Payday Loans

By 2g1c2 girls 1 cup

Welcome to the 2011 North American International Auto Show, or with apologies to Monty Python, We’re Not Dead Yet! Ford and Chevrolet won the North American Car (Chevy Volt) and Truck (Ford Explorer) of the Year Awards, which really annoyed Hyundai, Nissan and Chrysler (which had the runners-up). The show must go on, and it sure does this year. Not as many truly exciting, hot cars, but lots of good stuff. Read on for the details and what you must see if you go.

Chrysler

  • Chrysler reminds me of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, when he said, “I’ll be back.” Last year, the Chrysler stand was sad. It made you feel like they had given up. No longer. Almost the entire lineup has been made over in the last 18 months, since Fiat took over. Still no Jeep waterfall, though. Read on for the highlights.
  • Chrysler 300 has a more refined look, but is a bit cartoonish now. It also has a new interior and better ride and handling. It has clearly gone further upscale. The 300 has the new 3.6L “Pentastar” engine, which is a wonderful new engine. Gets 280+ hp (depending on the vehicle) and pretty decent mileage.
  • Chrysler 200 replaces the Sebring. It is not a completely new vehicle, but it’s way better than the Sebring in every way, including looks. Very nice update. Also gets the Pentastar.
  • Chrysler Town & Country has a nicer interior and a very modest exterior update. Also gets the Pentastar.
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the major new products from the Pentastar company this year. It’s way better than its predecessor. There’s also a 70th Anniversary edition to see, which is even nicer. Also gets the Pentastar.
  • Jeep Compass now has the Grand Cherokee’s front end, which is a huge improvement, but the rest of it looks mostly the same. The side, rear and interior still are lacking. It’s better, but not good.
  • Dodge Grand Caravan – see Town & Country
  • Dodge Durango is now a 3-row Grand Cherokee with a Dodge front end. That’s not to say it isn’t good. It is. It just looks too much like its platform-mate to me. Also gets the Pentastar.
  • Dodge Charger gets the same treatment as the 300. At first glance, it looks too much like the old one. However, the details are all new. The scooped out side, the taillamps and the grill all look great. The interior is very good too. Also gets the Pentastar.
  • Dodge Avenger gets much of the same treatment as the 200, but the exterior changed much less. Also gets the Pentastar.
  • Dodge Journey looks very much the same, but gets a nice update to the interior, new suspension improvements and also gets the Pentastar.
  • Ram Laramie Longhorn – I’ll ignore the obvious joke about crossbreeding here, and say that this is the ultimate blinged pickup. It out King Ranch’s the King Ranch. Clearly, the Ram designers didn’t see Blazing Saddles (“Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges.”).
  • Fiat 500 – several models in different colors are there in all their cuteness, including a 1970 vintage that is half the size of the new one.

Ford Motor Company

  • Ford Vertrek “Concept” – preview of new Escape and European Kuga. I4 engines only, but because this is a “concept”, there aren’t many details. No word on whether a manual will be available. Looks like the 5-seat C-Max Energi (see below).
  • Ford Focus – in dealer showrooms soon. Ford also unveiled the electric Focus. Ford will only say that its range will be more than the Nissan Leaf’s. Ford is showing a hot-rod ST version. Love the wheels!
  • Ford C-Max – Ford sells 2 versions of this micro-van in Europe: C-Max and Grand C-Max. C-Max is a 5-seater, while Grand C-Max is a 7-seater, or as Ford calls it, “5+2” because the 3rd row is very small. So Ford will sell the Grand C-Max here and just call it C-Max. Also, Ford will sell a hybrid (“C-Max Hybrid”) and a plug-in hybrid (“C-Max Energi”) version of the 5-seater, and still use the C-Max name. Got that? The C-Max is similar to the Mazda5, but before you think it’s too small, consider this: it’s bigger in every dimension (length, width and height) than the original minivan, the 1984 Dodge Caravan.
  • Also new at is the 2011 Ford Explorer, just recently on sale. Prices start at $28,995. This is a major change to the former best-selling SUV. No longer does it ride on a truck platform. Now it shares its mechanicals with the Flex and Taurus. It still has decent off-road credentials though, and it was named North American Truck of the Year. Check out the power-folding 3rd row seats (Flex has the same ones).
  • Flex fuel has come to the Ford F-250, but in this case, it means B20 (not E85). That means it can run on Diesel with up to 20% biodiesel mix. Also, the Ford badge on the front of this thing deserves its own zip code!
  • Speaking of Flex, there is a new version of the giant box called Titanium. This is Ford’s new high-end series. The Ford Flex Titanium on display has a sticker of $50,000. Wow!
  • The only thing exciting at the Lincoln stand is the 1965 Lincoln Continental (there’s also one at the DUB display). Amazing, a Lincoln with an actual name. Who woulda thunk it? Prediction: one day, real names will make a comeback, as a “retro” thing.
  • Ford’s display also has its own demo ride of 2 electric cars. You can get a ride (you can’t drive) in an electric Transit Connect and an electric Focus. In the middle of the track is a dynamometer, where they can accelerate up to about 45 mph without risk of plowing through the GM display.

