2016 Subaru Crosstrek impresses

2016_ctk_photos_ext_13By Gerry Miles

In the mix of utilitarian, quasi-cute and versatile, Subaru created one of its most popular model in recent history in the Crosstrek.

A small package with an equally small starting price, the Crosstrek builds upon Subaru’s go anywhere at anytime versatility with its all-wheel-drive that supports a small yet rugged appearing package that provides the economy, surprisingly roomy interior and versatility the import firm is known for.

Given a 2016 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Premium to test, I found exactly why people like the heck out of this vehice. It’s size belies interior room, it didn’t squander safety features and it just looks different enough from its stablemates to make ponder what car they’re actually looking at. One look inside requires the doors to open to see if the interior is fit for clowns or accommodates humans.

Like most trendy automakers, Crosstrek is also offered with a Hybrid setup, but given its efficient 4-cylinder Boxer engine, small packaging and relative light weight, there’s really no need to empty you greenbacks on that model. With EPA estimates of 26 in the city and 34 on the highway (29 combined) you’d be hard pressed to complain when you pull up to the pump.

Back to the economy or the sticker: Priced with a base of $22,395 for a vehicle with the model name Premium is a refreshing double-take no doubt. There’s a ton of standard features that includes a rear backup camera, HD radio, Bluetooth, and the required large touch screen in the dash and leather wrapped on the steering wheel and shifter.

Adding to the sticker was a CVT transmission for another grand to handle the power sent from the 2.0-liter, Boxer engine. A five-speed manual mixer is standard. The CVT made me harken back to the days of the Subaru Justy and then-unknown star Kirstie Alley plugging it in TV commercials. The Justy was hard to justify and moreso with the underpowered motor and CVT package.

Unlike the Justy, the 2-liter powers the Crosstrek just fine in normal daily driver use. Equipped with 148 horsepower and 145 lb.-ft. of torque, it provides potent power for the masses that may not notice the sometimes hesitant nature of the CVT (critics look for such things) or the accompanying sounds of it summoning strength to surge on. It’s not overly obtrusive, yet somewhat noticeable.

16_ctk_photos_int_02Creature comforts includes the $1,995 option package that included the Subaru Starlink multimedia system, featuring an upgraded infotainment system, pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, pre-collision throttle management, and eyesight driver assist. It’s a hefty upgrade but it’s a bunch of safety stuff you’d want in a pinch and to help you out. For that complete package and comparable offerings it’s a good deal.

While I was constantly amazed at the interior room and functionality in the front and back seats I also discovered a compliant ride that sometimes felt too firm. The suspension handles the bumps and road rash keeping it from the cabin. Handling was solid, steering input was direct and road feedback was solid.

Subarus are known for laughing at winter conditions in New England and when they first appeared I asked the owners how they liked their new cars and they all responded with a single phrase: love it. With its AWD Subarus are known to saunter through snowdrifts with the footing of a mountain goat with hiking boots.

While somewhat utilitarian in its features and appearance, the ride, versatility and capabilities have clearly matriculated down the model line….as they should.

ctk_lifestyle_01Crosstrek is a very capable crossover that packs a lot into a small package with big league versatility, features and functions.

Buyers seeking more room, a taller greenhouse and creature comforts should move across the showroom to the vaunted Forester or additional upscale offerings in the showroom. With its year-round capabilities, Subaru has something for everyone.

But for those on a budget, a small garage and a car to haul a canoe, biccyles, or stow the snowshoes, the Crosstrek is a great selection.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek Premium

Base price: $22,395

Options: $2,995

As tested: $25,390

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CarLock 3.0 allow greater security than before

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CarLock, the GPS revolution designed to notify motorists if their vehicle is broken in to or stolen, has launched a brand new, updated version of its app.

CarLock 3.0 is a brand new generation of car protection, with a redesigned interface that is more user-friendly than ever before. A range of robust new features are also included in the update, including a slick new dashboard, a redesigned and streamlined login screen and a profile for multi-vehicle overviews.

