Wednesday, February 25, 2015

BMW Performance Center West - Thermal, California

BMW has a new Performance Center West located near La Quinta, California, that offers the full complement of driver training courses similar to the BMW Performance center at the Spartanburg factory in South Carolina which opened in 1999 and has hosted nearly 130,000 drivers. The BMW performance driver training facility occupies 32 acres on the grounds of the The Thermal Club, a private motorsports club that is selling large "garage villas" for car racing enthusiasts who want quick access to 5.5 miles of road racing circuits. When finished, the BMW Performance Center West will have a dedicated 1.4 mile road course, 6.2 acres of paddock, a skid pad and an 8,500 square foot Performance Facility. BMW launched driver training in Germany in 1977.

I challenged the BMW M3 and M4 (above) with acceleration, cornering and braking through a coned autocross course clocking times around 35 seconds per lap. 

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer Can Carry 7 People

The BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer offers five newly developed turbocharged engines producing from 116 to 192 horsepower and can accommodate up to seven people across three rows of seats, in addition to a generously sized and variable-use luggage compartment. BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer will debut in Geneva next week.

J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study For 2012 Models

The J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study finds that bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition issues are the most frequently reported problems after three years of ownership. The study examines problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of 2012 model-year vehicles. Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality. The study covers 177 specific problem symptoms grouped into eight major vehicle categories.

For more information visit

McLaren 675LT Will Debut In Geneva Next Week

The McLaren 675LT (‘Longtail’) is track-focused and road legal in the McLaren Super Series with a 666 horsepower 3.8-liter Twin Turbo V8 engine mated to a 7 Speed SSG transmission. The sprint from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) takes just 2.9 seconds and 0-200 km/h (0-124 mph) clocks at 7.9 seconds en route to a top speed of 205 mph.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Consumer Reports Top 10 Vehicles For 2015 - 3 From Subaru

Consumer Reports Top 10 vehicles for 2015 must rank at or near the top of its class overall performance road-test score, an average or better predicted reliability rating, based on problems reported by subscribers who rated 1.1 million vehicles in Consumer Reports’ latest Annual Auto Survey and must perform effectively if included in crash or rollover tests conducted by the government or insurance industry.

Best overall: Tesla Model S
Compact car: Subaru Impreza
Midsized sedan: Subaru Legacy
Large car: Chevrolet Impala
Luxury car: Audi A6
Green car: Toyota Prius
Sports sedan: Buick Regal
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
Small SUV: Subaru Forester
Midsized SUV: Toyota Highlander

Top Brands
1. Lexus
2. Mazda
3. Toyota
4. Audi
5. Subaru

2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV All-Electric Vehicle Coming In Late March

The 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle will arrive across the United States in late March with a starting MSRP of $22,995 (excluding destination/handling, tax, title, license etc.) and after a Federal tax credit of $7,500, the net starting MSRP is $15,495 (taxpayer must incur federal tax liability to receive full benefit).

The 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV comes equipped with heated driver and front passenger seats, remote keyless entry, heated side mirrors, a fully-transferable 8-year/100,000-mile limited warranty for the lithium-ion main drive battery pack and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty. A new Navigation Package is available that includes an MMCS navigation system with 7-in. touchscreen display, real-time traffic, 3D mapping and Mapcare®, Bluetooth® hands-free phone system, USB port and rear view camera.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Infiniti QX30 Concept Debuts Next Week

Infiniti QX30 Concept crossover with carbon fiber in the lower cladding and roofbar supports, will have its world premiere at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show next week.

Mercedes-Maybach 600 S Pullman Limo Starts Around $567,000

The Mercedes-Maybach 600 S Pullman, Mercedes-Maybach's second model, is 21.3 feet long, 3.5 feet longer than the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class and powered by a 523 horsepower V12 biturbo engine. The owner and VIP guests are seated in the direction of travel on two executive seats which are part of the standard specification while other passengers can sit on the fold-down seats facing backwards. If specifically requested, the Pullman can also be delivered in an exclusive version without the additional seats. The price for unarmoured models start at around $566,922.

