Auto News for Feb. 3 World Car Fininalists Announced. Elantra Teased

2018 Elantra GT

 Hyundai has released a teaser photo of “the all-new 2018 Elantra GT” a week before its debut at the Chicago Auto Show. It will go on sale early next year. Sold as the i30 in Europe, the car debuted at the Paris show with what Hyundai said is a stronger core structure after testing at the famed Nordschleife circuit in Germany. It seats five and comes with a 5 or 8 inch infotainment screen. As far as drivetrains, we will have to wait for the unveiling here.

 Audi’s A5, Q2, and Q5 have made the finals list for the World Car of the Year award. Also on the list are the Fiat/Abarth 124 Spyder, Jaguar F-Pace, Honda Civic, Mazda CX-9, Toyota C-HR, and the VW Tiguan. For Design of the Year, Buick’s Envision and LaCrosse made the list along with the Chevrolet Cruze and the Chrysler Pacifica. The winners will be announced at the New York auto show on April 13.

 Mazda has announced pricing for the 2017 MX-5 soft top which will arrive at dealers nationwide this month. It will carry an MSRP of $24,195, the same as last year. The only package changes include adding Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert as standard equipment for MX-5 Club models. Previously, these features were exclusive to MX-5 Grand Touring. That latter model with a stick shift, (isn’t that almost mandatory) starts at $33,850.

 Ferrari celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, and it has posted some good numbers going into that celebration. The company shipped 4.6% percent more vehicles globally in 2016 with a nice 37% percent gain in net profit. Sales leaders were the 488 GTB and the 488 Spider. Sales here in the U.S. rose 3 percent.

 Subaru will unveil the 2018 Legacy at the Chicago show on Feb.9. It will offer a redesigned interior with “more premium materials” and “available Steering Responsive LED Headlight system.”



Auto News for Feb. 2 – Auto Sales Cool With Winter Weather

One analyst told the Detroit News that the market is simply running out of people to buy cars. Another said shoppers are simply taking a breather. They were commenting on the 1.8 percent decline in new vehicle sales last month, something that was pretty much in line with expectations.

 Cars continued to be a tough sell to an audience that continues to tend toward crossovers, SUV’s, and pickups.

 There was a rather large 11.3 percent setback in Toyota sales due to what the experts said was a car heavy lineup. Yet sales were up for the RAV4.

 Honda, on the other hand, saw a 5.9 percent sales gain led by the CR-V and the HR-V. Acura sales dropped 10.2 percent.

 On the rebound was Volkswagen with a 17 percent increase, with Hyundai, Mazda and Subaru also reporting higher sales. Kia was the exception here with 7 percent fewer vehicles leaving dealer showrooms.

  May I call your attention to an interesting story about the “Worst Cars Ever Produced?” Here’s a link and see if you agree.

 And before you even ask, yes, the Pontiac Aztek is on the list.

 Foreign exchange losses hit Mazda hard. The company said operating profit fell 71 percent in Mazda’s third quarter more than offsetting a small increase in sales. The Japanese yen is increasing in value against the dollar and other currencies.

 Things were brighter for Mercedes parent company as Daimler reported its best ever figures for unit sales, revenue and net profit. Looking ahead, the company said the world economy is continuing along a path of steady, if rather moderate, growth. Daimler assumes that growth will accelerate slightly as the year progresses.

 The technology behind self-drive cars is not ready to be deployed without humans behind a steering wheel who can take control when the tech fails, according to a report released by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The group, Consumer Watchdog, cited mandatory reports filed by those testing self-drive cars in the state. Waymo, Google’s autonomous unit, showed the technology had problems dealing with others on the road, construction zones, and correctly perceiving their surroundings. But the number of disengagements was relatively small in the 635,868 miles of testing last year to 0.2 per 1,000 miles.

 The national average price for regular unleaded is now $2.27 per gallon, down four cents versus a week earlier, according to AAA. Gas prices have now declined for 21 consecutive days. It said we aren’t driving as much these days while the industry is picking up oil production in the U.S. The top five markets with the most dramatic monthly decreases in gas prices include: Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky. In the continental U.S., the most expensive petrol is in California at $2.80 a gallon on average. Here in the Washington, D.C. suburbs I have seen premium unleaded at more than $3 a gallon and that is before the summer driving season.




