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Archive for July, 2010

Toyota Recalls 453,000 Cars for Steering Defects

July 30th, 2010

2004 Toyota Avalon

All you 2000-2004 Avalon owners driving happily into the sunset of your years will soon be notified to bring your cars in to have a steering defect fixed. Since there are 373,000 of you, please don’t descend on your Toyota dealers all at once.

Here is yet another instance of Toyota’s dedication to making things right after putting unsafe cars on the road. Said Steve St. Angelo, Toyota’s North American chief quality officer: “Toyota is continuing to work diligently to address safety issues wherever they arise and to strengthen our global quality assurance operations….”

Oh yes, and you 39,000 owners of 2003-2007 Lexus LH 470 SUVs who thought you were driving a robust vehicle can also prepare for a recall—for steering problems, too, though a different part is involved. And it is reported that another 41,000 Land Cruiser 100s, on which the Lexus is based, will be recalled.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Parts, Car Politics, Car Safety, Foreign Cars, General Chat

The 10 Hottest, Sexiest, Most Influential Roadsters Ever

July 30th, 2010

1971 Jaguar E-Type

Few auto designs have withstood the test of time like the roadster. Some of the most iconic cars in history were of the two-seat, open-top variety, from James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder to the Ferrari 250 GT Spyder featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Below are some of the most influential classic roadsters on Earth, followed by a list of modern versions destined to become classics.

Before we get started, though, I should quickly clarify some things about terminology. A classic roadster, sometimes referred to as a spyder (or spider) provided a truly open-air driving experience. Modern roadster design has evolved to feature conveniences such as a retractable roof and windows. Officially that means they are convertibles, but automakers routinely still use the “spyder” designation to label their roadster offerings.

Let’s get to the list!

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

Best and Worst Used Cars: Checking Out the Lists

July 29th, 2010

Used-car lot

The classic best and worst lists online seem to come from Forbes and Consumer Reports, but there are plenty of others out there on the Web. We’ll give you a bird’s-eye view of how these guys rank used cars—but first, these messages.

  1. Japanese cars predominate in the “best” lists, but they certainly aren’t the only alternative.
  2. A new Kelley Blue Book survey shows that most used-car shoppers are paying cash, spending less than $15,000, and have no interest in incentive offers. They are definitely going conservative.
  3. Do your homework. Two weeks ago, we gave you buying advice, and there’s a very good “how-to-buy” webpage here. One of your best tools is the CarGurus DealFinder.

Now to the lists.

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Car Industry News, Car Lists, Car Minded, Car Shopping, Domestic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat, Hybrid Cars

Cars Coming Soon->Porsche 918 Spyder Approved for Production, Toyota FT-86 Not Far Behind

July 29th, 2010
Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 918 Spyder

Prepare yourself for the best car news of the week!

No, I’m not talking about the Chevy Volt/Nissan Leaf eco-wrestling match. That’s mildly interesting, I suppose, if you’re the type to drop 30-40 grand on an electric commuter golf cart. Me? No thank you.

If I go the hybrid/electric route, I’m doing it in style and checking the couch cushions for the $650K (or so) it’ll take to get the just-approved Porsche 918 Spyder.

Remember the 918? The concept debuted to great fanfare at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. To refresh your memory, the car is powered by a 500-horsepower V8 with additional electric motors on the front and rear axles producing an extra 218 ponies, for a total power output of 718 horsepower. Porsche says the car can achieve 78 miles per gallon of gas and complete the 0-60 sprint in 3.2 seconds.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Shows, Cars Coming Soon, Electric Vehicles, Exotic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat, Hybrid Cars

At $41,000, Volt Enters Cadillac Territory

July 28th, 2010

Chevrolet

I think GM priced the Volt too high for the following reasons:

  • The Nissan Leaf costs $8,220 less. Both cars offer close to the same lease plan. Both cars are eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. As a pure electric, the Leaf gives buyers access to rebates and tax incentives that some states offer.
  • The Volt looks like a Malibu, but you can buy a Cadillac or a 3 Series BMW for that kind of money.
  • There is no real competitor, according to GM, yet Tesla’s Model S, going 300 miles on a charge, will deliver in 2012 for $9,000 more and is better targeted to high-end, high-tech buyers. The Ford Focus Electric is coming early next year.

Volt buyers are getting a car with, presumably, a 340-mile range, lots of technology, and a high level of standard equipment for the base model. It is designed to be a family or commuter car, though it accommodates only four. The Leaf will go 100 miles on a charge and has zero emissions.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Cars Coming Soon, Domestic Cars, Electric Vehicles, Foreign Cars, General Chat, Hybrid Cars

Used-Car Shopping: How To Satisfy Man and Woman

July 28th, 2010

Woman driving

Men and women look for very different things when they shop for cars.

I know, that’s not exactly shocking news, which is why I was surprised to read about a study by the brilliant minds at CNW Market Research. The firm conducted a study leading to the “discovery” that personal tastes in a vehicle vary greatly depending on gender and age. Groundbreaking stuff, huh? Maybe next they’ll discover what happens to water when exposed to temperatures under 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Consider me riveted.

What about studying how to get a man and a woman to actually agree on what car to buy? Now that would be a truly shocking discovery.

When a couple decides to buy a car together, it’s a well-known fact that one of them will end up making sacrifices to please the other. But maybe I can help by looking at what men and women both want, then finding cars that perfectly satisfy both. I’ll use the CarGurus DealFinder to see if I can combine the study’s results with available used cars. This should be interesting!

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Car Minded, Car Safety, Car Shopping, Foreign Cars, General Chat

Green Update–>Porsche Tests Electric Boxsters; GM to Build All-Electric Cars; Volt Price Announced

July 27th, 2010

2009

For some time now, Porsche has announced its intention to seriously explore pure electric (battery-only power) technology. Yesterday, Porsche CEO Michael Macht said that the company “will definitely be offering an electric sports car in future. But such a concept only makes sense if it offers product qualities typical of a Porsche.”

To that end, it has been field-testing three electric Boxsters to see what is feasible for a true electric sports car. It’s also known that Porsche purchased a Tesla Roadster a while ago, and you can guess what that means.

The 918 Spyder, while promised, is still a concept; the 911 GT3R Hybrid has been a real success; and the Cayenne Hybrid S has gotten great reviews. And, says the Porsche press release, “The hybrid technology from the Cayenne S Hybrid will also be featured in the Panamera S Hybrid, which will enter the market next year.”

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

2011 Ford Explorer Unveiled, But Does It Live Up to the Hype?

July 27th, 2010
2011 Ford Explorer

2011 Ford Explorer

The job: build a car-based crossover with three rows of seats that looks like an SUV, crawls out of mud and can tow 5,000 pounds, but with the fuel economy of a Toyota Camry. Oh, and keep the starting price under $30K.

That’s a pretty tall order, one that might even seem impossible. Ford thinks it’s done it, though, with the 2011 Explorer, the details of which were finally released yesterday after weeks of social media hype and teaser pics. Ford’s big unveil happened on television, online and in nine cities across the country, foregoing the traditional use of an auto show to launch an important vehicle. One thing for sure, Ford has captured the attention of the auto world with its enormous marketing effort.

In creating the 2011 Explorer, Ford engineers and designers had an incredibly difficult task set before them. Ford’s President of the Americas, Mark Fields, described the job as “Reinventing the SUV for the 21st century.” Did Ford succeed in that quest, or simply end up with a heck of a good crossover being branded as an SUV? Keep reading for details on Ford’s all-new Explorer and decide for yourself if it’s a game changer.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Domestic Cars, General Chat, Trucks & SUVs

Audi A7 Debuts Today, R8 Prices Announced, E-tron Wins Rally

July 26th, 2010

Audi A7 Sportback

Audi has come a very long way in the U.S., recently announcing it has sold 2 million cars here. From only two models in its early days (40 years ago), we now have I don’t know how many. And another is launching today: the A7 Sportback (above).

Based on a 2009 concept shown at Detroit, the A7 is going to challenge the Mercedes CLS and BMW’s 5 Series GT—or maybe its Gran Coupe sedan, rumored to be in the works. The success of the Panamera has taught all these guys a lesson.

Sources from Deutschland tell us that mechanically the car is based on the A6 and will offer diesel or gas V6 power, including a new 3-liter, 290-hp motor. Quattro AWD and an S-tronic dual-clutch transmission will be part of the package.

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Auto Racing, Car Industry News, Car Minded, Electric Vehicles, Foreign Cars, General Chat

2012 556-Horsepower Camaro Z28 Spied!

July 26th, 2010

2012 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

Either the spy photog who snapped the picture above got exceptionally lucky or General Motors planted a leak.

Whichever the case, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 has finally been caught with its pants down, so to speak, revealing the macho unit that will power the beast.

Legendary spy shooters Brenda Priddy & Co. happened to catch the high-performance Camaro with its passenger door open. As luck would have it, the open door revealed a piece of paper on the dash that read “2012 Chevrolet Camaro, 6.2L SC V8, 6AT.”

Break that down and it means Camaro fans have serious reason to look forward to next year.

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