When it made its world debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November. The word in the room was “Damm”.
While American auto makers are exiting the car market the rest of the world is foraging ahead. With Hyundai/Kia, Toyota and now Mazda either refreshing or introducing all new models for 2019.
Mazda, one of the smaller players in the Auto world, has taken a page out of the Hyundai\Kia playbook, by offering value at a competitive price.
The new Mazda 3 comes in two flavors a Sedan or a Hatchback
In its last generation, I preferred the hatchback. In this generation, I prefer the lines of the sedan.
If you took away the Mazda logo, this car could pass for an Audi and while its looks good outside, the interior looks very expensive, again Audi and BMW
There isn’t anything its segment that can touch it.
Its available in automatic or six speed manual. As in the previous generation. The standard engine in the “3” is a 2.0 Skyactive engine producing 155 hp and 150 pound feet of torque. The optional engine is the 2.5 Skyactive engines producing 185 hp and 180 pound feet of torque. New for 2019 is an all wheel drive model. It would be nice in Mazda dropped a turbo into the “3” bringing back the days of the hot hatch Mazdaspeed. One can dream. To keep this car competitive they have dropped the independent suspension for a less expensive rear torsion beam set up. Mazda is using more sound deadening in the car making it quieter
This sexy SEXY beast starts about just under $22 grand and the top version with sunroof and a Bose systems tops out about 30K .
Mazda is known for its handling. Later this spring, were gonna see not only how well it handles. We will see in the little “3′ will accommodate this Big City man.
The all new 2020 Toyota Corolla design isn’t earth shattering and 2018 and the Honda Civic is still bat shit ugly, But side by side, which would you drive?
Mazda sales numbers are minisule compared to all the other players. Both Honda and Toyota out sale Mazda nearly 15 to one. The big question, will the new Mazda 3 bring new and first time car buyers to the brand?
All new could be all wrong if your buying a new car. Buyers of the latest and greatest are more often than not, are The unofficial guinea pigs for Automakers If often takes a few years to get the bugs out of all new car. Last week, Consumer Reports released their annual new-car reliability ranking. The culprit in some of the newer models seems to be the infotainment systems, the complex nine and ten speed automatic transmissions and the new Turbo Charged engines.
In this report there seems to be a trend. Some Vehicles with new technology: engines, transmission, infotainment systems have dropped in reliability. Highly rated brands like Buick, Honda, Tesla, and other reliable name plates have seen steep drops from 2017. Older lower rated cars like the Dodge Charger and the Chrysler 300 with designs that date back to 2006 have risen in reliability. In some cars, like the Tesla nearly every function is handled via the infotainment system. In those cars, some owners complained about freezing screens, preventing them from changing station, to adjusting the temperature. Some systems like Chrysler’s give you the option of using knobs or the screen.
The Ford Fusion, one of the best built domestic vehicles, have seen its ratings fall due to problems with Ford’s new Sync 3 system. The second generation Buick LaCrosse enjoyed a good repair history. The third generation introduced in 2017 was all new with a new 8 speed transmission, buyers of the third generation complained about a rough transmission.
Each year, Consumer Reports sends a questionnaire to its members to learn about issues that they’ve had with their cars over the past year, and the severity of those issues. In their latest survey , CR got info on over 500,000 vehicles from model years 2000 to 2018, gathering information bout problems that owners have had in twelve key areas, including engine internals, accessory drive, cooling system, transmission internals, drive train, fuel system, electrical system, brakes, climate control, exhaust, in-car electronics, and others.
