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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.
 |  May 19 2011, 9:46 AM

According to a published report; Chrysler’s Ram division is planning to build a light-duty pickup using its minivan architecture around 2013-2014.

The new truck takes aim at buyers who want the utility of a pickup, but don’t need the inherent toughness and capability of full-size rigs. Utilizing a smaller, unibody platform will also help improve fuel economy over the likes of the Ram 1500.

This new minivan based pickup, much like Honda’s Ridgeline, will feature a front-drive layout and although reports have yet to be confirmed, it’s likely some kind of all-wheel drive system will be offered.

Dubbed the TR Life Style truck, Chrysler projects it’s Ram division to sell between 15,000 to 20,000 units annually (for the record, the Ridgeline sold 16,142 copies last year, a drop of two percent from 2009).

Along with the rest of Chrysler’s minivan range, the TR will be assembled at the Windsor, Ontario plant and, according to Doug Shepard, editor of Automotive Compass’ weekly report, the truck is “an insurance policy that the plant will continue on three shifts at full capacity.”

Yet despite the existence of the report, Chrysler, at least officially, isn’t saying much at this time, only that the idea of a mid-size pickup is being “considered.”

[Source: Toronto Star]

 |  Mar 28 2011, 8:55 AM

Honda has announced it will recall 2,800 of its new Odyssey minivans to replace the windows on both front doors. The recall affects only 2011 model year versions of the Odyssey due to glass that can become detached from the mechanism that moves it, causing it to become stuck either open or closed.

No injuries or crashes have been reported in connection to the recall.

Honda will begin to notify owners in mid-April. Those with questions are encouraged to visit www.recalls.honda.com or call 800-999-1009 and select option 4.

Earlier this month, Honda issued another recall for the 2011 Odyssey for windshield wipers that could break in icy conditions.

 |  Mar 18 2011, 8:03 AM

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Issuing its second recall in as many days, Honda has announced it is taking steps to replace a potentially faulty front wiper linkage rod on the 2011 Odyssey.

The recall affects 33,341 vehicles where the wiper linkage could be bent if the wiper motor is turned on, but the wipers themselves are frozen to the windshield. Honda says no crashes or injuries have been reported as a result.

Customers will be notified in mid-April and are asked to take their vehicle to the nearest Honda service department once informed. Those with questions can visit www.recalls.honda.com or call 800-999-1009, and select option 4.

Read AutoGuide’s 2011 Honda Odyssey Review Here

 |  Mar 07 2011, 9:09 AM

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Dodge has announced a cut to the base price of the 2011 Grand Caravan minivan, reducing the MSRP by $1,000 on the entry-level Express model. At just $23,995 the refreshed Grand Caravan is now the cheapest minivan on the market.

In addition, the Mainstreet model is $250 cheaper and priced at $25,745.

For 2011 the Grand Caravan received a significant mid-cycle update with an all-new interior, minor exterior styling tweaks, suspension changes and a powerful new 283-hp 2.6-liter V6 engine standard.

Read AutoGuide’s 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Review Here

 |  Feb 09 2011, 12:02 PM

It’s perhaps hard to grasp as concept. For most guys, the idea of driving a minivan, means the days of carefree driving are well and truly over; the sports car sacrificed for sensible family motoring.

Chrysler however, is planning to change that. Witness the Dodge Caravan R/T, unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show and planned to be in showrooms by the second quarter of this year. Pricing has yet to be announced and although clearly a production vehicle, Dodge division head and Chrysler design supremo Ralph Gilles, said the Caravan R/T is still essentially an “experiment,” a vehicle designed to see if car enthusiast dads can really embrace the idea of hot handling minivan.

Features on the R/T include a black interior with red stitching, a 9-speaker sound system with a 506 watt amplifier and a performance tuned suspension and special 17-inch wheels among other things.

Will the R/T sell? It’s difficult to say at this point, but there’s no question that despite Chrysler being the volume leader in the minivan market, the segment on the whole has been struggling for years. Chrysler is the only remaining Detroit automaker to offer vehicles in the segment, Ford and GM having pulled the plug in favor of more profitable crossovers.

The two biggest competitors for Chrysler in the minivan segment; Honda and Toyota have recently dished up redesigned versions of their Odyssey and Sienna, respectively, adding more features and better driving dynamics with the hope of increasing sales.

