Category Archives: Automotive Industry

Trucks, SUV/crossovers near 80% of 2023 sales

The Sierra AT4X pickup helped the GMC brand to a strong sales year in 2023. (Bud Wells photos)

Among pickup and crossover models posting major gains in ’23 were:

One of biggest sales gains of past year was that of the Honda CR-V.

  • Ford F-Series,
  • Chevy Trax,
  • Honda Civic and CR-V,
  • Infiniti QX60,
  • Nissan Rogue,
  • Subaru Forester and
  • Tesla Model Y.

The sharp dropoff in popularity of four-door and two-door sedans and the declining number of those nameplates available were reflected in the fact only 10 cars models sold more than 100,000 units for the year; 10 years ago, in 2013, 23 car models surpassed the 100,000-mark in sales.

Top sellers the past year were:

  • Toyota Camry for cars,
  • Fords F-Series for trucks,
  • Toyota RAV4 for SUVs/crossovers and
  • Chrysler Pacifica for minivans;

all four are repeat winners from a year ago.

Among pony cars, Ford Mustang outsold the Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro, after finishing second to the Challenger the past two years. The Jeep Wrangler retained its lead over the strong, relatively new Ford Bronco, 156,581 to 105,665.

Consistent in sales were three Subaru crossovers – the Outback with 161,814, the Crosstrek with 159,193 and the Forester with 152,566.

Following are sales by model category for 2023:

2600 Cars and a Dog Sled

Colorado Journalist, Bud Wells, Releases New Book:

2600 Cars and a Dog Sled

Revving up the excitement just in time for the holidays, Bud Wells, longtime Colorado automotive journalist and aficionado, unveils his latest book: 2600 Cars and a Dog Sled. This book promises to be a game-changer for car enthusiasts and those looking to embrace Bud’s interesting history and 67 years in the newspaper industry.

Exploring the roads less traveled and the highways that wind through the majestic Rocky Mountains and beyond, 2600 Cars and a Dog Sled is more than just a book – it’s Bud’s journey.

To know Bud is to know his love of cars and we invite you to explore the brand new book at  As his wife, Jan, always says: “Bud can remember every single car he’s ever driven.” The book is a lovely reflection on Bud’s years in the Colorado newspaper industry and his love of cars. Full of Bud’s dynamic driving experiences, industry anecdotes and featuring prominent Coloradoans detailing their favorite cars to Bud – we know you’ll love it.

Bud’s 1st Car:  1948 Ford V8 2-door sedan
Bud & Jan Wells

For media inquiries or author interviews, please contact:  Kristin Battenfield    303.903.9981   [email protected]

‘I’m somewhat of a car guy,’ said environmentalist Fielder

John Fielder photographed his sports car with the old tractors in May. (John Fielder photos)

We’re all saddened by the death of John Fielder, Colorado’s eminent nature photographer.

Jan and I, daughters Kim and Kathy and son-in-law Bill Allen were in line at Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley a couple years ago for John Fielder to sign our copies of his new book, “Weld County: 4,000 square miles of grandeur greatness and yesterdays.”

Colorado nature photographer John Fielder died Friday, Aug. 11, of pancreatic cancer.

He had just signed a book for Tom and Jana Caldwell, we stepped up, I said, “Bud Wells,” and he said, “Ah, my favorite car guy.”

Then, in a much quieter voice, he added, “Few people know this, I’m somewhat of a car guy, too.” And since that moment, John and I have been on the same page.

So much so that in early May, he sent to me a photo of him with his car and a bylined accompaniment to be used as lead-in for a chapter entitled ‘My Favorite Car’ in my book “2,600 Cars and a Dog Sled,” scheduled for publication in September or early October.

