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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.
Kelly Blue Book Released their list of the 20 most researched vehicles and three of the top five spots belong the Honda products. The Civic and Accord placed first and second respectively, with the Toyota Camry in third, the Honda CR-V in fourth and the Ford F-150 in fifth.
The Hyundai Sonata and Elantra placed sixth and seventh respectively, with the Elantra cracking the top 20 for the first time. The top five brands overall were Toyota, Ford, Honda, Chevrolet and Hyundai, with the Toyota Prius as the sole hybrid on the list. Check out the full list below, after the jump.
Dodge revealed teaser shots of their Dart compact car, designed to replace the wretched Caliber crossover, and so far it looks to be the first hit of Alfa Romeo-inspired product for North America.
Using the underpinings of the lovely Alfa Giulietta compact, the Dart will use a 1.4L turbocharged Fiat MultiAir engine – good for 168 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque while returning a reported 39 mpg. Other engines include a 2.0L and 2.4L “Tigershark” 4-cylinder, mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox. A 9-speed automatic is said to be available at a later date.
Other features include a dual exhaust and 4-wheel independent suspension. The Dart will be built at Chrysler’s Illinois plant, and will get a proper reveal at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.
GALLERY: 2013 Dodge Dart
Discuss this story at DartForums.com
While Chevrolet is readying a diesel version of their Cruze compact in 2013, an interesting tidbit of information leaked out regarding another gas-saving variant of the Cruze – a plug-in hybrid model.
Australia’s GoAuto reports that the Cruze will be a traditional plug-in hybrid, where the engine and hybrid system work in tandem, rather than the Volt, which is described as an electric vehicle with a range-extending gasoline engine. “Plug-in Cruze doesn’t make Volt redundant at all. Plug-in Cruze would have a different powertrain. Plug-in hybrids use both the engine and motor all the time,” said Jim Frederico, who is in charge of General Motors’ small electric vehicle program. “The plug-in Cruze has a place and it will be a hybrid.”
GM is testing an all-electric Cruze in South Korea currently, but so far it remains an experimental vehicle. A Cruze plug-in could debut as early as 2014, given the car’s strong sales and the introduction of the diesel version in 2013 (which a plug-in version would likely overshadow).
12. Toyota Camry
While automakers and outside research firms publish sales figures and earnings reports on a regular basis, one metric we rarely get a glimpse of is how profitable each vehicle is. In an era of re-badging and platform sharing, one would think that the most profitable vehicles are those with a large number of derivatives to spread the cost around. But a new report from Bernstein Research suggests that two factors – price point and volume – are the keys to making big bucks off vehicles. And judging by the list, longevity seems to help as well.
Number 12 on the list is the Toyota Camry, and for good reason. The Camry has a number of factors in its favor – massive volumes, an accessible price point and its made in America (currency fluctuations, particularly a rise in the euro or yen, can make exports unprofitable). Bernstein’s report notes that high volume cars at a medium price point are one of the keys to profitability, and the Camry might be the textbook definition of this formula. The Camry’s twin, the Lexus ES350, was absent from the list, but no doubt earns its keep, as a gilded version of the Camry.
Even as General Motors readies their new Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup, Ford and Chrysler are hedging their bets that consumers won’t return to the floundering small truck market, and continue to opt for full-size pickups instead.
General Motors has claimed that the new Colorado will do most of what a full-size truck can do with substantially reduced running costs. GM’s strategy appears to hinge on rising gas prices and a general trend towards more fuel-efficient vehicles. On the opposite end, Ford is killing off its Ranger pickup entirely, and will offer a replacement in world markets, but not North America. Thailand will be a big market for the Ranger (it’s the world’s largest mid-size pickup nation) and much of the Colorado’s development work was done there.
Studies have shown that the current mid-size truck entries are actually costlier to own once depreciation is factored in. Fuel economy advances in the full-size segment, along with the macho image of a full-size truck have helped contribute to the demise of the mid-size pickup.
Chrysler, which recently killed off their Dakota mid-size pickup, is still exploring whether to bring a new smaller truck to market, with spokesman Dave Elshoff telling Automotive News “We believe there is still a substantial market for small pickups,.. “We’re studying the demographics and business case for a small Ram pickup
[Source: Automotive News]
Canadians should get ready to kiss the Chrysler Town and Country goodbye, as Chrysler seeks to trim its minivan lineup down to a single nameplate – but the opposite will be occurring in the United States, with the Dodge Caravan getting the axe, as the Caravan will now become the exclusive minivan sold by Chrysler LLC in the Great White North.
The Caravan is wildly popular in Canada, accounting for 70 percent of the Canadian minivan market alone, and is the third best selling nameplate in the country. Unlike the United States, the Caravan is sold at a number of price points, from a sub-$20,000 base model to premium versions that breach Dodge’s usual $30,000 price ceiling. Caravans are popular as commercial vehicles, family haulers and even as police cars in a number of locales.
On the other hand, the Town and Country outsells the Caravan by a 2:1 ratio in the United States, which has a far smaller minivan segment. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said that two minivan replacements would bow in 2013 – a large three row crossover, as well as a traditional minivan with sliding doors.
When the changeover occurs, the Town and Country will be the only nameplate left standing in America. But things seem to be moving in the opposite direction for the Great White North.
[Source: Detroit News]
Grammar sticklers will be disappointed that the headline is not actually a typo – we were just so captivated by the Ford Focus ST, spotted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in this fetching shade of blue that we felt it would be a dereliction of duty if we didn’t mention it.
Although the Focus ST has been on the show circuit for about a year now, the car is still a bit away from launch. Specs include Ford’s 2.0L Ecoboost motor displacing 247 horsepower and 260 lb-ft, with a choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual clutch gearbox, along with ATE brakes and some wild-hued sports seats. A Sony headunit that looked like it was ready for the much-loathed MyFordTouch infotainment system was also spotted.
So far, we’ve only seen the Focus ST in the papaya-like orange, but this blue, reminiscent of the Escort Cosworth and 1st generation Focus RS, has us seriously infatuated. How much longer must we wait?
Gallery: Ford Focus ST
Americans have been historically unreceptive to small cars, and the 2013 Chevrolet Spark represents uncharted territory for the brand, which will introduce their first B-segment car since the Chevrolet Metro, long the butt of jokes for American society.
Unveiled at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Spark measures two feet shorter than the already compact Chevrolet Sonic, but is only 6 inches shorter than the Chevrolet Equinox mid-size crossover. These dimensions leave us a bit skeptical, as the whole package seems a tad top-heavy, but the 1.2L 4-cylinder engine only makes 85-horsepower, so high-speed cornering is more theoretical than realistic.
We do like the 2,269-lb curb weight, as well as the 7-inch touch screen and Bluetooth integration. The Spark has done well in a number of world markets where physical space is at a premium, and considering how much we liked the Sonic, we’re optimistic that the Spark will be a fun, if not sporty, urban runabout.
Gallery: 2013 Chevrolet Spark
The Ford Flex never really caught on in the marketplace, but the car has a cult following among a certain subset, who enjoy its quirky looks and seven-passenger layout. Ford unveiled a revised version Thursday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
For 2013, the Flex will get a few changes to help make it more attractive to consumers. The base 3.5L V6 gets a 20 horsepower increase to 285, while the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 remains unchanged. A 1 mpg bump is also applicable to the base V6.
A revised front end (similar to what was previously seen on higher end Flex trim levels) marks the big change for this year, along with an updated interior and a new version of the MyFordTouch infotainment system. Features like a blind-spot alert system, adaptive cruise control push- button start, rear inflatable belts, rain-sensing wipers and active park assist will all be available.
Gallery: 2013 Ford Flex
The Chevrolet Volt will be able to qualify for California’s High Occupancy Vehicle lanes in 2012, after General Motors announced the availability of a Low Emissions Package for their hybird-electric car.
With traffic congestion in California a major annoyance for motorists, the ability to use the HOV lane – via one of the state’s 40,000 permits – will be a boon to Volt drivers. Motorists are normally barred from the HOV lane unless a vehicle has two or more passengers, but the sticker allows for single occupancy vehicles to be exempted.
A revised emission control system and catalytic converter help the Volt achieve Low Emissions status. Volt buyers in California will also be eligible for a total of $9,500 in state and federal tax credits.
The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 might not have the wedge shape of a European supercar, but its 202 mph top speed puts it in a rareified world of hand-built Italian exotics.
SVT engineer Jamal Hameedi told MustangsDaily that the GT500 recorded a top speed of 202 mph during testing, thanks to the improved power figures and some apparent aerodynamic changes. Hameedi also said that while Ford was doing suspension testing at the famed Nurburgring, they didn’t record any times for the GT500, avoiding the typical Nurburgring bragging rights contest that so many automakers fall prey to.
Cadillac‘s long awaited XTS flagship has been officially revealed with a whole suite of technology features that should help it establish a niche among buyers interested in more than just rear-drive handling dynamics.
The XTS is based on a front-drive architecture, a move that has come under fire among some critics as counter-productive, considering that rear-drive is a supposed hallmark of prestige employed by European and Asian rivals. With the XTS, Cadillac has chosen to use a Haldex all-wheel drive system, similar to brands like Audi and Volvo, which should match nicely with the direct-injected 3.6L V6, as well as provide a strong selling point in Snow Belt states.
On the performance side, the XTS will also employ a number of GM’s most advanced techologies, including Magnetic Ride Control, a rear air suspension, a HiPer Strut front suspension and Brembo brakes. Traditional large-sedan attributes have also been given sufficient attention – the XTS boasts 4 more inches of rear seat leg room and more trunk space than most German competitors – no doubt a way to position the XTS as a livery car as well.
As with most modern premium cars, the XTS places a heavy emphasis on both safety and technology, with the two themes interwoven in a variety of systems that Cadillac is heavily touting. The XTS will use a variety of radar sensors to control features like Adaptive Cruise Control (which can speed up or slow down the vehicle automatically), Front and Rear Automatic Brakes (which can bring the vehicle to a complete stop if necessary to prevent low-speed collisions) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (which lets the driver know if there is pedestrian or vehicle traffic when backing out of a parking spot). The XTS will also have a vibrating alert placed in the front seat, which will allow the XTS to warn the driver of threats on either the left or right side that may be out of sight.
Other safety features like a Blind Spot warning system and a Lane Departure warning system will be made available, as well as 10 standard airbags. Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system will make its debut on the XTS, with an 8-inch screen that is said to offer an iPhone-like touch screen interface. An LCD instrument panel that can be completely customized will also be available, and is said to be an industry first.
GALLERY: 2013 Cadillac XTS
Check back later as AutoGuide brings you live shots of the Cadillac XTS at its live reveal at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype will compete in the Grand-Am Racing series in 2012 and make its debut at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race. Four teams will run the cars, including the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing, the No. 10 SunTrust Racing, the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and the No. 5 and No. 9 Action Express Racing teams. The last time a Corvette won Daytona was in 2001 with a C5-R.
Hit the jump to read the press release below
Gallery: Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype
The future of the Jeep Liberty will be revealed Wednesday when Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne will visit the Toledo, Ohio plant that currently builds the truck.
The new Liberty will shed its traditional off-road roots and move to a Fiat-based car platform. While the move to a crossover may anger traditionalist, Marchionne was apparently less than enthused regarding the Liberty’s lagging sales, especially compared to crossovers like the Honda CR-V. There is also talk of reviving the iconic Cherokee nameplate for the new car.
The new platform is expected to underpin as many as 8 future vehicles. Chrysler will invest $365 million in the plant and add 1,105 jobs.
[Source: Automotive News]
Chevrolet has announced pricing of their 2012 Camaro Zl1 at $54,095. Chevrolet claims that the car compares favorably to more expensive cars like the Audi R8 GT, Mercedes-Benz SLS and Maserati Gran Turismo, which cost between $122,800 and $196,800 based on available performance.
Of course, that suggestion is laughable, as those cars would never be cross-shopped and their respective demographics likely have a mutual enmity. By comparison, rivals like the Ford Shelby GT500 and Dodge Challenger SRT-8 392 retail for $48,645 and $42,780 respectively. The ZL1 will also hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 184 mph.
A fire involving a Chevrolet Volt that had undergone government crash testing has led to authorities investigating the possibility of requiring emergency responders to drain the batteries of electric and hybrid vehicles following a collision.
A Volt that underwent a 20 mph side-impact crash test caught on fire several weeks later, causing the Volt as well as surrounding vehicles to catch fire. The crash test was said to have punctured the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery pack. General Motors said that the fire occurred because the battery had not been drained following the crash, though NHTSA officials said that ”we don’t see the risk of electric vehicles as being any greater than that for a gasoline vehicle.”
200,000 car fires are said to occur in the United States annually, but the issue regarding a battery puncture has led NHTSA and GM to investigate the matter closely, despite both insisting that the vehicle is as safe as any other conventional car. GM currently dispatches a team to drain the battery of any Volt that crashes, and is hoping to make the necessary tools available to dealers in the coming year.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
With sales of the Chevrolet Cruze slowing down, General Motors will idle their Lordstown, Ohio plant to help bring supply levels of the Cruze down.
Dealers currently have a 73-day supply of the Cruze, higher than the industry average. GM hopes that demand will catch up with supply by closing the plant for a week. The Lordstown plant has been running three shifts plus a weekend shift for much of the year. The Cruze enjoyed strong sales in 2011 but the resurgent supply of cars like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic has seen consumers flocking back to imports, negatively impacting sales of the Cruze.
[Source: Automotive News]
General Motors is recalling a certain production run of Cadillac CTS models built between October 21 and October 26, 2011. According to reports, “the power vacuum brake boost pushrod retention nut may not be torqued to the proper specification.”
This defect could cause catastrophic consequences, specifically brake failure, and lead to accidents. Cadillac dealers began a recall on November 1st and will inspect the part and fix the defect if necessary. Owners can contact 800-458-8006.
A Chevrolet Volt that went through crash-testing at a NHTSA facility in Wisconsin caught on fire three weeks after the test, prompting action from U.S. regulators.
While the investigation hasn’t been made public, sources told Bloomberg that the fire was severe enough to damage surrounding vehicles. An incident also occurred at a private home in North Carolina, where a Volt caught on fire while charging in a garage.
While NHTSA denied that the Volt posed any extra safety risk, sources say that U.S. regulators have since approached OEMs planning to sell electric vehicles regarding the safety of their batteries.
The Ford Fiesta B-Spec is intended to be Ford’s offering for the newly created B-Spec racing class, which allows racers a (relatively) affordable way to go road racing in production cars.
Based on the same Fiesta available to consumers, the B-Spec cars have their interiors gutted to make way for a rollcage, a bucket seat, race harness and ballast, designed to keep weight levels even among the various cars. Engine work is minimal and rules are still in flux, but certain vehicles will have restrictors fitted to the intake – no word yet if the Fiesta will be subject to this handicap.
Tires and suspension will also be subject to the same strict regulations, but again, rules are still being worked out. Ford is evidently behind the program in a big way, and we’re looking forward to a full field when racing gets under way in 2012.
Gallery: Ford Fiesta B-Spec
Check out more of AutoGuide’s SEMA coverage here
Following our coverage of the Chevrolet Sonic Ricky Carmichael Concept and the Chevrolet Sonic Super 4 Concept, AutoGuide got to sit down with both Ricky Carmichael and John Buttermore, the men behind the two vehicles.
Carmichael and Buttermore were kind enough to walk us through the two cars and explained the philosophies behind the two very different Sonics. Check out the videos after the jump.
For more coverage of the 2011 SEMA Show, click here
Vintage car lovers who live in fear of terminal oxidization now have a last resort in the fight against rust. Ford displayed a ’65 Mustang body shell at the 2011 SEMA Show that was stamped from entirely new steel that OE supplier Dynacorn International (producer of bodyshells for Ford) says is far superior to the steel used on the original cars.
Dynacorn’s bodyshells are far from cheap at around $15,000 a pop, but it’s hard to argue with the value of having an entirely new, high-grade steel bodyshell for one’s muscle car project. Furthermore, the bodyshell can be combined with a full suite of Ford performance parts to create what is technically a brand-new Mustang that can be configured like a ’64.5, ’65 or ’66 Mustang. Aside from the philosophical conundrum of whether this is technically a “new” or “vintage” car, those who opt for this route will have to register their vehicle as a kit car, a lengthy and involved process in many jurisdictions.
Nonetheless, we think that the reproduction bodies are a very cool idea that can save one a lot of time and effort on the road to a high quality muscle car project.
Check out AutoGuide’s SEMA coverage here
Gallery: ’65 Ford Mustang Convertible Bodyshell
Chevrolet unveiled the first of what will surely be many concept cars based on their new Sonic compact car, with a lifestyle/tuner car designed with input by Motocross legend and NASCAR driver Ricky Carmichael, and a ready-to-go racer intended for SCCA competition.
The Sonic All Activity Vehicle – Ricky Carmichael Concept features a full suite of interior and exterior accessories, including OEM Z-Spec body treatments, an interior made by Fox Motocross from their board short material, and the familiar 1.4L Chevrolet turbocharged 4-cylinder engine to ensure that there’s some go to back up the “show” element.
The Sonic Super 4 Concept, despite the goofy name, is a full-blown race car that is intended to be a turnkey, SCCA-legal car with a proper rollcage, harnesses and a fire suppression system, the Sonic Super 4 is the perfect counterpart to the Ricky Carmichael Concept – it ain’t pretty, but it’s probably very good at its intended mission. The Super 4 uses the same 1.4L turbo 4-banger and 6-speed gearbox as the Ricky Carmichael Concept, but in this application, definitely gets put to much better usage.
Check out the rest of AutoGuide’s SEMA coverage here
Gallery: Chevrolet Sonic Ricky Carmichael Concept and Super 4 Concept
Today’s total nonsense rumor comes from Chrysler fansite Allpar, which is reporting that the 2013 Dodge Viper will get an 8.7L V10 and doesn’t cite any source, anonymous or otherwise.
While Chrysler boss Ralph Gilles has said that the Viper will retain a V10 engine, we have a hard time believing that an 8.7L motor would appear during a time when everyone is downsizing. Sure, the Viper has never been about fuel economy, but there’s no reason for Dodge to go this route whatsoever.