Auto News for Sept. 30

2015 Ford F-150 XL

A weak market in Europe, a fact of life shared by many automakers, and the recall of 850,000 vehicles has Ford telling analysts it expects earnings to drop $1 billion or more this year. It is optimistic going forward with the introduction this fall of the new aluminum bodied F-150 pickup. Looking further ahead, the automaker projects annual global sales to increase 45 to 55 percent by the year 2020.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into complaints of unintended acceleration at low speeds in older Toyota Corollas. The agency said it has received at least 141 complaints and will determine if a formal investigation will be conducted of the 2006 to 2010 models. Toyota said it will cooperate fully with any inquiry. You might remember similar complaints back in 2009-10 involving different Toyota and Lexus models blamed on floor mats and sticky gas pedals.

Chrysler Group Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

When it was all said and done, the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat with VIN0001 raised a record $1.65 million for charity at a recent auction. Barrett-Jackson said the car raised more money for charity than any other in the auction house’s history. The proceeds will benefit a non-profit that serves people with significant intellectual disabilities in the Las Vegas area. Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and several Chrysler dealerships, was the winning bidder at the auction.






Auto News for Sept. 29

Honda Civic R Type

Honda has released more information on a Civic Type R that just may be the fastest Civic ever made. A 2.0-liter four will crank out up to 320 horsepower and the only tranny to be offered on the front drive car will be a six-speed manual with a 7,000 rpm redline. A concept car will be unveiled this week at the Paris Show. Sadly, it appears the R-Type will not be offered on these shores.

Just a note for those of you on the road. The Detroit News said many upscale hotels are now charging guests if they even touch an item on a snack tray in their room, or pull something out of the minibar to check ingredients. In short, you might be charged for the $7 candy car even if you didn’t eat it. Sensors indicate when an item is moved and there may or may not be a note warning you of all this.

Ford is recalling 2013-14 Lincoln MXZ, C-Max, Fusion and Escape models to fix a problem that could prevent the air bags from working in a crash. It cited a possible short circuit in a control module. The automaker said it was not aware of any accidents related to the air bag problem. A total of 850,000 vehicles are included in the recall.

The Lexus RX 450h, ES 350, and RX 350 top list of the most worry-free cars to own. The Acura TL is fourth followed by the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Rounding out the top ten are the Toyota Avalon and Tundra, GMC Yukon, Toyota Sienna and the Honda Ridgeline.



Saturday Road Test – Mitsubishi’s Best Seller


Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

A Well Equipped Looker

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD – The price is as attractive as the exterior style, the ride is quiet, and the warranty is a long one on the Outlander Sport, Mitsubishi’s best-selling vehicle.

Those on a tight budget might be attracted to the base price of $19,595 for the ES model or a base of $23,995 for the more upscale and tested SE with all-wheel drive.

Added sound proofing made for a hushed interior during an interstate trip allowing one to enjoy the 710 watt Rockwood Fosgate Premium Sound system with 9 speakers and 10 inch subwoofer that steals a little cargo space, but is well worth the sacrifice. It comes as part of a $1,000 “Premium Package” that also includes an auto dimming rear view mirror and power driver’s seat. For sure, it will pump out enough bass to affect the read outs on your new Apple iWatch.

Both front seats were heated just in time for chilly fall mornings. Two adults will fit into the second row seats with no complaints, and if you want a third row the idea is to step up to the roughly foot longer Mitsu Outlander without the Sport moniker.


Mitsubishi offers a 10 year or 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, a 5 year, 60,000 mile basic warranty and 5 years of roadside assistance regardless of mileage.

Add in a generous list of standard features, and the price on the tested Sport came to $25,820. As you can see there is a lot to like here, and in many ways it was one of the best Mitsubishis that I have ever driven. It was particularly fun to punch up the all-wheel drive for a little off roading around a nearby mountain, or at least what passes for one in these parts.

