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  1. By Chris Doane January 29, 2013 I know I won’t get much, if any, sympathy when I say that, sometimes, there are letdowns when you review cars. Last week, the car I was evaluating was a $100,000, 400hp, German coupe. (Read my review of the 2012 BMW 650i xDrive coupe here) I’ve now stepped directly from that into a Kia Rio. I’ll pause for your laughter. For the price of the super coupe, you can buy 5.4 Kia Rios. You could keep that .4 for spare parts? But don’t let price fool you. Oddly enough, there is something about the way the Kia drives that beats the German car hands down. If you guessed power, speed or luxury, then you’re either not familiar with these cars, or you’re three martinis into “lunch” at the bar. What the much cheaper Kia does have over the German car is steering feel. The coupe from Deutschland has 262 more horse power, yards and yards of leather, but in the Kia, I actually have some sense of what the front wheels are doing via what I feel through the steering wheel. And I’ll take some feel over none any day. If driving is something you enjoy, steering feel is pretty useful information to have when zipping through the corners. Even if driving is nothing more than a task for you, it’s pretty nice to know when the front wheels feel like they’re about to lose traction. While no one would ever mistake the Rio for a sporty, corner carving car, the Rio SX model has a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels, and light, responsive steering that, somehow, make this small, underpowered car a little bit fun to drive. It’s a bit like a go-kart, only with airbags, a trunk and room for five passengers. Well, 4.5 anyway. The main reason I say “a little bit fun to drive” is because of the 1.6L, 138hp four cylinder motor in the Rio. Those hot, 17-inch wheels on this Rio SX might make it look quick, but this hatchback ain’t going anywhere fast. While there is certainly power to be had from this little four-banger, you’ve got to rev the snot out of it to reach that power. Once the tachometer reads 4500-5000rpm, then you approach something that could be considered acceleration. In regular, everyday driving, the lack of power isn’t really an issue. You’ll get through the city, and around the highways, just fine. But in some situations, like passing on even a modest incline, you might think twice. As I attempted to pass an older, slower Nissan on a slight uphill, the pass happened in such slow fashion that I would’ve had time to say hello to the driver, ask if he was hungry, make a sandwich, and pass it over. Wait, did he want Grey Poupon? So we don’t have speed, but that should come as no surprise since this car is intended more for fuel efficiency. The Rio is rated for 28mpg city, 36mpg highway, and we observed a 31mpg average with sporty driving habits and more highway driving than city driving. There is also an “eco” button you can press that reigns in the engine, and transmission shift points, for increased fuel economy. Even though the fuel economy is fairly good, the tank in the Rio is pretty tiny at 11.3 gallons. If you have a long commute, you’ll still be filling up a lot, but at least you’ll only be pumping in 11 gallons each time. If you want to know when that tank is about to run dry, it’s not a good idea to rely on the digital, remaining range readout in the gauge cluster. One moment, the Rio SX told me I could drive another 31 miles before I was out of fuel. Less than 5 minutes of regular driving later, it told me I had no range remaining. Inside the Rio, it’s about what you’d expect in a $18,545 car. A nicely designed, mostly hard plastic interior, but with soft touch material in the right spots and a backup camera. Wait, what? A backup camera in a $18,545 car? Touch-screen nav too? Don’t forget the power fold mirrors. Though, in a car this narrow, I’m not really sure why you’d ever need to fold in the mirrors. Of those features, it’s the backup camera that is almost a necesity due to the massive blind spots the stylish C-pillars create. Without a rear-facing camera, backing out of a parking spot involves more prayer than driving skill. Normally, in cars of this price range, the seats suffer when it comes to comfort. Somehow, the chairs in the Rio manage not to do that. They certainly aren’t heavily padded or bosltered seats, but after three hours of wheeling, I was perfectly comfortable, and ready for three more. Frankly, the best part of the Rio is how fantastic it looks. If you venture back even a few years ago and look at the cars Kia was producing then, you’d never have guessed this company was capable of designing something this good looking. Not only does the exterior design trump the Scion xB, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa, but it certainly holds its’ own against the Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta as well. 2012 Kia Rio SX 5-door - $17,700 -Carpeted Floor Mats - $95 -Destination - $750 TOTAL - $18,545 Album: 2012 Kia Rio SX 5-Door 7 images 0 comments
  2. By Chris Doane January 22, 2013 Five minutes after the photo session with the 650i came to an end, my phone rang. It’s Mark, the guy who was driving the Bimmer while I snapped photos. “Chris, something is wrong with my car. It feels slow, I must be towing a big trailer.” There was no trailer. Mark had just stepped from a 400hp, twin-turbo BMW into a 2005 Ford Expedition XLT. All 5352 pounds of it. “I’ll never enjoy driving this again. I’m blaming you.” Oh, um…alright, then. Misbehavin’ Apart from permanently ruining a man’s truck, the 650i encourages you to behave in ways your fellow motorists might not fully appreciate. You’ll creep up behind that Rav4, with only the “halo” LED lights on, stalk it like prey, then drop two gears and hammer past it in even the shortest passing lane. But when you have this much thrust on tap, short passing lanes suddenly turn into “Oh, I can make that!” lanes. The main source for that urge to misbehave comes from BMW’s twin-turbo, 4.4L V8 engine, good for 400hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. While those 400 ponies are undoubtedly great, you also get all the available torque very early in the rev range (1750 rpm.) Simply put, the power delivery is immediate, fierce and will pin you against the seat when you mash the pedal on the right. In addition to the speed, hammering the accerator summons a gurgling, satanic symphony of power, emanating from the huge tailpipes. It’s a sound that is as addictive as it is bad for your fuel economy. Living in proximity of a long tunnel should be a prerequiste to own this car as tunnel blasting will become your newest, loudest, most favorite hobby. When it comes to handling, the 650i encourages you to bend the rules once again and take the corner posted 20mph at 45mph. It’s something this BMW is certainly capable of, as it offers large amounts of grip, very flat cornering and…almost no steering feel whatsoever. And that last bit can be a problem. As is the case with many new cars, the 650i has electric power steering. A nasty side effect can be little to no steering feel. It made for a pretty numb steering wheel in the new 5-series, and it’s done exactly the same thing to the 6-series. Wheeling the 6’er through the bends is a hard feeling to describe. “Strange” might be the most accurate word. With no steering feel, it’s difficult to tell when your cornering speed might get too fast, and your grip of the road will cease to be. You almost have to rely on listening to whether the tires are just “singing” through the corner, or screetching and about to let go. With less sensory input to react to, it’s tough to know whether you’ll make it through the corner gracefully, and power out of it, or if you’ll be sucking on the airbag after skidding off the road and into that sugar maple tree. But hey, either way, it’ll be exciting. Technology, anyone? Once you set butt inside the new 6-series, there’s an awful lot of technology waiting for you. Some of it is cool, some of it is mediocore, and some of it doesn’t really work. Any tech talk about a BMW car almost certainly involves the often controversial iDrive interface system. It’s a setup that’s been through several revisions, and the net result of that is…it still sucks. It certainly sucks less than the earlier versions, but iDrive still has tons of endless menus that aren’t real intuitive to navigate. The week before I drove the 650i, a friend of mine said I’d be totally wow’ed by the heads up display offered in this BMW. It projects your speed, along with several other bits of information, on the windshield near your normal line of sight. Since a BMW is not an F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, I was skeptical how useful this really was. After one day of using it, I was totally sold on the HUD. Sure, it will help you keep your eyes more on the road, but really, it’s just the cool factor that makes you want it. On the downside, the HUD can be very hard to see if you’re wearing polarized sunglasses. One of the latest automated technologies making its way into luxury cars are the automatic high beam lights that turn themselves on and off as other cars approach you. Much like the earlier days of rain-sensing wipers that never seemed to get wiper speed right, these auto brights just aren’t there yet. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they would turn themselves off when I was the only one on the road. Heaps of style Once you’re past all the technology, you might notice you’re sitting in one of the nicest, most luxurious interiors out there at the moment. While I’ll let the photos do most of the talking, there is leather, and contrast stitching, everywhere. The dash flowing into the center console is incredibly elegant and the seats adjust 20 different ways to mold to your body. It is a really, really nice place to be. Unless of course you’re in the back seat. Then it’s best not to have legs since there’s nowhere to put them. On the outside, the sleek elegant design continues with an incredibly attractive posterior, strong character lines highlighting the profile, and a front end that’s gone a bit wrong. While this new 6-series is certainly much more attractive than the rounded-off, last-generation model, the front fascia on this latest model feels a bit over-styled. There’s just too much going on, especially when you opt for the M-sport package. Sign here Should you buy one? Yes, buy it for the sound that comes out of the exhaust pipes alone. Nevermind the exquiste interior, good, but numb, handling and rev-happy, twin-turbo V8. It’s certainly no sports car, but it’s grand tourer worthy of your checkbook. The biggest reason not to buy one? The way this 650i xDrive was spec’ed, you could be in an M6 coupe for only five grand more. And if you’re spending 100 grand on a 6-series, well, what’s another five? 2012 BMW 650i xDrive Coupe - $86,000 -Cold Weather Package - $750 -Driver Assistance Package - $3,330 -M-Sport Package - $4,440 -20” wheels with performance tires - $1300 -Premium Sound Package - $1800 -Instrument Panel with Leather - $1500 -Ceramic Controls - $650 -BMW Apps - $250 -Destination - $875 TOTAL Price – $100,825 Album: 2012 BMW 650i xDrive Coupe 8 images 0 comments
  3. By William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com January 9, 2013 Ask someone to say the first thing that comes to their mind when you mention the word hybrid, and more often than not they will say the Toyota Prius. Despite not being the first hybrid on sale in the U.S. (that honor falls to the 1999 Honda Insight, which went on sale a full two years before the Prius in the U.S.), the Prius became a sales success and symbol for the hybrid vehicle. Why? The Prius offered the right mix of unheard fuel economy, features, and practicality in one package. Now in its third-generation, the unassuming hybrid hatchback falls into two polar opposite camps of thought. Those who love its efficiency and reliability and those who think the Pruis is an anathema to everything held dear by car enthusiasts. I'm an auto enthusiast, so when I recently spent a week in a 2012 Toyota Prius, I naturally approached the car with skepticism. Is it as good as the high fuel economy fans claim? Is it kryptonite to automotive enthusiasts? Read on to find out. Encounters of the Hybrid Kind The third-generation Prius is very much like the previous-generation model with its alien spaceship look. The third-generation model carries on the oval-esque shape with some aerodynamic tweaks including a smoother front end, squared-off corners on the rear end, and a new rear spoiler. These design changes help drop the drag coefficient from 0.26 cd to 0.25 cd. Other items of note include a set of LED taillights and an optional solar panel (part of a $3,820.00 Deluxe Solar Roof package) that power fans to cool down the vehicle’s interior without turning on the vehicle. I didn't get chance to try it since the average temperature here in Detroit was in the mid-thirties during my time and I rather enter a warm, not cold Prius. What would make this optional solar panel even better is the ability to charge the battery when the Prius is parked and keep the Prius warm in winter. Inside, the alien spaceship design theme continues with a floating center stack, a uniquely-styled shift knob, and a digital gauge cluster sitting on top and in the middle of the dashboard. The placement of gauge cluster does make it somewhat harder to make a quick glance while on the move. My test Prius did come with a heads-up display which had a speedometer and a power gauge letting you know how much power you’re drawing from the hybrid system. I do want to talk to the person who decided to hide the buttons for the heated seats underneath the center stack. The only way you know where they’re hiding is when you enter or exit the Prius. Did no one at Toyota bring this up during one of the design meetings? Seating was decent for both front and rear passengers with enough head and legroom. Materials are what you would find in current Toyota models; hard plastics and very synthetic-feeling leather. This would be ok if the price tag of this Prius wasn’t $33,118.00. The only real positive to the interior is that build quality is very good throughout the interior. As I mentioned earlier, this Prius was equipped with the $3,820.00 Deluxe Solar Roof package. Besides the solar roof, the package includes a seven-inch touch screen, navigation, Toyota’s Entune System, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker JBL system, and Toyota’s safety connect which provides emergency assistance services. The touchscreen was very responsive when pressed and provided the right amount brightness whether it was day or night. The eight-speaker JBL system provided ok sound, but I found that I had to turn it up when driving the Prius on the highway as there was too much road noise. As for Entune, I didn't get chance to try it since I didn't have the application on my iPhone to utilize the system. Yes, you need the Entune application on either your iPhone or Android phone to use it. Under the Skin, It’s a Prius Alright Pop the hood of the Prius and right before your eyes is one part of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive; a 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine producing 98 horsepower (@ 5,200 rpm) and 105 lb-ft of torque (@ 4,000 rpm), and a electric motor producing 80 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque. Total power output is rated at 134 horsepower. The other part of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive is a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack sitting in the back of the Prius. Your only transmission is a CVT. The Prius’ powertrain gets the job done. It will take a few seconds longer to get up to the speed on the road. Not much noise from either the engine or CVT enters the cabin when you accelerate normally. If you need to get a move on because there is a larger vehicle bearing down onto you or need to merge onto the highway, the drone of the engine and CVT are very apparent. Thankfully, the hybrid system seamlessly transitions electric power. The center stack has three buttons that can change the behavior of the hybrid system. The first is an EV mode which allows the Prius to travel a short distance on electric power alone below 25 MPH. The hybrid system will turn if you go above 25 or press further down on the pedal. With a light foot, I was able to go about a mile on electric power alone. Next is Eco mode which reduces throttle response in an emphasis to get better fuel economy numbers. This is ok if you don’t have a lot of traffic behind you or in a hurry to move along. If you don’t meet either or the criteria, leave Eco mode off. Finally there is Power mode which is the opposite of Eco mode. This mode noticeably increases throttle response to help you in certain situations like merging onto a highway. Fuel economy is very impressive for this small car. The EPA rates the Prius at 51 City/48 Highway/50 Combined. During my week with the Prius, I averaged 47.9 MPG with mostly suburban driving and sticking my foot into it. Ride and handling is taken care with a pair of MacPherson struts with a stabilizer bar up front and a torsion beam setup in the rear. While the setup isn’t technologically advanced like the rest of the Prius, it provides a somewhat comfortable ride. I did wish for some more damping when driving over craters that are called potholes in the Detroit area. Steering for the Prius comes in the form of an electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion system. The steering has some heft and some feel, something the old Prius lacked. That doesn’t make it a driver’s car since the Prius’ suspension is more tuned for comfort and the standard low-rolling resistance tires don’t provide enough grip. The Prius is a quiet vehicle when driven below 50 MPH. Go above that and you’ll notice an abundance of road and wind noise. I’m hoping with the next-generation Prius, Toyota puts in some more sound deadening material. Visibility is very good for the front and side. Rear visibility takes a hit due to the rear hatch shape and the large spoiler sitting in the middle of the hatch. Thankfully, the Prius did come equipped with a standard rear view camera. The Prius truly delivers on its promise of greenness with some impressive fuel economy numbers, clever technologies to make every use up every last drop of gas, unique design, and comfortable ride. However, the Prius has some faults. The road and wind noise while going above 50 MPH tops my list followed by