Sunday, February 7, 2016

One of Those Days

Suzuki Sidekick in driveway

One of those days working on the Sidekick. Just changing the fluid in the diffs, right? Rear was easy as usual. Go to the front and remember, oh yeah,  need to drop the skid plate. Ok, fine. I get the plate off and see the fill plug was stripped from last time. (I had already bought a new plug.) Took FOREVER to remove stripped plug. I happen to look up to see the CV boot is totally ripped open too. Great. Then, in a shockingly bonehead move, I manage to drop the little black cap from the squeeze bottle of diff fluid into the diff. Don't ask. I'm pretty much ready to set the car (and myself) on fire. Shockingly, I manage to recover the cap with a bent coat hanger after about 30 minutes trying to recover it. Then the damn fluid pump seizes. It did finally work. Got it all done, minus the skid plate being put back on. I am done for the night. Glad Mercedes was there to hold the flashlight, help put stuff away, and open the bottle of wine afterward. 

In other news, I got my Safari Snorkel installed. More on that soon.

Friday, February 5, 2016

January 2016 Subcompact Car Sales: Cheap Gas + Big Snows = Low Sales

December 2015 Subcompact Car Sales
The combination of an east coast blizzard and plummeting gas prices meant lower overall sales for small cars. The biggest yearly gain was the Chevrolet Trax; its were sales up more than 103%. The new MINI Cooper 4DR Hardtop sold well—up over 82%. Mazda continues to sell the heck out of its new Miata, up 82.5%. If you look at sales volumes the Kia Soul sold the most units followed by the Nissan Versa, and then surprisingly, the Jeep Renegade.

The biggest year-over-year loser would be the BMW i3, which was down 72.8%. Chevy's Spark and Toyota Yaris were also down more than 60%. The reason for both models' declines may be due to supply issues.

Assuming gas doesn't spike up like crazy again, it will be interesting to see how 2016 plays out. I have a feeling we'll see continued slow small car sales, with the exception of the subcompact crossovers.

Make/Model% YTD Jan. '16 vs '15Units YTD
Chevrolet Trax103.73746
MINI Cooper /S 4 Dr Hardtop82.51232
Mazda MX-5 Miata79.5560
Hyundai Veloster55.42023
Buick Encore42.04920
Hyundai Accent13.85050
Kia Soul12.99191
Chevrolet Sonic4.53678
Honda CR-Z-2.0192
Kia Rio-9.01430
MINI Cooper /S 2 DR Hardtop-18.61216
Smart Fortwo-18.9399
Nissan Versa-24.18006
Nissan Juke-24.51510
Ford Fiesta-25.92560
Toyota Prius c-31.81205
MINI Countryman-32.3504
Mitsubishi Mirage-43.5963
Honda Fit-46.73095
Fiat 500-49.01207
Fiat 500L-58.0369
Toyota Yaris-62.0548
Chevrolet Spark-64.61121
BMW i3-72.8182
Fiat 500X-1018
MINI Cooper /S Clubman-277
Mazda CX-3-1375
Scion Ia-1840
Jeep Renegade-6362
Honda HR-V-4177

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My History With Scion and How It Shaped Me As a Car Enthusiast

My 2005 Scion xB

With the announcement that the Scion brand is going extinct, I got to thinking about how the brand affected me. And believe me, it did. In fact, it shaped this blog.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

So Long, Scion: Toyota Shutting Down Scion Brand

In a move that likely shocks few, Toyota announced today the company would shut down its Scion brand. Started almost 13 years ago, the brand was originally intended to go after a younger set of car buyers, but in the last several years, sales have been slow and the model lineup didn't have the appeal it did in its infancy. 