General Motors

  • 2012 Chevrolet Sonic – replaces the Aveo, which nobody can pronounce. Sonic is a better name, and looks nicer, but will Chevy sell these through the burger chain of the same name? What about the Hedgehog version? Same engines as the Cruze (1.4L I4 Turbo and 1.8L I4) in a smaller, lighter package! It will be available as a sedan and a 5-door hatch. The hatch has the same general shape as the Chevy Orlando shown (LAST YEAR?) and somewhat odd rear door handles. It also has an odd speedo display. Overall, a bit quirky, but that will help it get through the clutter. People will notice it.
  • Camaro Convertible – shown last year (?), but worth another look. Adding the convertible will help the sales momentum (BTW, Camaro outsold Mustang in 2010 for the first time since (WHEN) – and that’s with only a coupe.
  • Volt – not new (it’s been at the show for about 17 years), but this is the first time you can get in and really check it out. So check it out! Really nice interior!
  • Cruze – on actual display is a Cruze with a proper 6-speed manual tranny! I was beginning to think that manuals went out of style along with actual names that are real words. Check out the Cruze LT with the red fabric seats. The dash material matches the seats, so the dash has the fabric. Nice look.
  • Buick Regal – was there last year, but now it’s for sale. A true European sports sedan from Buick (it’s virtually the same as the Opel Insignia, which won the European Car of the Year). One question: when does the damn manual come out already?
  • Buick Verano – out later this year, the Verano looks like a Regal that shrunk in the wash, which is good, because the Regal looks great. Standard powertrain is a 2.4L I4 with a 6-speed auto transmission. A 2.0L Turbo will be available later. No word on whether it will have the all-important 3rd pedal on the floor. The Verano is based on the same architecture as the Chevy Cruze. Buick apparently rejected the name Bruze and Cruick. Verano is Spanish for summer, so I’ll be waiting for the obvious convertible version at next year’s show.
  • GMC is showing the Sierra All-Terrain HD Concept. It’s a true off-road pickup that certainly looks the part. It doesn’t really look like a concept. Looks ready to go. Unfortunately for GMC, Ram already has this on the market. It’s called the PowerWagon.

Volkswagen

  • We are witnessing nothing short of the downfall of this company. They are going down the road to oblivion, and it’s all because of their egomaniac CEO, who wants to conquer the (automotive) world and overtake Toyota as the biggest. Look where that got Toyota. The newest products (Jetta and Passat) are too mainstream, too dumbed-down. They’ve lost the soul of a VW. They may very well increase sales, but at what cost? My only hope is that VW’s “other” brands (Audi, Lamborghini and Porsche) are spared this fate. In the goal to be bigger, VW is losing the cache that has made them loved by their customers. Sounds a little like Toyota’s recent problems. Be careful what you wish for, VW. You just might get it
  • That said, I think the new Jetta and Passat are pretty nice looking, if bland. They look too much like each other, though. If others and I need to look at the badge on the back to tell the difference, they’re too similar.
  • 2012 Passat – the car formerly known as NMS (new midsize sedan) that will be built at VW’s new plant in Tennessee was anointed as Passat. 3 engines – 2.5L I4 (170HP), 3.6L V6 (280HP) and a Diesel that VW claims will have an 800-mile highway range. It looks nice and more directly competes with Camry and Accord
  • CC – still the best-looking car VW makes. Love it.
  • 2012 Audi A6 – beautiful update. Won Eyes on Design award at the show. Will include a hybrid model.
  • 2012 Audi A7 – a new beautiful design in the “4-door coupe” family that began with the Mercedes CLS, but with Audi’s wonderful styling.
  • Porsche returns to the show after X year absence. 918 RSR is a race car version of the 918 spyder shown at last year’s Geneva autoshow. 4.5L V8 makes 565HP at 10,300 rpm (holy crap!). electric motors on the front axle add another 200, but only for 8 seconds at a time. Like an afterburner.

Toyota

  • Prius family – in a surprise to nobody, Toyota has decided to make Prius a family of vehicles, like a sub-brand. All of the product experts are wearing t-shirts that say, “Prius Goes Plural” and there is also a sign that says “Prium” like that’s the plural of Prius. Cute, but they might have a problem from the Jewish lobby, which will argue that Prium sounds too much like Purim. So the new models are a plug-in, a wagon (Prius v) and a smaller model (Prius c), which appears to be based on the FT-CH concept from last year.
  • Sienna has a new design. Looks pretty good, but it is a van. The 2nd row slides fore/aft, and the 3rd row folds into the floor very easily, but all of the instruction and warning stickers will intimidate you at first. It’s much easier than it appears, but not as easy as Honda’s.
  • There’s also a Sienna Swagger Wagon concept, which plays off of the Sienna Swagger wagon commercial. It’s a Sienna limo, and it’s pretty ridiculous.
  • Lexus has the CT200h, its latest hybrid. What’s odd here is the imagery that Lexus is using for this vehicle. “Welcome to the Darker Side of Green” is loudly exclaimed in big bold letters. Smaller letters on the info stand say, “43 MPG Hybrid with and Attitude.” I’m not quite sure how this little hybrid that goes 0-60 in 9.8 seconds got the attitude, but somebody (like maybe the 392 Dodge Challenger) is going to kick its butt if it shows any of this attitude on the playground.
  • The Scion iQ is one of the smallest cars you will ever see. It’s slightly bigger than a smart fortwo at 120” long, but it seats 4. Actually, it’s “3+1” (what’s with all the math in seating these days?). This means (I had to ask) that it will hold 3 adults, plus 1 kid/dog in the rear seat behind the driver, where there is virtually no room. Still, it’s way more practical than the smart, and it’s way more of a “real” car – at least, Aston Martin thinks so. 1.3L (“90+ HP”) engine, 8.5 gallon fuel tank, 2116 lbs.
  • In the corner of Toyota’s display is a very big video board, which they use to play commercials (including the Swagger mentioned above) and other propaganda. One of these pieces touts how the Sienna is made in America and how many jobs it supports. While it is true that it is made in America, the piece comes off as being a bit desperate. Grabbing at straws. My, how the mighty have fallen.

Hyundai/Kia

  • Hyundai and Kia are the only parts of the same company that are not right near each other on the show floor. I don’t have an opinion about it; I just find it interesting.
  • Hyundai Sonata – already successful as a gas-engine car, the hybrid breaks new ground. It uses a lithium polymer battery, the first such use in a production car. It can go up to 74 MPH on electric power. Compare that to the Ford Fusion Hybrid, which can go “only” 47 on electric. It’s incredibly aerodynamic, with a Cd of .25. The Fusion is .33.
  • Hyundai Elantra – new for 2011, this is a great-looking vehicle. Starts under $15K.
  • Hyundai Curb Concept – small SUV concept built off the Tucson. Likely won’t be built, but the styling might find its way into a future model. Looks good.
  • Hyundai Veloster – this 2012 model has some looks from the Nissan 370Z in the back, buck-tooth beaver in the front. It also has a 3-door design, with a rear door only on the passenger side.
  • Hyundai Equus – Hyundai moves even further upscale and bigger. Starts at $58,000. One cool feature that I think is unique is a front camera. Hyundai calls it “Forward-view Cornering Camera” and it gives you a 180° view from the front of the car. Could help pulling out of a parking garage or when parking in a tight spot. It only works at low speeds (under 10mph).
  • Kia Optima – really nice looking car inside and out
  • Kia Sportage – new for 2011 (?). Really good looking.
  • Kia KV7 Concept – after some very interesting designs that actually show originality of thought, Hyundai/Kia are back to their old tricks. Calling this a “modern-day activity vehicle”, Kia has blatantly stolen the design of the Ford Flex here, except for the huge gull-wing door (which would never make it to production anyway).

