2018 Ford Fusion exterior

Something is going on regarding production of the Ford Fusion. The midsize sedan is suffering from slowing customer demand due to the popularity of SUV’s and crossovers.
Automotive News reported that Ford will end North American production of the car by the end of this decade. For the U.S. market, they are current put together at a plant in Hermosillo, Mexico.

That prompted reports that production might be shifted to China, and then Ford said it has “no plans” to make that move and that more information about the Fusion will be released “at a later date.”

It also said the Fusion/Mondeo are an important part of its auto lineup, according to Motley Fool, thereby throwing cold water on the idea it might discontinue the model. The Mondeo is the European version of the Fusion.

All we can say is, stay tuned.

WardsAuto is out with its annual 10 Best Engine/Drivetrains list:

150-kW Electric Propulsion System (Chevrolet Bolt EV)
3.6L Pentastar DOHC V-6/PHEV (Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid)
2.7L Twin Turbo DOHC V-6 (Ford F-150)
5.0L DOHC V-8 (Ford Mustang GT)
130-kW Fuel Cell/Electric Propulsion System (Honda Clarity)
2.0L VTEC Turbocharged DOHC 4-Cyl. (Honda Civic Type R)
3.0L Turbocharged DOHC V-6 (Infiniti Q50)
2.0L Turbocharged DOHC 4-Cyl. (Jaguar XF)
3.3L Turbocharged DOHC V-6 (Kia Stinger)
2.5L Atkinson DOHC 4-Cyl./HEV (Toyota Camry Hybrid)

Ward’s tested 32 engines and electric propulsion systems and four of the latter made the list.
While three are obvious, the fourth was the Toyota where Ward’s said interaction between the 2.5 liter four cylinder engine and electric motor is an “elegant, seamless, high-tech ballet.”

“We certainly didn’t set out to find four electrified drivetrains to honor this year. These four belong on our list because they are extremely efficient while at the same time fun to drive,” said Drew Winter, WardsAuto senior content director.

18MY_TypeRA-BRZ_tS

Subaru has announced pricing on two of its limited production performance cars that will debut next spring.

The WRX STI Type RA will start at $48,995 plus $860 for delivery. It comes with a 2.5-liter turbo four with 310 horsepower and a six-speed manual. (But of course!)

And the BRZ tS will be offered at $33,495 plus the same $860 for delivery. It offers suspension upgrades, 18” wheels, Brembo rotors, rear spoiler, and some Alcantara upholstery.

Feeling the urge to get away? A new Enterprise survey shows that 85 percent of respondents plan to escape on a weekend trip in the New Year. That is up from 78 percent in the previous report.

When asked why they want to escape more in 2018 than 2017, the top reasons are stress (43 percent), news (39 percent), the current political climate (38 percent) and social media (24 percent).

Those who plan to spend $1,000 or more on that getaway doubled from last year. Most are going to a beach.

In line with that, AAA says 107.3 million of us will travel over the upcoming holiday period. This would be the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase from a year ago.

The majority will travel by motor vehicle, the rest on trains, boats or in the sky. AAA said drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Wednesday, Dec. 20 and Thursday, Dec. 21.

Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California are the top two holiday destinations. I like numbers four, five and six – all are in either Hawaii or Jamaica.

The 1 millionth Toyota Corolla has rolled off the production line in Blue Springs, Mississippi.

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Auto News for Dec. 13 – New Jetta Drawings!

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 At the conclusion of last Saturday’s road test I mentioned the VW Jetta will get a complete remake for the 2019 model year. VW has now announced that the car will make its debut at the Detroit show in January and they have released drawings of what it may look like.

 Lots of people like Ferraris! Enough so, Bloomberg reports, that the factory will add a second shift to beef up production. The company hopes to produce 9,000 Ferraris next year. Not bad when you consider an introductory model lists for $200,000.

 Toyota and Panasonic may team up to make batteries for electric vehicles in what could be a major step in helping the automaker meet its goal of “Green Cars” comprising half of its worldwide sales by the year 2030.

 To meet that goal, Toyota said it would need a stepped up supply of next generation batteries.

 Shares in Tesla move up more than 3.5% after PepsiCo announced it will purchased 100 of its all-electric semi-trucks.

 The final McLaren Senna, the brand’s new high performance GT car, has been auctioned off. Only 500 of the “ultimate track car, legalized for the road”, will be made. Number 500 was held back for an auction that raised $1.2 million for the Ayrton Senna Institute, a non-profit organization providing education for nearly two million underprivileged children in Brazil.

 As reported here earlier, the Senna driver will be “hardwired into the dynamic experience the car delivers…”

 Cars with 789 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque can do that!

 

Auto News for Dec. 12 – Gas Prices Going Down – Tesla Semi bubbles

 

 Mountain Dew is going electric. Parent company PepsiCo has made the largest order yet for Tesla’s all-electric semis – 100 of them. The soft drink and snacks company said the trucks will play a key role in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

 The latest on gas prices from the AAA:

 The national average price for a gallon of gasoline dropped two cents on the week to $2.46. East Coast and Midwest states are seeing the largest drops in gas prices – as much as six cents – in the last week.

 A small number of states, who historically experience ongoing volatility, are seeing increases: Indiana (+11 cents), Michigan (+8 cents), Ohio (+4 cents), Hawaii (+1 cent) and Illinois (+1 cent). Drivers can expect pump prices to continue to drop heading into the holiday season as supply strengthens and fall gasoline demand weakens.

 The auto club also reminds drivers that it is not wise and it is increasingly expensive to put premium grade gas in your car if the maker doesn’t require it. You can find out what grade is required in your owner’s manual.

 AAA said the price gap between premium and regular grade has risen from 10 percent to 25 percent or more per gallon. In my neck of the woods, some premium prices are 70 cents a gallon more than regular unleaded.

 If you are in the market for a new vehicle Kelley Blue Book said the best deals available are as follows:

 Honda Accord

 Chevrolet Impala

 Honda Pilot

 Ford Expedition

 Chevrolet Tahoe

 Ford F-150

 All are 2017 models and are cash back/financing deals.

 Elsewhere:

 The Honda Civic Type R has been named the Best Car of 2017 by Digital Trends, a technology news site. It cited the Type R for its power and handling along with every day usability and affordability. (Not counting dealer mark ups!)

 Car dealers, by nature, have to be optimistic souls, and a new survey from Cox Automotive shows they remain that way despite several months of overall slowing sales. They are seeing higher costs of running their business, Cox said, along with weak customer traffic and pressure to lower prices. Yet they are expecting a strong market in the first quarter of 2018 as motorists down south continue to replace flood damaged cars and trucks. Franchise dealers were the most optimistic.

 

 

Auto News for Dec. 11 – Avalon teased, McLaren Super Car Coming

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 Toyota will premiere its all-new 2019 Avalon on January 15, during the 2018 North American International Auto Show. Not a surprise after Toyota redesigned the Camry. Teaser photo? Of course!

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 McLaren announced its “ultimate track-concentrated for the road” supercar will be called the Senna to honor the legendary Formula 1 driver, Ayrton Senna. It will be the lightest road car since the F1 at 2,641 pounds.

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 A 4.0-liter twin turbo V8 is good for 789 horsepower with 590 lb-ft of torque for “the purest connection between driver and car of any road-legal McLaren.” Only 500 will be produced, all hand-assembled at the main factory in Woking, Surrey, England starting in the third quarter of next year.

 “Those fortunate enough to drive the McLaren Senna will feel the cockpit come alive with the sound of air rushing into the roof-mounted ‘snorkel’ intake and mixing in the carbon fiber plenum, producing precisely tailored high-frequency sounds that deliver a vivid experience,” said the maker.

 

 

Saturday Road Test – VW Jetta


It’s a what?

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – It’s a best seller that is what!

The Jetta outsold all of the cars in the VW lineup in November and even some of the brand’s crossovers. So this is not that forgotten compact sedan that some might be ready to label it.

Packing a turbocharged 1.4-liter four rated at 150 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque married to a 6-speed automatic the test Jetta was a fun ride for a week.

The 1.4 might be the runt of the litter in the Jetta engine lineup, but it had good grunt for interstate merging, and passing for its size.

It more than held its own over the steeper climbs on I-70 to Hagerstown and past Mt. Aetna. (Wonder if there is a CVS there?)

Upscale models get a 1.8 liter turbo four with 170 horsepower but for many the 1.4 should be more than adequate.

With lots of stop and go driving here in suburbia where every second block seems to feature a construction zone, the Jetta posted 29 mpg for the test period. It is EPA rated at 28 city, 38 highway, for a combined 32 mpg.

I am beginning to believe that one reason the unemployment rate just went down was the hiring of people to flag traffic around the never ending construction and utility line repair zones in these parts.

Free of all that, the Jetta was fun to exercise on favorite rural roads bringing back fond memories of the off-the- Autobahn roads that I loved in Germany.

Considering the test Jetta’s reasonable price it packed a fair amount of equipment:

Heated side mirrors, heated windshield washer nozzles, both welcome now that winter has moved in over much of the country. A sunroof, heated front seats, rearview camera, bind spot monitor, satellite radio, 6.3 inch touchscreen, and Bluetooth also were on board
Not bad for a sedan that bottom lines for $22,815 including transportation. Some hard plastic surfaces inside is one trade off.

Then add in lots of trunk space, even more than some midsize rivals, at 15.7 cubic feet. And two adults will be comfy in the rear seats, as will two in the front. In sum, a nice design for a compact sedan when it comes to hauling stuff and even real people!

A tall sixth gear in the automatic kept engine noise down on the interstates but there was some road noise in the cabin.

For 2018 VW adds a Wolfsburg Edition which is a base Model S edition with more desirable equipment including 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, heated seats, and driver’s seat lumbar adjustment among other items.

The SE Sport model joins the club with standard sunroof, black interior trim, 17 inch black aluminum wheels, black grille, rear spoiler and side mirror caps.

There is good value here for the monthly payment and the Jetta is very worthy of a test drive if you are looking for a tightly constructed sedan that will stand out in the neighborhood because it is not an SUV!

Almost forgot. It comes with six year, 72,000 “bumper to bumper” mile warranty.

Factoid: (sort of)

Rumors say the Jetta will be redesigned in the 2019 model year when it will ride on VW’s new corporate platform.

 

Auto News for Dec. 8 – We Love Pickups!

  If you have a car with the defective Takata air bag inflators, please arrange to have them replaced! They are in nearly 42 million vehicles but more than half of all owners have not had the perhaps life-saving repairs carried out, according to the Detroit News. The repairs are free. More than 180 injuries and 13 deaths here in the U.S. have been linked to the defect.

 Check your car’s VIN number, then go to http://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls to check if your car has an unresolved recall.

 Full size pickup trucks from Ford, Chevy and Ram were the most shopped vehicles of 2017 on Cars.com. In its yearly web site activity report, the company said Americans weren’t exactly creative with vehicle color choices. Black was number one and white was number two this year.

 Ford dominated car shopper attention followed closely by Chevrolet, Toyota, Jeep and Honda.

 More than 60 percent of women are the sole decision makers when they go car shopping. Not surprisingly, on the day of the Women’s March, shopper activity was down 8.4 percent.

 A recall of interest – Bugatti is recalling 47 of its ultra-fast Chirons because of faulty welds in the front recliner seat brackets. One dozen of the affected cars are in North America.

 If one belongs to you, please let me know so I can experience what an 8.0-liter V-16 with 1,500 horsepower feels like.

 Two guys thought it would be a great idea to make watches out of parts from Mustangs long consigned to the junk yard.

 The idea is the brainchild of Christian Mygh and Jonathan Kamstrup, who together scour salvage yards around the world for models, each of which can be transformed into hundreds of unique timepieces, costing from $1,495.

Ford Mustang Watches

 For the true Mustang enthusiast, REC Watches, based in Denmark, will even create an entirely new watch from parts donated by customers.

 So much for the Clydesdales! Anheuser-Bush has ordered 40 Tesla Semis to deliver its products as part of its plan to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent.

 The highest grossing massage chair company in the world has signed a deal to put the Lamborghini name on its products for the home. Bodyfriend expects the first Lambo massage chair to the launched by the spring of 2018. The chair maker has two stores in Los Angeles and will open an additional 140 outlets in the next three years.

 

 

 

 

 

Auto News for Dec. 7

Flat Rock Assembly Plant

 Ford will move development of an all-electric SUV from its plant in Michigan to Mexico to open up space for work on self-driving vehicles. The Blue Oval will add 250 jobs and increase investment in the Flat Rock, Michigan plant. Ford hopes to have a hybrid autonomous vehicle on the market in 2021. It will be aimed at the commercial market.

 Fifteen vehicles qualified for the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety after headlight standards were strengthened. Another 47 vehicles qualified for the next award down, Top Safety Pick without the plus.

 Most of the Top Safety Pick+ awards go to two manufacturers: Hyundai — which owns the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands — has six models earning the award, and Subaru has four. Mercedes-Benz has two, while Toyota, BMW and Ford have one each.

 Toyota has the most vehicles — 10 — on the Top Safety Pick list. Hyundai is the runner-up with nine. All but one of the seven vehicles in Subaru’s 2018 lineup earn one of the awards.

 Reuters reports Toyota and Mazda will select the site for their joint manufacturing plant in the first quarter of the new year. North Carolina and Alabama are rumored to be the top contenders.

You will see Kia ads on the next Super Bowl, the automaker signing up for the big game for the ninth straight year. The Super Bowl will be held February 4th in Minneapolis. And yes, the stadium does have a roof!