Honda plans to debut two new models at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit — the new version of its Fit subcompact car and the Acura TLX sport sedan, which replaces the automaker’s TL model.
The Fit is one of those cars that gets good reviews from critics but doesn’t sell as well as competitors such as the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta and Nissan Versa.
“Honda finds itself in an interesting position with the new Fit,” said Alec Gutierrez, an analyst at car price information company Kelley Blue Book. “At one time, that subcompact segment was owned by Honda with the Fit. But as you look to 2014, the competition has really increased. Honda needs to keep the Fit above water.”
This third-generation Fit will have a new platform — one that Honda is also using to build a tiny crossover — and a new engine. Honda said one of its goals was to have the Fit top other subcompacts in safety ratings.
Honda, Subaru and Volvo are making strides protecting the occupants of their cars, while big manufacturers such as General Motors are lagging behind, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety said Thursday as it gave 22 vehicles its top safety pick rating.
Between its Honda and Acura lines, Honda landed six of the top spots.
To earn the “Top Safety Pick Plus” ranking, vehicles had to rate as good on four crash tests and have good or acceptable performance on a small overlap crash -- where the front corner of a car hits an object. The vehicles also must have at least an optional forward collision warning feature that alerts drivers to the possibility of running into another car.
The requirements are stiffer than in previous years and are likely to get even harder as the institute works to make the collision warning standard on all cars.
“We want to show consumers which high-tech features are worth the money and encourage manufacturers to make them more widely...
Mercedes-Benz's parent company and Aston Martin have formally agreed on a technical partnership, the two automakers announced Thursday.
The agreement between Aston and Daimler formalizes a letter of intent the pair signed in July. The pairing will yield a crop of V-8 engines for Aston that are loosely based on Mercedes’ architecture. These new powerplants probably won’t be available until the next generation of Aston Martin sports cars begin rolling out in 2016.
"This strategic collaboration for Aston Martin will, in our next generation of luxury sports cars, offer our customers increased performance and efficiency whilst retaining the unique character and style of Aston Martin," Aston said in a statement.
In addition to the line of high-performance engines, the partnership will give Aston access to electronic components such as navigation systems, and enable the automakers to "investigate additional areas of cooperation in the...
For the second consecutive year, the Toyota Prius liftback topped Consumer Reports' annual list of vehicles giving buyers the best bang for their automotive buck. The hulking Nissan Armada SUV won the prize for the worst value.
Consumer Reports said the Prius – the best-selling vehicle in California – had the best combination of reliability, resale value, fuel economy and driving performance of the cars measured by the magazine.
The five-year ownership cost of the hybrid amounts to 47 cents per mile. The Armada, by comparison, will set its owner back $1.20 a mile. It gets only 13 mpg overall and scored poorly in Consumer Reports’ annual reliability survey.
“The Prius’ 44 mpg overall is the best fuel economy of any non-plug-in car that Consumer Reports has tested,” said Consumer Reports Automotive Editor Rik Paul. “Though it’s not particularly cheap to buy, the Prius’...
Ford has announced it is joining a growing list of automakers who are taking a serious look at the future of self-driving cars.
The automaker has teamed up with the University of Michigan and State Farm Insurance to develop an autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid test car. The collaboration will use the car to develop technologies that Ford and its suppliers can use on a future generation of vehicles.
"The Ford Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle represents a vital step toward our vision for the future of mobility," Bill Ford, Ford's executive chairman, said in a statement. "We see a future of connected cars that communicate with each other and the world around them to make driving safer, ease traffic congestion and sustain the environment."
The Fusion test vehicle starts with features you can buy in a Ford today, including adaptive cruise control, collision warning and brake assist, self-parking and blind-spot monitoring. It then adds to the car four LiDAR infrared sensors that scan the road 2.5...
Mini has announced that it will use the 2014 Detroit Auto Show in January to flex a little bit of muscle and reveal the John Cooper Works concept.
The car is a high-performance iteration of the all-new 2014 Cooper Hardtop that Mini showed off at the L.A. Auto Show in November. Mini -- an offshoot of BMW -- has traditionally built a John Cooper Works version of nearly every model it builds.
Powertrain details on the JCW concept haven’t been disclosed, but it will likely use a tuned version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine in the new Cooper S. That model makes 189 horsepower and a maximum of 207 pound-feet of torque, so certainly expect a healthier piece of performance pie from the JCW version.
Other upgrades will be made to the suspension tuning to make the car tighter under hard driving, and unique style features will include new 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a rear diffuser and spoiler, and a twin-tip sport exhaust...
Californians pay a far bigger insurance penalty than drivers in most other states for causing a traffic accident.
That’s the finding of InsuranceQuotes.com, an insurance shopping company that surveyed how much a driver’s premiums rise after one accident.
Car insurance premiums for Californian rise by an average of 62% after a single claim, according to the report. That’s the second-steepest hike in the country.
Nationally, drivers pay an average of 38% more for car insurance after making a single claim. Residents of Massachusetts pay the largest increase, 67%. New Jersey is third after California with a 59% rise.
Maryland has the smallest increase, just 20%, followed by Alabama at 22% and Michigan at 23%.
Don’t even think about having a second accident that’s your fault. Nationally, that sends premiums soaring to 86% over a claim-free driver with a similar policy.
“The biggest lesson for consumers is not to file a claim unless absolutely necessary,&...
A federal safety agency announced Monday that two German automakers had issued voluntary vehicle recalls in November.
BMW is recalling more than 76,000 sedans and SUVs to fix an issue with the passenger-side airbags, while Volkswagen is recalling about 66,000 vehicles to fix a pair of issues, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.
The BMW recall affects 3-Series and 5-Series models from 2006 and 2007 (325i, 325xi, 330i, 330xi, 328i, 328xi, 335i, 335xi, 525i, 525xi, 530i, 530xi, 550i), the 2006 760i sedan, the 750i, 750Li, and 760Li sedans from 2006 and 2007 and the 2006 X5. A total of 76,565 vehicles are affected.
All models could potentially have a defective mat in the front passenger seat that could fail to tell the vehicle’s airbag system if and how to deploy in a crash. If that were to happen, the airbag may not deploy at all, leading to injuries for the passenger, the safety agency said.
The C-class sports sedan from Mercedes-Benz is often called the “baby Benz” because it was the smallest and least expensive model the German automaker sold in the U.S.
Baby has grown up.
Mercedes revealed details Monday about the next generation C class, which will go on sale as a 2015 model next fall. The car is roomier than the current model and will offer more safety features and amenities, including a touch pad on the center console that will work the controls.
“The car matures,” said Steve Cannon, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz USA. “The level of refinement takes a dramatic step up.”
The role of the C had to change because it is no longer expected to bring entry-level buyers into the Mercedes brand, Cannon said, a task that’s now on the shoulders of the smaller and less expensive CLA.
Mercedes hasn’t discussed its pricing strategy but hinted that the vehicle will sell close to its current...
Tesla Motors plans to unveil an electric car in early 2015 that could sell in the $40,000 range, a mainstream offering that could be key to the automaker's future growth.
Tesla's only current offering is the Model S, a premium sport sedan that starts at $71,070 before any state or federal tax incentives, and can cost far more with options. In late 2014, the Palo Alto automaker plans to release a long-awaited Model X sport-utility, likely to sell in the same price range.
The third, lower-priced model could make its official debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Tesla confirmed Friday. It would begin selling in 2016 or 2017.
The automaker has long promised a more affordable electric car. Delivering one will be crucial to its future.
“This is hugely important for Tesla,” said Thilo Koslowski, an auto industry analyst at Gartner. “This is ultimately the car that will make Tesla a household brand rather than just something in the premium...
Over the last 100 years, Aston Martin has ferried royalty, seduced James Bond and won world racing championships. It's also been through enough bankruptcies and reorganizations to make American Airlines proud.
This year finds the iconic British brand celebrating its centenary year in fine form. The brand's lineup is as robust as it's ever been, with three sports cars and a four-door coupe selling for $121,000 to $311,000.
Such princely sums for a car were unimaginable in 1914, when founders Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford first started building cars to race up a course called Aston Hill. The company would spend the next 30 years building racing and road cars, while passing through several owners.
