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.
Top 10 Places to go Off-Roading This Summer
Wrangler sales are climbing, both month-over-month and year-over-year. Causing consternation among its fan base, the brand is also preparing to revive the Cherokee nameplate.
It rides on the same underpinnings as the Dodge Dart, but Chrysler swears on the Rubicon Trail that its new small SUV will be off-road credible.
True, this is the same brand that calls its stodgy Compass a “trail rated” vehicle. Ignoring the foibles, some of the coolest off-road machines come with a Jeep badge.
Bearing that in mind, here’s AutoGuide’s list of the 10 best places in the U.S. to take your Jeep (or any other off-road capable machine) in no particular order.
Driving a Nissan to preview a Chevrolet
When Nissan won the ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ contract from New York City with its new compact passenger van, it was obvious a retail version would follow. Although the 13,000 vehicles NYC requires is no small amount, Nissan would like to sell more; a lot more. So the manufacturer created the NV200, a version of this van available to retail customers.
What’s more, this compact front-wheel drive van will also be rebadged as a Chevrolet and sold all throughout North America as the City Express. This is a winning proposition for both Manufactures as Chevrolet lacks a compact commercial vehicle to compete against the Ford Transit Connect, while Nissan can utilize Chevrolet’s far larger dealer network to sell more units.
So the question is, will this van be any good? We had the chance to take one for a quick spin recently in San Diego and here are our impressions.
Three all-American truck icons fight it out
We are back with this week’s installment of AutoGuide’s newest, interactive weekly feature ‘Commute, Toy or Destroy’.
Veteran driver Mike Ryan will return to Pikes Peak this year to race his Super-Turbo freightliner to compete in the open division.
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.
General Motors and Isuzu are mulling over the possibility of jointly developing a new pickup truck, according to an announcement by GM made today.
Road debris is dangerous, especially when it’s something as big as the spare tire pinned under the bed of a Toyota Tacoma.
The latest teaser image features two more macro shots, this time of what looks to be the interior trim of the Ram truck – the first of an interior light, the second of a piece of trim from the dashboard. While teaser images are considered by many automakers to be a fun and effective marketing trick to raise awareness and excitement, these obscure images fail to convey exactly what we should expect from the next generation Ram. Its official reveal will be during the New York International Show and we will share more substantial information regarding the new truck later in the week.
So far, we know that development of the new 2013 Ram 1500 truck heavily focused on the mechanicals, featuring a fuel efficient package that combines Chrysler’s Pentastar V6 along with an eight-speed transmission. What’s more, the new Ram will also feature the air bag suspension system from the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Honda has announced a recall in the United States for 206 Ridgeline trucks built from 2011 through 2012. This recall is to address a possible mismatch between the Ridgeline’s spare tire and the FMVSS mandated tire information placard installed on the vehicles’ driver-side doorjambs.
Honda Ridgeline trucks sold in the United States are fitted with a compact spare tire and, in some cases, placards may incorrectly indicate that the Ridgeline came with a full-sized spare tire instead. To solve this matter, Honda will either provide Ridgeline owners with a spare that will match the information provided on the vehicle’s placard or it will install a new placard that reflects the spare tire installed by the factory. While this issue may not seem like an urgent safety hazard, the recommended cold inflation pressure for the tire may not be correctly indicated.
No crashes or injuries have been reported due to spare tire failures but Honda’s recall encourages owners of all affected Ridgelines to take their vehicles to an authorized dealer when they receive a recall notification in the mail. Recalls notifications will begin to reach Ridgeline owners by mid-February 2012. An owner could also take the initiative by contacting www.recalls.honda.com or by calling (800) 999-1009, option 4.
In Parenting Magazine‘s first “Genius” issue, a new magazine committed to helping parents find ways to best help their children unlock their “genius” potential, the all-new Infiniti JX SUV was chosen as one of the “Smartest Family Cars Of 2012.”
Editorial Director for the Parenting Group Ana Connery said, “By recognizing today’s smartest cars, Parenting hopes to make it easy for families to use technology on the road, whether it’s for quick run to the store or for an extended road trip vacation. Our editors’ top picks have thought of everything so that parents don’t have to.”
The Infiniti JX, available at Infiniti dealerships by spring 2012, was selected for its many smart, high tech, and family-friendly attributes, including 360-degree external cameras and collision sensors that engage the brakes, actively assisting in accident avoidance. The JX also provides a Google Calendar sync to its infotainment system, so that parents could better manage their busy schedules.
Infiniti America Vice President Ben Poore said, “The Infiniti JX’s features were inspired by families who told us they wanted a luxury vehicle with features like the world’s first Backup Collision Intervention system, an Around View Monitor and not having to take out a child safety seat to get access to the 3rd Row. We’re proud that Parenting magazine recognized our desire to make hectic family lives a little more efficient and much more enjoyable.”
GALLERY: 2013 Infiniti JX
Kelly Blue Book Released their list of the 20 most researched vehicles and three of the top five spots belong the Honda products. The Civic and Accord placed first and second respectively, with the Toyota Camry in third, the Honda CR-V in fourth and the Ford F-150 in fifth.
The Hyundai Sonata and Elantra placed sixth and seventh respectively, with the Elantra cracking the top 20 for the first time. The top five brands overall were Toyota, Ford, Honda, Chevrolet and Hyundai, with the Toyota Prius as the sole hybrid on the list. Check out the full list below, after the jump.
If you were one of the unfortunate kids who never got a Power Wheels for your birthday, you might be in luck thanks to Smart.
No it’s not a joke, though it is just a concept car. Smart sent out a press release today detailing its new For-Us pickup truck. With the most serious face you can muster, picture this: Smart’s latest attempt to grab U.S. attention is small enough to fit inside an average pickup truck bed. The little thing measures a miniature 11.6 feet and features a bed just big enough to squeeze a couple of bikes with their front wheels removed.
Smart said in their release that the ultra-compact pickup could be useful for accessing areas traditional trucks cant fit into, like small trails. Despite the obvious limitations around owning a pickup smaller than some golf carts, the Smart For-Us might have a sliver of merit: it’s an EV. Perhaps if the company sees its way to marketing this little utility buggy, the world might have it’s first zero-emissions pickup truck. Just try not to go too far out into the bush. You wouldn’t want to run out of battery power on the “isolated trails” Smart suggests taking the For-Us on.
If you’re still curious, more details are set to emerge on this curious creation at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.
The Ridgeline is a slow seller, but Honda isn’t ready to give up their only truck bed-bearing model just yet.
The 2012 model will be getting a slight facelift along with a lower-cost sport (pictured above) model. The four-door pickup hasn’t managed to take hold since 2006 when it was first released.
Those slow sales fed speculation that the truck might disappear from showroom floors altogether, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. American Honda’s Truck Planner, Sage Marie, directly addressed the issue in an official statement, saying the truck is “here to stay.”
Tetsu Iwamura, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Honda confirmed that statement in an interview with AutoBlog.com at the Tokyo Motor Show.
“We’re fully aware of the importance of that model and we’re trying to make that model grow much more. At this moment, there is no intention to stop the Ridgeline,” he said before confirming that Honda is conducting research into improving North American appeal for the truck.
The future of the Jeep Liberty will be revealed Wednesday when Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne will visit the Toledo, Ohio plant that currently builds the truck.
The new Liberty will shed its traditional off-road roots and move to a Fiat-based car platform. While the move to a crossover may anger traditionalist, Marchionne was apparently less than enthused regarding the Liberty’s lagging sales, especially compared to crossovers like the Honda CR-V. There is also talk of reviving the iconic Cherokee nameplate for the new car.
The new platform is expected to underpin as many as 8 future vehicles. Chrysler will invest $365 million in the plant and add 1,105 jobs.
[Source: Automotive News]
Law enforcement gets a severe-duty upgrade beginning this month, with Chrysler’s Ram Truck brand offering their new Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4×4 Special Service package for police enforcement and emergency services support.
Combining durability, reliability, and value, president and CEO of Ram Truck Brand Fred Diaz announced, “Like the Ram Truck brand, first responders give it their all with guts and glory, and we’re proud to offer a Ram truck that gives them the reliability and durability to get to the scene quickly and safely. The Special Service package offers legendary Ram capability and a ready-to-go platform for the folks who require a truck they can depend on.”
The Special Service package includes ballistic material packed within the doors, extended cycle 100,000-mile sparkplugs, a larger oil cooler to aid the engine in stop-and-go operation, as well as a 220-amp alternator to handle high electric loads. An additional PDC, a Power Distribution Center with two separate 100-amp main fuses, plus a unique wire harness combine to provide power, ground, and fusing to siren, lighting, computer, modem, radar and camera system and devices.
Did we mention that the package also comes with a Hemi? That’s right, the truck’s 5.7 liter Hemi V8 with Fuel Saver Technology, good for 390-hp and 407 lb-ft of torque, is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Combined with a 3.92 axle ratio, the Ram truck is capable of towing 10,000 and shouldering a payload of 1,455 lbs.
GALLERY: Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4×4 Special Service package
The big surprise here was the announcement of the Fiat 500 as the Hottest Sport Compact, despite a relatively small presence at the SEMA show. The Hyundai Veloster seemed like a far more likely candidate for the award, given the ubiquity of the new Hyundai hatchback.
Check out AutoGuide’s SEMA coverage here
Fans of the Land Rover Defender worried about the iconic off-roader’s impending demise should feel at ease, because the Defender has a long life ahead of it, with production scheduled until 2017.
While a new, more civilized Defender, will bow in 2015, the current vehicle will remain in production until 2017, and possibly as long as 2020. Changes in emissions and safety legislation that would have rendered the Defender unfit for sale have been ammended, or exemptions have been granted for the vehicle.
The Defender was also re-classified as a commercial vehicle a number of years ago, and reports suggest that this should help further safeguard the vehicle’s future in the European marketplace.
A truck containing a teleprompter and audio gear used by President Barack Obama was stolen in Virginia, prompting questions about security lapses.
The gear, estimated at about $200,000, was parked in a van at a Virginia hotel parking lot ahead of Obama’s visit to the area. The van was said to be carrying audio equipment, podiums and even the Presidential seal, which only Obama is allowed to stand behind. The truck was eventually recovered, but details about the equipment’s status has not been made public.
The truck was said to be unmarked but wearing government tags, and observers are questioning whether this was simply a random vehicle theft that happened to be carrying important cargo, or whether the goods were specifically targeted by thieves.
Ford is revising their forecast for F-150 Ecoboost sales, estimating that the turbocharged 6-cylinder pickup will comprise 45 percent of F-150 sales, versus original estimates of 40 percent. Ford now estimates that the Ecoboost will sell 100,000 units this year.
The F-150 remains the best selling vehicle in the United States, and Ford was caught off guard by the Ecoboost’s popularity. A V6 option has only been available within the last two years, as the segment was dominated by V8 engines. Unstable fuel prices and a general trend towards environmentally conscious purchase choices are credited with helping Ford introduce a V6 powered F-150 in a favorable light.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]
The Chevrolet TrailBlazer was killed off in 2009 to make way for GM’s new range of car-based crossovers, but evidently there’s still demand for a mid-size, truck based SUV, as Chevrolet has announced a new TrailBlazer based on the upcoming Colorado mid-size pickup.
Given that the Colorado was developed for world markets by GM’s Thailand division, expect the new TrailBlazer to differ from the outgoing vehicle, which could be had with a 6.0L small-block V8. The new TrailBlazer will be unveiled alongside the Colorado at the Dubai Motor Show in November. In the mean time, check out the press release below.