Auto News for Jan. 31

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Subaru has offered up a teaser picture of its 2015 Legacy sedan that will be unveiled next Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show. It is said to be “more couple-like” with a “faster windshield rake angle and narrower A-pillars that create a sporty and modern sedan.”

old beetle

Can it really be that long ago? VW is celebrating the fact that 65 years ago the first Beetle arrived on these shores. In January of 1949, a “Type 1” Beetle was shipped to NYC by Ben Pon, Sr., who was the world’s first official VW importer. Over the years, the Beetle not only got a heater and defroster system, but grew into a brand that now offers 11 different models sold by 644 dealers across the country. Yours truly got the chance to drive a ’49 bug while in Germany too many years ago. It was a split window model with syncro in no gears, and the defroster was the back of your hand up against the windshield. But after a complete restoration it was a very dependable set of wheels.

Mini has announced some 2014 prices with the base Cooper starting at $19,950 plus $750 for transportation. That would appear to be a gain of $300 over current models. The 2014 Cooper S will start at $23,600. The Mini hardtop will arrive at dealers this spring and let’s hope they finally move the speedometer in front of the operator.

Chevy is going after the Ford Transit. It will introduce the City Express, Chevy’s first entry into the small van segment. It will come to market this fall.

VW claims it outsold GM on the world market in 2013 selling 9.73 million vehicles to GM’s 9.71 million.

Toyota is going to stop selling six models because the seat fabric doesn’t meet federal flammability standards, when seat warmers are also a part of the package. Put on hold at the Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry and Camry hybrid, Sienna, and Tacoma from model years 2013 & 2014. Also put on hold are the 2014 Corolla and Tundra. The Detroit News reports no fires have been reported and Toyota is trying to come up with a replacement fabric.

 

 

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Auto News for Jan. 30

When you have one of the best selling cars in the country, one must proceed carefully when it comes time for a redesign. Several Toyota officials have been quoted as saying, in essence, that the company will do “something” to the Camry to freshen it up, but exactly what, and when, remains a mystery.

Chrysler’s latest earnings show the brand is supporting Fiat, a company that posted a loss of $345-million in its latest year. The two are now formally married in a company called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Chrysler, in the past year, posted profit of $659-million and that is without a one-time tax gain. In case you were wondering, the two firms are now the seventh largest automaker in the world.

The music industry’s top magazine, Billboard, reports Bob Dylan will star in a Chrysler ad to be aired during the Super Bowl. Watching pro football these days it feels, at times, like there are more ads than football. “First and ten, and we will be right back.”

Harley Davidson said full year sales rose 4.4 percent and earnings per share were ahead 20.6 percent. Harley said it sold more motorcycles to new customers last year, than it did to current Harley owners.

The Cadillac ATS leads Kelley Blue Book’s list of the top luxury cars for under $40,000 citing its “compelling mix of bold style, surprising performance and a starting price in the low $30,000 range.” Rounding out the top five, were the BMW 3 Series, Audi A5, Lexus IS, and the Infiniti Q50. Pictured is the ATS Coupe.

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Auto News for Jan. 29

Nissan says an 88 pound three cylinder engine will power its entry in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race. It is a rather powerful 1.5 liter with 400 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It will be installed in a car that Nissan said will be the first to complete an entire lap of the course solely on electric power. The little 3 will then take over. Nissan said lessons learned from the development of the engine will be seen in Nissan road cars of the future. And when was the last time you saw a picture of a Nissan official holding an engine in his arms?

NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani Holding the 40kg/400-horsepower

Formula One legend Michael Schumacher remains in a medically induced coma in a French hospital one month after his skiing accident. Hospital officials say he is in stable condition. He suffered a severe brain injury when he fell and his head hit a rock at the Meribel ski resort in the French Alps on December 29th.

There is this big football game coming up from frosty New Jersey on Sunday and advertisers are shelling out big bucks. Laurence Fishburne will star in a Kia ad introducing its K900 luxury car. Perhaps it will be examined in the CSI lab? After a year away, GM will use the big game to promote a big truck – its 2015 Silverado HD.

2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD LTZ crew cab pickup with dual r

GM is not giving any hints as to the content of its second ad. Maybe the Corvette Sting Ray Z06 for a guess? Ford and Chrysler will also air ads for their products. If you have a clock with a second hand, watch it tick off 30 seconds. That amount of ad time during the Super Bowl will cost $4 million or more, according to the Detroit Free Press.

 

Auto News for Jan. 28

Auto News for Jan. 28

2015 Mustang

Ford continues to roll along. The automaker topped Wall Street earnings expectations in the fourth quarter and for all of last year. It was helped by strong sales in North America and the Asia Pacific region and it lost less money in Europe. Ford was cautious about its results this year, and that may catch stock buyer’s attention today.

Honda now says it ships more U.S. made cars overseas than it imports from Japan. Last year it shipped more than 108-thousand U.S mades overseas, as opposed to the more than 88-thousand it imported from Japan.

Frost and Sullivan predicts that by the year 2020, up to 70 percent of new car sales leads globally will be generated digitally.

KBB.com said 71 percent of the visitors to its site believe the Denver Broncos will win the Super Bowl. The auto website said only 29 percent thought Seattle would take home the grand prize. It is not clear how many are coffee drinkers.

Auto News for Jan. 27

 

While Opel has had some tough times of late, General Motors new leader said the brand is a vital part of the company. Mary Barra flew to the Opel facility in Ruesselsheim, Germany, on her first overseas trip since taking over the driver’s seat at GM. She said workers at the German plant will produce a new model, but gave no further details. GM’s goal is to make Opel a break-even proposition by the middle of this decade after years of red ink. She is pictured with Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann.

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It was announced this morning that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking a look at 30,000 Toyota Camrys. The agency said there have been 59 complaints alleging intermittent loss of braking in Camry hybrids from model years 2007 and 2008.

Backers said 800,000 people attended the big Detroit Auto Show this year, the best turn out since 2003.

BMW said its 740Ld xDrive Sedan will get a diesel engine, specifically the 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo diesel in the long wheelbase 7 series body with all-wheel drive. Base price will be $83,425 when the car arrives in U.S. showrooms in the spring. The diesel produces 255 horsepower with 413 lb-ft of torque and will accelerate the big sedan from 0-60 in 6.1 seconds. Fuel economy estimates are not yet available.

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Saturday Road Test – Hyundai Equus

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2014 Hyundai Equus

Heat! I Want Heat!!!

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Say what you will about Hyundai moving further into the luxury market, but when the wind chill is -17 there is only one thing you want – Heat and lots of it.

On this score, the Hyundai’s luxury car is more than up to the challenge. The tested “Signature” model not only had a good three zone automatic temperature control heater, but the front and rear seats were heated, along with the outside rear view mirrors and the steering wheel. Now that is an option I often wondered about, but given Maryland’s record shattering cold, this “Hot Wheel” and I are now the best of buds. Okay, call it bribery by heating system if you must!

So what do we have here other than a chance to escape the cold? It is a full size rear drive sedan that comes in two trim levels – Signature and Ultimate. Both share the 5.0 liter V8 rated at 429 horsepower with 376 lb-ft of torque that has more than enough muscle to meet anyone’s needs – From a standstill to a mile-a-minute in fewer than six seconds and an EPA rating of 15-23 mpg of premium petrol.

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With that much clout some operators might be looking for a paddle shift or two to accompany the eight speed automatic, but they are not offered. Those seeking to select their own gears must use the shifter on the center console.

To extract all the power there is, drivers are advised to keep the Sport driving mode switched on. Economy saps some life out of the system, and normal, is well, just white bread normal. One small problem – When the ignition is turned off, the system reverts to Eco.

On a long day’s drive, the Equus’ attributes were clear. It was serene inside, the big V8 was library quiet at 65-70 cruising speeds, and the 13-way adjustable, leather clad driver’s seat was easy chair comfortable. The co-pilot gets a 10-way adjustable chair, while two adults will probably take a nap while relaxing in the 60/40 power reclining rear seats.

Sweet, sweet sounds emanated from the 17-speaker Lexicon system. More formally, it is an AM/FM/HD radio/SiriusXM/in-dash DVD/MP3 Lexicon 7.1 Discrete Logic 7 surround sound system, just in case you were wondering. Whew!

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An electroluminescent display in front of the driver is home to the usual instruments and is easy to read. Atop the center console is a 9.2 inch color display for the easy to handle Navi system with services that can include traffic, weather, sports, stocks, Gracenote, Junction view and 30 gigs of storage. I kept looking for the partridge in a pear tree, but never found it. Perhaps it was frozen.

The Microfiber suede headliner, leather and real wood interior trims should impress your riders. Fit and finish was excellent on the test car.

All this points up what the Equus is, and what it is not. Given its exterior style, it should appeal to those who want a luxury sedan but don’t want to brag about it. The ride is on the luxury end of the spectrum, but the handling winds up below that, of say, a BMW 3-series. Yet it is no ‘64 Lincoln pillowmobile either.

To sweeten the deal, Hyundai offers 3 year, 36,000 mile no cost maintenance service and they will pick up the car and offer a loaner when yours is garage bound. The 10 year, 100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty is also part of the deal.

With zero options, the test car had a bottom line of $61,920 including delivery. What you get is a stealth luxury car from an exterior design standpoint, one that is filled with a long list of standard equipment, lots of luxury touches, and perhaps most important of all, a welcome refuge after an insane day in the office.

 

 

Auto News for Jan. 24

Here is something Justin Bieber might want to consider. White Glove Drivers of Florida has offered to dispatch, for free, personal drivers to take the wheel of Justin’s car for a year so that he may “enjoy his time in Miami responsibly.” The company said it was founded on the idea that clients can enjoy a night out on the town without driving under the influence.

Year-over-year auto sales will increase 1.6 percent this month predicts Kelley Blue Book. Yet it warns that winter storms could impact new vehicle sales, and if I may add, the extremely cold weather could also play a role. Kelley said Chrysler and Nissan may post some big gains thanks to the Jeep Cherokee crossover, and Nissan’s Rogue and Altima.

2014 Nissan Rogue2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude

 

Sixty-three percent of car shoppers used their smartphones to do research and make decisions while at auto dealerships, according to Placed, Inc. a firm that tracks what we do with our smartphones. It said “mobile shopping has exploded in just the past year, fundamentally changing the way dealers need to engage with customers.” Almost three-quarters of shoppers that used their smartphones were likely to visit an additional dealership – always a good idea.

Something new is coming to the Las Vegas strip, a Harley Davidson dealer. A custom sesquicentennial themed motorcycle was part of the ground breaking ceremony.

Subaru has announced improvements to its EyeSight driver assistance system. It now has a 40 percent longer and wider detection range, brake light detection and can now fully function when the speed differential is up to 30 mph up from the current 19 mph. The new system will debut later this year.