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.
A wholly capable and fun crossover
Time flies. It seems like just yesterday we picked up our long-term Mazda CX-5 with a little over 600 miles on the odometer. But it is now nearly half a year later, our three-month evaluation period turned into four months during which time we drove nearly 8,000 miles behind the wheel of the CX-5.
Mazda’s compact crossover begins a three month test
After impressing us during a comparison test earlier in the year, we get our hands on a 2014 Mazda CX-5 for an extended test drive. Over the next three months we will put this vehicle through a barrage of tests and situations to see how well it stacks up during everyday life.
The AutoGuide family is constantly growing and we would like to welcome our newest family member. No, we haven’t hired another caroholic into our ranks. This new addition is a little more mechanical, it is the 2014 Mazda CX-5.
Fuel efficiency is at the forefront of every new car-buyer’s mind. No one wants to spend $30,000 and find themselves throwing money away at the gas pump, so we’ve compiled a list of the cheapest vehicles that get 40 miles per gallon (combined) in order from most expensive to least expensive.
Five fuel efficient cars are vying for the “Green Car of the Year” award, which will be announced in only a few weeks during the L.A. Auto Show.
It wasn’t long ago when the best-selling General Motors models greedily guzzled gas, but times have changed due to a large part to rising gas prices.
Now, GM’s fuel-effiicient models rule the roads and in March they have reached a milestone. Last month, GM sold more than 100,000 vehicles that achieve 30 mpg or better.
“GM’s strategic investments in four-cylinder and turbocharged engines, advanced transmissions and vehicle electrification have been very well timed,” said Mark Reuss, president of GM North America. “Three years ago, about 16 percent of the vehicles GM sold achieved at least 30 mpg on the highway. Today, that number is about 40 percent, and we have more new fuel-economy leaders on the way, including the Chevrolet Spark, Cadillac ATS and the Buick Encore.”
This is a huge shift and shows where the market is heading. The cars that make up this new sales record include the Chevrolet Sonic, Cruze, Volt, Malibu, Impala, Equinox and even the V6 Camaro.
In future, GM will be offering more fuel efficient models, like the new Cadillac ATS, which will also offer four-cylinder engines.
Efficiency is the new black for automakers and consumers alike. Even Porsche customers can get their gas guzzling Cayenne fix in a more efficient hybrid now or diesel soon, which is why it might come as a surprise that two new fuel-efficient guppies in the veritable ocean that is the U.S. car market seem to be floundering.
The Fiat 500 and Chevrolet Volt are both reaching the end of their first fiscal year with disappointing numbers compared to their manufacturer’s forecasts. That outcome could be a bit of a puzzler, given that the 500 starts at $15,500, offers two more seats and, what some would say, stylish alternative to the Smart FourTwo for about $3000 more.
The same fate befell the Volt, which takes a practical approach to the burgeoning plug-in market. Rather than relying totally on a battery charge. Chevy’s iteration on the new trend borrows power from a teensy 1.4-liter gasoline engine and achieves a sky-scraping 94 mpg average with a starting price of just over $39,000 before tax incentives. Those incentives bring the car closer to $30,000, though other government subsidies for things like home charging stations disappear this year.
It doesn’t take a particularly good periscope to see above the water and realize why both these cars were slow sellers, consumers are often risk averse and both cars proved to be sketchy choices by year’s end.
The Volt will fall short of GM’s projected 10,000 unit forecast by at least 25 percent thanks in part to an NHTSA investigation surrounding spontaneous combustion of the lithium ion battery after severe crashes. The car was supposed to be Chevrolet’s poster boy for the future, but instead the crucial first year will be marred by shaky consumer confidence and questions about safety.
The Fiat 500 might have escaped that fate, given its quirky styling and heavy re-engineering for the North American palate, but poor sales proved otherwise.
It also suffered from a sales-scaring three out of five star safety rating by the NHTSA this month. Even without that damning verdict, the hatchback wouldn’t have met the projected 50,000 sales figure— as of November Chrysler’s parent company had managed to squeak out a dismal 17,444 units, with little promise of breaking the 20,000 mark by December 31.
[Source: Edmunds Inside Line]
Porsche is spicing up their U.S. vehicle lineup starting next year with three new models, including a diesel Cayenne.