the interior materials. That said the Toyota Prius is the perfect vehicle for someone who commutes in town and wants to tell everyone that they’re saving the planet. For me, I’ll pass on the Prius. Cheers Fuel Economy Technology Exterior Looks Somewhat Comfortable Ride Jeers Wind and Road Noise at Speed Engine and CVT During Hard Acceleration Materials Used in the Cabin Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Album: 2012 Toyota Prius Four 18 images 0 comments Year - 2012 Make – Toyota Model – Prius Trim – Four Engine – 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Electronically Controlled continuously Variable Transmission Horsepower @ RPM – (Gas) 98 HP (@ 5,200 RPM), (Electric) 80 HP (N/A), (Combined) 134 HP Torque @ RPM – (Gas) 105 lb-ft (@ 4,000 RPM), (Electric) 153 HP (N/A), (Combined) N/A Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 51/48/50 Curb Weight – 3,042 lbs Location of Manufacture – Tsutsumi, Japan Base Price - $28,235.00 As Tested Price - $33,118.00 (Includes $760.00 Destination Charge) Options Deluxe Solar Roof Package: $3,820.00 Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat: $225.00 Cargo Net: $49.00 First Aid Kit: $29.00 William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  4. By Chris Doane January 7, 2013 It’s midweek and I’m cruising down the interstate when I come up behind one of the Passat TDI’s diesel brethren from a few decades prior: An early 1980’s Mercedes 300D. The tortured Benz was loud, emitting a smoke screen, and judging from its’ lack of ability to pass a semi-truck, the non-turbocharged 300D. A quick look at the trunk lid badging confirmed that. Back in the 1980’s, I’m not really sure what the appeal of the 300D would’ve been. Gasoline was around $1.20 a gallon and luxury buyers wouldn’t have thought twice about filling up at that price. The 300D had 83hp, 120 lb-ft of torque, and without the turbocharger, looked to have “John Deere” acceleration qualities. Fuel economy usually fell between the high 20’s and low 30’s. As it turned out, the biggest redeeming quality, realized years later, was that the diesel motors in the 300 were built to be absolutely bombproof. The first 100,000 miles on these motors was simply the break-in period. These days, Mercedes 300D’s reaching half a million miles, or more, is not uncommon. The one I saw looked as though it might be past the half-million mark, but there it was, still going. Well, sort of. Pulling my mind back into the cabin of the Passat TDI, the contrast is pretty stark. I’m driving at a casual 72mph, and the car isn’t even breaking a sweat, humming along at 2200rpm. No diesel racket, no smelly gray cloud, no lack of ability to pass at highway speeds. Thirty years of diesel technology advancements had now turned a car that roared, coughed and smoked into a sedan that behaved like all the rest and sipped diesel at a minuscule rate. Same, but different Walk onto a Volkswagen dealer lot, and the only real visual cue to tell the diesel Passat apart from the gasoline model is “TDI” badge on the back. Once you pop the hood, you’ll be face to face with the TDI’s biggest change: The 140hp, 2.0L four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. As with all diesels, it’s the 236 lb-ft of torque that really gives the Passat TDI its’ oomph. Past the different power plant, the other significant change is waiting for you in the trunk where the urea filler spout is located. Urea, or AdBlue as VW dubs it, is a liquid that is injected into the exhaust, greatly reducing the terribleness of diesel exhaust and allowing the car to meet U.S. emissions regulations. That might sound like an added hassle, but one tank of urea in the Passat should last you 10,000 miles, and is timed to be part of your regular oil changes. If the urea tank does happen run low, as it did during my week with the Passat, the car gives you somewhat of a stern warning, but it comes well in advance of the urea tank going dry. With 800 miles of urea range remaining, the warning light advised the engine would not be able to start once the tank was empty. The good news is a gallon of urea cost me only $6.99 at a local auto parts store and took all of three minutes to buy and pour into the tank. If you can’t manage to do that within 800 miles, the problem might be sitting in the driver’s seat. Both the diesel and gasoline-powered Passats feature a smooth shifting, 6-speed DSG transmission. You’ll barely feel the first two shifts, and you’d have to have your eyes glued to the tachometer to know the cogs are swapping once you’re into third gear. MPGs The Passat TDI is a pretty purpose driven vehicle. It’s meant to be a comfortable, mid-size cruiser that gets phenomenal fuel economy, and it reaches those goals with ease. The interior feels quite large, front and back, and the materials have not been cheapened in the way that the Jetta’s have. While I’m still pretty sure the only people fingering the dashboards are automotive writers, if you feel the need, you will find it’s fairly soft. More importantly, the 8-way power seats are “drive all day” comfortable. The most impressive part, and the reason you’ll buy this sedan, is the fuel economy. With the automatic transmission, the EPA says the Passat will get 30mpg in the city and 40mpg on the highway. However, that’s not really accurate. One of the quirks with diesel engines is that it takes longer for them to break in than gasoline motors. 10,000 miles is usually the number most TDI aficionados use for a good break in period. During that break in period, the piston rings in the engine will become better seated and the compression in the engine will improve. The end result of that is even better fuel economy. The Passat I drove had nearly 17,000 miles on it by the time I slid behind the wheel, so this diesel engine should’ve been operating much closer to its full potential than a brand new engine. Much of the driving I did was on hilly roads, and with a less-than-light foot. Despite that, the Passat still averaged 42-44mpg. That’s 2-4mpg above the EPA highway rating while driving like a teenager who’d just got his license and the keys to dad’s car. Once I eased off the throttle and returned to a regular pace, the mpg started creeping towards 50mpg. Use the cruise control for all your highway driving, and a mileage number just past 50mpg wouldn’t be out of the question. On the downside, the Passat’s fun factor rates somewhere around “mashed potatoes.” The suspension is tuned much more for comfort than it is for cornering. There is a decent helping of body roll in the corners, and over large bumps, or rough road, the Passat can feel downright floaty. That’s great if your mom is in the passenger seat, but not so good if you want to go hunting for the corner apex. Additionally, the turbo lag is pretty noticeable. Floor the accelerator, and for the first two seconds, not much happens. That can make jumping out into traffic from a dead stop a pretty interesting gamble. Once the turbo is spooled up, power delivery is adequate. The Highway Choice In the end, I can forgive the Passat TDI for not being a sport sedan because that just isn’t what it’s supposed to be. In the same way that a hybrid or electric car makes sense for city drivers, this VW makes huge sense for people who spend most of their commute on the highway. Unfortunately, a fun-to-drive diesel doesn’t really exist in the U.S. market yet, but a midsize sedan that can achieve 50+ mpg can’t be ignored. Going out to the car the next morning and thinking “didn’t the fuel gauge say that yesterday morning?” was certainly not a bad feeling. 2012 VW Passat TDI SEL Base price - $32,915 Destination - $795 Total = $33,710 Album: 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI 6 images 0 comments
  5. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com January 3, 2013 Porsche Cars North America - Up 61% Volkswagen of America - Up 35.4% BMW of North America - Up 34.8% American Honda - Up 26.2% Mazda North American Operations - Up 21.9% Audi of America - Up 17.3% Hyundai Motor America - Up 17% Volvo Cars of North America - Up 15.1% Toyota Motor Sales - Up 13.2% Mercedes-Benz USA - Up 12% Chrysler Group LLC - Up 10% Subaru of America, Inc - Up 8.8% General Motors - Up 5% Ford Motor Company - Up 2% Nissan North America - Down 1.6% Kia Motors America - Down 9.7% Mitsubishi Motors North America - Down 18% American Suzuki Motor Corporation - Down 24.2% William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  6. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 28, 2012 After a number of complaints from owners saying that their Nissan Leafs were losing charge capacity, Nissan has announced a new warranty for the Leaf's battery. “Nissan will protect against capacity loss in LEAF batteries that fall below nine bars, of the available 12 bars displayed on the vehicle’s battery capacity gauge, for the first five years or 60,000 miles in the United States, whichever comes first,” said Nissan executive VP Andy Palmer in a letter sent to Leaf owners. The warranty will debut on the 2013 Leaf, but the warranty will be expanded to cover all 2011 and 2012 models before next summer. Before, Nissan claimed the Leaf's lithium-ion battery would only lose 20% of its charge capacity after being driven for five years. However a group of Leaf owners in Arizona said their vehicles were losing charge capacity at a much faster rate and sued the company. Palmer in his letter also said that the automaker is also working "to improve the precision of the battery capacity gauge that displays remaining capacity in the Leaf's electric vehicle battery." “Our actions today are intended to put customer minds at ease regarding the topic of battery capacity loss,” wrote Palmer. “Even though it is expected the great majority of owners will never have to use this enhanced warranty, we want each Nissan LEAF owner to have the security that should capacity loss exceed this defined threshold, Nissan will cover the repair or replacement of their battery under warranty.” Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), MyNissanLeaf.com William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  7. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 6, 2012 In for review this week at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage is the vehicle that started the hybrid revolution. I'm of course referring to the Toyota Prius. Our test Prius is the Prius Four, which is the almost top of the line model in the lineup. As tested price for this $33,118.00 (includes $760.00 destination charge) thanks mostly to a Deluxe Solar Roof Package which adds a solar powered ventilation system and a load of tech goodies including navigation and Toyota's Entune system. Spending a few moments in the Prius, I found the interior is much like the current crop of Toyota's passenger vehicles (aside from the new Avalon); hard plastics are abundant through the dash and the standard leather seats feel like the vinyl covering your grandma would throw over the furniture to protect it. Positive points include how much space is inside for front and most rear passengers, cargo space, how quiet the car is in electric mode, and of course the fuel economy. At the moment, I'm averaging around 52 MPG. Now, I have the Prius till next Thursday and will be updating during my time with it. In the meantime, if you have questions, drop them below. Update: November 9, 2012 Its been a few days since the Prius came into my care and I'm undecided on it so far. I wish there was more power so I can keep up with traffic a little bit better without switching to the power button or sticking my foot into it. I do like that I'm averaging so far around 50.1 MPG with mostly suburban driving. Some things are causing me to scratch my head. For example, who at Toyota decided to put the heated seat controls in the storage cubby right underneath the center stack? Also, no instant MPG readout? I'll be updating this once again after I take the Prius out on the highway and spend some more time with it. Get your questions in. William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  8. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com December 3, 2012 Porsche Cars North America - Up 71% Subaru of America - Up 59.7% American Honda - Up 38.9% BMW Group U.S. - Up 38.8% Volkswagen of America - Up 29.3% Volvo Cars of North America - Up 26.8% Audi of America - Up 24.4% American Suzuki Motor Corporation - Up 22% Mazda North American Operations - Up 17.7% Toyota Motor Sales - Up 17.2% Mercedes-Benz USA - Up 15.6% Chrysler Group LLC - Up 14% Nissan North America - Up 12.9% Kia Motors America - Up 10.9% Hyundai Motor America - Up 8% Ford Motor Company - Up 6% General Motors - Up 3% Mitsubishi Motors North America - Down 4.3% Jaguar Land Rover North America - Down 7% William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  9. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com November 6, 2012 Much like the competition, Kia offers a variety of powertrains in their midsize sedan competitor, the Optima, to meet the demands of consumers. There’s a base four-cylinder model, a turbocharged-four taking the place of a V6, and hybrid model. I’ve reviewed the base four-cylinder Optima back in July, and found it to be one of best midsize sedans on sale. Now it’s time to see where the Optima Hybrid can match the high bar set by the regular Optima or not. The differences between a normal Optima and an Optima Hybrid are very noticeable on the exterior. The biggest giveaway that you’re driving an Optima Hybrid besides the hybrid badge on the back is a unique set of seventeen-inch alloy wheels. Other changes Kia has done to the Optima Hybrid include a revised rear fascia and a new rear spoiler. On the interior, Kia has changed the instrument cluster to one that gives information on how much battery charge there is left, an eco gauge, and a small color screen providing trip computer info. The optional navigation unit (part of the $5,350.00 premium technology package) has a screen providing information about the system. The Optima Hybrid’s powertrain is made up of a 2.4L gas engine producing 166 HP (@ 6,000 RPM) and 154 lb-ft of torque (@ 4,250 RPM), an electric motor producing 40 HP (@ 1,400-6,000 RPM) and 151 lb-ft of torque (0 - 1,400 RPM), and a 270V lithium-polymer battery. Total output of the hybrid system is 206 HP and 195 lb-ft of torque going through a six-speed automatic. The best way to describe the Optima Hybrid’s powertrain is ‘almost fully realized’. When pulling away from a stop, the Hybrid pulls away quickly whether on electric or hybrid power. On open roads and in traffic, I never found myself wishing for more power since the powertrain is able to keep up. The downside to this system is the transition from electric to hybrid power is very noticeable. When the switch happens, you can hear the gas engine hesitate for a brief moment and feel some sort of vibration. The Optima Hybrid got EPA ratings of 35 City/40 Highway/37 combined. However a few weeks after turning the Optima Hybrid back in, Hyundai and Kia announced they had overstated fuel economy on certain 2011-2013 vehicles. The Optima Hybrid was one of those vehicles affected and has revised EPA fuel economy numbers of 34 City/39 Highway/36 combined. During the week, I averaged 37.2 on mostly rural and suburban roads. On the freeway, I hit 40 MPG with the cruise control set on 70 MPH. Kia didn’t change much with handling and ride of the Optima Hybrid, which means the sporty and composed ride from the standard Optima remains. Steering on the Optima Hybrid is the same as the normal Optima as well; not a lot of feel and a surprising amount of heaviness to it. Wind and road noise on the Optima Hybrid were kept to a minimum. The Kia Optima Hybrid is very good first effort. Building upon a good base of the normal Optima, the hybrid model possesses very good performance and decent fuel economy for the class. Kia does need to work on smoothing out the transition from electric to hybrid power though. There is one problem for the Kia Optima Hybrid, the competition. On paper, the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the new Ford Fusion Hybrid best the Optima Hybrid in fuel economy ratings. The only thing Kia can fight back with is the amount of equipment that you can get for the price. The Optima Hybrid I had in for review cost $32,500.00. But for that price, I got heated and cooled front seats, heated back seats, panoramic sunroof, navigation, a premium sound system, and much more. To try and match the equipment level of the Optima Hybrid, you’ll have to spend a few thousand more on the competitors. Is that enough though to convince someone to check it out? If you’re looking for a midsize hybrid to stand out, check out the Optima Hybrid. If fuel economy is a concern, look at the Camry and Fusion. Disclaimer: Kia provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2012 Make – Kia Model – Optima Hybrid Trim – N/A Engine – 2.4L Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – (Gas) 166 HP (@ 6,000 RPM) , (Electric) 40.2 HP (@ 1,400 to 6,000 RPM), (Combined) 206 HP Torque @ RPM – (Gas) 154 lb-ft (@ 4,250 RPM), (Electric) 166 HP (@ 0 - 1,400 RPM), (Combined) 195 lb-ft Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 34/39/36 Curb Weight – 3,490 lbs Location of Manufacture – Hwasung, South Korea Base Price - $25,700.00 As Tested Price - $32,500.00 (Includes $750.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  10. CYPRESS, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) today reported October sales of the Outlander Sport were up 17.9 percent compared to the same month in 2011. Outlander Sport sales were 1,675 for the month, the second highest monthly total ever for the fuel efficient CUV, manufactured in Normal, Illinois. The monthly total was only exceeded by that of September 2012. For the January to September year-to-date, Outlander Sport sales are up 7.4 percent. "We are pleased at the consistent growth of the Outlander Sport, our top seller in the U.S," said MMNA President & CEO Yoichi Yokozawa. "This demonstrates that customers looking for a fuel-efficient CUV certainly have the Outlander Sport on their shopping list." For the current 2013 model year, Outlander Sport received numerous new improvements including enhanced exterior styling and interior design features. Overall Mitsubishi sales were 3,981 units, down 9.1 percent compared to October 2011. That total however is impacted by models that ended their production in 2011. Total sales of models currently in production were up 7.0 percent for the month compared to October 2011.
