Auto News for Dec. 23

An insurance industry group has concluded that cars are becoming safer. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the number of vehicles earning one of its two top awards has jumped to 71 this year from just 39 a year ago. And the number earnings it Top Safety Pick + award has increased by 11 despite a tougher standard for front crash prevention. It wants more automakers to offer automatic braking technology on their future products.

On the other side of the ledger, a Colorado man lost control of his 707 horsepower Challenger Hellcat about an hour after driving it off a dealer’s lot. The State Patrol said the owner lost control, left the road and struck a tree head on. The Hellcat was destroyed but none of the occupants were injured. See the paragraph above.


Ford will auction off the first publicly available Shelby GT350 Mustang at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Arizona next month. All proceeds will benefit JDRF, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research. The car boasts a 5.2-liter V8 and will be the first from Ford with a flat-plane crankshaft – a design usually reserved for race cars. Output is said to be 500 horsepower with a torque peak of more than 400 lb-ft.

As the year slowly comes to a close, that means some vehicles are leaving the marketplace. They include the Acura TL and TSX, Cadillac CTS wagon, and the Dodge Avenger will avenge no more. Also going away are the Chrysler 200 convertible, Nissan Cube, Honda Insight, and the Toyota FJ Cruiser that was a bad idea from the start with its impossibly cramped interior, poor visibility. It    proved why concept vehicles should not necessarily be brought directly to market.



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