Monday, December 26, 2011

2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid With 37 MPG Starts At $26,610

The 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid powered by a  2.4L Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder hybrid engine and equipped with standard Blue Link® telematics has an MSRP of $26,610 including the $760 frieght charge. The 2012 Sonata Hybrid delivers a 37 mpg combined city/highway rating from the EPA. Standard features include a 4.2-inch TFT multi-function trip computer with hybrid technology display, AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 with iPod®/USB & Aux input jacks, Integrated Bluetooth® with phonebook transfer and Hyundai Blue Link Telematics system.

Two optional packages
The Leather Package for $1,500 MSRP that has leather seating surfaces, heated front seats and rear seat bottom cushions, leather-wrapped steering wheel & shift knob and auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink® and compass. The Ultimate Package for $5,500 MSRP includes the Leather package contents plus panoramic sunroof with tilt & slide, 17-inch Eco-spoke alloy wheels with unique finish, navigation system with high-resolution touch-screen display, rear backup camera, Infinity® premium speakers, subwoofer and external amplifier (400-watt), HD Radio® Technology with multicasting, SiriusXM, NavTraffic, NavWeather and Sports & Stocks w/ 90-Day Trial, HVAC multi-mode button, Premium door sill plates, Glossy black door surround and outside mirror housing. Looks like a lot of car for the money not to mention the gas savings.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

KNX Radio "Live" From L.A. Auto Show: Sedan Introductions

Richard Saxton on KNX Radio with Business Hour host Frank Mottek discussing new sedan introductions at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The focus is on new vehicles from Cadillac, Hyundai, Lincoln, BMW and Porsche.

KNX Radio "Live" From L.A. Auto Show: Compact SUV Introductions

Richard Saxton on KNX Radio with Business Hour host Frank Mottek discussing the highly popular new compact SUVs coming in 2012 - Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape and Honda CR-V.


Friday, December 16, 2011

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 Goes On Sale This Spring

 The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL is almost 2 inches longer, 2.24 inches wider and 242 pounds lighter than its predecessor in an all-aluminum bodyshell with few components made from other materials. The designers used even lighter magnesium for the cover panel behind the fuel tank and roof. High-strength steel tubing is integrated into the A-pillars for added safety. The new V8 in the SL550 develops 429 horsepower from its displacement of 4663 cc, which is around 12 percent more than its predecessor despite some 0.8 liters less displacement. Fuel consumption has been reduced while at the same time the torque has increased from 391 lb-ft to 516 lb-ft, a gain of 32 percent. The SL550 takes just 4.5 seconds from 0 to 60 mph - eight tenths less than the previous SL550.

The sixth generation of the 60-year old SL model has a retractable hard top that can be operated using a space-saving electrohydraulic mechanism, converting the SL from coupe to roadster and back again in less than 20 seconds. In contrast to its predecessor, the new SL offers two versions of the retractable hard top - glass or the unique panoramic roof with MAGIC SKY CONTROL. The transparent roof switches between light and dark at the push of a button. In the light setting it is virtually transparent, offering an open-air experience even in cold weather. In its dark state the roof provides welcome shade and prevents the interior from heating up in bright sunlight. The frame of both versions is made from magnesium, reducing weight by around 13 pounds compared with the outgoing model, lowering the vehicle's center of gravity and delivering greater agility.

New Features
The FrontBass system which uses of the spaces in the aluminum structures forward of the footwell as resonating chambers for the woofers delivering clear, rich bass sounds even with the top down. The new layout has the added bonus of freeing up space in the doors and interior.

MAGIC VISION CONTROL is a new wipe/wash system which dispenses wash fluid just in front of the wiper blade via channels integrated into the blade - in both directions of travel. The result is no water splash on the windshield to disrupt driver visibility and a perfectly clean windshield. The water also stays on the windshield, with no risk of overspray into the passenger cabin when the roof is down. A fully heated wiper blade is included as standard equipment, preventing the build-up of snow and ice on the blade in winter. This heating function also allows warm water to be applied directly onto the windshield for the first time, even in cold temperatures.
The HANDS-FREE ACCESS system allows hands-free operation of the trunk lid by the driver simply moving their foot in the vicinity below the rear bumper.

The 2013 SL550 will make its global debut at the 2012 North American International Auto Show and goes on-sale in the U.S. this spring.

Stephen Cannon - New President & CEO for Mercedes-Benz USA

Stephen Cannon, 50, is the new president and CEO for Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) effective January 1, 2012.  He replaces Ernst Lieb who left the company in October.  The announcement was made by Dr. Joachim Schmidt, executive vice president of sales & marketing for Mercedes-Benz Cars in Stuttgart, Germany, to whom Cannon will report. Cannon will have overall responsibility for the Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, Sprinter and smart brands in the United States.  He will lead MBUSA's more than 1,700 employees and 356 dealers throughout the U.S.

Cannon's most recent post was vice president of marketing for MBUSA with overall responsibility for marketing communications, market research and product management of the Mercedes-Benz and Maybach brands in the U.S. Cannon began his automotive career in 1991 as executive assistant to the president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz of North America (predecessor to MBUSA).  From there, Cannon moved to Stuttgart and joined a small team tasked with the development, manufacturing and launch of the M-Class, the first Mercedes-Benz SUV ever made in and for this market.  

North American Car & Truck of the Year Finalists Announced

The Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Passat are the three finalists for the 2012 North American Car of the Year chosen from 17 vehicles: Audi A6 & A7, Buick Verano, Chevrolet Sonic, Chrysler 300/SRT-8, Fiat 500, Ford Focus, Hyundai Accent, Elantra & Veloster, Kia Rio/Rio 5, Scion iQ, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Camry & Prius V, VW Beetle & Passat.

Finalists for the 2012 North American Truck of the Year are the BMW X3, the Honda CR-V and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. Others considered were Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Mini Countryman, Nissan Quest and Saab 9-4X.

The Audi A7 won the first-ever Motor Press Guild Car of the Year so we'll see if that's a predictor. Last year the 2011 North American Car of the Year was the Chevrolet Volt and the 2011 North American Truck of the Year was the Ford Explorer.

The winners will be announced in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show on January 9th, 2012.

Monday, December 12, 2011

2013 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe Goes On Sale This Summer

The 2013 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe is a new 4-door addition to the 6 Series line with 4+1 seating offered in three models in the US. The 315 horsepower TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter 6-cylinder powered 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe is the initial model arriving early this summer. Later in the summer, the 445 horsepower TwinPower Turbo 4.4-liter V-8 powered 2013 BMW 650i Gran Coupe and the all-wheel drive 2013 BMW 650i xDrive Gran Coupe will go on sale. All with the 8-speed Sport Automatic transmission. The Gran Coupe is 4.4 inches longer than its 2-door coupe sibling to enhance seating comfort for the rear passengers.

The BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe features the BMW ConnectedDrive driver assistance systems and mobility services. Also available is the rear-view camera, Surround View, Parking Assistant, BMW Night Vision with pedestrian recognition, Lane Departure Warning System and Active Blind Spot Detection. The standard BMW iDrive control system is the operating portal for the navigation, communications and infotainment functions. The high definition, trans-reflective technology Control Display is centrally mounted high on the dash and emulates a freestanding flatscreen. There is the optional Bang & Olufsen High-End Surround Sound System.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November 2011 U.S. Auto Sales

General Motors reported total sales of 180,402 vehicles in November, up 6.9 percent compared with November 2010 and year-to-date sales are 2,269,469, a 14.7 percent increase over 2010.

Ford Motor Company's November U.S. total sales were 166,865, up 13 percent over November 2010. Year-to-date Ford sales are 1,938,666, up 11.1 percent vs. a year ago. 

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., reported November sales of 137,960, up 6.7 percent over the year-ago month. Year-to-date Toyota sales are 1,384,558, a decline of 20.5 percent from 2010.

Chrysler reported U.S. sales of 107,172, a 45 percent increase compared with sales in November 2010 and year-to-date sales are 1,231,095, up 25 percent from last year.

Nissan North America reported record November U.S. sales of 85,182, an increase of 19.4 percent. Year-to-date sales are 941,607, a gain of 15.6 percent over 2010.

American Honda posted November sales of 83,925, a decrease of 10.1 percent. American Honda year-to-date sales reached 1,042,055, down 5.7 percent versus last year.

Hyundai Motor America November sales of 49,610 was a 22 percent increase compared with the same record-setting period a year ago. Year to date, Hyundai sales are 594,926, up 21 percent versus 2010 in total.

Kia Motors America announced best-ever November sales of 37,007, a 39.1 percent increase over the same period last year and year-to-date sales are 442,102, up 35.7 percent. 

Volkswagen of America reported November sales of 28,412, a 40.7 percent increase over prior year sales.  Year-to-date sales are 291,899, up 25.3 percent over 2010. Audi reported 9,700 vehicles sold in November 2011, a 3.6 percent increase over the previous all-time record set a year earlier. Year-to-date sales of 104,906 was a gain of 15.2 percent, topping the previous annual U.S. sales record of 101,629 set at the end of last year.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported November sales of 28,255 vehicles, a 55.2 percent improvement over November 2010 for their highest November volume on record.  On a year-to-date basis, the 236,415 vehicles sold represent a 20.4 percent increase over the same period last year. 

The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported November sales of 26,271 vehicles, an increase of 14.8percent from same month a year ago.  Year-to-date, BMW Group sales are 272,873, up 14.6 percent in the first eleven months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.

Mazda North American Operations reported November U.S. sales of 18,432, an increase of 20.4 percent versus last year. Year-to-date sales through November are 228,073, up 9.6 percent versus last year.    

Subaru of America reported November sales of 17,657, a drop of 15 percent from November 2010 and year-to-date sales of 233,288, a 1.6 percent decline compared to the same 11 months last year.

Jaguar sold 915 cars in November, an 18 percent drop from 2010 and year-to-date Jag has sold 11,139, an 8 percent drop. Land Rover November sales were 3,820, a 31 percent jump over the same month a year ago and for the 11 months of 2011 Land Rover sales are 33,356, an increase of 18 percent. Combined, JLR sales were 4,735 in November, up 17 percent and for the year 44,495, a 10 percent gain.

Mitsubishi Motors North America reported November 2011 sales of 3,735, down 13 percent from November 2010.  Sales of Mitsubishi vehicles for calendar-year-to-date 2011 are at 73,988, a 45.6 percent increase over 2010.

Porsche Cars North America announced November 2011 sales of 2,255 vehicles and year-to-date sales of 27,189, a 19 percent increase from 2010.

American Suzuki sold 2,332 vehicles in November, down 22 percent from a year ago while year-to-date sales are 24,053, a 13 percent gain over 2010. 

Sales will be updated as manufacturers report.

SUBARU BRZ Becomes a Production Reality

Shown as a concept at the Los Angeles Auto two weeks ago with expectation of becoming a production vehicle, the SUBARU BRZ rear-wheel drive sports car featuring the Horizontally-Opposed Boxer engine, made its world premiere at the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show 2011 as anticipated. It was developed as a joint-project between Subaru and Toyota, as a sports car with superior steering response and driving pleasure that everyone can experience. The Subaru Boxer engine in the BRZ was positioned even lower than other Subaru models so that the BRZ has one of the lowest possible centers of gravity on a light-weight chassis for handling character.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ford's Mark Fields Says MyFordTouch Customers To Get Upgrade

Ford cars saw their J.D. Power & Associates satisfaction ranking fall from 5th to 23rd this year due to customer unhappiness with the user interface for the vehicle telematics. Mark Fields, President of the Americas for Ford Motor Company says upgrades are coming. In another J.D. Power survey, Chrysler, Hyundai and Acura vehicles' navigation systems rank in the top 5 for customer usage satisfaction.

Monday, November 28, 2011

John Maloney is the new President of Volvo Cars of North America

John Maloney is the new President of Volvo Cars of North America stepping into the role left vacant by Doug Speck who moved to Sweden June 1st as Senior Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service at Volvo Car Corporation. Maloney brings close to 30 years of automotive experience with him, most recently coming from a position as Vice President, Marketing and Product Planning at Volvo Cars North America.

John Maloney joined Volvo Cars of North America in 2000, arriving from Ford Motor Company. He became Vice President Marketing Communications in 2002 and in 2008 Product Planning was added to his responsibilities. He has been acting President of Volvo Cars of North America since May this year and he replaces Doug Speck who has been appointed Senior Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Customer Service at Volvo Car Corporation.

Timothy Kuniskis Head of the Fiat Brand for North America

Chrysler named Timothy Kuniskis Head of the Fiat Brand for North America replacing Laura Soave who has left the Company and will pursue other interests.  Kuniskis most recently served as Director for both the Chrysler Brand and Fiat Brand Product Marketing.  In his new role, Kuniskis is responsible for the Fiat Brand in North America which includes leadership for Fiat Brand sales, marketing, dealer network and service.  Kuniskis joined Chrysler in 1992 and since then has held a series of increasingly responsible positions in the Company's business center operations and marketing organization. He will continue the reintroduction of the brand including its newest vehicle the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth.

The new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, with its all-new 1.4-liter MultiAir® Turbo engine and designed for track-day enthusiasts and driving purists who want a high-performance small car was introduced at the L.A. Auto Show a few weeks ago.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2012 Audi A7 Selected As Motor Press Guild Vehicle of the Year

The 2012 Audi A7 is the winner of the first-ever Motor Press Guild Vehicle of the Year award. The 2012 Audi A7 was one of five finalists chosen over a two-month period by a select panel of MPG journalist members who test and review cars on a regular basis. The final five vehicles were evaluated and ranked by the entire journalist membership. Vehicles were rated in the categories of Safety, Quality, Value, Performance/Handling, Design/Style, Environmental/Green Impact and Technology/Innovation. In addition, journalists were encouraged to consider models that reflect the unique style of Southern California. Vehicles were required to be all-new or substantially changed from the previous year's model and available at dealerships on or before Jan. 1, 2012. Other finalists were (in alphabetical order): the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, 2012 Fiat 500, 2012 Ford Focus and the 2011 Hyundai Elantra.

The Audi A7 with an MSRP of $60,125 is about the same price as the other four finalists combined, which I believe gave it an unfair advantage. Though the A7 is a fine vehicle, the other finalists are a lot of car for the money.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

BMW i8 & BMW 6 Series Convertible In Mission Impossible 4 Movie

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
BMW Vision EfficientDynamics, the concept car for the forthcoming BMW i8 and the BMW 6 Series Convertible will be featured in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol which opens worldwide on Dec. 21, 2011. The movie plot: The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name.

BMW has a national branded advertising campaign dubbed "Mission to Drive" kicking-off  today via broadcast, print, online and in-dealer activations which includes a limited time "self-destructing" sales offer running now through January 2, that will also offer more than 200 special screenings of the film for BMW customers and a contest that will award an all-expense paid trip to the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol U.S. premiere.

2013 Ford Flex To Debut At the Los Angeles Auto Show Next Week

The 2013 Ford Flex gets upgraded with a new look, more technology and new engine. The newest Flex seven-passenger, three-row crossover debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week with the new generation of MyFord Touch, rear inflatable belts, collision-avoidance technologies, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry, first-row heated and cooled seats, power-fold mirrors and an optional new Appearance Package. The new 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine provides 285 horsepower, approximately 20 more horsepower than the previous engine, with 255 lb.-ft. of torque and projected fuel economy of 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. The 355 horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost® V6 engine remains on the new Flex. Inside the Flex, there are new clusters, steering wheel and electronic finish panels, as well as new seat trim and foam and an available second-row refrigerated console and the latest generation of MyFord Touch with SYNC.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Steve Shannon, Vice President, Marketing, Hyundai Motor America

Steve Shannon, Vice President, Marketing, Hyundai Motor America is responsible for all marketing activities in the United States. Prior to joining Hyundai Shannon held a number of posts at General Motors in the U.S. and Europe in marketing and other areas. Shannon graduated from Harvard College with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters of Business Administration in Marketing from Columbia University. Shannon discusses Hyundai's success and supply challenges.

Chris Perry, General Motors Vice President U.S. Marketing On SEMA

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October 2011 U.S. Auto Sales

General Motors reported total sales of 186,895 vehicles in October, up 2 percent compared with October 2010. Year-to-date GM has sold 2,089,067 vehicles, a gain of 15.4 percent over 2010.

Ford Motor Company’s October U.S. sales of 167,803 vehicles increased 6 percent versus last year and year-to-date sales are 1,771,801, up 10.9 percent over 2010.
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. reported October sales of 134,046, a decrease of 7.8 percent from the year-ago month. Year-to-date Toyota sales are 1,328,570, an 8.8 percent drop from last year.

Chrysler Group LLC reported U.S. sales of 114,512, a 27 percent increase compared with sales in October 2010 and the best October sales since 2007. Year-to-date, Chrysler sales are 1,123,923, a 23 percent rise over 2010.

American Honda posted October sales of 98,333 vehicles, down half a percent from October 2010 and year-to-date sales reached 958,130, a drop of 5.3 percent versus last year.

Nissan North America reported October U.S. sales of 82,346, an increase of 18 percent.  Year-to-date sales of 856,425 is a gain of 15.2 percent over 2010.

Hyundai Motor America sales of 52,402 vehicles in October is a 23 percent total sales increase compared with the same period a year ago. Year to date, Hyundai sales are 545,316, up 21 percent versus 2010.

Kia Motors America announced best-ever October sales of 37,690 units, a 21-percent increase over the same period last year and the company's 14th straight monthly sales record. KMA's year-to-date sales are 405,095, up 35 percent, and the brand has eclipsed the 400,000 vehicle sales mark for the first time in company history.

Volkswagen of America reported 28,028 units sold in October 2011, a 39.6 percent increase over prior year sales.  Year-to-date sales are 263,487, up 23.8 percent. Separately, Audi of America reported record October U.S. sales of 10,225 vehicles. Audi U.S. year-to-date sales of 95,206, is an increase of 16.5 percent over last year.

The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported October sales of 27,288 vehicles, an increase of 17.5 percent from the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, BMW Group sales are 246,602, up 14.6 percent in the first ten months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported October sales of 24,449 vehicles, a 28.2 percent improvement over October 2010 and the company's highest October volume on record.  On a year-to-date basis, the 206,632 vehicles sold represent a 12 percent increase over the same period last year. 

Subaru of America October 2011 sales of 20,081, a drop of 11.6 percent and year-to-date sales of 216,334, a decline of .32 percent.

Mazda North American Operations reported its best October sales in the U.S. since 2007, with 18,326 vehicles representing an increase of 1.7 percent versus October 2010. Year-to-date sales through October are 209,641, up 8.7 percent versus last year.

Volvo Cars North America sold 4,899 vehicles in October, a gain of 22.6 percent from October 2010. Year-to-date Volvo has sales of 45,114, an increase of 26.5 percent over last year.

Jaguar sold 909 cars in October, a 29.8 percent decline from a year ago and year-to-date sales are at   10,224, a 7.4 percent drop from 2010. Land Rover October sales of 3,886, a jump of 31.4 percent from last year while year-to-date sales are 29,536, a 17 percent increase.

Mitsubishi Motors North America reported October 2011 sales of 4,378 units, down 14 percent from October 2010.  Mitsubishi's year-to-date sales are 70,253, 51.1 percent ahead of January through October sales last year. This marks Mitsubishi's highest sales total since 2008 for the first ten months of the year.

Porsche Cars North America announced October 2011 sales of 2,270 vehicles, a decrease of 14 percent compared to the same period last year. To date in 2011, sales are 24,934, up 23 percent compared to the same ten-month period last year.

American Suzuki sold 1,947 vehicles in October, a 5 percent drop from October 2010 and year-to-date has sold 22,231, a 17 percent gain.

Sales will be updated as manufacturers report.

SEMA: 2013 Lexus GS350 F Sport Unveiled - Hits Showrooms in February

As with the GS 350, the GS 350 with F SPORT package is powered by a 306 horsepower 3.5-liter V6, with four cams, and four valves per cylinder and dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence with a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. The GS 350 with F SPORT package will offer an optional Lexus Dynamic Handling system with Dynamic Rear Steering.

It's clear that Lexus is targeting the GS350 F Sport at the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E Class buyer. It hits showrooms in February so we should get pricing in two weeks at the L.A. Auto Show or in early January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

SEMA: General Motors Shows Chevy Sonic & Camaro Concepts

The COPO Camaro concept is designed to the specifications for NHRA Stock Eliminator drag racing competition with two engine options, including a naturally aspirated 427 engine (7.0L) – the same displacement as the original COPO Camaros from 1969 – and a supercharged 327 (5.3L) engine. Among the many racing-specific features and equipment is a conversion from the Camaro’s standard independent rear axle to a solid axle, as well as a full chrome moly roll cage.
Chevrolet and Hot Wheels® created a life-size Hot Wheels Camaro Concept, a collaborative effort between the General Motors Design studio in Michigan and the Hot Wheels Design studio in California. Under the hood is the all-aluminum 6.2L LS3 V-8 backed by the Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission. 
The Chevrolet Sonic Boom was a collaboration with Kicker on the concept audio system, influenced by the design of jet engines, which features a pair of 15-inch subwoofers and 10 six-inch mid-range speakers. The concept Kicker system delivers 4,000 total Watts of power. Along with the high-performance sound system, the rest of the interior of the Sonic Boom is fully customized, with performance seats, a racing-inspired flat-bottom steering wheel, the Chevrolet Accessories Z-Spec sport pedal kit and unique trim.


