Ram 1500, Tesla Model S, Santa Fe, Foresters are new top picks in Consumer Reports annual list

RAM 1500 & TESLA MODEL S AMONG NEW WINNERS IN CONSUMER REPORTS’ 2014 TOP PICKS LIST

Ram 1500 pickup first Chrysler model to make list in 16 years

YONKERS, NY — In its annual Top Picks list, Consumer Reports has crowned four new vehicles—the Hyundai Santa Fe, Ram 1500, Subaru Forester, and Tesla Model S—with the top honor in each of their respective categories.

For the first time in 16 years, a Chrysler earned a spot on the list with the Ram 1500 nabbing best Pickup Truck, a category that had taken a hiatus in 2013 because Consumer Reports had not yet tested two newly-released vehicles in that segment, the extensively updated Ram 1500 and the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra. The last Chrysler vehicle to earn Consumer Reports’ Top Pick honors was the 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

“The competition in the marketplace has grown fierce. There was a time when a handful of brands dominated our Top Picks list, but in recent years we’ve seen a more diverse group make the cut,” said Rik Paul, Consumer Reports’ automotive editor.

Consumer Reports’ 2014 Top Picks list, Car Brand Report Cards and more from the annual auto issue were released at a press conference today before the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) in Washington, D.C. For more details and videos of the Top Picks, visit Consumer Reports’ 2014 Autos Spotlight.

The redesigned Subaru Forester knocked the Honda CR-V from the top of the Small SUV category, and the Hyundai Santa Fe took top honors in the Midsized SUV category.

Although pricey, the Tesla Model S nabbed Consumer Reports’ Top Pick for Best Overall vehicle for its exceptional performance and its many impressive technological innovations.

For the 11th consecutive year and 13th overall, the Toyota Prius reigns as Consumer Reports’ Top Pick for Green Car. The only other vehicle since 2001 to be named a Top Pick in the Green Car category was the Honda Civic Hybrid—which took the honor in 2003. The Prius continues to offer the best fuel economy, at 44 mpg overall, of any five-passenger, non-plug-in vehicle.

For the second year in a row, the Audi A6 and  the  BMW 328i  top  the  Luxury  Car  and  Sports Sedan categories respectively. Until last year, neither carmaker had a Top Pick in more than 10 years. The A6 was praised as a joy to drive and the 328i touted for setting the standard for sports sedans.

Consumer Reports’ Top Picks are the best all-around models in their categories; chosen from more than 260 vehicles the organization has recently tested. Top Pick models must meet CR’s stringent criteria in three areas: road test, reliability, and safety. They must rank at or near the top of their category on overall road test scores; they must have earned an average or better predicted-reliability Rating, based on problems Consumer Reports’ subscribers reported on 1.1 million vehicles in the latest survey; and they must perform adequately if tested in crash or rollover tests by the government or the insurance industry.

The Honda Odyssey and Subaru Impreza round out Consumer Reports’ Top Picks List. The Honda Odyssey, Top Pick Minivan, is praised as the most complete family vehicle one can buy also offering decent fuel economy. For the fourth consecutive year, the Subaru Impreza has been named Top Pick Compact Car, with both the sedan and hatchback versions praised for their compliant ride and impressive fuel economy for all-wheel-drive cars.

Consumer Reports’ 2014 Top Picks By Category:

BEST OVERALL: Tesla Model S ($89,650)  This electric luxury vehicle offers blistering acceleration, razor-sharp handling, a compliant ride, and a versatile cabin with room for a small third-row seat. This technological tour de force, while pricey, is brimming with innovation and offers a 225-mile driving range and 5-hour charges with Tesla’s special connector.

MIDSIZED SEDAN: Honda Accord (4-cyl.) ($23,270)  This roomy, well-equipped, and competitively priced sedan gets a lot right and squeezes out an impressive 30 mpg overall and 40 on the highway which is as good as the tiny Honda Fit subcompact. Handling is agile, although the ride isn’t quite as comfortable as that in some competitors.

COMPACT CAR: Subaru Impreza  (sedan, $21,345; hatchback, $22,345)  This all-wheel-drive vehicle gives a lot for its affordable price. Both sedan and hatchback versions are well-rounded packages. They deliver nimble handling and an impressively compliant, absorbent ride that’s among the best in its class. For an AWD car, fuel economy is also commendable.

GREEN CAR: Toyota Prius ($26,750)  There’s no shortage of hybrids on the showroom floor; however none can match the combination of affordability, practicality, and fuel efficiency that the Prius delivers—which is why it leads in this category for the 11th year in a row. Its 44 mpg overall is still the best Consumer Reports has measured in any five-passenger, non-plug-in vehicle. And its roomy interior and hatchback versatility make it practical.