Smarter, quicker and more intuitive than ever, the latest version of the app will launched on 6/22/2016. All existing users will be invited to upgrade at no cost, giving greater peace of mind at the touch of a button. The exciting new update will take vehicle security to a whole new level, and keep drivers more in touch with their cars than ever before.

Matej Persolja, CEO of Protectus Technologies, Inc., says, “We’re very excited to launch the updated version of the CarLock app, to give drivers more control over their vehicle security than they’ve ever enjoyed in the past. The entire thing has been redesigned to make it easier to use, and there are a bundle of new features which integrate with the CarLock itself, providing core diagnostics and protecting the vehicle at all times.

“CarLock indicates a move away from traditional car alarms, which are largely ignored nowadays, signifying a smart new way to protect vehicles at home and elsewhere. We’re pleased we’ve been able to leverage the latest technology to provide a better, more effective companion app for all of our CarLock customers.”

As well as the new app, the CarLock team will be launching a my.CarLock web interface – a brand new dashboard which offers an at-a-glance overview of each car, completed journeys, and a brand new metric: Your Driving Score. This new score gives a number between 1-100 so drivers can gauge how smooth their driving is. Users will also be able to see how many journeys they’ve made within a certain timeframe, as well as adding additional vehicles to their account.

The CarLock itself uses remote GPS technology to allow vehicle owners to track their car’s every movement, as well as pinpointing its location if necessary. By logging into the app on a smartphone or tablet device, users can monitor their vehicle twenty-four hours a day. New features integrated within the app also allow users to personalise their experience by uploading images of their own vehicle to the app.

The CarLock communicates with the app via the CarLock Cloud, which notifies the owner with a mobile alert if a series of suspicious activities are detected. The app also sends notifications when the CarLock has been disconnected.

The new look app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and is compatible with any smartphone running iOS. An Android version will be available later in the year. CarLock 3.0 is designed to run in the background, providing round-the-clock updates on the vehicle’s location and giving vehicle owners total peace of mind that their expensive asset is protected.

To learn more about the company or to place an order visit www.carlock.co or download the app from https://itunes.apple.com/si/app/carlock/id721180397?mt=8

 

June new car sales expected to dip: JD Power and LMC Automotive

DETROIT: June 2016 — New-vehicle retail sales in June are expected to reach 1,206,700 units, a 0.5% decline from a year ago on a selling-day adjusted basis, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

Retail sales through the first half of 2016 are projected to reach 6.8 million units, down 0.2% from the same period in 2015. With the sales slowdown expected to continue in the second half of the year, LMC Automotive is reducing its retail light-vehicle sales forecast for the year to 14.2 million units from 14.3 million units.

  • The seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) for retail sales in June 2016 is projected to reach 13.3 million units, down from 13.5 million units in June 2015.
  • New-vehicle retail transaction prices thus far in June are at an all-time high for the month at $31,089. The previous record was $30,202, set in June 2015. Incentives are also at a record high for the month of June at $3,278 per vehicle, $119 per vehicle more than the previous high in June 2015.
  • With record transaction prices, consumers are on pace to spend $37.5 billion on new vehicles in June, surpassing the record high of $35.2 billion for the month of June, set in 2015.
  • Increased fleet sales are expected to off-set slower retail sales, increasing total light-vehicle sales in June to 1,546,800, a 0.8% increase on a selling-day adjusted basis from 1,475,062 a year ago. Fleet sales are expected to hit 340,000, a 5.9% increase from 308,640 in June 2015 on a selling-day adjusted basis.
  • The SAAR for total sales is projected at 17.0 million units in June 2016, the same level as a year ago.
  • The lower level of retail sales has had an impact on the total light-vehicle market. LMC Automotive is maintaining its full-year forecast at 17.7 million, but cautions that volume may be at risk, as rising fleet sales may not be enough to maintain total volume.

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive U.S. Sales and SAAR Comparisons

  June 20161 May 2016 June 2015
New-Vehicle Retail Sales 1,206,700 units

(0.5% lower than June 2015)2

1,207,853 units 1,166,422 units
Total Vehicle Sales 1,546,800 units

(0.8% higher than June 2015)2

1,535,331 units 1,475,062 units
Retail SAAR 13.3 million units 13.7 million units 13.5 million units
Total SAAR 17.0 million units 17.4 million units 17.0 million units

1Figures cited for June 2016 are forecasted based on the first 16 selling days of the month.