Handling was on a par with the class, the ride was comfortable and the short turning radius came in handy when I had to make a mostly legal tight in town U turn.

The downside was the 2.0 liter four that was rated at 148 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm with 145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm. Coupled with a lackluster CVT transmission acceleration was on the leisurely side. Look for a 0-60 run of more than 9 seconds. Where you will notice it most is starting from red lights on parkways and on long interstate hills. The base model comes with a five speed stick and that might improve things.


The CVT cranked up a lot of noise but little forward progress compared with the competition yet two things should be pointed out.

Mitsubishi says later models carry an improved CVT and secondly, there will be customers for whom acceleration is not a big deal but economy is.

On that note, the EPA rates the Sport at 24 in city, 29 out on the highway with a combined 26 miles per gallon. I finished the week at 25 mpg all on regular unleaded.

As for cargo space, there is 21.7 cubic feet with the 60/40 split rear seats up, and 49.5 cubes with them folded. That is more than the Nissan Juke and less than the Kia Sportage, for example.

For those who will largely drive in city traffic, the Sport just might be the ticket. My guess is that Mitsubishi dealers will offer a better deal than you can haggle from one of the segment’s higher volume dealers.





Auto News for Sept. 26

Ferrari 458

Next month Ferrari will unveil a limited edition 458 Speciale A (as in Aperta) at the Paris show. Only 499 will be manufactured and they will be powered by a 596 horsepower V8, the most powerful naturally-aspirated road going V8 engine ever built by Ferrari. It claims a 0-60 time of just 3 seconds. The car will feature an aluminum retractable hard top that will take 14 seconds to put down.


Is Volkswagen on to the next big thing, at least in Europe? It has unveiled the TRISTAR concept, a sort of combination van and truck that is set up to do business with swiveling seats for in vehicle conferences and a video conference system on board as well. There is also a weather proof drawer beneath the truck bed, as well as four wheel drive.

Some good news for GM! Standard and Poor’s has upgraded its credit rating to investment grade. S&P said it believes GM will “likely sustain its improving track record of profitability in North America” and achieve mid-decade profitability in Europe.

And CEO Mary Barra makes the cover of Time magazine talking inside about the ignition switch recall disaster.

Kelley Blue Book predicts that new vehicle sales will increase 9 percent this month. J.D. Power puts the increase at 5 percent. It said new light vehicle sales are showing no signs of slowing.

Ram truck has presented a $100,000 check to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame. That is the law enforcement rangers and not the baseball team with the worst record in the majors. America’s oldest state law enforcement agency is gearing up for its landmark 200th anniversary.





Auto News for Sept. 25

Audi TT convertible

Audi has released a picture of a hot little TT convertible that will have its coming out party at the Paris show next month. It will feature a fabric top, Alcantara/leather sport seats, and front drive or Quattro all-wheel drive with the latter offering five distinct driving modes.


Volkswagen announced its limited edition bottom of the line Beetle Classic will carry a starting price of $20,195. That will include satellite radio, navi and a rear spoiler among other things. Early next year a “Classic” convertible will go on sale with a starting price of $25,995. The hardtop interior is pictured.

GM announced that its planned top-of-the-line sedan will be called the CT6 and that will lead to a renaming of the entire Cady lineup. The new car will debut as a 2016 model and be built at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. Anyone remember when Cadillac’s model lineup included such names as de Ville, Fleetwood, Eldorado Biarritz, and Eldorado Brougham?

Ford’s Transit van is a nifty little runabout and lots of customers agree. Enough so that Ford is adding 1,200 jobs and a second shift at the Kansas assembly plant.

Auto News for Sept. 24

2015 Saleen Mustang

Performance specialist Saleen has released some information on its version of the 2015 Mustang. Customers can choose either a 450 horsepower V8 or, if that is not enough, a 640 HP version with 565 lb-ft of torque that should be enough to get you arrested in all 50 states. A six speed manual transmission is standard in both with a 6-speed automatic an option. No performance figures or prices have been released.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration: un festín para los sentidos

Infiniti meanwhile has released a drawing of the “Q80 Inspiration” that it will reveal at the Paris show on Oct. 2. It is said to be a top-of-the-line four seat fastback with a hybrid-electric powertrain. The Q80 is a concept car, about the size of a Chrysler 300 that Infiniti said will “lead to a future model.”

The judges have released a list of vehicles that are in the running for the title of North American Car and Truck of the year. Car of the year contenders are:

Acura TLX Audi A3 Chrysler 200 Ford Mustang Honda Fit Hyundai Genesis sedan Hyundai Sonata Mercedes-Benz C-Class Toyota Camry Volkswagen Golf/GTI

Truck of the year candidates are:

Audi Q3 Chevrolet Colorado Chevrolet Tahoe Ford F-150 Ford Edge GMC Canyon Lexus NX Lincoln MKC Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Nissan Murano Porsche Macan Subaru Outback Toyota Highlander

The winners will be announced at the start of the Detroit Auto Show in January and my money is on the Mustang and the F-150. A reminder: I picked the winners last year at this time.

New York City will welcome Cadillac to the SoHo district. The luxury automaker is moving its headquarters out of Detroit for the city that never sleeps. Hurt by slow sales, Cadillac is hoping the move makes it easier to hook up with rich potential customers’ with one official saying there are more hedge fund traders in New York than Detroit. GM also said it expects Cadillac sales in China to increase 40 percent this year.

Bentley does more than make luxury cars it also puts its name on men’s fragrances. The latest is called Blue Crystal and it comes in limited edition crystal bottles shaped like the Bentley emblem that “shine in magical midnight blue.” It will sell for just $5,776 a bottle when it hits the market this fall. Just wanted you to know.


Auto News for Sept. 23


Toyota will display the C-HR concept crossover at the Paris Auto Show next month. “Using a hybrid power plant, this crossover gives a first hint of a type of vehicle that Toyota would like to bring to the C-segment market,” said the maker. Further it said the concept hints at a future design direction for Toyota vehicles. We will learn more on Oct. 2.

708 HP Sonata

Hyundai is partnering with Bisimoto Engineering to create a 708 horsepower Sonata for the 2014 SEMA show in Las Vegas. You may have already noted that this is one more horsepower than the Dodge Hellcat. The Sonata with the outrageous power will be unveiled on Nov. 4. The starting point for the build is Hyundai’s 2.4-liter “Theta-II” four, much beefed up of course, with a high boost turbocharger and a “fast-burning flex fuel diet” said Bisimoto.

The man running GM’s victim compensation plan now reports that 21 death claims have been found eligible for payment. Kenneth Feinberg made the disclosure in his weekly update. Last week he put the number of eligible claims from the defective ignition switches at 19. GM had estimated 13 deaths.

If you are on the road to New York, Michelin’s 10th edition of its famous Gotham restaurant guide comes on Oct. 1. My guess is that my favorite place, Sarge’s Delicatessen in the Murray Hill neighborhood, probably won’t make it. Instead, eight celebrity chiefs will offer their signature dishes to a select gathering the night the guide is released. There won’t be a cheeseburger in the joint.


Auto News for Sept. 22



Honda has released a picture of its refreshed 2015 CR-V, one of the more successful models in its lineup. It will go on sale Oct. 1 and Honda promises complete information on the updates Sept. 30. For now, that is all of any substance we know.

Ever wonder how a new car is built? Then you should check out the Chrysler 200 Factory Tour for a virtual tour of the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant – five million square feet of factory or the equivalent of 86 football fields.

The recalls continue at General Motors. This time it is 221,558 Chevy Impalas and Cadillac XTS models for a brake defect. GM said the brake pads might remain partially engaged when braking is not needed thus building up heat and possibly starting a fire. It knows of no such incidents. Cadillacs from model years 2013-2015 and Impalas from 2014-15 are involved in the recall.



Saturday Road Test – Hyundai Santa Fe

VW Bug & RR 013

Hyundai Santa Fe

Go West

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD – This is Hyundai’s three row midsize crossover with a contemporary exterior design while continuing the maker’s tradition of offering lots of content for the buck.

In case you were wondering, Hyundai makes the Santa Fe with three rows of seats that the maker says will set six or seven, and the smaller Santa Fe Sport that seats five and will reviewed here a bit later. That puts Hyundai one up on New Mexico where there is only one Santa Fe or the North Pole where Santa lives without Fe.

Since the test Santa was the Limited trim level, it had two Captain’s Seats in the second row so the max seating capacity came to six.

On the long list of standard equipment on the tested top of the line Limited model were fog lights, a power liftgate, leather seating surfaces with heat up front, dual zone climate control and a long list of other goodies.

VW Bug & RR 009

A $4,850 Technology Package brought 19” Alloy wheels, sunroof, parking assistance, heated steering wheel, and ventilated seats that were most welcome on an unseasonably hot and humid test week. An 8” touchscreen with navi and the not to be forgotten “Premium Door Sill Plates” were also some of the package ingredients.

Carpeted floor mats were another $135.

VW Bug & RR 018

The Sound of Music came from a very rich Infinity Logic7 Surround Sound System batting out 550 watts.

Up front on the front drive tester was a 3.3-liter V6 with 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 252 lb-ft or torque at 5,200 rpm. It was close friends with a six speed automatic.  All-wheel drive is available.

There was more than enough clout with a 0-60 run in a touch over seven seconds, and a max towing capacity of 5,000 with the proper boxes checked. EPA fuel economy is 21 mpg combined and I came out at 23 in suburban and country road driving.

Out on the interstate, the Santa Fe was a quiet partner with wind and road noise well under control. The power lift gate was a most welcome feature in the supermarket parking lot after the cupboard was discovered to be bare.

With the second and third row seats folded there was 80 cubic feet for stuff and 41 cubic feet available when the second row is carrying people. Remember when Bill Cosby, playing Noah, asked the Lord was a “cubit” was?

It was a bit of a pain for an adult to gain access to the third row and it is best reserved for children, as is the case in most three row crossovers.

The interior was well appointed and finished. The front seats were most comfy on an all-day drive, and two adults should be complaint free riding in the second road captain’s chairs, with little case for mutiny.

One can simply pop in and drive it from day one without consulting the rather large operator’s manual thanks to nicely located and marked controls and that’s good for five gold stars in my book.

The MSRP was $39,540 for a fashionable well-built crossover that was filled with baubles and carries a recommended rating from Consumer Reports. The Santa Fe should be high on your list if you are in the market for a midsize crossover.

VW Bug & RR 016

Auto News for Sept. 19

General Motors announced that its planned upscale Cadillac will be produced at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. The rear drive, yet unnamed, top of the line car will debut in the first half of next year.

It has been a pretty good year for the city of Baltimore. The Orioles will be in post season play and now BMW has opened a new distribution center at the port that will serve 96 dealers in the east and central part of the country.

Global rally Beetle


A “Global Rallycross Beetle” will make its debut this weekend at a race in Los Angeles. Appropriately enough, it will be driven by a guy named Scott Speed.

And the 2015 Jetta has earned a Top Safety Pick Plus designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, its highest award. This covers Jetta’s that are equipped with the optional Forward Collision Warning system.

GM has started loading the new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups onto rail cars for delivery to dealers. They will be offered with a 3.6-liter V6 with a turbo diesel coming in the 2016 model lineup.

Thirty world debuts will be the headline from the Los Angeles auto show that opens to the press on November 18th. Audi will have three global debuts and Mercedes three as well. Chrysler is expected to show off a refreshed 300 and Scion will display an all-new and much, much needed new vehicle.