Auto News for Nov. 17

Motor Trend has named the Chevy Camaro as its Car of the Year, calling it “one of the finest driving vehicles in the world …” with a price that is “within reach of the average consumer. Chevy also gets to brag that it snagged the magazine’s Truck of the Year award with the Colorado, while the Volvo VC90 was named Sport Utility Vehicle of the Year. And Subaru of America President and COO, Thomas Doll, was named Person of the Year. Not a bad choice considering Suby is entering its eighth year of consecutive record sales.

New car sales rose just 2.9 percent in Europe in October, the slowest growth rate in five months due to the slowdown in demand for Volkswagens. VW sales fell 0.8 percent but the number would have been higher were it not for increasing demand for the Audi and Porsche brands. Analysts said the full impact of the VW diesel scandal may not appear until November sales figures are released.

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Ford has released pictures and details of its updated 2017 Escape. It will be offered with two new EcoBoost engines, a twin-scroll 2.0-liter turbo tops the list with 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. A 1.5-liter EcoBoost is the base engine with an expected 180 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Both will come with the maddening Stop/Start feature. Ford said the new SYNC 3 system allows for remote start, lock and unlock and helps owners remember where they parked their wheels. The Escape made its debut in Hollywood and will be displayed at this week’s L.A. Auto Show. Ford’s second best-selling vehicle will arrive in showrooms next summer.

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Kia will introduce an all-new compact hybrid crossover to do battle with the Toyota Prius. The Kia Niro has been designed from the wheels up as a hybrid and will ride on its own unique platform. Production will begin in late 2016. It will be powered by a 1.6-liter four with a lithium polymer battery pack and a 32 kW electric motor with a six speed double clutch transmission.

Kia also announced that by 2020, it plans to introduce a range of partially-autonomous driving technologies to its model lineup. It is aiming to bring its first fully-autonomous car to market by 2030.

Best vanity plate seen yesterday: “Hyoslvr”

If you don’t get it, ask the Lone Ranger.


Auto News for Nov. 16

A Lowell, Massachusetts woman has won the right to wear a spaghetti strainer on her head when her picture was taken for a driver’s license. The woman describes herself as “pastafarian” and a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Wikipedia said the social movement promotes a light-hearted view of religion and is generally seen as a parody religion.

Worldwide, Volkswagen sold nearly 30,000 fewer cars in October compared to the same month a year earlier. That amounts of a 5.3 percent reduction following the diesel emissions scandal.


There will be a lot of new cars and trucks unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, but what about a van that its maker said is designed to compete with the stretched Cadillac Escalade. Bespoke Coach said its $149,900 van features motorized shades, motorized laptop tables, a built-in bar and Nespresso machine, a digitally controlled refrigerator freezer, and an entertainment center with a 900 watt sound system. Oh, I almost forgot the 40” Samsung TV. Bespoke redesigns the Mercedes Sprinter van. One of their earlier models is pictured.



Saturday Road Test – Hyundai Santa Fe

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Hyundai Santa Fe LTD AWD

Gobble It Up

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Unless you are hauling 57 of the largest Meleagris Gallopavo* in the world this Thanksgiving, plus all the fixings and enough people to consume it all, the Santa Fe should meet all of your needs.

Uploading all will be eased by a liftgate that opens automatically when you stand within a few feet of the rear bumper with the key fob in your pocket, a very neat feature.

With all seats folded, the Santa Fe offers 80 cubic feet of storage space but that is a bit less by a cube or three than some of its competitors. But one can also tow up to 5,000 pounds with by checking the right boxes.

Getting to your consumption destination will be aided by the standard 3.3 liter Lambda V-6 with 292 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. It is tied to a responsive six-speed automatic and Hyundai offers either front or All-Wheel Drive. Look for a 0-60 run in a nudge over 7.5 seconds.

Let’s jump in here to clarify. This is the larger of the two Hyundai Santa Fe models. The Santa Fe Sport seats five and is 185 inches long on a 106 inch wheelbase. The tested Santa Fe was eight inches longer and rides on a wheelbase that is four inches longer.

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As expected, the larger SUV offers an abundance of stretch out room for first and second row occupants.  There is a choice of second row captain’s chairs that reduces total seating capacity to six, or a split folding combination that ups that by one bottom. The third row, like so many others, is best left to limber children.

Heated leather seats are standard equipment on the top-of-the-line Limited Edition and the driver’s seat, with power lumbar, was an outstanding companion on a day long trek.

Controls were easy to reach and decipher. Materials and workmanship were outstanding.

On a long haul trip, the V6 topped some of West Virginia’s steeper grades with ease and handling was better than one might expect in a vehicle carrying this much weight,  just over 4,000 pounds.

Standard safety equipment on the 2016 Santa Fe lineup includes Vehicle Stability Management with Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control System, seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, four-wheel disc brakes and ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist, Hill-start Assist Control and Downhill Brake Control should you ever go off road. There was also a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Base models start at $30,400 and $36,000 for the LTD with All-Wheel Drive. Added to that in the test vehicle was a $4,650 Ultimate Package consisting of HD headlights, LED taillights, Sunroof, 8” inch touch screen with navi, memory driver’s seat, ventilated front seats with heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, parking assist sensors, and “”Ultimate” Liftgate Badging.”

Add in $150 floor mats and delivery and the test vehicle carried an MSRP of $41,695.

Where the Santa Fe really stands out is on the interstate. It will spoil you with relaxing seats, a quiet cabin and, if you desire, an audio system that will also clean out your ear wax. (Or pre-cook the turkey.)

The Infinity Logic 7 audio system with 550 watts delivered great sounds thru a dozen speakers. Bring your favorite music along for the ride and the miles kind of melt by.

One reviewer put it all together calling the ride “composed like a symphony.”

You might come away with Mendelssohn’s number two, “Hymn of Praise” and not Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” that some reviewers have called the saddest symphony ever written. Tchaikovsky died nine days after its first performance after all and probably missed Thanksgiving.

*The high priced name for a turkey.

Auto News for Nov. 13


Buick is seriously considering importing an SUV made in China here to the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal. There has been no confirmation from Buick officials that the Envision crossover will join the U.S. lineup. It is sized half way between the Encore and Enclave models. Various reports say Buick is gauging what kind of reaction such an introduction would have here before moving forward, sort of like a presidential candidate testing the waters. The Envision has been on sale in China since 2014. It offers front or all wheel drive and is powered by one of two turbo four engines.

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Ford said it is the first automaker to test a self-driving car at Mcity, the University of Michigan’s full scale simulated real world urban environment. It is testing a Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research vehicle with camera, radar, sensors and real time 3D mapping technology. Mcity features virtually all the obstacles a motorist might face in an urban environment. The picture was taken in downtown Mcity, as it were.

When it comes to buying a new vehicle, J.D. Power is out with a study of the auto makers that give customers the most satisfying experience. For 2015, Porsche leads the pack moving ahead of Mercedes. MINI ranked highest among mass market brands for the sixth consecutive year.

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Kia has released teaser drawings of its 2017 Cadenza that it says will introduce “higher levels of luxury and refinement to the large sedan segment.” It is expected to go on sale here sometime next year with further details being released over time.


Auto News for Nov. 12

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne Concept Car on Display at the New Petersen Automotive Museum (PRNewsFoto/Bortz Auto Collection)

The great Harley Earl’s 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne SO 2249 car will be on display at the grand opening of the new Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The concept car was a very unique fiberglass design and was also the showcase for the 1955 Chevy V8 engine. Petersen Museum will celebrate its grand opening on December 5th. By the way, the car was part of the GM Motorama traveling auto show that was full of concept cars designed to whet consumer appetites for new GM products. An estimated 2.2-million visitors attended the show in 1956.

Audi has announced pricing for two of its hottest models.  The S8 will carry a starting price of $114,900 for a car that will lighten your hair with a 0-60 run of just 3.7 seconds and a top track speed of up to 190 mph thanks to a 605 horsepower 4.0-liter V8 engine. The RS 7 will start at $129,000 with the same V8 that is a tenth of a second quicker to 60 and the same 190 mph top speed. Both come with an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. Audi dealers will start selling them next month.

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The S8 is the one in silver, the RS 7 is blue.

With sales up 46 percent, Ford expects this will be the first year in which EcoBoost equipped vehicles will break the one million mark. The F-150, Escape and Fusion are the top selling EcoBoost powered vehicles.

U.S. News & World Report has named Honda the “2016 Best SUV Brand” for the HR-V, Pilot and CR-V. The magazine said it was impressed with the “utility, comfort and family-friendly features” that all three offer.

NADA reported that used car prices remained basically flat in October. VW diesel prices were down 9 to 14 percent.




Auto News for Nov. 11

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

 Honda’s new Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle will make its North American debut at the Los Angeles auto show next week. It will launch in the U.S. next year. Honda claims it is the first production fuel cell sedan to house the entire fuel cell stack and drivetrain system in the front engine compartment. It claims a range of more than 300 miles and refueling time of approximately three minutes.

 L.A. will also see the world debut of the Civic coupe, the second in a series of 10th-generation Civic models that will include a high performance Si model, a 5-door hatchback and the Type R-model that should stir the soul of performance enthusiasts.

Audi will show off the new R8 sedan at the show along with the RS7 and the S8 performance models. The R8 is said to be the “fastest and most powerful Audi of all time.” Two engines choices will be available, a 5.2-liter V10 with 540 horsepower or the V10 Plus with 610 horsepower. The R8 will go on sale next spring. The RS7 will bring 605 horsepower and the S8 a 4.0-liter twin turbo V8 that “breaks the 600-hp barrier.”

Press days at the L.A. show will be next Wednesday and Thursday and I will have full details for you right here.


And Mercedes has released a teaser photo of the refreshed 2017 SL that will make its debut in L.A. The key here is the so-called diamond grill. More info will be released on the 18th.

Subaru has confirmed that a new 3-row crossover will be produced at its plant in Lafayette, Indiana beginning in 2018. The new model will replace the retired Tribeca but so far is name less.

Enterprise is the highest ranked car rental brand in the annual J.D. Power satisfaction study. National was second followed by Alamo. This is the fourth consecutive year that the entire portfolio of Enterprise Holdings has captured the top three rankings.

Global sales are up 7.1 percent this year and 4.1 percent in October at BMW Group. It said demand has been strong for the X range and for the new 7 Series.

Pinkerton is offering a $100,000 reward for tips that lead to the recovery of a white 2015 Lamborghini Aventador convertible stolen on Oct. 28. The vehicle was last seen in Flushing, New York, and Pinkerton said there are ties to persons in the Atlanta area.



Auto News for Nov. 10

The first-ever 2017 Cadillac XT5 luxury crossover is the cornerstone of a new series of crossovers in the brand’s ongoing expansion. The first-ever XT5 premieres in November 2015 at the Dubai and Los Angeles auto shows and begins production in the U.S. and China in spring 2016.

Cadillac has released details of its upcoming crossover vehicle called the XT5. It is 278 pounds lighter than the current SRX, and will feature a 3.6-liter V6 for power, an eight-speed automatic and a “twin clutch” all-wheel drive system capable of transferring 100 percent of available torque to either the front or rear axle. Cadillac also said it has “upgraded” the controversial CUE infotainment system. The XT5 will be one of four Cadillac crossovers to be added to the model mix. Look for it next spring.

VW will send a $500 prepaid VISA card, a $500 dealership card, and offer free 24-hour roadside assistance for three years to select owners. The owners of the 2-liter four cylinder diesel engines with devices the EPA said cheat emissions control tests. Yet Kelley Blue Book said the average auction price of those diesel models has dropped nearly $2,100 since the EPA announcement. VW said this is a “goodwill package” that is the first step toward regaining customers trust. Volks has until Nov. 20 to tell regulators how it will deal with the matter.

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Hyundai has released a drawing of its first offering in the recently announced luxury lineup that will expand the Genesis name. The G90 will be a full size sedan and feature a new design language (Athletic Elegance) that will likely influence the luxury models to follow. All the tech stuff will come later. We do know that the G90 will top the new six model luxury line that will be completed by the year 2020. The G90 is schedule for launch early next month in Korea and is expected in the U.S. market in 2016.

The show doesn’t open until mid-January but set up work is already underway for the 2016 Detroit auto show. More than 40 vehicles will be displayed for the first time at the extravaganza.


A Fiat pickup truck? One was unveiled at the Dubai International Motor Show and it will join the European lineup sometime next year. The trucklet is called the Fullback with a design that recalls the old Subaru Brat. It will be offered with one of two diesel engines No word on whether it will be offered here in the states one day.