2The percentage change is adjusted based on the number of selling days in the month (26 days in June 2016 vs. 25 days in June 2015).

John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power, said: “We have seen a slowdown in retail demand since April, posing a significant challenge to manufacturers on a volume basis. Despite sales slowing down, consumer spending remains at record levels due in large part to a continued shift from cars to trucks. The key going forward will be to what degree automakers are able to adjust production levels to slowing demand rather than relying on profit-damaging incentives to move inventory. This will be something to watch as the industry is nearing what is close to being the peak of an average cycle.”

Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, said: “Year-over-year growth is evaporating, and while we are now expecting a slight contraction in retail sales, the total light-vehicle market should remain 1% higher than 2015. However, risks continue to mount for the second half of 2016, with 200,000-300,000 units of volume risk. If the selling rate averages 17.5 million units, which is higher than the projected 17.1 million-unit pace in the first half of the year, total sales for the year will end at 17.4 million units, or a decline of 0.3% from 2015.”

Consumers Union Applauds ‘Unprecedented’ Volkswagen Settlement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, today applauded the settlement package announced by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to address Volkswagen intentionally installing software to circumvent the emissions control system in nearly 500,000 2.0-liter diesel vehicles sold in the U.S and evade emissions standards.

“Today’s agreement forces Volkswagen to make consumers whole, after having ripped them off. We’re pleased that VW owners and lessees have the option to choose what to do with their faulty cars, and get significant cash compensation regardless of their choice,” said William Wallace, policy analyst for Consumers Union. “We applaud regulators for their work to ensure that the settlement also addresses the environmental and air quality impacts of these faulty vehicles. This unprecedented settlement – the largest in automotive history – and forthcoming civil and criminal penalties should send a strong message to deter companies who look to boost their bottom lines by conning consumers and lying to the government.

“We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the consent decree. We will be watching closely to make sure that VW follows through on its commitments to both consumers and the environment, that separate settlements are reached for cars that are not part of today’s announcement, and that the government’s penalties for VW’s deceit are substantial,” said Wallace.

B.E. S.A.F.E. with tips from Michelin and AAA

 As we approach the Fourth of July holiday weekend Michelin tires and AAA have teamed up to offer six safe travel tips.

B: Begin with a Safety Check: It’s better to be safe than sorry. Conduct periodic safety checks to ensure your car is in good operating condition, especially before a long trip. Before you hit the road, make sure your lights, fluids, hoses, windshield wipers and tires are in good working order.

E: Employ the Penny Test: Tires are the only part of your car that touches the road, so ensuring they’re in good condition for maximum grip is of the utmost importance. Make sure your tires have the proper amount of tread before hitting the road, especially with the possibility of unexpected summer showers. Click here to learn how easy it is to do this with a penny. And if you decide your tires need replacing, you might want to consider a great all-season tire like the Pilot Sport A/S 3 Plus, which delivers true all-season performance and superior wet and dry braking.

S: Stay Safe, Check Your Pressure: Tires don’t carry the weight of your vehicle, the pressure inside them does. Underinflated tires offer less traction, can reduce fuel efficiency, wear out prematurely and, most importantly, suffer unnoticeable and irreparable damage that compromises their performance and safety. In fact, under inflation is one of the most common reasons for tire failure.

As a general rule, your tire pressure will gain or lose 1 PSI (pound per square inch) for every 10° F change in temperature. Check your air pressure when tires are ‘cold’ in the morning and compare that number to the sticker in your doorjamb before hitting the road for holiday travel.  Don’t forget to check the air in your spare, too.

A: Avoid overloading: Consider leaving your extra suitcase at home when seeking out sun and sand, and be sure to clear out any extra junk that may have accumulated in your car over the winter. Lightening your load will positively impact your gas mileage, handling and braking distance.

F: Focus on the Road: While on the road, focus fully on driving. Any activities that could divert your attention should be avoided while at the wheel. This includes things like using your phone, snacking, or reaching into the backseat to attend to a child or pet. Save these actions for a rest stop, or if necessary, pull over to the side of the road.

