AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
In 2009 a new Corolla went on sale in North America. Not entirely “new,” the 10th generation Corolla feature carried over mechanics on a newly style body and interior. A staple in the compact car market, Toyota kept to the winning formula of offering a basic car with high reliability and dependable reliability.
Best Seller for a Reason
The 2007 model year saw the introduction of the sixth generation Toyota Camry. Styling was a departure from previous Camrys, but Toyota continued to sell this car in large numbers.
Just as consumers purchase cars that best fit their lifestyle needs, automakers likewise produce cars that it believes are the best fit for the market. However, the devils are in the details and a jarring oversight can cause a product to flop.
Last week, Forbes created a flop compilation of 2011. Enlisting the expertise of three veteran automotive journalists, Consumer Reports’ senior automotive engineer Jake Fisher, Web2Carz’s senior writer Tim Healey, and Autoline Detroit TV and radio’s John McElroy, the trio put their heads together to create a subjective list of what they believe are the worst vehicles on the market today. Vehicles eligible for nomination are 2011 models or any 2012 model vehicle that is currently on sale.
Not surprisingly, the first vehicle addressed is the Smart ForTwo. Selling only 327 units in October, rumors have suggested that the Smart brand may discontinue. McElroy also added that the tiny two-door’s transmission is, “the worst transmission maybe of all time.” A replacement for the current ForTwo will come in the shape of a joint project with Renault. Expect the successor to this flop to arrive next year.
Still, the ForTwo is nothing compared to the Chevrolet Aveo. If you thought selling only 327 units was low, Aveo’s nationwide sales last month only reached a pathetic 65 units, a 98 percent decline from the same period last year. Its retail failures are mainly attributed to the hype around Aveo’s better and bolder replacement, the 2012 Chevy Sonic.
Not only compacts, but trucks and SUVs were included in the list as well. The reliability of the Nissan Titan has dropped below the class average for the past five years. It lacks a full time AWD system, lacks interior space for passengers, and has a noisy engine that drones the cabin. As for SUVs, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport compact crossover is neither sporty nor practical, the Acura ZDX has no outstanding qualities and sold only 131 units, Web2Carz calls the Dodge Nitro “behind the times”, and the Lincoln MKT possesses undistinguished styling and suffers from a brand that is no longer in vogue.
But outgoing models aren’t the only flops. New for 2011, the latest generation Volkswagen Jetta was redesigned to compete with a more competitive price point. However, in order to achieve the Jetta’s new low price, much of its essence evaporated as well. Its responsible handling and sharp steering feel disappeared. The high quality German interior was replaced with cheap plastics and regressed build quality.
The same could be said about the latest Honda Civic. It has long held one of the highest Consumer Reports scores but the 2012 redesign has dropped its score to one of the worst vehicles competing in the small car category. Just like the Jetta, its nimble handling was replaced by a soft suspension and braking distances that are too long.
If nothing else, hopefully this flop list can cause a board room meeting or two for automaker executives to reflect on the credibility of the products that they are creating. Tim Healey says, “[Automakers] realized that it really is all about the product– it’s not just about marketing. And that’s a good thing.”
GALLERY: Worst Car Flops of 2011
Meguiar’s is sending nine of the world’s top show cars from around the world to this year’s SEMA Show, holding its first ever Car Crazy International Vehicle Showcase. These nine cars along with their owners will be brought in from all over the globe and will be on display front and center right outside the Convention Hall, next to Meguiar’s Car Crazy TV Stage. All week long, both the vehicles and their owners will be a major attraction of this year’s SEMA Show.
Each vehicle was meticulously selected to ensure that they represent their respective country with pride. Just some of the vehicles that are heading to Meguiar’s Car Crazy International Vehicle Showcase include a 1953 Ford Truck F100 from Costa Rica (pictured), a 1981 VW Golf Mk1 from the United Kingdom, a 1939 Lincoln Zephyr Custom from Mexico, a 2000 Toyota Celica from China, and a 1978 XC GS Ford Falcon Hardtop (pictured) from all the way in Australia.
Prior to making the trek to Las Vegas though, the vehicles will make a pit stop during the month of October at the Marconi Automotive Museum in Southern California for private showings to visitors throughout the month.
GALLERY: Meguiar’s Car Crazy Vehicle Showcase
Not too long ago, a beauty contest in the sub-$20k segment would seem like a competition for the most attractive bar of soap. But now, Kia‘s current line-up will make you look twice.
Men’s lifestyle and fashion magazine Esquire has announced the Kia Optima as the “Most Gorgeous Car Under $20K.” Editors were especially impressed by the South Korean automaker’s “clean and inspiring” design. Moreover, numerous other automotive publications have made positive comparisons of its exterior to the more upscale Audi.
VP of Kia America marketing & communication Michael Sprague says, “Esquire defines and shapes men’s style and fashion in today’s contemporary culture, and this recognition further validates Optima’s tremendous value proposition with its unmatched combination of world-class design, advanced technology, and fun-to-drive performance. The stunning design and value of the Optima has significantly increased awareness, perception and consideration for the Kia brand…”
More than just a pretty face, the 2011 Optima is available with luxury and technology including a satnav/audio system with Sirius XM radio and live traffic, Bluetooth capability, USB and auxiliary input, and steering wheel integrated voice controls.
The Optima is available with an economic 2.4 liter four cylinder producing 200 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque or a turbocharged 2.0 liter four cylinder producing 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Finally, the Optima Hybrid provides the 2.4 liter combined with an electric motor, combining for 206 hp and 193 lb-ft of torque. Prices begin at $19,200.
GALLERY: 2011 Kia Optima
The American Petroleum Institute has reported that total petroleum deliveries fell by 0.5 percent in July, compared to the same month one year ago. This was the first time deliveries have decreased for any month this year. As well, gasoline demand hit a ten-year low for the month of July.
John Felmy, API chief economist, said, “The numbers, though mixed, confirm continuing weakness in the economy. Consumers aren’t spending, and jobless claims have increased, so it isn’t surprising gasoline demand was down and overall demand slipped a bit”. It was also interesting that U.S refinery production of gas decreased for the first time in 2011, down by 2.3 percent from July 2010. However, on a year-to-date basis, gasoline production remains on par to set a record.
Fiat has returned to the U.S after a nearly three-decade absence, and the Italian automaker is eager to make a positive impression on the American consumer. So far, dealers are happy with the initial sales of the 500 but see the need for more ad support to sustain long-term growth of the brand.
As part of the campaign, Fiat is offering a $199 a month lease and cut-rate financing on the Fiat 500 coupe. The lease term is 39 months with $1,999 due at signing. Customers interested in buying the coupe can choose three different financing packages including 1.9 percent financing for 36 months. The $199 lease is being offered on the entry-level Pop model which comes with a five-speed manual transmission, which starts at $15,995, including shipping. Fiat has planned to open 130 dealerships by the end of 2011 and so far has 93 up and running.
[Source: Automotive News]
Kia Motors is one of the big winners at the first ever Automotive Brand Contest which was organized by the German Design Council. The judge panel declared Kia Motors the worthy winner in four categories. Three kia models were picked as winners for the exterior category, including the compact Sportage SUV, the forthcoming Rio (on sale from September 2011) and the all new Kia Optima (above). Kia was also ranked ‘Best of Best’ in the brand design category, where strategy and focus of the brand’s overall design is rated.
Peter Schreyer, Kia’s chief designer said, “We are all exceedingly proud that Kia Motors has done so well in this new competition, which is very important within the automotive industry. By changing our basic design focus, we have given our brand a face, a distinctive identity.“
Chrysler has taken the title of number one light-truck seller in Canada from Ford in the first half of 2011. Deliveries in the light truck segment have grown at twice the rate of the rest of the Canadian auto industry, and Chrysler led in sales last month for the first time in 2011.
