Whilst you were in your backyard this week, eating grilled red meat that you hopefully didn’t overcook too much and setting explosives alight in the name of freedom and a guy named Uncle Sam’s 237th birthday, the automotive world didn’t skip a beat. Of course, there was plenty of news this week, as it was the first week of July. Naturally, sales data from June spilled out over this week, with plenty of automakers tallying record-high sales.
And then there was our first look at the 2014 Mini Cooper hatchback without camouflage, caught driving around while getting ready for its close-up for press materials. Rumor has it BMW is exercising Mini’s four-cylinder engines from its lineup in the name of turbocharged three-bangers with 120 to 200 horsepower. We’ll see soon enough, as its officially unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show is just two months off.
But neither of those stories were the biggest this week. To see what was, keep reading.
Monday, July 1
Were you looking for a Cadillac to cross shop against a Bentley Flying Spur? Of course you were. Unfortunately, you’re going to be out of luck for some time. Or forever. Cadillac was planning a flagship sedan to compete in the upper echelons of the $100,000 to $200,000 range, but the plan has been shelved. The reason? Lack of pizzazz and Caddy couldn’t justify the cost of the program. For some time, Cadillac has hinted it wants to produce a large flagship sedan, starting with the V-16 concept and ending most recently with the Ciel concept two years ago at Pebble Beach. Unfortunately, neither has been produced. But Cadillac is looking to move upmarket, and it’s expected that the next-generation XTS will grow up to compete against the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. We can only hope.
Tuesday, July 2
That’s not to say that GM isn’t keeping busy. The automaker has partnered up with Honda to expedite development of hydrogen fuel-cell technologies. The two automakers have worked on hydrogen cars independently in the past, but with Toyota and Hyundai quickly nearing production of mass-market hydrogen cars, the two want to make the technology commercially viable. Currently, Honda is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars on each of its FCX Clarity cars it leases in California. Rival Toyota says that it plans to take just a $50,000 hit per each of its 2015 hydrogen cars sold. That still sounds like a lot of money, but when you realize that the first hydrogen cars made were costing millions of dollars each, it sounds like a pittance by comparison.
Wednesday, July 3
Somehow Michael Bay has built a career on producing terrible movies with lots of explosions and fast cars that make tons of money. The movies make the “Fast and Furious” franchise often look Oscar-worthy by comparison. Nevertheless, Bay’s empire has spawned a concept version of the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro for the next Bumblebee in “Transformers 4.” With wider fenders, a fuel-filler cap moved up to where the rear quarter window used to be, and a new nose that’s like nothing we’ve seen yet, the “Transformers” Chevrolet Camaro looks like it means serious business. Bets were going on in our office on whether that new nose might make it to the next-generation model. What do you think?
Thursday, July 4
We had a happy Independence Day, and we hope you did, too. To mark the occasion, we compiled a list of the most American cars on the road today. Don’t expect to see the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro on this list; we used the American Automotive Labeling Act for guide, seeing which cars had the highest parts content sourced from North America. Some were as naturally American as eating a hamburger at a Toby Keith concert while riding there in a Ford truck; others were a bit surprising. Check out our list of the most American cars on the road today, and let us know if buying American–or any other specific country of origin–is a consideration for you when shopping for a new car.
Friday, July 5
It’s hard not to think “Just show us the darn car already!” when reading about the 2015 Volvo XC90 three-row luxury crossover. What once was the best-selling luxury crossover has dwindled as its competitors have shown newer, more sophisticated offerings than this decade-old crossover. But Volvo wants you to know that it’s still kicking, and the 2015 Volvo XC90, the first vehicle on its new proprietary architecture, is going to be awesome. It’s going to have technology like pedestrian detection in darkness, steering assist for when it senses you’re getting too close to the edge of a road, and adaptive cruise control with steer assist. It’s expected to be powered by a line of turbocharged four-cylinder engines and electric motors. Alas, it’s still a year off, not going on sale until the end of 2014.