LUXURY CAR: Audi A6 ($56,295)  A joy to drive with its potent, supercharged V6 engine and super-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission delivering invigorating power; the interior is an impeccably finished, first-class cabin brimming with the latest in high-tech features. And the A6 returns a respectable 22 mpg overall, even with all-wheel drive; the diesel-powered TDI delivers 28 mpg.

SPORTS SEDAN: BMW 328i ($43,195)  The 3 Series has long set the standard for sports sedans. The current, roomier, more luxurious model delivers excellent handling and a high fun-to-drive factor. It’s more fuel-efficient than past models, posting 28 mpg overall—the best among gas-powered models in its class.

SMALL SUV: Subaru Forester ($26,814)  This user-friendly small SUV climbed to the top of the class after its 2014 redesign. With a space-efficient design and large windows and doors, it provides the easiest access and best visibility in its category; plus a class-leading 26 mpg overall and a frugal 35 mpg on the highway.

MIDSIZED SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe ($36,290)  Redesigned for 2013, this seven passenger mid-sized SUV provides a comfortable ride, a quiet interior, a limo-like rear seat, and generous cargo area—yet doesn’t feel too bulky to drive or park and offers a lot of features for the money. Its smooth, refined 290-hp V6 engine delivers a decent 20 mpg overall.

MINIVAN: Honda Odyssey ($36,830)  The most complete family vehicle available—easily carrying up to eight people—features comfy second- and third-row seats that can be configured in a myriad of ways to accommodate a wide range of cargo- and passenger-carrying needs. This minivan is relatively fun to drive and gets decent fuel economy too.

PICKUP TRUCK: Ram 1500 ($42,810)  With its 2013 freshening, the Ram is surprisingly refined and inviting. A coil-spring rear suspension—unique for full-sized pickups—makes it the most comfortable-riding truck. And the whisper-quiet cabin makes it feel like a luxury vehicle, while being able to get its hands dirty when duty calls.

BMW salutes US Bobsled teams at Sochi

during the Men's Two-Man Bobsleigh heats on Day 9 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Sliding Center Sanki on February 16, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Action during the Men’s Two-Man Bobsleigh heats on Day 9 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Sliding Center Sanki on February 16, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

The men’s U.S. two-man bobsled team ends a 62-year medal drought while the women’s team captures both the silver and bronze medals

Perhaps, with all the work done in wind tunnels to reduce the coefficient of drag on daily drivers, it’s not that shocking that a car company helped the USA Bobsled team reshape its 20-year old platform.

BMW North America, aka the official mobility partner of the US Olympic Committee (USOC), helped play a part in the mens and women’s 2-man bobs medaling at the Sochi Winter Olympics that recently ended.

The Men's Two-Man Bobsled team medaled for the first time since 1952 in a sled designed by BMW.

The Men’s Two-Man Bobsled team medaled for the first time since 1952 in a sled designed by BMW.

The men’s team won its first medal since 1952 while the women’s team reached the podium twice, earning silver and bronze medals.

“Being part of this historic U.S. bobsledding milestone has truly been an honor,” said Michael Scully, Creative Director, BMW Group DesignworksUSA.

“To see both the U.S. men’s and women’s teams on the Olympic podium with three medals is both a career and personal highlight, and I’m extremely proud of the athletes’ achievements.”

On Monday, Team USA bobsledders Steve Holcomb and Steve Langton secured the United States’ first medal in 62 years with a bronze medal performance in the men’s two-man bobsled event. The women added to the feat on Wednesday, with Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams securing a silver medal and Aja Evans and Jamie Greubel coming away with a bronze in the women’s two-man bobsled event. 

BMW applied its engineering and design expertise to the redesign of a new two-man bobsled for use by Team USA at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. In October 2013, a fleet of six new BMW U.S. two-man bobsleds were delivered to Team USA marking the completion of a project that replaced a 20-year-old platform.

 

Ford plow option set for 2015 F-150

January Snowfalls are No Match for the 2015 Ford F-150

BY GERRY MILES

  • The all-new 2015 Ford F-150 is expected to be the only light duty pickup with a manufacturer’s snow plow prep option across all cab configurations*
  • With snow plow prep option can operate a plow installed via the aftermarket
  • Maximum light-duty plow weight will be over 450 pounds
It’s a timely announcement, it being winter and all, but with the eastern part of the US locked in a snowstorm pattern that’s now called a Polar Vortex, Ford’s plow prep option for its 2015 F-150 is timely if nothing else.
F-150 Snow Plow Button

F-150 Snow Plow Button

The option package requires the truck be equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 engine and four-wheel drive, and is available across XL, XLT and Lariat trim levels.

Upon taking delivery of a new F-150 with the snow plow prep option, owners will need to take their truck to a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier to purchase and install the plow hardware. The maximum light-duty plow weight will be over 450 pounds.

Pricing for the snow plow prep option, excluding the plow, will be announced later this year. The all-new 2015 F-150 will arrive in dealerships at the end of 2014.

* When properly equipped. Class is Full-Size Pickups under 8,500 lbs. GVWR.

3d Gen Mini begins at $19,950; Cooper S $23,600

MINI_Hardtop
U.S. pricing for base Cooper is $19,950; Cooper S model is $23,600

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – January 30, 2014…MINI USA today announced U.S. Pricing for the new 2014 MINI Hardtop which goes on sale in the spring. The base model Cooper will start at $19,950 and the Cooper S will start at $23,600 – plus a $795 Destination and Handling charge.

The new MINI Hardtop is a contemporary evolution of classic MINI design, with improved features and technology previously limited to luxury vehicles.  It is powered by new ground-breaking three- and four-cylinder enginesand includes new comfort and safety technologies that bring MINI to the forefront of the premium small car segment.  The new MINI Hardtop also includes state-of-the-art connectivity and premium technology including new driver assistance systems.

“The product team worked diligently to sustain a minimal price increase over the previous model while adding a number of new technologies and features”, said Patrick McKenna, Head of MINI Product Planning and Events, MINI USA. “People will be amazed at the interior quality of this car combined with legendary MINI go kart handling and all-new BMW Group engines. The new MINI is a lot like nothing else.”

Customers looking to purchase a new MINI Hardtop can now begin using the configurator on MINIUSA.com to build, customize and order their new MINI Hardtop. The configurator allows customers to tap into more than 10 million different combinations of accessories and colors to custom build their new MINI Hardtop.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Line-up Adds SE Limited Edition

2014.5 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE Limited Edition

2014.5 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE Limited Edition

  • Only 5000 units to be produced
BY GERRY MILES
Graft some of the Camry SE’s appearance items onto the Camry Hybrid, offer all of the current paint color options as well as those on the inside, cap production to just 5,000 iterations and voila … Toyota has crafted the 2014.5 Camry Hybrid SE Limited Edition.
Based upon the Camry XLE Hybrid the new Camry Hybrid SE Limited Edition adds:
  • Camry SE front fascia, headlights, side rockers, rear valance, rear bumper, rear spoiler, and 17-inch wheels with low profile tires to embolden this sedan’s exterior.
  •  The Camry Hybrid SE’s interior is also equipped with the four-spoke, leather-trimmed, steering wheel, silver interior trim, instrument panel, center stack trim, and  front and rear seats from the Camry SE grade.
  • special badges for unique identification
  •  An available upgrade package ($2215) includes a moonroof and Display Audio with Navigation and Entune Apps Suite.
  • Production will run from Feb. to June 2014
  • MSRP of $27,845
The Camry Hybrid SE Limited Edition is powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and hybrid system with nickel metal hydride battery that yields a total system output of 200 hp.

Rolls Royce 35 Phantom Drophead Coupe isn’t sketchy

RollsRoyce_WaterspeedRolls-Royce Motor Cars is delighted to reveal an exclusive sketch of the Bespoke Waterspeed Collection, a series of 35 Phantom Drophead Coupés that seeks to celebrate an act of British daring and endeavour.

On the morning of Sept. 1, 1937, at the height of the battle between the US and Great Britain to be the fastest nation on water, Sir Malcolm Campbell headed out onto the calm blue waters of Lake Maggiore on the Swiss-Italian frontier.

On taking the wheel of his Bluebird K3 hydroplane boat, powered by Rolls-Royce’s R-Type engine, he established his legend, setting a record of 126.32 mph. A day later, he topped that mark reaching a speed of 129.5 mph, breaking the United States’ five-year stranglehold on the world waterspeed record.

Campbell’s momentous achievement reaffirmed the Rolls-Royce R-Type engines’ record-breaking superiority after triumphs on land and in the air.

Echoing the cutting-edge technology employed in the construction of these craft, only the finest contemporary materials never used before on a Rolls-Royce furnish the Waterspeed Collection. Brushed steel perfectly complements an exclusively developed Maggiore Blue color scheme while hand-crafted wood inlays evoke the sense of a boat effortlessly gliding through water at pace.

“Sir Malcolm Campbell’s successful pursuit of world-speed records on land and water were the result of his commitment to the most exacting standards of British design and engineering excellence,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “Such attributes are hallmarks of every Rolls-Royce motor car, ensuring the marque’s position at the pinnacle of super-luxury manufacturing. This special Collection, and those to follow in 2014, serve to display the breadth of Bespoke personalisation available to every Rolls-Royce customer. I very much look forward to revealing these remarkable cars over the coming months.”