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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.
Several months back we posted an epic Top 10 list highlighting some of the priciest, most opulent and downright ludicrous pickups available on the market. Vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade EXT and Harley-Davidson F-150 are but a couple of the high-brow haulers we featured. Those vehicles – and we hesitate to call them trucks – are so over the top they spill into luxury-car territory.
20. BMW 7-Series
In the market and shopping for a used car? Consumer Reports has released a list of 20 used vehicles to stay away from as they have a reputation for causing trouble. Listed is a top 20 list of used cars from 2003 to 2012 model year to avoid in alphabetical order. These vehicles had multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability, according to Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Survey.
The BMW 7-Series may be the German automaker’s luxury flagship, but used models aren’t without their issues. From 2001-2008, the 7-Series featured the good ‘ol “Bangle Butt” and sported some highly controversial styling. Early production of that generation was overwhelmed with issues even causing BMW to purchase back some of the vehicles back in 2002-2003. BMW of North America even extended its warranty on all 2002-2003 model year 7-Series vehicles to six years/100,000 miles from the original four years/50,000 miles.
According to Consumer Reports, the BMW 7-Series ranked “worse” in the categories of Engine Major, Engine Minor, Transmission Major, Transmission Minor, Body Hardware, and Audio System.
The cause of the problem is from a right rear hub and bearing assembly that might not be fully machined. Those affected by the recall will be notified by Chrysler so that dealers can replace the right rear hub and bearing assembly free of charge. The safety recall began this month, so concerned owners can also contact Chrysler at (800) 853-1403 and reference recall number M13.
If you tell the McGees that their house looks like a scrap heap, they won’t be offended. That’s because it’s made from salvaged car roofs.
The McGees’ family homestead was designed by Leger Wanaselja Architecture and uses over 100 salvaged car roofs. The plan was to build a house that was eco-friendly by using green technologies and reused materials, and these reused materials included roofs from gray-colored cars found in Berkeley, California junk yards. And getting the right roofs wasn’t easy – they had to be in good condition, and this meant no dents or paint chips (the cars were in the junk yard for a reason, so not as simple as it sounds),
Once the right car roofs were found, they were cut into long tile-like shapes. Once cut, they were used to construct the upper outside walls of the house, giving tiles a slate-like appearance. And roofs weren’t the only car part used for this house. It also features cool awnings made from old Dodge Caravan side windows.
This is a unique way to keep car parts out of landfills. Would you ever consider buying a home that’s been partly constructed out of old car parts? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.
GALLERY: Home Built With Salvaged Car Parts
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]
With a new look, a new engine, a much improved interior and better ride quality you’d think the folks at Chrysler would be pleased with their new Dodge Grand Caravan? After all, it has even been met with much-improved comments from the automotive media.
It may have started the entire minivan segment, but Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne apparently cares little for history, deciding instead to axe the family hauler from the Chrysler brand lineup some time in 2013. According to a report by Automotive News the van will be replaced (along with the Dodge Avenger) by a single Fiat-based crossover model in 2014.
The Chrysler Town & Country (generally the volume seller and the more expensive model) will continue on as the brand’s only minivan. Of note, however, the Grand Caravan has actually outsold the Chrysler model by roughly 14,000 units so far in 2011. The decision is also a bold move outside U.S. borders where the Dodge Grand Caravan is the top selling minivan in Canada.
GALLERY: 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan
Owners of Dodge‘s 2008 Grand Caravan, Chrysler‘s 2008 Town and Country (or Voyager) should keeping their eyes out for a recall letter to be sent out next month. Those who receive it may feel like they’re in familiar territory since this is the second recall for a similar issue on the 2008 minivans. Earlier this year a recall was issued because of the possibility that water from the air conditioner could leak onto the electronics, causing the airbag light to go off or even set off the bags.
The repair done to the affected vehicles earlier this year was a drain grommet replacement to help fix the leak. Unfortunately, Chrysler’s engineers have discovered that moisture may have caused damage to the chip circuit boards in the earlier recalled vans, causing issues with their performance. As a result, Chrysler is issuing yet another recall to those vehicles in order to inspect and possibly replace the circuit boards altogether.
Thankfully no reports of accidents or injuries as a result of this defect are known. The vast majority of the affected minivans are in the United States, with over 50,000 in Canada, close to 4,000 in Mexico and a little over 13,500 in other countries.
Don Swanson’s racing school is up for grabs on eBay Motors, complete with a full semi, four EJ Honda Civic race cars and a Dodge Grand Caravan.
All four of the EJ Civics are DX models with five-speed manual transmissions and non-VTEC D15 single-overhead cam engines. Each of the race cars come equipped with ample safety equipment, several performance bolt on mods and a tach the size of a school clock. The auction includes all the suits, helmets and gloves and the buy it now price is set at a very reasonable $79,000 or best offer.
