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The more things change, the more they stay the same

When at the DC auto show on press day, I found it interesting that while some manufacturers who claimed to offer "all new” redesigns for their vehicles fundamentally changed the look and personality of the vehicle, others making the exact same claim offered vehicles who's changes were much more evolutionary and subtle.  Cars like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester Chevy Malibu, Acura MDX, Toyota Highlander, and Cadillac CTS are theoretically “all new”, and due for a redesign based on how long the current body style had been in production.  However, the casual observer may barely know these vehicle are new at first glance.  Why do companies do this? Perhaps it’s the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, which I would agree with in this case, as all of these vehicles are indeed consistently solid sellers, even as they reach the end of their product life cycle.  However, some competitors are making great strides in refinement, fit and finish, value, and (in my opinion) looks (even compared to their own predecessors, and are shaking things up a bit for the more established auto manufacturers.  Hyundai is a perfect example, and is steadily gaining market share on Honda, and Toyota, and as a manufacturer has already passed Nissan in overall sales in the U.S. for 2012.  With domestic brands such as Ford radically remaking themselves as well (see 2013 Ford Fusion), that might suggest the need for ......

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Posted By:  Michael Rabkin   @  October 25, 2013 3:42:00 PM    Add Comment

When is a sedan not a sedan? When it’s a (4 door) coupe.

There has been an accelerating trend towards making mid and full sized sedans cool again with the “4-door coupe” look that the Mercedes Benz CLS started in 2005.  Volkswagen followed with the CC, Hyundai with the Sonata, Audi with the A7, BMW with the Gran Coupe, Hyundai AGAIN with the Azera, and now Toyota with the 2013 Avalon and Chevy with the 2014 Impala.  (yes, I know a coupe by definition is 2 doors, but the industry has been misusing the term for years now, so I’ve given up on correcting them).

Automakers are taking traditional, well known vehicle names and transforming them into low, wide, svelte “4-door coupes”, to appeal to a younger audience.  The demographic auto manufacturers may be aiming for are those who need more space to haul maybe 1 or 2 kids and all the stuff a family needs, but who don’t want the bulk, mileage, or handling of a minivan or SUV.  Cars are making a comeback in recent years thanks to sky-high gas prices, and this design trend will only accelerate that.

After seeing the

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Posted By:  Michael Rabkin   @  October 25, 2013 3:02:00 PM    Add Comment

Remind me how many luxury brands Ford owns again?
I just went to the Washington DC auto show on press day, so had a lot of time to look at vehicles without the crowds present.

Here’s what I concluded:
Ford is having seller’s remorse from selling its previously owned luxury brands Aston Martin and Land Rover, and is living vicariously through them via its all new 2013 Ford Fusion and mid-cycle refreshed 2013 Ford Flex.  Not bad brands to imitate, but there’s some tough to ignore design cues.

Fusion grill and Ford emblem right above it facing up seem lifted from Aston Martin.
The Ford Flex grill now has the word “Flex” spread from left to right above it, and a new metallic grill, similar to Land Rover models.  The boxy side profile of the Flex already had some similarity with Land Rover.  This just makes the look all the more complete.
What’s next, a future Ford Mustang that resembles a JaguarOh, wait…..
Posted By:  Michael Rabkin   @  October 25, 2013 3:02:00 PM    Add Comment

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