Saturday Road Test – Bigger Than Some – Smaller Than Others

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                  Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 SEL

                     Surprising In Many Ways    

By Ron Amadon

 GAITHERSBURG, MD. – Here is something you may not realize about Mitsubishi – It is celebrating its 100th anniversary according to the company web site.

 That may surprise many when the company as the company has been trying for some time to establish greater visibility on these shores.

 So it was with a great deal of interest that I approached the upscale 2017 Outlander in the road test driveway. Its exterior style, to my eye, gets a five star rating, not to overlook the jazzy 18-inch alloy wheels.

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 The Outlander is 184.8 inches long riding on a wheelbase of 105.1 inches. For comparison sake that means it is longer than a Toyota RAV4 and shorter than the Highlander.

 New for 2017 is Blind Spot Warning with Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert along with Forward Collision Mitigation System with Pedestrian Detection.  

 The audio system now works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Automatic high beam headlights, a multi-view camera system, heated steering wheel and electric parking brake switch are also new.

 Virtually all Outlanders get the 2.4-liter Inline 4-cylinder rated 166 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque.

 It is married to a CVT unfortunately. Around town the power train gives the driver good pickup, but when quick moves are needed there was a lot of rpm’s but little forward gain. Look for a 0-60 in the 9 or 10 second range.

 The four is happy on 87 octane fuel, and the EPA rates it at 24 mpg city, 29 highway, for a combined 26 mpg. In a week of mostly suburban stop and go driving I came in at 26.8 mpg.

 Occupants will enjoy the smooth ride and generally quiet interior. On a blustery day with 45 mph wind gusts, the Outlander stuck to the desired course better than many others on the interstate. Handling is not its forte but is about what one should expect in an SUV. That is the tradeoff for the smooth ride.

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 The driver is greeted with easy to read white on black instruments. To the right is a 7-inch touch panel for audio controls that are also available on the leather wrapped steering wheel.

 Row two offers seating for three, but two would work better. There was ample leg and foot room even when there was a 6’ tall driver. But headroom was limited for those of the same height. The second row split seat slides forward for third row access but not enough for those less than very nimble. Rethink leaving your Yoga class.   

 Those relegated to row three will find very limited legroom. And in the raised seat back position, the headrests blocked virtually the entire driver’s rearward view. If you wish to fold these seats down for additional cargo room, the headrests must be removed.

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 A $4,000 “SEL Touring Package” included a 710 watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with 9 speakers that would almost rattle the windows. Also a list of safety features, a heated steering wheel, a remote liftgate that sometimes refused to work, a sunroof, and LED headlights among other goodies.

 On the safety front the Outlander received a top Safety Pick Plus award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety meaning it received good scores in five crashworthiness tests.

 That brought the MSRP from a base of $27,495 up to $32,390 with delivery included.

 While there was a lengthy list of equipment on the Outlander, missing was a navigation system, and lumbar adjustment for the front seats. The former might not be a big deal to those with Smart Phones but the latter could be important on a long trip. As is, the 8-way adjustable driver’s seat proved to be comfortable with just minor adjustments on a day long trip.

 A navi system is standard on the more upscale GT model.

 Mitsubishi offers a generous warranty: Fully transferable 5-year/60,000 mile new vehicle limited warranty, 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty, and 5-year/unlimited mile roadside assistance.

 In terms of quality construction and materials, around town performance, and an attractive, generally comfortable interior, the Outlander stands out. But it is also competing in one of the most competitive markets in the industry. A reworking of the option packages, a bit more power and a quicker and easier way to create max cargo space would be worthy additions.

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 If you are seeing this for the first time please tell your car buff friends about this Saturday Road Test feature, and my five week day capsule summaries of the day’s top auto news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auto News for Feb. 17 – Goggle Your New Wheels?

 A new survey shows that 63 percent of consumers are extremely likely or likely to purchase a car online in the future, according to eBay. Twice as many men as women have already done so and both men and women care   about price, reliability and safety. Further, 87 percent of respondents are using the Internet to research a vehicle prior to purchase. “Technology continues to evolve the automotive shopping journey,” said Josh Wetzel, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at eBay Advertising.

 Honda said its redesigned Ridgeline is the only pickup in America to earn the highest possible safety ratings from both the U.S. Government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Ridgeline earned a best possible 5-Star Overall Vehicle Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to go with Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the IIHS. It received 5 stars in the frontal crash tests for driver and passenger, 5 stars for side crash tests for both front and rear seats, and 4 stars in the rollover test from IIHS.

 Later this year, shipments of gasoline powered Smart cars will end here in North America with only the all- electric model being offered, according to Automotive News. It said parent company, Daimler, will announce a fourth generation Smart ForTwo electric model this summer.

 

 

Auto News for Feb. 16 – New McLaren Should Not Disappoint

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 McLaren said the second generation Super Series that it will debut at the Geneva show next month will provide “stunning performance” with a 0-200km/h or 124 mph in just 7.8 seconds and a standing quarter mile in 10.3 seconds. It will sport a new 4.0-liter, twin turbo V8 and an exhaust sound that delivers a “crescendo characteristic, according to engine rpm and load.” We will learn more when the car goes public on March 7th.

2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V

 Production of the redesigned Honda CR-V is underway at the plant in Greensburg, Indiana. It is the first SUV built at the facility since it began production in 2008. The fifth generation CR-V is also built at plants in Ohio and Ontario, Canada. It is expected to be a seller for Honda with the brands first turbocharged engine, and what Honda said is a more premium interior.

 Toyota was once again named by Fortune as one of the “World’s Most Admired Companies” and named the No. 1 Motor Vehicle company for the third consecutive year in an annual ranking. Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list recognized Toyota as No. 34 among the Top 50 “All-Star” companies surveyed.

 

 

 

Auto News for Feb. 15 – The Worst Drivers Are …

 Auto News for Feb. 15

 Young millennials engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days, earning the top spot of worst behaved drivers, according to Triple A’s Foundation for Traffic Safety.

 That risky behavior included texting while driving, red light running and speeding. However, 75.2 percent of drivers aged 40 to 59 did the same thing. These findings come as U.S. traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015, an increase of more than 7 percent, and the largest single-year increase in five decades.

 European government leaders are vowing to protect jobs as labor union leaders express concern over the possible sale of GM’s European operations to PSA Group of France. GM’s CEO Mary Barra met today with managers at Opel’s headquarters in Germany. Opel has 34,500 workers nearly half of them in Germany, the Detroit News said.

2017 IONIQ HEV

 Hyundai announced its Ioniq all electric sedan will carry a starting price of $29,500. A more upscale Limited edition will begin at $32,500. The electric will have a driving range of an estimated 124 miles. Also offered are a Hybrid and a Plug-In Hybrid. Both will be powered by a 1.6-liter Atkinson-cycle four with an estimated 104 horsepower. An electric motor positioned under the rear seat will add another 43 horsepower to the mix. The Blue model Hybrid has an EPA estimated 58 mpg rating. Prices will range from $22,200 to $27,500 to start. All three are just now starting to arrive on dealer lots.

 A Honda dealer in Kansas is going all out to let customers and the public know that the owner of that franchise is not, in any way, related to the KKK leader who recently died. They have the same name – Frank Ancona. Automotive News said the business has received irate phone calls from people who didn’t realize there could be two Frank Anconas. The business has added disclaimers to its advertising and web site.

 The Honda CR-V has been named the best two row SUV’s for families and the Toyota Highlander the best three row model by Kelley Blue Book. The Toyota Sienna was named best minivan for a family. Normally, KBB would be naming the best sedans for the family, but “Looking at sales trends, soccer field parking lots and school drop-off lines, it’s clear that families have moved on from the family sedan, and now the modern family car is an SUV,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director

 Ford will build a $200 million wind tunnel testing facility in Allen Park, Michigan, southwest of Detroit. It will take about two years to build the facility with ground breaking scheduled for this year. Designs will be subject to winds of up to 200 mph.

 

  

   

GM Confirms Peugeot/Citroen Opel Talks

Here is the GM statement that was just released:

Since 2012, General Motors and PSA Group have been implementing an alliance covering, to date, three projects in Europe and generating substantial synergies for the two groups.  Within this framework, General Motors and PSA Group regularly examine additional expansion and cooperation possibilities, as well. PSA Group and General Motors confirm they are exploring numerous strategic initiatives aiming at improving  profitability and operational efficiency, including a potential acquisition of Opel Vauxhall by PSA.

There can be no assurance that an agreement will be reached.

Auto News for Feb. 14 – Huge Auto Merger Possible

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 Peugeot-Citroen is in talks to acquire General Motors European operations, the Opel division, or create some form of increased strategic alliance, a spokesman confirmed to Reuters news service, which broke the story this morning.

 If the two were to combine forces, they would equal 16 percent of the European car market, placing them second behind VW. Reuters said GM would retain a share in the combined automakers – how much is not clear at this time.

 Opel, which also includes Britain’s Vauxall division, has struggled to produce a profit for GM over the years. Most recently, Peugeot/Citroen has posted a profit. As is usually the case in such matters, those close to the negotiations said this all could fall apart.

 Yet Reuters reported that a decision may be announced as early as this week, an indication that talks may be at an advanced stage.

 Analysts said Peugeot/Citroen, known as PSA Group, would gain GM’s engineering and electric car technology, as well as numerous cost savings from the deal. GM and PSA currently share production of SUV’s and minivans.

 This morning’s breaking news is likely to spark talk of other possible mergers, as European automakers deal with Britain’s Brexit, unfavorable currency valuations on the world market, and the costs associated with the development of electric and self-driving cars. Fiat Chrysler, for example, has long sought a partner.

 BMW Group said sales are off to their best-ever start to the year with January figures showing increased deliveries in all world regions. With its three premium brands, BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce, the group delivered a total of 163,288 vehicles worldwide, an increase of 6.8% compared with January last year.

Mitsubishi Motors Names New Compact SUV: Eclipse Cross.

 Mitsubishi today announced it has chosen the name Eclipse Cross for its new compact SUV model to be debuted at the Geneva show on March 7th. Eclipse derives its name from the coupe sold in the U.S. from 1989, while Cross is short for crossover. It also released a teaser photo.

 Tesla has launched sales efforts in the Middle East with the Roads and Transit Authority in Dubai buying 200 of them for its taxi/limousine fleet. Tesla is now taking orders for its cars in the oil rich country, will open a store in a shopping mall in Dubai, and later, a service center there.

 Toyota said it has sold more than 10 million hybrid vehicles worldwide, with more than three million of them sold in North America.  

 

 

 

  

  

 

 

 

Auto News for Feb. 13

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 The diesel powered Chevrolet Cruze will deliver an estimated 52 miles per gallon, a gain of six mpg over the previous model. That means a cruising range of up to 702 miles highway if the Cruze has the six speed manual transmission. Cruze Diesel passed all stringent environmental standards and validation standards including Tier 3 emissions, Chevrolet said. Prices start at $24,670 and a hatchback will be announced for the 2018 model year.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

 The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio has been added to the “Hot List” by classic car experts at Hagerty. The list contains vehicles that are both fun to drive today and hold the promise of “collectability for future enthusiasts.” The Quadrifoglio sports a 2.9-liter V-6 with 505 horsepower and a 0-60 of just 3.8 seconds. Top track speed is 191 mph. The MSRP is $72,000.

 A firm in the Netherlands has started selling two models of a flying car that it said meets all safety standards. PAL-V said it will start building preproduction models later this year and air certified models by the end of next year. The Liberty Pioneer and Liberty Sport will be sold here in North America. While driving, the lowered suspension and tilting “cockpit” adds to the sports car feel while a novel design approach serves to avoid a number of common pilot errors, PAL-V said.

 Ford will invest, over the next five years, $1 billion in Argo AI, to advance the development of a self-driving car. Argo is an artificial intelligence company founded by former Google and Uber management. They will develop a virtual driver system for Ford’s autonomous vehicle coming in 2021 – and for potential license to other companies. “We are at an inflection point in using artificial intelligence in a wide range of applications, and the successful deployment of self-driving cars will fundamentally change how people and goods move,” said Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky.