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Reports are coming in that Japanese auto manufacturers are looking for ways to cut costs on vehicles being exported to the United States in order to squeeze profits due to the record high yen against the dollar. A prime example is the new GS 350 from Lexus, that has been highly anticipated and praised by the American media.
Though many of the cost-cutting measure will be unnoticeable to the average day consumer, knowing that certain things were done to a luxury sedan is disheartening. For example, Lexus used asphalt spray instead of laminate sheeting for noise suppression on the underbody and recycled plastic instead of virgin for the protective cover beneath the engine, in order to cut costs. That’s not all, as some technical decisions seem to have been impacted due to the surging yen, as we’ll be seeing Lexus’s old six-speed transmission rather than a new seven- or eight-speed that competitors are offering in their new luxury sedans.
Slightly reassuring though is that Yoshihiko Kanamori, chief engineer for the GS 350, did state that ”There were no items omitted that I would like to have, but with this exchange rate we will have to raise the price.” A compromise that Lexus found is offering all the bells and whistles in their F Sport variant which will undoubtedly be drastically different in price from the base GS 350.
[Source: Automotive News]
Owners of Nissan’s 2005-2010 Pathfinders, Frontiers and Xteras are experiencing failures to their automatic transmissions because radiator coolant is leaking into the system. The radiator cooler tanks are rupturing, which forces the coolant into the transmission through the transmission cooler lines. Nissan has offered an extended warranty for the radiators, but the coverage only applies to vehicles with fewer than 80,000 miles.
Owners are upset that Nissan didn’t notify them about the radiator problem. “The issue here is that Nissan knew that they had a faulty radiator and instead of recalling the radiator they extended the warranty knowing that the majority of the cars would surpass 80,000 miles before they started having problems with the transmission,” wrote Eva Saldivar of Porterville, California, in her complaint to the Center for Auto Safety. Her 2005 Pathfinder had 115,000 miles when she had to pay about $6,000 for repairs. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has at least 200 complaints regarding this transmission issue and the Center for Auto Safety has around 50 complaints.
In October, Nissan extended the warranty on the radiators of 2005-2010 Frontiers, Pathfinders and Xterras from three years or 36,000 miles to eight years or 80,000 miles. Nissan said only “a small percentage” of vehicles might experience the coolant-leak problem, which it blames on “an internal crack on the oil cooler tube”.
Clarence Ditlow, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety said an investigation is warranted because owners are reporting safety-related problems, like rapid slowing or the inability to safely cross an intersection.
No official investigation or recall has been announced.
[Source: New York Times]
A report by insurance comparison website InsWeb suggests that the priciest car to ensure in America isn’t a Nissan GT-R or some other foreign exotic favoured by the young and reckless, but the strange looking Acura ZDX crossover.
According to the site, there is little data on the ZDX, as few people have bought one, and the vehicle is still fairly new to the market. But the ZDX is apparently involved in more than its share of accidents, something we can’t quite account for. Rounding out the list are obvious suspects, like the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Challenger.
At the opposite end of the spectrum were cars like the Kia Sedona, Mazda5 and Ford Escape, the three least expensive vehicles to ensure, and coincidentally, three of the least exciting.
[Source: Left Lane News]