Auto News for April 17 – Ford Renews Shelby Mustangs


 Ford announced that production of the Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R Mustang will continue for 2018, and the high performance cars will be available in showrooms this fall. The new models will be unchanged from the 2017 versions, with the exception of three new exterior color choices, Orange Fury, Kona Blue and Lead Foot Gray. (I would take the latter.)

 Standard equipment includes lots of go power with the 5.2-liter V8 which produces 526 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque. In addition, the braking system includes vented 15.5-inch two-piece front rotors and six-piston Brembo calipers along with the MagneRide damping system.

 With Earth Day nearing, the Chevrolet Bolt tops Kelley Blue Book’s list of the Best Electric Cars for under $40,000. It was followed by the Hyundai Ioniq electric and the VW e-Golf. KBB’s top three hybrids were the Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, and the Honda Accord Hybrid. “With each new model year there are more ‘green car’ choices than ever before,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. Earth Day is April 22.

 Polaris is recalling about 51,000 recreational off-highway vehicles with either three or six seats and a rear box. The company said a heat shield can fall off the vehicle, posing fire and burn hazards to riders. “Customers should immediately stop using the recalled ROV’s and contact Polaris to schedule a free repair,” the company said. It is contacting all known purchasers directly.





Saturday Road Test – 300C Gets An “A”

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.


                          Chrysler 300C Platinum

                                 Tank – Updated

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Long after it was gone from the family driveway, my father often talked about his ’41 Chrysler saying it was “built like a tank.” Those memories were brought back when a 2017 “Velvet Red” Chrysler 300C appeared here at road test headquarters.  

  “America’s big and bold sedan” is how Fiat Chrysler describes its largest auto offering at nearly 199 inches long, and 75 inches wide or roughly five inches shorter than the Pacifica van and only two inches narrower. No one riding in the 300 will be pinched for room.   

 Running on unleaded regular and delivering better than expected gas mileage, the 300C test car was powered by a 292 horsepower V6 with 260 lb-ft of torque. With a smooth and fast acting 8-speed automatic transmission there was more than enough power to meet all demands. A 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with 363 horsepower is an option.

 With lots of interstate operation I logged a surprising 22.8 mpg in the heavy 4,013 pound sedan. EPA estimates are 19/30/23. In keeping with tradition, the test car was rear wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is an option.

 Interested parties will be offered four trim levels, Limited, 300S, 300C and the tested Platinum. Along with upgraded leather seating, the top-of-the-line model kicks in one option that was very easy to like especially if you are a coffee drinker – heated and cooled front cup holders. A 19 speaker Harmon Kardon audio system with subwoofer was another treat during a long drive, doubly enjoyable thanks to the very quiet interior.

 A long list of safety features came with the $2,995 Customer Preferred Package such as Full Speed Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Rain Sensitive Wipers, front and rear parking assist, and Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection. (Ah as a kid, if I only had a warning when someone crossed my path.)

 The fourth generation Uconnect Navigation system had a few hiccups and weather warnings too often popped up on the 8.4 inch center dash screen, in some cases for regions many miles away. It likes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

 Up front, heated and ventilated leather seats were wide enough to accommodate all body builds, but I would have preferred less lumbar support than was available.

 But here is one outstanding reason to like this full size sedan. Getting in an out was an easy matter for all. And the trunk will accommodate all your gear for an extended road trip. Interior trim materials and assembly were excellent and the ambience was that of a luxury car.

 All in all, it was just darn right wonderful to drive a traditional front engine, rear drive, full-sized sedan in the year 2017, with the crossover, SUV, truck craze dominating the market these days.

 The 300C just eats up miles and with its long list of features, luxury interior and smooth ride, it might also take some of the stress out of your daily commute.

 With the safety package and $1,995 for “Premium Leather Wrapped Interior Accents” the bottom line came to $48,855 with the 5-year, 60,000 mile powertrain warranty.

 Times, taste and trends change but it would have been nice to be able to ask Dad if he thought this Chrysler was a tank.


Auto News for April 14 – And Now… Tesla Trucks – Big Ones!

 Tesla wants to go truckin’. Elon Musk said in a series of tweets that Tesla will show off a semi-truck in five months and a pickup truck in 18 to 24 month, according to the Detroit News. He said that is the “next level” for Tesla.

