Episode 902 – Perception is Reality, Mid-size Cars On the Rise, VW Amarok to Canada?

June 1st, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:15

A new report from ALG says Ford and Hyundai have had the best improvement in perceived quality during the last five years. Analysts at Ford predict the next crop of midsize sedans due to flood the market in a year or so are going to eat into small-car sales. Volkswagen is considering selling its small pickup, the Amarok, in Canada. All that and more, plus Autoline Daily correspondent Craig Cole test drives the Infiniti G37.

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Good day! It is I, Jim Hall from 2953 Analytics and the United Alliance of Certified Automotive Analysts bringing you another healthy, vitamin-enriched, fiber-filled dose of news. Welcome to THE Autoline Daily. It’s currently Friday, the inaugural day of June in the year of our Lord 2012. LET’S GET STARTED, SHALL WE?!

A new report from ALG says Ford and Hyundai have had the best improvement in perceived quality during the last five years. Since 2008, Ford’s perception of quality has gone up 37 percent while Hyundai’s has increased by 25 percent. While the two automakers had the best improvements, Honda and Toyota still rank number one and two among mainstream brands. On the Luxury side, Lexus, Mercedes and BMW rank 1,2,3 respectively. ALG surveyed more than 3,000 consumers in the U.S.

Volkswagen is considering selling its small pick-up, the Amarok, in Canada. According to Autoblog, the automaker has contacted dealers in the country about the Amarok to gauge customer interest. So far they’ve received positive feedback. VW would not say what cab styles or powertrains the company is looking at. The Amarok is currently sold in South America, Europe and Australia. But don’t hold your breath for it coming to the U.S. A VW spokesman says the company has absolutely no plans to introduce it in the ‘States.

Italy was rocked by a couple of earthquakes last month and to help out the victims, Ferrari will auction several unique items. The top one is the 599XX Evo, a sports coupe that incorporates Ferrari racing technology and is worth 1.3 million euros. Other items in the auction include a Formula 1 V8 engine, along with racing suits and helmets from F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. The on-line auction starts next week and is open to anyone in the world.

Americans are a value-conscious people. We’re all about getting the most for our money. Like ground sirloin at the grocery store, we practically purchase our vehicles by the pound to get the best deal. It’s literally been that way for decades and it’s not going to change anytime soon. According to an article published on WardsAuto.com, analysts at Ford predict the next crop of midsize sedans due to flood the market in a year or so are going to eat into small-car sales. And this without removing any of the pink slime used in most mid-size cars. Seriously, mid-size product cadence is unprecedented right now. New versions of the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Mazda6 and Chevy Impala are set to land at dealers. They deliver astonishing fuel economy and offer more room than C-segment offerings.


From near-bankruptcy in the mid ‘90s to becoming the world’s most valuable company, Apple has had an astonishing decade and a half. Its business practices and product philosophy have been copied by other organizations the world over, including BMW. Bloomberg reports the German luxury automaker plans to add tablet-wielding product experts to its 3,000 global stores. These “geniuses,” so to speak, are the geeks of the company. They will help customers sort through and understand vehicle options, as well as assist them with things like pairing their phones with their car. BMW is doing this to defend its position as the world’s No.1 luxury automaker. I hope BMW isn’t too literal in the Apple Genius Bar approach. Having to set up an appointment a week before you go to buy a car isn’t gong to sit well with Bimmer’s high-end clients to who time IS money.

Look out! The sky is falling . . . LITERALLY! Vehicles on a highway in Melbourne, Australia were struck by sheep of all things that rained down on the motorway. According to Fox News, a truck transporting the formerly “live” stock rolled over, dumping hundreds of animals on the road. At least three vehicles were totaled. Luckily nobody was seriously injured. Meanwhile in another commonwealth country, cell phone-sized metal parts from an Air Canada Boeing 777 hit a number of cars on the ground in Toronto. CBC reports the airliner, which was bound for Japan, suffered an engine failure shortly after takeoff. Again, no injuries were reported. I say wear a helmet. Or better yet, just stay in your SafetyBunker™!

After the break we’ll take a peek at a highfalutin’ luxury car.

(The Infiniti G37 test drive is only available in the video version of today’s program.)

Gee whizz, whadda Infiniti?

Tune into RoundAbout tonight to learn about stories of a mysterious Nazi treasure and find out what famous personality has declared his intent to become Motor Trend’s Car of the Year — you heard me right. Plus, the RoAb crew will celebrate the triumphant return of everyone’s favorite game: The Price is CORRECT, not to be confused with that other game by a similar name. Anyway, all this fun and more kicks off tonight at 6:30PM Eastern Time at Autoline.tv.

Oh — by the way: I’ll be on the show next week with my evil twin (registered trademark) Bob. We’ll go head-to-head on some great automotive debates. Go ahead and send in your ideas to RoundAboutShow@gmail.com. It’s sure to be one Hall-of-a-good show. And if you don’t like it, too bad! You can get the Hall out.

Anyway, I’m Jim Hall from 2953 Analytics thanks again and I’ll see you next week! Tootles!

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

44 Comments to “Episode 902 – Perception is Reality, Mid-size Cars On the Rise, VW Amarok to Canada?”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    I can see it now a govt warning for convertibles: “WARNING: driving this soft top vehicle could be dangerous whether it’s up or down” Or make helmets mandatory for such cars.

  2. Jonathan Says:

    I wasn’t sure if Craig Cole really liked the Infiniti G37 or not…

    Great reporting Craig Cole! fun to see you tooling around in that red beauty!

  3. Phoenix Mark Says:

    The US needs to repeal the “chicken” tax on light trucks. We need small trucks not the “mid size” behemoths the Toyota Tacoma and the new Chevy Colorado have become.

  4. Brett Says:

    With the end of production of the Ford Ranger there is not longer a “small” pickup choice for Americans.

    I spoke with a friend this past weekend who just purchased a used Ranger and he told me he had to pay a premium for it, even with 70k miles. I recall he said that he paid barely $1,000 less for it than he paid for a brand new Chevy Colorado a couple years ago.

    Too bad that the Amarok is considered “mid-sized”. A manufacturer such as VW could have a nice little market all to themselves with a smaller pickup like the late, lamented Ford Ranger.

  5. Bradley Says:

    Yes, we need COMPACT trucks, not another Mid-Size. My 1999 Tacoma will continue to add to the average age of vehicles on the road, until there is another compact truck offered.

  6. Brett Says:

    I’d be all over one these:

  7. Phil in Burlington, Ontario Says:

    Wow Canada got two mentions. Interesting news about the Amarok – now if it came with a diesel THAT would be REALLY interesting. As for the bits falling off the plane at Pearson..must be a slow news day :)
    Cheers from Canada

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That VW pickup is kind of big, but they offer a great power train in South America, the 2.0 TDI with a manual transmission

  9. Drew Says:

    When a vehicle is offered in Canada and not the US, you have to ask “why not the US?” The answer will not come out of the manufacturer’s mouth very easily. I highly suspect the reason will almost always be related to one unique US regulation – FMVSS 208, wherein the US is the only country in the world to require crash test certification for unbelted occupants. Darwin would be dismayed at the notion of protecting those who refuse to protect themselves. We can now add FMVSS 226 ejection mitigation to the list.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe the crash tests are part of the reason, but the biggest reason car companies don’t sell certain vehicles in the U.S. is that the manufacturers don’t think they would sell very well.

    As far as the Amarok, are Americans going to buy a pickup from VW that is wider and taller than the current, not-so-small Toyota Tacoma? I doubt that they would. If they sold it with the TDI, it would have a certain appeal, but even then, it wouldn’t be a big seller. Most Americans would whine about the performance of an almost 4000 pound vehicle with only 140 hp.

  11. Jim Haines Says:

    I really liked thwe Borg Warner ad at the break, I am glad to see somebody promote their products using Indy Cars to do it.

  12. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    #10 – Kit Gerhart

    I agree with you on the reason they won’t bring it here. Cost is another. There was a video I stumbled onto on YouTube a few years back of a 3.0 liter turbo diesel Ranger that a guy from Brazil posted.

    I loved the truck and wondered why Ford didn’t sell it here. I then asked him the cost and ran the price through an exchange rate calculator and it came out to around 36 thousand dollars.