Interested? Buy it now or put in a bid here.
GALLERY: Don Swanson Race School
Do people still buy minivans? That’s what Polk Research wants to find out.
With a common aversion to minivans that lies somewhere between stubbing a toe on furniture and ebola, it’s interesting to see that from last year, minivan sales have actually gone up. From a nice, even 3 percent of light vehicle sales in 2010, sales of the minivan increased .2%. But then again, this is the tail end of a trend from 2007 that saw a high of 4.3%, and slipped sharply last year.
Manufacturers are well aware of this too. Out of these minivan sales, a whopping 92% come from just four models: the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Caravan. The other 8% consists of the Kia Sedona, Volkswagen Routan and the Nissan Quest.
Those, of course, are the only minivans sold on the market today. Gone are Ford and GM, for example, among others: manufacturers have known that consumers have avoided minivans for years now, and as a result are replacing them in their lineups with SUVs. Polk’s data supports this: last year, over 40% of customers who ditched a minivan replaced it with either a midsize or a compact SUV. 21% went with a midsize car, and given America’s aversion to small cars as well as minivans, only 16% bought one of those instead.
Since 2007, the number of minivans available on the market has dropped from 15 models to 7. Of course, all of this leads to a neat, tidy little Catch-22. If manufacturers decide that consumers aren’t buying minivans, they’ll stop making them. But if consumers can’t find the right minivan to choose from, they won’t buy one. So which came first: the manufacturers who won’t build minivans because nobody’s buying them, or the consumers who can’t find one to buy in the first place?
Since Daimler and Chrysler went their separate ways, the latter faced somewhat of a dilemma in the commercial vehicle segment, since the Sprinter van was essentially a Mercedes vehicle.
Now the Ram division is jumping back into the fold, with a commercial variant of the Dodge Caravan. Similar in concept to the original T-wagon based models of the 1980s, this one is appropriately enough, named Ram Cargo Van and features solid side panels in place of glass windows and a flat load floor to maximize carrying capacity, which stands at 144 cubic feet.
Although the Ram Cargo Van or (RCV for short), is powered by the same 283 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 found in the Dodge Caravan, it has a retuned , heavier-duty suspension with load leveling aimed at commercial use, plus a heavy-duty radiator and transmission cooler to better cope with frequent stop/start delivery driving.
Switchable transmission gear shifting, low drag rear bearings and brake calipers, along with a standard rear spoiler are designed to save fuel, especially important among many small business owners who rely on such vehicles.
Options on the Ram Cargo Van range from a satellite navigation system and in-dash media center with 30 gigabyte hard drive to a rear back up camera, cargo divider and vinyl window shading. Ram Cargo Vans will be produced at Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario assembly facility and will go on sale in the third quarter of this year as 2012 models, pricing is expected to be announced at launch time.
Dodge‘s trademark cross-hair grille, the front end treatment that has been the hallmark of the brand’s styling for years, will become the sole domain of the Ram truck brand, as the Chrysler division moves toward a new look for future products.
“It takes time. We will evolve the products,” Ralph Gilles, CEO of Dodge and Chrysler’s design chief, told Automotive News. “We did as much as we could with the split cross-hair grille,” he said. “We had to be careful because the cooling work was pretty much done when we decided to rebrand the vehicles. That will continue evolving over time.”
No plans were divulged with regards to Dodge’s new look, but with cars like the new Charger leading the way, and attempting to target a different kind of buyer, perhaps a more mature look is in line for the brand as Chrysler moves upscale, and Dodge has been seperated from Ram Trucks, which understandably needs to project a macho image.
[Source: Automotive News]
If you own a 2008 Chrysler Town & Country or Dodge Caravan, you may want to keep an eye on your mail come February. That’s when Chrysler will begin notifying some 367,000 minivan owners about a recall that involves unwanted airbag deployment.
A water leak caused by an improperly applied HVAC hose grommet can cause water to drip into the airbag module, triggering a warning light, or an unplanned airbag firing. Chrysler will begin fixing the issue at no charge starting in February 2011.
Minivans are deeply uncool. For men especially, buying one carries the same emasculating stigma that wearing a pink shirt once held. But after a long period of poor sales (and having the segment ravaged by crossovers) minivan sales are on the rebound, thanks to some especially strong product.
On the other hand, right now isn’t a bad time to be selling Honda, Chrysler/Dodge or Toyota minivans, as those four minivans comprise 91 percent of the market; the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country. Kia’s Sedona and the Volkswagen Routan comprise the other 9 percent, while nameplates like the Nissan Quest, Plymouth Voyager, General Motors’ minivan family and the Hyundai Entourage have all fallen victim to slumping sales.
On the other hand, minivan sales are slowly rising, posting a 3.4% gain for 2010. Sienna sales are up 72%, and some analysts think they could be higher if not for Toyota’s quality problems. With new versions of the Odyssey and Nissan Quest slated to debut later this year, the segment could see a resurgence as consumers shy away from fuel-thirsty and overly-large crossovers and SUVs.
[Source: Kicking Tires]
Hit the jump to see Toyota’s “Swagger Wagon” Sienna commercial
288,968 Jeep Wranglers from the 2001 through 2010 model years after a defect was noticed, where the front fender liners can come into contact with the brake lines, causing a fluid leak. The automaker said that no injuries have been reported relating to the leak, but according to NHTSA, “A brake fluid leak can cause partial loss of service brakes at the affected wheel, increasing the risk of a crash.”
Chrysler is also recalling Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans from the 2008 and 2009 model years due to a sliding door hinge that can damage certain wiring, leading to a short circuit and a possible fire.
Chrysler recalled nearly 35,000 vehicle last week due to stuck accelerator pedals made by CTS Corp, the same company that made the fault Toyota gas pedals. Like the Jeep and minivan recalls, nobody had been injured or killed in the recalls, with only a few complaints (in the single digits) being reported.
The recent spate of preemptive recalls is likely a move designed to stave off any future law suits or bad publicity. Regardless of their motives, it’s good to see companies taking a more active role in product safety, rather than the dismissive or negligent behavior of previous eras. It’s somewhat futile to speculate whether an American car company would be treated the same way as Toyota would in the case of a massive recall, but one would suspect that the optics of the situation (struggling American automaker versus global, Japan-based auto giant) would alter things.
[Source: Bloomberg News]
Minivan ads are usually focused on touting features that appeal to the families that buy them. Airbags to keep you safe, entertainment to keep the kids happy, powerful engines to cut down on “Are we there yet?” In a rare moment of humor in the segment, Dodge has commissioned a couple ads that are totally out of left field.
Both ads show off the Caravan’s infotainment features like TV screens, wi-fi capability and voice activated GPS, albeit in the wackiest way possible. The first ad, reminicisent of BMW’s short film “Ticker” seems to involve a government conspiracy, an African military officer and some unsanctioned surgery. The second clip, is actually pretty funny, but had weird echoes of the graphic novel “Maus“. View the commercials here.
Explorer 4WD tops list of trade-ins under Cash-for-Clunkers
The four-wheel-drive Ford Explorer topped the list of clunkers traded in under the Car Allowance Rebate System.
Ford vehicles appeared five times on the Cash for Clunkers top ten trade-in vehicles list released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The four-wheel-drive Explorer was number one with the two-wheel-drive version at number four.
The Ford F150 also appeared twice on the list, with the 2WD pickup at number two and the 4WD F-150 at number nine.
Chrysler vehicles appeared on the list three times, thanks to the Jeep Grand Cherokee (#3), Jeep Cherokee (#6) and the Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan (#5).
A pair of Chevys filled out the top ten with the Blazer at seven followed by the 1500 pickup at eight.
According to the DOT, 84% of trade-ins were trucks. The clunkers traded in under the program had an average fuel economy of 15.8 mpg compared to the 24.9 mpg average for new vehicles purchased.
Behind the Volkswagen badge on the front of the Routan minivan, everything else is pretty much standard Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country equipment. So why buy the VW?
The German automaker hopes the option of wireless internet will be enough to win over a few buyers, and they’re probably right. Thanks to Autonet Mobile, Routan passengers will be able to log on and check their Facebook, post Twitter updates or just waste away the hours on those long road trips by watching YouTube videos.
“Volkswagen is committed to delivering vehicles that epitomize and enhance our digital customers’ lifestyle, and the Routan is a modern family vehicle,” said Mark Barnes, Chief Operating Officer at Volkswagen of America. “Internet access is a clear benefit to our customers. We’re excited to work with Autonet Mobile to bring uconnect web to our Routan customers.”
“The Routan customer is looking for entertainment options beyond the traditional DVD player,” said Sterling Pratz, CEO of Autonet Mobile. “Consumers want to extend their living room lifestyle to the vehicle and want the ability to use internet-driven applications – gaming, email, IM, internet radio, and other entertainment and information services – while on the road. We’re thrilled to be a part of the revolution that is making the minivan the cool vehicle to own.”
The Routan with Wi-Fi is now available at Volkswagen’s 800 U.S. dealerships. Wi-Fi subscriptions start at $29 per month on top of an installation fee.
Official release after the jump: