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Next time you close the hood on your car, you might want to think twice about letting it slam down.
Ask AutoGuide No. 39
Midsize sedans represent a massive slice of the automotive pie. These four-door cars almost single handedly (or wheely?) form the backbone of America’s personal transportation network, shuttling people practically everywhere they need and want to go. Yeah, they’re kind of a big deal, and as a salute to these hard-working automobiles they’re the subject of this week’s installment of Ask AutoGuide.
What do Abraham Lincoln, Shaquille O’Neal and Chewbacca have in common? Truth be told, not a whole lot. Honest Abe got capped, Shaq can’t shoot free throws and Chewie is hairier than a herd of yaks… or the filter in a Econo Lodge hot tub. This trio’s differences abound, but one thing they all share is height.
Before trucks and utility vehicles became all the rage, large sedans used to be the heart of the American car market. They dominated thoroughfares and back roads of this country for decades. Big Buicks, mighty Mopars and forceful Fords were a way of life for drivers just half a lifetime ago.
Top 10 Large Sedans With the Greatest Range
There’s something magical about going on a road trip. Whether it’s the allure of visiting a far-flung destination or just the call of the highway, piling into a car and eating up miles satiates mankind’s wanderlust.
Of course some vehicles are better for long-distance drives than others. A quiet interior, comfortable seats and smooth ride are prerequisites, but plentiful cup holders and storage spaces for snacks can’t hurt, either.
In a lot of ways large sedans were tailor-made for cross-country trips. They’re roomy, relatively efficient and don’t beat you up like a race-prepared Miata. Last week we examined 10 such cars, ranking them based on trunk space. This week we’re comparing those same four-doors but focusing on driving range.
We took each car’s EPA highway fuel-economy rating and multiplied it by the total gallons of fuel in their respective tanks to arrive at a maximum possible range. So, which of these full-figured cars is the ultimate bladder-buster? Click ahead to find out!
Top 10 Large Sedans With The Biggest Trunks
America is the land of the free and the home of large sedans. With miles and miles of miles and miles, drivers don’t have to contend with congested urban parking or dreadful highway traffic like their European counterparts. We’re free to relax and stretch our legs clear across the continent if we so desire.
U.S. Interstates and two-lane back roads were the breeding ground for a unique automotive species: the large sedan. Spacious, comfortable and smooth, Detroit’s Big Three created the original recipe for these highway cruisers, but foreign automakers have a thing or two to say about how to prepare them.
Trunk space is one of the most important metrics to examine when comparing big four-door cars. How many golf bags can be crammed into a cargo hold? What about suitcases for a weekend road trip to Atlantic City? People need to know! Here’s a list of the Top 10 large sedans ranked in order of trunk volume.
After several announcements of various models that were awarded the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Pick Plus” rating, the IIHS has released its full list of its safest cars for 2013.
10. Toyota Avalon
Sometimes it’s pretty difficult to determine what makes a vehicle reliable. But one sound way is to look back and see how much the average repair cost was for a vehicle over three to five years, and seeing which ones suffered the least breakdowns.
Data was studied using 100,000 auto warranty policies linked to family cars by Direct Buy Warranty in order to determine this top 10 list of most reliable family cars, listed in no particular order. It’s worth noting that not a single American vehicle made it onto the list.
The first on the list is the Toyota Avalon, the Japanese automaker’s flagship sedan in the United States. According to the data, the Avalon was one of the cheapest vehicles to maintain over the past five years with typical Toyota dependability and safety ratings. Larger than the Camry, the Avalon is a perfect fit for those looking for size and dependability.
Volkswagen continues to flex just how efficient its diesel models are, with a 2012 Passat TDI SE claiming a new world record by traveling 1,626.1 miles on a single tank of ultra-low sulfur diesel.
The record was previously held by another Passat, – a 1.6 BlueMotion diesel model out in Europe – at 1,526.6 miles. John and Helen Taylor were the two drivers behind the wheel of the world record-setting journey traveling from Houston to Sterling on May 3rd to the 5th. The couple added 120 pounds of luggage to the vehicle in order to replicate normal driving situations and each took turns driving but never more than 14 hours per day.
Doing the math, the six-speed manually equipped diesel Passat averaged an astonishing 84.1 miles per gallon. The Taylors claimed they traveled exactly 60-mph on the highway in order to hit the mark. But don’t bother trying this yourself, the Taylors are self-proclaimed driving efficiency experts and have over 90 fuel economy and driving records around the world. In fact, they make a living conducting fuel-efficient driving workshops.
“We’re excited to have broken the record for the longest distance driven on one-tank of fuel. The Passat TDI was the perfect car for the trip. It offers plenty of interior and cargo space, yet is frugal enough to help us achieve this record,” said a jubilant John Taylor.
GALLERY: World Record Setting VW Passat Diesel
The Volkswagen Jetta will see a new top-of-the-line trim level called the SEL Plus later this year, though the more exciting news is that Volkswagen plans to replace its 2.5-liter inline-four with a 1.8-liter turbo-four next year.
The new high-end SEL Plus trim will see softer-touch materials in the interior, and like the GLI model, the American counterpart will more closely resemble all the upgrades and refinements seen in the European version, including electric power steering.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it closed the investigations surrounding possible fires on the Volkswagen Passat and cracked cooling fans on various GM trucks without issuing a recall or fines to either automaker.
Originally the 2002-03 model year Passats were under investigation for possible ignition coil fires in July 2010 but things didn’t stop there. In January 2011, the investigation was upgraded to include 2001-07 VW Passat models with the four-cylinder, turbocharged engine. There were 135 unique fire engine reports attributed to the coil-on plugs, but after a thorough investigation there was no safety-related defect identified, so the investigation closed.
Unfortunately the investigation closure alone doesn’t ensure the absence of a defect. NHTSA will continue to monitor the issue to see if further action needs to be taken. None of the fires reached beyond the engine bay and no reports of crashes or injury were related to the 135 incidents.
GM on the other hand, got a thumbs-up after NHTSA looked into the cracked cooling fans on GMT-560 series of trucks. Those trucks span models from Chevrolet, GMC and Isuzu including the 4500 and 5000 medium-duty trucks. Even though NHTSA said that it “remains concerned about the potential for injury,” at the current time it can’t find the cause for the issue and that the complaints are “small and diminishing.”
Not exactly comforting, but we also know NHTSA would issue a recall if the organization saw fit to do so.
Americans are saying “yes” to the 2012 Volkswagen Passat and the German giant is responding in kind by boosting production and adding jobs.
200 more positions are being created at the Chatanooga, Tenn. plant that already manufactures the car. According to Automotive News, the company will achieve this goal by increasing the number of cars produced per hour from 31 to 35. The plant opened in 2011 as part of VW’s plan to boost American sales to 800,000 by 2018.
We’re certainly not complaining about more Passats being available. Changes to the 2012 model make it feel a lot more like a luxury car. Some folks may struggle with the $33,000 price tag for the top-end model, but the base S starts at just $19,995. Read our review here and decide for yourself.
GALLERY: 2012 Passat SEL V6
[Source: Automotive News]
Americans aren’t the only ones who love bigger cars, it turns out people in the Middle East do too.
At least that’s the way it seems to us after learning that the American version of the Volkswagen Passat will premier at the 2012 Qatar Motor Show. As is often the case with German cars, there is a European and U.S. version sold in their respective regions. Generally the American version is a bit bulkier in keeping with our larger interests.
The base features are more-or-less the same, though it looks like the expatriated Passat which is assembled in the U.S. will come with a standard touch screen. Otherwise, the same five-cylinder 170 horsepower engine, 16-inch wheels and standard trim are intact. ABS and ESP are also both standard.
The truth is, the 2012 Passat really does approach luxury status. The longer American wheel base will do a good job of offering comfort for rear passengers and retaining the high-end feel German cars are known for. Volkswagen hopes that by offering the more spacious version they will attract a combination of business and private consumers, though there isn’t any word on the SEL V6 model we reviewed being included.
GALLERY: 2012 Passat SEL V6
Volkswagen‘s popular Passat out in Europe is overdue for a refresh and it appears that one will be coming in 2014. Rumor has it that the 2014 Passat model will be built on the new MQB platform which can also be seen on Audi‘s A3 and Volkswagen’s Golf.
The change to the MQB platform will also lighten up the new Passat model, saving at least 110-lbs compared to the current generation Passat. Speculation on the new model also includes the possibility of a plug-in hybrid with around 168-hp and an electric-only range of around 31-miles. The standard gas engines will probably feature start/stop technology while the diesels out in Europe will have the option to be outfitted with NOx catalytic converters in order to meet Euro6 emission standards.
Volkswagen‘s Chattanooga manufacturing plant has become the first and only automotive manufacturing facility in the world to receive a Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). From the onset, Volkswagen had designed their Chattanooga plant, where their popular Passat is produced, to be as green as possible and now they have something to show for it.
From the ground up, VW integrated various energy-saving technology into the plant, with its ultra-clean paint shop saving 50-million gallons of water in ten years. Other features of the plant include superior insulation provided by six-inches of mineral rock wool that results in saving 720,000-kilowatts per year; green power from the local hydroelectric dam; LED lighting on the exterior results in 68-percent less energy used; rainwater is collected and reused to flush toilets and cool welding machines; the plant’s white roof membrane is highly reflective and helps minimize heat island effect by up to 50-degrees Fahrenheit; natural flowing creeks capture heavy rains and restore a natural habitat; low-flow water fixtures and no-touch sensors throughout the plant reduce water usage by 30-percent; and lastly, the plant was built on brownfield property with no destruction of untouched nature.
Volkswagen has its redesigned Passat to thank as the brand as a whole posted a 41-percent increase in November sales compared to last year’s November. But it’s not all just Passat sales, as other popular VW models enjoyed success compared to last year.
Volkswagen’s Jetta sales rose 16-percent from November 2010 to the tune of 12,891 vehicles while Beetle sales were at 1,656 units compared to 487 last year. The biggest and most impressive increase is in the Passat’s sales however, having sold just 313 last November and an astonishing 6,018 this year. The US-built Passat went on sale in mid-September of this year.
VW sales as a year are on the rise compared to last year, having hit 291,899 year-to-date sales, a 25-percent increase from last year’s figure.
[Source: Automotive News]