and estimated 58 mpg on the highway. What gives Nissan? Where are these fuel mileage numbers now? The assumption can be made that increased safety and emissions regulations have made it more difficult to hit these numbers but still. They’ve had 34+ years to figure it out!

While the 1982 Sentra had excellent mileage on paper I don’t think many would spend 58 miles in one of these cars today. There’s no bluetooth, wifi, navigation, bose audio, panoramic sunroof, butt heaters and all the other do-dads people expect in their cars today. Still this early 80’s Nissan Sentra represents a time in Automotive history when one of the great Japanese car brands was reborn. Almost 35 years later and Nissan remains a top brand in the US and even outliving some of the classic American brands. That in itself is something special. 

Watch the 10th Generation Honda Civic Si Prototype reveal

 

Honda has revealed the 10th generation Civic Si prototype to show off the performance direction of the 2017 Si coupe and sedan. Honda has a long history with its Si name plate and hopes to come out swinging with what they claim to be the most powerful Civic Si they’ve ever produced. The Si will be at the 2016 LA Auto show in coupe, sedan and hatchback variations. Even bigger news is that Honda will finally be bringing a Civic Type R to the US. It’s been something import tuners have lusted after for years and Honda is finally making it happen. Details about the new Type R haven’t been fully released but Honda will have a prototype of it on display along side the new Civic Si. 

Powering this new Civic Si will be a high-performance and high-torque 1.5 liter direct injected turbo engine mated to a 6 speed manual transmission. Additionally this Civic will offer a new active damper system, active steering, limited slip differential, and high performance tires. These are all things people have been modding onto Civics for years in the aftermarket. Limited slip differential, turbo, high torque engines, appearance kits; it’s as if Honda finally opened up a Honda Tuning magazine and saw what all the fuss has been about all these years. This car should make for a great base platform for further tuning or an excellent platform for those that wanted all these things in the past but didn’t want to modify their factory cars. Well done Honda, well done. 

The Civic Si will be on dealer lots next year as Honda rolls out all models of the Civic lineup for 2017. The roll out with finish with the Type R Civic later in 2017.

Audi US reveals the all new A5 and S5 Sportback models

2018_audi_a5_sportback_front_shot_silver

Audi of America has just introduced 2 new models with the 2018 A5 and S5 Sportback models. This is a revitalized hatchback sedan trend started by cars like the Honda Crosstour and BMW X6. Audi enters this game with two new offerings based on its most popular sedan platform. In Audi fashion, both models are essential the same car with the S model offering a beefier engine and a sportier driving dynamic. The new A5 and S5 models will come standard with Quattro all-wheel drive with front a front to rear ratio of 40:60.

The A5 sport back will be powered by a 2.0L Turbo engine mated to a 7 speed dual clutch automatic to create 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Audi estimates this power plant to push the A5 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. The S5 will come with a turbo 3.0L V6 the puts out 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Audi estimates a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds for the S5 thanks to a new 8 speed automatic. One thing to note is that the S5 will only come with an automatic while the A5 will still offer a manual transmission option.

Audi is hoping to appeal to the luxury sedan buyer that wants a little more utility. While this segment of car is still very unique and sometimes even a little odd; Audis take on a hatch back sedan looks very attractive. This might just be the best looking 4 door sedan hatchback out there. Buyers can expect to see the A5 and S5 hit dealer lots in spring of 2017 as 2018 models.

Kia adds a Turbo to its 2017 Soul lineup

2017 Soul Turbo

The internet is buzzing today with the news of a new Kia Soul model. Ok maybe not buzzing. You might be saying “It’s just a Kia Soul” which is completely reasonable however anytime you add a turbo to something people start to pay attention. The 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim is boasting 201 horsepower from a 1.6L 4 cylinder engine. What’s more is that Kia is claiming slightly better fuel efficiency than its base model engines. Mated to a 7 speed dual clutch transmission the Soul is shaping up to be a very fun and nimble little daily driver.

It will be interesting to see if Kia has made improvements to their 7 speed dual clutch after owner complaints about the similar unit in the Hyundai Tucson. Tucson owners have complained about dead spots in the cars acceleration that have come close to being dangerous. Many state that poor drivability ruins and otherwise excellent vehicle. Hopefully Hyundai and Kia can get that worked out before the new Soul Exclaim gets released.

Aside from performance updates the Exclaim model comes decked out with 18 inch wheels, unique badges, dual chrome exhaust tips, body trim enhancements and some mild interior tweaks. No specific release dates have been announced, but expect it to hit dealers soon as a 2017 model.   

How does a CVT Transmission work

A question that some of us ask ourselves. Or have even been asked by friends or customers. I have a car with a CVT transmission and I have always wondered how a CVT actually worked. I knew it was belt driven but I didn’t know how the belt was driven and how one belt could do the work making it go through “gears”. Now that CVT transmissions are more main stream that they once were most of us have ridden in a car with a CVT. The number one thing we notice first is that there is not Shift/Step feeling as it switches gears. CVT Transmissions are made to give the engine efficiency under acceleration and going up hills. They also give you improved gas mileage and over the years the benefits are starting too finally out way the cons of owning one. CVT transmissions were not always the most reliable when they first started being introduced to cars but we will get into that later.

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CVT Transmissions have 3 main components. There is a Drive pulley, Driven pulley, and a belt. The belts are known to be either high strength rubber or metal. The two pulleys also have clutches and sheathes on them that will move one side of the pulley to make it wider or narrower depdnding on the ratio the cars transmission computer decides it needs to be in. By doing this you have an almost infinite number of ratios. When this happens the other pulley will do the opposite to change the ratio of how much output needs to make it to the wheels. Because of this you do not get any kind “shift” or “Stepping feelings”. The drive pulley is connected to the cars crankshaft. The driven pulley is called so because the drive pulley is turning it. That is known as the output pulley and the cars driveshaft is connected to that.

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As you can see in the picture it is a pretty simple concept considering that of a normal automatic transmission that is a nightmare to even look at the inside of. There are multiple types of CVT transmissions but the main one we are going over today is the belt driven type.

The advantages of owning a CVT transmission are tremendous! I have to say I love my car and the loss of “Shift shock” and I always have power whenever I need it. No need to wait for the transmission to shift and get that power. You will also have improved fuel efficiency, there is always better control over emissions and the ride is exceptionally smooth. Some cons of owning one can be the expense of have to replace it and earlier CVT transmissions were not the most reliable. Although they are getting much better throughout the years some people have sworn off of them because of past reliability issues. Also the weak point of these transmissions is the belt. The quality of the belts has been questionable throughout the years. Some last forever and some break within 70K miles, I wouldn’t worry about it though because most manufacturers give a decent warranty on power train.

Finally I have a bonus question for you. What was the first u.s. production car to have a CVT transmission?

 

Recall Alert: Mini recalls 35,000 cars

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Mini is recalling about 35,000 cars in the U.S. and Canada do to safety regulations not met for side impacts for rear passengers. The recall includes Cooper, Cooper S Hardtop two-door cars from 2014 and 2015. It also includes the 2015 John Cooper works Hardtop Two-door. Basically rear passengers are at a higher risk of injury from side impacts, when you bring your car in to the dealer they will install more energy absorption material between the rear interior side panels and body starting September 12th.

The documents were filed with the U.S. safety regulations that is knows of no accidents or injuries from this problem. The recall will include 30,456 U.S. cars and 4,130 Canadian cars.

This is not one of the biggest recalls in car maker history but this could potentially be dangerous. If you own one of these cars please contact your local dealer to get your car scheduled for repair. The last thing we want to see is anyone get hurt do to lack in safety.