    It is hard to get people to pay that kinda money for a compact when you can get a fullsize V6 truck today for 10 grand less that has the same or greater towing ability.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    …and the thing that’s missing from the U.S. market is an actual small pickup, which the Amarok is not. I’d think VW could sell some small trucks, if they offered them at a decent price.

  14. cwolf Says:

    Years ago,VW had a small P/U based upon the Rabit(I think) and Subie had one of similar size. Sure these are more car than truck,yet would serve the purpose for most needs while giving good mpgs.

  15. cwolf Says:

    I looked at spy pics of the up-coming Fiesta. It has the new grill look Ford has adopted and will get a 3 cyl ecoboost under the hood. I wonder if this will also add a boost to the prior lack luster sales? Wonder what kind of mileage this thing will get?

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The 3 cylinder turbo in Fiesta will be interesting, but it seems to me that the price of Fiestas that dealers stock is hurting them, a lot. A $21K Fiesta doesn’t come off very well when sitting next to a $18.5K Fit, which has a lot more room, on the same dealer lot. The $21K Fiesta would have more “features,” but that is not what people are looking for in that market segment.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ford mistakenly believed that Americans, like Europeans, would pay a premium price for a subcompact if you load it up with technology like a larger, more expensive mid or full size car, and this is not the case at all, if you look for an economy car, you are also looking for an economy price.

  18. AccessAlabama Says:

    I agree with bradley. what good is a midsize van gonna do for us rather than a truck?!

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC just published a list of the top selling vehicles in the US and not one single subcompact on said list, WOW not even when gas was at $4 just about everywhere and with such a glut of new models, ZILCH! even the Ford E series van made the list.

  20. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    18 – Pedro Fernandez

    I guess the old saying holds true Pedro. You can lead a horse to water… if the gas prices stay at $3.50 a gallon or less for 6 months to a year with all these new midsize cars that will be getting 35+ MPG I think small car sales will plummet even farther

    I know there are lots of business and fleet sales of the E-series but I am actually amazed it outsold every different subcompact offering in the U.S. Some of them like the Fit and Versa seem to be popular.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    #19 even used subcompacts make no sense when you can buy a compact or midsize for almost the same $ and get a lot more car for your dough!

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I agree, except that you are pretty much out of luck if you want a midsize wagon or hatchback in the U.S.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    Or a Subaru in Fl. I am looking for a used Subie Impreza cause I think they are well built, durable and I like the boxer engine, but they just can’t be found, the very few available are very pricey. The Crapolla is leaking and BURNING oil and it is gonna cost 3 times what the car is worth, I think it’s time to say bye.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There don’t seem to be a lot of used Subarus, even up north where they sell more of them. It seems like the people who buy them tend to hang on to them.

  25. HtG Says:

    You want to buy a used Miata, Pedro?

  26. cwolf Says:

    Since the Subie is a pretty good car,people may tend to hang on to them. But,another thing to think about is that the total numbers sold is not that great,which also makes used ones a bit hard to find. Why would you want a 4wd car,pedro,in S. Fl.?

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Love that Boxer engine, and I can’t afford, nor would I want to buy a Porsche. HtG a neighbor of mine had a Miata that he bought as he result of a mid life crisis and twice someone cut the top to steal the radio, my son’s new FRS has already been vandalized twice in one week someone keyed it and punched the trunk lid, creating a visible dent.

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sometimes you’re better off with a run of the mill car that does not attract attention, such are the times we live in, and this is not really a “bad” area, just a lot of men, envious people around, I guess.

  29. HtG Says:

    wow, I’ve got empathy for you son, Pedro. A couple of years ago I drove alongside a white Versa whose every body panel had been beaten in. I mean every one. I guessed philanderer.

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    #25 maybe now that Subaru and Toyota have kind of married, we will see more boxer engines in Toyota products, but I wouldn’t hold my breath

  31. cwolf Says:

    #29 The boxer has to be more expensive than an inline,so they prolly won’t be added under the hood of subcompacts. I can’t see what Toyota has to gain by using a boxer,since their product has proven itself over time. Perhaps the boxer fits Subaru better. I wonder which company will listen to the other about interiors? Blind leading the blind one in this area,heh?

  32. HtG Says:

    I’ve driven an 08 Impreza, and it really handles nicely. The low center of gravity of a boxer engine likely contributes to that. Look at Porsche mid and rear engine cars.

