Auto News for June 30

Lincoln MKX

Ford’s efforts to revive the Lincoln brand bore some fruit when the MKX was named one of the top rated Crossovers by J.D. Power. This study measures the quality of the vehicle during the first three months of ownership.

Other winners were the BMW X3, Chevy Equinox, Ford Edge, GMC Terrain, (a vehicle that I found most pleasing in a week’s test,) Infiniti QX50 and QX70, and Lexus RX.

Automobile magazine reports the next generation Camaro will get a four cylinder engine in its lineup. The V6 and the V8 will continue to be offered let me hasten to add. The four will bat out 300 horsepower the report said. Look for the four to debut in 2016 when the Camaro gets a complete makeover and also goes on a diet.

A measure passed by the Pennsylvania Senate would allow Tesla to operate up to five stores in that state. You will remember that Tesla has been battling for the right to sell its products directly to customers bypassing the traditional dealer network.

That recently unveiled Toyota fuel-cell vehicle will be sold here in the U.S. but only in California. It is said to have a range of 300 miles and top out at 100 mph. Starting prices will be about $69,000.

U.S. World Cup soccer star Clint Dempsey owns a heavily customized Ford SVT Raptor. Two other, and more highly paid international stars, cruise in Bugatti Veyrons. They are Samuel Eto’o from Cameroon and “Magician” Cristiano Ronaldo of Spain.

 

A Saturday Special on 3 wheels

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A Special Encounter

Only Three Wheels?

By Ron Amadon

NEW LONDON, NH – The late June day was just right. Low humidity, lots of sun, a sometimes brisk breeze with big puffy white clouds and a brilliant blue sky above.

My goal was to renew acquaintance with this Norman Rockwell come to life New England town that fortunately, in this fast changing word, has changed very little since I last viewed it some three decades ago.

I was just getting out of my car next to the 1792 vintage New London Inn when two young men yelled, “What is that?”

A fair question since “that” was an extremely rare Morgan 3 Wheeler. A tingle of joy ran down my spine because it was the first Morgan of its kind that I had ever seen on the road.

I waved at the older gent behind the wheel and gave him an enthusiastic OK sign – a brief moment of kinship of sorts between two men who love such extraordinary cars.

He smiled, waved and motored up the street past the scrupulously maintained white colonial houses and the tall pillared building that marks Colby Sawyer College

Then I turned to the younger generation to explain what “that” was.

Yes there were two wheels up front and only one to the rear. In full view, since there is no hood, was the two (!) cylinder engine that is matched to a Mazda produced 5-speed gearbox.

The little two produces just 82 horsepower but the Morgan’s light weight means a run to 60 from a standstill takes only 6 seconds according to its maker with a top speed of 115. In fact, the 3 Wheeler still holds long distance speed records for a one liter car set back in the 1930’s. And yes, they are still partially made from wood!

“Contrary to popular belief Morgan cars have never had a wooden chassis. However they do have wooden frames. This is not only traditional but hugely beneficial to the driving experience. The ash wood is extremely lightweight, strong and gives a solid platform to attach the aluminum body panels. The frame consists of 23 pieces which are made from scratch then hand assembled on the trestles. Curved pieces are sandwiched between ply to give extra strength,” said Morgan.

It is the only car maker in the world to have survived for a century under the ownership of its founding family.

“When did you last regard a journey by motor car as an adventure? The Morgan 3 Wheeler is designed to bring fun and passion back to personal transport. Lift the safety catch from the ‘bomb release’ starter button, hear the massive twin cylinders detonate and choose your favorite destination,” the traditional English car maker on Pickersleigh Road in Malvern Worcestershire proclaims.

Indeed!!! What joy it was seeing that modern day bare bones throw back to the past that proves to one and all that three wheels and 82 horsepower can be as much fun, and more, as anything else on wheels.

 

Auto News for June 27

McLaren_650S_GT3_head-on

McLaren has released pictures and some details of the race track only 650S GT3 that will compete in the 2015 season. As you can see in this picture, it is one mean looking machine and features a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 along with a new six-speed sequential transmission.

Mercedes E class Blue

Mercedes says one of its E-Class BlueTEC Hybrids has driven from Africa to the UK on one tank of fuel. That is a total of 1,223 miles averaging almost 74 mpg. And yes, they did have a relief driver on board for the 26 hour trip.

Here’s something I can agree with. The Kia Soul is one of the coolest cars one can buy for under $18K according to Kelley Blue Book. “The Soul’s funky persona, roomy cabin and increased cargo space have made it a runaway hit with consumers,” Kelley said in part.

