Payday Loans

Well, here it is, the 2010 NAIAS. Welcome to Detroit! Just to keep you interested, we now have a sane Detroit City Council, a mayor who’s not in jail, AND neither the Red Wings or Pistons is in first place this year! To lighten the mood from all the bad news, the management of NAIAS decided to entertain the crowds with a special performance by GM Chairman and CEO “Big Ed” Whitacre and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne at the Charity Preview Friday night. Many of the rest of the industry CEOs also appear in the show. See if you can find them. This is an unauthorized video of the dress rehearsal.

2010 NAIAS Must-See Cars and Trucks

General Motors

  • Chevy Aveo RS Concept – hints at the next-gen small car from the bowtie crowd.  The concept has the same 1.4L turbo I-4 engine making 138hp that will power the upcoming Chevy Cruze later this year.  It has 19″ wheels and boy-racer styling that shows off the customizing potential of the new Aveo, which debuts in 2011.
  • Chevy Cruze – first showing of the production version in Detroit.  This might be GM’s most significant launch in years, as GM has neglected the small car segment for a long time.  GM figures the Cruze will change its fortunes.  It looks good, but time (and the customers) will tell. It’s already a hit overseas.
  • Buick Regal and Regal GS “Concept” – oddly, the first GM division to have a product that I really want is Buick.  This is a sporty, midsize sedan with a great motor and a manual tranny and all-wheel drive. The standard engine at launch is the 2.4L I-4 (automatic only) already used in other GM products.  Later this year, the turbo 2.0L will be available with auto or manual tranny.  What’s not to like…errr, besides the name Buick?  I’m not one to care too much about badges (Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!), so this will be high on my list for my next car.  Buick wanted this car ASAP, so initially, it will be imported from Germany.  Production shifts to Oshawa, Ontario first quarter, 2011.
  • GMC Granite – this little guy is a 2 feet shorter than the new Terrain – GMC’s smallest entry – at 161″ (4.1m).  It’s a boxy SUV-like thing.  Seems to be aimed at Scion xB/Kia Soul customers.  GM says, “We think of the Granite as the automotive equivalent of an urban loft apartment.  The exterior has an unmistakable industrial look, but the interior is warm and personalized.”  I think this might be stretching the GMC “Truck” brand a bit too far.
  • Cadillac CTS Coupe – first showing in Detroit of the production version of the CTS, which GM showed as a concept last year.  Just as striking in production form, the coupe, along with the sedan and wagon, completes the CTS portfolio.  The only remaining piece would be a convertible.  Are you listening Bryan Nesbitt?
  • Cadillac CTS-V Coupe – the body of the CTS Coupe (above) and the soul of the CTS-V sedan already on the roads.  Same powertrain at the CTS-V sedan, but it’s worth repeating: 556 horsepower/551 lb.-ft. of torque from a supercharged 6.2L V8, it is the most powerful engine offered in Cadillac’s history and propels the CTS-V Coupe from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds.
  • Cadillac XTS Platinum “Concept” – Cadillac calls this a concept, but it really isn’t. This is the replacement for both the STS and DTS sedans in Caddy’s lineup.  It has beautiful lines and proportions, which will give Caddy a credible competitor in the large premium segment for the first time in many years.  It’s big (203″/5170mm) but doesn’t seem so big.  It is powered by a plug-in hybrid system mated to a 3.6L V6 motor.

Ford

  • Focus – goes into production late this year and goes on sale early 2011 in NA and Europe.  Available in 4-door sedan and 5-door hatch models, the new Focus looks great! The styling is excellent, and the front-end has a certain familiarity.  Hmmmmm, what could it be?  It will have a revised 2.0L I4 engine that is 20% more powerful and 10% more efficient than its predecessor.
  • Fiesta – shown before, but this was my first opportunity to sit in one.  This ain’t your father’s econobox.  Push-button start, USB and aux inputs, heated seats, accent-lighted cupholders, 1.6L I-4 engine that will get 40 mpg on the highway.  Cons?  Just two noticed – the back seat is very cramped for an adult.  Kids only for anything longer than a short trip. Also, the trunk has the old-style gooseneck hinges – watch out for your stuff when you close it!
  • 2011 Ford Mustang – not much new visually, but the 2011 Stang sports a pair of new engines. The 5.0 is back! The Mustang GT will have 412 HP and still get 25 MPG on the highway, while the new V6 is over 300 horsepower and 30 MPG on the highway.
  • 2011 Super Duty – introduced last September at the Texas State Fair, the Super Duty features new but familiar styling.  The big news is the new 6.7L Power Stroke Diesel engine.  Ford claims class-leading fuel economy, though because it is in the Super Duty, which isn’t required to post fuel economy figures on the label, we won’t really know, will we?  The truck also has the Ford Work Solutions package and the all-new heavy-duty TorqShift® six-speed automatic transmission.
  • F-150 Platinum – the new F-150 has been shown before, but this Platinum version, which was supposed to be the Mark LT before that vehicle was cancelled, is over $50-large!  Holy crap!
  • 2011 Lincoln MKX – world debut for the freshened luxury crossover.  Gone is the silly “egg crate” grille, replaced by the Lincoln “split-wing” grille.  It’s a welcome change.  Also welcome is the engine upgrade.  A 3.7L V6 replaces the 3.5L, giving you 305 hp/280 lb.-ft. of torque, up from 265/250.  Lincoln claims both figures are best-in-class, along with class-leading 25 MPG highway. The MKX will be the first product with the MyTouch system, which allows you to control and personalize many of the car’s functions from touch screens. The Slandy Report will have a separate report/review on that soon.
  • Volvo C30 electric – like some others, this isn’t anything interesting to look at, but Volvo probably figures they better have some environmentally-friendly entry on the floor or they’ll be left out when Ford sells them to Geely.
  • Active Park Assist Demo – tucked in the corner of Cobo behind the Lincoln display, Ford has a demo of its Active Park Assist system.  They use hybrid Escapes and Mariners so there are no emissions, and the system works awesome.  Do yourself a favor and at least go watch it, even if the line is too long to participate.

Chrysler

  • The most interesting thing about the Chrysler display is that there is almost nothing interesting. That might be a bit harsh. They are showing the Ram brand separate from the Dodge brand for the first time (but there are no new models to look at for either brand). And if “Ram” is the new brand for the trucks, why do they still say “Dodge” on them?
  • Fiat, Maserati and Ferrari are all with Chrysler this year, reflecting the equity stake Fiat took last year. Maybe they should have a sign that says, “Under New Management”. I have to say, the Italian models (both the 4 wheeled and 2 legged varieties) were the best things to look at here. I think this is the first showing of the Fiat 500 in Detroit.  Go check it out.  It’s cute.
  • Jeep says they are introducing 3 new “models” at the show, but it’s really just a few new trim packages.  There is a Liberty Renegade and Wrangler Islander and Mountain editions.  Nice to look at, but when Mike Manley (what a perfect name for the president of Jeep) calls them new models, that’s overstating a bit.
  • Even the 1 Chrysler concept, a small crossover from Chrysler, is unnamed and the nice young lady posing with it had no knowledge of it at all.  When I asked her about the name or some details about it, all she said was, “It’s a concept.”  Wow.  Thanks for that help.  But do go see it; it’s nice looking (and so is she).  Funny side note: a man with a camera tried to get her attention for a picture.  She naturally thought that he wanted her to pose with the vehicle.  After all, that’s why she’s there.  Nope.  He wanted her to move out of the way so he could get a better picture of the vehicle.  Oops.  Only in Detroit.  Wait…breaking news! One of my moles read The Slandy Report and tells me that the Chrysler “concept” isn’t really a concept at all. It’s a rebadged Lancia Delta from Fiat. Chrysler is apparently considering bringing the Delta to North America. They still could have given it a name for the show, and told somebody about it.

Toyota

  • Toyota Sienna – all-new 3rd generation adds a 2.7L 4-cylinder engine and a new SE sporty model. The 2.7L delivers 187hp/186 lb-ft of torque and 10% better fuel economy than the V6. Toyota calls it all-new, but unless a minivan is really all-new, it’s usually hard to tell one from the others. It’s a nice update, but it will be hard for most to tell the difference.  Except the SE, which really does give the Sienna a sporty look, to go along with the lowered and sporty suspension and larger wheels.
  • Toyota 4Runner – Toyota calls the 4Runner all-new as well, but it looks like it’s just a nice update. It’s interesting how Toyota outlasts other competitors.  Ford and GM are abandoning the “real” midsize SUV market, but Toyota stays in.  Same with minivans, above. Base prices range from $27,500 to $39,800.
  • Toyota FT-CH Concept – Toyota is showing this hybrid concept which is a cute little 5-door. The interesting thing is that its profile looks just like a Mazda3 5-door. Take a look and let me know if you agree.
  • Lexus LF-A – Let’s see.  $350,000 – lease only to prevent gouging. 4.8L V10 making 552hp/354 lb-ft of torque. Top speed = 202mph. 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. Lexus calls this a supercar, and it’s hard to argue. It’s hot and will be scorching roads near you soon. Maybe. Only 500 will be made, and only 20 per month, max. Each V10 engine will be hand-built by a single engineer and bear his signature.
  • Lexus GX460 – if there’s a new 4Runner, there must also be a new GX. See above.
  • Lexus LF-CH – see Toyota FT-CH, above. Including the Mazda comment.

Volkswagen

  • VW CC R-Line – this is a visual-only differentiation from the “regular” CC, which is a great-looking car. Others use the “R” designation to indicate speed enhancement. Not VW, apparently. Will John Fogerty sing the jingle?
  • VW New Compact Coupe (NCC) – this concept is really nice design, as most VWs are. It’s powered by a TSI engine, and electric motor and a 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). All this yields a 0-60 time of 8.1, top speed of 141 MPH and 45 MPG combined.
  • Audi A8 – all-new version of Audi’s flagship sedan. The exterior is beautiful, and the interior is maybe even more so, as you might expect from Audi. It will launch with a choice of 4.2L V8 engines – 1 gas (372hp/328 lb-ft of torque) and one Diesel (350/590!). Both will have direct injection. A 3.0L V6 Diesel will follow later, yielding 250/406, will get 36 combined MPG. Even later, a detuned V6 Diesel with 204HP will get 39 combined MPG, but drive only the front wheels. All other versions will have Quattro AWD standard. And the only transmission will be an 8-speed auto.
  • Audi e-tron concept electric sports car – I wish all these automakers would stop teasing us and just come out with these electric cars that are going to save the planet already! This one’s great-looking, and bears more than just a passing resemblance to the Audi TT.

Honda

  • 2011 Honda CR-Z – going on sale this summer, the CR-Z is the spiritual successor to the cult favorite CR-X from the 1980s. It’s also the first hybrid with a manual, which is expected to get 31/37 MPG. An optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) will get 36/38. Think of it as a sport coupe version of the Honda Insight.
  • Honda Crosstour – this is a Honda Accord with a big butt. It’s part of an annoying new “trend” in the me-too auto industry, where even the stupidest trend gets copied. Automakers are always looking for “white space”, which means an area in which there are no competitors. Sometimes, white space is “identified” where there really is none. Unfortunately, Honda has chosen to follow this trend twice, see below.
  • Acura ZDX – see Honda Crosstour

BMW

  • BMW 5 Series GT – also seems to be part of the Crosstour/ZDX trend. Has a clever hatch/trunk that opens all the way from a top hinge and part of the way from a lower hinge that only opens a cubbie-like opening.
  • BMW Active E Concept – this is a 1-Series with an electric motor.  Not much interesting to look at, but shows that BMW intends to play to the green crowd.
  • BMW Z4 sDrive35is – world debut of the newest and fastest version of the Z4 roadster. Not much new to look at, but goes 0-60 in 4.8 seconds and still gets 26 combined MPG. Impressive.
  • BMW is also showing a hybrid 7 Series and a hybrid X6.
  • Interesting side note – for the 2nd year in a row, there are no BMWs on the floor with a proper manual tranny.  None!  Once again, I call for a vote on whether they will be allowed to call themselves “the Ultimate Driving Machine” ever again.
  • Mini Beachcomber Concept – a fun-looking package that portends a modern-day dune buggy. The production version will actually have doors and will be called the Mini Countryman.
Hyundai
  • Hyundai Sonata – all-new and any auto manufacturer that isn’t worried isn’t paying attention. The Sonata is really good looking and packed with new features. It has standard direct injection engine and bluetooth. HD Radio and heated rear seats are available. Hyundai also dropped the V6 engine, figuring that the 2.4L I-4 direct injection engine, making 198hp and getting 23/35 MPG would satisfy everybody. They’re probably right.
  • Hyundai Equus – this is Hyundai’s new flagship. What’s that, you thought they just introduced a new flagship called the Genesis? You’re right, but now there’s a new one. This is a limo in Korea. It has a 4.6L V8 engine, a ridiculously roomy rear seat and a ridiculous hood ornament. But it’s really nice.
  • Hyundai Blue Will Concept – plug-in hybrid concept car that will supply the powertrain for the Sonata hybrid due late this year. Uses an advanced lithium polymer battery. The concept says Lithium Ion, but I was told that it’s really the polymer battery that they’re using. The charging port is cool, in that it pops out of the front grill where the Hyundai logo is located.
Mercedes-Benz
  • E-Class Cabriolet – together with the new sedan and coupe makes a beautiful family. It will come in E350 and E550 guises. Standard equipment includes the AIRCAP, which reduces air turbulence, and the AIRSCARF system, which directs warm air to your neck area, to keep your neck warm like a scarf, get it? Coming next, M-B will supply customers with a masseuse to rub your back when you get to your destination.
  • SLS AMG – recession, what recession? 563 ponies, 479 lb-ft, 2 gull-wing doors, 7-speed transmission and 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. No word yet on pricing, but you might need your own personal bailout to buy it. Of course, if you need to go to Washington to ask for the money, you could drive this. It will get you there faster than the corporate jet anyway.
Jaguar Land Rover
  • Jaguar XJ – new to Detroit, this is the new flagship from Jaguar. The front-end styling is like the XF, and the rear resembles the rear of the Lincoln MKS. It will come in 2 lengths, each with 3 versions (XJ, XJ Supercharged and XJ Supersport). All have 5.0L V8 engines. The XJ makes 385hp, the Supercharged makes 470hp and the Supersport (special order only) makes 510hp. Base prices range from $72,500 for the XJ to $115,000 for the XJL Supersport. They are beautiful, inside and out, as a Jaguar should be.
  • Land Rover LR4 – this is a new version of the LR3, which in turn was a revised Discovery. Revised styling makes it look more like the Range Rover. Shares the 5.0L engine with Jaguar. Base prices range from $48,100 to $59,200. Can’t say much, as I didn’t even notice it as I walked by.
Others
  • Mazda2 – the 2 is built on the same platform as the Ford Fiesta, but will be imported from Japan, while the Fiesta is made in Mexico for North American customers. Why? No idea, but it seems a little inefficient. Also, while the 2 comes in a 3-door and 5-door in other markets (and the Fiesta comes in many bodystyles around the world, including a 5-door hatch and 4-door sedan in the US), we will have to be satisfied with only the 5-door here.
  • Lotus Evora – a 2+2 from Lotus! Now I can take my kids go-karting! Using the words civilized and Lotus in the same sentence seems weird, but the Evora comes close to making it real. Like other Lotuses (Loti?), it has unique styling that will not appeal to everybody, but I like it.
  • Tesla Model S – the long-awaited family car from the electric car maker is almost here! I asked a Tesla employee if it is a 4 or 5-seater, and the answer was 7. Huh? Yes, it has a rear-facing seat for 2 like an old-style station wagon. When it comes out, it will have a 300 mile range, 0-60 in 5.6, a top speed of 130 and a projected price of $49,900.
  • Subaru Hybrid Tourer – pretty nice looking for a Subaru, but the car just shows off the technology that Subaru intends to use on a production hybrid to be launched in 2012.
  • BYD e6 – BYD is back again this year, again telling us that they will be coming to the US market with electric and hybrid vehicles – by the end of this year. The e6 is an electric “family-oriented crossover” that has a top speed of 87 and goes 0-60 in “<14 seconds”. Perhaps part of the problem is that it weighs over 5000 lbs! Still, BYD sold 450,000 cars in China last year, up 160% from 2008, and they plan to sell 800,000 this year. Watch out!

  • Electric Avenue – this is a new feature for NAIAS. About 20 vehicles are on display from an eclectic assortment of manufacturers. I kept waiting for Eddy Grant’s performance, but alas, he didn’t show up. Kids, ask your parents what that means. And then we’ll take it higher…
  • MEDC ECOXperience has a ¼-mile track to test drive some of the latest environmentally-friendly vehicles. Careful, though. They make you blow into a breathalyzer before they let you behind the wheel. See comment below in the awards. Scheduled vehicles include: Audi A3 TDI, Audi Q7 TDI, BYD e6, Cadillac Escalade Platinum Hybrid, Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell, Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, Commuter Cars Tango, CT&T eZone, EV Innovations 2010 LiV WISE, Ford Escape Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, GEM E4, GMC Yukon Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz B-Class Fuel Cell, Mercedes-Benz ML 450 Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid, Mercury Mariner Hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid, Mitsubishi iMiEV, Smart Car2go, Think City

The Slandy Awards® 2010

Slandy Best in Show Ford Focus
Honorable Mention: Lincoln MKX, Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, Cadillac XTS, Lexus LFA, VW NCC Concept, Tesla Model S, Jaguar XJ, Hyundai Sonata, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
WATT?/Most Annoying New Trend (A combined award this year, as this crop of crap fits both categories): Honda Accord Crosstour, Acura ZDX, Toyota Venza, BMW X6, BMW 550i GT
Lamest Corporate Display: Chrysler. They could have at least rolled out some concepts that we’ve seen before. Me thinks the cupboard is bare.
Best Overheard Quote: Dr. David Cole, of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), said that the automotive industry multiplier is now 10, up from 7. For you non-economists out there, the multiplier is the number of jobs an automotive job spawns in the economy. I think that the nearly 50% increase is mostly due to the reduction in automotive jobs, not an increase in the number of created jobs elsewhere. Nevertheless, this shows how important the automotive industry is to the overall North American economy and our way of life.
Best Conversation I Would Have Paid to Hear (or Best Candidate for a Caption Contest): GM Vice Chairman Bob “Global Warming is a crock of (poop)” Lutz and Tesla CEO Elon Musk walked the show together (it was staged for an upcoming movie by the same guy who produced “Who Killed the Electric Car?” The new one is called, “Revenge of the Electric Car”)


Best Models: Chrysler, especially its Italian cousins. BTW, the car on the right is the unnamed Chrysler concept crossover.


Best Food: a repeat winner. VW knows how to entertain the press! I had a turkey caesar salad, Asian Salmon, an apple fritter for dessert and enough white wine to almost make me ineligible to drive in the ECOXperience hours later!

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Ford sweeps car & truck honors

11th January 2010

Ford swept the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards announced today at the opening of preview week of the North American International Auto Show. The Ford Fusion Hybrid beat out the Buick Lacrosse and Volkswagen GTI for the car award, while the Ford Transit Connect beat the Chevrolet Equinox and Subaru Outback on the truck side.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid ups the ante on fuel economy in the midsize segment, achieving 41 MPG in the city, according to the EPA.  The entire Fusion line also benefitted from an extensive mid-cycle makeover this year, which also is helping sales.

The Transit Connect is a small delivery van that Ford is importing from Europe, at least for now.  This type of van sells very well overseas, and Ford is betting that North American customers will also see the benefit of a small, fuel-efficient van for businesses like floral delivery and plumbers.

This is only the third time in 17 years that these awards have been swept by a single manufacturer, and is further evidence that Ford’s product makeover is gaining traction.

That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

In a move that surprises nobody, Cadillac announced today that it will introduce the production version of the new CTS-V coupe at this month’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Obviously, the CTS-V coupe is the combination of the CTS coupe that Cadillac has show previously with the 556HP supercharged V8 motor from the CTS-V sedan.  It also includes Magnetic Ride Control, racing-bred Brembo brakes and an available automatic transmission with paddle-shift control.

The CTS-V Coupe employs the LSA 6.2L supercharged V-8 engine also found on the CTS-VSport Sedan. Rated at 556 horsepower (415 kW) and 551 lb.-ft. of torque (747 Nm), it is the most powerful engine offered in Cadillac’s history and propels the CTS-V Coupe from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

A pair of six-speed transmissions is offered in the CTS-V Coupe: a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual with a dual-disc clutch and a Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic with paddle-shift control. Performance Algorithm Shifting is part of the auto’s programming and provides a performance-oriented shift pattern during sustained high-performance driving. As with other Cadillac models, the driver needs only to slide the shifter into the manual “gate” to put the transmission into that more aggressive mode.  As I have told you in previous stories, this car should only be ordered with the manual.  Why?  Because it has 3 pedals on the floor – as God intended.  The auto is only offered because some of you can’t/won’t drive a manual – and Cadillac needs the sales.

So what is “Magnetic Ride Control”?  It is an advanced suspension system also found on the Corvette.  GM describes it like this:

Electronic sensors at all four wheels literally “read the road” every millisecond, making constant adjustments to damping to create virtually instantaneous and extremely precise control of body motions. This is of particular benefit for a high-performance car because it helps keep the car very composed during hard cornering, acceleration, braking and other dynamic maneuvers.

The Magnetic Ride shocks also enable a broader range of damping control to optimize the ride and handling for all driving conditions. In the CTS-V Coupe, an extra measure of control is offered, with two selectable modes (Tour and Sport), enabling the driver to tailor the suspension for grand touring or more spirited performance driving.

The CTS-V coupe starts production this summer.  Look for it at a Cadillac dealer soon after.  And don’t forget your driving gloves (and a big checkbook).

That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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This week, a jury of 49 veteran automotive journalists has selected the Buick LaCrosse, Ford Fusion Hybrid and Volkswagen Golf/GTI as finalists for North American Car of the Year and the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Transit Connect and Subaru Outback as finalists for North American Truck of the Year.

The awards are unique in the United States because — instead of being given by a single media outlet — they are given by automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites.  The awards are designed to recognize the most outstanding vehicles of the year based on factors that include innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.

To be eligible, vehicles must be “all-new” or “substantially changed” from the previous model. This year the jury considered more than 50 vehicles and finally focused on 16 cars and 10 trucks.

The winners will be announced January 11th at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Although the winners are disclosed at a news conference at the auto show, the show does not give the awards.

Last year the North American Car of the Year was the Hyundai Genesis and the North American Truck of the Year was the Ford F-150.

This is the 17th year of the awards, which are funded exclusively by the jurors. During that time:

• Hybrids have been honored three times. The Toyota Prius was the 2004 North American Car of the Year and the Ford Escape Hybrid was the 2005 North American Truck of the Year. The Honda Civic Hybrid was included when the Civic was named the 2006 North American Car of the Year.

• Chevrolet’s vehicles have been named the North American Truck of the Year three times. Most recently the Silverado was the 2007 North American Truck of the Year.

• While Ford has been a finalist in the car category many times, it won only once. The Ford Focus was the 2000 North American Car of the Year.

• Ford has dominated the truck category with five wins, followed by Chevrolet with three. Most recently, the F-150 was the 2009 North American Truck of the Year.

• General Motors won North American Car of the Year three times. Most recently, the Chevrolet Malibu was the 2008 North American Car of the Year and the Saturn Aura was the 2007 North American Car of the Year

• Volkswagen’s Jetta TDI was a finalist last year. Volkswagen’s New Beetle was the 1999 North American Car of the Year.

• Domestic automakers have won North American Car of the Year eight times. Japanese automakers have won three times. European automakers have won four times. A Korean automaker has won once.

• Domestic automakers have won North American Truck of the Year 10 times. Japanese automakers have won four times. European automakers have won twice.

Here are the vehicles on which the jurors voted:
2010 North American Car of the Year nominees:
BMW 335d
Buick LaCrosse
Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon
Chevrolet Camaro
Ford Fusion
Ford Fusion Hybrid
Ford Taurus/Taurus SHO
Honda Insight

Kia Soul
Mazda3/MazdaSpeed3
Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Porsche Panamera
Subaru Legacy
Suzuki Kizashi
Toyota Prius
Volkswagen Golf/GTI/TDI


2010 North American Truck of the Year nominees:

Acura ZDX
Audi Q5
Cadillac SRX
Chevrolet Equinox
Ford Transit Connect

Honda Accord Crosstour
Land Rover LR4
Lincoln MKT
Subaru Outback
Volvo XC60

The awards are given by 50 of the most experienced and respected automotive journalists in Canada and the United States. They represent newspapers, magazines, web sites, television and radio shows. The winners are announced at a news conference at the North American International Auto Show.

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Today, Chevrolet announced a contest to name one of the colors of the upcoming Chevy Volt.  The color, which is to be the signature color of the car, is described as “silver exterior with an emerald hue”.  There will also be other colors for the Volt when it is introduced in a year, including Black, Silver Ice Metallic, Cyber Gray Metallic, Crystal Red Metallic and a premium White Diamond Tri-Coat.  The to-be-named color will be exclusive to the Volt.

“We want to invite consumers into the development process of the Chevy Volt and give people an opportunity to be part of our program,” said Maria Rohrer, director, global Volt and global marketing operations at Chevrolet. “We’re looking for a color name that captures the innovation and spirit of the Volt.”

The contest will award three finalists and a guest roundtrip airfare to Los Angeles, two nights standard hotel accommodations, a $400 gift card and admission to the LA Auto Show on December 2, 2009. The winner will be announced by Chevy on December 1 and be given the opportunity to test-drive the pre-production Volt.

Entrants can submit their color name at www.chevroletvoltage.com through 8:00 a.m. ET on November 4. Chevrolet will choose three finalists among all the entries, based equally on originality, creativity, and the ability to capture the innovation and spirit of the Volt. The finalists will advance to a second round, where consumers will vote for the entries on www.chevroletvoltage.com, starting 8:00 a.m. ET on November 16 and concluding at 8:00 a.m. ET on December 1. Consumers are limited to one vote per person and per internet protocol address during the voting period.

I am stating the obvious here, but this is a cheap publicity stunt.  There exists out there a group of people who are really geeked about the Volt.  Giving them the opportunity to “help” with the introduction of the car will really get them fired up.  In another group, there are some others who are interested in the Volt and its new technology and are looking forward to see how it does.  I place myself in this group.  The third group, by far the largest, doesn’t know what a Volt is and doesn’t care.  Many of them don’t even know or are barely aware of what a Chevy is or what they sell.  Anybody reading this is likely not in that 3rd group, but believe me, they exist and I’ve spoken to them.  It’s a humbling experience.

This contest seeks to fire up group #1, in the hopes that their enthusiasm will somehow rub off onto group #2 and maybe even to group #3 eventually.  Awareness is the holy grail of marketing – automotive and other.  If somebody is not aware of your product, they certainly are not going to buy it.  Most people couldn’t care less what the name of their car’s color is, much less want a say in that name.  However, if Chevy can continue to play this game of keeping the Volt in the public consciousness for ANOTHER year, they will have accomplished a PR feat.  The risk, of course, is that the public will be sick of hearing about the Volt before they can even buy one.

That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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Welcome to Detroit – home of the Jailhouse Mayor, 0-16 Lions and the corporate jet For Sale sign!  Also the home of the domestic auto industry (until certain southern senators succeed in giving away the treasury to foreign automakers while telling the D3 they need to get by on their own) and the North American International Auto Show.  We have the NAIAS in January to prove to everybody that we are tougher than they are.

This year’s show is a little more subdued than in prior years, due to the lack of actual money to pay for fancy displays and freebies for the press (side note: this is the first year that your humble reporter actually got a press pass – and no freebies!  Darn!).  A number of automakers are skipping the show this year, also due to the economy, or maybe they just don’t like snow. The largest of those automakers is Nissan, and other skippers include Porsche, Suzuki & Ferrari. Mitsubishi skipped as well, but the local dealers have a display anyway.

2009 NAIAS Must-See Cars and Trucks

General Motors
Chevrolet

  • Volt – Chevy is showing the production version of the electric car. Not as striking as the concept (but production versions rarely are), but still nice looking.
  • Cruze – this car will replace the Cobalt next year. In photos, Cruze looks angry (maybe at Richard Shelby?), but not as much in person. It’s nice looking. Interesting observation: Cruze uses the word, “Chevrolet” on the back when no other Chevrolets do. The others have the Chevy logo, the name of the vehicle, and the series (LS, LT, etc.). Apparently, it was a “design decision.”
  • Orlando – somewhere between a crossover and a minivan, this 7-seat MPV will join the Chevy lineup in 2011. The show car is powered by a 2.0L turbodiesel, but the production version will likely have a gas engine, at least in the US.
  • Spark – the tiny car on the floor says “Beat”, but Chevy has announced that it will be called Spark when it arrives for sale in 2011.
  • Corvette ZR1 – not new, but it’s still SO cool!
  • Equinox – new for 2010, sports a new 182hp, 2.4L Direct Injection (DI) engine that will get an estimated 21 city, 30 highway MPG. Will also have a 3.0L V6, good for 255hp and will get 18/25 MPG. It’s a real nice update to the smallish crossover
  • Silverado Hybrid – nothing special to look at, but gets 21 city, 22 highway MPG.

Cadillac

  • SRX – previously reported by The Slandy Report, but now you can see a clean one.
  • CTS Sport Wagon – exactly what it sounds like. They might not sell many here, but the Europeans love wagons. The design is a little awkward in the wagon area. Too much sheet metal; not enough glass.
  • Converj – can’t anybody at Cadillac spell? They’ve previously given us the Evoq, Provoq, Vizón and Imaj. This is a Cadillac Volt. Makes perfect sense for the next vehicle to utilize this expensive electric system to be a Cadillac, where the high price won’t seem quite so ridiculous.

Buick

  • 2010 Buick LaCrosse – nice freshening, but will anybody notice? This really is a nice looking car, though the back end and sides look a bit too much like a Lexus GS to me.

Pontiac

  • G8 – nothing new here, but as I was sitting in it, I noticed how nicely GM engineers integrated the parking brake handle into the center console. Worth a look if you get a chance.
  • G3 – itty-bitty Pontiac due out this spring. Based on Chevy Aveo. Strange how it is the only new car Pontiac has, and it is shoved as far into the corner as possible. Weird. Almost like they don’t want you to find it.

Ford Motor Company
Ford

  • Taurus – the new-for-2010 Taurus has made quite the splash, and for good reason. This is a stylish sedan full of advanced technology that will do well for Ford when introduced this spring. It has the potential to do for Ford what the original did 20 years ago – save the company. It’s that good.  Check it out.
  • Fusion – updated look for 2010 model year. More aggressive look with a larger, bolder 3-bar grille, domed hood. Launches this spring. Will include a new hybrid model that boasts 41MPG city / 36 highway. The city mpg is 8 higher than Camry hybrid. Wow! Also includes a new Sport model with the 3.5L V6 from the Flex & Edge.
  • Mustang – also freshened for 2010, inside and out. GT power is up 15 hp to 315 and torque is up 5 to 325 lb-ft. The new GT500 from SVT is up to 540hp from 500. Mustangs are all about affordable power and now they have more.
  • F-150 – all-new for 2009, the F-150 won Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year and the North American Truck of the Year at NAIAS. It’s new inside and out, which will help it continue its string of 32 consecutive years of truck sales leadership. Also new is the Raptor model from our SVT friends. Check out the grille. Way cool.
  • Transit Connect – small version of Ford Europe’s commercial van. Ford says, “It will be available in select North American markets in mid-2009.”

Lincoln

  • MKT – 3-row, 6-seat large crossover available late summer. This is a new take on the whole luxury crossover thing. You might like it; you might not. It’s not for everybody. I like it. Starts at $44,995 for front-wheel drive and the 3.7L V6 (268hp). Add $2K for all-wheel drive and $3K more for the 3.5L EcoBoost, making 355hp, which is only available with AWD.
  • MKZ – restyled to more closely resemble the stunning MKS. Same car, better looks.
  • “C” Concept – this one is hard to describe (see photo below). It’s small and is powered by a 180hp 1.6L EcoBoost engine and Ford’s all-new PowerShift six-speed transmission.  The Lincoln C concept gets 43 mpg on the highway. It is able to seat 6 (3+3) on the 2 bench seats because of its width.

Mercury

  • Milan – freshened with the Fusion, but not as extensively. It also gets the same powertrain revisions as the Fusion, except no 3.5L Sport edition here.
  • Sable – might want to take a look at it now, because when Taurus gets freshened, Sable goes bye-bye.

Volvo

  • S60 Concept – form a mental image of the result if AMG (Mercedes-Benz’s performance division) decided to make a Volvo.  That’s what this looks like. Check out the center stack area. Wow.
  • XC60 – new, little buddy to the XC90 crossover. Will compete with the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.

Mazda

  • 6 – “all new”, which really means that the 6 has adopted the Fusion/Milan/MKZ platform, which itself was just a 6 platform made bigger. Got that? The 6 has more room, more power and new styling. All of which should make it sell more, but I think it has lost some of what made it such a great car before; some of the zoom-zoom of the original.
  • 3 – “all-new” as well, but the appearance seems to be only a freshening. This car has always been good looking, and the new one is more so. The base 2.0L I4 engine is the same power, but with improved fuel economy. The optional 2.5L I4 engine is up from 2.3L and delivers more power (167 vs. 156hp) and just slightly lower fuel economy (22 to 21 in the city with a manual – all other figures the same).

Chrysler continues to try to show that reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. It is showing several electric-propelled concept vehicles, some of which we have seen before.

  • The 200C is a stylish, rear-wheel drive, 4-door sedan based on the 300C platform (but looks nothing like the 300). It has an electric powertrain that includes a traditional engine that only recharges the battery – like a Chevy Volt. Chrysler claims 0-60 time of 7.0 seconds. They would sell a ton of these with or without the hybrid/electric powertrain. It’s that good looking.
  • The Jeep Patriot EV, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EV and the Chrysler Town & Country EV also have powertrains similar to the Chevy Volt.
  • Dodge Circuit EV is a Lotus-based, all-electric sports car that looks great – like a nicer, friendlier version of a Viper. Dodge claims a range of 150-200 miles and a top speed of 120MPH.

Toyota
Toyota

  • Venza – Toyota showed this vehicle last year, but now is in production. Toyota is clearly looking for “white space” in its lineup to produce yet another derivative off their highly successful Camry. But is there any white space here? Originally, crossovers found white space between cars and true SUVs. Venza is slotted between cars and crossovers. I have no doubt that Venza will sell well, as most everything Toyota makes does do well. However, given the narrow niche, it very well could steal most of its sales from Camry, Avalon and/or Highlander. I guess we’ll see… Check out the very clever sliding center console. The whole front area slides rearward, revealing extra storage, aux input and a 12V power point. Nicely done.
  • Prius – 3rd generation of the most successful hybrid on the market. Prius is larger, more powerful and gets better fuel economy than its predecessor. The design change, however, is barely noticeable. That shouldn’t bother its buyers, though. One cool new feature is the available sliding glass moonroof which includes solar panels to power the ventilation system.
  • FT-EV – this very small all-electric car is based on the iQ minicar sold in other markets. Don’t look for it at your Toyota dealer anytime soon.

Lexus

  • IS Convertible – already shown at the LA Auto Show, but this is the Detroit premiere. Very nice.
  • 2010 RX – redesigned (called “all-new”, but the visual change is subtle), bigger in every dimension, more powerful (27 more hp on the hybrid RX450h which now uses the 3.5L V6, 5 more on the base RX350).
  • HS250h – a new, dedicated hybrid (no traditional powertrain is available). Only the 3rd dedicated hybrid from a major manufacturer, and the first dedicated luxury hybrid. Note also that the front-end styling includes a 3-bar grille which is very similar to the Ford brand’s.
  • Hybrids – note also that all of the Lexus hybrids have a new hybrid badge at the bottom of their rear doors to give them a visual connection to each other.
  • Remote Touch – the new RX and HS both have this new system, which is a new interface for the navigation system. It works like a computer mouse and is very intuitive to use. It comes standard with navigation on these 2 vehicles.

Honda
Honda

  • Insight – the all-new dedicated hybrid that is larger and more powerful than the previous Insight. Fuel economy is 40 city, 43 highway. Insight has a new 5-door body, which Honda says is evocative of their FCX Clarity fuel cell car. Most people have never heard of that car, but they will notice that it looks a lot like the Toyota Prius, which is its natural competition. Actual pricing has not yet been announced, but Honda said their target is “less than $20,000.” They are also targeting 90,000 units per year in the US and 200,000 worldwide.
  • Others – the Civic receives a freshening, the Pilot and Fit are all-new.

Volkswagen
VW

  • Bluesport Concept – great-looking roadster with a 50mpg turbo Diesel engine. The 2.0L engine makes 180hp, but 258 lb-ft of torque, which enables a 0-60 sprint of 6 seconds. Think of it as a VW version of the Audi TT or the BMW Z4.

Audi

  • Q5 – new, smaller crossover with the great looks and stunning interior of Audi’s other vehicles
  • Sportback concept – this is a beautiful car, and is clearly meant to compete with the gorgeous Mercedes-Benz CLS. Expect the upcoming A7 to look very much like this when it is introduced – maybe for the 2010 model year. The concept is driven by a 255hp turbodiesel with 406 lb-ft of torque.
  • R8 V10 – the beautiful R8 sports car will get this new V10 engine, probably around mid-2010, which will make the present $114K base price seem like small change. Of course, it will also increase the power by about ~100hp and the top speed to just under 200mph.

BMW
BMW

  • Z4 – the roadster gets an update with the addition of a retractable hardtop and updated looks.
  • 7 Series – nice update to the biggest BMW which seems to finally have been de-Bangled. Starts at $80K.
  • No manuals? – BMW (“the ultimate driving machine”?) has about 10 vehicles on display, and not one of them is a manual tranny. What gives with that?

Mini

  • Cooper Convertible – an update to the cutest convertible on the market. My kids love the Mini (me, too). New is the “Openometer”, which keeps track of how long you have been driving top-down. Way cool.
  • Mini E – a pure electric that was already shown at the LA Auto Show, but this is the Detroit premiere. Mini will lease 500 in California, New York and New Jersey as a test for now.

Daimler
Mercedes-Benz

  • SL65 AMG – not new, but the M-B SL has always been a favorite of mine, and this one has 661hp…wow…pause for a deep breath and a moment of silence…OK, now we can go on to the next car:
  • Concept Blue Zero – pure electric based on Mercedes’ European small car. There are 2 other versions slated for production, but not shown – a hybrid and a fuel cell. Worth a look. Mercedes sells small cars in other markets, but will Americans accept such a small Mercedes? Will it hurt their image here?
  • S400 Blue Hybrid – the hybrid wave extends its reach to the big Mercedes sedan. Is no place safe from this beast?

Hyundai
Hyundai

  • Genesis – won the North American Car of the Year. The styling is nice, but I would called it derivative, not innovative. It breaks no new ground, and looks a little too much like a Lexus LS. That said, this is a very nice-looking car, especially the interior. It is attempting to do to Lexus what Lexus did to Mercedes-Benz (exactly 20 years ago at the 1989 NAIAS) – give comparable luxury and features for a much lower price. We’ll see how many people are willing to pay the price.

Kia

  • Soul – already shown at the LA Auto Show, this is a funky-looking car/trucklet that looks like it’s trying to out-Scion xB the Scion xB. Goes on sale early this year.
  • Soul’ster concept – this is a Soul with a sliding cloth roof, and is even funkier than the Soul.

Chinese Manufacturers

BYD showed 5 cars at NAIAS. The F3DM is a small, plug-in hybrid sedan (DM stands for Dual Mode). The F6DM is a midsize sedan with the same powertrain. They also showed the “regular” F6. F0 is a micro car, and the e6 is a pure electric in a crossover shape. It has available electric motors at the front and rear, giving it effective 4WD. It goes 0-60 in “under 8 seconds” and has a range of 249 miles. BYD plans to begin importing their products to the US in 2011.

Brilliance is showing 4 vehicles: FRV is a small 5-door hatchback, M1 is a midsize “luxury” sedan with a 1.8L I4 turbo engine making only 167hp, M2 is also a midsize sedan on the same platform with the same 1.8L engine and M3 is a sporty coupe based on a shortened version of the M1/M2 platform. It also shares the same engine.

Others

  • Maserati Quattroporte Sport GTS – even more power for one of the most beautiful cars on the road!
  • Tesla – the $100,000 pure electric sports car from California is in production and available at a dealer near you – if you live in LA or SF, that is.
  • Fisker – not yet available, but getting closer, the Karma sedan won Slandy Best in Show last year, when we called it a “4-door BMW Corvette” (see photo below). Fisker plans to begin delivery of the Karma in the 4th quarter of 2009. This year, they have added the Sunset convertible, which uses the same plug-in hybrid powertrain. That powertrain is similar in concept to the Chevy Volt. Coincidentally, the Karma uses a GM Ecotec 2.4L turbo engine.
  • Revenge – the small company from Indiana is showing the GTM-R supercar, which uses a Corvette Z06 engine for 505hp and an estimated top speed of 200 mph. It has 4-point racing safety harnesses. Lest you think this is an uncivilized brute, it also has available navigation, reverse camera and digital instrumentation. Only $145,000 – if I could only get my hands on some of those TARP funds!
  • Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 – not sure if this car has been shown at NAIAS before, and maybe it was just there for the press preview. The interesting this about this car is that the most expensive car in the entire show (~$1.5 million) looked like an orphan. Just sitting there with no signs or information or people to ask any questions. Odd scene, but very cool car!

The Slandy Awards® 2009

Slandy Best in Show: Ford Taurus
Honorable Mention: Lincoln MKT, Fisker Karma Sunset, Revenge GTM-R, Audi Sportback, VW Bluesport
Coolest New Feature: The “Openometer” from Mini
Most Annoying New Trend: “Blue” means “Green” – several automakers have decided that using the word “blue” means that the vehicle is “Green”, as in Mercedes-Benz Bluetec (Diesel), Blue Hybrid and Concept Blue Zero (electric); VW Bluesport concept (Diesel); Hyundai Hybrid Blue Drive and Lexus’s use of blue-trimmed Lexus logos on their hybrids. Has the whole world become colorblind?!?
Best Quote: GM’s Bob Lutz (who else?) said, “The way you use less of something in the marketplace is to raise the price. At $1.50 a gallon, the American public is not willing to pay for fuel-saving technology, and at some point the people who make the rules are going to have to recognize that fact.”  Amen, Brother Bob!
Best Models: Maserati and Lamborghini
Best Food: VW’s German curry sausage.  Honorable Mention: Fisker’s chicken sandwich
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2009 NAIAS Introductions

1st January 2009

Today is the first day of 2009, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) can’t be far!  Just to whet your appetite, here is a brief list of the significant introductions expected.  We’ll update this list as more information is known:

Production

Concept

General Motors

2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Chevrolet Cruze

2010 Buick LaCrosse sedan

2010 Cadillac SRX crossover

Chevrolet Orlando

Ford

Mazda3 5-door

TBD – total of 7 introductions expected

Chrysler

TBD – total of 3 introductions expected

Daimler

Electric ForTwo

Kia

TBD Concept

Toyota

2010 Toyota Prius

new Lexus hybrid

Honda

2009 Honda Insight

BMW

New Mini Cooper Convertible

2009 BMW Z4 Roadster models

Volkswagen

TBD from Audi

TBD from Bentley

TBD VW Green Concept

TBD from Audi

Other

2009 Subaru Forester

Maserati Quattroporte Sport GTS

2010 Fisker Karma

TBD models from Chinese automakers BYD and Brilliance Auto

TBD Subaru Concept

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Panic in Detroit?

25th November 2008

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), held each January in Detroit, has experienced growing pains over the years.  The constant complaint from the manufacturers has been that Cobo Hall is too small, that they need more space to show their cars and trucks, etc.  Government officials from all levels of government in Michigan have weighed in, from the Detroit City Council to the various mayors in and around Detroit, to county executives, to the state legislature and the governor have tried to come up with a plan to address this.  Should be relatively simple you think?  Wrong.  Michigan politics is a unique beast – one not easily tamed.  The City of Detroit owns Cobo Center, so they should be the ones to pay for an expansion? Detroit has no money, though.  Maybe Wayne County or the state?  Maybe surrounding counties, as they will surely benefit from the high-profile conventions that a new Cobo could attract?  They all have a stake in the success of NAIAS and the Detroit, but they are unwilling to help pay for more than what they deem as their fair share.  Stalemate for years has ensued.  Proposals have come and gone, but nothing has been done.

Now a short-term solution has come out of nowhere, from the same place as our new-found cheap gas.  The economic slowdown gripping the nation has made gas prices fall – and the debate over Cobo’s expansion moot.  Just announced today – Nissan will join the growing list of automakers that will not be showing their wares at NAIAS this January.  That list includes Porsche, Rolls Royce, Land Rover, Ferrari, Suzuki, Mitsubishi and now Nissan and Infiniti.  The last 3 are the ones that really start to hurt NAIAS.  They are the biggest of the dropouts, in floor space terms – especially Nissan.  Nissan also announced it will not participate in the Chicago Auto Show in February either.  Their statement said it has nothing to do with the shows themselves, but with a need to save cash.  They also stated that they showed all they needed in the LA show, which opened on November 21.  See the LA Auto Show story elsewhere on The Slandy Report.

So the silver lining inthe dark cloud of NAIAS dropouts is that it should put to bed, at least for a short time, the Panic in Detroit over Cobo’s floor space.

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2008 LA Auto Show

23rd November 2008

Well, the LA Auto Show has begun, or as we like to call it in Detroit – that auto show that got scared of Detroit and moved to November.  There are lots of goodies to see at LAAS, including concept cars and world debuts.  Here’s a brief look at what’s what:

2010 Ford Fusion & Mercury Milan Hybrid – Ford, which is in trouble along with the rest of the domestic auto industry, has taken the wraps off the substantially revised 2010 models, along with new hybrid versions.  The hybrids will get up to 39 MPG in the city – 6 more than the Camry hybrid – and will be capable of up to 47 MPH in electric-only mode.  Production is to begin next month, with sales beginning in the spring.  No word yet on pricing.  The “regular” Fusion and Milan models get a larger, more powerful I4 base engine, a more powerful V6 that also gets better fuel economy, and a new option – the same 3.5L V6 from the Edge, Flex, etc.  It will power the new Fusion Sport with 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque.  Ford insiders have told me that the V6 models will still not have a manual.  Darn.

2010 Ford Mustang – the iconic pony car sports a revised, more sculpted look at the front and rear, but the casual observer might not notice the difference.  Gear heads and other auto enthusiasts will.  The Mustang also has a revised interior, the most obvious of which is the center stack area, which now accommodates a navigation screen and Microsoft’s Sync system, now in its 2nd generation.  Under the hood, both the V6 and V8 engines will have better power and fuel economy, though final numbers are not available yet.

2010 Lincoln MKZ – revised exterior to look more like the stunning MKS flagship and an updated interior as well.  The MKZ also gets the 3.5L with 263 horsepower, like its Fusion and Milan cousins.

2010 Mazda3 – the wonderful Mazda3 gets a new look, which is both aggressive and odd.  The revised front end looks like the car has a big, silly grin on its face.  Like it’s up to something.  It will be powered by either a 2.0L I4 (140hp) or a 2.5L I4 (170hp).  New features include Bluetooth, navigation and steering-adjusted xenon headlamps.

Chrysler is showing a trio of electric vehicles that they introduced a few weeks ago.  They include an electric Town & Country minivan, a Dodge EV sports car and the Dodge ZEO that was first shown at the Detroit show early this year.  The idea that Chrysler will be able to introduce these cars in the timeframe announced seems folly, as GM has a significant head start in developing this new type of propulsion, and they are still 2 years away from production.

MINI E – MINI will introduce a full electric car and deploy a fleet of 500 units for consumers to use in daily driving.  This makes MINI the 1st automaker to develop an electric since GM’s EV1.  The MINI E will have a range of 156 miles (250 km) and a top speed of 95 mph (152 kph).  It will be available in California, New York and New Jersey only.

Infiniti G37 Convertible – the Infiniti G gets a convertible for the first time, a 3-piece hardtop.  It will have the 3.7L V6 already in the coupe, making 328 hp.

2009 Nissan Cube – Nissan will bring the Cube to the US, as expected.  Nissan calls its look a “bulldog with sunglasses”, but you can think of it as a Scion xB.  Nissan has long marketed the Cube in other markets, but will now sell it in the US as well.

2010 Porsche Boxster/Cayman – even though Porsche insists these are 2 separate cars, we all really know better.  The 2 cars presently have the same engines, but those will diverge slightly when the 2010 models debut.  The base engines will increase in size from 2.7L to 2.9L, and will have increased power, however the increase will be greater in the Cayman.  Both receive a power increase in the “S” models as well, but, again, the Cayman’s increase is more.

BMW 7-Series – the big BMW gets a freshened look for its 5th generation.  It goes on sale this spring.  It sports a new 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8 that delivers 400 hp and 450lb-ft of torque.  The technology on this car could take up a whole book – active cruise control, lane departure warning, active blind spot detection, head-up display, high-beam assistant, night vision with pedestrian detection, sideview and backup cameras, and integral active steering (rear-wheel steering assist).  Wow, that’s a mouthful.

2010 Lexus RX 350/RX 450h – the original luxury crossover gets a revised look for the 2010 model year.  Both the gas version and the hybrid receive a shot of more power.  Both use the 3.5L V6 now (the hybrid was still using the 3.3L V6), so the hybrid’s increase is greater than the gas engine.  The gas engine also gets a 6-speed transmission, up from 5, while the hybrid continues with a CVT.  The wheelbase is longer, but the overall length is shorter, which should improve stability.  The RX 350 goes on sale in February, while the hybrid waits until spring.

Lexus IS Convertible – Lexus introduced this new hardtop convertible at the Paris Auto Show in October.  Designated IS 250C and IS 350C, the new convertible is a 3-piece unit that opens in 21 seconds.  The sound system has an equalizer-tuning feature that provides consistent audio whether the top is up or down, and it also automatically adapts to the natural loss of bass when the top is down.  To address the natural difficulty of getting in and out of the backseat, Lexus increased the length of the doors 11.8″ over the sedan and added a new one-touch automatic mechanism that provides a quick-acting, front-seat fold-and-slide activation.

2010 Kia Soul – this is a tough one to categorize.  It’s a bit like a small crossover, a bit like the Nissan Cube/Scion xB, and a whole lot of fugly.  My son thinks it’s pretty cool, though.  So maybe I just don’t get it.  Michael Sprague, VP of marketing for Kia says, ““The Soul is for those who love individuality but don’t like to be categorized by finding the next best thing…for those looking for something with a little more personality than other vehicles on the market today.”  It will be available is 4 trim levels: Soul, Soul+, Soul! and Soul sport.  Available engines are a 1.6L or a 2.0L 4 cylinder.

Honda Insight – the Insight was the first hybrid available in the US market.  It was a very small 2-seater that got great fuel economy, but had too many compromises to be successful in the US.  Now comes a new version that will seat 5, have reasonable power, be less expensive and get better fuel economy than the Toyota Prius.  It also look a lot like a Prius.  The car shown in LA is considered a concept, but look for the real one to be very much the same.  The real one goes on sale Spring, 2009.

VW Touareg – VW is showing its new Touareg V6 TDI, with a 50-state compliant DIesel engine.  It is powered by a 3.0L, turbocharged six cylinder engine producing 221 horsepower and 407 lb-ft. of torque.

Audi A6 – not much new here, except a new supercharged V6 engine, making 286 horsepower.  It also has some subtle styling changes.

2009 Ferrari California – despite sharing the name with a Ferrari from the 60’s, this is an all-new Ferrari model.  It sports a direct-injection V8 mounted in the front of the car (a first for Ferrari) that produces 460 horsepower, propelling the car from 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds.  Can you buy one?  If you’re getting some of the $700 billion, and $250K is burning a hole in your wallet – you’ll still have to wait, as the 2010 model year is sold out.  2011 isn’t very long to wait, is it?

If any of you LA readers would like to share your comments on the show, please click on Comments, below.  Thanks for sharing your views with other readers of The Slandy Report.

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2008 NAIAS

19th January 2008

The Slandy Report® 2008

The new Slandy Report is here!! The new Slandy Report is here!! Boy, I wish I could get that excited about nothing. Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 – Johnson, Navin R.! I’m somebody now! Welcome to the 6th annual Slandy Report, a look at the North American International Auto Show, held each January in Detroit, Michigan. The total economic impact for Detroit is estimated at $500 million, so y’all come on down and spend your money, ya hear? If you can’t make it to Detroit for the show, you can watch it on NBC January 20 at 3pm Eastern.

2008 NAIAS Must-See Cars and Trucks

Take a walk around this year’s show and the most obvious trend is green. Not paint, but “being” green. I lost count of the number of alternately fueled vehicles and concepts. There are electrics, plug-in hybrids, Diesel hybrids, fuel-cell hybrids, ethanol, etc. from every manufacturer (well, almost).

Ford Motor Company
Ford
==> 2009 Flex – besides the bad name and the awkward looks, I think this new crossover has potential. Looks like a giant Mini Cooper. Now it looks goofy, but you’re gonna love it in 2013!
==> Explorer America Concept – styling exercise showing what a future Explorer might look like. Unlike all Explorers you’ve ever seen, this one is based on a car (not a truck) platform.
==> Verve Concept – yet another subcompact teaser from Ford, this one a DDG (Drop-Dead Gorgeous). Maybe if they ever actually make something like this, sales will improve.
==> Sync Focus – as reported last year, Ford has exclusive rights to the Microsoft Sync system, which is a hands-free iPod and phone interface. Sync will also read text messages to you (including profanity), and has a list of standard responses to a text message that you can scroll through for a quick response. This year, you can sit in a Focus and get a complete demonstration from a knowledgeable Sync-person.
==> 2009 F-150 – Ford and others are saying that this is a significant makeover. Maybe from an engineering view, but not from a customer/visual view. They’ve changed many details, but to the casual observer, it’s the same. The new version, Platinum, is ultra-luxury and coincides with the rumored demise of the Mark LT. Coincidence?
Lincoln
==> MKS – shown as a concept in prior shows, this is the read deal. Due out this summer, this is a really nice car. The silhouette reminds me of the previous Chrysler 300M (not the gangsta-mobile that is sold today). It will have an adequate, 270hp, 3.7L V6 engine at launch, but my sources tell me that the Eco-Boost engine will show up a year later sporting 350-360hp!
==> MKT Concept – this is an all-wheel drive crossover that rides on the same platform as the Ford Flex. This is not just a rebadged Flex, however, it has completely different profile and sheetmetal. It really pushes the concept of a crossover. The question is, “Will it grow on us, or will we think it’s just goofy?” Due out sometime next year.
Volvo
==> Recharge Concept – this is a Swedish Volt. Runs on a Diesel as its “range-extending power source”.
==> C70 – hard-top convertible based on the very attractive S40. Very nice.
Land Rover
==> LRX Concept – sporty SUV from Land Rover? Yep. It’s a 3-door a little smaller than the new LR2. Might be a hint of a future production model.
Jaguar
==> XF – this was last year’s C-XF Concept (hey, maybe that’s what the “C” stood for – but don’t tell Cookie Monster). This is a beautiful car, which might just turn around Jaguar’s fortunes – just in time for Ford to sell it off.

General Motors
Chevrolet
==> Corvette ZR1 – so you bought that Corvette Z06, thinking that you have the baddest boy on the block? Not so fast my friend (literally): here come the ZR1. It looks pretty close to any other Corvette, but it has a supercharged, 6.2L V8 making over 620hp. It will cost $100,000, but meets or exceeds the performance of cars costing 3-4 times as much. Like all other Corvettes, it’s expensive, but a great bargain by any objective measure against its competitors.
==> Tahoe Hybrid – 1st full-size hybrid, almost on sale. Achieves the same fuel economy as a 4-cylinder Toyota Camry (21 MPG city). Chevrolet would be wise to shout this fact to the world when they start advertising this big boy. They are already shouting the hybrid thing – “hybrid” is on it in 9 places.
Pontiac
==> Solstice GXP – 260hp LNF engine and still gets 19 city, 28 highway per gallon. Fun, fun, fun!
==> G8 – Pontiac says this is the “most powerful car under $30,000”. The V6 is around $27K, while the V8 starts at just under $30K. Very aggressive, alpha-male styling, this is a legit sports sedan.
Buick
==> Riviera concept – styled in China (and even sports a badge in Chinese characters), this may indicate the styling of future Buicks. Buick is very successful in China, where Buick sells more that in the US.
Saturn
==> Astra – new 3 or 5-door compact imported from Europe, where it is known as an Opel. This is an attractive, sporty car that will start at $16K.
==> Flextreme Concept – another plug-in hybrid that has a “range-entending power source”. In this case, it’s a turbo Diesel engine that GM uses in Europe. This car also hints at future Saturn styling.
Cadillac
==> CTS Coupe “Concept” – this is officially a concept, but look for it soon. This is a really great car. The scuttlebutt is that it will be followed by a CTS wagon also.
==> CTS-V – a 550hp sedan? Yes sir, that’s my baby!
Hummer
==> HX Concept – this seems to be a hint at the long-rumored Hummer H4. HX tries to out-Jeep Jeep. It has removable doors and a reconfigurable rear roof panel that can dramatically change the look and personality in the blink of an eye. Has the 300hp V6 engine also used in the CTS.
Saab
==> 9-4X Concept – ethanol-powered turbo I4 engine that makes 300hp! Check out the looks, as Saab will have a production model that looks like this in the next couple of years.

