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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.
The Classic Tale of the Saabaru
In 2005 Saab wanted a compact vehicle to sell in North America against products like the Audi A3 and Volvo V50. At the time GM owned Saab completely and had an influential ownership share in Subaru. To fill the gap in Saab’s lineup, the company began to sell a version of the Subaru Impreza wagon with Saab family styling front and back as well as a more premium interior. Other than that, the vehicle was mechanically similar to the Subaru and features the Impreza’s basic body shell.
Like the Impreza, the Saab 9-2x was offered with the regular 2.5-liter horizontally opposed engine as well as the WRX’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four. In 2006, a few 2.5-liter turbocharged vehicles were produced and to this day are the rarest of the model line.
2012 - 2014 Toyota Prius Used Car Review
The Prius V joined the expanding Prius lineup in 2011 as a 2012 model. For the North American market the “V” is basically a wagon version of the regular Prius. In other markets the Prius V is sold as a three-row multi-person vehicle, which means all versions worldwide include second row seating set on adjustable rails. This cargo flexibility combined with 50 percent more interior volume compared to the regular Prius gives the Prius V a sizable utility advantage.
Power for the Prius V comes from the same 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle four-engine gasoline engine paired to an electric motor as found in the regular Prius. Total system power is rated at 134 hp which is adequate for the 3,274 lbs. hybrid wagon. Since its introduction in 2011, not much has changed for the Prius V other than minor shuffling of the features available in each trim package.
Shop Used Car Classifieds: Used Toyota Prius V for Sale
Time stands still for no one, especially automakers. Today’s hot new vehicle is tomorrow’s also-ran product. Constant updates, tweaks and changes are mandatory in the car business. To keep up with ever-tougher competition Audi is giving its A6 range a facelift as our spy photographers have found.
Volvo is not usually known for building lust-worthy performance machines. Generally their products are safe, solid and secure, important attributes to be certain but they’re hardly the stuff dreams are made of. However, the addition of performance-tuned V60 and S60 Polestar models is spicing things up for the Staid Swede.
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?
This Week’s Five-Point Inspection takes a look at the soon-to-be-overhauled Mercedes-Benz E-Class, what we love about it and what we’d like to see changed.
About to become redundant, there is a mid-cycle refresh coming for the 2014 model year which will put the current E-Class out to pasture. This doesn’t mean the E-Class is necessarily a bad vehicle, but in the ever evolving world of luxury automobiles, it is either constantly improve your brand or get left behind.
With a base price of $51,905 after transportation charges, the E-Class may be the most versatile vehicle in the automotive kingdom. There are no fewer than four distinct body styles, five engine choices, three fuel options and two drivelines.
Mercedes-Benz chose the hallowed ground of the Detroit Auto Show to unveil its redesigned 2014 E-Class, which is the brand’s second-most-popular nameplate in the U.S. The lineup includes sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible models, but that’s not all! The high-powered AMG version also got reworked, and was just revealed in Motown.
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.
Originally marketing its CTS cars in 2003, Cadillac stepped away from styling that said “sunset years” and “Florida” in favor of a more modern luxury look.
The move helped America’s poster boy luxury brand resurge into a market otherwise overtaken by German and Japanese alternatives, but a decade later that success will either dwindle or grow. Cadillac is well aware of that fact and is taking steps to counteract is smoldering fire by introducing the entry-level ATS and making the CTS bigger to better compete with BMW‘s 5 Series.
Until recently, that left questions about the coupe and wagon’s continuation in the product line, but according to Car and Driver both variants will remain in the lineup.
What isn’t totally clear is where those versions will fit in. Making a larger CTS two-door almost seems like a return to the automaker’s previous image, which is still alive and well, but no longer the market mainstay. Instead, a smaller ATS coupe might seem like a reasonable option, especially because that would position the car to work well with a smaller engine while still feeling powerful.
The wagon, on the other hand, is a little more of an enigma. Downsizing the relatively successful vehicle might alienate American customers who want space, but a larger version might actually slot in nicely with Europeans next to the BMW 5 Series wagon. Older North American luxury customers are also likely to find the extra space useful, or at least unlikely to complain about it.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Positioned as a Subaru Outback competitor, the Volkswagen Alltrack concept is virtually identical to the Passat Alltrack displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show last November, which is headed for Summer delivery in some overseas markets.
While station wagons have historically seen little success in the North American market, the Volvo XC70 and the Subaru Outbacks are exceptionally popular. Both featuring mild styling and more ground clearance than other station wagons. Now, Volkswagen is also betting that wagons with a dash of rugged aesthetics just might be the recipe for popularity.
The Alltrack Concept features a 4Motion system that offers an off-road mode that functions at speeds below 18 mph to allow variable calibrations on vehicle systems including stability control for a milder, more progressive throttle response in low traction situations. Hill descent control also automatically engages to approach downhill slopes exceeding grades of 10 percent. Thanks to a 1.2-inch raise in ride height, approach and departure angles for the Alltrack concept are 16 degrees and 13.6 degrees, respectively, with a 12.8 break over angle in between. Under normal driving, the 4Motion sends about 90 percent power to the front wheels but can give 100 percent to the rear when necessary.
Power will come from the 2.0-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, producing 140 hp and 236 lb-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.
Volkswagen emphasized that production on the Alltrack has yet to be confirmed but a positive response at next week’s New York Auto Show is more than likely to cement the possibility of a production model.
GALLERY: Volkswagen Alltrack Concept
Well, it was nice while it lasted, but Audi has decided to drop the new 2012 Audi A6 Allroad from the U.S. market. The original Audi Allroad was introduced in 1999.
Debuting at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, the all-new A6 Allroad features an extra 2.3 inches of ground clearance than the standard A6, and also comes available with front and rear skid plates. The A6 Allroad will also be available in four distinct powerplants, including a strong 3.0L TDI capable of 308-hp and 479 lb-ft of torque.
While the A6 Allroad won’t be available in the United States, Audi’s new A4 Allroad will join the Q5 and Q7 SUVs in showrooms this June.
GALLERY: 2012 Audi A6 Allroad
Cadillac‘s 2012 SRX crossover and CTS sports sedan and wagon models received a crash safety rating of 5-star overall. According to the National Highway Traffic Adminstration, only 21 vehicles earned the overall high score for 2012.
The SRX and CTS sedan and wagon were tested under NHTSA’s revised New Car Assessment Program first put to effect for the 2011 model year. This revision requires vehicles to pass frontal, side and rollover tests. The 5-star overall rating takes into account the combined results of all the tests.
GM executive director of Vehicle Safety Gay Kent expresses, “Receiving five stars under the new rating system is an impressive feat– on that clearly demonstrates the strength of the SRX and CTS advanced structure, overall crashworthiness and effectiveness of the models’ state-of-the-art safety technologies.”
Hit the jump to watch the video:
It caused quite a stir back at the Geneva Auto Show in March, now Volvo is in the process of causing another one, having announced that the production version of its V60 Plug-in Hybrid wagon is heading to dealers next year as a 2013 model, albeit in the fourth quarter.
The V6o Plug-in Hybrid uses a 2.4-liter five-cylinder turbo diesel and a six-speed transaxle to power the front wheels, while the rears are turned via an electric motor that makes the equivalent of 70 hp. The electric motor receives its power from a 11.2 kilowatt per hour lithium-ion battery pack located underneath the floor of the car.
The V6 Plug-in Hybrid can operate in three different modes; Pure (electric), Hybrid, and Power (diesel only). In Pure mode, provided the battery is charged, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid can deliver a range of up to 32 miles on electric power alone.
In Hybrid form, both the electric powertrain and diesel engine are engaged, which happens automatically on vehicle startup. In this mode, the two power sources collectively aim to provide an ideal balance between low emissions, fuel economy and power when needed.
In Power Mode, where the turbo diesel engine is exclusively engaged, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid can accelerate from 0-62 mph in around 6.2 seconds, aided by 215 hp and some 324 lb-ft of torque.
As a Plug-in vehicle, the V60 PIH can be charged using a 230-volt outlet on 6, 10, 16 amp current cycles, though Volvo says a full charge using a 10 amp cycle takes approximately 4.5 hours (an hour less with 16A).
Other interesting features on the V60 Plug-in Hybrid include an electrically activated on-demand all-wheel drive system, that uses a central control unit to transmit power between the diesel driven front tires and the electric rears when needed (the electric motor also tops up the battery pack in AWD mode to ensure there’s adequate energy supply for the rear wheels); plus a two-stage braking system with regenerative action on the rear anchors that serve as the primary brakes (the hydraulically activated fronts are only engaged when additional braking force is required).
In addition, there’s also both electric and diesel engine operated heating systems, a further nod to maximizing overall vehicle efficiency in cold weather.
Volvo says it plans to build just 1,000 V6 Plug-in Hybrids next year, all will be aimed exclusively at European customers and all of them will be finished in just one exterior color; Electric Silver.
Other standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, gloss black accents and small, discreet “Plug-in Hybrid” logos on the front fenders and rear liftgate. Volvo says it expects around 80 percent of sales to be company car orders, while 30 percent of total production will be targeted to Nordic customers (Sweden, Norway and Finland). Once the initial batch of 1,000 cars has been sold, Volvo says it plans to up production for the 2014 model year, to around 4,500 plus units. Given that the projected price (in the UK at least) is close to $80,000 ( minus government subsidies) it will be interesting to see if Volvo meets its sales targets with the vehicle.
At present, there’s been no word of offering a V60 Plug-in Hybrid in North America and given our market’s preference for gasoline engines, as well as ultra-strict diesel emissions requirements, if one does eventually materialize it will likely be different to the version offered in Europe.
According to Inside Line, Saab may be ready to re-start production at its factories in as little as 8 weeks, after being sold to two Chinese automakers for $142 million.
While Saab was valued at $660 million this summer, both Pang Da and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. managed to purchase the company at a rock bottom price after a number of other deals failed to materialize. Chinese companies now own both Saab and Swedish automaker Volvo.
Saab’s Swedish factories have been idled since March, but could be up and running in as little as 2 months. The company claims to have 11,000 vehicle orders on the books, and may even bring the 2012 9-5 SportCombi station wagon to this April’s New York Auto Show if all goes smoothly in the upcoming months.
[Source: Inside Line]
Since the A4 is Audi’s best selling model, it is important to be evolutionary, rather than too revolutionary, in design. While Audi has made updates to every surface including the headlight and taillight treatment, front fascia, bumpers, and hood, the A4 remains readily familiar.
As for the interior, trim pieces are further refined and Audi has also improved user-friendliness on their MMI infotainment system.
Perhaps the greatest change for the new A4 is the addition of the A4 Allroad wagon. Available for the European market will be a selection of six turbodiesels and four petrol engines. For the North American market, we expect the 211-hp 2.0 liter turbocharged four as well as the Audi S4 spec 333 horsepower 3.0 liter supercharged six.
Quattro continues to be available across the line. Transmission options include the six speed manual, a dual clutch auto, as well as a CVT available for A4′s in front wheel drive trim.
Audi will release the new A4 and S4 in North America during the summer of 2012 as a 2013 model.