Auto News for Nov. 30

 As your favorite radio announcer put it, “There’s a lot going on so let’s get right to it.”

 Finalists for 2018 North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year award have been announced:

 Car of the Year

 Honda Accord

 Kia Stinger

 Toyota Camry

 Utility Vehicle of the Year

 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

 Honda Odyssey

 Volvo XC60

 Truck of the Year

 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

 Ford Expedition

 Lincoln Navigator

 The winners will be announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 15, 2018.     But you don’t have to wait until next year to discover Car and Driver’s Top Ten cars for 2018. They are:

 Alfa Romeo Giulia

 Audi RS3

 Chevrolet Camaro V-6/SS/ZL1

 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

 Honda Accord

 Honda Civic Sport/SI/Type R

 Mazda MX-5 Miata

 Mercedes E400/AMG E43

 Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman

 VW Golf/Alltrack/E-Golf/GTI/R/Sportwagen

 The Accord has now made the list for 32 years.


 At the Los Angeles Auto Show:


 Potential customers for the high performance Corvette ZR1 who want a convertible have not been forgotten. It gets the coupe’s big V8 with 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque with a top speed in excess of 200 mph. Get your Powerball tickets: Base price is $123,995.


 With consumers still turning to crossovers and SUV’s in big numbers, Hyundai will introduce seven new models by the year 2020. The latest is the Kona crossover for “Urban Adventurers” that will show up in showrooms in March. It will come with a 2.0-liter 147 horsepower four with a six speed automatic, or an optional 175 horsepower turbo four and will ride on a new platform. It is a bit smaller than the Hyundai Tucson.

2018 Nissan Kicks

 And just for kicks, Nissan introduced a compact crossover called Kicks. It is in the Honda HR-V, Toyota CH-R class and feature a 1.6-liter, 125 horsepower four with a CVT and front drive only. Look for it in showrooms next June. Some speculation it will replace the Juke.


 A funky looking off road concept called the “Future Toyota Adventure Concept” or FT-AC may be ready to go off road with the new Jeep. The fog lights can be taken out from their pods and used as portable illumination. Tow hooks and skid plates for sure, and it rides on 20-inch wheels. The cargo roof rack has LED lighting and there are infrared cameras on the side mirrors for recording your off road journey and they can be removed “so that no fun goes undocumented.” A retractable bike rack is on the rear. It also sports a hybrid powertrain. Sure looks like a fun vehicle.

Elsewhere at the show:

 A two row Lexus LX570 was introduced supplementing the three row model. It will seat five and carry a starting price of $84,980. Lexus also unveiled a stretched version of the RX sport utility that will accommodate up to seven passengers. Base price: $47,670. On sale later this year.

 Lincoln has an MKC, MKT, MKX and MKZ. So it has now renamed the MKX the Lincoln Nautilus.


 The 2018 Mazda 6 gets a new interior and a 2.5-liter turbo four good for 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. New seats and a new dash panel inside with an 8 inch infotainment screen. In showrooms next spring.










Auto News for Nov. 29 – L.A. Auto Show Debutantes

 All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Sahara

 Fear not Jeep fans, the 2018 Wrangler looks a lot like the 2017 with many of the changes hidden under the sheet metal.

 Here’s the giveaway: The running lights are now on the edge of the front fenders and the headlights are a bit bigger. And the Jeep name is now on the side quarter panel.

 Also, the Wrangler is 200 pounds lighter thanks to the now aluminum body panels.

 Engine choices will include the holdover 3.6-liter six, with a new 2.0-liter hybrid turbo with 296 lb-ft of torque, with a 3.0-liter diesel coming in 2019.

 Most models will come with an eight-speed automatic tranny, with base models also offering a 6-speed manual.

 You can still take off the doors and lower the windshield, and the seven slot grille remains.

 Inside is either a 5-inch, 7-inch or 8.4 inch touch screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto apps are available as part of the UConnect infotainment package.

 Look for the new Jeep to appear in showrooms early next year. Prices will be announced closer to that date.

 Elsewhere in L.A.


 Subaru has unveiled the biggest model it has ever produced, a three row SUV called “Ascent.”

 In short, it will be powered by an all-new 260 horsepower turbocharged, 2.4-liter four with a torque curve that peaks at 277 lb-ft from 2,00-4,800 rpm. All Wheel drive of course, and a CVT with what Subaru calls an 8-speed manual mode function.

 It will tow 5,000 pounds with trailer assist, and the new model will be able do some off-roading with 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

 Inside there is space for seven or eight passenger depending on the seating arrangement, eight USB charging ports, a 120-volt power outlet in the rear, and no one should go thirsty with a total of 19 cup holders.

 Subaru will offer Premium, Limited and Touring trim lines when the Ascent goes on sale early next summer.


 Making its U.S. debut was the Volkswagen I.D. CROZZ, an electric powered compact sport utility that will form the basis of a vehicle that will hit the road in 2020.

 The concept offers 302 horsepower with all-wheel drive and anticipated range of up to 300 miles. It is roughly the size of the 2018 Tiguan and is the first in what VW said will be an eventual full lineup of electric vehicles.

 The CROZZ recovers 80 percent of its charge in 30 minutes via a 150 kWh DC charger.

 It greets its driver and passengers with a 360-degree light show: first, the glass Volkswagen logos (at the front and in the hatch lid) light up in white. Starting from the front badge, a white line develops to the left and right; it passes into the line graphics of the LED headlights, whose individual light elements awake like eyes to welcome the driver.

 Quite a light show that probably will not be on the finished product.

 And all this even before the formal introductions on the auto show floor!



Auto News for Nov. 28

Problems solved and we are back!

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti
Saying “this Italian sensation reminds us that driving can indeed by joyous,” Motor Trend has named the Alfa Romeo Giulia as its Car of the Year.
“There is sorcery in this car,” road test editor Chris Walton says. “The Giulia fills the space vacated by BMW. Yet even at the apex of its reign, a 3 Series never rode this well or cornered with such poise and precision simultaneously.”

Ford F-150
Ford’s F-150 Super Duty was named Truck of the Year, and the Honda CR-V SUV of the Year. The magazine said the Ford truck sets new benchmarks for capability and functionality.

2018 Honda CR-V
And the Honda, MT said, is “a supreme example of calm, confident composure that delivers in all categories.” The competition does not “put the whole package together the way the CR-V does.”

Honda is recalling nearly 807,000 Odyssey vans from model years 2011 to 2017 and has told dealers to stop selling those models. It said second row outboard seats might not properly latch and the seat could lurch forward under hard braking putting the passenger at risk of injury.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has received reports of 46 minor injuries related to the problem.

Honda will notify owners of the safety risk and provide detailed instructions for installing/positioning the second row outer seats and confirming that they are securely latched. Once a final remedy is determined and the necessary parts are available, Honda will send a second letter to the owners to have them visit a dealer to have the condition remedied, free of charge.

As we head into December there is good news from AAA. The price of gasoline is heading lower, now at a nationwide average of $2.51 a gallon or three cents less than a week ago. Motorists in all but one state (Hawaii) are paying less at the pump.

“AAA expects to see gas prices trend cheaper through the year-end, decreasing as much as 20 cents for some motorists before year-end,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.

KPMG predicts that self-driving cars and mobility services will provide options that will reduce consumer desire to own cars, particularly sedans. It projects that sales of personally-owned sedans will drop precipitously – from 5.4 million units sold today to just 2.1 million units by 2030.

The transportation market will evolve from a national or regional one to 150-plus “islands of autonomy” – metropolitan areas that each have their own distinct mix of consumer travel needs delivered by autonomous mobility services, it predicts.

Yet the adoption of this new transportation mode will not be immediate, and it will not be everywhere, arriving instead by metro market by metro market.


Due to some technical computer issues, the Auto News column and Road Tests will be available only on Facebook under Ron Amadon’s Roads. Please check it out! I do hope to return to WordPress in the near future.

Auto News for Nov. 15

 On Dec. 10 McLaren will unveil the next model in its Ultimate Series said to be “the most intensive driver experience around a circuit” and the “most extreme road-legal McLaren ever…” It is the third of 15 new models or derivatives McLaren will introduce by the end of 2022. The reveal will take place on line with the public debut coming at the Geneva show in 2018.

 Toyota and Mazda will locate their new joint manufacturing plant in either Alabama or North Carolina, according to Bloomberg. It cited unnamed individuals familiar with negotiations. The new plant may create as many as 4,000 jobs.

 The largest Subaru ever made will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Nov. 28, its maker has confirmed. It will be a three row crossover for people who want a Suby but also need more room than is currently offered. Power will come from a 2.4-liter turbo four and the Ascent will likely go on sale sometime next year as a 2019 model. 

 Mazda said its 2.5-liter turbo four will be added to the engine lineup for its model 6 sedan. The turbo is rated at 227 horsepower in the CX-9 and that would be a significant gain in the 6 which now tops out at 184 hp.  

Auto News for Nov. 14

  c max energi

 Ford has stopped production of the C-Max Energi and will stop making the hybrid model in mid-2018 due to a lack of demand for the compact hatchbacks. Green Car Reports said they were slow sellers as consumers buy more crossovers, SUV’s and trucks. They were also controversial with Ford having to lower gas mileage ratings twice on the hybrid and the electric range of the Eneregi plug-in hybrid once.

 If you noticed that gas prices seem to be on the rise in your neighborhood, you are not alone. Triple A reports prices have increased nine cents a gallon in the last 13 days for a national average of $2.56 a gallon.

 And that is, on average, 39 cents more than we paid a year ago.

 Prices rose 13 cents per gallon in Florida, but dropped by that amount in Indiana. Meanwhile, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina came in with the lowest prices for a fill up.

 AAA said it expects nationwide prices to decline as November rolls along.

 Nearly two out of three parents say traffic is the most stressful part of a family road trip along with packing and the cost of the journey according to a new Harris poll.

 Those items topped the decades old, “Are we there yet?” More than a thousand parents were polled nationwide ahead of the busy Thanksgiving holiday.

 More than half said that Wi-Fi/internet connectivity would help make family road trips more enjoyable, making it the top in-vehicle tech on their wish list for trips.

 Despite all those concerns, families still want to hit the road together. The survey found that 93 percent of parents enjoy road trips with their family, and more than half said they “love” them.

 How do you get to know and feel comfortable with all of the high tech features on your new vehicle? J.D. Power said ineffective tech training sessions at the dealer are one reason why 20 percent of vehicle technologies never get used. If you are a millennial, that percentage is even higher, raising the question of why buy tech equipment you may never use?

 Now a Ford dealer in Phoenix is offering on demand house calls where an expert will give tech lessons right in a customer’s driveway.

 One owner said that approach avoided a task he dislikes intensely – reading the owner’s manual, most of which are 400 to 500 pages long, or more.

 Studies have found that if a customer doesn’t learn to use technology within the first 30 days of ownership, odds are that tech will go unused.




Auto News for Nov. 13 – Two VERY different Vehicles

The fastest, most powerful production Corvette ever – the 755-

 The most powerful Corvette ever, the ZR1, will go on sale next spring with an SAE-certified 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque. Also offered will be two wind tunnel-honed aerodynamics packages, including an available High Wing that provides an estimated 950 pounds of downforce.

The fastest, most powerful production Corvette ever – the 755-

 The 6.2 liter V8 delivers the highest output ever for a Chevrolet production vehicle, thanks in part to a new and more efficient intercooled supercharger that delivers 52 percent more displacement than the Z06’s LT4 supercharger. Top speed is over 210 mph.

 Interested parties will be able to choose either an eight speed paddle shift automatic or a seven speed manual tranny.

 An all-new front fascia is designed to channel air for propulsion-system and drivetrain cooling, with four new radiators bringing the heat-exchanger total to 13. A special carbon-fiber “halo” hood is open in the middle to clear the LT5 engine’s supercharger/intercooler assembly.

 Inside, one will find standard leather-trimmed seats, with suede microfiber inserts offered. Heated and vented Napa leather-trimmed seating is also available, as well as a carbon fiber-rimmed steering wheel, competition sport seats, Performance Data Recorder, Bose premium audio system and more.

 No word yet on prices, with those figures expected closer to the introduction date. It is believed to be the last model in the C7 Corvette series.

 By now you are wondering about a 0-60 figure. Chevrolet did not disclose that information but it would be fair to assume this new King of the Road will come in somewhere in the upper two second or very low three second range.

 Now on to the direct opposite.


 So you want to go way off road and explore new places, but most motor homes are allergic to anything other than paved surfaces. Then say hello to the EarthRoamer XV-HD. As you can see from the picture, this rig WILL GO darn near anywhere.

 It is built on the chassis of a 4WD Ford F-750 pickup and is “designed to accommodate up to 6 people in total comfort” its maker claims.

 Power comes from a 6.7-liter diesel, it rides on 46” Michelin tires, sports a 30,000 pound winch up front, a full LED light array, and rear air suspension. The turbo diesel is rated at 330 horsepower with 725 lb-ft of torque. Handy when the rig has a GVWR of 33,000 lbs.

 With 2,100 watts of solar capability, a 20,000 watt Lithium Ion battery bank, a hydraulic generator, 250 gallons of fresh water and 115 gallon diesel fuel capacity this big guy is prepared for extended stays in the wild.

 And you are not roughing it either. Inside is a full bathroom with separate shower, washer/dryer, and full kitchen with premium appliances, in-floor radiant heating, Bose Surround Sound entertainment, plus upscale King Ranch trim in the cab.

 EarthRoamer will design a custom floor plan for buyers, with prices starting at a cool $1.5 million.