Archive

Archive for April, 2010

Lexus GX 460 Owners: Relax, the Fix Is In

April 30th, 2010

2010 Lexus GX 460It’s Friday, and if you get to your dealer today, you just might be able to get the electronic stability control (ESC) fixed in time to run your GX 460 through the gymkhana this weekend. You know, spin it around the airport course and through the cones. Then you can test out whether the beast can handle a too-fast, drop-throttle turn on the freeway off-ramp.

We know Lexus owners love these kinds of maneuvers. Toyota wants you back in your helmet ASAP, so it has engineered a “relatively simple update to the ESC software” and is contacting customers to come into dealers for the one-hour repair.

If you are still too scared to drive the car, dealers will provide a courtesy car until yours is fixed. They will also have their unsold GXs back on the sales lot, with the fix installed, of course.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Safety, Foreign Cars, General Chat, Trucks & SUVs

The 10 Best Vehicles GM Ever Built

April 30th, 2010

Corvette ZR1

Saying General Motors has built a lot of cars is like saying the ocean has a lot of water.

GM was formed in 1908, so putting together a list of the best vehicles it has ever built is a highly subjective look back through the company’s history. A list could easily be split into many categories: best looking, best performing, most reliable, etc.

Instead I’ve decided to take a broad look at what I think are simply the 10 best. My reasoning is below, but feel free to argue or let me know what cars would make your list of the best vehicles GM ever built.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Classic & Vintage Cars, Domestic Cars, General Chat

Chrysler to Replace (Finally) the Sebring

April 29th, 2010

Chrysler Nassau conceptThe Chrysler Sebring has for years been the brunt of countless jokes—about its tacky interior, wheezebox engine, tanky design, and more. Fiat-Chrysler finally cried “Enough!” and announced a replacement to be called the Nassau, which will launch late this year.

You can expect the car to be a makeover until a Fiat- or Alfa-based replacement comes in three years. The Nassau will borrow the name of the 2007 concept car shown above but, says MotorAuthority, won’t “have anything in common with the original concept car.”

Good. It looks too much like a made-over Sebring.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Domestic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat

Cars Coming Soon->TopGear America, Shooting Now?

April 29th, 2010

TopGear America's Tanner spied

I know, this column is usually all about new cars soon to hit showrooms and concepts that are creating a stir in the auto world.

Today, though, I’m excited (I think) to report that an American version of Britain’s TopGear is now shooting in California.

There are two ways of looking at this:

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Domestic Cars, Exotic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat

GM Investing $890 Million to Rework Its Small-Block V8s

April 28th, 2010

2010 Chevrolet SilveradoGeneral Motors is spending some big money to make its V8s more fuel efficient. In the process it will retain or create some 1,600 U.S. and Canadian jobs. The big reason for this move—besides responding to tightening fuel-economy standards—is pickup trucks.

As John Voelcker pointed out, those Silverados and Sierras are by far the General’s most profitable high-volume line, and the company isn’t going to give up those V8s anytime soon. But it has to make them more efficient.

Few details about the new engines were made available, but they will use direct injection, a new combustion system, and aluminum blocks. All will be E85 ethanol capable.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Domestic Cars, Gas for your car..., General Chat, Trucks & SUVs

Do Free Scheduled Maintenance Programs Save You Money?

April 28th, 2010

2010 Jaguar XJ

Jaguar has a beautiful, refreshed, and redesigned lineup consisting of the new XJ, XF, and XK. Unfortunately, it also still has a lingering reputation for costly maintenance and questionable reliability.

Old impressions of a car brand can stick in a buyer’s mind for much longer than the reputation is valid, which can severely decrease sales and limit a buyer’s exposure to some seriously great products. Jaguar hopes its new lineup begins to replace that dated reputation.

And what better way to jump-start a new reputation than by offering five years of free maintenance on every new Jag? Starting with the 2011 XJ, that is exactly the automaker’s plan. In fact, the program extends to free replacement of oil, oil filters, brake pads, brake discs, brake fluid, and wiper blade inserts.

Pretty compelling reason to buy a new Jag, no? Well, that depends.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Domestic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat

Green Update–>Leaf News, Chargers, and Batteries

April 27th, 2010

Nissan Leaf EV plug-inCar charging infrastructure may finally be getting somewhere. An agreement between Nissan and General Electric will focus on “smart” charging stations (presumably 220-volt) for in-home and on-the-road use.

The partnership will focus on how to get chargers into homes, as well as “the overall impact that electric vehicle charging will have on the electric grid.” As you can imagine, the problems are massive, and the full spread of public and private chargers will take years.

The Leaf is pushing toward launch later this year, and more than 6,600 people in the U.S. have put down their $99 reservation deposits. Preorders number 3,754, surpassing Nissan’s 2010 sales target by half.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Electric Vehicles, Foreign Cars, General Chat, Green Updates, Hybrid Cars

Porsche 918 Spyder: 900 People Reportedly Seriously Interested

April 27th, 2010

Porsche 918 Spyder

It really makes no difference to me whether Porsche ever builds its super-sexy, super-fast, super-frugal 918 Spyder concept or not.

A journalism degree and writing career aren’t exactly the best ways to put myself in the position to plunk down at least a half-mil on anything… much less a car.

Even though I’ll likely never own one, I really want Porsche to build the car that stole the show in Geneva earlier this year, just so I’ll continue to have the privilege of writing about it and the potential to see one cruising the highways and backroads of L.A.

Just how close is Porsche to pulling the trigger and unleashing this beast on the world? Keep reading for more.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Shows, Exotic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat, Hybrid Cars

Ford’s Winning Streak *UPDATED

April 26th, 2010

Ford Start conceptIt looks like Ford tomorrow will post a $1.2 billion first-quarter profit—the first time since 2005 the company has had four consecutive profitable quarters. Ford’s U.S. deliveries were up 37 percent through March, twice that of the industry as a whole.

One analyst said, “There’s a lot of momentum at Ford right now in terms of customers’ perception of their products.” Another praised its responsiveness to market changes in developing new products.

Lately, we are seeing everything from far-out concept cars like the three-cylinder Start (above, shown at Beijing and possibly headed for production) to the 2011 Fiesta, coming to the U.S. soon.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Cars Coming Soon, Domestic Cars, General Chat

Monday Morning Fun: The Oddest Vehicles from Beijing 2010

April 26th, 2010

Mitsuoka Galue

Ever wonder what a car would look like that had the front end of a classic Bentley, the side panels of a modern Mustang, and the rear end of Grandpa’s Cadillac?

Of course not. Such a car would be hideously ugly, and no one in their right mind would ever build it.

And that’s what I love about the Beijing Motor Show. The same floor that features a Mercedes-Benz “Shooting Break” concept also features a lovely sideshow of various international interpretations of automotive art. All I can say is… wow.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Shows, Foreign Cars, General Chat, Trucks & SUVs