It’s hard not to see the writing on the wall when a status symbol like Porsche decides to port the diesel counterpart of their high-end SUV to the U.S. Most people familiar with the European car market know that diesels are a staple across the Atlantic, but until recently the alternative fuel was pretty much an 18-wheel thing. That’s all changing, as mainstream manufacturers are offering efficient diesel versions and companies like Cummins are ramping up their capacity in anticipation of a market shift.
If you still struggle with the smoke-belching image diesel vehicles evoke for so many Americans, figure this: Porsche is counting on the diesel Cayenne to help double their U.S. sales by 2018 without adding any dealerships. The other two sales-boosters are a redesigned 911 and the 430 horsepower Panamera GTS.
If the American diesel is true to its Euro-spec brother, you’re looking at a Cayenne that boasts just under 40 mpg combined. It’s likely that the car will have a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, making 245 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque, capable of a 0-60 sprint in 7.6 seconds. You won’t be winning any races in it with a top speed of only 137 mph, but then again you’re looking at a fuel-saving SUV.
If speed is really more important than mileage to you, consider the hybrid version, which makes 380 horses. Just know that you’re probably going to pay about $10,000 more for a vehicle that only gets about 24 mpg.
[Source: Automotive News]
Volvo is adding a six-speed dual-clutch automatic to their lineup of fuel-sipping DRIVe cars powered by a 1.6 liter diesel engine.
The change is significant because unlike previous automatic transmission offerings by Volvo, the dual-clutch auto boasts the same milage as the six-speed manual.
Their DRIVe line of cars, not sold North America, is offered S60, V60, V70 and S80 and uses a small displacement diesel. The fuel-conscious cars also feature a shutoff system that kills the engine at less than 3 miles-per-hour and a re-worked electrical system to reduce power draw. That all combines to deliver an average 62 miles-per-gallon.
Chevrolet is offering more for less by adding direct injection to their upcoming line of Gen-V small block engines.
“The Gen-V small block is an all-new, state-of-the-art engine family that will offer more efficiency and refinement than any other small block in its more than half-century of production,” chief engineer Jordan Lee said to Left Lane News. “For customers, that will mean cars and trucks that deliver more while using less gas to do it.”
Direct injection technology delivers more power and lower fuel consumption by making each engine stroke more precise. That increase precision allows for higher compression ratios and consequently more power out of a smaller machine.
Though official numbers havent been released, it’s speculated that the version of the Gen-V going into the Corvette will shrink from 6.2 to 5.5 liters. Despite that it will meet if not exceed the current engine’s 430 horsepower rating.
Chevrolet’s commitment to the new engine line is more than good news for consumers, it also means more jobs. The company is devoting $1 billion to the project, creating or sustaining 1,711 positions. There isn’t a firm date yet, but Chevrolet says the Gen-V will be available in the near future.
Say the word Jaguar, and probably the first thing to come to mind won’t be fuel efficiency.
Jaguar recently took a road trip from New York to Los Angeles in a British spec XF 2.2 Diesel, and covered the 2884-miles journey at an average of 62.9-mpg. This makes it the most efficient Jaguar ever made.
The car Jaguar used was a showroom stock model and was not modified in any way. The trip took 8 days to complete, while the car made just 4 fuel stops.
The XF diesel achieved its best result on the penultimate day of the trek, achieving 67-mpg. That is incredible for a five-seater luxury sedan of any size, even if the trek was done at an average speed of just 53-mph. Jaguar credits its new 8-speed automatic gearbox and revised aerodynamics, which is available on all the 2012 XF models.
The actual numbers behind the layoffs are, however, in dispute. Tom Zimmerman, the plant’s unit chairman for UAW Local 723, said in an interview with Automotive News that more than 25 percent of the plant’s 400 hourly workers were laid off.
Jodi Tinson, a Chrysler spokesperson, said that only 30 people had actually been laid off, and that another 35 were assigned different jobs in the plant.
Regardless of which figure is accurate, there is no denying that Fiat sales failed to meet expectations in the U.S. The company originally projected 50,000 units annually, but had sold less than 32 percent of that by October 31.
Chrysler will unveil the North American version of the Fiat 500 Abarth at this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, featuring a 160-hp turbocharged version of the 1.4-liter engine.
Gallery: 2012 Fiat 500
[Source: Automotive News]
Recently, Formula One has take a greener turn, becoming more environmental by exchanging high-revving V8 engines for 1.6-liter turbo sixes in 2014.
In addition, changes to the 2012 regulations now make it mandatory that F1 cars run entirely on electric power for the entire time they’re in the pit lane. Rule 5.19 of the revised technical regulations states that, “The car must be run in electric mode (no ignition and no fuel supply to the engine) at all times when being driven in the pit lane.” To accommodate electric-only propulsion in and out of the pit lane, the new Energy Recovery Systems have been increased in capacity to 120 kW, and the system will also be allowed to recapture energy from exhaust fumes as well.
While a victory for technology in once respect, unfortunately it also means we will no longer be able to enjoy the high-pitched whine of the engine revving as the car leaves its pit stall. And with no sound to notify surrounding pit crews that a car is leaving, there’s certainly a level of danger involved too.
As is happening across the General Motor’s lineup, the Buick LaCrosse is getting a powertrain update. The previous 3.6-liter V6 is being replaced with a new LFX mill which will be available at no-additional-cost on select trim levels instead of the standard 2.4L four-cylinder engine with eAssist. The new engine features variable valve timing and will crank out 303-hp on the front-wheel drive LaCrosse (an all-wheel drive version will also be available). This is up 23-hp. Torque also goes up, by 5 lb-ft to 264 lb-ft without affecting fuel efficiency, allowing the LaCrosse to retain a 17 mpg city and 27 mpg highway rating.
“The changes we’ve made to the 3.6L V-6 represent greater refinements to an already well-balanced package,” said Tom Sutter, global V-6 chief engineer. “We are using the latest designs, lighter-weight components and enhancements to improve the engine’s performance, efficiency and durability.”
This new V6 will use several light weight components to help maintain optimal fuel efficiency while boosting horsepower. The new fuel pump and isolated fuel rail will make the car quieter during operation and the direct injection will also allow for a reduction of emissions. Buick has made the engine greener particularly with cold starts, where hydrocarbon emissions have have been reduced by twenty-five percent because of upgraded fuel equipment.
Ford is planning to blitz the auto-market for the first quarter of 2012. According to a source inside Ford, no less than eight all-new or refreshed models will start production for Q1.
Ford’s largest project is the all-new midsize Fusion/Mondeo, which is currently scheduled to start production in January. Ford hopes for a 50-percent sales improvement for the Fusion in North America, which may help it exceed the 30,000 units per-month sales mark. With a new Fusion comes a new Fusion Hybrid and Ford is targeting an impressive 47 to 48-mpg rating in the city.
Also coming is a new Escape, which is being replaced by the Ford Vertrek Concept, with production out of the Louisville, Kentucky plant. The C-Max Hybrid will also begin production later this year.
The 2013 Taurus, which debuted back at the New York Auto Show in April with a face lift and new base 4-cylinder engine, will also launch during the first quarter of 2012. The Ford Flex, Lincoln MKS and MKT will also gain face-lifts during the Q1 for a more modern look.
Ford will re-ignite the hot hatch segment in Q1 with a new Focus ST that will feature a 247-hp 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine.
Both the Ford Taurus Police Interceptor and and Explorer “PI” will replace the Crown Victoria and the Lincoln MKT Town Car will replace the Lincoln Town Car.
Europe will gain the all-new B-Max and South America will gain the EcoSport. The B-Max will come equipped with the highly anticipated turbocharged 1.0-liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine.
By the end of 2012, the oldest vehicles in the Ford lineup will be the Ford Edge and the Lincoln MKX, which recently underwent major overhauls themselves
[Source: Ford Inside News]
ZF, a leader in automotive tranmissions, has announced a new nine-speed automatic gearbox for passenger cars. This gearbox was designed for a transverse mounted engine and will provide up to 16 percent better fuel economy compared to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The nine-speed is referred to as the 9HP and is extremely flexible, capable of being used in front and all-wheel drive platforms. This gearbox is also compatible with stop-start technology and hybrid drivetrains.
This gearbox can endure between 206-353 lb-ft of torque, perfect for four and six-cylinder engines. This transmission is not yet being used as an OEM part, however the gearbox was designed for “customers in the USA and the Asian markets.”
There is no official date as to when the new gearbox unit will be on the road, however ZF has just propelled themselves ahead of the pack as the new industry benchmark.