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.
Like Mariah Carey’s ancestry, modern crossover vehicles have unusual roots. The award-winning American singer’s family tree is more varied than the flora of a rainforest understory. Her unique blend of nationalities includes African, Venezuelan and Irish. That’s more ingredients than Belorussian variety sausage. Who’s hungry for some lean, finely textured opossum?
Bland Like Unsalted Popcorn
Are you self-conscious? Don’t like to stand out in a crowd? Would you rather blend into the background than be the center of attention? Well, when it comes to the automotive world, you are in luck. Some vehicles seem to have skipped class when it came time for their styling lesson. This is not to say they are ugly, but more that they lack any style whatsoever.
We’ve all heard the clichés to describe these anonymously styled cars; plain vanilla, beige, white bread, etc. We like to think of them as stylistically-challenged. Regardless, if you don’t want to draw any undue attention towards yourself, here are ten vehicles that are guaranteed to blend into the landscape.
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.
As 2012 comes to an end, it’s always interesting to see what vehicles were most popular on everyone’s research list for the year.
Electric cars may have arrived, but the search for the perfect alternative fuel is still in progress. There are still a few major issues that keep battery powered vehicles from replacing the internal combustion engine.
Toyota has announced the pricing for its 2012 Highlander and FJ Cruiser models while a price increase has been put into effect for the 2011 Land Cruiser. For 2012, the Highlander and Highlander Hybrid will see no new features and as a result, the MSRP will remain the same as its 2011 counterparts. The base MSRP for the gas Highlander will start at $28,090 while the high-end Limited V6 with a five-speed automatic starts at $37,045. Highland Hybrid prices will start at $38,140 for the Base 4WD and go up to $43,795 for the Limited 4WD.
The FJ Cruiser, which is also virtually unchanged for 2012, will have an MSRP ranging from $25,990 for the 4×2 with five-speed automatic transmission to the 4×4 V6 automatic with an MSRP of $27,580. The FJ Cruiser does feature a 0.7-percent increase of $200. The 2011 Land Cruiser also gets a $200 price increase, with an MSRP of $69,120.
The prices for the 2012 gas Highlander, FJ Cruiser and 2011 Land Cruiser will become effective starting with August’s production models while the 2012 Highlander Hybrid prices began with July 20th’s production.
Ford is about to launch an EcoBoost powered Explorer SUV. The new EcoBoost engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, with direct injection and a turbocharger and returns 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg highway.
The Ecoboost option will be limited to the front-wheel drive model only and have a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. The engine will produce 240-hp at 5,500 rpm and 270 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. The engine will be mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and only requires 87-octane at the pumps. Ford said the Ecoboost Explorer will cost $995 more than the regular V6 model.
Ford is quite proud of this engine boasting that its technology bests the Honda Pilot and Jeep Grand Cherokee by five mpg highway, the Chevy Traverse by four mpg and the Toyota Highlander by 3 mpg. The EcoBoost Explorer is currently being launched, so expect to see models in the showroom very soon. Given Ford’s success with the Ecoboost F-150, and the 2011 Explorer’s strong sales numbers, the Explorer Ecoboost should be a hit.
It’s time to buy a car and you’re weighing all the options before making a purchase – including insurance rates. Your timing couldn’t be better, because Insure.com has just released their list of the least expensive cars, vans, SUVs and trucks to insure in 2011, and the auto brands that will lower your insurance rates are Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan and Chevrolet.
With the help of Quadrant Information Services, Insure.com determined these findings on premiums for 40-year-old male drivers. Using six major insurance carriers’ premiums in 10 ZIP codes in each state, they were able to access which vehicles would cost less to insure.
Taking the top spot was both the four- and six-cylinder front-wheel-drive Toyota Highlander – this car will set you back $1,154 and $1,183 per year, respectively. In the minivan category, the Chrysler Town & Country LX is the least expensive minivan to insure at $1,092 per year. If you’re in the market for trucks, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 costs $1,174 per year to insure, while at $1,128 per year, the Nissan Murano SL is the least expensive SUV to insure.
Hit the jump for a list of the least expensive vehicles to insure in their respective categories, along with the cost to insure them per year.
Toyota is launching its “100 Cars for Good” program, where the company will donate 100 cars to various non-profit groups. Facebook users will choose which groups will receive the vehicles via a voting process.
The winning organizations will get to choose from a selection of vehicles, including the Prius, Tacoma, Tundra, Highlander Hybrid, Sienna or Sienna Mobility. The vehicles will also come with a six year, 100,000 mile service contract that will cover vehicle repairs after the warranty period has expired.
Toyota is conducting a voluntary recall for RAV4 and Highlander models in America, to replace the side curtain airbag sensor assembly.
On certain RAV4s built between 2007 and 2008 and Highlanders from 2008, there are two side curtain sensors that detect the side angle of a vehicle during a rollover. These sensors could fail and illuminate the airbag warning light, which would prevent the rollover detection system from activating. If both of these sensors fail, however, the side airbags could be fooled into thinking a rollover has actually happened, and deploy.
Only North American vehicles have this feature, and no other Toyota or Lexus cars around the world are affected. None of the 214,000 RAV4s or 94,000 Highlanders affected have actually deployed their airbags, but given Toyota’s recent history with recalls it’s fair to say that they are not taking any chances.
Anyone who was not comatose in 2009 remembers the Toyota unintended acceleration scandal, which saw millions of Toyota and Lexus products recalled due to what was eventually deemed to be a mismatch between floormats and the accelerator that could cause the pedal to stick.
Now, Toyota is recalling a further 2.17 million cars and trucks to remedy the issue – at least this time they’ve been vindicated by none other than NASA.
The recalled vehicles, along with the number of units, are listed after the jump, as is Toyota’s official release.
It’s been revealed that Toyota is dipping its hand in the Subaru parts bin for the upcoming FT86 rear-drive sports car (slated to use a boxer engine and a modified version of the Legacy platform), but now it appears Toyota is also looking at ways the two manufacturers can share engineering when it comes to SUVs; specifically the Highlander and Subaru’s slow-selling Tribeca.
Both current models are slated to be dumped around 2014, though Subaru is currently working on a replacement for the current Tribeca coded 086A. However, it’s reported that Toyota will have a major hand in the project, since both the current Highlander and Tribeca are similar in size and configuration and shared componentry will be a good way for both manufacturers to save costs.
Although a common architecture will likely included a shared chassis and roof structure, challenges remain in how to adapt a variety of different powertrains. Subaru will be utilizing a version of its latest boxer engine for the new Tribeca, while Toyota will likely continue to use in-line engines and also a hybrid powertrain for the next Highlander.
Another challenge is how this singular platform will meet crash standards, since Subaru engines require a specific front floorpan and frame design to meet NHTSA requirements.
[Source: Motor Trend]
The 2011 Toyota Highlander was unveiled today at the Texas State Fair, and will go on sale by the time you read this – literally. Deliveries are supposed to take place tomorrow, but you can expect them to be on dealer lots right now.
The 2011 Highlander gets a few new features, like a standard third row seat and rear climate control. Hybrid models get a 1 mpg bump to 28mpg all around. Other than that, the new Highlander is really, well, not substantially different from the 2010.
Pricing on the base model is up to $27,390 from $25,855. Other models see a more modest price increase. Hit the jump to see the official press release.
Gallery: 2011 Toyota Highlander
Toyota‘s Highlander crossover will debut in redesigned form at the State Fair of Texas, a year after Toyota used the event to launch their redesigned 4Runner. The Highlander was previously revealed in advance of the Moscow Auto Show.
Slated to compete against the new Ford Explorer and the Chevrolet/GMC/Buick Traverse/Acadia/Enclave crossovers, the Highlander will feature everything you’d expect from a big crossover; front or all-wheel drive, 5 or 7 passenger seating, and a couple V6 powertrains. The Highlander’s “killer app” will be the Hybrid model, which is expected to deliver better mileage than 27 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Sometimes, okay just doesn’t cut it. Like when it comes to how well the roof of your midsize SUV holds up in a rollover. New results from the first roof strength tests on midsize SUVs conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that automakers still need to make improvements to these types of vehicles.
Out of 12 midsize SUVs tested, six earned the top rating of good for rollover protection, one came in at acceptable, and the last five earned the second lowest rating of marginal. Making the good grade are the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox (twin GMC Terrain) built after March 2010, Jeep Liberty (twin Dodge Nitro), Toyota Highlander and Venza, as well as the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Kia Sorento. Coming in at an acceptable rating was the 2010 Ford Edge. The midsized SUVs that didn’t fair so well by earning marginal ratings were the Honda Accord Crosstour, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-7, Mitsubishi Endeavor, and Nissan Murano, all 2010 models.
“Midsize SUVs are a big group so we’re testing them in stages,” says Institute president Adrian Lund. “First results show that automakers are making progress in rollover protection, but it’s disappointing that a new design like the Crosstour didn’t perform better.”
Institute research shows occupants in vehicles that roll benefit from stronger roofs, and the IIHS has, in turn, based their rollover rating system on this information. In order for a vehicle to be rated as good, their roof must be more than twice as strong as the minimum required under the current federal safety standard. A rollover is one of the most serious crashes to be involved in, and this test is designed to help drivers pick a vehicle that will best protect them.
Stats show that nearly 10,000 people a year are killed in rollover crashes. These types of crashes are so deadly because as vehicles roll, their roofs hit the ground, deform, and crush. Since stronger roofs crush less, they minimize injury risk from contact with the roof itself.
[Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety]
Japanese Automakers Dominate
The Lexus LS460, Rated the Best Overall Car by Consumer Reports for 2008
Consumer Reports has just released its list of the best cars in each class and the Japanese are dominating with 8 vehicles (out of 10) in the top spots. CR says it bases its results on three variables: Road Tests, Reliability and Safety.
For a car to be a top pick it must have ranked at the top of its class in an overall test score, which includes 50 individual tests. A Car must also have an average of better predicted reliability rating and must perform “adequately” in safety tests by the NHTSA or IIHS. Consumer Reports also stipulates that for any car to be a top pick it must have stability control (ESC).
And The Winners are:
Best Overall: Lexus LS460
-powerful, good fuel-economy,uncompromising luxury
Best Family Sedan: Honda Accord
-Roomy, well-rounded and fun to drive, plus ESC (Altima bested Accord in most tests but not all Altimas come with ESC)
Best Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Avalanche
-functional and comfortable
Best Small SUV: Toyota Rav4
-roomy and quiet, good on gas with 4 or 6-cyl, third row seat available
Best Midsized SUV: Toyota Highlander
-quiet, three rows of seats, decent fuel economy, versatile, AWD optional, Hybrid available
Best Minivan: Toyota Sienna
-versatile, seating for 8, rivals luxury cars for interior, AWD optional
Best Small Car: Hyundai Elantra
-comfortable and roomy wih good fuel economy, ESC on SE model
Best Green Car: Toyota Prius
-Prius wins six years running
Best UpScale Sedan: Infiniti G37
-Agile, great interior, AWD optional, luxury and sport all in one.
Best Fun to Drive Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata
-Tied Boxster in testing but costs half as much
[Source: Consumer Reports]