Chrysler
Chrysler
==> ecoVoyager Concept – futuristic minivan-like styling. Powered by a fuel cell and lithium-ion batteries. Says it has a “range-extending advanced hydrogen fuel cell”.
Dodge
==> 2009 Dodge Ram – not much visual change at first glance, but many of the details are different. Sports a new interior, but the inside looks cheap to me. 1 cool new feature is the Ram box – a pair of lockable, watertight storage bins on the rear fenders.
==> 2009 Journey – new crossover that looks nice, but the interior is flimsy and cheap, especially the center console and glove compartment (a bad pattern is developing here). Has a 3.5L V6 engine or a 2.4L 4-banger. Starts at $20K. Most obvious competitor is the Ford Taurus X. Which Journey song do you think they will use in the ads? I think “Any Way You Want It”.
==> Zeo Concept – great-looking rear-drive electric powered sports coupe. Pure fantasy at this point.
Jeep
==> Renegade – another electric with range-extender. This one is a Diesel.

Toyota
Toyota must be feeling “eco-pressure” from the other manufacturers. No longer the only one with hybrids, and now getting some heat from the extreme left environmentalists for their new big truck and for opposing CAFE increases, Toyota felt the need to label just about everything in its display with environmental signs. The carpets, benches, turntables all have signs telling us how much was recycled, etc. I felt like I was in kindergarten again (where the chairs are labeled “chair”).

Toyota
==> Venza – I didn’t get a great look at this one, as some Toyota big shot just had to look at it with his posse, just as I got there. Toyota calls this a crossover sedan, which makes no sense. To my eye, it is a Ford Edge/Mazda CX-7 competitor. Based on the Camry guts, it will be built at their Kentucky plant later this year.
==> A-BAT Concept – imagine, if you will, a Honda Ridgeline and a Toyota Prius engage in extra-curricular activities one night. Several months later, the A-BAT is born. It has its father’s (Ridgeline) looks, only smaller. It has its mother’s (Pruis) frugality – the hybrid powertrain. That’s pretty much it.
==> Prius plug-in Hybrid – after publicly bashing GM about the Volt last year, Toyota comes out with this, using GM’s exact words to describe the power of this new idea for Prius: “range-extending power source” & “advanced batteries”. A few months ago, Toyota said such batteries were still a long way off and that they were dangerous and prone to overheating/fires. Toyota should have egg on its face for this, but only The Slandy Report calls them out.
Lexus
==> LF-A Roadster – has the looks of an old Celica or Supra, only this delinquent has a 500+ horsepower V10. Could do without the boy-racer uber-wing.

Nissan
Nissan
==> GT-R – high-performance sports coupe. On sale this summer, the GT-R is powered by a 480hp 3.8L twin-turbo V6. Goes from 0-60 in 3.3 seconds. Expected price is $70,000. A new version of a car already sold in other markets as the Skyline GT-R.
==> Forum Concept – at least I hope it’s a concept. Future styling of a minivan? Maybe, but it’s fugly.
Infiniti
==> EX35 – this is the FX SUV’s little bro.

Honda
Honda
==> Accord – already out, but when Honda introduces an all-new Accord, it’s worth a look.
==> Pilot Concept – though a concept, this is supposed to look just like the “real” on to be on sale later this year. Though the details are all different, the Pilot retains the same basic look. It’s bigger and seats 8. Nice, but not very exciting.
==> FCX Clarity – the first real fuel cell car for lease (this summer), if you live in Southern California. It runs on hydrogen. You might ask, “Where do I get hydrogen?” Honda has also developed an in-home energy station that uses the natural gas from your home to make hydrogen for the FCX, which can also provide heat to your home and act as a generator.
==> CR-Z Concept – a hybrid that reminds me of the old CRX. No announced plans to sell this.

Volkswagen
VW
==> Passat CC – Phaeton was a big mistake (see prior Slandy Reports) and has been cancelled. The idea wasn’t bad to try to move the VW brand upscale, but they went (way) too far, as predicted here. This is an attempt to do what the Phaeton should have been – go a little upscale. Don’t let the name fool you, though. This ain’t a Passat. Look at it next to a real Passat and you’ll see.
Audi
==> R8 V12 Turbodiesel – the mid-engined supercar adds a 500hp, 738 pound-feet torque. 0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds from a Diesel! Same technology that Audi has used in its Diesel racecars.
==> TTS – the TT isn’t a chick car anymore (at least, not much).
==> A4, A5 and S5 – beautiful new cars. The A5 & S5 are coupes based on the A4, which will be out with new versions later this year.

BMW
BMW
==> X6 – this one is hard to describe. Think of the child of a BMW M3 (300hp and 400hp engines) and a Mazda CX-7 (aggressive SUV/crossover body shape). BMW calls it a sport activity coupe. Go figure.
==> 1-Series – the smallest “regular” BMW introduces a convertible starting at $33K. Coupe is $28K.
MINI
==> Cooper Clubman – this is a slightly bigger Mini, with a rear-hinged “Clubdoor” on the passenger side to give better access to the rear. Where the regular Mini has a hatch in the back, the Clubman has barn doors that swing out to the sides. All in all, a clever extension of the popular, cute Mini brand.

Mercedes-Benz
==> Vision GLK Concept – a production version of this small, off-road capable SUV will be out next year. This is one I don’t get. Budweiser used to ask, “Why ask why?” Here’s why – maybe you won’t get stupid products like this if you ask, “Why should we build this?” This is the answer to the question nobody was asking, except maybe, “What would a Subaru Forrester look like with a Mercedes-Benz badge?”
==> SLK, CLS, SLR – on the other hand, these M-B products are amazing.
smart
==> fortwo – as the name implies, this is a 2-seater that smart has been teasing us about for a few years. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s the smallest car you’ve ever seen. It’s 98” (250cm) long, and can part straight into a parallel parking space. On sale now!

Hyundai Group
Kia
==> Borrego – new mid-size SUV that seats 7 in 3 rows. This is a true truck-based SUV with a V8.
Hyundai
==> Genesis – a rear drive Hyundai sedan with a V8 and 289 hp? On sale this summer. Nice looking, but as noted in the report in prior years, the Koreans like to “borrow” styling from others. In this case, it’s the Lexus LS.

Others
==> Suzuki X-Head concept thing – I only include this because I have no idea what it is. If you know, please let me know at slandyreport@yahoo.com.
==> Fisker Karma – to imagine what this looks like, think of a 4-door BMW Corvette. It’s a plug-in hybrid slated to go on sale in late 2009. Expected price is $80,000.
==> You know that environmentalism is the big thing when Ferrari (Ferrari!!) shows a 599 GTB Fiorano with a big, bold “Bio Fuel” decal across the hood!
==> Mitsubishi Concept R-A – an aggressively styled sports coupe with a Diesel engine.

And finally, The Slandy Awards® 2008

Slandy Best in Show Fisker Karma
Honorable Mention Corvette ZR-1, Jaguar XF, Cadillac CTS Coupe
WATT? Award Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK
Ho-Hum Award Honda Pilot
Bet the Farm Award Jaguar XF
Uh-oh! Award Hyundai Genesis
Most Annoying New Trend Everybody is copying last year’s Slandy Best in Show, the Chevrolet Volt. The vehicles the used the exact same wording as Chevrolet used last year to describe the Volt’s system (“a range-extending power source”) are noted in the write-up with ““.

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