Car, Truck of the Year Finalists Revealed

2014 Acura MDX

2014 Acura MDX is a finalist for North American Truck of the Year.

BY GERRY MILES

The voting is in and all that remains to kick off the new year for some automakers is being named as either the 2014 North American Car or Truck of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado

2014 Chevrolet Silverado

Culled from the dozen car and truck finalists were the Corvette Stingray, Cadillac CTS and Mazda3 while GM’s Chevy Silverado nailed down a spot in the truck segment next to the Jeep Cherokee and Acura MDX.

Some 48 journos from two countries — OK, the US and Canada, eh? — began with a list of 28 cars and 18 truck/SUVs that were trimmed to a dozen of each shown below:

North American Car of the Year:
BMW 4 Series
Cadillac CTS
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Chevrolet Impala
Infiniti Q50
Jaguar F-Type
Kia Cadenza
Lexus IS
Mazda3
Mazda6
Mercedes-Benz CLA
Toyota Corolla

North American Truck/Utility of the Year:
Acura MDX
BMW X5
Buick Encore
Chevrolet Silverado
GMC Sierra
Hyundai Santa Fe LWB
Jeep Cherokee
Kia Sorento
Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Nissan Rogue
Subaru Forester
Toyota Tundra

Journos make their decisions based upon the following criteria includingThe awards recognize the most outstanding vehicles of the year based on factors including innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.
To be eligible, vehicles must be “all new” or “substantially changed.”

What’s my selection?

2014 Corvette Stingray

2014 Corvette Stingray

Well, some of the vehicles that I’ve driven such as the Range Rover Sport is substantially

2014 Mazda3

2014 Mazda3

changed and in many ways it mirrors the past and the future in one neat vehicle. So, too, are the Subaru Forester, Jeep Cherokee, a long-wheel-based Santa Fe, Mazda3, Caddy CTS and more. The Chevy Impala is a real dark-horse car that handles and feels like a European sedan more than twice the price. It’s that good, folks. Best Impala ever made.

In the Truck category I select the Jeep Cherokee.

2014 Jeep Cherokee

2014 Jeep Cherokee

I just drove one and it’s phenomenal.  Folks may be polarized by the styling but the ride, drive and handling, not to mention mileage keep it true with street and off-road cred to its bigger brother, the Grand Cherokee.

2014 Corvette Stingray

2014 Corvette Stingray

In the Car category, given the kudos give to the Corvette all around from the start I figured it would/could win this title. It’d be no surprise. I look forward to sliding behind the wheel some sunny day.

The Mazda3 is also remade and rewarding. It’s roomy, refined and not what you might have expected while offering a standard transmission if so ordered.

2014 Cadillac CTS

2014 Cadillac CTS

Cadillac, and I’ve got friends who agree, is nothing to sneeze at mechanically, but I think the brand has lost its way. The brand’s name used to be synonymous with being the best of the best. And the new Caddys are much better than before, but they don’t look like a Cadillac but any homogenized sedan with a sloping hood and stubby rear. It’s short, it’s not recognizable as a Caddy while a 2005 STS with its Northstar engine underneath jumps out as if saying, “I am a real Cadillac.”

Soap box sidebar aside, I can’t see the Corvette – arguably one of America’s top motoring icons – NOT taking the top title. Stay tuned until next year.

2015 Chevy Colorado takes aim at midsize truck market

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 shown as a concept vehicle

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 shown as a concept vehicle

BY GERRY MILES

Who is Chevrolet trying to be? If you read their press release, they want to be the Baskin-Robbins of the midsize truck market based upon their unveiling of the 2015 Chevy Colorado at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

With the lack of a small pickup, since Ford stopped making Rangers and Dodge dropped its Dakota line, Chevy hopes its new Colorado offered only in 3 midsize versions and looking every but like the old Ford SporTrac or a Chevrolized Toyota Tacoma in what it hopes will be a grab on the active lifestyle market place.

However, as Nike has found out the hard way many times, trying to be everything to everyone does not always work. Some models were hits and some fell flat. Diversification may be great in a mutual fund but not so much in a product line. Staying with what works often works best.

In that regard, Toyota’s Tacoma and its variants have a long, established posture in the midsized market and a rock solid reputation for reliability.

Other “sport trucks” or variants that have come and go include Subaru’s Baja, Ford’s SporTrac, the Ranger and Dakota to name a few.

Chevy is betting that the void provides an opportunity and it might provided its priced right.  With the 4-banger engine and larger optional motor and the diesel due in 2016 Chevy could prove its hunch is right if it’s priced right. Prices of course weren’t released yet.

