Auto News for Dec. 9 – Alfa Pricing Announced – Ladies Love Luxury SUV’s


 Alfa Romeo’s Giulia four door sedan will carry a starting price of $37,995 while the very fast, 505 horsepower Giulia Quadrifoglio, will MSRP at $73,595 with delivery factored in. The Giulia will go on sale in January, Alfa said, while the current plan is for the Quadrifoglio to hit showrooms this month. That is the model pictured.

 Luxury SUVs are hot and will, this year, outsell luxury cars for the first time, according to a forecast from Luxury SUVs are on pace to secure a 55 percent share of the market this year, and Edmunds analysts predict this gap will widen further in 2017 to 60 percent.  “Low gas prices, changing consumer tastes and attractive new vehicles are creating the perfect environment for luxury SUV sales to grow,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis. Jaguar and Volvo are enjoying the most gains, thanks to the popularity of the F-Pace and XC90. Jaguar’s overall sales were up more than 81 percent through the first three quarters of the year, while Volvo’s overall sales rose almost 26 percent, Edmunds said. And who is buying luxury SUV’s? This market shift is largely being led by women: 57 percent of women who bought a luxury vehicle in 2016 bought an SUV, compared to 49 percent of men.

 If there is more fun to be had in a pickup truck than the Ford Raptor, I have not found it. Here is a look at the large, and not economy size truck that will get your juices boiling quicker than that stop at Starbucks:


 Infiniti took a Q60 to Havana where it became the first U.S.-spec car to be registered in Cuba in 58 years. The automaker’s Executive Design Director, Alfonso Albaisa, was behind the move as he traced his roots back to his parents’ birthplace.


Auto News for Dec. 8 – Chevrolet Bolts Up California


2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

 It made Car and Driver’s Top Ten list and was Car of the Year at Motor Trend. Now the Chevrolet Bolt all-electric car is being shipped to dealers in California. The first sales there and in Oregon are expected by the end of the year. The Bolt has a range of 238 miles and a starting price of under $30,000 with tax credits factored in.

 You have read of various states and countries bringing legal action against Volkswagen over diesel emissions that exceeded regulations. Now, the Detroit News reports, the European Union is starting legal action against four countries for NOT bringing legal action against VW, The named countries are Luxembourg, Spain, German and Britain.

 A total of forty cars and trucks will make their world debut at the North American International Auto Show in January. That should continue to put the show in the international spotlight with some 5,000 reporters expected to brave the Michigan winter to witness the unveilings. The covers come off January 8th, the first of three press days. And, of course, there will be the naming of the car, truck and SUV of the year.

 Fiat Chrysler will not display any new cars or trucks at the Detroit show, instead revealing its new stuff at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas Jan. 3. A company spokesman told the Detroit Free Press that product cycles do not always coincide with show dates.


 Honeywell believes sales of turbocharged vehicles will increase by 35 percent by 2021 due to the “need for cleaner, more efficient transportation” paring a turbo with electrification.

 EX-Bugatti designer Alexander Selipanov has been named to the newly created role of Chief Designer at Genesis. During the past two and a half years, he was responsible for the exterior design of the Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo show car.

 Honda said its redesigned Ridgeline is the first and only pickup to earn the Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Automotive News said more vehicles would have received the highest rating but they failed to meet new headlight criteria.






Auto News for Dec. 7 – Cubs & Hellcats

 Auto News for Dec. 7

 The manager of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs was asked yesterday what he has been doing in the off season. Joe Maddon told ESPN that he stayed away from the talk show circuit, and bought a car – a Challenger Hellcat with 707 horsepower, adding, “I love driving cars.”

2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

 Fiat Chrysler announced the Challenger GT will be available with all-wheel drive joining the Charger in that category. The Challenger will offer a 3.6-liter, 305 horsepower V6 as the standard engine with 268 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm tied to an 8-speed automatic. MSRP of $33,395 with production scheduled to begin in January. Visible performance information, such as reaction times, 0-60 times, G-force indicator and lap times, can be monitored, and even mirrored, in the 7-inch thin-film transistor cluster display.

 Tesla is recalling three models of charging adapters after two of them overheated. They are the NEMA models 14-30, 20-30, and 6-50. Tesla said the overheated adapters did not cause any property damage or injuries and the auto maker said they were used by “relatively few” customers. Some reports said 7,000 are being recalled.