BMW

  • BMW obviously has been reading The Slandy Report. For 2 years, we have pointed out the irony of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” not having a single manual transmission on their stand. This year, they’ve stepped up and are showing 3 actual manual transmission cars. You’re welcome.
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that BMW still has a few vehicles that are just horrible. In increasing order of stupid, they are the X5, 5-Series GT and the X6. The Ultimate Driving Machine has too many vehicles that are overweight, bloated and are simply not vehicles for people who love driving. There. I feel better now.
  • 2012 BMW 650i Convertible – $91,000, 400HP, 450 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 in 4.9!
  • 2012 1-Series M Coupe – the littlest BMW gets an M version and a mild facelift. Good news for the most BMW-like BMW. The “M” is $47K, 335HP and goes 0-60 in 4.7!
  • Mini Countryman – if you haven’t seen this yet, check it out. It’s a very small SUV at 162” total length, about the same as a Kia Soul. Just a bigger Mini Cooper. Same powertrains.
  • Mini Paceman concept – Mini calls it a “sport activity coupe”, but it is a 2-door version of the Countryman.

Honda

  • Civic concept – with minor differences, this looks like a scaled-down Accord Coupe to me. It’s nice looking, but hardly original. Just another in a long line of uninspired designs from Honda.
  • Odyssey – the new look doesn’t appeal to me (see Civic comment). It looks like pieces of different designs cobbled together. It is a great seller, though, so they must be doing something right. One of those things is the magic seat, Honda’s name for its folding 3rd row seat. It is clearly the best, with only 1 very easy step to fold the seat away. Takes about 3 seconds.

Others

  • Subaru Impreza Concept – officially a concept, but this looks close to production-ready. Nice looking.
  • Mazda 5 – updated for 2012. Has interesting character lines (3) flowing on the sides.
  • 2012 Land Rover Evoque – on sale later this year, this new Land Rover will come in 2-door and 4-door versions. It is a radical departure from the styling of any Land Rover you’ve ever seen.
  • Volvo is showing the S60, S60 “R Design” and XC60. All are beautiful new vehicles. They all also have a very confusing array of buttons cluttering their dashboards. The S60 R Design is not the old S60R. It has the same engine as the S60, and no manual. It has revised transmission software, suspension, struts and fascias to make it special, but don’t think you’re going to get more go for your dough. You won’t.
  • Mercedes-Benz showed the SLS AMG E-Cell the car. Forget what the car actually is, it’s the paint job that’s interesting. It’s bright, neon yellow with a matte finish, which M-B accentuates with black lights.

The Slandy Awards® 2011

Slandy Best in Show: Hyundai Sonata Blue Drive

Honorable Mention: Hyundai Elantra, Audi A6, Ram Laramie Longhorn, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Buick Verano, Ford C-Max, Ford Explorer

Lost Their Way Award: a 3-Way Tie goes to BMW, Honda and Mercedes-Benz. BMW and M-B have put a product in every conceivable niche (real or imagined) and in so doing have dilluted their brands and assembled such an array of confusing and overlapping (and in some cases, stupid) vehicles that I dare anybody to even name them, let alone describe their reason for being. Honda just can’t seem to design anything good anymore. Gone are the days of Honda designs exciting anybody.

Post tags: