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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.
Sometimes the hype surrounding a car can make it seem like a better choice than it actually is, and to combat the false reputations some cars get, Consumer Reports has released a list of five popular vehicles that should be avoided.
The Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan have ruled the minivan market for years, and are now poised to combine into one vehicle sporting the best features from each. The biggest problem with this merger however, is which name do you keep and which name do you scrap?
Chrysler group CEO, Saad Chehab, says that his Town & Country moniker should survive, and the Grand Caravan marque be put to bed. “It’s always been Town & Country that leads the way for the business of minivans, but there is a certain cache and there is loyalty that we’ve got to consider to move forward.” Said Chehab. “If we were to combine them into one minivan, Town & County has the natural fit to continue.”
This discussion erupted after Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne was quoted saying that the Chrysler group needs a new minivan, and it would make sense to merge both the vans into just one market offering. Marchionne also discussed the likelihood of a small platform minivan to compete with the likes of the Mazda5 and Ford C-max. Whichever brand gets the new downsized minivan will also lose its current van offering, another factor that has to be considered by Chrysler when deciding which name to rid itself of.
The Town & Country is the stronger seller in the US between the two minivans, so it would seem likely that the Grand Caravan will find itself on the chopping block.
Saad Chehab believes that the Town & Country name is the one that will carry the newest generation Chrysler van to success, and if history truly does predict the future, Chrysler has nothing to worry about when it comes to the minivan segment.
[Source: Automotive News]
The Toyota Sienna and the Dodge Grand Caravan are neck-in-neck to become the top selling minivan of 2011. What it will come down to will most likely be determined by parts availability and end-of-year consumer deals… and perhaps a fleet transaction could pull one automaker ahead of the rest?
Here’s what it looks like so far. As of the end of October, the Dodge Grand Caravan was in first place with 92,930 sales, followed closely by the Toyota Sienna with 91,955 sales. In third is the Honda Odyssey with 86,436 sales and in fourth is the Chrysler Town & Country with 78,255 sales.
There are a few factors that could make or break this race for the top spot. The first is parts availability, and with the earthquake and tsunami drastically affecting production, Japanese minivan sales could suffer. Another is end of year deals, and to really make a push for the close of 2011, both Toyota and Dodge could pull out some pretty sweet sale prices to give the automakers’ respective vehicles an edge in the competition. Finally, fleet sales could turn out to be the secret weapon that drives one competitor out above the rest. Dodge, Chrysler and Toyota sell minivans to fleets, but Honda doesn’t, so a final fleet push could be just what cinches the race.
What minivan do you think will win the race? And is Chrysler crazy for having announced it will discontinue the Grand Caravan?
[Source: Automotive 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
Chrysler is issuing a recall for a small number of vehicles equipped with the new 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6. According to the automaker a total of 657 vehicles may be affected and could exhibit a loss of power as a result of manufacturing debris left in the engine.
Chrysler saw the problem was caught early on, but not until those 657 models had been shipped out. Models affected include the Chrysler 200, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Journey, Durango, Grand Caravan and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Chrysler says it will be sending out letters to retail and fleet customers in October, but that the majority of the vehicles have yet to be sold.
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.
Chrysler has said that it is recalling some 11,351 vehicles from the 2011 model year, including Chrysler 200s and Town & Country minivans, Dodge Avengers, Calibers, Journeys, Nitros and Grand Caravans, as well as Jeep Compass, Patriot and Wrangler models.
The problem? An incorrectly installed steering column rivet that could potentially cause the steering system to fail, resulting in loss of vehicle control and even an accident.
The automaker said the cause of the problem was “improper identification of rejected components by new employees during the second shift.” Out of some 14,000 steering columns Chrysler inspected, it found that seven of them boasted missing or incorrect rivets.
So far the Auburn Hills, Michigan automaker has said there have been no consumer complaints nor records of accidents or injuries resulting from the issue. Nevertheless, owners of the affected vehicles will be notified starting next month and urged to contact their nearest Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealer to have the problem fixed free of charge.
[Source: The Detroit News]
Chrysler announced a recall of 248,000 Dodge Journey, Grand Caravan, and Chrysler Town & Country models for a chance that the key could slip out while driving, shutting down the engine without warning.
At least two rear-end collisions have occurred from this fault, says Chrysler and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. From driver contact or bumpy road conditions, the key could get knocked into the accessory position, which would shut down the engine as a result. Chrysler received 32 complaints and 465 warranty claims from customers, and launched an investigation last September to respond to these. The key’s supplier is Continental AG.
The models affected are all 2010 vehicles, built between August 3, 2009, and June 17, 2010. About 3 percent of the 248,000 vehicles recalled may have this problem.
Soccer moms sometimes get a raw deal because of the vehicle of choice. But it’s not like they have much of a choice – a minivan is the best-equipped vehicle to haul their aspiring David Beckhams to games and practices. It’s time to stop mocking the soccer mom, and automakers are setting out to make the minivan cool… but will moms jump on the minivan band wagon?
At the recent Detroit Auto Show, a group of mothers from MomsLikeMe.com critiqued the latest wave of minivans. For the most part, they liked all the new creature comforts they came with, but when it came to the vehicle’s cool factor, they just couldn’t see it becoming any hipper than it already is (which means, not at all). They agreed that the minivan is all about practicality, not style sense.
“It is not worth the hassle to try and stuff everything and all your kids into a regular car,” said Patti Cleland, a 42-year-old mother of three from Grosse Pointe Woods.
The MomsLikeMe crew check gave critiques of the all-new Ford C-Max, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan and Volkswagen Routan. Even though it was smaller, the C-Max scored high marks, and so did the Sienna, thanks to its four up-front cupholders, the dual moonroofs and the reclining second-row seats with leg rests.
[Source: The Detroit Free Press]
Chrysler Corporation will look to introduce a new compact van for either Dodge or Chrysler, with the new model replacing that brand’s current minivan offering. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, made the comments to reporters gathered at the North American International Auto Show.
The move will take place by 2013 says Marchionne, with the small MPV set to rival the Mazda5 and newly-released Ford C-Max. If Chrysler gets the small van, then the Town & Country will be cut, while the Grand Caravan will face a similar fate if Dodge gets the new model.
With the Town & Country the stronger seller in the U.S. and the fact that it commands higher prices, the Grand Caravan’s fate would appear numbered.
Like how the C-Max rides on the Focus platform and the Mazda5 on the Mazda3 architecture, the new Chrysler Group model will be based off of an upcoming compact car platform, that will not only be used for the Caliber replacement, but it also expected to be used to build Jeep crossovers, like the next-generation Compass and Patriot.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the 2012 Dodge Viper will be produced, and will move towards a more “upscale” position, abandoning its “racecar” heritage. The vehicle was previewed at Chrysler‘s dealer meeting in Orlando.
Autoblog reported that the design is angular, and a departure from the previous car. No mechanical details were announced but a variant of the 8.4L V10 may return, with a V8 filling an entry level role.
Among other products debuted were an all new Dodge Grand Caravan, which will differentiate itself from the Chrysler Town & Country by appealing to a sportier customer, including a limited edition “Man Van”, the all new Chrysler 300, which will be sold as a Lancia in Europe and a replacement for the Jeep Compass and Patriot crossovers.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]
When the recession was upon us, it seemed like everyone was making the shopping shift from new to used cars. But now that things are starting to ease up, the prices on used cars have gone up as well.
According to Edmunds.com, used-car prices have increased, especially with larger vehicles such as Cadillac Escalades or Dodge Grand Caravans rising more than 30 percent. Sure, that’s a lot, but it’s still better that the used-car prices we were seeing last spring.
Last month, the average price in the U.S. for a used three-year-old vehicle was $19,248, up $1,800, or 10.3 percent, from the same month last year.
“Consumers are generally paying considerably more for used cars this year compared to 2009,” stated Joe Spina, a senior analyst for Edmunds.com. “A lack of confidence in the economy is driving more people to used cars, putting upward pricing pressure on a limited supply of vehicles.”
In a single year, a used Cadillac Escalade averaged $34,715 last month – that’s a 35.6 percent increase. As well, the Chevrolet Suburban, Dodge Grand Caravan and BMW X5 price rose past 30 percent.
[Source: USA Today]
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]
It may cost more money to purchase and fill up, but SUVs , trucks and mini-vans are cheaper to insure. This information is coming from a recent government report that based its findings on the fact that some vehicles cost less to fix, and therefore reflects how much it will cost to insure.
Based on losses of insured vehicles for the model years 2007 to 2009, work van Ford E350 Econoline tops the list as the cheapest vehicle to insure. It’s followed by the Mercury Mariner, a small SUV, and the Chevrolet Traverse.
Due to the fact that so many of the company’s vehicles made the list, Ford has no issues about tooting its own horn. “Vehicle affordability continues to be the most important purchase consideration for car and truck buyers, rivaled only by fuel economy,” said Frederiek Toney, a Ford vice president. “We design our vehicles to be easier and more affordable to repair because we know this saves our customers money in insurance premiums and repair costs over the long term.”
The only car to make the list is the Smart ForTwo microcar. The basic idea behind the list is that some vehicles are cheaper to fix if you crash them, and that difference is reflected in their insurance So that Econoline van is 61% cheaper to insure than the average vehicle. The Mariner is 59% cheaper to insure. Traverse is 57%.
Other cheap vehicles to insure, and their percentage they are cheaper than average:
Ford E350 Econoline: 61%
Mercury Mariner: 59%
Chevrolet Traverse: 57%
Ford Escape: 50%
Jeep Wrangler: 53%
Smart ForTwo convertible: 52%
GMC Acadia: 47%
Saturn Outlook: 46%
Ram 1500: 45%
Ford F-150 Supercab: 44%
Kia Sorento: 44%
Dodge Grand Caravan: 40%
Ford F-250: 40%
[Source: Kicking Tires]
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.
Last week Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne set out a long-winded plan for the future of the American automaker and how its future will be closely tied to its new Italian parent company. There was a lot to digest at the seven hour press conference and so we thought a model by model breakdown would be helpful and would shed some light on what appears to be the general plan to eliminate old Chrysler products and replace them with new Chrysler Group-branded Fiat models. So let’s start with Dodge…
From the smallest to the largest vehicles, Dodge will see the introduction of a subcompact car in 2013 based on the Alfa Romeo MiTo. Currently Dodge does not offer a sub-compact with its smallest offering being the compact Caliber, which receives a mild update this year but will be eliminated in 2012 and then replaced the same year by a Fiat Group-based vehicle. Presumably it will be another Alfa Romeo platform, however, the car will be built in the U.S.
Moving to the mid-size segment, the Avenger will also be updated for 2010 and then replaced by a Fiat Group platform in 2013.
The future for the Journey, Grand Caravan and Charger is more positive, with the Journey and Grand Caravan getting updates for 2010 with a new Grand Caravan due in 2014. The Charger will be all-new for 2011 with a new interior and exterior, after originally launching in 2006. A new rear suspension will also be part of the package. As for its Challenger sibling, it will be updated for the 2012 model year.
Two vehicles that will be eliminated are the Nitro and Viper, with the Nitro slated to be scraped in 2011 (with a possible successor), while the Viper will cease production mid next year with a potential sports car replacing it in 2012.
One new model will be added to the Dodge lineup; a seven-seater crossover based on the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee (pictured above).
The new Ram brand still won’t have a lot going on, although Fiat is looking to expand its offerings. The Dakota is scheduled to cease production late in 2011 with a possible unibody pickup to replace it. As for the Ram 1500, it will get a mid-cycle refresh in 2012, as will the heavy duty Ram trucks. A chassis cab version of the Ram will also arrive in 2010.
Two additions to the lineup include a front-drive small work van and full-sized van in 2012. The small van will be similar in purpose to Ford’s Transit Connect and will be based on the next-generation Fiat Doblo. It will be imported from either Turkey or Brasil. As for Ram’s new full-sized van offering, it will be one of two vehicles: either the body-on frame Iveco Daily or the unibody Fiat Ducato. Unlike the small van, this full-sized unit will be assembled in the U.S.
Starting in the small scale, the Chrysler Brand will also get a subcompact, although (surprisingly) it will not be based on the same Alfa Romeo vehicle as the Dodge sub-compact. Instead, it will be underpinned by the next-generation Lancia Ypsilon five-door hatch and will go on sale in 2013.
A new compact sedan (based on a Fiat Group platform) will be launched in 2012. It is not clear if the Fiat Group platform is the same one that will underpin the Dodge compact sedan. The same can be said for the Sebring, which, like its current Dodge counterpart (the Avenger) will get styling updates next year and be replaced by a Fiat Group platform in 2013.
As for the PT Cruiser, it will be eliminated late next year – although we’ve heard that one before.
The Chrysler 300, like the Dodge Charger, will be all-new for 2011 with the new model arriving some time next year. Styling is expected to be evolutionary, so don’t expect much change – which is probably a good thing.
And as for Chrysler’s final product, the Town & Country minivan, it will get updates next year with a new model in 2014. Fiat hopes to differentiate the Chrysler minivan from its Dodge counterpart by taking it more up-market. (Have we learned nothing from the R-Class?)
Finally, there’s the Jeep brand, where we’ve already learned the Patriot, Compass and Commander will be eliminated over the next few years. The first to meet the scrap heap is the Commander, with production ending late next year, while the Patriot and Compass will be get mild updates for 2010 before being retired in 2012. Interestingly, Fiat may build and sell the Commander overseas after 2010.
At the low end of the spectrum, a new subcompact SUV will arrive in 2013 based on the next generation Fiat Panda Cross, while a new compact crossover will arrive the same year based on an unnamed Fiat Group platform. A new Liberty will also arrive that year, again based on a Fiat.
As for Jeep’s core vehicles, the Wrangler will get a new interior next year, with a new engine offered in 2011. The Grand Cherokee will continue on as planned with the new model debuting next year as a 2011 model.
[Source: Automotive News]
A week ahead of a planned Fiat/Chrysler press conference in which Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of both automakers, was to outline the future of Chrysler, much of the information has been revealed in an in-depth report in the Wall Street Journal. But before we get to the new products that the Italian-owned automaker is planning to bring into the North American marketplace, it’s time to learn the fate of the vehicles being axed. And judging from the list, it appears as though Fiat is intent on moving its products in and Chrysler’s products out.
The vehicles to be cut include the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Sebring. On the Dodge side, four models will be eliminated, including the Caliber, Nitro, Avenger and Grand Caravan. Three Jeeps will also meet their maker: the Commander, Compass and Patriot.
In place of these vehicles Fiat is ready to announce the introduction of the 500 in 2011, along with three Alfa Romeo vehicles: the MiTo (shown above), Milano (which will replace the 147) and another yet unnamed mid-sized sedan.
The rest of the plan will see the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger redesigned in 2011, with the Grand Cherokee due out soon. And with only two Chrysler products left, the rumored decision to axe that brand’s name may just happen.
The Wall Street Journal made no mention of past reports that the Fiat Panda would see its way to the U.S. as a Jeep. There is also no word on if the Fiat 500 will be offered in just it’s standard hatchback form, or if a convertible and sporty Abarth version will also join the product lineup.
GALLERY: Alfa Romeo MiTo
[Source: WallStreetJournal via KickingTires]