 In an effort to get closer to its parent company, Maserati will move its headquarters from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey to Auburn Hills, Michigan where it will share office space with Alfa Romero. Actually, it is moving into the Walter P. Chrysler Museum that Fiat Chrysler closed last December, citing the need for additional office space.

 Toyota will build a nearly $10 million dollar visitor and interactive training center at its plant in Blue Springs, Mississippi. It will offer public tours to show how the Corolla is put together. The announcement came on the tenth anniversary of the plant.

 In Thursday’s column, I mentioned a study by Autolist on how quickly Teslas are moving off used car lots, five percent quicker than rivals. If you would like to read more on this, here is where to turn:


Auto News for April 13 – Demons Drove Out The Other Seats

 One more note on the 840 horsepower Dodge Demon. As is, the base model lacks a front passenger seat or a back seat, the idea being to save weight, the Detroit Free Press said. But those who don’t want to always fly solo can purchase the seats for $1 each. They will probably be a must for Uber drivers.

 A study from concludes that used Tesla Model S sedans move more quickly off dealer lots than the competition. The Model S sticks around for 87 days on the lot and that is about 5 percent quicker than rivals. And the used electric usually sells for more money.

 More on the New York Auto Show:

 Subaru unveiled the Ascent, a three row buggy that will replace the Tribeca that was a slow seller. The three row Ascent is expected to appear as a 2018 model. At nearly 199 inches long it is, size wise, right in line with competitors such as the Mazda CX9. It will seat 7 and be powered by an “all-new turbocharged direct injection boxer engine,” Subaru said. All wheel drive, of course.

 Hyundai’s luxury brand, Genesis, displayed a wild looking SUV with “Athletic Elegance” and a plug-hydrogen fuel cell powertrain. The GV80 concept features an interior with a very clean design, a bridge instrument panel that stretches from door to door creating a spacious ambience. A 22-inch curved display set in the instrument panel cascades into the driver’s cluster and probably gives you more information than you ever wanted.  

 Audi confirmed that its high powered RS5 will be sold here in the U.S. with a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 that bats out 450 horsepower.

 Toward the end of the year, customers at a Lincoln outlet can get their hands on a redesigned and rather large SUV, the Navigator. Look for a V6 and a 10-speed automatic in a unit that went on a diet – it is 200 pounds so lighter than the earlier full size SUV. Drivers will used a piano key row of buttons to select gears located at the forward edge of the center console.

2018 Sonata

 Hyundai displayed a revamped Sonata with the most noticeable change being the “cascading grill.” The 245 horsepower 2.0-liter four will now come with an eight speed automatic tranny.



Auto News for April 12 – World Car Winners – NYC Auto Show


 Jaguar’s new SUV, the F-PACE, has been named World Car of the Year at ceremonies that marked the start of the New York Auto Show. It also captured the World Car Design award this morning.

 Other winners include the BMW i3 as World Urban Car of the Year, Mercedes Benz E-Class was named World Luxury Car of the Year, while the Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman took home the award as World Performance Car of the Year.

 Toyota’s Prius Prime was World Green Car of the Year to round out this year’s awards.

 And say hello to the FT-4X concept, a rugged little design exercise that is 13 inches shorter than the RAV4 and aimed directly at Gen Y “explorers.”

 The rear hatch opens both horizontally and vertically, while a built in camera can capture any and all off road adventures. Power wise, Toyota released little information other than saying “one could assume the FT-4X could potentially employ a small displacement four-cylinder,” 4-wheel drive and other off road items.

 On the inside are twin boxes – one warm, the other cold. They’re designated for a number of functions, such as the temporary stowage of snacks, or the warming and cooling of gear (i.e. gloves, blankets, ice packs, etc.).

 It will be interesting to see if this concept crossover ever becomes the real thing.

 If the Hellcat’s 707 horsepower is not quite enough, and I can’t believe it would not be, FCA has unveiled the Challenger SRT Demon with 840 horsepower, and 770 lb-ft of torque from a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8. Dodge said it is the highest horsepower V-8 production car ever produced with a 2.3 second 0-60 run. Further it claims the highest g-force acceleration of any production car at 1.8 g. The introduction is being applauded by tire makers worldwide.