The Dodge Journey has seen a boost in sales by 50 percent to 16,069 in Canada, and is touted as Canada’s best-selling crossover, while the Grand Caravan, Ram pickup and Jeep Wrangler also had their best Canadian sales month ever this June. According to a report by Bloomberg, an upsurge in the construction industry is responsible for the light truck segment’s sales climb.
Kelley Blue Book announced today that Hyundai has taken the number 1 spot in brand loyalty, beating out Honda and Toyota, on kbb.com for Q2 2011. Automakers have struggled recently to retain loyal customers due to the economic downturn and consumers becoming more aware of issues such as fuel prices and safety recalls.
Hyundai has remained successful through aggressive marketing campaigns combined with innovative product redesigns like the successful Sonata and Elantra. In the second quarter of 2011, Hyundai’s brand loyalty was at 52.3 percent while Honda followed with 49.7 percent and Toyota came in third at 47.7 percent. Kia and Mini are the only two brands that have gained loyalty year-over-year, thanks to attractive redesigns and additional models within their respective lineups coupled to aggressive marketing campaigns.
“Hyundai’s product renaissance is benefitting the company not just by attracting an all-new customer base, but by helping them to retain current loyal Hyundai owners, as well,” said Arthur Henry, market intelligence manager for Kelley Blue Book. ”This latest brand loyalty analysis from kbb.com is a testament to the power of attractive vehicle designs and intriguing marketing in the minds of in-market car shoppers as they consider their next vehicle.”
Ford has issued a recall for 3,000 2007 Ford Five Hundreds and Mercury Montego sedans due to faulty fuel tanks. The tank may not have been properly welded between the fuel tank and fuel filler neck. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has posted that in the event of a severe rear impact, a faulty weld could lead to a crack in the joint which may cause a fuel leak.
Ford has stated that there have been minor fuel leaks in a small number of warranty claims. However, most of the tanks in question have been replaced due to dashboard warning lights being triggered by evaporative emission leaks. The affected vehicles were built at the Chicago Assembly Plant between September 5 and September 11, 2006. Ford will notify affected owners beginning on August 15 and will give them until August 31 to respond for full reimbursement of the costs associated with the recall.
Today, Nissan North America announced U.S pricing for the 2012 Versa Hatchback, a model that is carried over from the previous year, despite the fact that the 2012 sedan is all-new. Continuing on the popular first-generation design, it is available in 1.8 S and 1.8 SL models.
The 1.8-liter S hatchback model has been priced at $14,380 with the 6-speed manual and $1000 extra for the 4-speed automatic transmission($15,380). The 1.8-liter SL version with the CVT transmission will be priced at $18,390. The 1.8-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine produces 122-hp, with fuel consumption rated at 28 mpg City /34 mpg Highway and 30 mpg combined for the SL with the Continuously Variable Transmission. The 6-speed manual and 4-speed automatic models offer 26/31/28 mpg and 24/32/27 mpg respectively for City/Highway/ Combined ratings. The Nissan Versa is already on sale in either the hatchback or sedan platform offering amazing bang for your buck.
Check out pricing for the all-new, and significantly cheaper 2012 Versa sedan here!
In celebration of Honda’s 39th anniversary of the popular compact, the Japanese automaker has put together a video titled “Heritage”, where we take a look at the histroy of the car.
With some help from the British house music trio Dirty Vegas, the video shows us the evolution of Civic dating back to 1973. Since the first Civic was first produced, 19,000,000 units have been sold.
The all-new 2012 Honda Civic will feature a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 140-hp. The Civic is rated at 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway which is gain of 12 percent in the city and 8 percent on the highway, over last years model. The Civic coupe will start from $15,605 and the sedan starts from $15,805.
Check out the AutoGuide review of the 2012 Honda Civic and view the “Heritage” video after the jump!
Porsche is planning to double its sales to 200,000 units by 2018, and the German automaker is expecting the SUV side of sales to take the lead in achieving this goal, especially considering the Cayenne is already the best selling vehicle in its lineup.