Auto News for Feb. 1 Two electrics crash tested – Big 3 Jan. Sales


Two all-electric vehicles, the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3 fell short of the top crash rating in tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Model S earned good ratings in all IIHS crashworthiness evaluations except the small overlap front. The i3 rated only acceptable in head restraint and seat evaluation, which measures a vehicle’s ability to protect against neck injuries in a rear crash, in which it earned an acceptable rating.

Volkswagen has submitted to a court a settlement agreement covering about 75,000 owners of Audi, VW, and Porsche cars that have the larger 3.0 liter diesel engine. It would pay at least $1.2 billion in buyback and compensation to the owners, and that amount could increase to $4 billion if VW cannot bring the cars up to air quality standards. It is not clear when the court will rule on the matter. Earlier, VW got the green light to settle with those who own the smaller 2.0-liter diesel.

Ford said retail sales rose 6 percent last month but add in fleet sales and overall sales declined by one percent. Trucks were big at the Blue Oval, up 13 percent thanks to demand for the F-150 and its brawnier Super Duty model. It is the best calendar year start for the trucks since 2004.

Sales of cars, trucks and crossovers fell 3.8 percent at General Motors with retail sales off 4.9 percent. All was not bleak with sales of the Silverado pickup up 9 percent for the brand’s best January since 2005. “GM is optimistic about the year ahead because the economy is strong and the company’s four brands are dramatically expanding their product offerings in fast-growing crossover segments,” the company said.

There was a bigger sales tumble at Fiat Chrysler due, the company said, to its policy of reducing lower profit fleet sales. So overall sales were off 11 percent and retail sales were flat compared to a year earlier. And once again demand was strong for Ram trucks and more customers took home Jeep Renegades, Grand Cherokees, and Wranglers.

Nissan said total sales also rose 6 percent and finished at a January record level of 112,319 units. Like so many others, demand was hot for crossovers, trucks and SUV’s with the Rogue setting a January record at 28,760 sales.

It was pretty much the same tune, different maker over at Audi. It said January sales increased 11 percent thanks to the Q3, Q5, and SUV’s. But it also said the A4 and A6 made volume gains. Audi said this represents the 73rd straight month of record sales in this country.

Kelley Blue Book said new car transaction prices rose more than 3 percent last month to $34,968. New car prices have increased 3.3 percent from January 2016.  “The changing mix of sales in favor of utility vehicles is the primary driver for the year-over-year strength, as average prices in SUV segments climbed modestly, while the prices of subcompact SUVs declined.  Demand for subcompact SUVs, one of the hottest segments in 2016, appears to be slowing down, although new models from Ford, Nissan and Toyota could help spark interest in the segment.” KBB said.

Fourth quarter sales rose 4 percent globally at Volvo, but were down 3 percent for all of 2016.








Auto News for Jan. 31 – Last Phantom


 Pictured this morning is the last Rolls-Royce Phantom produced at the factory in Goodwood, Sussex, Great Britain. The current model first appeared in 2003 with a V12 engine and what one writer called a ride quality that made cobbled streets feel like carpet. Demand was strong and it carried the noble and rich to destinations around the world. The final edition was commissioned by a Rolls-Royce collector and sports many custom features such as lamb’s wool carpets and the Spirit of Ecstasy statuette is made from solid silver. Rolls will produce a new model of the Phantom, but details have been shrouded in secrecy.

 GM and Honda is announced the establishment of the industry’s first joint venture to mass produce an advanced hydrogen fuel cell system to be used in future products from each company. It will operate within GM’s existing battery pack manufacturing facility in Michigan. Mass production of fuel cell systems is expected to begin around 2020 and create nearly 100 new jobs. The companies are making equal investments totaling $85 million in the joint venture. Fuel cell vehicles can operate on hydrogen made from renewable sources such as wind and biomass. Water vapor is the only emission from fuel cell vehicles.