Nevertheless, if the concept of a ‘man van’ actually takes off, it’s likely that Dodge, with it’s male and performance oriented marketing approach, is probably the best brand to really make it work.

[Source: Chrysler]

 |  Feb 09 2011, 12:59 AM


Dodge will unwrap the ‘Man Van’ tomorrow at the Chicago Auto Show, a testosterone-infused version of its Grand Caravan family hauler. Officially billed as the Grand Caravan R/T, the new model is scheduled to arrive at dealers this Spring and is designed with a more masculine approach.

The actual goal of the vehicle isn’t entirely clear with Chrysler claiming the styling is being used to attract men to the segment, while it’s possible those more masculine traits could be just the thing to attract women, which are leaving the minivan segment behind for SUVs. Even Dodge boss Ralf Gilles admits, “it’s an experiment.”

No pricing has been released for the Man Van, but it will get a black interior with red stitching, a more sport-tuned suspension and a 506-watt, 9-speaker audio system.

The Grand Caravan’s Chrysler sibling, the Town & Country, is the current top seller in the minivan segment, which has seen notable growth over the past year. Chrysler van sales spiked in 2010 by 33 percent, while the Dodge increased 14 percent. Honda also managed an 8 percent gain with the minivan segment showing a resurgence after dropping to less than 500,000 units last year from a high of 1.3 million units in 2000.

[Source: Bloomberg]

 |  Feb 01 2011, 10:47 PM

Hot on the heels of its arrival at U.S. dealers last week, Nissan has now launched a 360 degree media campaign, including a 30-second TV spot entitled ‘Errands.’

The commercial is designed to highlight how parents can manage their busy lives with the new Quest, via one touch technology, permanent rear storage and an ‘intelligent’ climate control system that’s designed to block out unwanted smells from inside the van.

The ad, which will air this month on select network and cable TV stations, as well as some online sites, features a soundtrack by Beverly Lee, Doris Coley Jackson and Addie ‘Micki’ Harris, entitled ‘Mama Said.’

In regards to the new Quest, Nissan Marketing Vice President Jon Brancheau, declared “it’s an entirely new take on the minivan with bold styling, an extensive list of family-friendly innovations and amenities that families can enjoy.”

As for the ad campaign he describes it as showing that the Quest “provides the innovation to help make the impossible possible on a daily basis – just like parents do.”

The New Quest, which features fold flat second and third row seats, dual panel sliding moonroof and standard 260-hp 3.5-liter V6 under the hood, mated with a CVT transmission, starts at $27,750. Click below for a preview of the new TV spot.

GALLERY: 2011 Nissan Quest

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Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 31 2011, 7:11 AM

These days Mazda doesn’t have a lot going for it and it’s not often that the automaker makes the headlines. But this story just proves what thinking outside the box can do.

More than five years ago Mazda axed its low-selling minivan and debuted the Mazda5 – a smaller van based on the compact Mazda3 platform. It hasn’t quite caught on here (despite its incredible packaging), but our neighbors to the North love the thing an it’s a popular vehicle in other markets.

Classified as an ‘MPV’ it has started to gather a following and other automakers are taking notice, with Ford recently debuting its own rival, the C-Max.

Now Nissan is getting in on the action, and is set to debut a rival to the mini-minivan some time this year. But rather than reinvent the wheel, the yet-unnamed Nissan will be based off the Mazda5.

According to Mazda the vehicle is planned for the Japanese market and there is no info on if it is planned for North America.

 |  Jan 27 2011, 9:46 AM

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]

 |  Jan 26 2011, 9:30 PM

Ford has announced a recall for 425,000 of its 1999 to 2003 Windstar minivan models as a result of an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The issue surrounds a rust problem with the front subframe, that could fracture, which Ford says could result in a steering issue (although considering the structural purpose of the front subframe, the real consequences could be much more severe).

The subframe seems to suffer from the same rust issue that prompted Ford to recall 612,000 Windstars last year.

As the issue surrounds structural rust, it only applies to vehicles from certain states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

Ford has said it will reimburse owners who have already had repairs made. Many Windstar owners have already agreed to sell back their vehicle to Ford, as the automaker has been unable to repair the part in a timely fashion.

 |  Jan 14 2011, 8:19 AM

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Ever wonder what would happen if you let a high-performance tuning company run wild on a minivan? Well wonder no longer, as Nissan‘s NISMO division has just debuted a version of the new Elgrand (sold as the Quest in North America) at the 2011 Tokyo Auto Salon.

