A world away from the bright lights and frantic rush of the current New York Auto Show, Jeep is using a very different venue to show off its latest concept vehicles. And it’s getting them dirty too.
Jeep used the recent Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, to unveil six new concepts to the public. The collection was made up of three lifted, painted and modified Wranglers, two new Cherokees looking to flex their off-road muscle, and a diesel Grand Cherokee.
The six prototypes had bolted to them a huge variety of custom parts that Jeep -- and its Mopar aftermarket group -- are considering for production. And these were no mere trailer queens either.
With thousands of Jeep owners flooding the small Utah town to drive the local trails as part of the 48th annual Safari, Jeep made sure each concept came ready to play in the dirt. So play we did.
Jeep Cherokee Dakar
Jeep is clearly eager to prove the off-road mettle of the all-new Cherokee crossover SUV....
Each spring, the small town of Moab, Utah, gets overrun with Jeeps.
They come in every size, shape, and color, and they come by the thousands. The draw is the annual Easter Jeep Safari, a gathering of Jeep fanatics that is now in its 48th year.
The event was created by the Moab Chamber of Commerce, but these days it’s run by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, a local club that promotes trail maintenance and responsible off-roading.
The draw is nine days of off-roading on public trails outside Moab that are considered some of the most picturesque -- and challenging -- in the country. An actual Jeep isn’t required, but whatever you show up in, it needs to be as stout as your nerves.
Groups of 40 or more line up each morning to head out to trails with names such as Hell’s Revenge, Poison Spider and Elephant Hill. Although experienced guides and spotters are common, each year a couple of burly off-road...
The battle for buyers of family sedans — already the most competitive U.S. auto segment — will heat up this fall when Toyota and Hyundai launch dramatically restyled versions of their respective offerings, the Camry and the Sonata.
A decade ago, the default choices in this biggest slice of the auto market were the Camry and Honda's Accord, but the competition has grown fierce in the last five years. Automakers can't afford a misstep with a new model, and they can't fall behind with a dated model.
That's why Toyota and Hyundai debuted redesigns of their flagship sedans at the New York International Auto Show this week — even though the current version of the Camry is just 2 years old and the current Sonata launched as a 2011 model. Car companies typically wait five years between redesigns.
"The market is evolving faster, and consumer patience for vehicles that have not changed is dropping," said Karl Brauer, an analyst with auto information company Kelley Blue Book.
Subaru is unveiling a refreshed version of its popular Outback -- the most fuel efficient and roomiest version in the model's 20-year history.
The 2015 is the fifth-generation Outback, an all-wheel-drive series that has helped the Japanese company transform itself from a niche brand - favored by sporty yuppies and Boomers headed to the mountains with skis and snowboard - to a mainstream automaker.
Currently on a sales roll, Subaru boasts that it's the only automaker in the world to post five consecutive years of sales increases. Total sales in 2013 reached 424,683 vehicles, Subaru has reported. It's February 2014 figures showed a 24% increase over February 2013.
"Subaru has really established a heritage with this brand, and attached such a positive image to it," said Edmunds.com senior editor Bill Visnic. "They're the Jeep for people who don't want to buy a Jeep, and they're suddenly started to click with the mainstream market."
Audi made a small but loyal group of buyers very happy at the New York Auto Show, announcing Wednesday the arrival of the all-new A3 TDI Sportback.
The car joins a rapidly growing family of A3 vehicles. When this tidy hatchback goes on sale in early 2015, it will join five other A3 models, all of which are new.
"The A3 TDI Sportback has an incredibly passionate and loyal fan base, and this new version has been one of our most requested models since the announcement of the new A3 family," said Scott Keogh, president of Audi America.
Historically, the A3 has come to the U.S. market only in hatchback form with either gas or diesel engines. Sales were never huge: In 2012 -- the last full year the A3 was for sale here -- Audi sold just over 7,200 cars.
Audi is looking to change all that this year with the new A3 sedan, a compact car aimed at entry-level buyers who don’t want the size or cost of the ever-...
Despite a grim outlook for full-size sedans, Dodge used the New York Auto Show to reveal a thoroughly updated Charger.
Marketed as a four-door muscle car, the Charger keeps its V-6 and V-8 power trains, but wraps them in a more contemporary body that does away with a retro-infused look.
"Our Dodge designers have resculpted nearly every single body panel of the Charger for 2015, giving it a sleek, nimble appearance," said Tim Kuniskis, president and CEO of the Dodge brand.
When the 2015 Charger goes on sale at the end of the year, the new styling will be directly aimed at a younger buyer than typically heads to the full-sized section at a dealership. It will also hope to steal sales from peers like the Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, Chevy Impala, Hyundai Azera and Nissan Maxima.
PHOTOS: 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
Last year was a strong one for the Charger. Sales were up 19% to nearly 100,000 cars sold, making it one of the best-selling full-size cars. Yet it hasn’t been able to keep up for...
Toyota launched a dramatic mid-cycle restyling of its Camry sedan in a move to fend off increasing competition from rivals such as the Honda Accord and the Nissan Altima.
The Camry has been the nation’s best-selling passenger car for a dozen years but its lead over competitors is narrowing. Through the first three months of this year, Toyota has sold just over 94,000 Camrys. It leads the Altima by about 5,000 sales and the Accord by about 15,000 sales.
But the Accord’s share of the market is growing and, when sales to rental car companies and other fleet customers are subtracted, actually beat the Camry last year, said Karl Brauer, an analyst with auto information company Kelley Blue Book.
Despite the new styling, “Toyota will remain under pressure to keep that car at the top of the sales chart,” Brauer said. “They will have to utilize sales incentives and fleet sales but that is going to hurt the resale value...
Hyundai launched the first shot in the coming battle for the family sedan market by introducing a new generation Sonata at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday.
The South Korean automaker launched the current Sonata five years ago as a value play in the mid-size car market, packing the vehicle with features and pricing it below major competitors like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
Helped by dramatic new styling, Sonata sales zoomed, proving that Hyundai could compete effectively against the segment leaders.
“It upset the apple cart,” said Karl Brauer, an analyst at auto information company Kelley Blue Book. “There was now an attractive, value-packed and fun-to-drive family sedan. Even the traditional Accord and Camry buyers had to stop and take a look.”
The other automakers responded with improved new generations of their mid-sized sedans, turning the segment the most...
After months of whispers and quiet speculation, Mercedes-Benz has confirmed it is working on a new high-performance sports car, dubbed the AMG GT.
One the eve of the 2014 New York Auto Show, Mercedes on Tuesday night revealed two interior shots of the forthcoming sports car and said little else about the successor to the popular SLS AMG.
"The new Mercedes AMG GT proves that we will be positioning AMG as a dynamic sports car brand even more strongly and aggressively than before," Tobias Moers, chief executive of Mercedes’ AMG division, said in a statement. "Following the global success of the SLS AMG, the new GT is the second sports car developed fully independently by Mercedes AMG."
PHOTOS: Highlights of the 2014 N.Y. Auto Show
Though the two-seat car will succeed the $200,000 SLS AMG, the new AMG GT will be less expensive and smaller. When it debuts -- probably around the Paris Motor Show in early October -- the GT will be more of a direct competitor to higher-end Porsche 911...
Chevrolet is pushing further into the small-SUV segment. Having already introduced six new models into the segment in the last four years -- and enjoyed a triple-digit growth of small car sales -- the automaker will be unwrapping its 2015 Trax.
They're hoping to take a bigger bite out of the small SUV market, going up against the Nissan Jook and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.
Promising "small-car agility with the utility of an SUV," the Trax comes stock with a little engine and a lot of room -- a 1.4 liter turbocharged engine, and almost 50 cubic feet of storage space. With options, it can be an all-wheel drive vehicle, with its own Wi-Fi hotspot, OnStar and MyLink systems, a 7-inch color touch screen in the dash, and Siri Eyes Free communication for the iPhone IOS 6 and IOS7.
A rearview camera is standard equipment, with a rear park assist available as an option. A ten-station airbag system, which includes side curtain air bags for...
Volkswagen kept plenty busy at the 2014 New York Auto Show, bringing with it an all-new Golf Sportswagen, a refreshed Jetta sedan, and some pricing details on its soon-to-be-released Golf GTI hot hatch.
The biggest news was VW’s 2015 Golf Sportswagen. It replaces the Jetta wagon in the U.S. lineup, though that outgoing car was always based on the Golf anyway, nomenclature aside. So fear not, Sportswagen fans, your trusty hauler isn’t any smaller.
It actually grows. The new model is just over an inch longer and just under an inch wider. Rear leg, shoulder, and headroom is all up. Cargo room with the rear seats folded is up 10 percent, VW said.
As with the previous Jetta wagon, two engines will be offered. A new 1.8-liter, turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine makes 170 horsepower and comes with either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. This new powerplant is up to 17 percent more fuel...
Sitting on the deck of the aircraft carrier Intrepid in Manhattan on Monday night, Land Rover’s Discovery Concept SUV previewed much more than just a future vehicle from the historically British brand.
It signified a major reorganization for Land Rover itself.
The automaker announced that the Discovery name -- previously used on a single model -- will now expand to become a range of vehicles. Similar to how Range Rover has always been Land Rover’s high-end, luxury-oriented sub-brand. Discovery will now be the volume-selling, family division.
“We announced at the Geneva Motor Show in March that the Discovery family is set to evolve,” Phil Popham, marketing director for Jaguar Land Rover, said in a statement. “And it is apt that in the 25th anniversary year of the original Discovery that we preview how this evolution will take us forward into a daring new era.”
The Discovery Vision Concept that Land Rover...
Nissan has released details on the all-new third generation of its quirky Murano crossover ahead of its New York Auto Show debut this week.
Love or hate the oddball styling, you at least have to give the brand credit for being consistent.
The Murano has always added a dash of funk to Nissan’s lineup, dating from the first generation’s introduction in 2002. A redesign for 2009 reined in some of the crossover’s outlandish look in favor of upping the Murano’s interior refinement. For 2015, Nissan is hoping the new model will be both refined and eye-catching.
PHOTOS: 2015 Nissan Murano
"We want to go back to the wow factor," said Pierre Loing, vice president of product planning for Nissan North America. "What we’ve tried to combine is the look of a show car’s exterior with plenty of interior refinement."
For better or worse, Nissan’s design team did just that. The all-new Murano closely resembles the wild Resonance concept SUV Nissan displayed at the...
Lexus is jumping into the suddenly crowded field for compact luxury SUVs.
Toyota’s luxury division will welcome the all-new NX compact crossover SUV later this month at the Beijing Auto Show. The vehicle will serve as an entry-level crossover, smaller in price and stature than the company’s wildly popular RX.
In addition to entering a new segment, the NX marks the the first time Lexus has used a turbocharged engine.
The NX 200t will come with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, Lexus said. The NX 300h is a hybrid that will use a 2.5-liter gas engine. Details on power for both models haven’t been released, but the Lexus ES 300h sedan uses the same hybrid setup as the NX and it’s rated at 200 horsepower.
The NX is loosely based on the Toyota RAV4 and will come in either front-wheel-drive or optional AWD. The NX shares an aggressive, angular look with other models in Lexus’ lineup, including the compact IS sedan....
The cozy world of minivans got a bit more competitive Monday, as Kia officially debuted its all-new Sedona.
The 2015 people-mover is new from the ground up and replaces an outdated and slow-selling Sedona that's been around since 2006.
“Throughout the development process, our engineers in the U.S. and Korea focused on adding the element of desire to the all-new Sedona," said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning for Kia.
PHOTOS: 2015 Kia Sedona minivan
Although "desire" is not typically a word associated with the minivan set, the Korean automaker designed the new Sedona with an emphasis on driving dynamics, style and features, the company said.
The 2015 model will come with a direct-injected 3.3-liter V-6 plucked from the Cadenza full-size sedan and Sorento SUV. In minivan duty, it puts out 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission will be standard.
This new Sedona is also a complete transformation of the model's style. Under the...
Chevrolet has announced an update to its bestselling car, the Cruze. The 2015 model will feature new styling inside and out and enhanced OnStar and Siri connectivity, including the company's optional Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Cruze will be the first in its class to offer the OnStar 4G LTE, new technology that turns every vehicle into its own information and entertainment hub, with enough bandwidth to supply up to seven devices at once.
Though it's not a top-to-bottom refresh, the new Cruze will also include new paint schemes and revised cupholders, which the company promises "make it easier insert and remove cups."
Chevy fielded the first Cruze in 2008, and has enjoyed strong sales for the last several years.
Last month, the automaker recalled about 172,000 2013-14 Chevrolet Cruzes equipped with 1.4 liter turbocharged gasoline engines to replace a right front axle half shaft that can fracture and separate without warning during normal driving. No injuries or fatalities have been associated...
The 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S is impressive enough in a straight line, ripping from zero to 60 in less than three seconds.
But what happens on a smooth mountain road, at the apex of an uphill, right-hand sweeper, must be experienced to be believed. While G-forces are pressing your face sideways, the car seems to barely notice it is death-gripping a curve at 70 mph.
This is a high-tech weapon aimed at the limits of physics. Lurking beneath the shapely body panels is an intelligent all-wheel-drive system, active aerodynamics and suspension, twin-turbocharging, torque vectoring, and rear-wheel steering, among other delights. The Turbo S is packed with every technological advance Porsche offers on a 911. Only the price can keep up with the performance.
Leading the German automaker's parade of 16 different 911 coupe and convertible variants, the 2014 Turbo S hogs all the superlatives: fastest, most powerful, most expensive.
The car starts at $182,095, though the...
Chevrolet is honking its own horn hard for the rollout of its new Corvette Z06 convertible, calling it the most powerful drop-top the company has ever produced.
Boasting 625 horsepower and 635 pound-feet or torque, the Z06 is built on a brand new all-aluminum frame that the company says lowers the weight, increases stability and for the first time makes race-track performance possible in a convertible.
Extolling the vehicle as "a race car that’s street legal" married to "a private jet for the road," the company's Corvette product manager, Harlan Charles, said the 2015 model is also the first Z06 offering an automatic transmission -- an eight-speed paddle-shift version -- as well as the traditional seven-speed manual one.
Chevy isn't releasing official speed or fuel-consumption data, but Charles said the Z06 will make zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds or less, while still matching the 2014 Stingray's reported 29 mpg.
It also features the company's...
BMW will recall 156,000 sports sedans and sport-utility vehicles in the U.S. because of a problem with the 6-cylinder engines in the vehicles.
The move is part of a global action to call back nearly 500,000 vehicles, including 232,000 in China.
BMW said it has received reports of the bolts holding the variable camshaft timing unit housing becoming loose and in some instances breaking.
That triggers the “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” light on the dashboard. The cars could lose power and stall. The problem can also damage the engine.
The recalled cars are the 2010-12 1 Series, 2010-12 3 Series, 2010-12 5 Series, 2010-12 5 Series Gran Turismo, 2012 6 Series, 2010-12 X3, 2010-12 X5, 2010-12 X6 and 2010-12 Z4.
BMW said drivers can continue to operate the vehicles. But if they see the “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” light they should contact their BMW dealer. If the car stalls, drivers should not try to start the vehicle again....
General Motors announced Thursday it will take a $1.3-billion write-down to cover the cost of repairs related to faulty ignition switch recalls, and placed two engineers at the center of the recall scandal on paid leave.
The company also said it will replace a second part in the affected cars.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra confirmed Thursday that engineers Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman were put on leave following a briefing from Anton Valukas, the former U.S. attorney overseeing an independent investigation into circumstances leading to a safety recall of 2.6 million GM cars because of a faulty ignition switch.
“This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened,” Barra said Thursday. “It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM.”
The defect causes vehicles to shut off, disabling the air bags and other key functions, and has been linked to 13 deaths. GM has known about the problem for more than a decade but did not recall the cars...
General Motors has placed two engineers at the center of its delayed recall scandal on paid leave.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra confirmed Thursday that engineers Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman were put on leave following a briefing from Anton Valukas, the former U.S. attorney overseeing an independent investigation into circumstances leading to a safety recall of 2.6 million older GM cars because of a faulty ignition switch.
“This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened,” Barra said. “It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM.”
The defect causes vehicles to shut off, disabling the airbags and other key functions, and has been linked to 13 deaths. GM has known about the problem for more than a decade but did not recall the cars until earlier this year.
The delay and the reasons behind the automaker’s failure to replace the switch are the subject of investigations from the National Highway Traffic Safety...
This is like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bikes.
The bikes are Ducatis -- the venerable, touring Multistrada; the race-ready, asphalt-eating Hypermotard; and the somewhere-in-between Hyperstrada.
The Goldilocks is me: forever trying, like the fairytale figure, to find perfection.
The wrong bike is easy to identify. It's too slow, too loud, too heavy, too hot or all of the above. It sits too low, too far forward or too far back.
The almost-perfect bike is also easy to identify. Great motorcycles of every size, shape and style are on the market these days. Almost every company makes one or more.
And finding the perfect collection of bikes is easy, too, if you have the wallet and the garage space to accommodate a sport bike, touring bike, track bike and casual city bike.
But, the perfect bike -- the one bike that you would have, and have no others, and be happy? That's hard.
In an effort to distinguish the great from the perfect, I...
Toyota Motor Corp. will recall more than 6 million vehicles worldwide to fix a variety of problems, including a wiring issue that might disable airbags and a glitch that could trigger the driver’s seat in some cars to suddenly shift.
It’s just the latest in a parade of massive recalls by manufacturers this year, especially in the U.S.
Toyota’s announcement Wednesday brought the number of vehicles called back by automakers in the U.S. to nearly 13 million so far this year, on pace to surpass the record 30.8 million vehicles recalled in 2004. Car companies called back 22 million vehicles last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“This is really the behavior we want manufacturers to exhibit,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with car shopping company Edmunds.com. “It shows that they recognize a product flaw and that they want to correct it to protect the safety of current and future owners.”
The recalls also come...
TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 6.39 million vehicles globally for a variety of problems spanning nearly 30 models in Japan, the U.S., Europe and other places.
No injuries or crashes have been reported related to the recalls announced Wednesday. But two fires have been reported related to one of the problems, a defective engine starter that can keep the motor running.
Some vehicles were recalled for more than one problem. The recall cases total 6.76 million vehicles for 27 Toyota models, the Pontiac Vibe and the Subaru Trezia, produced from April 2004 through August 2013.
The Pontiac Vibe, which is a General Motors Co. model, is also involved because Toyota and GM made cars at the same plant in California and the recalled model is the same as the Toyota Matrix. It was recalled for a problem with a spiral cable attached to an air-bag. It is unrelated to a separate GM recall over ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths.
Subaru is partly owned by Toyota, and the model...
Federal regulators have fined General Motors Co. $28,000 for missing a deadline to turn over key information about a faulty ignition switch linked to 13 deaths and the recall of 2.6 million vehicles globally.
Regulators will continue to fine the automaker $7,000 daily until it fully complies with the request, an attorney for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wrote in a letter delivered to the automaker Tuesday. The fine could go as high as $35 million.
It is the maximum NHTSA can fine GM under current law. NHTSA said it is missing about a third of the information it requested.
The agency also told GM that it may ask U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder to take the automaker to court to make it provide the information.
The safety agency sent what is called a “special order” to GM on March 4 giving the car company until April 3 to respond to 107 specific questions. NHTSA is investigating why GM recalled the vehicles only this year even though it has known about the...
Some of the country’s most popular midsize sport utility vehicles flunked a recent series of crash tests, leading the influential magazine Consumer Reports to pull its coveted "recommended" rating for three of the vehicles.
The independant Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced Tuesday that the Kia Sorrento, Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9 all earned a "poor" overall rating in the front overlap crash test.
Six others passed the test. The Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain twins scored "good" ratings from the IIHS. The Toyota Highlander was rated "acceptable." The Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner and Ford Explorer were deemed "marginal." All of the SUVs tested were from the 2014 model year.
“SUVs have gotten much safer over the past few generations, but some are better than others at providing comprehensive front crash protection,” David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president, said in a statement. “When it comes to midsize SUVs, General Motors is showing the...
Have Tesla Motors sales stalled?
That’s what analysts are asking after looking at the electric car company’s latest sales data.
Tesla sold about 1,600 of its Model S sports sedans in the U.S. in March, just slightly more than it sold in the same month a year earlier, according to AutoData Corp. Through the first three months of this year, the Palo Alto car company has sold 4,700 cars in the U.S., up not quite 1% from the same period a year earlier.
“We believe that Model S demand in the U.S. has plateaued,” said Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays Capital.
Johnson said U.S. sales of the Model S, which starts at about $71,000, peaked in the second quarter of last year.
“To a large extent, the early adopters have gotten their fix,” said Thilo Koslowski, an analyst with Gartner Inc. “Tesla has to conquer new segments of buyers.”
But it will be hard to expand sales volume because, Koslowski said, “The price point is still pretty...
Most drivers know that underinflated tires are a safety hazard. But many don’t recognize the dashboard warning light that signals a problem with a tire.
A national survey by Schrader International, considered the inventor of the pneumatic tire valve used on cars today, found that 42% of drivers can’t accurately identify the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) dashboard warning symbol.
The symbol, a yellow or red outline of a tire surrounding an exclamation point, alerts drivers to flats or a loss of pressure in one or more tires. It has been standard on vehicles sold in the U.S. since the 2008 model year.
Schrader estimates that more than 104-million vehicles in the U.S. are now equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system.
But the warning symbol continues to be a mystery to drivers. Back in 2008, a similar survey found that 46% of drivers didn’t recognize the warning light.
Schrader has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the symbol and get drivers to...
Automakers are on a torrid recall pace this year.
Car companies have recalled about 11 million vehicles in the U.S. so far this year. General Motors Co. has called back the most: 6 million, including more than 2 million for an ignition switch issue linked to 13 deaths.
That's already half the 22 million cars recalled in all of 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and more than a third of the recent high of 30.8 million vehicles in 2004.
Other big recalls this year include 650,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos, 1 million cars from Nissan — including its popular Altima and Sentra sedans — almost 900,000 Honda Odyssey minivans and about 700,000 Toyota Prius hybrids.
Ford on Monday recalled more than 400,000 older cars and sport utility vehicles to fix rusting frame parts or faulty seats, depending on the model.
Also Monday, GM began shipping parts to its dealers to repair ignition switches on the cars already recalled. But there's...
Mazda’s web of spider problems is growing.
In one of the stranger recalls in recent memory, Mazda is again recalling some of its cars to fix a problem with spiders getting inside and wreaking havoc.
The latest recall involves 42,000 Mazda6 midsize sedans from the 2010-12 model years, and equipped with the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the spiders can weave a web inside a vent hose connected to the fuel tank. This blockage can cause excessive negative pressure inside the gas tank itself.
“Negative pressure could cause the fuel tank to crack, resulting in a fuel leak, increasing the risk of a fire,” NHTSA said in a statement.
There have been no fires, accidents or injuries as a result of this issue, Mazda said.
Mazda dealers will notify owners of the affected cars and will reprogram the cars’ ECU to compensate for the potential effect of the spiders. Dealers will also clean and inspect the vent hose.
Diesel-powered cars save on fuel, but many of them won't save you any money.
That's because they cost thousands more to buy in the first place, compared with similar gas-powered models. And many automakers usually offer diesel engines only in combination with a pricey set of standard features.
So it can take years — if ever — to make up for those upfront costs through savings at the pump.
That's what makes the latest addition to Volkswagen's growing diesel fleet, the Jetta TDI Value Edition, so intriguing. It offers the same diesel engine used across VW's lineup in a stripped-down package with an aggressive price: $22,115 with a manual transmission and $23,215 with a dual-clutch automated manual.
That cuts more than $2,300 from the price of the standard Jetta TDI and makes it by far the least expensive U.S. diesel car. It undercuts VW's other diesel models — including the Golf, Jetta Sportwagen and Passat — by an even wider margin. The Value Edition also stands...
Attention Vermont, the Pacific Northwest and college towns everywhere: Subaru plans to use the 2014 New York Auto Show to debut its all-new Outback station wagon.
The perennially popular all-wheel-drive wagon is largely based on Subaru’s Legacy midsize sedan. An all-new Legacy was unveiled at February’s Chicago Auto Show, so it’s no surprise that the more rugged Outback wagon version would follow soon after.
Details on what will make the Outback tick haven’t been announced, but don’t expect much change from the mechanicals of the new Legacy.
That car has a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine that makes 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) will be standard. The Outback could also offer the optional 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engine that’s in the 2015 Legacy as well.
Like the Legacy, fuel economy will likely improve, thanks to a retuned engine and transmission and better aerodynamics outside...
Just in time for some high-speed topless cruising, BMW has announced details on its all-new M4 convertible ahead of its world debut at the New York Auto Show.
The 2015 model is mechanically identical to BMW’s M3 sedan and M4 coupe and features a folding hardtop roof like the one on the more average 435i convertible we drove in February.
As with its sedan and coupe brethren, the M4 convertible has a new, high-revving, twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine. With just 3.0-liters it pumps out 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.
The standard transmission will be a six-speed manual gearbox, which is good for a zero-60 mph run in 4.4 seconds. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automated manual will be an option (probably $2,900), and drops the acceleration time down to 4.2 seconds, BMW said.
The previous M3 convertible (remember, BMW has switched coupes and convertibles to even model numbers) was no lightweight. So BMW leveraged what it learned...
TrueCar.com, the Internet car-shopping company backed by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen and insurance giant USAA, plans an initial public stock offering.
The Santa Monica company has grown rapidly over the last year by offering a platform for car shoppers to get an “upfront” price from dealers, thereby avoiding most of the haggling that occurs in auto shopping.
TrueCar’s revenue jumped 68% last year from 2012, to just under $134 million, but the company has never been profitable. Its losses shrank to $25.1 million last year, from $74.5 million, according to offering documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.
The filing said TrueCar plans to raise $125 million to invest back into the company, but that the figure could change.
Car dealers pay TrueCar a fee for each sale. Much of its business comes from running the shopping services of the United Services Automobile Assn., Consumer Reports, financial institutions and large employers...
The world of minivans hasn’t had much excitement injected into it in a while, but look to Kia to change that later this month at the New York Auto Show.
The South Korean automaker announced Thursday that it would bring an all-new "midsize multipurpose vehicle" to the show for a world debut on April 16. Don’t let the jargon fool you, this will be the next generation of Kia’s Sedona minivan.
The current Sedona has been around since 2006, and its age has left it at the bottom of a competitive set that includes the Dodge Caravan, Chrysler Town and Country, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
Sales for this Kia dwindled to just 7,000 in 2013, compared with nearly 130,000 for the Honda Odyssey in the same year.
Kia allowed the Sedona to languish because it was focused on bolstering its lineup with other models. The brand has moved into the upper echelons of the car world, first with the full-size Cadenza sedan, and most recently with the high-end K900 luxury sedan.
For just a few million dollars, General Motors Co. could have replaced a defective ignition switch that ultimately has been linked to 13 deaths and is expected to cost the automaker billions in repairs, fines and litigation.
GM need only have spent an additional 90 cents on each switch to handle the problem. But the automaker balked at the expense, according to company documents.
That fateful decision came into sharp focus during the second day of hearings on Capitol Hill over the safety scandal. GM now faces multiple investigations by congressional committees, the Department of Justice and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into why it didn't recall 2.6 million cars with the bad switch when it first learned of the problem more than a decade ago.
The switch can unintentionally turn off the vehicle, disabling the power steering and air bags. Spending 90 cents more on each car would have bought a "more robust" design that would prevent "inadvertent ignition offs,"...
WASHINGTON -- Senators aggressively questioned General Motors Co. Chief Executive Mary Barra on Wednesday about the years of delays in recalling vehicles with faulty ignition switches, accusing the company of a coverup to hide the problem that caused at least 13 fatal accidents.
"I think it's pretty much incontrovertible that GM knew about this safety defect, failed to correct it ... and then concealed it from the courts and the United States," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told Barra during a hearing by a Senate Commerce subcommittee.
The panel's chairwoman, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), referred to a "culture of coverup."
And Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said that revelations that GM redesigned the switch in 2006 but kept the same part number as the faulty switch that was installed in millions of vehicles "strikes me as deception."
Barra has called the failure to identify the redesigned switch as a new part was "unacceptable."
Ayotte said: "I think it goes beyond unacceptable. I...
Chrysler Group is recalling almost 650,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango sport utility vehicles sold in the U.S. during the the 2011-14 model years to fix a problem with the brakes.
It will recall another 200,000 of the vehicles sold in other countries.
In documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the automaker said some of the SUVs may have a corroded center shell of the brake booster that will allow water to seep in. If the water freezes in a cold climate, the braking ability of the vehicle can be diminished.
Chrysler discovered the problem after it and NHTSA received consumer complaints of a “hard pedal feel” to the brakes in some vehicles. A tear-down of some of the brake systems in the cars found the corroded part.
The automaker is asking owners to take their SUVs back to dealers so that a water diverter shield can be added to the booster.
Technicians also will test...
General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra on Tuesday vowed to find out whether GM engineering employees executed a coverup or were merely incompetent in failing to recall a defective part linked to 13 deaths.
Testifying before a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel, Barra said an independent investigation she ordered should provide that answer and explain why the company waited years to fix a faulty ignition switch in multiple models.
GM only recently recalled 2.6 million vehicles to fix the switch even though the automaker learned of the problem more than a decade ago.
The fix took "way too long," she told lawmakers. "We will make changes and we will hold people accountable."
But Barra — a lifelong GM employee named to head the automaker in January — repeatedly deflected questions about a coverup and provided no specifics about who nixed the recalls and why. She said the automaker has hired former U.S. attorney Anton "Tony" Valukas to lead an inquiry to find those...
Despite General Motors' recent recall of millions of its cars — and several investigations into the issue — buyers are still streaming into GM dealerships.
The beleaguered automaker announced Tuesday that sales in March rose 4% compared with the same month a year earlier. Nearly the entire industry saw a similar jump in the U.S., with sales up 5.7% to 1.54 million vehicles, according to Autodata.
Pent-up consumer demand and healthy sales incentives helped companies rebound from a slow February, when bad weather throughout much of the country kept buyers away, according to Mark Wakefield, managing director at AlixPartners and head of its automotive practice in North America.
"And the industry seems well-positioned heading into spring: low interest rates, improving credit availability, dealers with full lots, manufacturers getting more aggressive with incentives and, surprisingly, strong used-car prices," Wakefield said.
Strong consumer confidence and an economy that...
General Motors CEO Mary Barra said Tuesday she wants to find out if GM engineering employees executed a coverup or were merely incompetent in failing to recall a defective part linked to 13 deaths.
In testimony before a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel investigating why the automaker waited years to fix the vehicles, Barra said she has asked former U.S. attorney Anton “Tony” Valukas to help figure that out.
Previously Valukas investigated the collapse of the Lehman Bros. financial services firm in 2008.
Barra also issued yet another apology for GM's failure to fix the problem years earlier. She conceded that company officials knew of issues with the faulty ignition switches behind the crashes and deaths for more than a decade.
Barra said she found the automaker's worries about the cost to fix defective cars "disturbing." Those concerns were detailed in documents obtained by the House committee.
“That is not acceptable,” Barra said. “Today, if...
WASHINGTON -- Families of victims of fatal crashes of General Motors Co. cars with faulty ignition switches on Tuesday sharply criticized the automaker for delays in recalling the vehicles and called for legislation to prevent a repeat.
About two dozen family members gathered in front of the Capitol building to make their case before GM Chief Executive Mary Barra and David Friedman, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, were scheduled to testify at a congressional hearing about the recall delay.
The families were joined by four Democratic lawmakers who want to toughen laws governing the disclosure of auto defects after GM waited years to recall vehicles after learning of the ignition-switch problem.
The switch, which unintentionally can turn off the vehicle and disable its airbags, has been linked to 13 fatal accidents. GM has recalled about 2.6 million vehicles globally since February to fix the part.
"I feel that GM needs to be held accountable to the...
Auto sales turned up in March as relief from the bitter winter cold in much of the nation brought shoppers back to showrooms.
“Solid March sales pushed first-quarter industry results ahead of last year’s pace despite one of the harshest winters on record,” said Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota’s U.S. sales division. “Toyota dealers had their two best sales weekends of the year late in the month, and we’re optimistic that momentum will spring us in into April.”
Toyota Motor Corp. said its U.S. sales rose 4.9% to 215,348 vehicles, compared with the same month a year earlier.
Ford Motor Co. said its U.S. sales in March rose 3% to 244,167 vehicles, compared with the same month in 2013.
“March sales turned noticeably higher mid-month and finished strong,” said John Felice, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service.
Chrysler Group said its sales rose 13% to 193,915 vehicles, its best March since 2007. It was led by a 47%...
After years of delays, U.S. safety regulators have announced that backup cameras will be required in new U.S. vehicles by May 2018.
The move comes just a day before a court of appeals was to hear arguments in a lawsuit brought against the government by safety groups and families of children injured and killed in back-over accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Monday that "rear-visibility technology" must be standard equipment in all vehicles under 10,000 pounds. The move aims to reduce the average of 210 deaths and 15,000 injuries caused every year by backup accidents. Many of the accidents involve children or seniors.
"Rear-visibility requirements will save lives, and will save many families from the heartache suffered after these tragic incidents occur," said David Friedman, NHTSA's acting administrator.
But NHTSA has come under heavy fire for not acting sooner.
A lawsuit scheduled to be heard Tuesday in the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals sought...
As General Motors Co. heads into congressional hearings examining its failure to fix a deadly safety defect, the automaker has moved swiftly to burnish its safety credentials by recalling millions of vehicles.
GM said Monday that it will set aside $750 million in the first quarter to pay for repairs even as it recalled an additional 1.5 million vehicles. The car company has now called back about 5 million vehicles in the last two months to fix problems including faulty power steering systems, oil leaks and fractured axle shafts.
The most serious of those — 2.6 million vehicles recalled to replace a defective ignition switch linked to 13 deaths — will be the subject of hearings starting Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra will testify before a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel investigating why the automaker waited years to fix the vehicles. She will be joined by David J. Friedman, the acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety...
As General Motors Co. heads into key congressional hearings Tuesday over a safety defect linked to 13 deaths, the automaker announced it would recall an additional 1.5 million vehicles globally and take a $750-million charge against its first-quarter earnings.
GM told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Monday that it would recall more than 1.3 million vehicles in the United States that may experience a sudden loss of electric power steering assist. It will recall 200,000 outside the U.S.
The charge will set aside money to pay for this latest recall and a slew of similar auctions over the last two months.
The automaker said it knows of some crashes and injuries “that could be related to the loss of power steering on these vehicles” but has not been told of any deaths. It cautioned that it continues to review records and analyze data and that information could change.
The Chevrolet models in the recall are the Malibu from the 2004 and 2005 model years and...
WASHINGTON -- A top federal official said General Motors Co. had "critical information" about a faulty ignition switch that would have helped regulators determine the part was defective and could have triggered recalls years before they began in February.
"This was a difficult case pursued by experts in the field of screening, investigations and technology involving airbags that are designed to deploy in some cases but not others," David Friedman, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in written testimony released Monday ahead of a congressional hearing on the delayed recall.
"GM had critical information that would have helped identify this defect," he said.
Friedman defended NHTSA's handling of the problem after a House of Representatives report said the agency twice declined to open investigations even though one official found a pattern of problems in 2007.
"We are not aware of any information to suggest that NHTSA failed to properly carry...
General Motors will recall almost 500,000 late model pickup trucks and large sport-utility vehicles to fix a potential oil leak.
The automaker also said it will resume selling certain Chevrolet Cruze sedans it had pulled from the market last week after inspecting a potentially defective axle part.
The truck recall includes 490,200 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups, and 2015 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
GM CEO Barra grilled over delayed recalls that lead to deaths
GM said some of the vehicles may have a transmission oil cooler line that is not securely seated in its fitting. This could cause a transmission oil leak that could lead to a fire. GM is aware of three such incidents but no injuries.
Owners will need to take their vehicles to a GM dealer, where mechanics will inspect the fittings for leaks and make any needed repairs.
The automaker also is recalling about 172,000 Chevrolet...
BMW has announced it will lumber into the full-size SUV game in the coming years with the introduction of an all-new model, to be called the X7.
In an announcement on Friday at its Spartanburg, S.C., plant, the German automaker said the three-row SUV would be produced at that facility for export around the globe.
“With the BMW X7, we are developing another, larger X model, which we will produce at our U.S. plant for our world markets – once again underscoring our commitment to the U.S.,” said Norbert Reithofer, chairman of BMW’s board of directors.
Currently, BMW’s midsize X5 -- and its oddball four-door X6 crossover-coupe thing -- sit atop the brand’s SUV lineup (though the automaker likes to refer to these as Sports Activity Vehicles, or SAVs). This means BMW is conspicuously absent in the high-end, full-size SUV -- er SAV -- segment, a place where automakers can reap big profits.
“I promise this SAV will also be highly fuel efficient while...
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators twice declined to investigate faulty ignition switches in General Motors Co. cars that led to 13 deaths — even though one official found "a pattern" of problems, according to a new congressional report.
The report, released Sunday, added fresh details to a controversy that has shaken the revitalized automaker.
Already under fire for lengthy delays in recalling the vehicles, GM also was accused in the report of allowing the defective part to be installed in millions of vehicles after testing showed it did not meet the company's own specifications.
The developments came in a 16-page report that summarized an investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee ahead of a high-profile hearing Tuesday.
"We now know the problems persisted over a decade, the red flags were many, and yet those responsible failed to connect the dots," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the committee's chairman.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra and David J. Friedman,...
WASHINGTON -- Despite concerns that airbags failed to deploy in some General Motors Co. cars, federal regulators twice declined to open formal investigations to determine the cause, according to a congressional investigation into delays in recalling the vehicles.
In addition, the automaker approved the part that caused the problem, an ignition switch, although officials from the supplier said that testing indicated it did not meet GM's original specifications, a House Energy and Commerce committee said Sunday in a memo summarizing its probe.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra and the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, David Friedman, are scheduled to testify Tuesday at a hearing by the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee into the reason for delays in recalling vehicles with the faulty ignition switch.
The part has been linked to a series of crashes and at least 12 deaths in six GM models and the recall of more than 2.4 million vehicles.
NHTSA and the Justice...
Tesla Motors Inc. has announced plans to reinforce the undercarriage of about 16,000 cars with high-strength shields to reduce the risk of damage from a crash starting a fire.
Elon Musk, the electric car company's chief executive, outlined the retrofit Friday morning, at the same time the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it has signed off on the changes and was closing a probe into two fires that occurred in Tesla Model S sports sedans.
The NHTSA said it has not identified a safety defect trend that would justify asking Tesla to issue a recall for the Model S. It said "consumers should have their vehicles serviced promptly once they receive notification from Tesla Motors."
One analyst, Karl Brauer at auto information company Kelley Blue Book, said the automaker's plans are similar to a recall because they involve a change in design. Owners who want their cars retrofitted must get them to a Tesla service center, he said.
Tesla said the retrofits are voluntary....
General Motors Co. recalled an additional 824,000 vehicles in the U.S. as it continued to deal with the fallout of a faulty ignition switch linked to a series of crashes and at least 12 deaths.
The automaker said it is calling back Chevrolet Cobalts, Pontiac G5s and Solstices as well as Saturn Ions and Skys from the 2008-11 model years. It also recalled the Chevrolet HHR from the 2008-11 model years.
Although the cars were built with an ignition switch that has had no problems, they might have been repaired with faulty switches left in the parts bins at dealers and auto shops, said Jim Cain, a GM spokesman.
"We need to make sure that one of these bad switches did not wind up in one of these newer vehicles," Cain said. "Rather than leave anything to chance we are going to call them back and replace them."
No reports of deaths or injuries are associated with this new group of vehicles, Cain said.
About 95,000 faulty switches were sold to dealers and in the aftermarket. About 90,000 were...
Cars cost a lot of money.
With an average sales price of about $32,000, we know a new car is out of reach for many. The automakers know this too, which is why they continue to roll out bottom-rung cars for buyers on way-below-average budgets.
The three least expensive cars on the market are the Nissan Versa at $12,800, the Chevrolet Spark at $12,995 and the Mitsubishi Mirage at $13,790. Prices are for the most basic cars with no options but do include destination charges.
In that lowly range, their chief competition is a reliable used car — say, a 3-year-old Honda Civic or Mazda3, with low miles. But some buyers get more peace of mind from buying new. These are the cars for people who want nothing more than the cheapest possible transportation, who view driving as a chore. They would take the train if they could.
These are the cars, in other words, for people who don't like cars.
There's no shortage of these consumers in this post-...
General Motors Co. recalled an additional 824,000 vehicles in the U.S. as it continues to deal with the fallout of a faulty ignition switch linked to a series of crashes and at least 12 deaths.
The automaker said it is calling back Chevrolet Cobalts, Pontiac G5s and Solstices, Saturn Ions and Skys from the 2008 through 2010 model years. It also recalled the Chevrolet HHR from the 2008 through 2011 model years.
Although the cars were all built with an ignition switch that has had no problems, they might have been repaired with faulty switches left in the parts bins at dealerships and auto shops, said Jim Cain, a GM spokesman.
“We need to make sure that one of these bad switches did not wind up in one of these newer vehicles. Rather than leave anything to chance, we are going to call them back and replace them,” Cain said.
No deaths or injuries are associated with this new group of vehicles, Cain said.
About 95,000 faulty switches were sold to dealers and the aftermarket, and...
Tesla Motors Inc. has announced plans to reinforce the undercarriage of about 16,000 cars with high-strength shields to reduce the risk of damage from a crash starting a fire.
Elon Musk, the electric car company’s chief executive, outlined the retrofit Friday morning, at the same time the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it has signed off on the changes and was closing a probe into two fires that occurred in Tesla Model S sports sedans.
The NHTSA did not ask Tesla to issue a recall for the Model S.
“NHTSA has not identified a safety defect trend at this time that would justify the agency issuing a recall request letter,” the agency said.
One analyst, Karl Brauer at auto information company Kelley Blue Book, said the automaker’s plans are similar to a recall because they involve a change in design. Owners who want their cars retrofit must get them to a Tesla service center, he said.
Tesla said the retrofits are voluntary and that...
General Motors Co. told its dealers to stop selling any Chevrolet Cruze cars equipped with 1.4-liter turbo engines on their lots.
The automaker did not provide any information why it issued the order. Automakers typically halt sales of a car if they learn of some safety defect. Sometimes it can be a minor issue that puts the model out of compliance with federal safety regulations.
The stop sale order is for 2013 and 2014 model year Cruze sedans with the gasoline turbocharged engine, not the diesel version, said Alan Adler, a GM spokesman. It amounts to about a third of the Cruze inventory at Chevrolet dealers.
“No other details to share,” he said.
The Cruze is GM’s bestselling compact car in the U.S. It sold nearly 250,000 last year, making it one of the top-selling vehicles in America.
GM’s decision to halt sales of certain Cruzes comes as its deals with the fallout from recalling 1.6 million vehicles over the past two months to fix an ignition switch issue...
An insurance industry study found that repairing recalled vehicles can reduce dangerous incidents for drivers.