Consumer Reports Most Reliable Brands for 2018
LEXUS-(Best Model-GX\ Worst-IS)
TOYOTA (Best Model PriusC\Worst-Tacoma)
MAZDA (Best Model-Miata\Worst-CX-3)
SUBARU (Best Model-Crosstrek\Worst WRX)
KIA (Best Model-Sedona\Worst Cadenza)
INFINITI (Best Model-Q60\Worst Q50)
AUDI (Best Model-Q5\Worst-A3)
BMW (Best Model i3\Worst X1)
MINI (Best Model Countryman\Worst Cooper)
HYUNDAI (Best Model Santa Fe XL\ Worst Ioniq)
PORSCHE (Best Model 911\ Worst-Cayenne)
GENESIS (Best Model G80\Worst G90)
ACURA (Best Model ILC\Worst MDX)
NISSAN (Best Model Maxima\Worst Versa Note)
HONDA (Best Model Fix\Worst Clarity)
VOLKSWAGEN(Best Model Passat\ Worst Atlas)
MERCEDES-BENZ (Best Model GLS\ Worst E-Class)
FORD (Best Model Taurus\Worst Mustang)
BUICK (Best Model Encore\Worst Enclave)]
LINCOLN (Best Model Continental\Worst MKZ )
DODGE (Best Model Charger\Worst Journey)
JEEP (Best Model Renegade\Worst Compass)
CHEVROLET (Best Model Impala\Worst Traverse)
CHRYSLER (Best Model 300\Worst Pacifica)
GMC (Best Model Yukon\Worst Sierra 2500 HD)
RAM (Best Model 2500\Worst 3500)
TESLA (Best Model Model 3\Worst Model X)
CADILLAC (Best Model XTS\ Worst Model ATS)
VOLVO (Best Model XC60\ Worst Model S90)
A Mighty Fall
In a quest to build lighter, more fuel efficient cars. Automakers have turned to smaller turbo charged four cylinder engines and complex 8, 9 and 10 speed transmissions. Four cylinder engines that are as powerful as the old mighty V8 engines. Ford has replaced large displacement V8 for smaller displacement engines in their trucks and large SUV’s. The massive 5800 pound Ford Expedition Max is powered by 3.5 (213 cubic inch) turbo charged six cylinder engine generating 400 horsepower and 480 pound feet or Torque. Chrysler’s, 5.7-liter (345 cubic inch) HEMI V8 engine produces 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. To give you a sense of size, the first Ford Mustang was a six cylinder was 200 cubic inches.
Nearly all manufactures foreign and domestic has made major changes with all new engines, transmissions, infotainment systems. To put things in perspective, for nearly twenty years most of the automatic transmissions built were four speed transmissions . Twelve years ago, six speed transmissions were common. Four years ago, eight speed transmissions came to market. In the last few years 9 and 10 speed transmissions have come to market. Every manufacturer is now building smaller displacement turbo charged cars for the first time. Longevity for the most part is unknown.
According to Consumer Reports, this new technology has damaged the reliability of some brands. Buick, the most reliable American brand fell 11 spots from 2017 to 2018. Tesla also dropped sharply.
Honda, a brand known for its reliability also dropped sharply in Consumer Reports Ratings . Honda, added turbo charge engines to some of its current generation Civics. The new Accords has new 9 and 10 speed transmissions, all new turbo charged engines and new infotainment systems. As a result the all new Accord, one of the most reliable cars was down graded to average.
Honda’s Odyssey minivan is no longer recommended and Consumer Reports says, the Clarity line of cars apparently has “electronic glitches” that bring it to “much-worse-than-average.
Consumer complaints about the 1.5 Turbocharged engine in Honda’s best selling CR-V to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could lead to major recall. Honda says ,A fix will be issued by dealers by mid-November and will be covered under the vehicle’s warranty. Honda will also preemptively fix 2019 CR-V models before they go on sale, although it does not yet say what exactly the fix entails.
Toyota’s to my eye aren’t necessarily sexy, they aren’t exciting to drive. But they sure are reliable. There are more twenty, and thirty year old Toyota’s on the road than nearly any other car.
Unlike Honda, most of Toyota engines are naturally aspirated. The company hasn’t rushed to turbos. The company still build 6 speed transmissions. Last year it added 8 speed transmissions to the Camry and Avalon.
The magic started early on. On auto production lines in Europe and American the lines buzzed on. If there was a defect, it was handled after the car rolled off the line. At Toyota, workers could stop the entire production line if they realized anything was wrong. Management could fix the problem before it was an issue down the line.
Slow and Steady
One of the first infotainment system came from Ford,designed by Microsoft it was called Ford Sync. In 2008, it was optional on nearly every Ford or Lincoln vehicle. With a push of a button, one could make a phone call, change a radio station, change a CD track by a voice command.
By 2010,a more complex system was introduced called “My Ford Touch” This system allowed the user with the aid of touch screen to read text messages and more. While it was very profitable for Ford, it was an utter failure, with owners saying that it crashed and was unreliable. There were several attempts by Ford to repair the system but they were not successful. JD Power said “My Ford Touch” had a negative effect on Ford’s overall reliability. Consumer Reports suggested buyers avoid the system entirely. Despite all the negative press, the public wanted this expensive option.
Automaker went all in adopting this new technology. Toyota didn’t. It was one of the last carmakers to adopt the technology.
And that is the theme or secret sauce to Toyota. While the other automakers rush new technologies to market. Toyota and Lexus (Toyota’s luxury division) is slow and conservative. Unlike other automakers adding new engines and other technology to all models across the line, they gradually add new engines, electronics and transmissions to the product line. The trade off is superior reliability.
Brand Recommendations for 2019
If your buying a new car you may just want to keep it simple and stay clear of the infotainment systems. All of the cars will have Bluetooth, that will allow hands free calling. You may even consider installing an after market stereo from establish brand like Pioneer, Alpine, Kenwood and JVC. This would require some modification to your car. They all have bluetooth and the trade off is in most cases superior sound, and better electronics. Many of these units have back up cameras, navigation and your steering wheel controls will control these units.
If you must have a infotainment, the best are from Audi, BMW, Hyundai/Kia/Genesis, and Mercedes Benz. Chrysler has a conditional recommendation. Prior to 2018, their U-connect system was considered one of the best in the industry. However, some software additions has made the system buggy with occasional screen freezing. We suspect they will work the bugs out in 2019. The worst of the worst, is Volvo. The company has built award winning and compelling cars with some of the BEST interiors in the industry . However, like many luxury cars infotainment system if you want a Volvo you do not have any other option.
Other vehicles on the caution list includes the Honda Accord and Civic. Honda has a solid reputation. With new turbo engines and transmissions, have resulted in a decline in ratings. However, in a couple of years we think they will have worked out of these issues. Tesla’s Gull wing Model X has been an disaster,doors, rattles and electronic issues. The Model S air suspension and door handles has problematic for the company. The popular Model 3 isn’t as complex as the other models two and more expensive models and so far its most reliable vehicle.
When you are a large person, your always aware of space. Can I fit in that chair is it strong? When it comes to size the rule of thumb, is a large exterior equals a large interior. In the past, I would typically rent a full size car or larger. One year, a rental car company substituted the last generation Toyota Corolla. It was torture, even with the seat reclined so far back I could reach into the trunk.
If this your first time reading Big Man Rides, I’m 6.4 and 350 pounds. Big man, Right!
My introduction to then First Generation (2011) Chevrolet Cruze was at the San Francisco Auto Show. After pushing the seat back as far as it go I squeezed in and escaped before I lost consciousness .
A friend and auto blogger told me to test drive the Cruze, he thought it was roomy. (of course, he did, he’s 5.10 and one hundred seventy pounds) . I went to a local dealership who lent me a top of the line Cruze LTZ. Where I discovered the seat could be lowered.
It was a Game Changer, with the seat lowered, it was a different car. With acres of big man room. The Cruze was the only vehicle, I could actually fully extends my legs. A feat couldn’t be duplicated by Escalade, F-150 and other large vehicles. I became a fan, back then I called the Cruze “The Caddy of small cars”
This is the second generation of the Chevy Cruze, introduced in 2016. I liked the squared body style of the first generation of the Cruze. The second generation is larger and lighter and it has more rear legroom than the first. The 1.4 turbocharged engine at 153hp and 177 lb-ft or torque is more powerful than the first generation and General Motors continues to give us (horns blowing) a traditional six speed transmission. The Cruze is the only small car in America that offers a diesel engine 52mpg.
Please GM, PLEASE, don’t give us one of those noise producing, Continuously Variable Transmissions,that most automakers (Honda, Toyota, Nissan )are putting into their cars for fuel economy.
The Cruze comes in a sedan and a handsome hatchback.
Unlike, the first generation, every Cruze comes with a touchscreen and has Apple Carplay and Android Auto standard.
Pairing my phone with Chevy’s My Link infotainment system was easy, however, I struggled with Android Auto. The overall sound was just okay. Note: GM, like many car companies do not offer CD players. As in other GM cars the Cruze can be optioned with 4G Wi Fi hot spot.
3800 Miles in the Chevrolet Cruze
Round trip from Sacramento to Central Texas and beyond. Like the first generation, I still have to pinch myself, that this an “American” car? I love the Ford Focus, its fun to drive and the hatchback has aged well. What hasn’t is Ford’s Automatic Transmission, its been a disaster and after 7 years they haven’t worked the bugs out of the tranny and after 7 years, they only offer a 5 speed stick.