 Times are tough for Mitsubishi. It has struggled over the years to make inroads in the U.S. market. Now the company has seen its quarterly profit fall by 81 percent, according to Automotive News. A good chunk of this was penalties related to the company’s admitted overstating of fuel economy in some vehicles sold in Japan. Sales were also flat in every world market except its homeland, Japan.

 McLaren Automotive has announced a strategic project to design and develop technology for the next generation of powertrains. Working with a number of partners including BMW Group, the project will develop new combustion technology that will deliver a higher output per capacity than currently possible. It also aims to further facilitate CO2 reductions while simultaneously increasing engine output. The technology is destined for application in future McLaren engines. 


Auto News for Jan. 30 – Diesels aside, VW is world’s best seller

  The best-selling vehicle brand in all the world? Volkswagen. That ended Toyota’s four year run at the top of the list. It sold 10.2 million vehicles around the globe, while VW sold 10.3 million last year. Yet, Automotive News points out that Toyota’s profit was more than double that of its German rival.


 Kia announced that its Super Bowl commercial for the Niro crossover starring Melissa McCarthy will debut Feb. 1 on Facebook Messenger. Check out NiroBot for Messenger. Now if they could just get Tom Brady to drive one on to the field.

 A J.D. Power analyst predicts that about 3-million vehicles will come off their leases this year and “with so many vehicles available in the used market, prices will take a hit.” Power’s vice president of vehicle analysis, Jonathan Banks, added, “In a nutshell, luxury car prices are taking a beating and losing a ton of value in their first three years of use.” This year’s estimated decline would leave wholesale used vehicle prices 9 percent below 2014’s all-time high, and 8 percent above 2007’s pre-recession level, he predicted.

 If it is snowing where you are and this has prompted planning for a nice summer vacation, then you should know that AAA has added 63 restaurants and 120 hotels to it Five Diamond Rating list. Details at:

HMMM, going to investigate this. Just noticed it is snowing outside the office.

 And a London driver received five years and three months in jail after being involved in a high speed accident that claimed the life of a pedestrian, a 21-year-old woman. Police reviewed footage from closed circuit cameras in the area of the Old Bailey but the key items of evidence came from the black box located inside the BMW that struck the woman.


2017 Hyundai Santa Fe – And That’s Only Part of the Name

2017 Santa Fe

Saturday Road Test

 Hyundai Santa Few LTD ULT AWD

 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. Look for Ron Amadon’s Roads here on WordPress – where you will find new vehicles first!

 POINT OF ROCKS, MD. – Wow, that is quite a name for this crossover yet it is also an indication of the long list of equipment that comes with it. And that is, after all, what put Hyundai on the map.

 LTD, of course, means Limited trim level and not a revival of the old Ford model line. ULT or Ultimate, is a level above the LTD that adds even more goodies such as a large sunroof, 19-inch wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated second row seats among other gear.

 Starting out on a bone chilling morning I can report to you that the heated driver’s seat was a most welcome addition. In just a short distance I lowered the heat level from three to one.

2017 Santa Fe

 With 292 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, the 3.3-liter V6 was more than up for cruising the interstates, as well as the steep hills and sharp curves on the back roads that surround this historic railroad town on the banks of the Potomac River. Of course, there was all-wheel drive along for the ride, but I really didn’t have much of an opportunity to try it out on what has been, thus far, a snowless winter in these parts.

 A six speed automatic was quick to respond to requests for power. The Santa Fe’s handling was on par with the competition and hushed was a good way to describe the interior noise level.

 Safety equipment abounded with the addition of a $2,100 “Ultimate Tech Package” that included Smart Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Land Departure Warning, and Electronic Parking Brake with auto hold.

 For 2017 Hyundai added an 8-inch touchscreen and a 360-degree camera – very handy when maneuvering in tight spots at night.

 Kudos also for the hands free liftgate, which once went by the name tailgate. The upscale model had captain’s chairs in the second row, so there was seating for six, but a bench is also available. Those seats easily folded down when cargo was the main concern.