2016 Lotus Evora 400 Coming This Fall

The new Lotus Evora 400, almost 50 pounds lighter and faster than the previous model, gets a new supercharged and charge-cooled mid-mounted 400 horsepower 3.5-litre V6 engine producing 302 ft. lbs. of torque with 0-60 mph acceleration of 4.1 seconds to a maximum speed of 186 mph. The new Lotus Evora 400 will enter production for European markets this summer with deliveries starting in August. North American markets will receive the 2016 Evora 400 in the Fall.

Thank You Mr. K - 80 Years In The Car Business and My Z

The father of the Datsun Z, Yutaka Katayama - Mr. ‘K’ - passed away on Feb. 20 at the age of 105. Katayama joined the company in 1935, built the Datsun brand from scratch, ran Nissan’s U.S. operations in the 1970s and retired from Nissan in 1977. I had my 1978 Datsun 280Z (above) for 10 years and that car generated lifelong relationships, stories and speeding tickets.

Mr. K (left) made one of the first color films of a Datsun on Japanese roads and later filmed motor sport races across the globe. He was a victorious team manager as two Datsun 210s were entered in a grueling rally circumnavigating the Australian continent catapulting the brand into worldwide renown and setting the stage for Datsun exports. He put together the key concepts for the Z-car and was inducted into the American Automotive Hall of Fame in 1998.

Monday, February 16, 2015

2016 Toyota Avalon Coming This Fall

2016 Toyota Avalon with V6 power is refreshed for its fourth-generation providing a choice of XLE, XLE Plus, XLE Premium, Limited and Touring trim levels. Hybrid customers can choose from three separate grades, adding luxury features and technology options as they move up from XLE Plus to XLE Premium and Limited grades. One retuned suspension prioritizes a comfortable ride for the XLE through Limited grades and the other, provides a more dynamic and responsive driving experience for the Touring grade. The 2016 Toyota Avalon will go on sale later this Fall.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

2016 Hyundai Elantra GT Coming Next Month For $19,625

The 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT, with updated styling and customer-focused technology, comes standard with a 173 horsepower 2.0-liter Nu engine mated to the choice of either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC® manual shift control and delivers an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway/27 mpg. 2016 Elantra GT pricing will start at just $19,625 (including $825 freight charge), and will be available in dealerships starting this March.

2016 Acura RDX Is Refreshed - Coming This Spring

2016 Acura RDX luxury sport-utility is newly refreshed with Jewel Eye™ LED projector headlamps and LED taillights, a new, more powerful 279 horsepower 3.5-liter i-VTEC® V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management  cylinder deactivation technology, an expanded list of AcuraWatch™ safety and driver-assistive technologies, and a host of new luxury features and technologies, including a new line-topping RDX with Advance Package adding rain-sensing wipers, front fog lights, Bi-Directional Keyless remote engine start, front and rear parking sensors, ventilated front seats, an auto-dimming driver's side mirror, and AcuraWatch™ advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies including Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System™ and Lane Keeping Assist, along with a standard Multi-View Rear Camera and Expanded View driver's side mirror. There's a new 4.2-inch full-color TFT Multi-Information Display with expanded, customizable information readouts such as average vehicle speed, fuel economy, fuel range, tire pressure monitoring system and turn-by-turn navigation. The 2016 RDX launches at Acura dealerships nationwide this Spring.

Kia Trail’ster e-AWD Concept

Kia Trail’ster e-AWD concept, based on the Soul urban passenger vehicle, is primarily powered by a 185 horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and matched to an electric all-wheel-drive system with a 1.2 kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery powering a 27 kW, 270 volt AC synchronous permanent magnet electric motor outputting 35 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels and bringing total output to 220 horsepower and 285 pound-feet of torque.

Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept

The Nissan 370Z NISMO Roadster Concept has a 350 horsepower 3.7-liter DOHC V6 engine with Variable Valve Event and Lift Control and mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission with Downshift Rev Matching, Adaptive Shift Control and manual shift mode with paddle shifters.

2016 Kia Rio Sedan Goes On Sale In First Quarter

The 2016 Kia Rio Sedan with new front and rear fascias comes in LX, EX, SX  trim levels and is powered by a 138 horsepower 1.6-liter normally aspirated inline-four cylinder engine mate to a six-speed manual transmission on the sedan and a six-speed automatic on the 5-Door.  The six-speed manual is no longer offered in the Rio 5-Door.  Both Sedan and 5-Door are expected to go on sale in the first quarter.

