AutoGuide News Blog
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.
Trusting automated systems to take care of driving tasks is becoming the norm these days, and sometimes these systems can work too well.
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.
Some people are willing to get really passionate about fonts. So with news that Ford is using bold fonts for their next Edge and Explorer, expect a snooty design blog to conduct a thorough editorial analysis on increased font weights.
Ford is starting with the Edge and Explorer, to increase legibility on interior functions. This is targeted at an aging population, one that can’t necessarily see as well.
“If you choose wisely, the legibility of even relatively small text can be a comfortable reading experience,” said Shannon O’Day, a research engineer. “That is especially helpful for drivers on the move.” She headed the study that determined maximum legibility, attractiveness, and clarity based on font sizes, weights, and distances. The age groups studied ranged from 45 to over 60.
Rumors that Ford will print its owners manuals in Comic Sans are still unsubstantiated.
Ford announced a recall of their trucks and crossovers – including 23,688 Ranger pickup trucks – because of a fuel line near the throttle body shield that could leak fuel and cause a fire, and an electrical system that might short out and, well, cause a fire.
Ford is recalling 8,022 Edge and Lincokn MKX crossovers, as well as the entire F-series range, because of the electrical issue. The Ranger models affected by the fuel line issue are all 2010 models, built between October 2009 and May 2010 at the Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota.
No problems have been reported yet, but Ford knows it’s better to be safe than sorry – especially in regards to their cars bursting into flames.
Ford is recalling both the Edge crossover and the Lincoln MKX luxury crossover due to an electrical short that could lead to a fire. The vehicles were built during a 6 day window, and also includes certain Ford F-Series trucks.
Dealers will inspect a component known as the body control module, and replace it if necessary. The recall will begin on January 10, 2011 and owners can contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
The results are in and a host of new SUVs have made the cut. Joining the list for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick Award recipients are the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 2011 Kia Sorento, and the 2010 Toyota Highlander and Venza.
It takes a sturdy vehicle to become an IIHS Top Safety Pick. To drive off with one, a vehicle must earn Good ratings in front- and side-impact tests, as well as head restraint design for rear crash protection, and roof strength. As well, it has to come standard with electronic stability control. Vehicles are rated on a scale of Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor.
Roof-strength is the most difficult test to pass, and the SUVs tested at this time demonstrated a roof strength-to-weight ratio of 4-to-1 or greater (meaning roofs held up under more than four times the vehicle’s weight before the top is compressed five inches). Some examples of outcomes for this test: the Toyota Highlander roof withstood a force equal to 4.74 times its vehicle weight, while the Toyota Venza’s roof withstood 4.70 times its vehicle weight.
Some SUVs that didn’t make the cut were the Ford Edge, Honda Accord Crosstour, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-7, Mitsubishi Endeavor, and Nissan Murano. The Edge earned an Acceptable roof-strength rating, while rest were rated Marginal.
The IIHS is an independent non-profit research and communications organization funded by auto insurance companies.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
Ford is sticking by its slow-selling Flex crossover despite the distinctive box-on-wheels failing to meet its sales targets, and a host of internal competition in the form of a re-designed Ford Edge and an all-new Ford Explorer.
The Flex was marketed as a family-hauler after Ford killed its Freestar minivan in 2006. However Ford is launching an all-new Explorer SUV that will move from a truck platform to a car based unit. Ford is hoping to cast a wider net with the new Explorer, attracting buyers who want a more traditional vehicle and would normally consider a minivan or large SUV.
Sales of the Flex are up by nearly 15% this quarter, but they lag behind General Motors own competitiors, as well as the current Explorer, which is up over 41%. While the Flex has been praised for its good driving dynamics and powerful twin-turbo V6 engine, the slab-sided styling has polarized consumers into “love it” and “hate it” camps.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
The 2012 Ford Explorer was shown to dealers at a meeting Tuesday, but confusion over the launch date of the vehicle put a damper on the buzz surrounding the pivotal Ford product.
The Explorer is a popular vehicle for Ford, but the new generation will change from a traditional truck-based SUV to a car-based crossover. Rather than the usual six and eight cylinder options, the new Explorer will use a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder Ecoboost engine with a six-cylinder option. It will also get a Terrain Management System, with a simple console mounted knob with clearly marked driving modes for normal, mud, sand or snow. Every mode will also be compatible with a new hill-decent feature, to navigate steep grades. Rather than use a traditional transfer case, Ford will use more advanced electronics to send power to each wheel.
Dealers likened the Explorer to a larger version of the Ford Edge, which would indicate a radical departure from the current Explorer. Sales of the current model are up 41% through April.
[Source: Automotive News]
Ford posted a $2.1 billion profit for this quarter, beating market expectations by a full year despite a lull in the new vehicle market. Ford has undergone a series of cost-cutting measures, including plant closures and layoffs, but has also introduced a torrent of new product in nearly every segment.
Ford hasn’t earned $2 billion profit since 2004, when the company sold 17 million vehicles. Expectations for this year include sales of fewer than 12 million cars and trucks. Ford’s strong performance has been attributed to a number of factors. New products like the Fiesta, Mustang, Edge and Fusion have been extremely well received by the automotive press and well as consumers. Sales of the full-size Taurus are up 96 percent from the previous generation. Ford’s image has also remained strong, as it avoided taking government loans (unlike rivals GM and Chrysler), and avoided the quality problems that have plagued Toyota.
However, Ford’s executive chairman told the New York Times that the success of the company was attributable to its own strengths, not the weaknesses of its competitors.
“I don’t know how much it really helped because it’s all about the product,” Mr. Ford told reporters after a speech in Detroit this month. “People will come into our showrooms but if they don’t see anything they like, they’ll go elsewhere.”