    BTW, I’m watching Dover then Belle Isle today. I’d go nuts if not for simultaneous internet.

  33. HtG Says:

    I watched some BlankPain racing from Silverstone earlier this morning via internet. HS is that boring. Rag on Nascar, but at least there’s some passing and sh*t happens. I think ALMS has a great attraction due to their being multiple classes of cars on the track all together.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yeah, you really don’t need 4wd in Fl at all, I have never encountered any situation where I wish I had it, now ABS is another story.

  35. cwolf Says:

    Is it the new impreza that claims 36-38 mpg on the highway? That’s amazing for an all wheeler;I’ve read it is all in the cvt and that the tranny is better behaved and more quiet. Sorry bout your new car pedro!

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    Lusting for a Subie here is just not realistic, most likely I will go for another Corolla because even though I would prefer the Yaris, those are selling for as much as a comparable Corolla, which is more car in every respect and the mileage is similar as well.

  37. cwolf Says:

    Here is a pretty neat lil’P/U by Skoda:

    pedro,the Corolla is a swell car. But if you’re in need of a change,check out the subie’s on the net,then check them out on a family Saturday drive! Who knows,you might get lucky,my friend.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf around these parts, Subies are as hard to find as a ski resort, the ones I’ve seen on Autotrader.com are well over 500 miles away.

  39. cwolf Says:

    pedro,I live beween Toledo,Oh. and Ann Arbor/Detroit Mi. and only found 2 Subie’s on my initial hunt. A 2008 WRX,43000miles,asking $17,500. And a 2009 Impreza 2.5I,26000 miles,asking $15,000. Slim pick’ins even for around here! How do these prices compare?

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I feel sorry for your son, pedro, having his car vandalized like that. I guess I’ve been really lucky over the years. I’ve only had a car vandalized once, and that was when I was in high school. I think I know the reason, in that someone was pi**ed off at me.

    What do you particularly like about boxer engines? Did you have an air cooled Beetle a while back? I don’t expect Toyota to start using them in front drive cars, because they are more expensive to make, having two heads, and the drive train for a front driver would probably be a little more expensive, and less efficient.

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yes, I’ve owned 2 beetles and I like the fact that the boxer design allows them to be placed at a lower point thus improving handling and making the engine compartment seem less crowded, plus I have also read about their reliability and durability, this is the third time I have an oil leak issue with this car, the last time I fixed it was 3 yrs ago and have driving less than 100k miles since. This is getting to be an expensive problem. Re vandalizing, I remember where I used to live In NJ during the 70′s the punks would go around breaking off aerials to the point that my next car came with an electric one and then the other one had it in the windshield (GM)

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, Subarus have a good reliability record. The main oil leaks I’ve heard about are cam covers, not crankshaft seals. You may have been unlucky with crank seals, but you have a lot of miles.

    Boxer engines are inherently well balanced, except for having a “rocking” unbalance from the cylinder sets being staggered front to back. The end result is pretty good, even with a boxer twin like the old BMW bikes, and the current oil/air cooled R series BMW bikes.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    With boxer engines having 2 or 4 cylinders, each con rod has its own crank pin. With a twin, both pistons are at top center at the same time. With a 4, like the old Beetles and the Subarus, the front are both at top center when the rear are at bottom center. You can get good balance, except for the “rocking” component from the opposite cylinders not being lined up, and you get even firing.

    I read years ago, that with the boxer 12 in a Ferrari Testarossa, there are two rods on the same crank pin, as with a V8. If you have that many cylinders, you can get by with that setup, while you would have a horribly rough engine if you made a twin or four that way.

  44. Brett Says:


    It costs very, very little to elect for minimum deductible on Comprehensive coverage. I made the mistake of having a high Comp deductable years back when a bad hailstorm on my leased Ranger made me write a $1,000 deductible check for $2,700 worth of damage.

    A kind soul at the body shop that was insurance savvy told me to drop the Comp deductible to $100 ASAP as it would cost little in premium dollars. I checked and darned if they weren’t correct! My premium only went up about $20 for a six-month policy. Collision is where they bang you for $$ on low-deductibles, but Comp isn’t. If your son’s gonna get envy vandalism like that, he needs that lower deductible immediately.