The current FR-S, iA, and iM will be rebadged as Toyotas for the 2017 model year. The upcoming Scion C-HR will become a Toyota.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Want a New Suzuki Samurai? Go to India or New Zealand

Maruti Suzuki Gypsy Desert

The Suzuki Samurai was introduced to North America in 1985 as a MY1986 vehicle and was on sale for 10 model years. Despite the whole Consumer Reports roll-over conundrum in the 1980s, it remains one of the most loved, coveted, and in-demand 4x4s out there. Don't believe me? Look at how much they go for on craigslist. Its off-road ability and subcompact size make it great for tackling all sorts of terrain; its reputation for durability and off-road capability is legendary. In fact, it's still one of the more popular platforms around the world for those looking to venture off the pavement. And although the Samurai eventually evolved as the Jimny in many markets, there are still a couple places you can buy a brand-new version: India and New Zealand.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cars From the 2016 Portland International Auto Show

2016 Smart Fortwo with PDX Carpet wrap
Yes, that's a PDX Carpet wrap on this 2016 Smart Fortwo. It doesn't get much more Portland that this. Scroll down to see yet another PDX Carpet-wrapped vehicle, and to learn what the hell PDX Carpet is. 
By Andy Lilienthal

The Portland International Auto Show runs from January 28–31 at the Oregon Convention Center, but we got a sneak peek for media day on the 27th. We also got to hear presentations from a host of automakers and learn about some of the cool new vehicles out there. And while there are a lot of cars on display from nearly every manufacturer (sans Mitsubishi), we were mostly interested in the compact, subcompact, micro, and mini cars on display. Here are some cars that were standouts in those categories.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Is It Time To End My Manual Transmission Obsession?

Is it time to end the stick shift obsession?
 By Andy Lilienthal

I've never seriously considered owning a car with an automatic transmission. Having a stick shift has been a requisite for every automobile I've ever purchased. It might be an obsession. I'm the guy who visits craigslist and ticks the box for manual transmission. I'm the guy who visits car lots only looking for cars with stick shifts. I've jokingly said that I'd gladly own a car with an automatic ... if I lost my left leg. I'm a die-hard, shift-it-yourself guy. 

But am I being dumb? Is it time to get over my stick shift obsession?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt: 200 Mile Range, Under $30K, All in a Small Package

2017 Chevrolet Bolt

By Mercedes Lilienthal

General Motors formally unveiled details about the new all-electric Chevrolet Bolt last week. This four-door EV will deliver an impressive 200 mile range for a price tag of under $30,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit. Wait, what? That many miles for that little dough? To get that many miles on a single charge, you’d have to buy a Tesla Models S 70, which would run you nearly twice that price. Finally, an EV with more than 90 miles of range for the masses. GM hopes many people will see it, realize it, like it, and buy it. With its practicality and comfortable nature, GM is betting on success.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 Honda HR-V EX-L NAVI: The Introverted Subcompact CUV

2016 Honda HR-V EX-L

The HR-V is a bit of an introvert. It's got AWD capability, it's comfortable, and it's solidly built. But it just doesn't say much. You're at the school dance and there's that guy/gal sitting down who is smart, moderately attractive, but just doesn't seem to have much of a personality—that's the HR-V.

To put it in more automotive terms, if the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is on one side of the subcompact CUV spectrum (the extrovert and rugged off-road type), and the Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring is on the other side of the spectrum (a smooth, edgy on-road handler), the Honda HR-V is pretty much in the middle. In other words, it's not something you'd necessarily want to flog off the pavement, and isn't the one you'd want at the autocross. The HR-V, which is based on the subcompact Fit chassis, is essentially an AWD Fit—complete with Honda's Magic Seats—but with a softer suspension and more power. It is, perhaps, the Goldilocks of the group, which resides in the middle of the subcompact CUV personality spectrum.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Volkswagen's BUDD-e Is Great, But Is It Time To Just Bring Over the Camper Van?

Volkswagen BUDD-e

Volkswagen unveiled its BUDD-e electric concept at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) this week. It's fantastic. The looks are ideal for a redo of the iconic VW microbus. It's got a ton of tech. It's got an outstanding interior. In fact, it's enough to make you almost forget about the whole diesel debacle. I understand the BUDD-e concept isn't going to be the next Westfalia adventure vehicle, but what if VW offered a version that is?

When the New Beetle came out in the late 1990s, it was a smash hit. And if VW needs something right now, it's a runaway success—but it isn't going to be an EV. It might be a Westfalia.