The automaker wants to increase production of the Cayenne by 10 percent this year, and 20 percent in 2012 because of the growing demand. Buyers in China have to wait 12 months to get their hands on a Cayenne. Porsche fully understands this issue and wants to cut that wait time down to six months for next year. The Cayenne is also helping the entire Porsche lineup as orders have increased 26 percent in the first half to 65,660 units. Porsche hopes to see 28,000 Panamera sales in 2011.
[Source: Automotive News]
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has confirmed that the company will build a vehicle assembly plant in North America. In an interview with Automotive News, Stadler explained specific details about models, location and capacity will be made within three years. Audi may also be building a plant to specialize in the construction of engine and transmissions. ”It is totally clear that we need new production capacity in the U.S.,” Stadler told the trade publication. “The question only is when.”
Audi is reportedly considering new U.S production of a large coupe like crossover called the Q6. This vehicle will aim to take on the BMW X6. The Q6 will be based on the same platform as the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. The Q6 may be assembled on a new line at VW’s Chattanooga plant. North American built Audi’s will likely begin rolling off the line by 2014.
[Source: Automotive News]
The eagerly anticipated high performance Volkswagen Golf R has been confirmed for sale in the U.S in early 2012.
With the cancellation of the GTI Edition 35, and the outgoing R32 beast, VDub enthusiasts will be extremely pleased to know that a hot-hatch version of the Golf is coming. Volkswagen’s product and technology communications manager Mark Gillies explained that the Golf R was always on the list for the U.S market, and is now in the final stages of compliance procedures.
The U.S version of the R will be a slightly detuned version of the model sold in Europe (boo!). But expect the R to crank out 250-hp from the 2.0-liter four cylinder engine coupled to a 4Motion all-wheel drive system. The U.S version will only feature the six-speed manual as opposed to the dual clutch DSG option – perhaps the better unit in this case. The R will get to 62 mph in 6.0 seconds, is electronically restricted to 155 mph and should get around 28 mpg.
GALLERY: Volkswagen Golf R
[Source: Motor Authority]
The Ford Mustang has beaten the Chevrolet Camaro in sales for the month of June 2011. A great comeback considering the Mustang suffered one of its worst months in May with 35% decrease in sales over the same month of the previous year and just 6,607 sales. This June, 8,835 Mustangs were sold compared to 8,486 Camaros.
The Mustang won this month but the Camaro has had strong sales numbers throughout the first half of the year with 48,761 sales compared to the Mustang with 39,041 units sold. The Dodge Challenger was left in the dust with 3,384 sales in June and 20,161 in the first half year.
[Source: Muscular Mustangs]
The New England Motor Press Association has voted and presented the ‘Official Winter Vehicle of New England Award’ to the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
During the winter, a side by side test compared 4×4 SUVs in winter conditions and found the Grand Cherokee to exceed expectations. Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Product Marketing, accepted the award and felt that the Grand Cherokee combines three different aspects better than the competition. He felt the Jeep excelled in luxury, fuel economy, and four wheel drive capability. John Paul, NEMPA Winter Vehicle Awards team leader said, “It handles everything mother nature can put in its way.”
The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in several trim levels including the base Laredo E for $37,995, the Laredo X for $42,995, the Limited for 46,995 and the Overland for 49,995. A 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar engine is standard with 290-hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The optional 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is also available as an option.
Gallery: Jeep Grand Cherokee
Check out the video after the jump!
The McLaren MP4-12C GT3 will make its first official public appearance at the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed, taking place from June 30th to July 3rd.
The GT3 will differ from the MP4-12C through aerodynamic performance upgrades including a front radiator, which increases the maximum ambient temperature at which the car can run. Other upgrades include a new gearbox cooler mounted on the rear aerodeck. A new front splitter will also be fitted to the GT3 along with a door blade, rear wing, diffuser and louvres in the front fenders. These components will be produced entirely from carbon fibre by McLaren Racing.
Only 20 of these cars will be delivered to private GT3 racing teams in Europe for 2012. The GT3 will also feature Formula 1 derived technologies including the same steering wheel design used by Lewis Hamilton in his MP4-24 Formula 1 car. Respected Formula 1 suppliers such as Akebono, Mobil 1, McLaren Electronic Systems, Ricardo and Michelin are working to create race car specification technology superior to the GT3 competition in 2012.