The Highway Loss Data Institute – an arm of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – looked at claims for car fires that were not caused by a crash. These are fires that start with electrical issues and fuel system defects, problems that are a fairly common source of manufacturer recalls.
The insurance industry research organization compared the rate of non-crash fire claims for vehicles during the period from 2007 to 2012.
Prior to a recall, the frequency of insurance claims for vehicles with fire-related defects was 23% higher than for other vehicles. After the recall, claim frequency was only 12%. It would be lower if more consumers responded to recall notices.
“As one would hope, recalls mitigate the effect of fire-related defects,” said Matt Moore vice president at the Highway Loss Data Institute. “However, even after recalls are issued,...
It’s a mathematical fact that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And the fastest way to get there on two wheels might be the GSX-R1000 -- a straight-line rocket that’ll get you there far faster than you need to go.
The 2014 GSX-R1000 continues the legacy Suzuki began almost 30 years ago, when the Japanese company introduced its first Gixxer. Despite much success and many upgrades, it still rolls off the showroom floor as originally conceived -- a race bike, with headlights and turn signals.
The current version is a fuel-injected, in-line, four-cylinder, six-speed liter bike outfitted with adjustable suspension, a massive 4-into-2-into-1 exhaust system and twin Brembo brakes up front.
Beyond that, it’s basic. No ABS. No traction control. No hand warmers. Just 448 pounds of performance. As a Gixxer enthusiast said to me, “It’s nothing but bike.”
And it’s hot off the line...
Nissan is recalling about 1 million late model cars — including its popular Altima and Sentra sedans — because a software glitch can prevent the front passenger air bag from deploying in an accident.
The recall includes the Nissan Altima, Leaf, Pathfinder, and Sentra from 2013 and 2014 model years. Also recalled are the 2013 Nissan NV200 and Infiniti JX35 and 2014 Infiniti Q50 and QX60 vehicles.
The automaker said a sensor in the recalled vehicles doesn’t always detect when the front passenger seat is occupied and in some instances doesn't activate the air bag.
Nissan knows of a handful of accidents where this has occurred. It said there have been no fatalities but that it doesn't know if the problem is linked to any injuries.
The problem started to crop up about a year ago, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA informed Nissan of several complaints, and the automaker looked into the issue.
During its investigation...
Car companies are reacting to tepid auto sales so far this year by ratcheting up the discounts.
The industry is spending about $2,773 per vehicle this month in special sales incentives and discounts, according to car shopping information company TrueCar.Com. That’s up about 8% from March of last year and 2.6% above last month.
Blame slow auto sales. Automakers have sold 2.2 million vehicles through the first two months of the year, down slightly from the same period a year ago. The market looks as if it is picking up gradually this month as the frigid weather in much of the nation recedes.
“The spring thaw has resulted in a slight improvement in vehicle sales, but not nearly the improvement analysts hoped they would see,” said Larry Dominique, executive vice president of TrueCar.
“An incentive-fueled battle is on the horizon,” he said. “Expect an aggressive final week of selling in March and an equally aggressive April.”
A TrueCar review of...
Margie Beskau would seem to have a strong lawsuit against General Motors for millions in damages.
Eight years ago, her 15-year-old daughter, Amy Rademaker, died in a Chevrolet Cobalt — one of the cars the automaker has now admitted had a deadly safety defect. A faulty ignition switch shut off the car, leaving its teenage driver without power steering, brakes or air bags.
But Beskau probably will never collect in the civil courts, legal experts say, because GM has been absolved of all responsibility for crashes before the automaker's 2009 bankruptcy and federal bailout. That's despite the automaker's public apologies and its recall of 1.6 million vehicles to fix ignition switches.
GM has acknowledged 12 deaths were caused by the problem. But the Center for Auto Safety, an advocacy group, estimates that number could be more than 300. More than half of those wrecks occurred before GM's bankruptcy, according to an analysis the center performed at The Times' request.
"They should be...
Kia's redesigned Soul and Fiat's all-new 500L are the latest models in the quirky "toaster" class of sub-compact cars.
Picture a square box riding on a car platform. The general idea is combine the comfort and efficiency of a small car with the functionality of a sport utility vehicle or crossover. And style? Let's just say the valet will be parking these behind the restaurant. Next to his car.
The success of these vehicles has been mixed. Honda's Element and the Scion xB, made by Toyota, were the founding members back in 2003. They enjoyed several years of healthy sales. But Honda discontinued the Element after 2011, and by 2013 sales of the Scion xB had dwindled to about a third of their peak numbers, according to Edmunds.com.
Kia's Soul went on sale in 2009, and a year later it began dominating the segment and never looked back. With a savvy mix of street cred, value and usability, the Soul was one of the most popular models on Kia'...
Although Tesla Motors sold fewer than 23,000 cars last year, an almost immeasurable amount of the 15.6 million vehicles Americans purchased last year, the electric car company is pushing technological change throughout the auto industry, according to Barclays Capital.
In a report to investors, Barclays analyst Brian Johnson identified five ways Tesla’s Model S luxury sports sedan is transforming automotive design and noted other companies that might be good investments as other car companies catch up.
“While Tesla has mainly focused investor attention on the growth prospects for electric vehicles, we believe there are five key connected car technologies in or planned for the Model S that are worth investor attention,” Johnson said.
Reconfigurable clusters: Rather than traditional bezels, gauges and dials, the Model S has a fully reconfigurable instrument cluster, or dashboard screen.
Large center infotainment touchscreens:Tesla's use of a large center infotainment...
The Triumph Tiger Explorer XC, a lighter, 800cc version of the 1200cc Triumph Explorer XC, is a sharp-looking, fine-riding delight.
Agile, responsive and incredibly easy to ride, the Tiger represents yet another triumph for the British motorcycle company, in a year that has already seen the roll-out of several impressive models.
Powered by a high-revving, fast-revving but surprisingly torquey three-cylinder engine, the Tiger weighs just over 500 pounds -- 90 pounds lighter than its larger cousin -- and rides even lighter than that.
It sits high -- which is good for seeing and being seen -- and is comfortable enough to make long distance riding a pleasure. It features touring amenities like a windscreen, self-canceling signals, cruise control and luggage compartments -- not big enough to handle a full-face helmet but big enough to store a jacket, a lunch box and a six-pack of Watneys.
It also features a center stand, bash plate, large gas tank and fuel gauge...
NEW YORK — A federal judge ratified the landmark deal in the criminal prosecution of Toyota Motor Corp. over safety defects in its vehicles, but not without a tongue-lashing about the "reprehensible picture" of corporate misconduct the automaker displayed.
"Corporate fraud can kill," Judge William H. Pauley III said Thursday as Christopher P. Reynolds, the chief legal officer of Toyota Motor North America, stood silently before him in a lower Manhattan courtroom.
"I sincerely hope that this is not the end but only a beginning to seek to hold those individuals responsible for making these decisions accountable," Pauley said.
As part of the deal with prosecutors, Toyota pleaded not guilty to one count of wire fraud but conceded that it misled regulators and consumers about two defects that caused unintended sudden-acceleration incidents — sticking gas pedals and floor mats trapping the pedals — and that it avoided recalling vehicles to fix the problems.
Testing by AAA has found that how far an electric vehicle can travel on one charge varies widely depending on the weather. Frigid temperatures can reduce that distance by 57%.
The research is important to the Automobile Club of Southern California because it maintains mobile recharging trucks for people who misjudge how far they can go in their electric car.