The Detroit News reports that GM will unveil a multibillion dollar compensation plan for accident victims on Monday. Columnist Daniel Howes is critical of Today Show host Matt Lauer for asking CEO Mary Barra if she can run GM and also be a mom. That raises the interesting question of whether Lauer would have asked that question if he were interviewing a man. Bet not!

June will be another good sales month for automakers, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. Retail light-vehicle sales are projected to reach 1.1 million units, and that is six percent higher than one year earlier but this year also includes two more selling days. Said LMC official Jeff Schuster, “The U.S. auto market is arguably in the best position and health it has been in since well before the great recession.”

 

 

Auto News for June 26

Jaguar F-TYPE Project 7

Jaguar has confirmed that it will build 250 F-TYPE Project 7 sports cars that will be its fastest and most powerful production model to date. It will be a full road-legal two-seat roadster and pack a 5.0 liter supercharged V8 “petrol” engine. Jag is projecting a 0-60 run of 3.8 seconds and a “truly focused driving experience.” Customer deliveries will begin sometime in the middle of next year. While Jag said the car will be available globally it did not say how many will come to the U.S. No word yet on prices but it will probably sell for more than a Chevy Spark.

The Corvette Museum has decided that the giant sinkhole that swallowed up eight sports cars is a tourist attraction that should be kept, at least in part. In fact, they may put some of the damaged cars back inside the hole. The Detroit News said attendance is up 60 percent from March to the start of this week so they might on to something here.

On Tuesday, GM told dealers to halt sales of the 2013-14 Chevy Cruze models because they might have faulty air bags. Now the automaker says it has found that only 33,000 may have the defective bags and has narrowed its no sell order.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau has now been reporting on auto thefts for 30 years. For 2013, Bakersfield, California leads the list and California holds nine of the top 10 spots in the study. Overall, however, the bureau said auto thefts are declining.

Triple A predicts 41 million of us will hit the road over the 4th of July holiday weekend for trips of 50 miles or more. That is up 1.9 percent from a year ago. It said a willingness to take on credit card debt, not an increase income, is responsible for the increase in consumer spending over the holiday.

Has the big GM ignition switch recall done anything to lower used car prices? No, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. It said Chevy Cobalt prices, for instance, “have continued to move in a manner similar to competitive models within the compact car segment.”

I didn’t want you to miss the fact that Research and Markets has a report out on the International Armored Vehicle market. It includes Main Battle Tanks, Light Protected Vehicles, Amphibious Armored Vehicles, and Unmanned Ground Vehicles.

 

Auto News for June 25

A test of a driverless car came to a halt in Washington, DC yesterday when the 2011 Cadillac SRX backed by Carnegie Mellon University shut down. Published reports were not clear on why that occurred, but one television report said a member of Congress who was on board punched an emergency cutoff switch. That ended the test that had been in the planning stages for six months.

2015 Ford Edge

Ford took the wraps off the 2015 Edge that it said would be sold not only here in the U.S. but in Europe and more than 100 markets around the world. It will be offered with a choice of 2.0-liter EcoBoost four, a 2.7-liter Ecoboost V6 or a 3.5-liter V6. The Edge fits in between the Escape and Explorer size wise and will go on sale early next year. It is now based on the same global platform as the Fusion. One feature is adaptive steering that makes it easier to park by reducing the number of steering wheel turns a driver has to make.

Consumer Reports really likes the BMW M235i. After extensive testing the magazine gave the Bimmer a score of 98 out of a possible 100. By a matter of three points that is a better showing than the Porsche 911 Carrera S and six points ahead of the Corvette LT3. It called the M235 an inspiring sporty car.

When looking for a set of new wheels, buyers rank safety and information features high among “must have” technologies for their next purchase, according to Kelly Blue Book. That includes back-up/blind spot cameras; recall advisor, stolen vehicle recovery and collision sensors. But 43 percent rated USB/auxiliary ports as the top “must have” feature.

Toyota_FCV

Toyota has revealed the exterior design of its hydrogen fuel cell sedan that may make it to the U.S. in the summer of 2015.

Saturday Special – 2015 Crossovers

2015 Crossovers

Everybody is getting into the act!

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD – Children may be buying up anything and everything related to “Frozen” from Walt Disney but their parents are melting the market for small sport utility vehicles.

In May crossovers accounted for just over 31 percent of the total sales volume and were the second hottest selling segment just behind midsized cars. Demand is such that just about every manufacturer is getting into the act for fear of being left behind.

Here’s a look at some upcoming crossovers and one that is already on the market from what at first glance might seem an unlikely source.

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Audi Q3

Audi’s new small crossover will join the Q5 and Q7 in the lineup when it is introduced at dealers this fall. It will be powered by the familiar 2.0 liter four with 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque matched to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission. Front wheel drive will be standard with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive available. Among the options are front sport seats with adjustable thigh support and a Bose Surround Sound audio system good for 465 watts of power to no less than 14 speakers. “Ride of the Valkyries” in the wilderness, ya can’t beat it! Google Voice will offer info on travel destination, restaurant and hotel hours and customer reviews. Prices will be announced closer to launch.

2015 Nissan Murano

2015 Nissan Murano

It will be the first Murano to be assembled in the U.S. at the plant in Canton Mississippi and will arrive in showrooms later this year. Nissan claims a 0.31 coefficient of drag that it says is the same as contemporary sports cars. Zero gravity outboard seats with available heating and USB connection ports are an option for second row occupants. Knee room outback is up 1.4 inches and the interior is what Nissan calls a “social lounge.” Up to four onboard cameras and three radar systems are available to provide operators with a wide variety of information such as Blind Spot Warning and Forward Emergency Braking. The third generation Murano is said to have one of the largest moonroofs in the segment. Under the hood is a 3.5 liter V6 good for 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft torque. There are four trim levels topping out with the Platinum and each is available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

2015-honda-hr-v-suv-front-view

Honda HRV

It’s built on the same platform as the redesigned Fit but is 7 inches longer but 9 inches shorter the hot selling CR-V. Honda maintains it is an “ideal size for both city streets and mountain roads.” Honda is not releasing much information on the HRV but it is a good guess it will be powered by the same 130 horsepower 1.5-liter four found in the Fit. It is expected to hit these shores sometime next winter.

Porsche Macan

Porsche Macan

To settle this – Maa-khaan is the pronunciation and it is the Indonesian word for tiger. It is the company’s fifth model line and first entry into the compact sports utility segment. Macan shares its underpinnings with the Audi Q5 to give you an idea of its size. There are two models starting with the Macan S with a 3.0-liter V6 twin turbo with 340 horsepower and good for 0-60 runs of 5.0 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package. Next up is the Macan Turbo with a 3.6-liter V6 twin turbo good for 400 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and a 4.4 second run to 60 with that sport Chrono package. Top speed is a jail inducing 164 miles per hour, unless of course you are on a track and the tranny is Porsche’s rather nifty but hard to spell “doppelkupplung” seven-speed manual/automatic with paddle shifts. Both models feature all-wheel drive. Top Gear called it a “tidy looker …” An air suspension system is an option along with Torque Vectoring Plus that varies the amount of power sent to the rear wheels and yes, Porsche fans, the ignition switch remains on the left side of the steering column. Eighteen way adjustable sport seats are standard on some models with a leather and brushed aluminum interior trim or at owner’s direction dark walnut and carbon fiber trim are an option. A button in the center console will switch all relevant systems to a traction oriented off road program. With the air suspension, that will increase ground clearance by 1.58 inches to a maximum of just over 9 inches. Prices start at $49,900 to $72,300 with a lot more treats. The Macan is currently in dealer showrooms.

 

 

Auto News for June 19

2014-04-PH-The 2015 Ford Mustang

If you are anxiously awaiting the debut of the 2015 Mustang here are some just released prices for you to ponder. The base model will start at $24,425, and if you wish an automatic V-8 convertible then the dickering begins at a hefty $43,620. A cheaper convertible with a V-6 has a suggested $29,925 sticker. And the V8 coupe will start at $32,925. Dealers are now taking orders with delivery expected in the fall.

Porsche

For the second year in a row, Porsche ranked highest among all nameplates in the J.D. Power Initial Quality study. The 911, Boxster and Panamera models topped their segments. Porsche was followed by Jaguar and Lexus. In the Small SUV segment, the Buick Encore, Kia Sportage and Nissan Juke were the leaders. In the midsize car segment the Chevy Malibu led the pack followed by the Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry. On the other end of the list Jeep came in next to last with Fiat at the bottom. The study measures how happy drivers were with their wheels during the first three months of ownership.

J.D. Power said there was a small uptick in problems with new vehicles and they were linked to two things – A large number of new models with some kinks to be worked out and voice recognition, Bluetooth pairing and audio systems irregularities.

It is worth noting that Ford moved up 11 notches in the survey to 16th due in large part to improvements in its MyFord Touch infotainment system.

Seven in ten drivers in a Harris Poll believe passengers in a car do not share some legal responsibility if a distracted driver causes an accident. Six in ten say the same in the case of passengers riding with a drunk driver.