 Mexico now imports more goods to the U.S. than Canada, according to the Commerce Department, mainly due to cars and trucks. In the first ten months of the year, Canada exported a total of $230 billion worth of goods, while Mexico exported $245 billion.

 Volkswagen has been hit with a record fine in South Korea – $32 million for false advertising regarding vehicle emissions, according to Automotive News. The government will also file criminal complaints against five former and current executives of the auto maker.

 Pixar will offer a sneak peak of its upcoming summer film “Cars 3” at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 8th. It will also create a special “Cars 3”-themed display on the show floor.

 Tests are being conducted in Sweden on a new way to charge up electric buses. A bus parks over a charging device located under the road surface at a bus stop and charging occurs automatically. The design of the inductive technology has been adapted so as not to disturb existing urban environments and is essentially invisible. Seven minutes of wireless charging is enough to cover the entire 6 mile route, which the bus will operate in Södertälje. Backers want to find out how the system holds up during a Swedish winter.


Auto News for Dec. 6 – Lots of 9 Speed GM’s coming

Chevrolet’s first nine-speed automatic transmission, the Hydra-Matic 9T50, makes its debut in the 2017 Malibu and will be available in the 2017 Cruze Diesel and 2018 Equinox. The new transmission is designed to optimize efficiency and refinement.

 To improve fuel economy, General Motors announced its new 9-speed transmission will be installed in 10 models by the end of next year. The transmission was a joint project of Ford and GM with engineers saying it can improve fuel economy by up to 2 percent. As least four of the transmissions will be installed in various Chevrolet models.

 The City of Light has become the city of pollution that caused officials to ban about half of the cars that would ply Paris streets on a given day. Those with odd numbered plates were the only cars allowed in the city on Monday with even numbered plates getting the green light yesterday. This after Paris experienced unsafe levels of pollution for five days in a row, according to the BBC. Officials blamed diesels and the weather – a combination of warm days and cold nights that kept the pollution from dispersing. Public transportation was free on the affected days.

 A couple of milestones worth noting. This year marks the centennial of the cloverleaf road intersection, patented by Maryland civil engineer Arthur Dale. The automobile was barely 25 years old when the first cloverleaf appeared. Traffic density and high speeds were not yet problems for the cloverleaf to address, but automotive accidents and frequent breakdowns were. So this year is also the centennial of the invention of the tow truck. Ernest W. Holmes of Chattanooga, Tennessee fitted a Cadillac chassis with booms, cables and hooks to collect stricken vehicles.  His patent came in 1917. Today, around 8,600 towing services attend to breakdowns according to the Census Bureau. Imagine – a Cadillac tow truck!!!!

 The Honda Pilot has been named the best three row SUV on the market in a comparison conducted by Cars.Com, Motor Week, and a family in the market for a new vehicle.  To qualify each vehicle had to cost less than $45,000, including destination fee, and had to have an EPA combined fuel mileage rating of at least 19 mpg. The Pilot was cited for offering “minivan practicality in a SUV body.”   Finishing second was the GMC Acadia, followed by the Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9, and the Dodge Durango.



Auto News for Dec. 5 – The First Hybrid Van

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

 Fiat Chrysler has started production of the Pacifica Hybrid that the EPA said can travel up to 33 miles on electric power alone. This will be the first hybrid van on the market and the Detroit Free Press said it may be next year before dealers have a full inventory from the Windsor, Canada production plant. FCA said the van has an EPA rating of 84 miles-per-gallon-equivalent and 566 miles of total range. Prices start at $34,495 with available tax credits.

 Despite lingering subprime bubble rumors, the automotive financing market continues to get stronger and stronger according to Experian. It claims that loans extended to consumers in the subprime tier fell 4.5 percent from the previous year, and loans to deep-subprime consumers dropped 2.8 percent to the lowest level on record since 2011. Newly originated loans to prime borrowers jumped 2 percent to encompass nearly 60 percent of auto loans financed in Q3 2016.

 Apple is weighing in on what it sees at the benefits of self- driving automobiles in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Executed properly under NHTSA’s guidance, automated vehicles have the potential to greatly enhance the human experience—to prevent millions of car crashes and thousands of fatalities each year and to give mobility to those without. It is vital that those developing and deploying automated vehicles follow rigorous safety principles in design and production. Such principles should not, however, inhibit companies from making consequential progress; there is no need to compromise safety or innovation,” Apple said. It called on companies that are studying self-driving cars to share data on crashes and near misses. “By sharing data, the industry will build a more comprehensive dataset than any one company could create alone,” it said. The letter was written by Steve Kenner Apple’s director of product integrity. Left unsaid, was whether Apple would produce a self-driver or just the needed technology.