Chevrolet turned to long-time racing partner Pratt & Miller to construct the Sonic Super 4 concept which features a suspension modified for racing and a lower restriction intake and exhaust system to provide enhanced on-track performance. The interior features a chrome moly roll cage built to SCCA specifications. It also wears Chevrolet Z-Spec concept accessories, including ground effects and a high-wing spoiler. The exterior has an Anodized Sonic Boom Red paint scheme and concept Z-Spec parts, including the ground effects, grille and rear spoiler, along with 19-inch wheels.
The Ricky Carmichael Concept All Activity Vehicle was inspired by the 15-time American Motorcycle Association (AMA) champion, three-time X-Games gold medalist and NASCAR racer and is equipped for those adventures, with the storage capacity for his biking and wakeboard equipment. Also a THULE Roof Rack with an S-Works mountain bike and Hyperlite wakeboard, splash guards, custom wheels, special exterior graphics, as well as concept Z-Spec ground effects, Z-Spec grille and Z-Spec spoiler. From a performance standpoint, this Sonic breathes through a Borla exhaust system and stops more authoritatively with Brembo brakes. Under the hood is the production 1.4L turbocharged engine and six-speed manual transmission.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Consumer Reports 2011 Annual Reliability Auto Survey

Asian Brands Dominate Consumer Reports 2011 Annual Reliability Auto Survey
Japanese brands continue to dominate Consumer Reports survey taking the top nine spots, led by Scion, Lexus, Acura, Mazda, Honda, and Toyota. Of the 91 Japanese models for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data, 87 vehicles or 96 percent were rated average or better in predicted reliability. 24 Japanese models earned the highest rating.

The biggest improvement was from Mazda, which moved up eight spots from last year. All its models were rated above average. Scion remains the top brand in Consumer Reports survey, but only two models of its three, the xB and xD, had sufficient data to be included. Lexus, with 11 models included, rebounded seven places from last year.

Toyota finished sixth overall, the same as last year, and every Toyota model except the all-wheel-drive version of the Sienna minivan was average or better. Many hybrids are proving extremely reliable. The top two models in our survey are the Lexus CT 200h and Honda CR-Z. The Toyota Prius was among the top models, rebounding from brake problems that plagued the current design. Honda also had just one below-average vehicle, the redesigned Odyssey minivan.

The South Korean brands rank 11th and 12th in Consumer Reports' survey. Hyundai had just one below-par entry, the V6 Santa Fe. The V6 version of its corporate cousin, the Kia Sorento, also finished below average.

Domestic Brands Led by Chrysler
Even with Chrysler's improvement, Detroit models still have reliability problems. Of the 97 domestic models and versions for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data, 62 or 64 percent rated average or better in Consumer Reports's new-car reliability ratings.

Chrysler had better results with its new models, including the freshened Chrysler 200 (formerly Sebring) sedan and the redesigned Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. Chrysler's Jeep brand moved up seven spots to 13, becoming the most reliable domestic brand, and all its models for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data scored average in predicted reliability. The Chrysler brand moved up 12 but its rank is based on just two models: the 200, which was well above average, and the freshened Town & Country minivan, which tanked. and the Dodge brand gained three spots in the rankings. The remaining model, the 300, is too new for Consumer Reports to have sufficient data.

General Motors stumbled after edging up last year with Buick and Cadillac brands, in particular, taking a step backward while Chevrolet held steady and GMC dropped one spot. The new Buick Regal and Chevrolet Cruze were below par in reliability. The Buick LaCrosse, an all-wheel-drive version of the Buick Enclave, and the Cadillac SRX were all deemed reliable last year but dropped to below average and are no longer recommended.

General Motors' bright spots include the above-average Chevrolet Avalanche and the Cadillac CTS, which has improved to average. The gas/electric Chevrolet Volt, with much better than average predicted reliability, ranks as GM's most reliable car but with a caveat: The sample size was just a little more than Consumer Reports' minimum threshold of 100 cars, and most respondents had owned theirs for only a few months.

The new Ford Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus all had below-average reliability in their first year, according to Consumer Reports pushing Ford's rank to 20th out of 28 car makes, down from it's 10th ranking last year, the biggest drop for any major nameplate in Consumer Reports 2011 Annual Auto Survey. Ford's drop can also be attributed to problems with the new  MyFord Touch infotainment system and the new automated-manual transmission used in the Fiesta and Focus. Lincoln finished above Ford, although the freshened MKX, a cousin of the Edge, suffered from the MyLincoln Touch system. Heavy-duty, three-quarter-ton pickups are among the most problematic vehicles, with the exception of the turbo-diesel Ford F-250, they all scored below average. On the bright side, the Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan remained outstanding, and other Fusion versions were above average.

Volvo Leads European Brands
Overall, European vehicles' reliability is slightly below that of domestic models. Of the 58 European models for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data, 37 vehicles or 64 percent scored average or better in predicted reliability.

Volvo ranked the highest at 10th overall, helped by the redesigned S60, which was above average in its first year. Volkswagen was able to hold on to 16th place in the ranking with seven of its 11 models scored average or better.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW improved, but results were inconsistent for their various models. BMW's redesigned X3 SUV did well, for example, but the redesigned 5 Series sedan was well below average. Mercedes' compact GLK SUV improved, but its flagship S-Class luxury sedan fell to below average.

Jaguar, Porsche, and Audi are at the bottom among brands for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data. Porsche dropped from being the second-best brand last year to the second-worst. That big shift occurred because Consumer Reports has data for only two models, one of which, the redesigned Cayenne SUV, had a terrible debut year. Jaguar trails the pack as its XF and the new XJ were the two least reliable new cars in the survey.

