Auto News for March 23

NYIAS 2016 Outlander Front Teaser

Mitsubishi has released a teaser photo of the 2016 Outlander that will make its debut at the New York Auto Show on April 2nd. It will be the first vehicle to carry the brand’s new design language. Mitsu said it will offer increased refinement, improved handling and throttle response and a “more eloquent yet functional interior space.”

Inclement weather in February caused many consumers to delay their new vehicle purchase and that will result in an auto sales rebound this month, according to forecasters at J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. They believe new car and truck sales will be up four percent and reach their highest levels for the month since 2005.

All electric cars aren’t exactly flying out of showrooms, so Honda has announced some new lease options. It is now offering a new two year lease for current customers at a lower price of $199 a month, a reduction of $60. It offers unlimited mileage, routine maintenance and collision coverage. The reduced lease price and matching two year terms will be available to new customers interested in driving a used Fit EV.

Joining the cutback by GM, Volkswagen will reduce production and cut jobs at its plant in Russia. But it believes the market has potential growth long term.

State owned China National Chemical will acquire Pirelli in a $7.7 billion deal. Perelli is the world’s fifth-largest tire maker.

Cadillac has announced a new V6 engine with peak output of 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. It will first appear in the CT6 luxury performance sedan. GM said it will be the only twin turbo six to offer cylinder deactivation and stop/start to improve gas mileage.

 

 

Saturday Road Test – Infiniti QX60

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Infiniti QX60 3.5 AWD

No James Bond with This Q but Everything Else

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – This weekend’s ride fits smack dab in the middle of Infiniti’s lineup of crossovers and SUV’s with a staggering list of available options that would allow owners to custom order their new set of wheels.

Just to be contrary, let’s start where there are not many options – under the hood. There is only one power plant offered outside the Hybrid model, a 3.5-liter 6 with 265 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm and 248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm. Front drive and all-wheel drive can be specified.

Operators can also select four driving modes, Standard, Sport, Eco and Snow. It varies throttle response and shift schedules, Infiniti said, and in Sport mode there is a good simulation of gear changes. But the test vehicle came up a bit short on acceleration thanks to the CVT transmission that, like most of them, produces lots of RPM but was a bit lagging in forward progress.

In tune with the experience of several owners, the X60 fell short of the EPA gas mileage estimate of 26 mpg highway, and 19 city for a combined 22 in the AWD model. I came away with 17 around suburbia and 19 and change on the highway. Premium petrol is preferred. The MPG is not much better with the higher priced hybrid, owners say.

Where the Q ship sparkles is inside. It was first class all the way with leather clad heated and cooled front seats that were eight way adjustable with lumbar on the driver’s side and 6-way power adjustable for those riding on the right.  The “Maple Interior Accents” were a nice touch but if that doesn’t appeal something called “Kasane Washi” trim is available.

Commendable were the white on black instruments facing the driver, to be precise, electroluminescent gauges and a standard 7-inch color vehicle information display controlled by buttons on the steering wheel. An available “Deluxe Touring Package” includes an air purifier and “Grape Polyphenol filter and auto recirculation.”

The second row seats slide 5.5 inches back and forth and the seatbacks recline leaving enough room for even a Final Four star. On the test vehicle, the outboard seats were heated in row two.

Thanks to multiple folding operations, the third row was extremely accessible, but space wise is better left to children.

Fold down the second and third row seats, and you create 76.5 cubic feet of storage space but that is less than the rival Acura MDX. Storage was a bit sparse with the third row raised.

The Q was a quiet and comfortable long range trip machine with easy to configure audio and navi controls.

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Visibility to the rear was poor due to the head rests in the rear seats and would virtually disappear if the third row head rests were not folded. Thankfully there was a backup camera and a 360 degree camera for parking maneuvers.

The Optional Bose “Cabin Surround” audio system with 15 speakers will knock your socks off with high class audio reproduction. Turn it off, and you notice a very quiet interior with wind and road noise nicely hushed.

Push the six into the upper end of the rev range, and it will intrude and then settle down on the ole interstate.

Handling was not its forte, with little steering feedback, and a suspension on the soft side. The upside to that was the Q’s ability to handle Maryland’s very pocked-marked roads as we head into spring.

All of the expected safe features were present, many of them included in a $2,800 “Technology Package.” That brings you Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Warning, a too sensitive Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, and Backup Collision Intervention. It will alert the driver about crossing vehicles and stationary objects when they are backing out of a parking space. It can automatically engage the brakes to avoid a collision. A neat touch!

All this was part of three very large and expensive option packages on the test vehicle that totaled $11,295 plus an additional $995 for delivery, all of which brought the MSRP up to $56,090 from a base price of $43,800.

A likeable crossover with luxury touches, room for six, or a weekend splurge to mega-hardware, plus the ability to customize it to your liking is what you end up with. Go easy on options, and the price could be right.

And, as you can see in the photo album, you would drive home with one very stylish vehicle.

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Auto News for March 20

Jeep Staff Car

Jeep has introduced seven concept vehicles for the annual Moab, Utah, Easter Safari. It attracts thousands of die-hard off road enthusiasts for a week of conquering some of the country’s most rugged and recognizable trails. One of the concepts, the Jeep Staff Car, is an open air Wrangler built like the military service vehicles of old.

Jeep® Wrangler Red Rock Responder Concept

And what about a Jeep Wrangler pickup? It could happen when the company introduces the next generation of the iconic Wrangler. Jeep CEO Mike Manley said it is one of the prime topics of discussion the company has had with its customers. Just to tease things a bit further, the company revealed the “Red Rock Responder” for the Moab event, and it is a Wrangler based pick up. My guess is that Jeep could sell a ton of these.

Japan’s Nikkei business newspaper said Honda will ship a five-door Civic hatchback to the U.S. in mid-2016. There is no word on whether it will be the performance oriented Type R that will be sold in Europe starting this summer. Thus far, there has been no comment from Honda.

Almost 105,000 Hondas have been added to the recall list tied to Takata airbags. This includes 88,549 Pilots from model years 2008, 10,868 Civics from 2004, and 5,454 Accords from model year 2001. Honda will replace the driver front airbag inflator and this brings the total recall to 5.5 million vehicles.

LX was the original platform code for the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Magnum. More than 1,000 of these vintage vehicles are expected this coming weekend at the tenth annual Spring Festival in Southern California. Cars using the LX platform include the 2005 Chrysler 300, the 2005-08 Dodge Magnum station wagon, 2006-10 Charger sedan.

 

Auto News for March 19

ALL-NEW OPTIMA MIDSIZE SEDAN DESIGN RENDERINGS

Kia will display a redesigned Optima at the New York Auto Show on April first. That model made its debut in Gotham City five years ago. Other than saying the car has been “passionately designed and obsessively crafted” Kia is saying little else about one of its most important products.

2015_NYIAS_Scion_iA_Teaser_001 2015_NYIAS_Scion_iM_Teaser_001

Not be outdone, Scion will introduce two badly needed new models on March 31st, the day before the show opens to the press. They are the Scion iA and the iM. The iA is the blue one in the teaser photo. The iM is a 5-door hatchback while the iA sedan is “designed to appeal to young people who need a little more practicality, but still want engaging styling and outstanding driving dynamics,” Scion said.

Tesla has won a long battle in New Jersey and will be allowed to sell its products directly to the public with no dealer in the middle. It was part of a measure that will overhaul that state’s auto franchise laws and has been signed by Gov. Chris Christie. Tesla will have to establish a service center in the state where its cars can be repaired. Now the question is will other states follow suit?

Jaguar had the most satisfied customers when it came to dealer service according to a new J.D. Power survey. The study was based on more than 70,000 owners and lessees. Following Jaguar in the luxury rating were Lexus, Audi and Lincoln. Buick ranked first among mass market brands for a second consecutive year followed by Mini, VW, GMC and Chevrolet.

Ram wants to break the Guinness World Record for the largest parade of pickup trucks at the annual Ram Roundup in Arlington, Texas next month. It hopes to attract 500 trucks.

Four Honda models, two Chevys, and three Toyotas have made the list of 15 top family vehicles rounded up by Kelley Blue Book. Honda was cited for the Civic, CR-V, Odyssey and Accord. Toyota got the Camry, Highlander and Sienna on the list and Chevy the Impala and Tahoe. The Ford F-150, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Soul, Nissan Pathfinder, Ram 1500, and Subaru Outback round out the list.

The new “baby” Jeep has been certified by the EPA to deliver 22 mpg in the city, 31 on the highway, for a combined rating of 25 mpg with the 2.4-liter four. The Fiat based off roader is now arriving at dealers.

 

 

 

Auto News for March 18

In the distant future, driving your own car will be illegal because it is too dangerous, according to Tesla’s Elon Musk. Forbes said Musk told reporters at a conference that “you can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine.” He said autonomous cars will eventually surpass a human’s ability to drive safely.

Jaguar XF

A redesigned Jaguar XF will be unveiled in a rather unique way in London. It will be driven across two wires suspended high above the water in what Jag said will be the world’s longest high-wire water crossing in history. The driver will be Jim Dowdall, a veteran of dramatic action stunts in movies such as James Bond, Bourne and Indiana Jones. You can watch the attempt on line at jaguar.com/newxf on March 24. It is a whole new definition of the term, “Drive by Wire.”  The next appearance of the XF will be at the New York show.

GM announced this morning it will “minimize its presence in Russia and the Opel brand will leave the market by December of 2015.” The Opel plant in St. Petersburg will halt production by the middle of this year. Instead, GM said it will concentrate on the premium segment of the Russian market with Cadillac and other brands. The slowing Russian economy and various other uncertainties have slowed sales for many car makers in Russia.

And in a related event also caused by slow sales, Fiat Chrysler announced it will stop selling Chrysler branded cars and vans in the United Kingdom. The Detroit Free Press said the company wants to place more emphasis on Jeep vehicles.

Castrol has announced a new partnership with Irv Gordon. Who is that you might ask? He is the World Record holder for the highest vehicle mileage in a non-commercial original owner car. His 1966 Volvo P1800 has more than three million miles on it. Gordon said he has used the motor oil from the day he picked up the car 49 years ago.

 

 

Auto News for March 17

dr_mark_rosekind

Ever drive a car or truck when you were very sleepy? One expert said it accounts for up to 20 percent of annual traffic deaths and he wants to do something about it. “Falling asleep at the wheel at 70 mph is a recipe for tragedy,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind told a Chicago conference. He said the agency will work with states to better measure and estimate the drowsy driving problem and “learn what legal and enforcement strategies are most effective …” That eventually could lead to a public awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of drowsy driving.

One of the oldest Volkswagen dealerships, one that helped introduce the original Beetle, is closing its doors. New Milford (Conn.) Volkswagen will shut down at the end of the month. It is still operating out of the original building but succumb to slow VW sales in this country and VW revoking the company’s line of credit amid profit concerns. The Connecticut Post said the garage owner and VW disagreed over proposed updates to the property.

Two lawyers who have handled lawsuits regarding faulty ignition switches claim they have fresh evidence that GM tried to cover up the matter. GM has said it was internal incompetence that slowed replacement for the switches. The lawyers expect the first class action lawsuit to be filed in January with top GM engineers and executives to be deposed. There has been no comment from the company.

That long line of traffic you encounter on your way to and from work is not just occurring here in the U.S. A trucking industry study concludes that congestion on U.K. roads is also bad, as bad has it has been for more than a decade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auto News for March 16

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It has hardly been a secret that a redesigned Camaro is in the works, and here comes even bigger news. The 2016 Camaro will be displayed on Belle Isle in Detroit May 16th.  It will be only the sixth time that GM has introduced an “all-new” Camaro. Chevrolet expects 1,000 fans to attend the reveal that will also feature a display of the most significant vehicles from the brand’s history and “Hot lap rides in the 2015 Z/28 around the Belle Isle Grand Prix course.” Fans take note: The event is free, however space is limited and registration is required. Priority will be given to those who agree to bring their Camaros to the event. A 2015 is pictured and GM recently announced it expects to deliver the 500,000th fifth-generation Camaro this month.

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The lesson here appears to be, offer the public a car with 707 horsepower and they will beat a path to your door. Automotive News reports that Dodge has such a back log that it has temporarily stopped taking orders for the Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats. It was never meant to be a high production vehicle, and various sources say it maybe August before orders are taken again. The Motor Authority and Allparnews had similar reports.

Formula E

There was a Formula One like race in Miami over the weekend, but there was no exhaust noise. That’s because the race cars were all-electric. Known as Formula E, the circuit has gained the attention of some big names such as Richard Branson, Michelin and DHL as backers. Pit stops are a bit different as drivers change not tires, but cars to a fully charged one. Nicolas Prost, the son of former Formula One great Alain Prost, won the race.

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It is being called the longest automated drive ever attempted in North America. Delphi, now a British firm, will take its automated drive technology on a drive from the Golden Gate Bridge to New York, and if all goes according to plan, the modified Audi will arrive in Gotham just in time for the big auto show. Two drivers will be in the vehicle at all times it should be noted. Delphi said its technologies enable the vehicle to instantaneously make complex decisions, like stopping and then proceeding at a four-way stop, merging on to a busy interstate and dealing with big city traffic. Engineers said we are still years away from fully automated cars, so don’t give up your driver’s seat yet.

Do ya think Ford has a winner in its F-150? A plant in Kansas City is now building the aluminum bodied truck, the second assembly plant to churn out, what has been for years, the top selling vehicle on these shores. Look for an in depth road test of the F-150 next month, right here!

Deutsche Bank has cut its earnings estimate for Tesla but this had less to do with its electric cars than the strong dollar. The Euro recently hit a 12 year low against the dollar. Deutsche Bank still rates Tesla stock as a buy.