Auto News for Aug. 15 – Ranger Prices Announced

 Ford has announced how much it will cost fans to buy a new Ranger midsize pickup. The base XL will start at $24,300, while the XLT will carry a base of $27,940. At the top of the list is the Lariat model at $32,210.

 These prices came from the just released Ford configurator. (“Yes son, if you study hard and work hard you can grow up to be a configurator.”

 Of course like all pickups the size of the truck bed and desired passenger carrying capacity will also play a role in how much it will cost to take one home.  Pricing is roughly in line with the Toyota Tacoma.

 All of the trucks will come with a 10-speed automatic and a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four cylinder engine.

 The Ranger is expected to hit the market in the fall, but no firm date has been released by Ford.

 Customizer APR has completed work on a one-off VW Atlas that improves off road abilities and increases horsepower. From the base 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, APR boosted things to 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. It added a turbocharger, modified the suspension and exhaust system.

 APR stressed that while this is currently a one-off project, it is evaluating a lineup of performance products for the Atlas in the future.

 Walter Payton’s 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo will be auctioned off in Chicago in late October. The car is now owned by Payton’s son and shows just 9,950 miles on the odometer. It will be one of a number of cars to hit the block at the Mecum backed event.

 Mercedes is expanding its training programs to deal with a shortage of automotive technicians, once known as mechanics.

  “The need for educational programs like these are important as we face an acute shortage of qualified technicians,” said Christian Treiber, MBUSA Vice President of Customer Service.

 “The shortage largely comes from the outdated image of mechanics and increase in demand. Today’s mechanics must now have a completely different skillset; they are technologists that cater to increasingly complex vehicles,” he said.





Auto News for Aug. 14

  AAA said nearly 83 percent of older drivers have not talked to a family member or physician about their safe driving ability.

 Of the small percentage of families who do have the often difficult conversation, 15 percent do so after a crash or traffic infraction has occurred – which could be too late. Due to their fragility, older drivers are at greater risk of death and injury if involved in a crash.

 AAA urges seniors to begin planning for “driving retirement” at the same time they begin planning for retirement from work.

 “This research shows that older drivers can be hesitant to initiate conversations about their driving capabilities, so it is important that families encourage them to talk early and often about their future behind the wheel.”

 “With early discussion and proper planning, elderly drivers may extend their time on the road,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety.

 The auto club said the best time to initiate a discussion with a loved one about staying mobile is before you suspect there is a problem.

 When you have the “big talk” AAA said you should be positive and supportive, and do not jump to conclusions about the older driver’s skills or abilities.

 Speak one-on-one as opposed to a full family discussion of the matter, and stick to the facts that you know such as a condition that might make driving unsafe.

 And perhaps most important, allow the older driver to play an active role in developed a plan for their driving retirement.

 Some good news at the gas pumps. The national gas price has held relatively flat recently with the average price now $2.86 a gallon. Demand is slowing while gas inventories are on the rise, AAA said.

 But look for spikes as we near Labor Day. (You probably already expected that.)

 Elon Musk said he had held talks with the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund about funding to taking Tesla private. He said the two have discussed the matter going back almost two years. Musk indicated the wealth fund is ready to back the move, but that he is also talking with other potentially interested parties. But:

 “Obviously, the Saudi sovereign fund has more than enough capital needed to execute on such a transaction,” Musk tweeted.

 How much such a move would cost remains up in the air depending on how many shareholders want to sell out.

 Musk released the statement to back his recent tweet that funding for a move out of the stock market has been secured.


Auto News for Aug. 13 Rolls rolls to the beach – A high class beach


 Rolls-Royce believes in going where the customers are!

 Rolls will return to the most celebrated enclaves of the Mediterranean coastline with “a selection of motor vehicles for the influential and wealthy to experience.”

 The marque will work in collaboration with a small group of trusted and noteworthy partners to present its full portfolio of motor cars, including Cullinan, on the picturesque French Riviera and Elysian Andalusian Coastline: locations that truly befit the brand’s patrons, said the automaker.

 (And yes, I never thought I would see a Rolls with a surfboard on top.)

 Toyota Financial Services is offering payment relief options to its customers affected by wildfires in California and southern Oregon. This outreach includes any Toyota Financial Services or Lexus Financial Services customer in the designated disaster areas.

 “We at Toyota Financial Services care about the safety and well-being of our customers and want to help those impacted by the wildfires.  Impacted lease and finance customers residing in the devastated areas may be eligible to take advantage of several payment relief options,” the company said.

 Automotive News in Europe said Jaguar Land Rover will introduce three new models that will ride on a new platform. The new ones will be debut over the next five years. One is expected to be a new generation Land Rover Defender in the 2020/21 financial year.

 Not much has been released on the other two.



Saturday Road Test – Eco For Fall

                     2018 Hyundai Elantra Eco

                        A Bargain On Wheels

 By Ron Amadon


DAMASCUS, MD.  – The price is right, economy is good, back to school merchandise is front and center in stores and NFL preseason games are under way.

 What does all this have to do with the Hyundai Elantra Eco? It means that autumn months are near and some are searching for that perfect back to college set of wheels.

 And why buy used when one can obtain this weekend’s test car for under $22K, get up to 40 miles per gallon and the security of a 5 year, 100,000 mile warranty?

 The wisdom of such a move is not a total secret. In this era of high demand for trucks, Elantra sales rose 4 percent last month. Perhaps the automobile is not dead yet?