In 1947, a wealthy tractor maker named David Brown bought several auto manufacturing companies, including Aston Martin. With his new holdings, Brown ushered the Aston brand into a golden era of performance and style. Along the way, he bestowed his cars with the DB naming convention that lives...
A day after opening talks to resolve hundreds of sudden-acceleration cases in federal and state court in California, Toyota Motor Corp. has settled a separate lawsuit, filed in West Virginia.
On Friday, the Japanese automaker reached a confidential agreement with Opal Gay Vance, whose 2010 Camry accelerated and crashed into a trailer and injured her back and neck, her attorney said.
The case had been scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 21, making it the next sudden-acceleration case Toyota was expected to face anywhere in the country.
“There seemed to be a pretty clear purpose on Toyota’s part to get a deal done” and keep the case out of court, attorney Edgar “Hike” Heiskell said. “There was a real sense of motivation on that side of the table.”
Honda Motor Co. will recall 19,197 Acura MDX sport-utility vehicles equipped with all-wheel-drive to tighten bolts in the drive system.
All of the vehicles were recently built and from the 2014 model year.
Honda said it wants owners to bring the cars back to dealers so that mechanics can inspect the upscale SUVs to see if they need to tighten or replace bolts used to secure the propeller shaft, a component of the AWD system.
During assembly, it is possible that one or more of the four bolts that attach a propeller shaft to a universal joint were not tightened properly. A bolt that is not properly fastened could loosen over time and fall out, possibly allowing one end of the propeller shaft to detach.
That could cause excessive noise and possibly damage the vehicle while driving, increasing the risk of a crash.
Honda said it knows of no customer complaints, crashes or injuries have been reported related to this issue, which was discovered during vehicle assembly.
Toyota Motor Corp. has opened talks to settle hundreds of state and federal lawsuits alleging that defects caused its vehicles to accelerate suddenly and crash, resulting in serious injuries and deaths.
The decision to enter what the courts called an "intensive settlement process" could bring closure to plaintiffs who have been battling the world's largest automaker since 2009, and to Toyota, which already has spent as much as $2 billion in legal costs and suffered damage to its public reputation.
The automaker may have another incentive to end its long legal ordeal: It recently lost its first trial in a sudden-acceleration case when an Oklahoma jury found that defective electronics on a Camry caused an accident that killed one woman and seriously injured another. The jury assessed a $3-million verdict against Toyota.
"The watershed moment must have been that loss in Oklahoma," said Byron Stier, a professor at Southwestern Law School. "It was such a shock. People thought sudden...
America’s cars, trucksand SUVs took a record step in 2012 toward a cleaner future, with the average fuel economy for new vehicles hitting an all-time high of 23.6 miles per gallon, according to a new report released by the EPA.
That average is a 1.2 mpg increase over 2011 vehicles, a jump that is the second highest in the last 30 years. Fuel economy has increased in seven of the last eight years, the agency announced in Thursday’s report.
"Today’s new vehicles are cleaner and more fuel efficient than ever, saving American families money at the gas pump and helping to keep the air that we breathe cleaner," Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said in a statement. "Each year new technologies are coming online to keep driving these positive trends toward greater and greater efficiency."
Among the individual brands, Mazda, Honda and Volkswagen Group occupied the top three spots in terms of overall fuel economy for 2012,...
Though it’s better known for its sturdy fleet of sedans and crossover SUVs, Honda announced this week that it also plans to keep on trucking.
In less than two years, Honda will put an all-new version of its midsize Ridgeline pickup truck on sale, the automaker said Tuesday. It will be the second generation of the U.S.-only truck that Honda originally put on sale in 2006.
"The next generation Ridgeline will build on Honda's role in creating new value with a new take on advancing form and function in the truck segment," Michael Accavitti, senior vice president at American Honda, said in a statement.
Though Honda didn’t announce details about the next Ridgeline, a look at the concept sketch it released showed a truck with a more conventional silhouette than the current model, which Honda will stop building in the middle of 2014.
The current Ridgeline is a five-passenger truck that rides on a unibody platform it shares with other Honda and Acura models including the Odyssey...
Volkswagen Group of America is replacing Jonathan Browning, its top executive in North America, as it struggles with stagnant U.S. sales while the rest of the car market is growing.
The German automaker said Browning was leaving “for personal reasons” and returning to his native England. He will be replaced by Michael Horn, head of Volkswagen Global After Sales.
Browning was facing pressure to grow VW sales rapidly after the company spent about $1 billion to open a factory to build Passat sedans in Chattanooga, Tenn., two years ago.
VW Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn and has set an ambitious target to sell 1 million VWs and Audis in the U.S. by 2018, almost double the automaker’s current sales.
“He is the victim of the fact the VW portfolio isn’t particularly well suited to the American market yet,” said Jack Nerad, an analyst with auto price information company Kelley Blue Book. “They have made some inroads, but there is still a lot to be...
BMW’s venerable M3 is losing two cylinders, but drivers won't notice any loss of power.
After introducing a V-8 for a single generation in the outgoing coupe, convertible, and sedan models, BMW has reverted to the traditional straight six - now with turbochargers - for its 2015 M3 sedan and M4 coupe.
“Four generations of the BMW M3 have blended motor sport genes and uncompromised everyday usability within an emotionally rich overall concept,” said Friedrich Nitschke, president of BMW’s M division. “The BMW M3 Sedan and BMW M4 Coupe represent an ongoing commitment to this philosophy."
The fifth-generation duo will make their world debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show in January.
Under the bulging aluminum hood of each sits a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine. Horsepower bumps up modestly over the previous version to 425 total, while torque is up considerably to 406 pound-feet. Redline is a relatively high 7,...
Mary Barra, chosen to take over as CEO of General Motors, caught the car bug as a child and still admits a passion for Camaros.
As she rose from intern to the automaker’s global product development chief, Barra worked at some point in nearly every aspect of the business, even heading GM’s human resources department.
When she starts her new gig on Jan. 15, she’ll be arguably the most powerful female executive in America, joining a group of just 23 women currently heading Fortune 500 companies. She’s the first woman to head a major automaker.
Barra, a Michigan native who is married and has two children, has a master's degree in business administration from Stanford University.
Most recently at GM, Barra, 51, led the development of such critically acclaimed models as the seventh-generation Corvette, GM's new truck lineup, two new rear-wheel-drive Cadillac sedans and the 2014 Impala.
Barra was tapped for CEO over other veteran GM executives, including Mark Reuss,...
Volvo has announced that it will follow up the dramatic Concept Coupe first seen in September with a new concept that’s one step closer to its next production vehicle.
The Swedish-based, Chinese-owned brand is to debut the Concept XC Coupe at the Detroit Auto Show in January. An evolution of the coupe seen at the Frankfurt, Germany, show, this latest model is the second of three design studies that show where Thomas Ingenlath, senior vice president of design, is taking the company.
“The next chapter in Volvo Cars' new design story showcases how the company’s famous safety technology as well as a contemporary Scandinavian active lifestyle could be integrated into the new architecture,” the company said in a statement.
The Concept XC Coupe is a preview of what the 2015 Volvo XC90 will look like when it debuts, likely sometime next year. Though this concept has just two doors, expect the production XC90 to be a four-door model with a traditional crossover SUV...
Lexus will be bringing some heat to the Detroit Auto Show, announcing that the automaker will debut an entirely new F model in January.
“Engineered from scratch, one performance layer at a time, the newest F model promises a bold, gritty, experience synonymous with the famed Lexus F heritage,” the automaker said in a statement.
Toyota’s luxury division was mum on other details about the car, releasing only the teaser image above. Lexus’ F models are a performance variant of existing vehicles, similar to BMW’s M division or Mercedes-Benz’ AMG.
In that light, it would make sense that the car was the new IS-F, seeing as an all-new version of the regular IS went on sale this year. Yet based on a close look at the photo Lexus released -- and the fact that the automaker said the car would be “an entirely new model” -- we’re likely looking at a zestier version of the RC Coupe.
That car debuted at the recent Tokyo Motor Show in November. Based...