The interior of the Cruze remains a nice place to be and the front seat comfort is as good or better than the last generation. Inside there weren’t any gaps or squeaks or rattles.
I left Sacramento at 11pm to avoid LA’s notorious rush hour traffic, my first stop was Phoenix. At 75 miles an hour, my mpg was 43. It took a while to adjust to the front and rear controls on the steering wheel.
While the fit and finish inside, seemed perfect. In the light of the day in Phoenix, the Cruze’s build quality wasn’t close, body panels were misaligned. At 14 cubic feet the trunk is average for the class.
Through the mountains and some rough roads in New Mexico, the Cruze never lost its composure. It was quiet and rode like a much bigger car.
Red car or bad luck
On the Interstate 10 between between Phoenix and El Paso. In New Mexico, I was stopped for speeding (87 in an 85 mph) and again in Texas three miles over the speed limit in Texas In Texas or at least West Texas, few people drove over the speed limit.
If I had one nagging complaint about the Cruze it be the ingress. (at least for me) With the seats positioned for me, I had to lower the seats to get out or the car. I didn’t notice this with the first generation Cruze. I’m not fan of the auto stop feature,found in many cars where the engine shuts off at a stop light or anytime the car is not moving to save fuel. Its effective, but I’m not a fan.
Handling was good Cruze. Not once did it run out of steam in the mountains. Or lose its composure in the worse of thunder storms. The Cruze isn’t as fun to drive as the Honda Civic, Mazda 3 or Ford Focus. It never embarrasses itself The Hyundai Elantra sedan and the Toyota Corolla have more room overall, but neither has the power or can match the quiet and ride of the Cruze.
The Chevrolet Cruze may be the car for a small family, a commuter or an urban dweller.
If you are a tall or extra large, the Chevy Cruze is worth a look. The 2018 models are available with a six speed manual. (the six speed is not offered in the 2019 model year)
Sales for nearly all sedans are down. The Cruze’s sales are down over 30% from 2017. Deep discounts are available. As of this date GM is offering a $3200 rebate.
SAN FRANCISCO — The greatest chase scene in movie history would’ve ended a lot sooner if Steve McQueen could’ve got his hands on a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt. The Dodge Charger that eluded McQueen’s 1968 Mustang fastback for 12 minutes of brilliant filmmaking never would have stood a chance.
Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the movie “Bullitt,” the car is everything a Mustang fan or movie lover could ask for: Fast, smooth, responsive and steeped in the same effortless cool McQueen brought to the movie and the chase scene he helped choreograph and drive.
The Dark Highland Green 2019 Bullitt I drove through the streets of San Francisco, surrounding hills and coastline didn’t scream for attention, but still drew admiring looks and questions. The 480-hp V8’s rumbling back-pressure burps turned heads, but don’t worry, electronic exhaust controls provide a stealth mode so you won’t wake the neighbors or alert the hit men you stake out.
That exhaust note, incidentally, was tuned from recordings of the same ’68 GT McQueen drove in the movie. Ford engineers listened to 1968 soundtrack masters the filmmakers recorded of the car racing around Willow Springs race track in California.
The 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt on the streets of San Francisco on August 2, 2018. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press
Filming the legendary chase scene
It took 10 days shooting, 12 hours a day to nail the chase scene, a whopping one-sixth of “Bullitt’s” total shooting schedule, University of Southern California film school prof Danny Bilson said.
McQueen was an avid car fan, and director Peter Yates began his career as a race car driver and team manager.
“I don’t want a crash-fest. I want a realistic pursuit,” Yates said at the time.
McQueen later said he saw the film as a modern Western, in which his character strapped on the Mustang like a gun belt. He drove the car during parts of the chase. You can recognize most of those scenes because you can see McQueen’s famous blue eyes in the rearview mirror. The mirror was removed for scenes with stunt drivers.
A famous shot in which McQueen misses a turn and leans out to look back as he reverses furiously to continue chasing the hit men’s Charger was a mistake. McQueen really did miss the corner and kept going to avoid ruining the painstakingly arranged shoot. That’s the only moment in the whole chase where the final edit of the movie made it appear faster than what happened, Bilson said.
Other facts about the chase scene:
In addition to McQueen’s Mustang and the villains’ Dodge Charger, there are eight other cars driven by stunt drivers.
The Charger loses eight hubcaps during the chase.
The portions within the city were shot in a 20- to 30-block section of the Pacific Heights neighborhood.
The crew shot in brief segments as SFPD closed a couple of blocks at a time.
The cars pass the same green VW Bug four times during the scene.
The long shot that shows both cars going airborne as they come down a steep hill required eight cameras.
No ramps were used for the jumps, just San Francisco’s natural geography.
About 50 crew members with walkie-talkies kept an eye out for oncoming traffic.
Modifications to the cars were minor, mostly stiffer shocks, springs and Firestone tires.
The script included a chase across the Golden Gate Bridge. Yates increased the amount of time on the hills when he couldn’t get permission for that.
Automaker plays the heritage card better than Ford, and the 2019 Bullitt is Exhibit A. Prices start at $46,595.
Details define the car:
Unique metallic-flake dark green paint, a color not available on any other Ford. The Bullitt’s alternate color, black, is from Ford’s regular palette.
Specifications for the cue-ball shift knob were so demanding that several suppliers turned down the job
The cue ball is permanently attached to the shifter and doesn’t screw off, to discourage petty thieves.
The shifter has a sintered copper core for weight and feel. The plastic shell is molded around the core and gets a laser-etched shift pattern.
A Bullitt Mustang appears briefly in the instrument cluster when the engine starts, replacing other Mustangs’ pony logo.
A serial number on the dash.
Freer breathing, including an intake manifold from the exotic Shelby GT 350 Mustang boosts power 20 hp to 480.
Six-speed manual transmission with rev-matching.
Chrome accent edges on 19-inch gloss black wheels.
Honeycomb gloss-black grille.
Gunsight-style logo and stylized Bullitt badge evolved from 2008, the last time Ford built a Bullitt.
The rear valence, below the rear bumper, has a flat-black ceramic finish. “I’ve never gone to so much trouble to hide a beautiful piece of stainless steel,” Mustang chief engineer Carl Wildmann said.
Top speed is 163 mph. The Bullitt’s unique speedometer goes to 180 mph.
The leather seats were designed to look like retro 1968 seats, but have modern comfort and features such as power adjustment, heating and ventilation.
Ford plans a limited run for the 2019 and 2020 model years. Output is restricted by how many of the Bullitt’s unique parts suppliers can make.
I drove a green Bullitt with the MagneRide adjustable damping, navigation, B&O audio, blind spot alert and more. It stickered at $50,390, excluding destination charges.
The tuned exhaust note delivers satisfying rumbles when you ease off the gas and roars when wide open. Acceleration is immediate, and the upgraded six-speed manual’s rev-matching makes it easy to shift and keep running hard.
The suspension is comfortable over bumps and keeps the car securely planted in quick maneuvers, while six-piston red-painted Brembo brakes provide plenty of stopping power. The steering is light and precise, with a good on-center feel.
I drove it hard and fast on country and coastal roads outside San Francisco, but took it easy on the city’s famously narrow and crowded streets.
The new Bullitt is more than a match for the movie’s 1968 fastback, but only a fool would try to fill Steve McQueen’s driver’s seat.
Contact Mark Phelan: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan
One wonders what Henry Ford, would think? The car company bearing his name, will soon stop making cars. With the exception of the Mustang (The Chinese love Mustangs) and a Chinese built Focus, that’s it. Ford Motor Company will build Suv’s and Trucks.
Ford wasn’t the first. Chrysler unofficially killed the car in 2016. The first and only cars built and designed after Chrysler’s shotgun marriage to Fiat, the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 were officially put down in 2017. The remaining cars, the Dodge Charger and Challenger along with the Chrysler 300 are still moving out of dealerships on a nearly 15 year old platform and should live on until Fiat mergers with another company or Fiat derides to kill the Dodge, Chrysler and ironically Fiat (in America) The Fiat, has to be the loneliest dealerships in America ,with one SUV that no one seems to be interested in.
Unlike Ford and Chrysler, GM will continue to build sedans but fewer of them. They will eventually convert some of its car plants to build more profitable SUV and trucks.
Bentley has a SUV, the Bentayga, Audi, BMW, Porsche and Mercedes are designing more SUV’s as you read this. Ferrari, YES! FERRARI! will introduce an SUV in 2019!