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Starts At $21,395 In April

The all-new Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, scheduled to hit dealer showrooms in April, comes with either a 170 horsepower 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TSI® engine mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission or a 150 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel, fitted with a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 1.8T S model with manual transmission starts at $21,395 and the TDI® Clean Diesel model starts at $24,595, a reduction of almost $2,000 over the previous base TDI model price. The 1.8T model with manual transmission has an EPA estimated highway fuel economy rating of 36 mpg, while the TDI Clean Diesel model gets 43 highway mpg according to EPA estimates. Available only with the six-speed automatic transmission, the SE starts at $26,995 and the TSI SE, the top gasoline-powered SportWagen trim starts at $29,345. Golf SportWagen TDI SE starts at $27,995, and the Golf SportWagen TDI SEL starts at $30,345,

Friday, February 13, 2015

2016 Honda Pilot SUV Coming This Summer

The all-new 2016 Honda Pilot SUV, reengineered and redesigned with a new 3.5-liter, direct-injected i-VTEC® V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management™ cylinder deactivation technology and available Idle Stop technology that shuts off the engine when the vehicle is stopped. The engine is mated to either a 6-speed automatic transmission, or on upper trims, a 9-speed automatic transmission. Pilot will be available in front-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations and will feature a completely new Honda all-wheel-drive system. The all-new 2016 Pilot, launching at Honda dealerships nationwide this summer, is the third generation of Honda's three-row midsize SUV.

2016 Chevrolet Equinox Coming This Fall

The 2016 Chevrolet Equinox with seating for five and all-wheel drive offered on LS, LT and LTZ models gets new styling with premium accents, new wheel designs and new available safety features, as well as a larger color touchscreen radio and a standard rear-vision camera for entry-level models and goes on sale this Fall. The standard Ecotec 2.4L direct-injected engine delivers an EPA-estimated 32 mpg on the highway (FWD models). A 301 horsepower direct-injected 3.6L V-6 is available with LT and LTZ models with a trailering capacity of up to 3,500 pounds.

2016 BMW ALPINA B6 xDrive Gran Coupe Coming In June

The new 2016 BMW ALPINA B6 xDrive Gran Coupe with a 600 horsepower 4.4 liter Bi-Turbo V-8 engine mated to the ALPINA SWITCH-TRONIC 8-Speed Sport Automatic transmission is capable of a 0 – 60 mph acceleration time of 3.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 200 mph. The new BMW ALPINA B6 xDrive Gran Coupe will become available to order starting in March with US deliveries slated to begin at BMW Centers in June. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2016 Nissan Maxima In Super Bowl Ad To Debut In April

Next-generation 2016 Nissan Maxima sports sedan that made a cameo appearance at the end of the  "With Dad" Super Bowl XLIX commercial will make its official world debut at the New York International Auto Show in April. The Maxima adds the V-motion front end and "floating" roof introduced on the 2015 Nissan Murano crossover. The Maxima has come along way from my boxy 1986 Maxima that served me well for many years.

All-New Ford Focus RS Coming From Germany Later This Year

The all-new third generation high-performance Ford Focus RS will have an all-wheel drive system with Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control based on twin electronically controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear drive unit and powered by a new all-aluminum 315-plus horsepower 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine mated to a six speed manual transmission. Increased output is generated by a new low-inertia twin-scroll turbocharger with larger compressor that delivers significantly greater airflow, along with a much bigger intercooler to maximize charge density. The all-new Focus RS will be sold around the world, including the United States, and produced for all markets at Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany, manufacturing plant beginning late this year.

Porsche Cayman GT4 Arrives In July For $85,595

The Porsche Cayman GT4, based on the Cayman with components of the 911 GT3, is powered by a 385 horsepower 3.8-liter flat-six engine derived from the 911 Carrera S engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission with a zero to 60 mph acceleration of 4.2 seconds and a top track speed of 183 mph. Available options include the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system, full bucket seats made of carbon fiber composite, and a custom Sport Chrono Package featuring a Track Precision app. The Porsche Cayman GT4 celebrates its world premiere in early March at the Geneva International Auto Show and will arrive at U.S. dealers in July. The starting MSRP for the Cayman GT4 is $85,595 (including destination charge of $995).

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Gets Bigger Engine

The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 5-passenger crossover gets 20 more horsepower than the current 2.0 liter engine with a 168 horsepower 2.4-liter MIVEC 4-cylinder powerplant available in the 2.4 ES starting at $21,295 and 2.4 GT starting at $23,595.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January 2015 U.S. Auto Sales

General Motors dealers in the United States delivered 202,786 vehicles last month, up 18 percent compared to a year ago, for the best January sales in seven years. Retail sales were up 14 percent and fleet deliveries were up 32 percent.

Ford Motor Company posted sales of 178,351 vehicles, a 15 percent sales increase in the U.S. in January, with retail sales of 128,666 vehicles, a 13 percent increase, providing the best retail January results since 2004. Retail passenger car sales were up 6 percent, utilities saw a 10 percent increase, and trucks gained 23 percent.

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. reported January 2015 sales of 169,194, an increase of 15.6 percent from January 2014 on a volume basis. Toyota division posted January 2015 sales of 146,063 units, up 13.5 percent. Lexus reported January 2015 sales of 23,131 units, a 31.2 percent increase.

FCA US (Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram) reported U.S. sales of 145,007, a 14 percent increase compared with sales in January 2014 for the group’s best January sales since 2007.

Nissan Group announced total U.S. sales for January 2015 of 104,107, up 15.1 percent year-over-year and a January record. Nissan Division also set a January record with 94,449 sales, an increase of 15.9 percent. Infiniti reported sales of 9,658 vehicles in the U.S. during January, up 7.3 percent from a year ago.

American Honda reported a new January record on Honda and Acura vehicle sales of 102,184, an increase of 11.5 percent versus January 2014. The Honda brand set a January record of 90,202 vehicles, up 11.6 percent for the month. Acura posted sales of 11,982 in January, increasing 10.7 percent over the same period last year.

Hyundai Motor America reported its best January in company history, selling 44,505 for the month, up one percent versus the same period last year. This is the seventh consecutive year of increased sales during the month of January.

Kia Motors America’s  record-setting momentum carried into 2015 with best-ever January sales of 38,299 vehicles, up 3.5 percent over the same period last year.

Subaru of America reported 40,812 vehicle sales for January 2015, a 24 percent increase over January 2014. These results continue the company’s sales momentum from 2014 where Subaru achieved six consecutive years of record sales and exceeded 500,000 annual sales – a first in company history.

Volkswagen of America reported sales of 23,504 units delivered in January 2015. Separately, Audi reported that its January 2015 sales increased 14.3 percent to 11,541 vehicles, a total that stands as the 49th consecutive month of record U.S. sales for the premium brand.

Mercedes-Benz reported a record January sales volume of 24,619, increasing 8.9 percent from January 2014. Adding 1,505 units for Sprinter Vans and 492 units at smart, MBUSA achieved its highest January to date with a grand total of 26,616 vehicles, up 9 percent from a year ago.

The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported January sales of 22,209 vehicles, an increase of 6.8 percent from the 20,796 vehicles sold in the same month a year ago. Sales of BMW brand vehicles increased 4.0 percent in January for a total of 18,981 compared to January 2014. MINI USA reports 3,228 automobiles sold, an increase of 26.9 percent from the same month a year ago.

Mazda North American Operations reported January U.S. sales of 20,271 vehicles, representing an increase of 7.7 percent versus last year.

Jaguar Land Rover North America January U.S. sales for both brands hit 6,547, a 9 percent increase from January 2014. Land Rover January U.S. sales reached 5,281, up 13 percent from January 2014. Jaguar sales were 1,266, down 6 percent from January 2014.

Mitsubishi Motors North America had January 2015 vehicle sales of 6,493, a 33.4 percent sales increase from January 2014.

Porsche Cars North America announced January 2015 sales of 3,937 vehicles. PCNA kicked off the year successfully with record January sales, up 27.2 percent over January 2014.

Volvo Cars of North America reported U.S. sales of 3,794, a 0.1 percent increase versus January 2014.

Sales will be updated as manufacturers report.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

2016 Fiat 500X Ad - Best Super Bowl Commercial

The all-new 2016 Fiat 500X crossover 60-second “The FIAT 500X Blue Pill” commercial was the best commercial during the Super Bowl. FCA also had “Wisdom” that commemorates Dodge’s first 100 years.