 Total cargo hauling space works out to 80 cubic feet with all seats folded, but with all seats up there is only about 13.5 cubic feet. Total cargo space is a bit behind some competitors.

 The standard Infinity premium audio system cranked out some great sounds. A public radio station offered the Boston Pops playing “Deep in the Heart of Texas” reminding me that the Santa Fe was named “Full Size CUV of Texas” by auto writers in the Lone Star State.

 (Suddenly I was craving a bowl of chili.)

2017 Santa Fe

2017 Santa Fe

 The interior was a delight with excellent fit, finish, and materials. All controls were a short reach away, and the total effect was that of driving a very upscale vehicle. There was a USB outlet back in the third row, a relatively rare addition among most competitors.

 Add in Hyundai’s long warranty coverage, (10-year, 100,000 miles on the powertrain for instance), high level of standard equipment and refinement, and you have a very appealing CUV here. One that can more than hold its own in a highly competitive market.

 With $895 in delivery charges, and the above mentioned option package, the bottom line came to $44,295 for a loaded vehicle. A base SE model with front wheel drive starts at $30,800. Add all-wheel drive and that increases to $32,550.

 Some specs:

 3.3-liter V6

 290hp @ 6,400 rpm

 252 lb-ft of torque @ 5,200 rpm

 Economy wise, look for an EPA of 17 mpg city, 22 highway for a combined 19 mpg.

 Suspension – Front

 MacPherson strut with twin-tube gas filled damper and 26-mm outside diameter, hollow-type stabilizer bar with 5mm wall thickness. There will be a test on this later.

 Suspension – Rear

 Multi-link with gas shock absorber and (FWD 21 mm / AWD 19 mm) stabilizer bar

 Turning Circle – 36.9 ft.


 110.2 in.

 Overall length

 193.1 in.

 Overall width

 74.2 in.

 Overall height (with roof rack)

 66.5 in. (66.9 in.)

 Curb Weight 4,149 lbs.

 Towing Capacity 5,000 lbs.







Auto News for Jan. 27 – How Two Of The Big Three Are Doing

 Thanks to the Jeep brand and Ram trucks, Fiat Chrysler saw its net profit jump to $1.92 billion in 2015. That will mean profit sharing checks will be going out to its UAW union workers to the tune of $5,000 each.

 A pension accounting change caused Ford to report its first quarterly net loss in seven years. But take out one-time items, and that is what Wall Street does, and Ford reported earnings that fell one penny shy of most market forecasts. And for all of 2016, the automaker its second best pretax profit ever. Its UAW workers will receive checks averaging $9,000 in profit sharing.

 GM will check in with earnings in February.

2016 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class

 Mercedes-Maybach released specifications for the 2017 S600 and it should please those who want lots of power. Up front will be a 6.0-liter V12 biturbo rated at 523 hp @ 4,900 rpm to 5,300. Torque? Oh a tad. 612 lb-ft @ 1,900 rpm to 4,000 rpm. All that will be hitched to a 7 speed TRONIC automatic transmission.  Mercedes cites a 0-60 of just 4.5 seconds and a track top speed of 155 mph. Start saving now. MSRP is $191,300.

 J.D. Power predicts new vehicle sales will dip 2.0 percent this month compared to one year ago. Officials said the decline was not unexpected following impressive sales gains last December. “While this year will mark the first time that the industry has started off with a retail sales decline since 2010, the retail SAAR remains robust. The challenges for the industry remain maintaining profitability while coping with high inventory levels and elevated incentives, which continue to rise year over year,” said Deirdre Borrego, senior vice president of automotive data and analytics at J.D. Power. Trucks account for 63.3% of new-vehicle retail sales so far in January—the highest level ever for the month of January. Despite the slow start, Power predicts another record year for vehicle sales.

 Three winners of Green Car Journal’s Green Car Awards have been announced. Named 2017 Connected Green Car of the Year is the Mercedes-Benz C350e, with the 2017 Green SUV of the Year awarded to the BMW X5 xDrive40e and the 2017 Luxury Green Car of the Year to Acura’s new NSX.