Already an imposing beast of a van, the NISMO Elgrand gets its own aero kit with an even more imposing front grille. Matched up with a complete aero package, the van also features a custom suspension drop by the handling experts at NISMO. A set of 18-inch wheels complete the look; although they do seem rather small in comparison to the huge slab-sides of this boxy people mover.

It’s just a concept for now, but knowing the market for these types of things in Japan, NISMO is almost certain to offer copies of this kit. Find the right JDM-market importer and you too can roll up to soccer practice looking like you’re from 2025.

GALLERY: NISMO Elgrand

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 |  Dec 23 2010, 10:10 AM

After an initial investigation and then a recall on the Ford Windstar for rear axle failure, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has put the minivan on notice – again. This time NHTSA’s investigation involves the van’s subframe, which reportedly suffers from the same structural rusting as the rear axles.

The NHTSA website lists 346 complaints of the front subframe (which holds up the engine, transmission, steering rack and front suspension) breaking. A total of three crashes and one injury are listed in connection with front subframe failures on the van.

AutoGuide has also received numerous reports of subframe issues by Windstar owners in response to previous articles written about the rear axle failure recall.

NHTSA’s investigation involves 550,000 Windstar vans dating from the 1999-2003 model years.

Ford’s troubled Windstar minivan is making headlines for all the wrong reasons as of late after as Massachusetts man was killed recently, reportedly the result of a broken rear axle. That news sparked response from Ford, which then expanded the axle recall from 575,000 vehicles to 612,000.

[Source: Bloomberg]

 |  Dec 21 2010, 9:23 AM

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Set to officially debut at the Detroit Auto Show in just a few weeks time, yesterday Ford released full details on its new C-Max MPV, including info on the industry first hands-free liftgate.

It’s tied in to the same type of sensor in the key fob that allows for keyless access and allows you to open the liftgate by simply motioning with your foot under the rear bumper. (Genius, we know). To help demonstrate just how easy and effective it is, Ford has released a video highlighting the feature.

If that’s got your interest in the C-Max, then you might also want to know that it seats 7 in a 5+2 configuration, has sliding side doors and can even be had with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 168-hp and 173 ft-lbs of torque.

GALLERY: 2012 Ford C-Max

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Check out the video after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Dec 20 2010, 12:01 AM

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Ford is betting on the compact vehicle, so much so it plans to offer 10 different models based on its new compact car platform, which underpins the upcoming 2012 Focus. The latest of these is the 2011 Ford C-MAX, which will compete in the MPV segment alongside the Mazda5.

Ford doesn’t call it an MPV, however, but a ‘white space’ vehicle – whatever that means. In Europe this car is actually called the Grand C-MAX, with the regular C-MAX model featuring just five seats.

While MPVs are popular in Europe, they’ve yet to catch on here, despite clever packaging that delivers excellent fuel economy, plenty of passenger and cargo room and a drive quality that’s engaging.

As a 5+2 seater the C-MAX has one more seat than the Mazda, with a second row that includes a center seat which folds out from one of the side seats. Total cargo room is rated at 70.2 cubic feet.

With a standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 168-hp and 167 ft-lbs of torque, Ford will easily achieve best-in-class fuel economy thanks to an optional EcoBoost 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which also boasts 168-hp as well as 173 ft-lbs of torque that’s available from just 1500 rpm. On premium fuel the EcoBoost motor makes 180-hp. Also helping in the fuel economy department is a six-speed automatic transmission and electric power steering.

Interested? But you haven’t even heard the best part. Always looking for innovative solutions to make life easier, even items like SYNC and the new MyFord Touch have nothing on the industry-first hands-free liftgate. That’s right, thanks to sensors in the bumper, as long as you have the keys in your pocket, just approach the vehicle, wave your foot under the car and the rear hatch opens up. (Why has no one thought of this before?)

Set to debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January, Ford has yet to release all the details on the C-MAX, but we can all but guarantee the EcoBoost model will cost a premium and items like the hands-free liftgate are certain to only be available on top trim models with a keyless access system and push-button ignition.

Check back for complete Detroit Auto Show coverage starting January 10th.

GALLERY: 2011 Ford C-MAX

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Dec 17 2010, 4:06 PM

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Analysts at Goldman Sachs’ Japanese arm have a dim forecast for Toyota, projecting an operating loss through the 2013 fiscal year, with Goldman predicting continued sales downturns in the United States, Europe and Japan, which comprise Toyota’s three biggest markets.

Toyota sales, hammered hard by recalls earlier in 2010, are not projected to keep pace with a rapidly growing worldwide vehicle market, despite maintaining a foothold as sales leader in Japan, Thailand and Indonesia. Sales in China and India are poorer than expected and lag behind many smaller rivals.

While the rising value of the yen has been blamed for decreasing profits for a variety of Japanese auto makers, the Goldman Sachs report unequivocally blamed “weak sales volume” as a cause for Toyotas woes. While the auto market has consistently grown between 8 and 9 percent over the past few years (and will continue to grow at that pace), Toyota has experienced sales drops of 15% in 2009 and 4% in 2010.

Goldman Sachs stated that the upcoming Camry launch in 2011, as well as a small car for the Chinese market, will prove crucial to the company’s recovery.

[Source: Ward's Auto]

 |  Dec 16 2010, 1:58 PM

An investigation and eventually a recall on snapping rear axles on Ford’s Windstar minivan wasn’t enough to save the life of Sean Bowman of Massachussetts. A 28 year-old father of two and Coast Guard veteran, Bowman’s family received an official recall notice in the mail from Ford a week after the he had died in a crash behind the wheel of his Windstar – an accident his family alleges was the direct result of a rear axle that snapped while Bowman was on his way to community college.

Bowman’s family is considering legal action against Ford, stating that the severity of the recall demanded more immediate action. “This is not your average, everyday recall. This is your rear axle can break, you can lose control of your vehicle, your wheels can fall off,” Bowman’s wife told The Associated Press.

Ford says that it fulfilled its legal requirement by notifying customers with vehicles affected by the recall.

After the story of Bowman’s death broke, Ford announced it would expand the recall to an additional 37,000 Windstar minivans, bringing the recall total to 612,000. The initial recall was only for vans in certain colder states where it was deemed corrosion was a factor in the snapping axles. The expanded recall now includes all 2003 vehicles and also now encompasses the state of Utah.

The recall itself has been a significant problem for Ford, as new axles had to be manufactured, causing a long wait for owners. As a result, Ford offered to either pay for rental vehicles for customers with affected vehicles, or to even buy back the minivans. The latter choice is proving the more cost effective for Ford, with most of the vans now quite old and their value quite low. Some customers waiting for the repair have had their vehicles parked on Ford dealer lots for over four moths.

Ford may face increasing threats of legal action over this issue, as there is likely to be a high number of recalled vehicles on the road that remain unrepaired. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 70 percent of recalled vehicles are repaired within the first 18 months, however, that number is generally much lower when recalls are issued for older vehicles.

[Source: NPR]

UPDATE: The Ford Windstar is now under investigation by NHTSA for rusting subframe issues. Click here to read the story.

 |  Dec 13 2010, 5:34 PM

Toyota has just announced a recall for it’s new ‘Swagger Wagon’ Sienna minivan for an issue related to the braking system.

Unrelated to any past brake recalls the recall involves the parking brake bracket that could become damaged by repeated use of the foot-actuated parking brake pedal. Toyota warns that damage to the bracket could lead to brake lights that appear on, or in extreme cases ‘dragging’ brakes, which could wear the brakes out over time.

In total 94,000 Sienna minivans are affected by the recall, all dating from the 2011 model year.

Toyota will notify Sienna owners and provide a fix free of charge. Those with questions are asked to call the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.

Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Nov 18 2010, 5:45 PM

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After the car first broke cover in Euro-spec form at the Geneva Auto Show, Mazda has finally rolled out the second-generation of its Mazda5 model at the LA Auto Show. The car’s clever packaging has yet to catch on, which is surprising when it delivers as much space as a mid-size crossover and comes with a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine. Oh, and Mazda has always offered the 5 (based on a version of the Mazda3 platform) with a manual transmission – how very European!

For 2012 the all-new Mazda5 gets a more swoopy design, while the engine grows in size from 2.3-liters to 2.5-liters with a total of 157-hp and 163 ft-lbs of torque. A 5-speed automatic transmission is standard on most models, with a 6-speed manual the base transmission on the Sport trim.

Mazda says fuel economy is unchanged, despite the displacement increase.

In terms of safety, the 5 comes with stability control as well as a new Brake Override Feature.

For 2012 the Mazda5 will be offered in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels. Standard features on the Sport model include 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows and door locks, power mirrors, A/C, a 6-speaker audio system, tilt and telescopic steering, remote keyless entry, a driver’s one-touch up/down window, a 50/50 split 3rd row seat and steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls. Touring models get the 5-speed automatic, 17-inch wheels, an aero kit with rear spoiler, fog lights, Bluetooth and a leather wrapped steering wheel. The top-level Grand Touring trim then gets a power moonroof, HID automatic on/off headlights, heated mirrors, rain sensing wiper, driver’s seat lumbar, heated front seats and leather throughout.

GALLERY: 2012 Mazda5

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Get even more details on all three trim levels after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Nov 17 2010, 10:10 PM

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Nissan has completely revamped its Quest minivan for 2011, getting away from its quirky ugly past and moving towards Toyota’s “Swagger Wagon” Sienna when it comes to road presence and interior luxury.

Powered by Nissan’s 3.5L V6 (what else?) the van makes 253-hp and will start at a rather competitive $27,750.

Features of the new 2011 Quest include standard Quick Release fold-flat 2nd and 3rd row seating with an available 3rd row power-return seatback, heated front seats, a removable 2nd row console, Blind Sport Warning (BSW) and a RearView Monitor and an optional 11-inch monitor.

The 2011 Quest will be available in four models: S, SV, SL and LE. Base S models get 16-inch steel wheels, 6-way adjustable front bucket seats, wood-tone trim, Nissan’s Intelligent Key with push-button ignition and an AM/FM/CD audio system with four speakers. Quest SV models get one-touch power sliding doors, 16-inch aluminum wheels, Tri-Zone climate control, a power driver’s seat with lumbar, fog lights, a 4.3-inch display screen, USB port with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, a RearView Monitor and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Quest SL models get leather, 18-inch wheels, a power liftgate, 8-way driver’s seat, heated front seats, roof rails, auto headlights plus heated mirrors. Top-level LE models then add on a Navigation system with 12-speakers, memory seating, 2nd and 3rd row manual blinds, 4-way adjustable front passenger seat, HID lights, an 8-inch display screen, DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones and an 11-inch rear DVD entertainment system.

Nissan says the van is designed to be a reward to parents or doing their job.

Oh, and in person it’s simply enormous.

GALLERY: 2011 Nissan Quest Debut in LA

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GALLERY: 2011 Nissan Quest

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Nov 12 2010, 9:56 AM

The Windstar is proving to be a small nightmare for the folks at Ford and for anyone who happens to own one. First NHTSA was investigating the minivan for possible rear axle failure, then an official recall was issued. Then Ford announced it would go so far as to buy back the cars, while offering to cover the cost of a rental car for those who opted to get the axle fixed.

While that sounds like a reasonable solution, it hasn’t been and is costing Ford, its dealers and Windstar owners plenty of money. A recent article by Automotive News outlined how many dealers are now having to find space for dozens of Windstars on their back lots as a fix for the problem may take several months. Owners are reluctant to take the buyout at Kelly Blue Book value, as the older minivans are worth more to the owners than they are on a retail lot.

According to several reports Ford is offering to cover $38 dollars a day to cover rental costs, which could put Ford out by as much as $2,000 per car. And with the recall notice being issued for 575,000 vehicles, the total could be in the millions.

The cost to owners is varied. A long list of replies to past articles on this topic on AutoGuide include complaints about unequal service from dealers. Some respondents mentioned having to pay the tax on their rental car price, while others had to pay for specific insurance on the rental vehicle. Several replies include complaints that their dealer wasn’t able to get them into a reasonably sized vehicle, while others had to pay extra to get into anything larger than a Fusion.

And as bad as this situation seems it’s likely to get worse for owners as NHTSA is currently investigating a rusting front subframe issue with the vans, and as owners continue to return their vehicles for recall service for the axle issue, numerous complaints have begun to pile up about the subframe, indicating a recall isn’t far off.

 |  Oct 28 2010, 10:28 AM

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Along with the new 2011 Avenger, Dodge has just revealed the redesigned 2011 Grand Caravan with a new look, significantly updated interior and just one engine.

Under the hood of the updated Grand Caravan is just one engine, the company’s new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, that makes a best-in-class 283-hp and 260 ft-lbs of torque. It replaced the old 3.3-liter, 3.8-liter and 4.0-liter helping Chrysler cut costs, while a new Fuel Economizer Mode lets drivers save on fuel.

Other upgrades include a 12 millimeter lower ride height and other adjustments to help reduce drag to improve fuel economy. Outside, the Grand Caravan gets Dodge’s new corporate “split crosshair” grille.

The biggest changes, however, might just be on the inside, with a new “super” center console and completely revised dash, with higher grade materials throughout. Plus, it’s the first minivan with a heated steering wheel option.

For 2011, the Grand Caravan will be offered in our trim levels: Express, Mainstreet, Crew and the “Man Van” R/T. (Targeted at dads, could R/T mean a a HEMI V8? We hope so, but doubt it).

The 2011 Grand Caravan will go on sale later this year.

GALLERY: 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan

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Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Oct 01 2010, 7:47 AM

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Ford has just unveiled its new Grand C-Max minivan at the Paris Auto Show, which is set to go on sale in North America in the near future. We’d like to say that when compared to the Windstar the Grand C-Max looks and feels far superior, but that wouldn’t be giving the new van much credit.

The three-row van isn’t actually a replacement for the old exploding transmission/faulty headgasket minivan, as vehicles in the segment have grown to tremendous proportions over the last decade and a half. Based on the new ford Focus architecture, the Grand C-Max will compete with models like the Mazda5.

As a result of the smaller compact car platform, the Grand C-Max will offer excellent fuel economy. It’s not year clear what engines will be offered in the U.S., with a possibility that Ford could offer the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder direct-injection motor from the Focus, while an EcoBoost 1.6-liter 4-cylinder is also a strong possibility.

Normally we’d be apprehensive that the U.S.-spec model would be nothing like the Euro-spec trim, but considering what Ford has done with the Fiesta, we’ll hold out hope.

GALLERY: Ford Grand C-Max

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 |  Sep 17 2010, 2:15 PM

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Chrysler not only invented the concept of the garageable van with it’s original 1984 T-wagons – the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager - but it also invented the concept of the Premium soccer mom special with the Town & Country. Now 21 years after the T&C’s introduction it’s packed with an incredible array of standard features and for 2011 it gets even more. With safety being all the rage these days key elements on the new Town & Country include a Safety Tec umbrella, which brings together more than 40 separate standard features, including Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection.

Alongside safety; other improvements include a dual DVD system that can play two different media at the same time; Sirius Backseat TV and FLO TV (the latter which provides 20 channels of live programming); plus voice command functions for such things as iPod/MP3 players, radio control, phone communication and navigation.

Besides safety and gadgets, Chrysler has also made improvements to the interior – a new dash and instrument cluster; better quality upholstery for the seats; more ergonomically sound steering wheel with integrated vehicle functions and a revised HVAC system.

Under the hood the  2011 T&C also gets a version of Chrysler’s new 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6, rated at 283 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque. Combined with a six-speed automatic transmission EPA fuel economy estimates are 17 miles per gallon in town and 25 highway. Those fuel economy numbers are the same as last year, but the power output has jumped considerably. The 2011 T&C will be built exclusively at Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario assembly plant, with the first examples set to arrive in dealerships, sometime in the final quarter of this year.

GALLERY: 2011 Chrysler Town & Country

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 |  Sep 09 2010, 10:20 AM

Honda has just announced pricing on the all-new 2011 Odyssey minivan, with roughly a $1,000 increase on all models.

Base LX models with features like keyless entry, cruise control, stability control an auxiliary jack, 8-way power driver’s seat and 4 LATCH positions start at $27,800. EX models add 17-inch wheels, five LATCH positions and power slide doors for $30,950 while the EX-L trim tosses in a power tailgate, heated leather seats, Bluetooth, XM Radio and a backup camera for $34,450. Both a navigation (with a lifetime subscription to Real Time FM Traffic and a 3-view backup camera) as well as a rear entertainment system (with 9-inch screen) can be included, although if you’re going to go all-out the $40,775 Touring model adds the 6-speed transmission (with improved fuel economy), 18-inch wheels, parking sensors and a memory seat. And for 2011 a new Touring Elite model tops out the range for $43,250 with that incredible home theater system.

Of note, most models come with a 5-speed automatic transmission with an EPA rated 18/27-mpg (city/highway), while top-trim Touring models get a 6-speed automatic with a 19/28-mpg rating.

Read AutoGuide’s 2011 Honda Odyssey First Drive by Clicking Here

Full pricing details after the jump:

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