  11. BREA, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) today reported October 2012 sales of 2,023 units, a 5% increase from October 2011. The newly refreshed Grand Vitara contributed to a 64% increase month over month, while SX4 sales remained steady with a 13% growth.
  12. COSTA MESA, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Hyundai Motor America today announced sales of 50,271 vehicles in October, a four percent total sales decline compared with the same record-setting period a year ago. Sales are up 8.2 percent through the first 10 months of the year versus 2011. "October was a somewhat challenging month for us and the industry," said Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of sales. "It appears industry volume may have temporarily stalled due to a blend of an extremely tight and undecided Presidential race, lingering economic uncertainty tied to 'fiscal cliff' anxiety, and the devastating impact Hurricane Sandy had on our dealers and millions of residents along the Eastern seaboard." The all-new Azera and the Elantra family continued to gain, with sales up 1,949 percent and 12 percent, respectively, over last October. The all-new 2013 Santa Fe, recently crowned the "2012 Compact CUV of Texas" by the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), saw sales gains of 16 percent. Hyundai fleet sales and mix remained low at a 10 percent mix for the month and nine percent year-to-date, among the lowest in the industry. "The good news is that as we head into the last two months of the year, our Hyundai dealers have improved availability of our three best-selling models -- Sonata, Elantra, and Santa Fe – thanks to the hard work of our U.S. manufacturing team," said John Krafcik, president and CEO. "We'll also continue to work with our dealers in areas impacted by Sandy to ensure vehicles lost to the storm are replaced as quickly as possible."
  13. Volvo Announces October Sales ROCKLEIGH, N.J. (Nov. 1, 2012) - Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, (VCNA) reported U.S. sales of 4,200 units, a 14.3 percent decrease from October 2011. Year-to-date sales are down 2.2 percent over the first ten months of 2011. The top seller for the month was the XC60 crossover with 1,562 units sold, an 82.1 percent increase from October 2011. New Volvo buyers benefit from Volvo's Safe + Secure Coverage Plan. A complimentary program, Safe + Secure wraps a comprehensive list of benefits into one package. Specifically, it provides: 5 years/50,000 miles of New Car Warranty 5 years/50,000 miles of Complimentary Factory Scheduled Maintenance 5 years/50,000 miles of Wear and Tear Coverage 5 years/Unlimited miles of Volvo On Call Roadside Assistance.
  14. Toyota Motor Sales Reports Increase In October Sales TORRANCE, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today reported October 2012 sales results of 155,242 units, an increase of 15.8 percent compared to the same period last year on both a daily selling rate (DSR) and a raw volume basis. The Toyota Division posted October total sales of 135,392 units, an increase of 16.8 percent on a DSR basis from October 2011. The Lexus Division reported total sales of 19,850 units, up 9.7 percent. “Our main focus is on those dealing with the after effects of Hurricane Sandy and supporting the recovery efforts,” said Bob Carter, Toyota senior vice president of automotive operations. “Despite the impact of Sandy, October was a solid month for Toyota and the industry, and we look for the market to remain strong in the months ahead.” Toyota has announced a $1 million donation to the American Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations to support relief efforts and is taking steps to assist owners affected by the hurricane. Beginning today, Toyota Financial Services (TFS) and Lexus Financial Services will launch a “Customer Outreach” campaign to lease and retail customers who may need to take advantage of payment relief options, including extensions and lease deferred payments, redirecting billing statements, and arranging phone or on-line payments. In addition, the company will announce a 90-day Deferred First Payment Program designed to assist consumers in the most impacted states with their transportation needs as they work through the recovery process. Toyota Division Toyota Division passenger cars recorded combined monthly sales of 77,520 units, up 24.0 percent from October 2011. Car sales were led by Camry and Camry Hybrid with combined sales of 29,926 units. Corolla recorded October sales of 20,949. The Prius family of vehicles posted October sales of 16,774 units. Toyota Division light trucks recorded October sales of 57,872 units, an increase of 8.3 percent compared to the same month last year. Truck sales were led by the Tacoma mid-size pickup truck and RAV4 compact SUV with monthly sales of 12,191 and 10,936, respectively. Highlander and Highlander Hybrid reported combined monthly sales of 8,909 units, and the Tundra full-size pickup reported sales of 8,086 units. Scion posted October sales of 5,887 units, up 49 percent over October 2011 largely due to strong sales of the recently introduced FR-S sports car, which posted sales of 1,107 units. Lexus Division Lexus reported passenger car sales of 11,647 units, up 15.2 percent from October 2011. The ES 350 entry luxury sedan and the first-ever ES Hybrid led Lexus passenger car sales with combined sales of 5,971 units. The GS mid-size luxury sedan posted sales of 1,521, up 471.8 percent. Lexus luxury utility vehicles recorded sales of 8,203 units, up 2.8 percent over October 2011. Sales were led by the RX and RX Hybrid luxury utility vehicle, which posted combined October sales of 6,928 units. TMS Hybrids TMS posted October hybrid vehicle sales of 24,065, an increase of 69.7 percent compared to the same period last year. Toyota Division posted October sales of 20,273 hybrids, while Lexus Division reported sales of 3,792 hybrids for the month.
  15. CHERRY HILL, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Subaru of America, Inc. today reported 26,119 sales for the month of October, a 30 percent increase over October 2011. The company also announced record breaking annual sales of 271,582 – a 26 percent increase over 2011. This represents a historic high for Subaru of America. Subaru sales for 2012 have surpassed the previous sales record of 266,989 vehicles set just last year. This marks the company's fifth year of sales growth and fourth successive sales record. Year-to-date sales for Impreza have increased 165 percent over 2011. Year-to-date sales for newly-refreshed Outback and Legacy models have increased 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively. "Subaru is celebrating a year of records; we couldn't be more thrilled with our results," said Thomas J. Doll, executive vice president and COO, Subaru of America, Inc. "The year isn't over yet and we expect XV Crosstrek sales will help drive even greater momentum throughout the remainder of the year." "With strong product and a strong retail network, we are poised to exceed sales of 320,000 vehicles this year," said Bill Cyphers, senior vice president of sales, Subaru of America, Inc.
  16. MONTVALE, N.J., Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) today reported record October sales of 23,978 for its Mercedes-Benz models, up 5.9%, delivering a record year-to-date total of 215,596 new vehicles to customers, up 11.9%. Combined sales of Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles, smart and Sprinter for the month totaled a record for MBUSA overall with sales of 26,642, up 9.0%, bringing the year-to-date total to 240,973 up 15.8%. "Despite the challenges of a storm of this magnitude and the incredible hardship in the Northeast, our strongest market, we managed to achieve another record month," said Steve Cannon, president and CEO, MBUSA. "We're still optimistic about ending this year with the highest sales in our history." Mercedes-Benz sales for the month of October were led by the C-, E- and GLK-Class model lines. The sporty C-Class – the gateway to the Mercedes-Benz brand on the car side for younger and first-time Mercedes-Benz buyers – took the lead with sales of 7,636, up 7.8%. The 9th generation E-Class followed with sales of 5,265 and MBUSA's restyled compact SUV, the GLK-Class, rounded out the top three with sales of 2,943 up 18.0%. Additionally, the sporty SLK roadster sold 435 vehicles for the month, up 105.2%. At the high end, the all-new iconic sixth generation 2013 SL roadster – which debuted in showrooms this past spring -- posted sales of 574 yielding an increase of 567.4% and the 28 SLS AMG supercars sold this month made for a 115.4% increase over the same period last year. On a year-to-date basis, top performers were the C-Class with 65,376, the E-Class with 50,061 and the M-Class with 29,966. Sales of the high-performance AMG models were up 35.5% for the year at 5,512 compared to the 4,069 vehicles sold over the same time last year. Sales of the company's BlueTEC diesel models were up 14.2% for the year at 12,142 compared to the 10,630 diesels sold over the same period last year. The company's smart brand continued twelve consecutive months of sales increases. October sales of 998, were a 205.2% increase over October 2011 (327), bringing the year-to-date volume to 8,309, up 443.8% when compared to the 1,528 vehicles sold by MBUSA last year. When compared to the combined Penske and MBUSA sales year-to-date last year (4,084), sales are up 103.5%. On the van side, Sprinter had a strong month with 1,666 vehicles sold in October, up 12.2% over last year and up 22.5% on a year-to-date basis. Separately, through the Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned (MBCPO) program, MBUSA sold 6,732 vehicles in October; an increase of 20.8% when compared to October 2011 (sales of 5,571 vehicles). On a year-to-date basis, MBCPO sold 66,318 vehicles, an increase of 5.4% over the comparable period (with sales of 62,929 vehicles).
  17. IRVINE, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today reported October U.S. sales of 18,622 vehicles, representing an increase of 1.6 percent versus last year. Year-to-date sales through October are up 8.8 percent (8.4 percent DSR) versus last year, with 228,104 vehicles sold. Key October sales notes: Mazda2 celebrated its best-ever October, up 18 percent year-over-year with 1,124 vehicles sold. Mazda3 also achieved its best October ever with 9,518 vehicles sold, up 34 percent year-over-year. In particular, the SKYACTIV-equipped model represented 81.5 percent of all Mazda3 vehicles sold for the month. Sales of the all-new 2013 Mazda CX-5 remain hot as it reported 3,778 sales while continuing to be inventory driven, with only 29 days of supply available. In the U.S., Mazda's total SKYACTIV® TECHNOLOGY vehicle sales for October (comprised of CX-5 and certain models of Mazda3) account for 61.9 percent of the company's total sales for the month.
  18. IRVINE, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Kia Motors America (KMA) today announced best-ever October sales with 42,452 units sold, a 12.6-percent increase over the same period in 2011. October once again saw KMA's U.S.-built* vehicles – the Optima midsize sedan and Sorento CUV – take the top sales honors. Kia's year-to-date sales are up 17.8-percent over 2011. Awareness, perception and consideration for the Kia brand continue to improve through a series of high-profile partnerships and initiatives. In October, Kia debuted a new Optima ad campaign featuring NBA superstar and brand ambassador Blake Griffin, and unveiled four Justice League superhero-inspired custom cars at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. "The Kia brand continues to grow and mature in the U.S. market and with seven all-new and refreshed vehicles scheduled to arrive in showrooms in 2013, including the all-new 2014 Forte sedan and redesigned Sorento that will be unveiled at this month's Los Angeles Auto Show, Kia will continue its efforts to advance value to new levels of sophistication," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.
  19. Porsche Reports Record Sales Month; 41 percent increase over last October YTD sales up 13 percent over 2011 ATLANTA, Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), importer and distributor of Porsche sports cars, Cayenne SUVs and the Panamera four-door sports sedan line-up in the United States, today announced October 2012 sales of 3,211 vehicles. This compares to 2,270 vehicles sold last October, for an increase of 41 percent. For the year, Porsche has sold 28,226 cars in the U.S., a 13 percent increase over last October's year-to-date sales of 24,934. Sales of the new Porsche Boxster and 911 models were extremely strong for the month. The 911 increased nearly 34 percent versus last October. In addition, the Cayenne sport utility experienced gains of 64 percent versus last October. The newly-launched Cayenne Diesel and Cayenne GTS models contributed to this result. "The market continues to be very responsive to our freshest line-up ever," said Detlev von Platen, President and CEO, Porsche Cars North America. "This makes us optimistic to keep this strong momentum for the future. The new Boxster, in particular, has quickly become a segment-leader again, collecting accolades by media outlets and consumers alike." Porsche Approved Certified Pre-Owned vehicle sales were 708 for October 2012, an 8 percent increase over October 2011. Year-to-date, Porsche has sold 8,078 CPO models, an 11 percent increase versus the same period last year.
  20. NISSAN NORTH AMERICA ANNOUNCES OCTOBER SALES FRANKLIN, Tenn. (Nov. 1, 2012) – Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) today reported October U.S. sales of 79,685 units versus 82,346 units a year earlier, down 3.2 percent. Nissan Division sales decreased 6.0 percent for the month at 70,928 units. Sales of Infiniti vehicles were up 27.6 percent over the prior year, to 8,757 units. NISSAN HIGHLIGHTS Nissan Division posted sales of 70,928 units, down 6.0 percent from last October’s 75,484 units. Sales of the all-new, 2013 Altima increased 12.8 percent to 24,623 units. The all-new Altima debuted this summer. Calendar year-to-date Altima sales now stand up 16.3 percent year-over year. The Nissan LEAF all-electric vehicle recorded strong sales of 1,579 units in October, up 86 percent from the prior year. Sales of the Pathfinder SUV rose 46.9 percent over the prior year, with sales of 3,043 units. The next-generation Pathfinder will debut later this month. “Unfortunately, October ended on a down note with Hurricane Sandy causing major disruption throughout the Northeast, which is our strongest performing region with more than 225 area dealers. To lend a helping hand to those affected, Nissan is offering both employee discounts and employee financing to eligible residents in FEMA disaster areas,” said Al Castignetti, vice president, Nissan Division. More information on the program is available at www.insidenissan.com. INFINITI HIGHLIGHTS Infiniti today reported sales of 8,757 units for October, an increase of 27.6 percent from 6,862 units a year earlier. With 1,467 deliveries, the Infiniti QX was up 17.9 percent, making it the best October in history for the full-size luxury SUV. The Infiniti FX line, now available with a new 325-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 engine, was up 18.5 percent to 783 units. Infiniti’s all-new JX 7-passenger luxury crossover continued its successful launch with 2,084 units sold. The 2013 Infiniti M line, supported by newly available all-wheel drive sport packages for both the M37 and M56 models, had sales of 738, up 11.1 percent in October. Overall, with its luxury crossovers and SUVs showing sales increases of 93 percent in October, Infiniti was up 27.6 percent in October, its sixth straight month of double-digit sales increases. Infiniti also announced today it will offer employee pricing and special financing with deferred payments to people in the designated FEMA disaster area who lost vehicles to Hurricane Sandy. “We hope Infiniti’s special pricing and financing programs help people affected by this devastating storm to resume their normal lives,” said Ben Poore, vice president, Infiniti Americas. NOTE: To ensure consistency in global sales reporting, Nissan North America calculates monthly variances on a straight percentage basis, unadjusted for the number of selling days. October had 26 selling days both in 2012 and 2011.