 Last night, a prized LaFerrari was sold at auction for $7 million to benefit the reconstruction of Central Italy in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes of 2016. The Daytona Beach auction was held in conjunction with RM Sotheby’s and in collaboration with the National Italian American Foundation’s Earthquake Relief Fund. The price represents a record for the most valuable 21st Century automobile ever sold at auction. All proceeds from the auction will go toward the reconstruction efforts in the areas affected by the earthquake.




Saturday Road Test – Toyota RAV 4 -What Color Is That?


                             Toyota RAV4

                           Hot Lava (Really!)

By Ron Amadon

 DAMASCUS, MD. – If Toyota’s motivation was to produce a RAV4 that turned heads, all they had to do was paint it Hot Lava. Everywhere I went in this compact sport utility people were checking it out.  

 Fortunately, for the company, lots of people did more than that. They went to dealer showrooms last month to buy one, regardless of color, and the RAV4 had a record November sales wise.

 And there are good reasons for this starting with the brand’s legendary record for reliability and quality build.


 I found the standard 2.5-liter four with 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque felt stronger in acceleration than the stop watch would indicate. A 0-60 run of a tick or three over 9 seconds in most tests is on the slow side of things. The standard six-speed automatic performed well and six stars to Toyota for not succumbing to the current trend and installing a CVT.

 With all-wheel drive the test RAV is EPA rated at 22 city, 29 highway for a combined 25 mpg. I hit 30 plus on the interstates frequently. Those seeking improved mileage should check out the RAV hybrid with an EPA of 34/30/32 mpg.

 An abundance of safety equipment was packaged in a $3,030 “Advanced Technology Package” with a bird’s eye view camera, front and rear parking sonar, forward collision warning system including pedestrian detection, forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking, a lane-departure warning and intervention system and automatic high-beam headlight control.

 Also an upgraded audio system, Toyota’s easy to use Entune system with navi, and a traffic and weather overlay on a large 7-inch screen among other goodies.


 Second row passengers should find abundant room in the reclining seats, and if you fold them down, there is 73.3 cubic feet of hauling space, handy come that holiday trip to the relatives. The power lift gate is a must addition.

 In fact, there wasn’t much that one could desire that wasn’t on the test RAV.

 Drivers will find a comfortable multi-adjustable 8-way power adjustable seat and heated outside mirrors among other goodies.

 Perhaps due to the 18” wheels and the “sport tuned suspension” the ride was on the stiff side with noise from bumps and expansion joints sent back to the cabin. Smaller wheels and standard suspension settings might be better.

 But overall, the RAV was quiet inside during legal 70 mph interstate running, and certainly allowed one to enjoy the 11 JBL speakers and sound system.

 Toyota recently upgraded the interior of the RAV but there was still hard plastic along the upper dash, and the material used on the visors and headliner did not match the asking price. The stitching along the lower edge was a nice touch.

 With the above mentioned options package and delivery, the MSRP on the test RAV came to $34,595, again with just about every amenity one could ask for.

 Even with the quibbles cited, you get a solid, long lasting, easy to drive errand runner. Sales of the RAV have been strong in what is the hottest segment of the market. And that says the masses are finding what they are looking for in the RAV, even if it is in Hot Lava. (I will admit I like the color.)

 And with the purchase of a vehicle most likely being your second biggest outlay of cash ever, Toyota’s rep for years and years of dependable service is not something that should be overlooked.


 Some Specs:


 2.5-liter 4 double overhead cam

176  hp @ 6,000 rpm     



   172 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm


    87 octane unleaded or higher


    Front – Independent MacPherson strut      

    with stabilizer bar

    Rear – Double wishbone with coil springs,

  stabilizer bar

    Wheel Size

    7.5 x 18 in

    Tire Size


   Ground Clearance

   6.1 inches






Auto News for Dec. 2 – So Long Chrysler 200 – New Camry Teased


 The last Chrysler 200 will roll off the line today at the Fiat Chrysler plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, according to the Detroit News. The plant will be retooled to produce the next generation Ram 1500 pickup truck with its 1,700 workers on temporary layoffs. Once the retooling is complete, FCA insists that more workers will be added at Sterling Heights.


 Toyota announced it will introduce the next generation Camry at the January North American International Auto Show. One official called it the most significant vehicle that Toyota has introduced in a long time, and he’s right on a couple of counts. Number one is the fact that the Camry has been this nation’s top selling automobile for some time. And number two, will that continue as the market increasingly turns to cross over vehicles and SUV’s? A teaser photo of the new Camry was also released.

 November’s robust sales, virtually across the board, have the experts talking again about a record sales year after a dip or three of late. Overall, sale rose 3.7 percent last month as consumers continued to prefer trucks, crossovers and SUV’s to cars. Truck sales made up nearly 60 percent of all vehicles sold, according to the Detroit News. Car sales overall fell 3.1 percent.

 In case, you missed it late yesterday, here’s how your favorite brand did last month, and why they are giving thanks long after the holiday. 

 The good news rolled in throughout the day with Subaru, Hyundai and Kia reporting record sales last month with Suby now posting 60 consecutive months of yearly month-over-month growth. So some cars were selling against the trend.

 Subaru said sales rose 11.4 percent thanks to the best month ever for Outback, and the best November ever for Crosstrek, Forester and Legacy.

 Sales were up 4 percent at Hyundai over a year ago.  “With gas prices remaining relatively low throughout the year and a rather robust economy, our Tucson and Santa Fe CUVs, with sales up 10 and 18 percent, respectively, continue to be the shining stars in the Hyundai line-up,” said Derrick Hatami, vice president of national sales for Hyundai Motor America.

 Kia posted an impressive 15.3 percent sales gain last month with the best November sales ever for the Forte and Sportage. It saw double digit gains for the Rio, Soul, Forte, Sportage and Sedona. Officials cited “strong” Black Friday weekend demand as one reason for the improvement.

 Turning to Detroit:

 GM’s total November sales rose more than 10 percent from last year with Buick, Cadillac, and GMC posting double digit gains. Buick has the largest boost at 22 percent while Cadillac sales increased 17 percent. “We are ahead of plan selling down our 2016 model year inventory and we expect to close out December with more retail share growth,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. Sales Operations.

 Over at Ford, sales gained five percent driven by the F-Series trucks, SUVS and Lincoln vehicles. Ford F-Series has its best November since 2001 on strong F-150 and Super Duty retail demand. SUV sales came in 20 percent stronger while Lincoln dealers should be happy with a 19 percent increase last month.  “Plus, strong consumer demand for well-equipped Super Dutys helped boost Ford’s overall average transaction prices in November, which are up $1,000 versus a year ago – well ahead of the industry average of $320,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service.

 Things turned sour at Fiat Chrysler however where sales fell 14 percent from a year ago. Jeep sales were off 12 percent, Chrysler was down 47 percent but the new Pacifica van could turn that around a bit next month. Dodge sales were also lower last month, but Ram trucks did post a 12 percent gain. Fiat sales dropped 19 percent. The company posted a big drop in fleet sales as FCA continues to reduce its sales to the daily rental segment.


 Overall, Honda reported a 6.5 percent increase to join those reporting record November sales. Acura sales declined 5.1 percent, but strong customer demand for the Honda Fit and HR-V helped the cause. Accord sales were up 6.3 percent. “Considering the continued consumer appetite for trucks and SUVs, we’re excited to see Honda cars resonate so well with our customers,” said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of the Honda Division.

 Toyota said sales improved 4.3 percent from a year earlier with an official saying he expects the industry to set a new sales record for November. As for his company, Bill Fay, group vice president and GM of Toyota said, “All-time best-ever Highlander sales combined with November best-ever RAV4 volume extends the Toyota Division’s 2016 streak of consecutive light truck sales records to 11 months.” Lexus sales were lower by one percent.

 Mazda sales fell 3 percent year over year.

 BMW brand sales were off 18.2 percent but Mini sales gained 1.4 percent.

 Nissan showed a 7.5 percent gain in demand with crossovers, trucks and SUV’s setting November records. Rogue and Murano saw record November demand.

 Volkswagen, on increased sales of the Tiguan, Passat, and Golf SportWagen saw demand increase 24.2 percent over a year earlier.