The thought of him participating in the upcoming book was mentioned earlier this year; here is his response:

“Hi Bud…it is good to hear from Colorado’s car guy. What a great career you’ve had. Thanks for pat on back and for keeping my love of cars to vest. For sure happy to contribute as you ask. Can there be a caption that explains my connection with sports cars (I grew up in Charlotte and was smitten when Holman Moody Racing allowed me and my high school buds to sit in 1967 Ford GT40s they were preparing for Le Mans!)? This would help anyone perhaps who sees me driving a sports car as antithetical to my environmentalism. What is deadline for a photo? Thanks, John

He sent an excellent photo of him and his car in the first week of May, and I sent back this note:

A great photo, John, excellent text to accompany it, what a wonderful lead page it will be for a chapter on ‘Favorite Cars.’ I wish you improved health and my prayers will be with you. – Bud

On May 10, I received this note from Fielder to explain a photo he sent of the Porsche and old tractors – “I took the car east and driving through Bennett I found this field of old tractors and sent it to my car friends with a note that I had outrun them all…”

Our last exchange was in late May: John, a wonderful piece by Bruce Finley (Denver Post). I was thinking back to my start at the Sterling Journal-Advocate in 1956. Our cameras were two 4X5 Speed Graphics, nice to have the large negatives, but lugging those heavy cameras and the wood slides, my gosh. I finally bought in 1964 a Yashica Mat, cheaper version of Rollieflex, and used it for several years. – Bud

And this response from Fielder: “Hi Bud…so you were a trooper hauling a 4×5 just like me. Welcome to the sheet film world. Mine was a German Linhof and I used it for 25 years. Bulletproof for wilderness pitfalls, literally. I needed it for the amount of detail it could capture…” – John

John Fielder sent photo and accompanying text to me to fill a lead page in the chapter My Favorite Car for the book, “2,600 Cars and a Dog Sled: Bud Wells’ 67 Years in Newspapering and Automobiles,” scheduled for publication late next month or early October.

For more information, contact Bud Wells at [email protected].

Kids in view, from ’98 fisheye to ’23 CamFam

Interior camera keeps close tabs on rear-seating area. (Stellantis)

Twenty-five years ago, it was the panoramic convex mirror (a ‘fisheye’ mirror) attracting attention in the 1998 Ford Windstar minivan.

Today, it is a feature called FamCam, a black disc in the headliner of the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica that contains cameras for viewing each seat in the rear of the van.

It was and is all about “keeping an eye on the kids” in the second and third row of seats.

The disc, positioned overhead between the second and third row of seats, will show an overall image of the rear seats, and a zoom option will focus on any one of the individual seats, including even a rear-facing child seat. The images are viewed on the infotainment screen in the front dash of the minivan. Infrared camera views are provided in nighttime driving.

The Ford convex mirror from the late ‘90s dropped down out of the overhead console to give the driver virtually complete view of the inside of the minivan. It gave a wide-angle reflection of everyone, from the  front-seat passenger to those in the second and third rows. It covered from side-to-side, top-to-bottom.

The Ford Windstar was produced from 1995 to 2003. In calendar year 2000, the Windstar sold 222,298 minivans, second only to the Dodge Grand Caravan, which sold 285,739.

The FamCam interior camera in the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica is part of an optional Uconnect Theater Family Group, which for an added $3,295 also includes 19 Harman Kardon speakers with subwoofer, power-folding third-row seat, integrated vacuum, seatback video screens and Blu-Ray DVD player.

The Honda  Odyssey and Kia Carnival also have optional rear-seat viewers; Honda’s is called Cabin Watch and Kia’s is Passenger View.  

The Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited made the drive to the auto show. (Bud Wells photos)

As I stepped into the 2023 Ford Bronco Heritage Edition, I scraped an ankle on the high-riding front-seat floor track; I instantly recalled the same occurrence a year ago when entering the Ford Maverick pickup.

The Bronco and Maverick share the same basic platform, and, kicking aside my initial step-ins, they’re two of my favorite models of the past year. Both attracted good shares of attention at the 2023 Denver Auto Show. As I walked through the show floor on a Tuesday night and the next morning, I noticed the Bronco corner of the Ford display was busy with viewer traffic.

The Ford Maverick was announced as winner of the Truck of the Year for the second year in a row by the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. The midsize Mav beat out four full-size competitors – the Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Ram 1500.

RMAP’s first-ever E-vehicle-of-year award was won by the Kia EV6.

Other winners are the Nissan Z as Car of the Year, the Mazda CX-50 as SUV of the Year and the Kia EV6 electric as E-Vehicle of the Year.

I drove the Nissan Z, which edged the Acura Integra for car-of-year honors, on a day last May from the Boulderado Hotel into Boulder Canyon toward Nederland with twists and turns and downshift-inducing rises in the narrow roadway.

The turbocharged Mazda CX-50 edged the Hyundai Palisade and Cadillac Escalade for the SUV award, and in presenting the Kia EV6 electric with the E-vehicle award, Matt Pilgrim of RMAP said, “The Kia EV6 proves that EVs can be stylish, have a roomy interior, be reasonably affordable, and deliver a level of performance that can rival today’s top sports cars.”

Among other car-show highlights:

The Ford Bronco Sport Heritage Limited 4X4 was powered by a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine with 8-speed automatic transmission and attractive exterior of yellowstone metallic (price tag $46,400). . . . . Jannelle Grigsby was here from Santa Monica, Calif., to be introduced as Nissan regional PR manager for the western half of the U.S., succeeding Steve Parrett, who will now serve the eastern half of the U.S. and Texas. . . . .Kelley Enright, Central Region communications manager for Stellantis, flew here from Chicago to show off the new Dodge Hornet, which is derived from the Alfa Romeo Tonale in Italy. . . . .

Toyota staged a half-hour press conference to reveal expected highlights of the 2024 Grand Highlander, a three-row midsize SUV, but gave no hint of when it will show, or at what price.

5 old friends show up for coffee-time in 5 old cars

Enjoying coffee are, from left, Lorren Ballard, Dick Husted, Norm Fryer, Bud Wells, Mel Bacon and Jim Rudolph. (Photo by Jan Wells)

I was readying the coffee, with cinnamon rolls on the table, as I awaited arrival of five old friends at my home in Greeley on a Friday morning.

The five are among dozens of drivers who through the years have delivered new cars to me from Automotive Media Solutions and Drive Shop for reviewing, something I’ve done off and on for 45 years.

Responding to my buzzing cell phone, I heard one of them, “We’re turning the corner toward your home, look out your kitchen window.”

I was surprised, for it wasn’t five men in one car, it was the five guys in five cars – all classics.

Parked at my home were, from left, 1949 Packard, 1963 Ford Galaxie convertible, 1957 Cadillac Sedan deVille, 1964 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk and 1946 Hudson. (Photo by Bill Allen)

The five old autos and the driver of each:

1946 Hudson Commodore 6 driven over by Mel Bacon of Brighton. Bacon has a collection of 19 classic cars, including these five and several Kaiser/Frazer models.

1949 Packard Custom 8 driven by Dick Husted of Littleton.

1957 Cadillac Sedan deVille driven by Lorren Ballard of Roxborough Park.

1963 Ford Galaxie convertible driven by Norm Fryer of Arvada.

1964 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk driven by Jim Rudolph of Littleton.

The automobile beauties were pulled over and parked in a line along the curb in front of my home as I walked down the driveway to greet them. A neighbor, Wayne, from across the street walked over for a close inspection of the parade.

The weather was nice, relatively warm (a rarity this spring); numerous people walked by and stopped to admire the cars, as they were parked out front for more than an hour. Several persons driving by stopped and took photos.

The old models, deserving lots of TLC, were driven only 40 miles per hour from their facility in Brighton to Greeley; the drivers got waves and thumbs’-up signals and an occasional honk of a horn while being passed by other motorists.

Jan was having tea that morning with our daughter Kathy Allen, though she returned home in time to greet the guys and capture the accompanying photo of the six of us.

I then enjoyed a short drive in the Packard with Jan in the front passenger seat, Bacon and Husted in the backseat. I’d forgotten, but to start a ’49 Packard, the driver must push the accelerator to the floorboard – the starter button was positioned at floor level beneath the pedal. I quickly remembered the effort it took to turn that big, heavy sedan without power steering.