 There were world premieres at the Mercedes stand. The Mercedes-AMG GLC63 SUV with an eight cylinder biturbo engine rated at 469 horsepower with 479 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with an AMG Speedshift MCT 9-speed transmission, all-wheel drive, and a 0-60 of just 3.9 seconds.

 Also there was the GLC63 and GLC62 S Coupe both with AMG heritage. They are available with a maximum output of 503 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Look for a 0-60 of just 3.7 seconds. MB said the Coupe “offers performance on-par with many dedicated sports cars.

 We will have still more new introductions in Thursday’s column, so as they say on the radio, “Stay tuned.”

Auto News for April 11 – Subaru Takes Home Some Awards – Again.


 Kelley Blue Book each year surveys thousands of visitors to its web site to track their perception of various brands. This year Subaru took home the Best Overall Brand award, along with the Most Trusted brand and Best Performance Brand. This marks the second year in a row that Suby has done that. It also received more awards than any other automaker.

 In the luxury category, Lexus was the big winner for the second straight year, while Honda and Buick shared the Brand Image awards.

 The Mazda6 and the MX-5 Miata RF have received Popular Mechanics Automotive Excellence Awards.

 Ahead of the New York Auto Show, Volkswagen has displayed its 2018 Golf lineup. No major changes in the design, but some equipment has been added.

 Golf now features standard LED taillights, LED Daytime Running Lights. New 8-inch infotainment screens on SE and SEL trims across Golf lineup. Volkswagen Digital Cockpit customizable dashboard standard on Golf R and  Front Assist and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert become standard on more models.  

 McLaren has started full production of the super-HOT 720S. It is the first time since the company was formed in 2010 that it has replaced a model family with an all-new generation of cars. The first of 15 new models are confirmed for introduction by the end of 2022.

 Lighter, faster and more dynamically capable than the McLaren 650S it replaces, the new 720S is powered by a 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine that produces 720 horsepower. The result is a 0-60mph in just 2.8 seconds and 0-124mph taking 7.8 seconds. The maximum speed of McLaren’s new supercar is 212 mph. Pictured is the 720S, in white, with the older 12C.



Auto News for Apirl 10 – Toyota Invests Big Bucks In KY.

 Toyota announced this morning it will make a $1.3 billion investment in its Georgetown, Kentucky plant to produce cars featuring its New Global Architecture, in this case the Camry. “Toyota New Global Architecture is about exciting, ever-better vehicles for our customers as it will improve performance of all models, including increased fuel efficiency, more responsive handling, and a more stable, comfortable feel while driving,” said Jim Lenz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America. Toyota Kentucky is the automaker’s largest plant in the world.

 As companies such as Tesla and General Motors launch new electric vehicles designed to attract the masses, a new report from Edmunds shows that without generous tax incentives, it will be challenging for either company to meet sales goals for these vehicles.   

 “With gas prices at a relative low and the popularity of SUVs and trucks hitting all-time highs, the EV market is at a crossroads,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds. “While the high-end EV market most likely has the ability to hold steady, our analysis shows that the average car shopper still needs a significant financial incentive to choose an electric vehicle over a traditional counterpart.” Edmunds cited a decline in electric vehicle demand when Georgia dropped its tax credit. And lease payment on EV’s jumped sharply.

 “It will take a significant rise in gas prices or stricter government mandates to drive sales of EVs at high volume,” Caldwell said.

 The latest report from AAA puts the national average gas price at $2.33 a gallon, or 27 cents over what we paid one year ago.

 Here are my predictions for World Car of the Year awards to be revealed on Wednesday at the New York Auto Show. The odds are that at least one of these predictions will come true.

 World Car of the Year: Jaguar F-Pace

 World Urban Car of the Year: Citroen C3

 World Luxury Car of the Year: Volvo S90/V90

 World Performance Car: This is a tough one with three great candidates – Audi R8 Spyder, McLaren 570S, and the Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman. I think it will be the McLaren.

 The Chevrolet Bolt will be the Green Car of the Year award winner and the Mercedes S-Class will capture the World Car Design of the Year award.