This is the Lamborghini Urus (a stripped down version is available for 200K)
None of these gas robbing beasts are available with an manual transmission.
Manual transmission cars are rapidly disappearing from the landscape. I’m one of the 3% of Americans purest, who still want to row their own gears. I love the feel and control of a car with a manuel gearbox. It’s an sensation you can’t get with an automatic. One of the advantages of owning a stick in America. Your car will be one of last cars stolen from the shopping center parking lot.
3% means fewer automakers are building cars with manuel gearboxes. They are available on compact and subcompact cars. Toyota no longer offers a stick on its midsized Camry. Mazda’s Model 6, has the stick on its base model only, meaning..if you want something with a sunroof and a few other niceties, forgetabout it! Only Honda’s Accord offers a manual gearbox on every model and engine, now if I could only get past that ugly nose. With the exception of their Fuel Cell and Hybrid models. Honda is the only automaker that offers a stick on all of their cars. .
I would like to blame the popularity of the SUV’s for the demise of the stick. But there are other factors. The manual shifting car was once the most fuel efficient, they were staples in Europe and other parts of the world. Today with computer monitored 8, 9 and 10 speed automatics combined with small displacement turbo charged engines, the manuals along with the V8 engine are in their last days.
the RISE of the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV)
Some say, it’s about the height, they feel safer. Others say its the utility, they can buy cases of toilet paper at Costco. Since this is the vehicle of choice for many boring mortals, the thrill of driving is quickly dying.
Most of the successful SUV’s sold, are crossovers built on a car platform. These are lighter, more nimble and more fuel efficient than truck based SUV’s If your car junkie like me, who reads everything automotive, you’ll notice few auto Journalist get excited about SUV’s . Yes they, will say this SUV’s handles well, but there isn’t any excitement unless its an expensize and powerful European SUV.
With one or two exceptions, there isnt much passion for the SUV. The Automotive press has a lot of love for cars like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and the Mazda Miata, and their ability to carve through the curves, they don’t share the same enthusiasm for the Volkswagen Tiguan or the Mazda CX9 Suv’s
If I had a large family and needed extra space, I would choose the Chrysler Pacifica or Honda Odyssey, Mini Van over any SUV. (YES, A MINIVAN!) They drive about the same as SUV, and on average they have more room (especially the Pacifica, with those nifty seats that fold into the floor -now thats utility!) they cost less to operate and they carry more stuff than SUV’s.
While cars wont totally fade, I predict the manual gearbox like CD players will be history by 2030
The Future Is
Your next, next car will be electric. Many countries has chosen 2025 to limit the number of internal combustion vehicles sold in their respective counties California, hopes to have five million emission free cars on the road by 2030. China 7 million by 2025. India says 30% of the cars sold must be emission free by 2030.
Once, there is a standard for building batteries, there will be more electric cars on the roads. Electric cars having fewer parts than a combustion engine results in lower manufactoring cost for automakers. Gone are complex transmissions, and electric car has 30% fewer parts than a conventional car. Will there be Electric SUV’s yes, as for manuel gearboxes?
Top Row, Lincoln Black Label Navigator Bottom Row Cadillac Escapade
By Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press
Detroit knows big SUVs. It knows how to make ’em. It knows how to sell ’em.
Automakers based in Detroit or Dearborn have built nearly one of every three large luxury SUVs sold this year.
Still, orders for the Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade continue to roll in.
Large luxury SUV sales have grown 12.5% through March compared with the same time last year. While a relatively small segment, the vehicles deliver the biggest profit margin.
“They’re money machines,” said John McElroy, a longtime industry observer and TV host of “Autoline.”
In fact, the segment is growing more than six times faster than light vehicles.
Lincoln is unable to fill the orders as fast as they come in, so the company doesn’t have a clear picture of the Navigator’s full potential at this point.
“These two truck-based SUVs are really at the heart of what Detroit has done well,” said Brian Moody, executive editor of Autotrader. “Big trucks, lots of power. Five years ago, I thought Lincoln wasn’t ever going to get it. I feel like someone finally said, ‘We’ve got to stop chasing other people and be who we are.’ In life, isn’t that always the best advice?”
Prices are setting records for Ford Motor Co.
The average transaction price for the 2018 Lincoln Navigator topped $80,000 per vehicle in March, showing strong growth, noted Erich Merkle, U.S. sales analyst for Ford.
Plus, Ford and General Motors make an even higher return on their investment because the companies run massive production of full-size trucks that share a platform and mechanical components with the SUVs.
“The luxury SUV was originally a product of Detroit. Now they’re standing their ground and digging in their heels,” said Dave Sullivan, a product analysis manager at AutoPacific Inc. “It’s just not something any Asian or European brand could pull off. They just can’t get away with some of the more brash, in-your-face, larger-than-life styling that the Detroit brands do.”
During the first three months of 2018, shoppers purchased 40,521 large luxury SUVs, up from 36,008 a year earlier. Escalade saw 8% growth while Navigator jumped 63%. With the addition of the Range Rover Velar, Land Rover sales jumped 39% in the large luxury SUV segment. The Infiniti QX80 is the only other model experiencing an increase, at 5%.
At the same time, sales have fallen for the Mercedes GLS, Lexus LX, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport.
The Detroit 2 appear to be getting stronger.
“Since the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are such high-volume products and economies of scale are easily achieved, this gives the American automakers a significant advantage over the competition when it comes to research and development,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of data strategy at Edmunds.
With “full credit to Lincoln,” the Navigator launch has focused attention on the full size luxury SUV segment and Escalade has benefited, said Jim Cain, senior manager of sales reporting at General Motors. Anytime there’s growth in luxury, it reflects overall consumer confidence in the economy, he said.
Meanwhile, the new Navigator has redefined Lincoln.
“The redesigned Lincoln Navigator is the hot new vehicle for shoppers who like their SUVs large, luxurious and eye-catching, which is a problem for the long-reigning champion in that category, the Cadillac Escalade,” Caldwell said.
“While Cadillac is working hard to shift their development from cars to SUVs, the new Lincoln SUVs have gained an edge quickly and pose a much larger threat to the burgeoning Cadillac utility lineup than anticipated.”
In March 2017, only 8% of Escalade shoppers also looked at Navigator. Last month, 22% of Escalade customers also looked at Navigator, Edmunds data shows.
Meanwhile, the Navigator shopper statistics remained constant.
In March 2017, 14% of Navigator shoppers also looked at Escalade. Last month, 15% of Navigator customers also looked at Escalade.
Now Cadillac is offering $10,000 discounts to Escalade owners through May 2018 to “keep them in the family,” Cain said. The sum is considered notable and comes in the last year of production for the current model of Escalade.
General Motors is watching Navigator carefully. One analyst compared the intense competition to the legendary battle between the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro.
Adam Jonas, head of global auto research for Morgan Stanley, estimated the Escalade creates about $1 billion in profit for GM annually.
No question, Navigator is wooing customers from competitors.
Kirk English, a retired supermarket store director from Reno, Nev., is waiting patiently for delivery of the $81,205 black velvet Navigator Reserve he ordered in mid-January.
“The Navigator was built Feb. 5. I have contacted Lincoln to get my ‘toy’ out of Kentucky and into California,” English said. “I had to drive to California to buy my Navigator because there is no dealership in Reno. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.”
Don Sadler, a communications executive from Miami, reports the delivery delay is over for his $92,495 Navigator Reserve L. Celebration may include a road trip to Key West, “and a vodka rocks is definitely on the agenda.”
Lincoln spokeswoman Angie Kozleski, who acknowledged delivery delays due to a national rail car shortage, said, “We’re working to get our vehicles into the hands of customers and dealers as fast as possible.”
Navigator is built in Louisville, Ky., while Escalade is manufactured in Arlington, Texas.
Fiat Chrysler is developing a large luxury SUV expected to be called the Jeep Grand Wagoneer in an attempt to capture a piece of the action.
With gasoline prices being what they are, one would question why would Kia bring a small hybrid to market, when Toyota can’t give the Prius away? However, this is the same company that has just introduced the Kia Stinger at a time when the public are buying SUVs.
Nearly two decades ago I rented the first generations Toyota Prius. The first generation looked like a regular Toyota.
It was roomy, and very fuel efficient. One week I commuted between Sacramento and San Francisco with a trip to Reno and Lake Tahoe. I was impressed with the room, power and fuel economy. On one trip to San Francisco I ran completely out of gas on busy I-80 in Richmond and I was able to take the Hilltop exit and drive to the Chevron station on electric power, Very impressive. Through the years, I have driven Prius with all those eccentricities the weird dashboards and joystick transmission levers’
The second and subsequent Prius’s were uniquely styled style inside and out. Perhaps its a badge of honor for some owners, that says I care about the planet . In the affluent areas on California its not usual seeing a Toyota Prius on every block. The current Prius Prime is unattractive to my eye. It looks like an overwrought 1960’s science project inside and out.
In contrast, the Kia Nero is modern and trendy, it looks like one of the small crossovers. a segment that is currently very hot.
The Genesis of this test. A friend was returning to Sacramento from Sweden and asked if I would test the Nero for him. He has owned four Toyota Prius’s and recently sold his Prius V. The styling of the current Prius was too over the top for him and he wanted a small hybrid.
While the Prius screams hybrid, the Nero whispers, with one small hybrid badge in the lower right corner. The styling is handsome, that suggests crossover. Inside the whispering continues., the interior is well done, the fit and finish is excellent.
The Nero comes in four flavors , The Base FE, mid level LX, upper level EX and the top of the line Touring. I briefly drove the Touring. Standard with the Touring is Automatic Climate Control, Heated and Cooled Front Seats, Power Front Seats with Memory Control, Navigation, Leather Seats, Sunroof, Heated Mirrors, 18 inch Alloy Wheels and a host of conveniences Kia’s UVO interface is one of the best in the industry. Its very intuitive and response is very quick.. Unlike other systems there is a host of button and knobs.
Standard in all models is Apple Car Play and Android Auto. All have Independent suspensions and are powered by 1.6 liter 109 horsepower engine and 43 horsepower electric motor for a combined 139 hp with 241 pound feet of Torque. The torque moves the Nero briskly off the line in the city.
All Nero’s come standard with 6 speed dual clutch transmission. This is significant as most hybrids have a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) which by design are more fuel efficient but significantly nosier and slower reacting than a traditional transmission.
What is a CVT?
This design does away with gears entirely. Instead of two gears, there’s two pulleys connected by a belt. The engine turns one pulley, and the other one is connected to the rest of transmission to the wheels. The magic of CVT is that the size of the pulleys can change from small to large, and infinite sizes in between.
On the Road
If you new to Big Man Rides, I’m 6.4 and over 350 pounds. (soon to be under). This giant had descent leg and hip room. The head room was good with the Sunroof. Anyone under six feet tall would find the back seat a good place to be.
I briefly drove the Touring. Both the FE and Touring were quiet, and the electric steering was good. I didn’t feel the shift between electric and gas. The wider tires and the extra equipment (like the power leather seats) made in the Touring for enjoyable surroundings. They say, its hard to return to the farm after seeing Paris.. There is nearly ten thousand between the FE and the Touring .
I spent more time in the FE (which was a 2017). The transmission hunted quite a bit on the climb up the mountains on I-80. It was the only time I experienced it. It took the curves like a pro and despite the long 7000 feet climb and a full of equipment, we averaged 41 miles a gallon. I was concerned about break feel on the long downhill portion of I-80, but not overly so. While the FE handled the curves, I think the Touring with its wider tires would have added a bit more fun. Overall on the entire trip we averaged a very impressive 51mpg.
Storage in the Nero was fairly impressive.
The FE with its smaller wheels is the fuel economy champ. The EPA says the Nero FE gets 52 in the City, 49 on the highway and 50 miles combined. The Touring model takes a hit due to its weight and larger tires. (46/40/43).
One thing I didn’t like, which is becoming a trend in many cars is the absence of a spare tire. There is room underneath the floor is large enough for a spare and a jack, but we shouldn’t pay for it.
The Kia Nero competitors. Ford C-Max handles better, The Prius V is roomier. None has the Kia 10 year warranty. The Nero has a corporate twin, the Hyundai Ioniq is similar however it design is more sedan.
Consumer Reports says, the 2018 Kia Nero is the best built car in 2018. Not just Hybrids or small cars, all cars . Its score of 92 is one point above an eighty thousand dollar Lexus. Impressive, I think so.
My Swedish friend loved the Kia Nero, touring. He loved the handling, the ride and the amenities. However, he bought the ugly Prius Prime. I think he still needs to make the statement. You shouldn’t. The Prius is and will always be a good car. I simply think the Nero is a better car.
Special Thanks to Elk Grove Kia (Jose) Steve Miller of Cameron Park