 Power comes from a turbocharged, 1.4-liter four with 128 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm and 156 lb-ft of torque from 1,400 rpm to 3,700 rpm. Only front wheel drive is offered.
The Eco was another car that felt faster in around town driving than the stopwatch may indicate. Helping immeasurably was the alert 7-speed dual clutch automatic, not a CVT transmission.

 And as you can see from the torque stats above, the zest begins in the low rpm range. Look for a zero to mile a minute in the eight second range.

 Despite the turbo, the Elantra runs on regular gas and the EPA estimates 32 mpg city, 40 highway and 35 combined.

 I came in at 33 for the week, mainly in stop and go suburban traffic. I did register 40 on an interstate trip. On rural roads it was fun to dial in the “Sport” mode that improved throttle response and tightened up the otherwise rather numb steering.    

 Hyundai puts disc brakes up front but drums to the rear. There should be discs all around.


 Excellent front and rear seats came along for the ride, with enough room to the rear to accommodate two adults, but if they are much over the 6-2 mark, head room might be lacking a bit.

 For the asking price, the list of equipment on the “Quartz White Pearl” painted sedan was impressive…

 Seven inch display audio system with satellite stations.

 Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

 Automatic temperature control.

 Leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

 Heated front seats, but most days were in the upper 80’s to low 90’s so I did not try out this feature. Check back next winter.

 Push button start

 Hands free trunk opening.

 Stability control and blind spot detection.

 Plus a nicely finished interior with all controls easy to reach and define their role in life. (Thank you Hyundai!)


 There was no navi, but it is available via your smartphone.

 Tire and road noise were well contained, especially when one considers this is not a high lux automobile.

 In the end this was a very appealing fuel sipper that does what many in this category do not – be a good long distance traveler.

 And it excels in what matters most – the asking price. With $125 floor mats the only option, the test Elantra had an MSRP of $21,560. And in today’s world of cars, that is a downright fine bargain.

 There is one possible downside. Dad might commandeer the car if he has a lengthy daily commute. Who gets to drive it regularly may come down to a spirited one on one game of basketball in the driveway. 


 The Elantra is assembled in Montgomery, Alabama…









Auto News for Aug. 10

Audi A
Audi announced its redesigned hatchback 2019 A7 will start at $68,000 for the base “Premium” edition, to $72,400 for the Premium Plus and $76,300 for the top of the line Prestige.

The A7 got a complete makeover for the new year including a new 3.0-liter turbo V6 married to a 7-speed automatic with, Audi says, more torque than the outgoing model.

The six is rated at 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque at a range of 1,370-4,500 rpm, and can sprint from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

VW arteon

Volkswagen has hired photographer and filmmaker Douglas Sanders to take a series of artsy photos of its upcoming Arteon upmarket hatchback. It will be introduced here in the states later this year with a 2.0-liter turbo four with 268 horsepower being the lone engine offered. Among the goodies? Massaging front seats.

Infiniti will announce some form of electric vehicle at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on August 23rd.

“Our new concept provides clues to where the INFINITI brand is heading. For us, electrification means performance – our electrified cars will be powerful, efficient, and fun to drive, and the new concept is a physical representation of our electrified performance future,” said Karim Habib, INFINITI Executive Design Director. And that’s all we know at this point.

Tesla’s chief vehicle engineer Doug Field has left the company to return to Apple where he presumably will work on that firm’s efforts to produce a self-driving car. Field left the Elon Musk firm in May saying he needed some time to recharge.

Tesla shares took a tumble on Wall Street yesterday with traders wanting more information on how Musk will obtain the needed financing to take the company private. The stock closed down 4.8 percent.

Auto News for Aug. 9 – 10 Million Mustangs!

Ten million of anything is a lot, so when the 10 millionth Mustang rolled off the assembly line in Dearborn, Michigan, it was time for a celebration.

More than 60 Ford Mustang owners of all model years assembled for the tribute by spelling out the milestone with their cars, followed by a P-51 Mustang fighter plane flyover – the car’s namesake.

“Mustang is the heart and soul of this company and a favorite around the world,” said Jim Farley, president of global markets, Ford Motor Company. “I get the same thrill seeing a Mustang roll down a street in Detroit, London or Beijing that I felt when I bought my first car – a 1966 Mustang coupe that I drove across the country as a teenager.”

The 10 millionth Ford Mustang is a high-tech, 460 horsepower 2019 Wimbledon White GT V8 six-speed manual convertible equipped with the latest driver assist technology and built at Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan. The first serialized Mustang (VIN 001) produced in 1964 had a three-speed automatic transmission and 164 horsepower V8.

Don’t miss that picture of the Mustang that started it all at the World’s Fair in New York, many moons ago.

Here is a headline you might find fun to check out in this morning’s Detroit News:

“Lamborghini supercar vs. Lamborghini tractor.”

Geely, the owner of Volvo, is considering a more than $11 billion investment in Lotus to make the iconic sports car brand a competitor to Porsche and Ferrari, according to reports out of Asia. While there has been nothing official, reports are the Chinese carmaker would expand Lotus’ existing plant, construct another, and add a new design and innovation center.

Stay tuned.

Tesla Update

Tesla Update:

The following statement was released this morning from some members of Tesla’s Board of Directors:

“Last week, Elon opened a discussion with the board about taking the company private. This included discussion as to how being private could better serve Tesla’s long-term interests, and also addressed the funding for this to occur. The board has met several times over the last week and is taking the appropriate next steps to evaluate this.”