Auto News for Sept. 30


Thousands turned out over the weekend for an auction of old Chevys in a rural Nebraska field. Most of the vehicles were low mileage but showing the effects of being in barns and garages for years but that didn’t deter buyers. A 1958 Chevy pickup was auctioned off for $140,000 with only 1.3 miles on it. The collection was owned by a former dealer who hung on to the models that were not quick sellers.

Anyone embarking on a long road trip today should pay attention to this – It is National Coffee Day!!!!

Kia has announced that its flagship luxury car, the Quoris, will be going on sale in the U.S. sometime next year. Well that is a better name than it carries in Korea and the Middle East where it is known as the K9. Here in the states it will carry an eight-speed automatic tranny and a 3.8-liter, 285 horsepower V6 engine. The car is based on the Hyundai Genesis and should carry similar pricing.


Saturday Road Test _ Lexus LS460L

Lexus 460L 4

Lexus LS460L

The word for the day: Luxury

By Ron Amadon

Point of Rocks, MD – You cruise down the road with a Strauss Waltz on the 19 speaker audio system, in what would otherwise be nearly complete silence.

The leather, stitching, wood and other trim items around you exude luxury, bumps in the road are nothing much more than a rumor, and the V8 under the hood purrs along in calm contentment.

In short, Lexus-top-of-the-line model is one of those cars that when you drive off delivers one very clear message – “You have been good, very good.”

Lexus decided that there just might be an audience out there that wants a softer riding luxury car than its German competitors, but one that never wallows.

Pick the 205-inch long extended wheelbase model, and two passengers to the rear will have limo like room on seats that invite them to stick around for a long ride. In the test car they were heated, of course, just in time for the cold weather, and a power rear sunshade offers some privacy. Check the option list for additional items that come pretty close to all the comforts of home.

Not that the operator and copilot have been ignored, heaven forfend. The driver gets a 16-way adjustable seat with a 12-way adjustable chair on the copilot’s side. Both seats are “climate controlled” and there are power seatbelt shoulder height adjusters.

Of course, in this day and age, information abounds. Between the instruments is a color display that shows, among other things, outside temperature, how far you can go without running out of gas, average fuel consumption and average speed.

Lexus 460L 5

Speaking of fuel, the LS likes premium and is EPA rated at 16-23 miles per gallon. I came in a fraction under 18 mpg, as if that is a big deal at this price range.

A 12.3 inch high resolution screen atop the center stack shows navigation, audio selections, a backup monitor that could have been brighter, along with traffic, weather, sports, stocks, and fuel prices with a 90 day subscription to same included. And of course there are connections for virtually every audio device while fit and finish were impeccable.

A center console mounted mouse like device is sort of the Master of the Universe when it comes to that screen. I generally like it, but would prefer the screen movement   be slowed down a bit to make it easier for the operator to hit the desired target. You might want to give it a good workout during your test drive.

460L interior

Attention coffee drinkers! A small cup of coffee to go will not fit very well in the two cup holders up front. In fact they knocked the lid off the cup I tried to fit in. Order a large and it works just fine.

The 4.6-liter, 386 horsepower V8 with 367 lb-ft of torque, is a robust roast and more than up to the task of briskly moving the 4,277 pound luxury car. It produced a subdued but throaty roar when the driver put pedal to the metal.

It’s new for 2013 styling attracted attention in this sleepy commuter town along the banks of the Potomac, and even in ritzier suburbs of your nation’s capital.

Those with reasonably long memories can remember when Toyota stood the luxury car market on its head when it introduced the Lexus. Today, those who could give a hoot about what their luxury car can do at the track, or how fast it gets to 60, (about 5.5 seconds,) would do well to take a good look at the LS460L. That L, of course, is for long wheelbase.

(Note: our test car was a 2013 model, but it is identical to the 2014.)

Oh you’re a bottom line type, eh? With a modest $5,430 in options the test car, with delivery, would roll off the lot for $88,100 along with Lexus legendary long life and proven dependability.

Lexus 460L 2

Auto News for Sept. 27

First, an update on the much delayed Jeep Cherokee: Chrysler said it will resume production next week, but was not clear when it would start shipping the Jeep to dealers as it works on software tied to the Cherokee’s 9 (!) speed transmission. The Cherokee was scheduled to be in showrooms in July, according to the Detroit News.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given seven vehicles its highest rating of “Superior” in a new crash test. This one tests vehicles with forward collision warning systems including autonomous braking. Two Cadillac’s – the ATS and the SRX were given the top rating along with the C-Class Mercedes sedan, Subaru Legacy sedan and Outback, and two Volvos, the S60 and the XC60.

September auto sales are likely to drop 1.8 percent according to Kelley Blue Book. That would represent the first-year-over-year decline since May of 2011.  KBB cited two fewer selling days this month and a dip in retail sales among other factors. Once again, compact crossovers are expected to post the biggest sales gains.

Rate increases are driving more consumers to price shop among auto insurance firms, according to J.D. Power. Yet retention rates still total 97 percent.







