Auto News for March 17 – Like Your Dealer’s Service? Many Do

 When it comes to dealer serving Lexus leads the pack in the luxury category, according to a new survey from J.D. Power. It was followed by Audi, Lincoln, Porsche and Cadillac.

 In the mass market, Buick is the leader followed by Mini, GMC, Chevrolet, and Nissan, according to Power.

 Overall customer service and satisfaction rose in the 2017 survey that measures automotive service at a franchised dealer or independent service facility for maintenance or repair work among owners and lessees of 1- to 5-year-old vehicles.

 

 The Historic Vehicle Association will display three iconic cars on the National Mall in Washington starting April 12th. They are a 1964 Chevrolet “lowrider” and a 1932 Ford V8 Hot Rod, not to forget the 1951 Mercury Coupe “radical custom.” The HVA is dedicated to preserving and sharing America’s automotive heritage.

 The Mercury steals my attention. It was purchased by Bob Hirohata and extensively customized by master craftsmen Sam and George Barris at their shop in Lynwood, California in 1952.  It was striped by Von Dutch and featured modified design elements from Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, and Lincoln. Under Hirohata’s ownership it was driven cross country from LA to Indianapolis and Detroit and back.  The car collected over 150 trophies during the first several years it was shown.

 Airstream said its “Interstate” is the top selling Type B diesel motorhome in the U.S. for the fifth year in a row. It has a starting price of $156,611. A type B motorhome looks very much like an oversized van.

 

 

 

 

Auto News for March 16 – Good News on Gas Prices Short Term

 After remaining relatively flat, AAA said the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has now fallen for 10 straight days to today’s average of $2.30 per gallon. The national average is one cent less than one week ago and two cents more than one month ago. Compared to this same date last year, consumers are paying 37 cents more per gallon at the pump.

 Gas prices may continue to drop in the near future due to declining crude oil prices and a well-supplied market, but will begin to creep up again over the next month due to seasonal refinery maintenance and the May 1 required switchover for producing summer-blend gasoline, said AAA in its latest report.

 General Motors will add or retain approximately 900 jobs across three Michigan facilities during the next 12 months. Earlier this month, GM said it would cut about 1,100 jobs in May when it eliminates a third shift at its plant in Lansing, Mich. So this latest announcement will be a relief for many.

 Acura announced that it first hybrid SUV, the MDX Sport Hybrid will arrive in showrooms early next month. It will carry an MSRP of $51,960 a premium of $1,500 over the existing non-hybrid. Look for 321 horsepower and 289 lb.-ft. of torque, up 31 horsepower over the non-hybrid MDX, making it the most powerful Acura production SUV ever built. EPA fuel economy ratings of 26/27/27 mpg (city/highway/combined) are up 8/1/6 mpg over the non-hybrid variant.

 Jaguar has driven its concept electric vehicle – the I-PACE – on the streets of London for the first time. Jag hopes to release the production version in 2018. Look for a 0-60 in about four seconds with a range of 500 kilometers or 310 miles for its first electric offering.

 

Auto News for March 15 – A Fiat pickup & a Buick Wagon!

 Autocar, a veteran British auto magazine, reports Tesla will make a small SUV based on the Model 3 and Model X platforms. Look for the new offering, the Model Y, to sell for about $45,000 and a debut sometime late next year.

 A Fiat pickup that brings back memories of the Subaru Brat? Yes! It is called the Fullback Cross, a more upscale version of a small pickup offered in Europe. It is diesel propelled with either a six speed stick or a five speed automatic. Heated leather seats, automatic climate control, and seven airbags inside. It will go on sale this summer but thus far, no indication that it will invade the U.S. despite the obvious tie to the NFL. My guess they would sell a bunch of them here.

 The rumor mill has it that Buick will halt production of the Regal sedan later this year, and replace it with two Opel models, one of which will be a wagon! Opel debuted the “Sports Tourer Wagon” at the Geneva Auto Show, and Automotive News said it would be the first Buick wagon in 20 years. The other model will be a five-door hatchback. Look for the two new Buicks to debut in Detroit in early April. 

 Magellan has been named the official navigation partner of Jeep Jamboree USA for the second year in a row.

 Mazda is expanding production of the CX-5 to a second plant in Japan. Mazda said it will help the company “respond quickly and flexibly to growing demand for SUV’s globally.”

Auto News for March 14 – VW – FCA Talks?

 Well on second thought. The head of Volkswagen tells Reuters that he would not rule out a discussion with Fiat Chrysler regarding a potential merger. The news service reported last week that Matthias Mueller seemed to rule out any talks with FCA head Sergio Marchionne. But today he told reporters in Germany that he is not ruling out a “conversation.” Industry experts say smaller automakers will have to reach some sort of agreement with larger companies to cope with the high cost of developing autonomous and electric cars. Mueller also told the news service that he is confident about the future of VW with or without FCA.

 Looking from the outside in, it is hard to see what FCA would bring to the VW table other than Jeeps and Ram trucks. VW and its subsidiaries pretty well cover the rest of the market.

 The best lease deal available today is on a 2017 Infiniti QX30 and a Toyota Sienna van according to Kelley Blue book. Topping the cash back, financing deals are the 2016 Hyundai Veloster and the 2017 Jeep Cherokee.

 Intel believes in the future of autonomous cars to the tune of $15.3 billion. It will spend that much to acquire Israel based Mobileye, a firm that produces cameras and sensors for cars that don’t require a driver. Intel and Mobileye have partnered with Audi and BMW in development of autonomous cars and the move is seen as direct competition with Google. Shareholders and regulators will have to approve the matchup, and both firms hope to close the deal within nine months.

 Ethisphere Institute named Ford in its list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the eighth year in a row, recognizing its “ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability.” The Arizona-based organization said it defines and measures corporate ethical standards, recognizes companies that excel, and promotes best practices in corporate ethics.

 

 

 

Auto News for March 13 – All Stars Named

 

  Automobile magazine is out with its 2017 All-Stars and here they are:

Acura NSX

BMW M2

Chevrolet Bolt                                                   

Honda Civic Hatchback Sport

Porsche 718 Cayman S

Volvo S90

Here is some backup material

 “The M2 is one hell of a grin-inducing package. Paired with great steering and a hair-raising soundtrack from the turbocharged straight-six, even around-town driving is something to look forward to. The M2 comes alive on the track, bending to the driver’s will in a way no recent M car has,” said Automobile.

 The Bolt continues to rack up awards. Automobile said it had enough range (EPA 238 miles) to make running out of juice anxiety a thing of the past.

 “Every automaker looking to build a small, lightweight, mid-engine sports car, feel free to stop now. The 718 wins. The 718 Cayman S provides a wonderfully rewarding driving experience, affording a connection to the car and road seldom found in a contemporary vehicle, regardless of price,” the editors said.

 

 “Honda stretched the wheelbase of the Civics’ new platform to 106.3 inches and created not just a more spacious package with 97.2 cubic feet of passenger volume, but also a more poised platform for serious driving. And it delivers a new kind of Honda performance with a 180-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged engine.”
 

 “The S90 shakes up the luxury segment not with all-conquering power or sports-car handling, but with ride quality rarely seen in the luxury segment in recent decades. Comfort, grace, and control are the best descriptors for the S90’s driving characteristics.”

And what publication could crank out a “Best of” list without the NSX?

 “The Acura NSX earned its All-Star status the old-fash­ioned way: by consistently putting a grin on drivers’ faces. With its glued-to-tarmac handling and effortless acceleration, the NSX seemingly defies physics as it sorts corners and delivers in the most demanding setting: the racetrack.”

 The Acura and the BMW are pictured.

 Elsewhere:

 New research from Alamo Rent a Car shows workers are feeling more guilt than ever before about planning and taking their vacations. Overall, around half (49 percent) of all American workers report feeling vacation shamed – being made to feel shame or guilt by co-workers for taking a vacation – compared with only 47 percent in the 2016 survey. And, vacation shaming is particularly on the rise among millennials. Significantly more employed millennials in 2017 reported feeling guilty for planning and taking a vacation (68 percent vs. 59 percent in the 2016 study) – a 19 percent year-over-year increase. Also for the first time, Alamo’s annual research indicates that fewer than half of all workers – only 47 percent – are using all of their paid vacation days. Nearly half (48 percent) feel the need to justify to their employer why they’re using the time off to which they’re entitled.

 

 

 

Saturday Road Test – Kia Soul ! Turbo – Baby Got Soul!!!

                             

 

                            2017 Kia Soul ! Turbo

                          It adds more Soul to the Soul

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Yes, the upcoming mid-engine Corvette will be a ridiculously fun car to drive. And who would ever turn down the chance to get behind the wheel of the 710 horsepower McLaren 720S or the 500 horsepower Porsche 911 GT3. Or any Ferrari?

 All will carry gulp inducing price tags and therefore be reserved for the very wealthy.

 What about the masses? Is it possible that one can have fun in a little box pulled around by just a 1.6-liter four with a mere 201 horsepower? The answer is OMG YES!

 For some time the Kia Soul has checked all the boxes one could ever come up with in a small cargo and people hauler, except one. Acceleration was just okay.

 Does the turbo make a difference? Yes! The difference between the old 101 Strings playing James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and the man himself doing it.  

 You will “feel good” driving it and listening to Ray Charles doing “Hit the Road, Jack” with Aretha kicking in some “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” out on the highway ‘cause this Soul now has Soul.

 Zero to 60 in just 6.5 seconds and that is a whopping two seconds better than the non-turbo. Floor it and from the driver’s seat the pace feels quicker than what the stats indicate.

 Here are the facts:

 201 hp @ 6,000 rpm

 195 lb.-ft. @ 1,500 – 4,500 rpm

 Those numbers are married to a fast acting and smooth 7-speed dual clutch automatic, not a CVT and for that we say, “Hallelujah”

 That is 40 additional horsepower by the way, and fuel economy is a combined 28 mpg, slightly better than the 2.0 without the turbo. And it drinks the low priced 87 octane.

 There is no stick shift offered, but operators can change gears manually using the console shifter.

 O yea, have another “Piece of my Heart,” Janice.

 Just sit in the Kia Soul Exclaim and everything seems perfect. The driving position is upright and comfortable facing the sporty D shaped leather wrapped steering wheel. Visibility is fantastic.

 Controls – easy to reach and define. You can drive it home without getting a graduate degree from the dealer on how even simple, every day chores are accomplished.

 Since this is the top of the line model, one gets keyless start, automatic climate control, leather and cloth covered seats, lots of stitching, and a 7-inch touchscreen with rear view camera. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto of course.  And a sexy red stripe outside.

 Look up and you will find a Sunroof that was close to silent wind wise up to 40 mph and a bit noisy above that level.  

 And since mankind has adopted the box as the best way to carry things, there was lots of storage space. With the 60/40 rear seats raised, there was just over 24 cubic feet of carrying capacity. They are easy to lower and create 61.3 cubes.

 Real people might be hesitant to ride in the back seat of such a small car, but once inside two of them will find a generous 39.5 inches plus of leg room.

 Handling was up to the task of making favorite rural roads fun and merging onto semi infested 70 mph I-70 was an easy task thanks to the turbo. The little four calms down nicely once cruising speed has been attained.

 Passing slow moving trucks on South Mountain (not a mountain in Colorado terms) probably had uninformed truckers wondering, “What is that thing?”

 I did miss blind spot detection on the test Soul, but it is available via the option list.    

 So how much does it cost to “Let the Good Times Roll?” With delivery and no options, the Exclaim tester came to an easy to take $23,820. And that folks, in today’s market, is a steal.

 Sam Cooke would say, “Ain’t That Good News,” Marvin Gaye would agree the Soul is “What’s Going On.” All you have to do is “Reach Out” to a little box with a 10 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

 Drive it down the road and sing out because … “You Really Got a Hold on Me”

Some Stats:

Wheelbase: 101.2”

Length: 163.0

Width: 70.9

Height: 63.5

Ground Clearance: 5.9

Head Room Front: 37.9

Head Room Rear: 37.9

(Both with Sunroof)

Leg Room Front: 40.9

Leg Room Rear: 39.1

Turning Circle: 34.8’

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

Auto News for March 10 – John Glenn’s Caddy.

 A Cadillac kind of day!

 John Glenn’s 2000 Cadillac Deville DHS will be put up for bid at Auctions America’s collector car sale March 31- April 2 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Glenn always owned Cadillacs and the car on offer represents his final purchase. Highly advanced for its time, it was ordered fully-loaded, complete with night vision radar and hands-free system, which when activated, responds using John’s voice. It comes to auction in excellent condition, offered by its current owner who purchased the car directly from Glenn in 2006. It is expected to fetch $50,000 – $75.000. A 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster, one of just 26 built for the final year of production, might sell for an estimated $1,250,000 – $1,500,000.

 Cadillac is introducing a safety system to its CTS model that will allow drivers to share information on upcoming potential hazards. For example, when a car approaches an urban intersection, the technology scans the vicinity for other vehicles and tracks their positions, directions and speeds, warning the driver of potential hazards that might otherwise be invisible. Common hazardous scenarios that prompt alerts are hard braking, slippery conditions and disabled vehicles. Through the next-generation Cadillac user experience infotainment system, drivers can customize alerts to show in the instrument cluster and available head-up display.

 Acura has surpassed the 100,000-unit mark in sales of vehicles equipped with the AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies. After the first two months of 2017, nearly half of all Acura vehicles sold in the U.S. this year have been equipped with it. The package helps to maintain a vehicle’s position in traffic and to prevent or mitigate the severity of a collision.