“Our strategy is simple: meet the needs of the broadest possible customer base, and let them choose precisely the right truck to meet their needs,” said Mark Reuss, General Motors executive vice president and president of GM North America. “The all-new Colorado benefits from the solid foundation established by the Silverado, and it reinvents the midsize truck while reinvigorating the segment at the same time.”

The 2015 Colorado’s configurations are:

  • an extended cab model with a 6-foot bed
  • a crew cab with a 5-foot bed
  • a crew cab with a 6-foot bed.
  • a single cab config is not offered.

To promote the active lifestyle, there’s the cargo net to add two feet from the 6-foot bed with 8-foot items before the gear hangs over the end in space.

Power comes from one of two engine choices:

  • 2.5L, 193 hp,  I-4 (standard) 184 kb-ft of torque
  • 3.6L, 302 hp, V-6 (optional) 270 lb-ft of torque

Each engine hitches to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5L is available with a 6-speed manual transmission on extended cab 2WD Work Truck models.

What might be the most interesting part of the presser that’s buried down deep is its offering the segment’s only diesel engine: a proven Duramax 2.8L I-4 turbodiesel.

Colorado is expected to have a class leading payload capacity and trailering capacity of more than 6,700 pounds.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 trim

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 trim

WT, LT and Z71 trims are available, all in 2WD or 4WD. The Z71 is the brand’s off-road- rugged branded model, featuring gunmetal grille surround – a change from the chrome standard on the other models – projector headlamps and unique 17-inch aluminum wheels.

To keep its weight down, Colorado features an aluminum hood. It also features the segment’s only active aero grille shutters, which close at certain highway speeds to enhance aerodynamics.

As one might expect after the new intros of the Silverado, many neat features migrate down to its stablemate:

  • Standard CornerStep rear bumper design pioneered on the 2014 Silverado
  • Available EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate that uses an internal torsion bar to make raising the tailgate easier with one hand, and a damper for more-controlled lowering
  • Standard two-tier loading that allows a platform to effectively split the bed into upper and lower sections, making it easier to haul, store and conceal items such as tools
  • Thirteen standard tie-down locations throughout the bed for use with available, movable cargo tie-down rings
  • Standard bed rail and tailgate protectors
  • Available factory-installed spray-in bed liner.

Keeping up with the refinement of pickup trucks, there are more interior upgrades than one might have imagined in the past of slab vinyl bench seats with stark interiors. The connections one finds in most of our gadgets is expected in today’s top vehicles.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado interior

2015 Chevrolet Colorado interior

Colorado Interior details include:

  • Sculpted door panels that make it easier to enter/exit the vehicle
  • Upper-instrument panel storage bin (when not equipped with the uplevel audio system) and large glove box
  • Standard center console with room to store a tablet
  • Rear under-seat storage.

For connectivity there’s an:

2015 Chevrolet Colorado interior

2015 Chevrolet Colorado interior

  • 8-inch diagonal color touch screen (LT, Z71) and multiple USB drives
  • A 3.4-inch diagonal driver information screen in the instrument cluster
  • Available next-generation OnStar and MyLink enhancements with gesture recognition and natural language voice recognition
  • Available navigation

Safety times include:

  • 6 standard air bags, including head side curtain air bags designed to help keep occupants from being ejected in a crash
  • Large rearview mirrors and standard rear-vision camera system for greater visibility
  • Available segment-first application of forward collision alert
  • Available segment-first application of lane departure warning
  • Standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation, trailer sway control, hill start assist and hill descent control (Z71).

The Colorado has a short turning radius of about 41 feet (12.5 meters), enabling easier turning in tight areas such as city streets or backing a trailer into a camping spot.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71

Chevy has an attractive offering, but with the strength of the crossover market, I’d expect more variants in the mold of its Buick Encore to be more competitive than the midsize truck market that the stalwarts have abandoned. This could be interesting.

Dodge offers Ram hood ornament replicas to dress up your desk

1980 Dodge Ram Hood Ornament replica

1980 Dodge Ram Hood Ornament replica

It’s not often that I see something that I’d like to adorn space atop my desk – and seeing as there’s precious little of it due to semi-strewn papers – but classy hood ornaments are a few of my favorite things that I’ve collected.

New this year from Ram at its www.outfitter.ramtrucks.com are the Dodge Ram hood ornaments shown at the left. Both are $39.95, come with a crystal base and measure 5.5″ L x 3.5″ H x 4.25” W and weigh in at about 20 ounces, making them a hefty paper weight.

 

1933 Dodge Ram hood ornament replica

1933 Dodge Ram hood ornament replica

Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell costs $499/month next spring

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle

Hyundai just announced that due in the spring of 2014 the company will expand its product line with the first mass-produced, federally-certified hydrogen FCEV, the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell electric vehicle.

For $499/month and $2,999 down, Californians in LA and Orange County can get valet maintenance and all the hydrogen they can use as well as getting HOV privileges and a $2,500 Clean Vehicle Rebate.

FCEV_Venn-1024x570Early adopters to Hyundai’s Fuel Cell Program will resides in areas close to hydrogen refueling centers. Acknowledging this will limit sales at first, Hyundai says it realizes this program is more like a marathon than a sprint and wants to ensure things get started on correctly instead of quickly.

We’ll look forward to more information from Hyundai on this program.

Corvette, Land Rovers, Cherokees are fastest selling cars for 2013: Edmunds.com

A Range Rover Sport high atop the mountains in Santa Cruz, CA with a view of the lands behind it. ALL PHOTOS: Land Rover North America

A Range Rover Sport high atop the mountains in Santa Cruz, CA with a view of the lands behind it. Edmunds.com says the Range Rover Sport is one of several Land Rovers that are the fastest-selling cards in 2013. Photo: Land Rover North America

 BY GERRY MILES

One of the fastest-selling vehicles last month, the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover  and its Range Rover Sport were among the top selling cars that will make it more difficult for shoppers to get good deals on when they hit the showroom.

According to Edmunds.com’s days to turn (DTT) statistics, which measure how long a vehicle sits on a dealer’s lot before it’s sold, the average Range Rover sold in November was on sale at a dealer’s lot for just nine days. Chevrolet CorvetteJeep Cherokee and Land Rover Range Rover Sport all tied for the second slot, at 10 days to turn. Other vehicles in last month’s top 10 include: Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class (14 DTT), Subaru Forester (17 DTT) and Mitsubishi Mirage (18 DTT). By comparison, the average new car sold in November sat on a dealer lot for 59 days.

Fastest-Selling Vehicles in America, November 2013

(ranked by DTT)

Rank

Make

Model

Days to Turn (DTT)

Avg. Transaction Price

Avg. Discount

1

Land Rover

Range Rover

9

$108,367

-3.08%*

2(t)

Chevrolet

Corvette

10

$66,352

0.04%

2(t)

Jeep

Cherokee

10

$30,822

6.61%

2(t)

Land Rover

Range Rover Sport

10

$81,934

0.40%

5

Honda

Accord Hybrid

11

$33,358

0.24%

6(t)

Mercedes-Benz

CLA-Class

14

$36,512

5.35%

6(t)

BMW

4 Series

14

$50,746

5.33%

8(t)

Subaru

Forester

17

$26,446

5.05%

8(t)

Audi

Q5

17

$45,834

6.41%

10

Mitsubishi

Mirage

18

$15,430

5.20%

Industry Average

59

$32,852

10.54%

* – Range Rover sold at 3.08% above MSRP – on average – in November.

This next quote won’t or should not surprise anyone that knows the basics of the principles of supply and demand.

“Dealers offer few – if any – incentives on the newest, most buzz-worthy cars, and shoppers will likely have very little room to negotiate,” says Edmunds.com Consumer Advice Editor Carroll Lachnit in a statement. “Luckily there are plenty of great new car deals for anyone who wants to consider other options.”

One efficient way for shoppers to locate and identify better deals on high-demand cars is to use Edmunds.com’s Price Promisesm, which offers users upfront pricing on cars available in their areas. Price Promisesm users can confirm that a fast-selling vehicle is still in stock, and they can also learn exactly what they can expect to pay before they walk into the showroom.

Car shoppers looking to score the best deals are also encouraged to check Edmunds.com’s Car Incentives and Rebates page to see what discounts are available on their favorite cars. Edmunds.com experts also identify the cars and trucks with the most appealing deals right now at http://www.edmunds.com/deals-of-month.html.

Prius named best new car value for 2d straight year by Consumer Reports

 

Toyota's Prius took top honors for new car value for the second straight year in Consumer Reports annual ranking.

Toyota’s Prius took top honors for new car value for the second straight year in Consumer Reports annual ranking.

 Nissan Armada ranked lowest overall in CR’s annual Best- & Worst-Value Ranking

BY GERRY MILES

It may not be a surprise in these days of rising gas prices that a gas-sipping pioneer hybrid took top honors over a full-sized SUV that can haul plenty of people and parcels this holiday season with the greatest of ease but may require in-flight refueling.

Today, Consumer Reports crowned the Toyota Prius as  the best overall value for the automotive dollar and the Nissan Armada the worst in its annual Best New-Car Value analysis.

CR said the hybrid has the right combination of performance, reliability and low estimated five-year ownership costs of 47 cents per mile. Last year, the Prius unseated the perennial best-value leader, the Honda Fit and its four-year title run.

Nissan's full-sized SUV, Armada, received the lowest ranking for value, no doubt to a rise in gas prices.

Nissan’s full-sized SUV, Armada, received the lowest ranking for value, no doubt to a rise in gas prices.

It figures, that the Armada, a large SUV that gets only 13 mpg overall is said to cost $1.20 per mile – because it has a very different inherent mission than the Prius. However CR also noted that Armada scored poorly in its annual reliability survey.

Toyota and Lexus models placed at the top in three of the 10 categories that Consumer Reports analyzed—with the Prius taking top overall ranking and emerging in first place in the compact/subcompact cars category. The Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited is the top-scoring vehicle in the Large Cars group and the Lexus ES 300h is the top model in the Luxury Cars category.

Vehicles from Subaru and Mazda were also standouts in the analysis; each automaker had vehicles that topped the rankings in two categories. The Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium was the top-scoring vehicle in the Midsized Cars category and the Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium scored best among Small SUVs. The Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand ranked first overall in the Sports Cars/Convertibles category while the Mazda5 Grand Touring was best in the Wagons/Minivans group.

In creating its annual Best and Worst New-Car Values list, Consumer Reports rates performance, reliability, and owner-cost data to calculate a value score for more than 200 different vehicles ranging from small cars like the Hyundai Accent and Honda Fit to luxury sedans such as the Cadillac XTS and BMW 750Li.

“The Prius’ 44 mpg overall is the best fuel economy of any non-plug-in car that Consumer Reports has tested,” said Consumer Reports Automotive Editor Rik Paul. “Though it’s not particularly cheap to buy, the Prius’ depreciation is so low that it costs less to own over the first five years than its initial MSRP. We call that a bargain.”

The scores were calculated based on the five-year owner cost for each vehicle, along with Consumer Reports’ road-test score and the organization’s own predicted-reliability score from the latest Annual Auto Survey. The five-year owner cost estimates factor in depreciation, fuel, insurance premiums, interest on financing, maintenance and repairs, and sales tax. Depreciation is by far the largest owner-cost factor.

The 10 vehicle categories Consumer Reports included in this analysis:

  • Compact/Subcompact Cars
  • Midsized Cars
  • Large Cars
  • Luxury Cars
  • Sports Cars/Convertibles
  • Wagons/Minivans
  • Small SUVs
  • Midsized SUVs
  • Luxury/Large SUVs
  • Pickups

Here’s a look at the winners and losers in each of the categories:

  • – Compact /Subcompact Cars: Best, Toyota Prius Four; Worst, Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L
  • – Midsized Cars: Best, Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium; Worst, Nissan Altima 3.5 SL
  • – Large Cars: Best, Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited; Worst, Ford Taurus Limited
  • – Luxury Cars: Best, Lexus ES 300h; Worst, BMW 750Li
  • – Sports Cars/Convertibles: Best: Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring; Worst, Chevrolet Camaro convertible 2SS (V8)
  • – Wagons/Minivans: Best, Mazda5 Grand Touring; Worst, Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L
  • – Small SUVs: Best, Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium; Worst, Ford Escape SE (1.6T)
  • – Midsized SUVs: Best, Nissan Murano SL; Worst, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
  • – Luxury/Large SUVs: Best, BMW X1 xDrive28i; Worst, Nissan Armada Platinum
  • – Pickups: Best, Honda Ridgeline RTS; Worst, Ford F-250 Lariat (6.7L V8)

Mini shows John Cooper Works Concept to hype Detroit world premiere

John Cooper Works Concept

John Cooper Works Concept

BY GERRY MILES

Those madcap mavens of miniature minutiae at Mini released an illustration of what the world premier of the next John Cooper Works model may look like when the cape is pulled back in Detroit.

The John Cooper Works Concept is based on the latest-generation MINI.

Large air intakes, replacing the space used for fogs in production cars, and formed air-channeling elements mark out the front apron of the MINI John Cooper Works Concept, which also features LED headlights and a black surround for the front grille.

An aerodynamic kit comprises specially contoured side skirts and a rear apron with flaps and a diffuser element. A roof spoiler and additional body components designed to channel air efficiently around the C-pillars for optimized aerodynamic balance at high speeds.

Color-wise the JCW will boast its contrasting red for the roof, roof spoiler and exterior mirror caps.  Additional red accents are on the rim wells, the calipers of the sports brakes, the side indicator surrounds and the contour lines of the front and rear apron. A red accent line also lends emphasis to the logo on the radiator grille.

The JCW Concept is fitted with a sports exhaust system including a silencer system, twin tailpipes with a chrome finish that carry the logo.