Auto News for Sept. 26

You probably have noticed that gas prices are finally going our way. Triple A said the average price of a gallon of petrol now averages $3.46 a gallon and that is the lowest price in nine months. Your humble auto writer did see a price below $3.30 a gallon at an off-brand station the other day.

If you are willing to plunk down some premium rent-a-car dollars, Hertz will soon rent you a Tesla if you are flying to L-A or San Francisco.

About 500 vintage cars and trucks set aside by a one-time auto dealer in Piece, Neb., will be auctioned off. The Detroit News said the mostly Chevrolet models were stashed in barns and garages by Ray Lambrecht and will be sold “as is.” A former Chevy dealer garage in my hometown of Damascus, MD, has some vintage bowtie cars and trucks for sale as well but they have been extensively rehabilitated. There is a gorgeous blue 50’s vintage Chevy pickup and 60’s red Impala convertible.

Cadillac will unveil the 2015 Escalade on Oct. 7th with indie rock photographer and director Autumn de Wilde. He has produced a series of portraits and a film highlighting the Escalade design process. The debut of the new big SUV will take place in New York City.



A couple things caught my eye in the Detroit Free Press this morning. If you opt for some high priced option packages on a pickup truck one can easily top $70,000 and it is a portion of the market that is growing! And Ford will debut upgrades to its Super Duty trucks, where else, but the Texas State Fair!




Auto News for September 25

The Smart Fortwo, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra are the top three finishers in an list of the most fuel efficient coupes on the market. The Civic is rated at 32 mpg combined city and highway and the Elantra checked in at 32 mpg. The less than practical Smart came in at 36 mpg combined.

Where there were rumors that GM might try to sell its Opel brand, comes news that it will invest $175-million in an engine and parts plant in Germany.

Talk about power! A Ford Super Duty F-350 has received the 500,000th 6.7-liter PowerStroke V8 turbo diesel engine. It delivers 400 horsepower and a robust 800 lb-ft of torque.

Ford diesel - The BIG ONE!


Fiat has again delayed the much delayed return of the Alfa brand to the U.S. A spokesman now pegs the return as sometime in the second quarter of next year. It was supposed to arrive this year.

Wonder Bread came back on the shelves more quickly and now has signed a partnership with NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver Kurt Busch. Said one executive, “There is nothing more American than Wonder Bread and NASCAR.”

TrueCar is the latest to predict a cooling of auto sales for September. Part of it is due to Labor Day sales being included in the August sales data, and not September.  Sales are expected to be down 2.8 percent from September 2012.

Auto News for Sept. 24

The Fiat-Chrysler relationship has hit a rough patch. As you may know, Fiat wants to acquire the 41.5% slice of Chrysler owned a United Auto Workers trust fund but the two sides can’t agree on a price. Now Chrysler, at the behest of the union, has filed papers to make an Initial Public Offering of the shares, in what analysts believe is an effort to boost Fiat’s offer. In response, Chrysler said Fiat is now reconsidering the benefits and cost of furthering its relationship with the U.S. automaker. Stay tuned.

And there was another bump on the road. Chrysler has halted production of its Jeep Cherokee apparently due to problems with its nine-speed automatic transmission. Production was halted earlier due to quality control issues. The delay has idled hundreds of workers. The company said it will resume shipments by the end of the month.

Good news for GM. Moody’s upgraded its debt to “investment grade.” It is the first time in eight years that GM debt has not been considered to be that of junk bonds. Months of near record sales probably played a big part in the new rating.

There are probably many of you who do not remember the Hudson brand. But Jon Anderson does. His restored 1952 Hudson Hornet won Best of Show honors at the Vail Automotive Classic in Colorado. Anderson is an L-A based car collector and said the restoration took four years. Three of those years were devoted to creating the original custom woven fabric as used on the original. It was not a small or light car by any means weighing nearly 4,000 pounds and measuring 208 inches long.



Auto News for Sept. 23

The New York Times reports that Santa Monica, California has lots of charging stations for electric cars, yet they make up only four percent of the registered vehicles. The paper said higher sticker prices and range concerns are keeping people away from the all electrics.

Two new models will join the Porsche 911 family for the 2014 model year – A 911 Turbo Cabriolet and the Turbo S Cabriolet. The twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter six delivers 520 horsepower in the base model and 40 more in the Turbo S. Zero to 60 runs are just a bit over three seconds in both with a track day top seed of 195 mph. They will hit the U.S. market early next year with a base price, if one can call it that, of $160,700 for the Turbo Cabriolet and $193,000 for its upscale counterpart.



Much further down the price chart is the Honda Accord Hybrid that the maker said is EPA rated at 50 miles per gallon. That will be more of a treat than a trick when the car goes on sale Oct. 31, and yes, that is Halloween. Honda said prices will range from $29,155 to $34,905 for something more luxurious.

Mercedes said its E250 BlueTEC sedan will deliver an EPA rated 45 mpg on the highway and 28 around town. That would be with a diesel under the hood linked to Mercedes 4MATIC transmission.