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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.
As you know, (or at least you should) our (usually) weekly feature Ask AutoGuide is all about helping readers in need (or for our own amusement). People require vehicle-buying advice and we provide guidance (it’s in our name after all). Give and receive, that’s how it works; it’s just like Christmas except Old Saint AutoGuide shimmies down the chimney 52 times per year not just once in late December.
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.
SEE ALSO: Used Car Reviews
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.
Welcome back to the all-you-can-eat Top-10 buffet! You know you want more, and AutoGuide’s happy to serve up another heaping helping of facts, neatly garnished with a sprig of fun. Grab a plate, load it up and tuck in to another generous portion of automotive infotainment.
10. Nissan Murano - 473 Thefts
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has released a list of the top stolen sport utility and crossover vehicles in the United States, compiling data from 2009-2011 model years only. In total, entry-level CUVs were the most stolen with 6,357 thefts while hybrid SUVs were the least with 67 – of course, there aren’t as many hybrid SUVs on the road as there are entry-level CUVs. The information also revealed that California had the most thefts with 3,003 with Texas in second (1,826 thefts) and Florida third (1,784 thefts).
The 10th most stolen SUV/CUV from 2009-2011 model years was the Nissan Murano, with 473 thefts last year. The mid-size crossover from Nissan first hit the market in 2002 as a 2003 model year and was the automaker’s first crossover for the U.S. market. The second-generation Murano began with the 2009 model year and got revised exterior styling that seems to have become a hit with some thieves.
10. Mazda CX-5 $20,995
Crossovers continue to be one of the most competitive new car segments in the industry, and that’s a good thing for car buyers. With more and more entries into the market, prices have dropped across the board. Here’s a quick look at the top 10 cheapest crossover vehicles.
With a starting MSRP of $18,995, the 2012 Dodge Journey is now America’s most affordable seven-passenger vehicle, especially if you take advantage of its free third-row seating ($995 value) promotion in the month of March.
Coming off an all-time February sales record, Dodge also announced that the SXT model will come with the 2.4L four-cylinder engine as standard, an American Value Package, and SE models. The 2.4L four-cylinder engine has 173-hp and can hit 26-mpg on the highway. Prior to this, the SXT model was only available with the 283-hp V6 Pentastar engine. The 2.4L four-cylinder SXT will start at $22,995 before destination charges.
The SXT comes equipped with 17-inch wheels, 4.3-inch Uconnect touch screen infotainment system, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, push-button start, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, sporty front bumper with fog lights, LED rear taillights, four-wheel disc brakes, seven airbags, and more. Available as an option on the SXT model is the 8.4-inch Uconnect Touch Screen, in-seat storage, and integrated booster seats.
“Dodge Journey is the most versatile and affordable crossover in America with innovative seating and storage that sets it apart from anything else in its class,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Dodge Brand. “We’re building on our momentum by making one of our most unique attributes – seven-passenger seating – and making it even more accessible to hard-working families.”
For the month of March, the American automaker is offering the Flexible Seating Group on all 2012 Dodge Journey models for free. The package comes with an easy-entry second-row with 60/40 Tint ‘n Slide seat, three-zone heating and air conditioning, and third-row 50/50 folding and reclining seat. The promotion will save buyers $995 and will be valid from now until April 2nd, 2012.
With the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto just around the corner, the finalists for Canadian Car and Utility Vehicle of the Year (the winners of which will be announced during the opening ceremonies of the show on February 16) have been announced.
For the car category, the three finalists are the Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Optima (shown above), while in the utility category, they are the BMW X3, Dodge Journey and Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel.
Each of these vehicles won their respective categories during the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s annual Test Fest, which takes place each Fall in Niagra-on-the-Lake, Ontario. This time out, some 170 vehicles in 11 different categories were evaluated by 70 auto journalists from across Canada, with the CCOTY finalists selected following four days of back-to-back testing on the street, test track and off-road course.
Besides car and utility of the year, AJAC also awards another category at the CIAS, Best New Design. For that one, this year’s three finalists are the Hyundai Veloster, Jaguar XKR-S and Range Rover Evoque.
Chrysler has issued a recall on Dodge Journey and Fiat 500 models produced between October 24th, 2011 and October 26th, 2011. Even though it’s such a narrow timeframe, 340 vehicles are impacted by the recall due to a faulty brake issue.
The vehicles produced in the Chrysler’s Toluca, Mexico plant may have been assembled with contaminated brake fluid, leading to possible degradation of the sealing components within the braking system. If the degradation does occur and the sealing components break down, a brake failure could occur resulting in a crash.
The recall notices will be sent out next month and Chrysler will replace all the brake components impacted by the contaminated fluid.
Ramciotti was lured out of retirement to head up the project, which aims for a common design language for the two brands. “We are trying to find an international language, which could have a place both here in Italy and in the U.S.,” said Ramaciotti in an interview with Bloomberg. “If you put all the models into the showroom, they must fit together. It’s a delicate problem.”
Sergio Machionne, Chief Executive Officer of Fiat and Chrysler, hopes sharing designs will boost both Chrysler and floundering Italian sister company Lancia, a weak link for Fiat. The carmaker loses an estimated $1.08 billion annually in Europe. If all goes as planned, the new Chrysler-Lancia line will boost group sales 64 percent by 2014.
Sharing vehicles between manufacturers is a quick way to cut costs, but it can have a high price.
“It’s extremely difficult to succeed in a strategy of globalizing design,” said Roberto Verganti, a management professor at Milan Polytechnic. “The risk is making international cars with no personality. When you buy a Lancia, you are looking for a piece of Italy, and when you choose a Chrysler, you are getting a slice of America.”
Despite the plan to marry models between Chrysler and Lancia, Fiat doesn’t plan to do the same for other brands including Dodge, Jeep, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, all of which will retain their respective identities.
Currently, Chrysler provides re-badged Grand Voyagers and 300s to Lancia, with Lancia calling them the Voyager and Thema respectively. For now, the cars are attracting attention in showrooms, but they haven’t been hot sellers in the depressed Italian economy. “Reactions are good. The Thema is pretty, design is attractive for Italians, too, but no one is buying these kinds of cars now,” said Roberto Ferrari, who owns a Lancia dealer outside Milan.
Overall, Chrysler only sold 37,000 cars in Europe last year, including Jeep and Dodge. That number is down by almost 38 percent since 2007 when they peaked at 120,000 units.
The news isn’t all bad for Fiat’s rebranded American cars though. Since June, the company enjoyed 18,000 orders for their rebranded version of the Dodge Journey minivan, more than double their total sales for 2009.
The Evoque was up against some stiff competition this year. Other contenders up for the award included BMW X3, Dodge Durango, Dodge Journey, Ford Explorer, Jeep Wrangler, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, MINI Countryman, Saab 9-4x and Volkswagen Touareg.
According to Motor Trend, the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque passed each of its six criteria for the distinction (Advancement In Design, Engineering Excellence, Efficiency, Safety, Value and Performance Of Intended Function) with flying colors.
Based on the Land Rover LR2, the Evoque is an evolutionary leap over its predecessor, says Motor Trend. Even though it shares a platform with the LR2, the Evoque performs considerably better in every way. “The Evoque is meant to appeal to the buyer who ranks style, content, and fuel efficiency above approach and departure angles,” says Motor Trend.
Just a few of Evoque’s perks that wowed the judges included its Terrain Response handling and AWD system, its stylish design, roomy cargo area, emission reduction, improved fuel economy and impressive value (it has a price tag of $43,995 – not too shabby when you see all the great features it comes with).
Discuss this story at RREvoqueForum.com
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.
Hard-hitting Consumer Reports, recently tested a plethora of updated Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles, revealing that while Detroit’s number three automaker has made significant gains in terms of vehicle improvement, levels of quality between vehicles remain varied and there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Speaking at CR’s Auto Test Center, located in East Haddam, Connecticut, David Champion, senior director at the center, said, “we see major improvements for models that have had a significant redesign. When Chrysler invests the time and money in a true redesign, the result has been a much more competitive model.”
The models rated as the most significantly improved, were the re-designed seven-passenger Dodge Durango SUV and the 2011 Charger full-size sedan, both of which received ‘very good’ ratings during CR road tests.
The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country minivan also received a ‘Very Good’ rating, however other vehicles tested at the same time, including the Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, as well as Dodge Journey, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot, while still improved over their predecessors, were still rated as ‘mediocre’ by the publication.
Consumer Reports also said that in terms of overall reliability, based on its Annual Auto Survey, Chrysler vehicles still rank below average, in fact scoring the lowest overall road test scores for any major automaker. In the last three years, CR has only only given a single Chrysler vehicle a ‘recommended’ rating, the Ram 1500 half-ton pickup.
The results from the eight 2011 Chrysler models tested will appear in the August issue of Consumer Reports, the publication had planned to also include the Fiat 500, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger, but those vehicles weren’t available for testing at the time.
It’ll be interesting to see what the magazine makes of those when it gets around to evaluating them.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
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]
Fiat is set to increase ownership in Chrysler, from 25 to 30 percent, within the next few weeks, assuming regulatory bodies are satisfied with Fiat’s ability to meet specific demands for Chrysler.
Fiat has already been able to generate $1.5 billion in revenue for Chrysler outside of North America, but still needs to build a Fiat-based car in North America capable of getting 40 mpg. Fiat is aiming to own a 51 percent stake in Chrysler by the end of 2011.
CEO Sergio Marchionne is hoping that Chrysler will increase global sales by 32 percent and post a net profit for the first time this year. Fiat will also begin exporting Chrysler vehicles to Brazil and sell them as Fiats, where the brand is the current market leader. Among the products that will be offered are the Dodge Journey crossover, sold as the Fiat Freemont.
[Source: Automotive 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.
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]
The Dodge Journey R/T is the kind of vehicle we really can’t see a point for, but it’s here to stay and could end up in the hands of an eccentric few customers.
Under the hood is a 283 horsepower 3.6L Pentastar V6 with a 6-speed automatic transmission, that will at least give the R/T badging, aggressive wheels and new body kit something to stand behind. Dodge says the suspension geometry has been completely overhauled, and the steering system revised – changes that, if you ask us, should be carried over to the rest of the lineup. Chrysler’s ubiquitous UConnect system, featuring satellite radio, an integrated Garmin navigation system and Bluetooth integration is also standard.
The Journey R/T will set you back $28,995 for the front drive model, or $30,695 for the all-wheel-drive version, plus a $750 destination charge.