“EV drivers need to carefully monitor range in hot and cold weather,” said Steve Mazor, the engineer who manages the Southern California club’s Automotive Research Center.
The center conducted tests on a 2013 Nissan Leaf, a 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV and the electric version of a 2014 Ford Focus.
The cars were tested for city driving to mimic stop-and-go traffic and to better compare with Environmental Protection Agency ratings listed on the window sticker, AAA said.
The average EV battery range in AAA’s test was 105 miles at 75 degrees but dropped 57% to just 43...
The 10 millionth U.S.-built Honda Accord rolled out of the automaker’s Marysville, Ohio, plant Thursday, bringing the total number of vehicles the Japanese automaker has built in the U.S. to 20 million.
Honda's four U.S. factories built more than 1.3 million vehicles last year, the most ever by the automaker and a 7.4% gain from the prior year.
About95% of Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. last year were produced in North America. That production not only included the stamping of body panels and assembly but also major component manufacturing.
Honda factories in Lincoln, Ala., and Anna, Ohio, make engines and it builds automatic transmissions in Russells Point, Ohio, and Tallapoosa, Ga. All told, these plants have produced 23.77 million engines and 18.64 million transmissions.
The Marysville factory is where the first Honda Accord was produced in America in 1982. It is the first Japanese auto plant to begin production in...
Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to pay a $1.2-billion fine to settle a four-year federal criminal investigation into whether it properly reported safety complaints about the sudden acceleration of its vehicles to regulators.
It is the largest penalty of its kind ever imposed on an automotive company, said U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder.
In the agreement with the Department of Justice, the Japanese automaker admitted that it misled U.S. consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements about two safety issues affecting its vehicles, each of which caused a type of unintended acceleration. The case focused on reports of floor mats jamming gas pedals and sticking gas pedals.
“Toyota put sales over safety and profit over principle,” said George Venizelos, assistant director of the FBI. “The disregard Toyota had for the safety of the public was outrageous. Not only did Toyota fail to recall cars with problem parts, they continued to manufacture new cars with the same parts...
Toyota Motor Co. and the Justice Department have agreed on a $1.2-billion settlement to close a criminal probe into whether the automaker handled cases of sudden acceleration properly, according to media reports.
The settlement -- which could be announced as early as Wednesday -- would end a four-year federal criminal investigation into sudden acceleration complaints dating back to 2009. The issue forced Toyota to recall millions of vehicles and pay out tens of millions of dollars in fines and civil settlements. Hundreds of civil lawsuits remain unresolved.
“While the $1-billion price tag represents a costly resolution, Toyota can put this issue behind it to fully focus on current and future challenges in a highly competitive market,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book.
The potential settlement could allow Toyota to avoid criminal charges provided it meets conditions imposed by the court. An independent monitor will be appointed to make sure Toyota...
SACRAMENTO -- California's two giant automobile clubs on Tuesday unveiled legislation that they said would give car owners control over a wide range data streaming from their vehicles.
The bill, SB 994, was immediately attacked by auto manufacturers as a bid to generate more insurance revenue for the Automobile Club of Southern California and its AAA counterpart in Northern California.
Information covered by the legislation could include a car's mechanical performance and location as well as a driver's cellphone or entertainment system usage.
"Our cars are quickly becoming mobile computers," said bill author Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel). "While this technology provides several important benefits to consumers, it is imperative that there are basic safeguards in place to ensure consumers can decide who has access to their data."
The proposal, which should get its first committee hearing in mid-April, would ensure consumers know and...
Beset by criticism that it did not move quickly enough to fix an ignition switch problem linked to 12 fatal crashes, General Motors on Tuesday named a vehicle safety chief charged with identifying and resolving product safety issues.
Jeff Boyer, who has held a range of engineering and safety positions at GM, will become vice president of global vehicle safety and will oversee the development of GM vehicle safety systems, safety performance and recalls.
The move comes after the automaker recalled more than 3 million cars in the last month, including 1.5 million Monday, to fix a variety of problems with ignition switches, air bags and wiring.
“This new role elevates and integrates our safety process under a single leader so we can set a new standard for customer safety with more rigorous accountability,” said Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive. “If there are any obstacles in his way, Jeff has the authority to clear them. If he needs any additional resources, he will...
Roaring down a racetrack at 140 mph, plowing through a chicane, carving up a hairpin turn, this is not the typical environment of Bentleys.
The valet stand at Nobu, perhaps. Or pulling off Sunset Boulevard into Bel-Air. But Bentley has a racing heritage it says is baked into all of its models, including its newest: the sport-oriented Continental GT V-8 S. And the automaker wants buyers to know about it.
So we’re out in Thermal on an unseasonably hot March morning taking a brilliant blue, 5,000-pound, $250,000 coupe around a course more appropriate for a lithe little Porsche Cayman than a lumbering Bentley.
PHOTOS: Bentley's Continental GT V-8 S
As out of place as a Bentley may be, if you’re going to choose one to punish on a track, this might as well be it. The new Continental GT V-8 S picks up where the base V-8 leaves off.
The lesser V-8 model is our favorite Bentley. Introduced for the first time in this second generation of the Continental GT, it has nearly the power of...
Chrysler Group is recalling more than 43,000 Dodge Chargers to fix an issue with the vehicles’ headlights.
The automaker said the voluntary action will affect 43,450 Chargers in the U.S. from the 2011 and 2012 model years. The recall is to inspect the jumper harnesses and halogen bulbs in the headlights, which can overheat, causing a potential fire risk.
Any parts discovered to be faulty will be replaced at no charge to owners. Chrysler is not aware of any accidents or injuries as a result of the issue, the automaker said in a statement.
The recall also affects 2,850 cars in Canada, 375 in Mexico and 2,700 elsewhere in the world, Chrysler said. The automaker says it will begin notifying affected customers soon.
In its latest reaction to a mounting safety scandal, General Motors Co. recalled 1.5 million more vehicles and set aside $300 million to pay for repairs.
The move follows the automaker's apologies over delays in fixing a deadly ignition switch problem. The new recalls — for unrelated issues, mostly involving air bags — stem from a top-to-bottom safety review ordered by GM's new chief executive, Mary Barra.
GM released a video of Barra's frank comments to GM employees Monday, hammering home the gravity of the automaker's mistakes.
"These are serious developments that shouldn't surprise anyone," Barra told employees. "After all, something went wrong with our process in this instance, and terrible things happened."
The recalls announced Monday come as GM faces numerous probes into years of delays in fixing the ignition issue, which has been linked to 12 fatal crashes. Independent safety advocates say the problem could have caused as many as 303 deaths.
GM issued recalls only...
A potential fire risk has led Honda to recall nearly 900,000 of its popular Odyssey minivans, the automaker has announced.
The voluntary recall affects 886,815 minivans from the 2005-2010 model years, Honda said. In these vehicles, the cover of the fuel strainer at the top of the gas tank could crack over time and lead to a fuel leak, increasing the risk of a fire, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Honda is not aware of any crashes, injuries or fires related to this issue, which was discovered during warranty repairs,” the automaker said in a statement.
Repairs to the affected Odyssey vans could take a while, as the replacement parts aren’t readily available. Honda will notify owners of affected vehicles twice. The first notice will be sent out in late April/early May, alerting owners that their van is included in the recall.
Honda will send out a second notice in the summer when dealers have the new part and are ready to begin repairs,...
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