The five guys have been drivers for Automotive Media Solutions, owned and operated by Paul Shippey.

Drop in Colorado car sales brightened by electrics

The EV6 all-electric helped Kia to sales gain in 2022. (Bud Wells photos)

New-car sales in Colorado, like elsewhere in the country, took a hit in 2022 – all except the oncoming electrics.

“We’re seeing a substantial increase in registrations of battery electric (BEV) and hybrid vehicles in our state,” said Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.

While total registrations declined from 223,985 in 2021 to 194,188, a drop of 13.3 percent, the electrics and hybrids jumped 25 percent to 34,416.

Led by Tesla, market share by the battery electric vehicles climbed to 8.1 percent on 15,818 registrations in 2022, an increase of 48 percent from the previous year.  Gas/electric hybrid vehicles claimed 7.2 percent of the market in ’22 and plug-in hybrid vehicles earned 2.4 percent. Tesla registrations climbed to 8,226 in Colorado, an increase of 1,695 units from 2021.

Toyota’s big seller was the Rav4 SUV crossover.

Kia was the lone brand to show significant increase last year over 2021, a gain of 695 units; Mitsubishi gained by 56 units and Mini Cooper by 34. Major losses were Honda by 6,719 units, Ford 3,121, Subaru 3,093, Ram 2,897, Chevrolet 2,695, Jeep 2,055 and Buick 1,028. 

Toyota, Ford and Subaru were top three brands in registrations for the year.

  1. Toyota led with 28,031 registrations;
  2. Ford had 21,960;
  3. Subaru 18,170;
  4. Chevrolet 12,515;
  5. Hyundai 10,944;
  6. Jeep 10,719;
  7. Honda 10,595;
  8. Kia 10,178;
  9. Tesla 8,226;
  10. GMC 7,790;
  11. Ram 7,735;
  12. Nissan 7,177;
  13. Volkswagen 6,389;
  14. Mazda 5,372;
  15. BMW 4,456;
  16. Mercedes 3,796;
  17. Audi 3,323;
  18. Lexus 3,222;
  19. Volvo 2,042;
  20. Dodge 1,116;
  21. Cadillac 1,109;
  22. Acura, 1,061;
  23. Buick 1,042;
  24. Porsche 1,010;
  25. Lincoln 944;
  26. Land Rover 865;
  27. Genesis 634;
  28. Mini Cooper 604;
  29. Mitsubishi 573;
  30. Infiniti 571;
  31. Chrysler 359;
  32. Jaguar 153;
  33. Alfa Romeo 110;
  34. Maserati 78.
Mitsubishi edged Infiniti for 29th place in sales (shown is Outlander).

Among individual models, the top five sellers in 2022 were the:

  • Ford F-series,
  • Toyota RAV4,
  • Ram pickup,
  • Subaru Crosstrek and
  • Chevy Silverado.

Interestingly, only 13.1 percent of sales in the U.S. last year were cars, the other 86.9 percent were pickups and SUVs.

Lyriq electric draws crowd to Elway Cadillac

The gleaming Lyriq all-electric SUV in showroom of John Elway Cadillac. (Jan Wells photos)

As snow fell outside the showroom windows, John Elway Cadillac staged a somewhat picturesque unveiling on a November Thursday evening with a huge crowd of customers and curious onlookers. With the new car covered from sight as the men and women streamed in, it was a look-back to when dealers took the wraps off the newest models on a special fall night.

This new product breaks tradition, though. It is Cadillac’s entry into the burgeoning world of all-electric automobiles – the 2023 Lyriq SUV. The sharply styled luxury sport ute was well-received by those in the Elway showroom. It will be offered in all-wheel and rear-wheel-drive configuration.

Partners Todd Maul, left, and John Elway following unveiling of the Cadillac Lyriq.

The occasion for showing the newest electric was the grand reopening of the remodeled dealership on East Parkway Drive near Park Meadows in Lone Tree.

“We are the No. 1 Cadillac dealer in the state of Colorado,” said Todd Maul, managing partner for the John Elway Dealership Group. Yes, Elway, the aging “quarterback,” was there with Maul, greeting all and very patiently posing for photos with any who asked.

Thanks to the weight of the liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 102kWh battery pack, the Cadillac Lyriq scales in at 5,600 pounds or more. It is 196.7 inches in overall length on a wheelbase of 121.8 inches. A single motor, 340 horsepower, drives the rear wheels. In AWD form, a second motor powers the front wheels, with combined 500 horsepower.

Cadillac claims the Lyriq, in rear-wheel form, will deliver a range of 312 miles between charges. Impressive inside the model is a 33-inch display screen spanning most of the dashboard.

Tim Jackson, president/CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, was among those welcomed to the gathering by Maul.

It was good to run into Ron Goodman, sales manager at Elway Cadillac, and his wife, Rosie. My acquaintance with Goodman goes back a number of years when he was operating Goodman Buick GMC on South Broadway. Goodman drives a Cadillac CT4 sedan and Rosie an XT4 SUV.

I enjoyed visiting with Nancy McDonald, an account executive with Fox31, who told me her late father, Ernie, never missed reading a car column of mine. We also talked of the top quality of U.S. full-size pickups; her favorite is the GMC Sierra.

Michele Apodaca, publisher of Quality Connections South Metro magazines, reminded me that she, too, was involved in Denver newspapering some years back and her desk was very close to mine.

With Jan as my passenger, I drove to the event in a turbocharged 2023 Mazda CX-5 compact SUV crossover. The return drive was on I-25 through the heart of Denver in falling snow, wet roads and all lanes filled with heavy traffic. The CX-5 handled well. It is popular and accounts for more than half the number of new Mazdas sold in the U.S.

A look back. . .‘Dad was test-driver for Hudson Hornet’

The 1951 Hudson Hornet was fast, handled very well

It all transpired from a mention in August (2022) that Dodge expects to resurrect the Hornet model name for its first plug-in hybrid, having acquired rights to the name from the Chrysler Corp. purchase of American Motors Corp. in 1987.

I wrote that I well-remember the original Hornet as a Hudson. An e-mail from a reader offered to share with me an even closer look back to the days of the Hudson Hornet in the early 1950s.

Caroline and Ted Seith during discussion of Hudson Hornet. (Jan Wells photo)

So on a September afternoon, the newest of the new all-electric autos, the 2023 Genesis GV60 Performance luxury compact crossover, carried Jan and me 50 miles south from our home to that of Ted and Carolyn Seith.

There the four of us, over tea and cakes, shared recollections of what some might say is an almost-forgotten part of U.S. automotive history – the Hudson Motor Car Co. of Detroit.

There’s no forgetting for Seith, whose father, Richard Seith, was a test-car driver for Hudson in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He often rode along with his dad in drives of the new models. In testing all sorts of quality/performance/durability for new Hudsons, Richard Seith worked alongside another test veteran, Marshall Teague, who became an outstanding NASCAR racer and died in a crash in 1959.

The Hudson company built cars in Detroit from 1909 to 1954, when it merged with Nash-Kelvinator to form American Motors. “Rather than a merger, it was a takeover by Nash,” said Seith. His point is well-taken, considering that, though the Hornet name was continued through 1957 after the formation of American Motors Corp., it was as a restyled Nash.

Hudson introduced its “step-down-into” structure in 1948; the low center of gravity improved its handling, an advantage in racing, and its lightweight unibody construction and very fast flathead inline-6-cylinder turned the Hornet into a stock-car champion.

Seith said his dad told him drivers from other manufacturers often tested their new products near the same roads as did he. “The Hornet in the early ‘50s was faster than the Chrysler V-8 and also beat an Oldsmobile 88 V-8,” the elder Seith told his son.

Hudson, until the AMC merger, was a strong sales competitor against Chrysler, DeSoto, Lincoln, Mercury and Oldsmobile, and was well-represented with local dealerships.

When automobile assembly lines began rolling again in 1946, following the end of World War II, there were 28 Hudson dealerships in operation in Colorado. Seven in Denver were Fred A. Ward Inc., Frank E. Brenner, Jack Brown Motors, Chambers Motor Co., Elwood Edwards Auto Sales, Harrison Motors and Vic Hebert; Owen Motors was in Englewood and Lookout Mountain Service in Golden.

Others around the state were Lesher Motor Co. in Akron, Holly Hudson Motors in Boulder, DeFries and McCaun in Colorado Springs, Ray’s Garage in Craig, Rice Service Station in Eagle, Allison Motors in Estes Park, Mountain Motor Co. in Fort Collins, Yates Motors in Fort Morgan, Fedderson Motors in Greeley, Petre Motor Co. in Haxtun, Fiedler Motor Co. in Holyoke, Davis Motor Co. in Idaho Springs, Huston Motor Co. in Julesburg, Bert Maich Garage in Leadville, Harris Motor Co. in Limon, Longmont Motor Co., Grace Motors in Sterling, Starr Motor Co. in Wray and Hansen Garage in Yuma.

Jag visits Broadmoor as 7 gain auto fame

Bonnie O’Meara congratulated A.J. Guanella at Hall of Fame dinner. (Jan Wells photos)

The 120-mile drive for Jan and me in the Jaguar F-Pace S, the one with Caraway Windsor leather seats and powered by both turbo and supercharging, was fairly impressive, yet only a prelude to the wonderful late-May event at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs – the second induction of members to the Colorado Automotive Hall of Fame.

The new Hall of Famers are Bill Barrow, Bill Crouch, A.J. Guanella, Larry H. and Gail Miller, Alfred O’Meara Sr., Leo Payne and Phil Winslow.

Brian O’Meara accepted honor for grandfather, Alfred O’Meara Sr., who founded O’Meara Ford in 1913. (Josh Gold)

The emotion of Brian O’Meara in accepting the honor for his grandfather, I thought, summed up the esteem being spread by the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association. Alfred O’Meara Sr. came from Detroit to open a Denver Ford dealership in 1913.

With the Broadmoor setting, Winslow was “the hometown boy,” a Colorado Springs auto dealer for 60 years, first with Volkswagen, today with BMW. The family love for Leo Payne, who was Denver’s mega dealer before the days of mega dealers, was something to see – kids, grandkids and great-grandkids filled three tables at the dinner.

Gail Miller visits with friends prior to Hall of Fame dinner. (Jan Wells)

I’m in awe of the working lifetime devoted to Burt and Elway by my friend, A.J. Guanella, 89, and I’d not be surprised to hear he sold someone a Chevy before leaving the Broadmoor’s International Hall; Jan and I visited with Gail Miller, whose keen business acumen came to the forefront following death of Larry H. Miller; he started his auto career with Stevinson in Golden before bigtime success in Utah.

O’Meara, Miller, Barrow and Crouch were inducted posthumously. Representing Barrow, former head of the dealer association, was his wife, Merilee. Accepting for Crouch, a former Chrysler dealer in Englewood, was son Scott.

Making presentations on stage were Tim Jackson, president and CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association; Todd Maul, auto hall of fame chair for CADA: Brent Wood, board chair for the dealer association, and emcee Claudia Garofalo of 9News.

Jaguar F-Pace at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. (Jan Wells)

The eight honorees bring to 59 the number of inductees into the auto hall of fame. Fifty were honored in 2021 as the inaugural class; among them was this humble writer, who has observed his 85th birthday.

As for the drive in the Jag, its 3.0-liter inline-6 and 8-speed automatic transmission were smooth and responsive, averaging 27.5 miles per gallon for the highway run; its fault fell with a difficult infotainment system.

For $73,420 out of Solihull, United Kingdom, it offered 16-way massage/heated/cooled/memory front seats, adaptive cruise, Meridian surround sound, all the normal safety and security items and rolled on 21-inch, 10-spoke dark gray wheels.

Leo Payne in center of family members attending hall of fame dinner. (Josh Gold)