Findings are based on responses on 1.3 million vehicles owned or leased by subscribers to Consumer Reports or its Website, The survey was conducted in the spring of 2011 by Consumer Reports' National Survey Research Center and covered model years 2002 to 2011.

The above article was taken information provided to the public by Consumer Reports. For more detailed information subscribe to Consumer Reports.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2012 Range Rover Evoque: Motor Trend 2012 Sport/Utility of the Year

The all-new 2012 Range Rover Evoque has been named 2012 Sport/Utility of the Year by Motor Trend. Candidates for the award are then evaluated under six criteria – advancement in design, engineering excellence, efficiency, safety, value, and performance of intended function – to determine the one model that performs best for its intended purpose and to Motor Trend's highest standards.

"The Range Rover Evoque is a bold move into the fast-growing compact luxury SUV sector," said Angus MacKenzie, Editor-in-Chief, Motor Trend.  "Refined and capable both on and off the road, it artfully combines traditional Range Rover values with stunning state-of-the-moment design and impressive efficiency. The Evoque is a worthy winner of our award, and I have no doubt it will be a worldwide hit for Land Rover."

The all-wheel-drive Range Rover Evoque has a 240-horsepower, turbocharged, direct fuel injected, four-cylinder engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission and will be available in two versions: a coupe and a five-door, with starting prices of $44,995 and $43,995, respectively for the Prestige Premium editions. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2012 BMW 3 Series Sedan Arrives In US Showrooms In February 2012

The sixth generation BMW 3 Series Sedan has grown in size compared to its predecessor measuring 1.46 inches wider in the front and 1.85 inches wider in the rear and 3.66 inches longer overall sitting on a 2 inch longer wheelbase of 110.6 inches. The BMW 3 Series has three trim levels or an M Sport Package: the Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line and two engine choices which both feature new BMW TwinPower Turbo technology: a 300 horsepower 3.0 liter 6-cylinder engine powering the 335i or the new turbocharged 240 horsepower 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine in the BMW 328i. Both mated to either the standard 6-speed manual transmission or 8-speed automatic transmission which includes the new Auto Start-Stop function.

The driver can choose Comfort, Sport, Sport + and ECO PRO modes to maximize fuel economy through their driving style. Other available features include: the latest-generation full-color Head-Up Display,  Surround View with Side View and Top View, Parking Assistant to help the driver to parallel park, an Active Blind Spot Detection System and Lane Departure Warning System with camera-based Collision Warning system. The sports sedan is equipped as standard with front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger, plus head airbags for both rows of seats.

The sixth generation BMW 3 Series rear-wheel-drive sedan arrives in US showrooms in February 2012 as a 2012 model. The BMW 335i xDrive and BMW 328i xDrive, all-wheel-drive models will go on sale in summer 2012. In the Fall of 2012, the BMW 3 Series ActiveHybrid 3 joins the fleet with the combination of the 300 horsepower inline 6-cylinder engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and a hybrid-specific eight-speed automatic transmission with integrated electric motor which for limited periods can increase power by up to 55 horsepower. Maximum combined output is 335 horsepower.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Goes On Sale

 The all-new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle arrived for 276 lucky fans of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” who learned they were receiving cars on November 22, 2010 during one of the show’s two “Ultimate Favorite Things” giveaways last year. They take home the all-new 2.5L 6-speed automatic Beetle in Denim Blue, Reflex Silver Metallic, Saturn Yellow or Tornado Red.

Redesigned for the second time in history, the all-new Beetle is lower, wider and longer with optional Bluetooth® technology, iPod® connectivity and the Fender® Premium Audio System. The 2012 Beetle vehicles are available now with the 2.5L five cylinder engine, which has a starting MSRP of $18,995, and the 2.0L TSI® Turbo engine with a starting MSRP of $23,395. The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle also went on sale today.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Limited Bijan Edition Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe

Bijan Pakzad died of a stroke at age 67 in April of this year but the fashion icon's legacy for expensive fine automobiles to lure customers into his posh Bijan store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills lives on. Bijan's collaboration with Rolls-Royce started 11 months ago before his untimely death and at that November 2010 announcement, Bijan said that 30 globally powerful customers will be receiving a Rolls-Royce with varying Bijan-influenced design and color fashion statements.

Last Thursday night's gala at Bijan's famed location that ignited Rodeo Drive's high fashion fame in 1976, was as much a tribute to the man as it was celebration of the unveiling of the first Limited Bijan Edition Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe for a customer with the initials MMB. According to Rolls-Royce North America President David Archibald, there are 31 elements in this all-yellow edition that were requested by Bijan as part of the British automakers "Bespoke" program to  personalize these fine cars. A typical Rolls-Royce Phantom starts at $450,000 so one would expect this line of customized ones to cost much more. Archibald said that this is the second one to be delivered to Bijan, with another in production and two others on order.

Rolls-Royce sold over 2,700 cars in 2010 through its 85 dealers globally and sold more than 800 in the U.S. last year from its 32 dealerships. Though not disclosed, those numbers are expected to be exceeded in 2011. Rolls-Royce has two vehicle lines, the Phantom and the Ghost, that each have variations such as a long wheelbase version or as is the case with this Phantom, a 2-door coupe. Like all Rolls-Royces, this Bijan edition was built at the Goodwood factory in England and is powered by a 453 horsepower 6.75 liter V12 engine developed at BMW's Munich engine plant.

The festivities around this introduction, like the car itself, were first class with gorgeous models serving food delicacies and champagne. Put Bijan on Rodeo Drive on your "must see" list when in Beverly Hills.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mark Reuss On The New General Motors Mindset

Mark Reuss, President of General Motors North America Comes to L.A.

