Archive for February, 2009
Saturday, February 28th, 2009
Consumer Reports came out with their annual evaluations of what’s the best vehicle in different models. The foreign brands such as Toyota and Honda “maintained their domination over Detroit models.” Ford at least got some praising, while General Motors and Chrysler got “sharp critiques.” There were 15 automakers ranked in the magazine and Chrysler placed 15th, GM 14th, and Ford Motor Co. 12th. That’s not so good. Overall, Detroit automakers made out worse than the Consumer Reports survey from 2008. Ford’s highlights were that it had 70% of its vehicles were recommended by the magazine and the Ford Flex and new Ford F150 were praised by Consumer Reports. Unfortunately, only 17% of GM vehicles were recommended and not a single Chrysler one.
Here is the Top Picks List:
Best Pickup Truck - General Motors Chevrolet Avalanche
Best Small SUV - Toyota RAV4
Best Minivan - Toyota Sienna
Best Overall Vehicle - Lexus LS 460
Best Midsized SUV - Toyota Highlander
Best Green Car - Toyota Prius
Best Fun to Drive Car - Mazda MX-5 Miata
Best Small Sedan - Hyundai Elantra SE
Best Upscale Sedan - Infiniti G37
Best Family Sedan - Honda Accord
Were you sick of seeing another Toyota vehicle in the top picks? I was. Five out of the top 10 picks were Toyota. I guess Detroit automakers should try to learn a thing or two from Toyota!
Saturday, February 28th, 2009
An article in by The Associated Press talks about how General Motor’s brand, Saturn, is in big trouble to survive. GM has said that its restructuring plan that it presented to the U.S. government has Saturn running until 2011. Chinese and Indian automakers, who would like to enter the U.S. market, are the most likely candidates to take over Saturn, but nothing has really been discussed as of yet.
Saturn is a unique company. Their salespeople are considered laid-back, because there is no haggling for prices. A family member actually recently went to a Saturn dealership in hopes of getting the Saturn Aura. It’s a nice sedan that has a ticket price of between $22,000 and $27,000 depending on the model. He went looking for a used Aura, in the price range of $15,000. There was one there for $17,500, and no matter what, even during these hard economic times for automakers, there was no discussion of price or any talking the salesman down on the price. It was $17,500 and that was that. What’s interesting is that several weeks later, the Aura was still sitting there unsold for $17,500. Saturn has prided themselves on the ease and lack of stress that it takes to buy a car from them, but in the case of my family member, it was more annoying than anything that the salesman wouldn’t budge!
There are mixed feelings by Saturn dealership towards GM. Some of the dealerships are happy to see some changes coming and look forward to a new buyer that would “bring innovation to the product line.” Some other dealerships are angry with GM for having a lack of support. Either way, it looks like the Saturn/GM partnership is coming to an end. Hopefully someone picks up Saturn, because it would be sad to see it completely be gone.
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
I found an interesting article on detnews.com written by Scott Burgess about new safety testing being done. Ford Motor Co. has set up a Paint and Body Technology Center that will help to lower costs of vehicle repairs. According to Ford’s president of customer service division, Darryl Hazel, “out bottom line for this new initiative is simple: If your vehicle costs less to repair, it’s going to cost less to insure.” Less repairs costs also mean less money out of the pocket’s of the customers. All automakers crash test vehicles, but Ford has brought its safety and repair designers and engineers into the fold during the vehicle’s development instead of afterward.
The new 2010 Ford Focus underwent design changes to improve its safety and lower repair costs. On a 6 mile per hour bumper crash test, the Ford Focus sustained $588 worth of damage. On the same test, the Volkswagen Rabbit had $4078 worth of damage. The development of the Ford’s vehicles are concerning themselves with more safety and hopefully less costly repairs if needed, and therefore saving the consumer money.
The 2009 Ford F-150 has undergone design changes in the frame by building it in three parts, and this could save $2000 in frame repairs. According to Ford, every 2010 vehicle will endure the testing and repair program and Ford hopes to develop even more in the near future.
Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
I’m not exactly sure who wants a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited these days with its 15 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway, but I’m sure there are still some adventuresome people out there that would love it. The Jeep Wrangler added a four-door model in 2007 and the sales have been much better. You have more space, for passengers in the back or stuff if you are going camping, etc. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has a softtop that is standard, and a removable hardtop that is a $1585 option. This Jeep has a 3.8-liter 205 horsepower V6 engine.
If you want a more fuel efficient Wrangler Unlimited, there is one out there for you. It’s the Wrangler Unlimited EV, which can go 40 miles on its lithium-ion battery pack before recharging. If you need to go more than 40 miles, a small gas engine burns about 8 gallons to power a generator to produce electricity for 400 more miles.
The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited starts about $28,320 with a lot of standard features. I guess there are some people that want this vehicle, but I still think these days fuel economy has to play a part in the buying of a new vehicle, and this vehicle’s gas mileage is not so great. We’ll see how the 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited sells.
Friday, February 20th, 2009
An article in the San Antonio Express News by G. Chambers Williams talks about how General Motors has produced a car, the Chevy Malibu, that can compete with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, and according to Williams it’s the best in its class. That’s good news for the Detroit auto industry. Now, the general public and consumer need to feel the same way about the Malibu. Williams feels that the Chevy Malibu and the Nissan Altima should be the two top sellers, not the Camry and Accord. He really feels that people need to put their “anti-American car bias aside” they might find that the Malibu is a “first class competitor that outshines its biggest competitors.”
Here’s are some of the specs of the new Chevy Malibu. There are three models available: 2.4-liter, 169-horsepower four-cylinder engine that gets 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The second model available has a 3.6-liter, 252-horsepower V6 engine, which get 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The third model is a hybrid that gets 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The sticker price is about $28,000 depending on what options you choose. Not bad, especially if you go on Williams’ opinion and find that this car is the top of its class!
Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Lexus RX 350
There are several small, luxury crossover SUVs that will be introduced and sold this year. An article by Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press talks about three models in particular that will be offered. The first one, shown above, is the 2010 Lexus RX 350. This vehicle will be sold soon and even though it looks the same, it is all new. Some of the new features of the Lexus RX 350 are a voice-controlled navigation, a USB connection for music devices, and a joystick mounted on the center console to control climate and auto systems. The Lexus will have a 275 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine. It should get about 21 mpg on the highway. The sticker price will be $36,800 for the front-drive model, and $38,200 for the all-wheel drive model. There will also be a gasoline-electric hybrid offered in the Lexus RX 350 as well.
Another small crossover SUV that is coming out this year is the Cadillac SRX. It was made to compete with the Lexus RX 350. According to Phelan, the “five-seat crossover has a more dynamic look than the larger model it replaces.” The Cadillac SRX has a 265 horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 engine or a 300 horsepower turbocharged 2.8-liter V6 engine that was designed to ”boost performance but keep good fuel economy.” The gas mileage on the Cadillac SRX should be in the mid-20s, which will put this vehicle at or near the top of its class. The SRX will be available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. This vehicle will go on sale in the spring and the price has not been announced, but it should be competitive with the Lexus RX 350.
The last small, luxury SUV model that was discussed in this article was the Audi Q5. This vehicle will be available in all-wheel drive when it begins being sold in the spring. Eventually a front-wheel drive will be introduced later on. The price of the Audi Q5 will start at $37,200. The Audi Q5 will come with a 270 horsepower, 3.2-liter V6 engine that should get about 22 mpg on the highway.
So, here you have it. If you are looking for a small, luxury SUV, you may want to check out these three new models. They are definitely expensive, but looking pretty nice and have a bunch of new features for your convenience. I was trying to decide which one I would pick, and I guess I’d go with the Cadillac SRX, with a close second given to the Lexus RX 350. You can decide which one works best for you.
Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
A website called www.leftlanenews.com/bentley-geneva.html had a article about Bentley’s new biofuel vehicle that will be introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March. According to Bentley, this vehicle will be the “fastest, most powerful production car ever.” This car will be a biofuelvehicle that will deliver “supercar performance” according to Bentley. Supposedly this new supercar will have a 630 horsepower and a lower curb weight than a typical Bentley. The car will get from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds. That’s all that is known about this vehicle right now. But this is big news. A biofuel vehicle that is the fastest out there. That’s a lot of power, and I’m sure a VERY hefty ticket price as well. We shall see.
Monday, February 16th, 2009
Nowadays, many people cannot live without their GPS navigation systems that come in their vehicles. If you are like me, you don’t have a navigation system, you go out and buy a portable GPS navigation system. The portable GPS systems cost anywhere between $200 to $650, compared to the in-dash GPS systems that cost about $2000. I found a website (http://reviews.cnet.com/best-gps/) that gives you the best 5 portable GPS systems that I thought I would share and then some information on what to look for when buying a system.
Best 5 portable GPS Navigation Systems
1. Garmin Nuvi 880 - $599.75
2. Navigon 7200T - $339.00-$449.99
3. Magellan Maestro 4370 - $299.99
4. Mio C520 Navigation Receiver - $254.99
5. TomTom GO 930 GPS - $289.95-$499.99
When buying a portable GPS navigation system, you need to make sure that your system has what you need. Size can matter, if you travel a lot and plan on packing your GPS system, GPS systems that have traffic-information capability are important for large cities, some GPS systems speak the street names, which is important to some (instead of just saying turn right/left.) There are many features that differ from GPS system to GPS system. People want their systems for different reasons, so just make sure you study the different systems and get the right one for your needs.
Sunday, February 15th, 2009
At the Chicago Auto Show, Ford unveiled it’s new 2010 Ford Harley-Davidson F150. It marks the 14th anniversary of the Harley-Davidsonedition of the F-series. This truck comes with two-tone leather seats, 22-inch performance tires, Euroflange forged wheels, and a polished and painted center cap. The paint color is deep maroon and black to resemble a Harley-Davidson biker jacket. The Harley-Davidson F-150 has a 5.4-liter, three-valve engine. The price of this F-150 should be just under $50,000. This Harley-Davidson Ford F-150 has been a big hit, and I’m sure people who like the Harley-Davidson motorcyles will like this truck as well.
Sunday, February 15th, 2009
Everyone must find themselves at least putting a few minutes of thought into the government buyout of the automakers. I have definitely thought about it for a minute or two the last several months. It’s a hard concept to handle though. There are sooo many different opinions - should you buyout and help the automakers, make them get out of the red themselves, or just turn our heads and let them sink?? Tough decision. I thought I’d share with you my thoughts on this subject.
If people aren’t making cars, then no one is making glass to go into cars, tires, other parts. There is a lengthy list of people that are affected by the auto industry. That isn’t even talking about what would happen to dealerships. We were quick to bailout the financiaI industry, I just think it’s important that we help out the auto industry as well and fast.
So I think we, the country and government, need to help out Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. Our economy is in so much trouble, that if we let these companies fail we will only have more problems. Too many people would lose their jobs. I know that many Americans feel like these automakers caused their own fate, and we shouldn’t have to use our tax dollars to bail them out. I get it and I agree with that stance, but everyone makes mistakes and the U.S. economy cannot afford any more major bankruptcies. I’ve been doing a lot of research about new American made models coming out the next few years. I think there is some potential to come in the near future. I think that these models can help these automakers to get back on track. We just need to give them a little assistance (kindof like a jumpstart!)