E: Emergency Preparedness:  Always carry a well-stocked emergency kit in your car that includes items such as jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles, first aid kit, water and non-perishable food items. It’s also a good idea to program your cell phone with emergency numbers, including that of your roadside assistance provider, and keep a backup written list in your glove compartment.

4 FCA brands win quality awards

  • Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited named best-in-class Entry SUV for third year in a row
  • Fiat 500 leads Micro Car segment in total quality for second consecutive year
  • Dodge Challenger captures back-to-back wins for total quality in Specialty Coupe segment
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee takes home first place in total quality among Mid-Size SUVs
  • FIAT ties for title of industry’s best brand for total quality under $26,000

June 2016 , Auburn Hills, Mich. – Four FCA US LLC vehicles led their respective segments in total quality and the FIAT brand tied for first among automakers for the best brand with vehicles under $26,000 in Strategic Vision’s 22nd annual Total Quality Impact™ (TQI).

Four 2016 FCA US vehicles won their respective segments for total quality:

  • Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited – Entry SUV
  • Fiat 500 – Micro Car
  • Dodge Challenger – Specialty Coupe
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee – Mid-Size SUV

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited won its segment for the third consecutive year while the Fiat 500 and Dodge Challenger both led their segments for the second year in a row.

TQI is based on responses from more than 39,000 owners of new 2016 model year vehicles. The quality study includes more than 155 specific aspects of the customer experience to form a unique and complete measure of the total ownership experience.

“We see time and again that for consumers, innovation does more to communicate quality than an absence of problems does,” said Christopher Chaney, Senior Vice President – Strategic Vision. “Whether it comes in the form of breakthrough technology, re-engineering a vehicle or creating a new model, consumers feel the positive impact of bold new directions taken by manufacturers.”

According to San Diego-based research firm Strategic Vision, the TQI score is a holistic measure that encompasses positive and negative product experiences. This includes reliability, actual problems, driving excitement and other measures that collectively are energized by the emotional response associated with the aggregate of all those experiences – hence Total Quality.

“The future of quality that is meaningful to buyers will reach beyond ‘no squeaks and rattles’ and reside in the successful deployment of engineering innovation and technology that is relevant, intuitive and impactful,” Chaney said.

Ram Rebel 4×4 special edition revealed

PH-615009998-4BY GERRY MILES

Special, limited editions are nothing new in most parts of retail. Especially the automotive segment. Smaller numbers produced some exclusivity for buyers – or some the OEMs hope they can sell on that point – and special doodads, add-ons and badges no one will see on any other similar but not quite the same offering with a slightly special price, too.

To usher in summer, Ram has produced 500 limited editions of its Rebel for 2016 for $53,665, which includes the delivery fee. Now that’s special.

The Rebel comes in but two colors: Brilliant Black or a two-tone Flame Red with Brilliant Black along the bottom and two stripes down its nose.

Mopar produced at least one limited-edition version of an FCA vehicle each year since 2010 that of course … wait for it …. sold out. In 2010, the Dodge Challenger appeared in special livery and again in 2014; two Dodge Chargers were offered in 2011 and 2015; a Dodge Dart in 2013 and a Chrysler 300 in 2012.

Whattaya get?

PH-615009998-2Your Rebel gets off-road wheel flares, a special blue/black stripe down both sides and across the tailgate, an aluminum dual bezel hood with graphics.

Under the hood the already produced rough and ready Ram is powered by a standard 5.7-liter V-8 and eight-speed automatic transmission.

PH-615009998-3The accessory package boasts a skid plate in case you misjudge the road and the log during a crossing, 17-inch satin black wheels, stainless steel door sill guards and, wait for it, special interior badges. Useful addons includes black tubular steel side-steps, a spray-on bedliner and tri-fold tonneau cover for the bed featuring the Ram logo.

At delivery, the Rebel will arrived with a “metal birth certificate” listing the truck’s specifications and date of manufacture. Honest you can’t make some stuff up.

PH-615009998-5