Auto News for Nov. 8 – A New High Performance BMW


 BMW has introduced the M3 CS featuring lots of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic that lowers vehicle weight by about 110 pounds from the stock M3.

 Under the hood is a turbo six with 453 horsepower or 28 more than the standard M3 with peak torque of 443 lb-ft from 4,000 to 5,380 rpm. It should sound good.

 “The unmistakable roar of the twin-turbo engine is enhanced by the M sports exhaust system that has been specially tuned for the CS and whose quartet of stainless-steel tailpipes blend perfectly into the CFRP rear diffuser,” said BMW.

 All this joins together to produce a 0-60 of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 174 mph. Handling should be faultless.

 Orders for the M3 CS can be placed starting in May of 2018. Production of the high-performance sedan will be limited to approximately 1,200 units worldwide, with approximately 550 units coming to the U.S. Pricing will be announced closer to market launch.

 Enterprise, National and Alamo have claimed the top three slots in the annual J.D. Power ratings of rental car company satisfaction. Enterprise owns all three brands. It is the sixth year in a row the trio topped the Power ratings.

 Overall satisfaction with rental companies is up, Power said, despite increased airport passenger congestion and construction. Wait times to pick up a rental have increased two minutes on average since 2013. And the average reported daily rental car price has dropped $11 per day this year.

 The 2018 Honda Accord and the 2018 Audi Q5 captured the top spots in Kelley Blue Book’s study of vehicles with the most advanced infotainment, convenience and active safety features at “a great value to car buyers.”

 The Honda shows that “shoppers don’t have to break the bank to get a tech-filled new car,” KBB said. While Audi’s mid-sized luxury crossover is “nice to drive, comfortable inside, and is packed with nearly as much technology as the local Apple Store.”









Auto News for Nov. 7 World Car of the Year


 It is appropriate on this Election Day to talk about the nominees for World Car of the Year, even if the winner will not be announced until next March at the New York Auto Show.

 As reported here last week, Kia leads the pack with the most nominations in various categories, but the Detroit Three did poorly.

 “The USA isn’t currently producing nearly as many globally significant all-new cars as might be expected,” the judges said. “This explains why there are so few Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Fords, Chryslers and Jeeps in contention this year.”

 A total of 35 vehicles were nominated for World Car. Here is a list of the models familiar to a domestic audience.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Stelvio


Buick Regal

Ford Fiesta

Genesis G70

Honda Accord

Jeep Compass

Kia Niro

Kia Stinger

Land Rover Discovery

Mazda CX-5

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Nissan LEAF

Range Rover Velar

Subaru XV/Crosstrek

Toyota Camry

Volkswagen Arteon

Volkswagen T-Roc

Volvo XC40

Volvo XC60

 Just to clarify, some Kia models not sold here in the U.S., were on the list.

 Up for World Performance Car:

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Audi RS3 & RS5


Ferrari Portofino

Honda Civic Type R

Lexus LC 500

 A large panel of auto writers worldwide will narrow down the list ahead of the NYC show.

 Tesla will take the wraps off its electric semi-truck on November 16th the company confirmed in emails to the press.

 Toyota has raised its expectations for full year earnings, but also said slowing sales for its cars here in the U.S. are a concern. That has caused Toyota and others to increase financial incentives for its sedans, as market preference continues to favor crossovers, trucks and SUV’s. A weaker yen on currency markets and stronger auto sales in some countries fueled the higher earnings forecast.

 The RAV4 is now the top selling compact crossover here in the U.S.

 At $2.53, today’s nationwide average gas price is six cents more than a week ago, two cents more than a month ago and 31 cents more than a year ago.

 “October has seen strong demand numbers likely, in part, due to consumers taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather rather than spending time indoors,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “As consumers fill up their tanks more frequently, we are seeing supply levels tighten and gas prices increase. However, we don’t expect this increase to be long-term.”

 A group of European auto makers have announced a plan to create about 400 fast charging stations across major highways by the year 2020. BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and the Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche are backing the network to make long distance travel easier for owners of electric cars.


Saturday Road Test – 2018 Kia Rio EX Hatch


2018 Kia Rio EX

Can you buy new wheels for $20K?

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – As the price of a new vehicle hits a record average of $35,428, you are up late, half watching “Last Call” with Carson Daly, juggling figures, and sweating out how to buy a new car on a tight budget after your current steed has issued its last call.

You want something dependable, small, economical, comfortable, and with a long warranty. Then allow me to introduce the Kia Rio EX hatch, this week’s test car.

Completely redesigned for 2018, the Kia hatchback is small at 160.6 inches long and the EPA said it should deliver 32 miles per gallon on the cheapest grade of unleaded. I did better – see below.

And Kia retained its 10 year, 100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty and 5 year 60,000 roadside assistance plan.

Rio is offered in three trim levels, LX, S and EX. Standard on all is a 1.6-liter four with 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is offered or a six-speed automatic.

For those who have not mastered that third pedal to the left, don’t fret. The automatic is a good one and the stick is only offered on the lower trim models.

As part of the 2018 redesign, the Rio now offers Bluetooth hands-free functionality, a six-speaker stereo with satellite radio and a rear-view camera system.

Available only on the tested EX trim is a seven-inch floating touchscreen interface, voice recognition infotainment system and smartphone integration through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Navi was missing on the test car, but available through a smartphone.

With the second row seats folded down, the hatch offers 32.8 cubic feet of cargo carrying capacity with a low and flat hold. But that is less than the rival Honda Fit.

The Rio rides on a brand new platform with new suspension geometry – the popular MacPherson strut suspension up front and a torsion beam rear axle. The EX comes with disc brakes all around, while other models have drum brakes to the rear. For the first time, Kia is offering Autonomous Emergency Braking on the Rio that can bring things to a total halt if conditions warrant.

Other safety features are Forward Collision Warning and Electronic Stability Control. Kia said its goal is to achieve a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

On the road the Kia was amazingly quiet for an inexpensive compact thanks to improved body sealing. Wind noise was not a factor at interstate speeds, and the little four did nothing to add to the noise level. But kick down the right pedal and the roar will let you know it’s giving you all 130 horsepower.

This was not kick you back into the seat acceleration, but such things rarely occur in this part of the auto spectrum. Yet, it was more than adequate power for daily commuting and chores around town, and yes, I did on occasion yearn for the manual tranny. Hmm, if this was a turbo …

In a week of stop and go suburban traffic and some interstate running the appropriately named “Urban Gray” Rio chalked up 36 mpg… It is EPA rated at 28 city, 37 highway for a combined 32 mpg.

Visibility was excellent in all directions, the controls were well marked, easy to define and reach. The only real glitch was limited knee room in the rear seats, yet head and foot room were fine.

And the red trim was a nice touch in an interior that was fancier than one might expect at this asking price.

Over rural roads the Rio was a fun car to drive thanks in part to a revised spring and damper setup. The six-speed automatic and the 1.6-liter four were quick to react when a shot of power was needed and the whole thing really came to life when the driver engaged Sport mode.

On only one occasion did I feel the front 185-65/15 tires start to lose traction on a damp road. That made me wonder about the 17-inch wheels available on this model but only overseas.

Well outfitted, the EX Rio carried a bottom line bargain price of $22,225 and that included an $895 delivery charge and $630 worth of options.

A bare bones base model can be had for $13,990 in the sedan or $14,290 for the more versatile and, I think, more attractive hatch.

So if your current car have indeed given its last call, give up the show, get some sleep, and give this Rio a test drive.

Okay then, right after that jolt of strong morning brew.












Auto News for Nov. 3 – Tesla Woes

 Tesla shares headed south, down 6.8%, after the electric car maker reported a loss of $671 million and word came that the proposed federal budget would eliminate the $7,500 tax credit for electric car buyers.

 It was Tesla’s largest ever quarterly setback and tied to snafus in ramping up production of the Model 3, specifically in the area of battery production.

 Where Tesla had hoped to produce 5,000 Model 3’s by the end of 2017, that target has now been moved to the first quarter of next year. The extension will not cause many of those waiting for their Model 3 to cancel their orders, the company said.

 Neil Young is putting some of his auto collection up for sale and there’s some vintage stuff here.

 Like a 1953 Buick Roadmaster Sylark convertible, 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood eight-passenger limo, a 1948 Buick Roadmaster Hearse, and a 1941 Chrysler Series 28 Windsor Highlander two door. Some of the proceeds will benefit a school for children with speech and physical impairments.

 Computer problems delayed the release of October sales at BMW. They were down 3.4 percent and Mini sales were 7.2 percent lower.

2017 & 2018 Honda Civic Type R 

The 2018 Honda Civic Type R is now being shipped to dealers and the price has gone up $215 to $34,990. This hot hatchback is still base priced below many of its rivals such as the VW Golf R, but my bet is that dealers will be marking them up in an effort to boost profits.

 Tickets are now on sale for the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The exhibition opens to the public on January 20, and runs through the 28th. It is a show that all car buffs should experience at least once.

Ticket info at:

  If that doesn’t work do a search for NAIAS/Event Tickets.

 Then again, if the thought of going to Detroit in the middle of winter doesn’t appeal, there is the Los Angeles show from December 1-10.

 More at:

 Look for full coverage right here when Press Days begin on Nov. 27





Auto News for Nov. 2 – An Incredible Raptor!!!


 “Our VelociRaptor 6X6 is pure aggression on wheels – all six of them”, said Hennessey. The performance company has taken on the Ford Raptor which was a powerful and very competent off roader on its own. But what to do if that was not enough?

 Enter the VelociRaptor – A 4-door truck, 6X6 locking rear axles, upgraded Fox suspension, upgraded 20-inch wheels and off-road tires, special front and rear bumpers, rollbar and LED lights. Hennessey will also be offering a  twin turbo upgrade for the 6X6 and for owners seeking more power and performance. The 600+ HP upgrade includes upgraded twin turbochargers, stainless steel exhaust modifications, upgraded front mounted air to air intercooler and plumbing and re-tuned factory computer.

 Other optional upgrades include: Brembo front & rear brake upgrade, larger wheels and tires, LED lighting upgrades, bespoke interiors, electronic upgrades and armoring systems will also available. 

 The VelociRaptor 600 twin turbo upgrade will be available to new Raptor owners at the cost of $22,500.

 Prices for the Hennessey truck start at $295,000.

 It you just hit the Powerball, the 6X6 can be ordered directly from Hennessey Performance or through select Hennessey / Ford dealers.

 Looking at this rig just from the front, I don’t think there would be too many over eager motorists that would cut it off in traffic.


 The top trending vehicles in five categories have been announced at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas:

 Hottest Coupe: Chevrolet Camaro

 Hottest Sedan: Cadillac CTS-V

 Hottest Hatch: Ford Focus

 Hottest 4×4-SUV: Jeep Wrangler

 Hottest Truck: Ford F-Series

 “Every year at the SEMA Show, we see vehicles emerge that are embraced by the aftermarket community,” said Chris Kersting, SEMA president and CEO. “SEMA Show exhibitors are at the forefront of the industry and have the unique ability to identify the hottest vehicles emerging for future trends. The SEMA Award recognizes the vehicles that our industry leaders have selected.”

 The nominations for World Car of the Year are out and no other company captured more nominations than Kia, four of them. Plus two more in other categories. The winners will be announced at the New York Auto Show in March, 2018. BMW picked up a total of five nominations along with VW. Hyundai and Nissan each had three.

 Look for more on all this in the near future.

 If I told you that Toyota has been selling vehicles in the U.S. for 60 years would you believe me? Well they have!

 Its first vehicle, the Toyopet Crown, didn’t turn out to be a screaming success. It was introduced at a California dealership on Oct. 31, 1957, a 3,000 square foot garage that was once selling Ramblers.

 Toyota now has 14 manufacturing facilities here, and nearly 1,500 Toyota and Lexus dealerships, not to forget that new headquarters in Plano, Texas.

 Certainly when all this started, no one could have predicted that one day Toyota would be working on autonomous vehicles and robotics.

 Hammacher Schlemmer has introduced what it claims is the warmest steering wheel cover, reaching a maximum of 114 degrees in testing. Lesser models, it said, hit only 103 degrees. It fits snugly around standard wheels 14 1/2″ to 15 1/2″ in diameter and provides four levels of heat.

 How much is it a reader from northern Aroostook County Maine may ask? $119.45.



Auto News for Nov. 1 – Latest Sales & New Wrangler!!!

Ford was the only one of the Detroit Three to report increased sales for the month of October, thanks to its much in demand F-150 pickup. Overall sales rose 6.2 percent last month with the F-Series posting a 15.9 percent increase while SUV sales rose 4.6 percent.

 “Strong customer demand for high series Super Duty (truck) continues, and now we’re seeing the same for the new 2018 F-150,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford Vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service.

 Slowing demand for some Chevrolet and Buick models were cited for the 2.2 percent decline in sales at GM. Like Ford, demand was strong for its full size pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, with deliveries up 9 percent.

 “We are heading into the fourth quarter with good momentum, thanks to a strong U.S. economy and very strong pickup and crossover sales. In fact, Chevrolet and GMC have some of the fastest-turning crossovers in the industry,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations.

 The company could have sold more Chevrolet Equinox models “if we had more available” he said, but Canada’s largest union called a strike at the Ontario plant were they are built leading to thinning inventories.

 Fiat Chrysler reported a 13 percent sales decline in October, in part due to a planned reduction in fleet sales, mostly to rental companies.

 Ram truck sales posted their best October sales ever and Jeep sales increased 3 percent year over year. Demand for the redesigned Compass rose 81 percent.

 In a bit of a surprise, Jeep released pictures of the next generation 2018 Jeep Wrangler that will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show November 29.

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler RubiconAll-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Sahara

 Ahead of that event, here is everything they released about it:

 “The most capable SUV ever delivers even more legendary Jeep 4×4 capability, a modern design that stays true to the original, advanced fuel-efficient powertrains, more open-air options, and is loaded with more safety features and advanced technology than ever before. The all-new Wrangler’s unique design includes an instantly recognizable keystone-shaped grille, iconic round headlamps and square tail lamps, improved aerodynamics, a convenient fold-down windshield for off-road purists, even more open-air freedom, and dozens of different door, top and windshield combinations.”

 Like other makers, Toyota sold more trucks, crossovers, and SUV’s and fewer cars last month. But the total sales picture was positive, up 1.1 percent.

 The RAV4 was the most popular Toyota outselling the redesigned Camry, and customers also took home more 4Runner SUV’s last month.

 The Rogue crossover continues to be a hit for Nissan with October sales up a sharp 10.2. Overall, Nissan checked in with an 8.4 percent increase but Infiniti sales fell just over 8 percent.

 Honda reported October sales of 127,353 Honda and Acura vehicles, an increase of 0.9 percent. But unlike many others in the biz, it was talking about improved sales of its cars with Civic demand setting a new October record, up 15 percent. It was also selling more than a few SUV’s with Pilot sales showing an 18.5 percent gain.


 Volkswagen saw sales increase 11.9 percent with Jetta sales up 14.2 percent, the best October for the brand since 2014.