Andrew Kirkaldy from McLaren GT explained that: “The reaction to the 12C GT3 at the circuits we have visited has been phenomenal. I can’t wait to see how it goes down at Goodwood this weekend.”
“CRS Racing was clearly excited to be confirmed as partner in this project as we were only too aware of McLaren’s short, but unbelievable GT history with the F1. But the anticipation amongst circuit owners and race teams to McLaren’s return to GT racing has still surprised us. I’m delighted that we have the opportunity to drive the 12C GT3 up the hill at Goodwood and raise the interest even further” said Andrew Kirkaldy.
Drivers accompanying the GT3 at the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed include Andrew Kirkaldy, 2010 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test driver Oliver Turvey, and McLaren Automotive Chief Test Driver Chris Goodwin.
Gallery: McLaren MP4-12C GT3
Mazda has officially announced that the assembly plants in Japan are back to normal operational levels. The Japanese automaker predicts that it will be able to achieve a domestic production volume of 900,000 units during the current fiscal year (April 2011- March 2012). The company is also predicting sales revenue of 2.19 trillion yen based on a global sales target of 1.305 million units during the current fiscal year.
David Klan, Senior Director of Sales, Marketing & Regional Operations at Mazda Canada Inc said:“Our return to normal production in Japan testifies to the courage and ingenuity of the Japanese people and our colleagues there,”. He also explained that, “This puts us in a strong position to sustain and grow our business in Canada, recognizing both the great line-up we have in showrooms today, and also the superb new vehicles coming with SKYACTIV Technology.”
Today, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2011 Infiniti EX35 a “Top Safety Pick” rating. This rating was given to the Infiniti based on the car achieving the Institute’s highest rating of “Good” in front, rear and side impact protections. The car also has to be equipped with electronic stability control, and earn a good rating in roof strength.
“Infiniti is proud to receive another Top Safety Pick rating from IIHS,” said Infiniti Americas Vice President Ben Poore. “Like all Infiniti vehicles, the 2011 Infiniti EX35 luxury crossover is designed to offer owners a strong sense of peace of mind, whether from its exhilarating driving performance, engaging interior environment, advanced technology or long list of standard safety features.”
The EX35 comes with standard with safety features such as the Infiniti Advanced Bag System with dual stage, dual-threshold front air bags and seat belt and occupant classification sensors and roof-mounted side-impact supplemental air bags for front and rear occupant head protection. The Infiniti also comes with seat-mounted driver and front passenger side-impact supplemental air bags and front-seat Active Head Restraints.
Other standard equipment includes LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Vehicle Dynamic Control and Traction Control System. Optional advanced technologies include: Lane Departure Prevention system, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist and Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning.
Shelby American may pair up with Hertz to offer a “rent-a-racer” program that offers upgraded Mustang GTs for enthusiast-oriented consumers. The Shelby Mustang would be offered in two traditional configurations: black and gold or white and gold. The Mustang would be powered by the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine cranking out 412-hp coupled with an automatic transmission.
The companies teamed up in 1966 to produce 1,000 copies of the performance mustang and did so again, forty years later with the GT-H. Currently, Hertz offers the Mustang GT as part of the “Adrenaline” collection, but a Shelby variant hasn’t been available recently.
Shelby has not finalized the potential 2012 program so we will have to see what happens!
In this 45 second commercial, the all-new BMW 1M drifts on a helipad hundreds of feet in the air over a city. Is it real? Of course not but it is very entertaining to watch, and actually looks pretty realistic. BMW has been launching these fun commercials (1M vs the Concrete Walls), to stress the fact that the 1M is a high performance machine that will be used much more than for going to the store for a jug of milk.
BMW admits that its latest high performance two door rocket will have a very limited run of one model year. With limited production in place, the $46,135 price tag may be a bargain should this car appreciate in value in the future. BMW stated that “less than 1,000 units” will be produced in 2011.
Check out the videos after the jump!