  21. American Honda Reports October Sales: Double-Digit Accord Gains Fueled by All-New Model; Acura RDX Sets Record, Up 62 Percent Honda Division sales up 8.7 percent, Acura sales up 9.4 percent TORRANCE, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 – American Honda today reported October 2012 U.S. sales of 106,973 units, an increase of 8.8 percent compared with October 2011. The Honda Division posted October 2012 sales of 94,810 units, an increase of 8.7 percent compared with October 2011. Acura U.S. October sales of 12,163 units increased 9.4 percent compared with October 2011. Honda Accord leads all Honda vehicles in October with sales of 28,349 units, posting a 25-percent gain compared to the year prior, as production of all-new 2013 Accord has ramped up Civic gains 27 percent compared with October 2011 with sales of 20,687 units CR-V, Crosstour, Ridgeline and Fit all post October sales gains “The strong momentum of Honda sales continues despite the end-of-month timing of Hurricane Sandy, but our chief concern right now is with those who have been impacted by this devastating natural disaster,” said John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president of Sales. “With sales of the all-new Accord building each month, we look forward to Honda’s solid end-of-year finish.” Acura RDX sets its sixth-consecutive monthly sales record with 2,659 units, up 62 percent compared with October 2011 and is on track for an all-time annual sales mark MDX and RDX combine to set new October light-truck sales record of 6,476 units, up 18 percent from October 2011 “Acura’s one-two punch of luxury performance SUVs is obviously resonating with consumers, with new October records set for both RDX and our truck lineup,” said Jeff Conrad, vice president of Acura Sales. “With our sedan lineup growing stronger via the new ILX and the upcoming debut of the all-new Acura RLX, Acura continues to gain momentum.”
  22. Audi sets all-time U.S. October sales record with 14.5% increase, marking 22th consecutive month of record sales Premium category vehicles (A8, A7, A6, and Q7) represent nearly 34.1% of October Audi customer deliveries HERNDON, Va., Oct 31, 2012 - Audi today reported record-setting October sales of 11,708 new vehicles representing a 14.5% increase above the previous record set in October of last year. October also stands as the 22th consecutive month of record U.S. performance by the brand with the four rings. Sales of Audi premium category vehicles (the Audi A8, Audi A7, Audi A6, and Audi Q7) equal 34.1% of total October sales further demonstrating the brand’s upward mobility in the luxury sector. This was a 36% increase of premium vehicles sold. October sales momentum benefitted strongly from robust demand for the progressive Audi A8 and the technologically advanced Audi A6. The A8 generated a 54.7% sales increase for the month, powered by strong demand for the new S8 performance model. The A6 sales increased by 36.6% for the month and posted a 96.8% year-to-date gain when compared to the January-October period of 2011. Consumer interest in the efficient and sporty A3 contributed to a 59.7% increase in sales in October, while the redesigned Audi A4 contributed a 20.6% increase in sales. The Audi Q7 also performed favorably with an increase of 42.7% for the month of October. “The newly launched models in our performance lines – the Audi S6, S7, S8 and RS 5 – have been huge success stories by virtually selling out shortly after hitting showrooms,” said Mark Del Rosso, Chief Operating Officer, Audi of America. “It’s clear that premium car buyers are excited about the new generation of cars at the top of our lineup with the Audi A6, A7, A8 and Q7 models constituting 71% of our sales gain in October.” Highlights: October 2012 ranks as the best October in Audi of America history For the record-setting month of October 2012, five Audi models recorded year-over-year sales increases of 20% or more, including the Audi A3, the Audi A4, the Audi A8 and the Q7 models. Sales mix for Audi S models finished the month at 15% for the S4 and 41.3% for the S5/ RS 5 Audi A3 sales up 59.7% compared to October 2011; YTD sales grew 17.9% compared to previous period. Audi A4 sales up 20.6% compared to October 2011; YTD sales grew 8.2% compared to previous period. Sales of Audi A6 increased 36.6% compared to October 2011; YTD sales up 96.8% compared to previous period. Sales of Audi A7 increased 17.3% compared to October 2011; YTD sales up 47.7% compared to previous period. Sales of Audi A8 increased 54.7% compared to October 2011; YTD sales have equaled the previous period. Sales mix for Audi TDI clean diesel models finish the month at 44.5% for the A3 TDI and 28.5% for Q7 TDI Audi Certified pre-owned sales of 2,663 vehicles sold amounted to the second-best October in Audi history, despite the reduced inventory of available models for the program.
  23. VOLKSWAGEN REPORTS OCTOBER SALES - Company reports 34,311 units delivered, a 22.4 percent increase for the month of October- • Best October since 1972 with 34,311 units sold and a 22.4 percent increase over the prior year and a 35.6 percent increase year-to-date • Best year-to-date since 1973 • 26 consecutive months of year-on-year growth • Best October ever for Passat and Tiguan with 8,355 and 2,752 units sold respectively • Jetta Sedan achieved sales of 11,253 units • High-mileage, clean diesel TDI models account for 24 percent of sales in October Herndon, VA, Nov 1, 2012 - Volkswagen of America, Inc. (VWoA) today reported 34,311 units sold in October, a 22.4 percent increase over prior year sales, a 35.6 percent year-to-date increase and the best October since 1972. In just 10 months of sales, this marks the best calendar year since 1973. “In the wake of the East coast disaster, we would like to express our thoughts and concern for all affected,” said Jonathan Browning, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “In light of the difficult aftermath of hurricane Sandy, the Volkswagen of America Foundation is providing aid in the form of a donation to the American Red Cross in order to help with the relief efforts. Despite over 25 percent of our dealers being impacted by the severe storm conditions, Volkswagen was able to increase sales by over 20 percent and deliver the best October in nearly 40 years – a testament to the resilience and strength of our dealer body.” The Volkswagen of America Foundation announced yesterday that it would make an immediate donation of $500,000 to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief to provide support for affected areas across the northeast. The donation will help cover costs of shelter, food, recovery and other assistance to families affected by the storm. Additionally, Volkswagen will provide matching funds to any employee donations made to the American Red Cross or the organization of their choosing. The Volkswagen Passat, which was recently added to Consumer Reports recommended list, continues its successful year with 8,355 units sold in October. Jetta sedan, including the enthusiast GLI model, remains the volume leader for Volkswagen with sales totaling 11,253 while Jetta SportWagen totaled 2,223. The Jetta turbo hybrid, which will go on sale later this year, recently achieved a Land Speed Record at Bonneville, posting 187 mph, a record speed for hybrid vehicles. The Beetle continues to gain momentum with 2,439 units sold. The Beetle convertible will make its debut later this month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Golf/GTI/Golf R had total sales of 2,914 units. The Tiguan sold 2,752 units, the best October ever for the vehicle, while the Volkswagen Touareg sold 965 units, a 33.1 percent increase. Volkswagen continued sales success with its TDI models, the Passat, Tiguan and Golf all had the best year-to-date sales ever with 75,779 TDIs sold, a 29.9 percent increase year-to-date.
  24. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 24, 2012 Back in August, I had the chance to drive the new 2013 Mazda CX-5 for a week. The CX-5 featured the whole suite of Mazda’s SKYACTIV tech; engine, transmission, and lightweight construction. But what happens when you only take two out of the three parts of SKYACTIV? Well, you get the 2012 Mazda3i which comes equipped with the SKYACTIV engine and transmission. Does having two parts of SKYACTIV make the 3i a competent compact car or not? The 3’s exterior looks pretty much the same as it was introduced back in 2009, a design that doesn’t go for the cliché of the month. Up front, the big grin grille has been toned down a little and the front headlights now have blue accent rings, quietly signifying that you’re driving a SKYACTIV model. Along the side, Mazda designers have embellished the front fenders and placed a set of sixteen-inch alloy wheels into the wheel wells. Inside the 3, the same story applies. The interior is draped in black trim and seats. Thankfully, Mazda has added some other colors to give some variation. This included some silver trim along the dash and adding variety of colors for the illumination of the gauges and center stack (blue, red, and white). Materials range from hard plastics on the dash to soft touch materials on the door rests. All of the materials feel like they should belong in a $25,000 vehicle. As for build quality, the 3i Hatchback passed with flying colors with no apparent gaps or loose pieces. The front seats are well-bolstered and provide a good amount of adjustments for both driver and passenger. Back-seat passengers will find a decent amount of headroom and legroom. Be forewarned though; the seats are really firm, meaning this isn’t really a good choice for long trips. Cargo space for the Mazda3 hatchback measures out to be 17.8 cu.ft. with the rear seats up and 42.8 cu.ft. with the rear seats down. This puts the 3 hatchback on the smallish side when compared with the Ford Focus Hatchback and Hyundai Elantra GT. The 3 I had in for review was the top of the line Grand Touring trim that comes equipped with heated leather seats, power driver’s seat, Bluetooth, sunroof, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 265-watt Bose CenterPoint audio system, color Multi-Information Display, and navigation. My biggest complaint with the 3’s interior deals with the screens on the dash and the navigation. For starters, the Mazda3i comes with two screens. The screen the left is where trip computer, information about what you’re listening to, and navigation. To the right is where another screen displays what input you’re listening to. I feel this layout is just somewhat redundant and confusing. Also, the left screen is on the smallish side. Taking a quick glance at the screen is somewhat of a joke. Then there is the navigation system, which resides in the left screen, meaning you have to deal with smallness. Plus, if you want to enter an address or destination, you have to you use controls on the steering wheel to do it. This is slow way to input a destination and made me wish for a touchscreen. Hopefully with the next-generation 3, Mazda condenses the two screens into one. Next: Power, Ride, and Verdict Powering the 3i is Mazda’s 2.0L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder producing 155 HP (@ 6000 RPM) and 148 lb-ft (@ 4100 RPM). If you decide to get a 3i Grand Touring model, you can only equip it with a six-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic. Want a manual? You’ll have to drop to the 3i Touring model. Compared to the CX-5 with the same powertrain, the 3i's difference is night and day.The sluggishness and need to rev the engine in the CX-5 is non-existent in the 3. Instead, the SKYACTIV-G is very spritely and willing to get you up to speed quickly. The six-speed automatic delivered smooth and quick shifts. Also, I found the transmission to downshift much quicker than in the CX-5. What’s the reason for different engine behavior in the two vehicles? Weight. The CX-5 FWD Touring I had back August tipped the scales at 3,272 lbs. The Mazda3i Grand Touring Hatchback tips the scales at 2,969 lbs. That’s a difference of 303 lbs. The EPA rates the Mazda3i Grand Touring Hatchback at 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week was a surprising 34 MPG on mostly rural and suburban roads. On the freeway, I averaged 40 MPG. Mazda’s are known for their fun to drive aspect in their vehicles and the 3 is no exception to this. Mazda employs Macpherson struts up front; a multi-link setup in the back, stabilizer bars, and a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. All of these components make the 3 a joy to drive on your favorite road. The suspension keeps the vehicle in check and controllable when going into the turns. The steering is weighted just right and provides the right amount of road feel. With the 3 being lively on a fun road, it does fall short when on a day to day basis. The suspension doesn’t cope well with minimizing the impacts of bumps and imperfections on the road. There is also a good amount of road noise, meaning you’ll have to speak a little bit louder to your passengers. Going back to the question I asked in the first paragraph: Does having two out of three parts of SKYACTIV make the Mazda3i a competent compact car or not? The answer is a resounding yes. By adding the SKYACTIV powertrain package, Mazda has revitalized the 3 to better compete with the current crop of compact cars with improved gas mileage and some very impressive handling. There are some shortfalls with the Mazda3i which include a rough ride for day to day driving, a surprising amount of road noise, confusing screens, and some uncomfortable seats. But if you can overlook the problems, the Mazda3i Hatchback is possibly the best balance of fun and efficiency in the compact car class. Cheers: Fuel Economy SKYACTIV-G Engine Much More Lively Quick and Smooth Automatic Unique Styling Sporty Ride Jeers: The Two Screens on the Dash Seats Becoming Uncomfortable After Awhile Interior Cargo Space On Small Side Sporty Ride Not Pleasant on Rough Roads Road Noise Disclaimer: Mazda provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline. Year - 2012 Make – Mazda Model – 3 Trim – i Grand Touring Hatchback Engine – 2.0L SKYACTIV-G Four-Cylinder Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, SKYACTIV-Drive Six-Speed Automatic Horsepower @ RPM – 155 HP (@ 6,000 RPM) Torque @ RPM – 148 lb-ft (@ 4,100 RPM) Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/39/32 Curb Weight – 2,969 lbs Location of Manufacture – Houfu, Japan Base Price - $23,150.00 As Tested Price - $25,345.00 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge) William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.
  25. William Maley Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com October 23, 2012 "For your dealership to take full advantage of the refreshed Civic and the marketing we will have supporting it you must greatly increase the turn rate on our 2012 Civics. With the unprecedented enhancements we have made to the current Civic after its first year in its cycle you will want to have little to no Civics on hand at arrival time of this refreshed 2013 model. The changes made to the 2013 model will make the outgoing 2012 Civic a difficult model sell when they are side to side. I strongly encourage you to discuss your Civic inventory situation with your district manager today, and set up a sell down strategy that will reduce your total remaining model year 2012 Civics by a minimum of 60% before December 1, 2012. I cannot stress enough, sell down of your 2012 Civics is critical to the 2013 Civic launch and the success of inventory balance at your dealership." This excerpt is from a letter by David Hendley, Assistant Vice President of Honda National Sales that was given to Autoblog by an anonymous tipster. Hendley's letter also gives some hints as to what to expect in the 2013 Civic. The 2013 Civic will address the 2012 Civic's interior by having "upgrades and improvements to bring more sophistication and quality to its appearance." Outside, the 2013 Civic will get "dramatic improvements to the exterior styling that moves Civic into a more premium sporty direction." The 2013 Honda Civic goes on sale on November 29, 2012. Source: Autoblog William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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