Mark Reuss, President of General Motors North America, is spending a few days in the Los Angeles area discussing how GM’s post-bankruptcy mindset has changed and how the company will revitalize their California dealers to improve the customer experience. Reuss spoke to a group journalists at a breakfast meeting and covered everything from marketing to products. He began by bragging about his recent 170 mile per hour experience behind the wheel of a Camaro LZ1 at Germany’s famed Nurburgring racetrack where the car recorded a sub-eight minute lap. 

The new Chevrolet Camaro LZ1 and sub-compact Spark will be shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in mid-November. Reuss says that Chevy is becoming the brand that has everything and is the only top 5 global brand to have seen growth this year, with much of that due to sales of the Cruze over the past five months. For the balance of 2011, Reuss said watch for the Cruze ECO delivering 42 mpg, the 40 mpg Sonic which just starting selling last month and the Malibu ECO coming in December. In addition to the Spark mini-car hitting dealers in 2012, there will be all-new Impala giving Chevy an entry in all five car segments. He also hinted that an all-new Corvette is coming and to stayed tuned for new truck announcements.

On the demographic front, Reuss says the Millennials, the under 30 age group, will make up 40 percent of the car market next year and to help capture that buyer is working with a buddy of his at MTV to understand that crowd.

Reuss mentioned that Buick has the Verano coming and Cadillac the XTS and ATS. He expects the Cadillac ELR, which was the Converj concept car, to have the same showroom draw as the Volt does for Chevy, saying that most people can’t afford the Volt so buy a Cruze. He says Cadillac will soon announce CUE, the Cadillac User Experience infotainment electronics package.

Getting to the real mission at General Motors, Reuss admits there are still big brand and customer care deficits to overcome. He has spent the past two weeks working on customer services and quality is a daily event that everyone is working on. The mindset of “how do we save money is no more”, says Reuss, they are aimed at being a “revenue generating customer-centric company”. The “Mr. Goodwrench” name is gone and won’t return says Reuss, it’s now Certified Service and “we’re going to treat people right.”

There is a big push at General Motors to revitalize the West Coast dealer facilities, then it’ll be on to the “next coast”. Reuss believes that they have the “right products to begin to take back market share. California dreaming is becoming a reality.” In the next two days, he is making the rounds to dealers, media outlets and even the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce to spread the GM word.

On powertrains, Reuss says the E-assist improves fuel economy by 25 percent and with regards to GM bringing diesel to the U.S., he says the “turbo-diesel Cruze is the best version” and they're working on bringing it here.

GM's RelayRides project announced today will be a car sharing service using private vehicles to be launched in California, but Reuss was not sure how all the logistics will work. 

Today's breakfast speech by Reuss was a very informative, frank and honest insight into General Motors, a company that us taxpayers have an equity interest in seeing succeed.

On a personal note, Reuss told me privately that his 76 year old father, Lloyd, a former General Motors president, who I interviewed 20 years ago, had a bad spill last January so we wish him a speedy and full recovery.

Monday, October 3, 2011

September 2011 U.S. Auto Sales

General Motors reported total sales of 207,145 vehicles in September, a 20 percent increase compared with September 2010. Year-to-date GM sales are 1,353,943, an increase of 15.2 percent over 2010.
Ford’s September sales totaled 175,199, up 9 percent versus last year. Year-to-date Ford sales are 1,603,998, up 11.4 percent from last year.

Chrysler Group LLC reported U.S. sales of 127,334, a 27 percent increase compared with sales in September 2010 making it the best September sales since 2007. Year-to-date Chrysler has sold 1,009,411 vehicles, a gain of 23 percent over 2010.

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. reported September sales of 121,451, down 17.5 percent over the year-ago month. Through the third quarter, TMS reported sales of 1,194,524 vehicles, a decrease of 9.3 percent compared to the same period in 2010.

Nissan North America reported September U.S. sales of 92,964, an increase of 25.3 percent. Year-to-date sales for Nissan and Infiniti is 513,809, a 14.9 percent rise over 2010.

American Honda posted September sales of 89,532 vehicles, a decrease of 8.0 percent. American Honda year-to-date sales reached 859,797, down 6.2 percent versus last year.

Hyundai Motor America announced sales of 52,051 vehicles in September, a 12 percent total sales increase compared with the same period a year ago. Year-to-date sales are 367,405, up 37.1 percent.

Kia Motors America announced best-ever September sales of 35,609 units, a 18.4 percent increase over the same period last year. Year-to-date sales are 367,405, up 37.1 percent.

Volkswagen of America reported sales of 27,036 in September 2011, a 35.6 percent increase over prior year sales. Year-to-date sales are 235,459. up 22.2 percent. Separately, Audi of America reported record September U.S. sales of 9,725 vehicles, topping the previous record of 2010. Audi U.S. year-to-date sales date grew 15.5 percent to 84,981.

The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported September sales of 25,749 vehicles, an increase of 11.4 percent versus the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, BMW Group sales are up 14.2 percent to 219,314 in the first nine months of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.

Mazda North American Operations reported September, 2011 sales of 25,521 vehicles, up 37.4 percent versus September, 2010. Through the end of September, 2011 year-to-date sales are up 9.5 percent versus last year with 191,315 vehicles sold.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported September sales of 23,897 vehicles, a 15.6 percent improvement over September 2010 and the company's highest September volume on record.  On a year-to-date basis, the 182,314 vehicles sold represent a 10.3 percent increase over the same period last year.

Subaru of America announced September 2011 sales of 20,934, a drop of 2.3 percent and sales of 195,550 year-to-date, a one percent rise over 2010.

Mitsubishi Motors North America September 2011 sales of 5,803, a 17 percent increase over the September 2010 sales figures.

Porsche Cars North America announced September 2011 sales of 2,170 vehicles, an increase of 10 percent compared to the same period last year. To date in 2011, Porsche has sold 22,664 cars, up 28 percent.

American Suzuki sold 2,026 cars in September, a 23 percent rise over last year and year-to-date sales are at 20,284, a 20 percent increase.

Post will be updated as manufacturers report.

Monday, September 26, 2011

2012 Kia Rio 5-door Starts At $14,350 This Fall

The all-new and completely redesigned 2012 Kia Rio 5-door subcompact hatchback starts with an MSRP of $13,600 (plus $750 destination and handling fee) and the Rio 5-door A/T starts at $14,700 – both lower than the previous generation.  The top-of-the-line, SX trim starts under $18,000. The Rio comes equipped with a 138 horsepower 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine with the option of either a six-speed manual transmission (LX only) or efficient six-speed automatic with a fuel economy rating of 30 mpg city/40 mpg highway.

The 2012 Rio also comes better equipped than the previous generation, offering standard air conditioning, electric power steering, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB and auxiliary ports, SiriusXM™ satellite radio with three months complimentary service, and standard safety features including Electronic Stability Control, a four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System, Hill-start Assist Control and Vehicle Stability Management. The SX offers 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamp and tail light accents, a sport-tuned suspension with larger front brakes, projection headlamps, twin chrome exhaust tips, fog lamps, as well as standard UVO powered by Microsoft® voice-activated infotainment system (expected to be available this fall) with a 4.3-inch color touch screen and rear camera display. At the beginning of 2012, the all-new Rio will offer ISG technology which helps to improve fuel economy by turning the engine off when the vehicle is not in motion, such as at a stop light or in traffic, and automatically restarting when the driver releases the brake pedal.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Land Rover DC100 Concepts Shown At Frankfurt Auto Show

Land Rover unveiled two new concepts for the Land Rover Defender, the DC100 and DC100 Sport, which are on the same shared 100-inch wheelbase and intended for production in 2015. Features include a Terrain-i scanning device to warn of obstacles when off-road, Wade Aid sonar technology to assess water depth and Land Rover Terrain Response System, which automatically optimizes the car for any environment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Toyota's Chief Quality Officer Steve St. Angelo Looks To A Bright Future

Toyota's Chief Quality Officer Steve St. Angelo discusses how the company culture has changed since the mainstream media's assault on the unintended acceleration issue which resulted in millions of recalls and eventual vindication of fault by the Department of Transportation.

Steve St. Angelo
Steve St. Angelo gave a speech to a group of more than a hundred journalists in Los Angeles that started with the breaking news that all of Toyota’s U.S. plants were back operating at full speed as of yesterday following the disruptions caused by the Japanese earthquake back in March. He said, “the parts problems are behind us”. St. Angelo delivered some stories about his background like how he was almost cast in the ‘70’s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, to his first day working for Toyota in 2005. 

He touched on the “bright future” ahead for the industry and listed the same positive factors that Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. President & COO Jim Lentz did to the same group in January: the U.S. population will grow faster that elsewhere, the age of vehicles on the road is at a high as are used car prices, there’s credit availability, the Fed will keep interest rates low and all manufacturers are offering new cars with more technology and safety features that will drive people into the dealer showrooms. St. Angelo threw green into his presentation discussing how much money the manufacturing plants were saving on energy due to conservation measures such as reducing light bulbs.

He said Toyota will be adding 240 U.S. jobs at its engine plant in Alabama that will add 4 cylinder engines to its 6 and 8 cylinder engine assembly and 2,000 people will be hired at the new Mississippi plant when it opens this Fall to produce the Corolla. St. Angelo said the auto industry employees 8 million workers in the U.S. and will add 88,000 this year and next.

St. Angelo went over new safety features such as a rear window curtain airbag, whiplash-lessening seat belts, blind spot monitors and an eye monitoring feature to make sure the driver is focused on the road. Also a steering wheel that monitors the driver's vital signs, presumably like a treadmill at a fitness center.

It was good to hear that production has returned to 100% following the March 11, 2011, earthquake in Japan and that there's a bright future for the industry but I was really wanting to Steve discuss how the sticky-pedal-stacked-floor-mat and unintended acceleration issues that forced a millions of recalls and billions of dollars/yen to be spent changed his life and Toyota's culture on quality. Maybe it was wiser to leave all that in the past rather re-live that overblown media nightmare.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jaguar C-X16 Concept Revealed Ahead Of Frankfurt Show

The Jaguar C-X16 concept, a compact, rear-wheel drive, two-seater, powered by a supercharged 376 horsepower 3.0-litre V6 engine with 0-62 mph acceleration in 4.4 seconds, 50-75 mph acceleration in 2.1 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph. The C-X16 has a Formula 1-inspired hybrid boost system with a steering-wheel mounted button for on-demand acceleration. Integrated into the eight-speed transmission is a motor generator which draws power from a 1.6kWh battery pack mounted behind the seats for ideal 50:50 weight distribution. Charged through a brake energy regeneration system, the batteries allow the motor to provide an additional 95 PS (70 kW) and173 lb ft (235 Nm). In terms of overall length, the C-X16 is the smallest Jaguar created since the 1954 XK120. The Jaguar C-X16 concept makes its world debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show next week.