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.
The Workhorse Not-So-Minivan
After a decade on the market, General Motor’s “mid-size” vans received their one and only update for the 1996 model year. The short wheelbase version of the van was dropped this year and styling was modified to better resemble the larger full-size GM vans. Base model Astros/Safaris featured a utilitarian front end complete with sealed beam headlights while higher trim models featured a more modern look with stacked horizontal headlights.
Ask AutoGuide No. 42
Apparently family values matter. Conservative politicians tap-dance around these issues, pundits prognosticate about their demise and segments of the driving population make them a central issue when it’s time to purchase a new vehicle. Not surprisingly they play a starring role in this week’s installment of Ask AutoGuide.
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.
Last week was a lot like the British ocean liner Lusitania; it got sunk, but this time around it wasn’t the Kaiser’s fault. Instead of falling prey to a German U-Boat it was torpedoed by the New York Auto Show.
Top 10 Affordable Rear-Wheel-Drive Cars
Lawmakers in Washington D.C. and California are armed with a legislative battleaxe and they’re bringing it to bear against the automotive industry. Fuel-economy regulations are hitting like a war hammer, disrupting the market and crushing carmakers. In a mad dash to meet upcoming CAFE standards manufacturers are dramatically shifting their product offerings. Downsized vehicles, hybrid drivetrains and diesel engines are some of the tools in their defensive arsenals.
One unfortunate victim of this efficiency stampede is rear-wheel drive. Slowly but surely over the last 30 years automakers have made the switch to front-drive, a layout that’s more economical in a number of ways. But not everyone is content driving a Nissan Sentra, or getting by in a minivan. For enthusiasts that care about performance rear-wheel drive is king, but it’s a monarch that’s under siege. Keeping the dream alive, here’s a list of the Top 10 (reasonably) affordable RWD cars on the market today. Act fast before they’re gone in a puff of tire smoke.
Dodge is bringing a touch of style to the seven-passenger vehicles in its lineup. Starting a little later this year Grand Caravan, Durango and Journey buyers will have the option of ordering a unique “Blacktop” package on these vehicles, which adds a healthy dose of design flair without breaking the bank.
Ford made several important product announcements at a media event in Detroit this morning. Borrowing from its global portfolio, the Dearborn-based automaker is bringing an impressive array of commercial vehicles to the North American market, including a brand-new version of the Transit Connect.
Last week, Chrysler announced delivery of four plug-in hybrid Town & Country minivans to the Auburn Hills city of Michigan as the initial part of an extensive two-year hybrid development project worth $25.8 million. Today, company delivered eight more units to the Duke Energy utility company as part of the two-year project.
As the only minivan to boast a plug-in hybrid powertrain in combination with flex-fuel capability, Chrysler also revealed the specifications of its new plug-in Town & Country.
Nissan has announced a recall on Quest minivans manufactured from July 29, 2010 through February 21, 2012.
Due to a flaw in its software programming, an insufficient supply of fuel to the engine may occur when the Quest is driven slowly along a descent or idling on a decline with a 1/4 tank of fuel or less. In some cases, the engine may stall.
To address this problem, Nissan will notify affected Quest owners to bring their car to a local Nissan dealer for a reprogramming of its engine control module, free of charge.
Nissan will begin the recall process during mid March 2012. A total of 23,531 units are potentially affected. Concerned Nissan owners may also contact customer service at 1-800-647-7261.
Based on a tidy Ford Fiesta platform, the heart of the B-MAX is Ford’s clever 1.0-liter Ecoboost engine producing 123-hp while reaching an equally impressive 59 mpg. The tiniest powerplant of the Ecoboost family, the innovative direct-injected turbocharged engine is exclusive for the European market for now but will eventually make its way into the North American and Chinese markets as well. For those looking for something even more frugal than the Ecoboost, Ford also offers a diesel B-MAX fitted with a Durotorq TDCi engine.
To set the Ford B-MAX apart from the competition in its class, Ford approached the new mini-minivan with a focus on functional design. The B-MAX features wide-open access for drivers, passengers and luggage. Minimizing obstructions, the center B-pillars are integrated into the doors. Ford also promises to present supreme craftsmanship as well as high quality materials, flexible seating arrangements and class-leading cargo room.
Chairman and CEO of Ford Europe, Stephen Odell, said, “The B-MAX combines an exciting, innovative design with features that only previously have been found in bigger cars. It’s a brand new car that responds to the needs of an increasing number of customers who want more from their small cars.”
Stay tuned for more information on the C-MAX when Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally performs the unveiling at the upcoming 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
GALLERY: Ford B-MAX
Amid news of an introduction for both the Cadillac ATS and Chevrolet Sonic RS at this year’s 2012 North American International Auto Show comes news of a third vehicle – a Buick crossover – that will also make its debut.
The crossover will reportedly be based on a platform that underpins the Opel Meriva (above) though it will ditch the minivan-look for a more traditional crossover bodystyle. The Meriva also shares a platform with the Chevrolet Sonic, though dimensions and powertrain choices have not been revealed. A small four-cylinder turbo with forced induction is a likely candidate. The Meriva is about 5 inches shorter than a Sonic, and it would be reasonable to expect GM to make the car larger to suit North American tastes.
[Source: Automotive News]
The South Korean auto market has long been dominated by domestic automakers like Hyundai and Kia, but Toyota is planning to make a play by sending 6,000 American-built Camrys to South Korea.
Deliveries will begin starting in January, 2012. Toyota has been exporting the Sienna minivan since November, and also sells the Corolla, Prius and RAV4. Toyota is evidently looking to take advantage of a new free-trade agreement signed between the U.S. and South Korea, as well as take advantage of favorable exchange rates between Korea and the U.S.
Our big question is, with Korean cars (especially Camry competitors like the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima) so good noawadays, why would any Korean consumers even bother buying them.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]