Archive for March, 2013

Mar
29
2013 Dodge Dart

2013 Dodge Dart

Note: This report supplements Consumer Guide Automotive’s full report on the 2013 Dodge Dart, a compact car that starts at $15,995.

Test car came equipped with: 6-speed PowerTech automatic transmission, Technology Group, Premium Group, UConnect infotainment system, satellite radio, 17-inch polished aluminum wheels. Total MSRP with $795 destination = $24,695.

Powertrain: 2.0-liter 160-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive.

Acceleration: The main report says the 2.0/automatic model is “very casual off the line,” and I agree, though I don’t think it gets “out of its own way just fine.” “Adequately” is more like it. Our friends at Car and Driver report 0-60 mph acceleration at 9.2 seconds, but this tester felt closer to 10 seconds. Either way, such “performance” must be near the bottom of the compact-car heap. Midrange passing response is equally mediocre. The automatic only aggravates matters with tardy downshifts—some seem to take at least a second—a result of mpg-oriented programming that also has the transmission racing for top gear even at very light throttle. Thank goodness for the manual-shift facility, which can help compensate for the torque deficit and sluggish downshift response, but family cars shouldn’t require stirring an automatic for max go-power.

Mar
28

2013 Shelby Raptor

Shelby American, purveyor of specially tuned Ford cars, unveiled a specially tuned truck at the 2013 New York Auto Show.

The Las Vegas-based firm takes a standard 2013 Ford SVT Raptor and gives it a high-performance bent. The stock truck employs a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 411 horsepower. Shelby bolts on a supercharger and a free-flowing exhaust system to increase output to 575. Additional tweaks come in the form of a revised suspension and body kit, all designed to maintain the truck’s off-road credentials while giving it a leaner street presence.

The 2013 Shelby Raptor is a package offered by the company at a cost of $17,995. That, of course, does not include the price of the donor vehicle. Production will be limited to 100 units annually. Interested parties can place their orders now.

CG Says: We’re sure this is a perfectly capable performance truck. Selecting the SVT Raptor as the base was probably an obvious choice. However, the Raptor is designed to be an off-road-ready rig, rather than a vehicle that can burn rubber on a drag strip. You can order the 6.2-liter V8 engine on a standard F-150. Maybe the next step for Shelby will be to make a true high-performance street truck. We can always hope, right?

Mar
28
vacuum

The “HondaVAC” on the Honda Odyssey

See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Honda Odyssey.

Honda is showing a freshened version of its Odyssey minivan at the 2013 New York Auto Show. While it doesn’t look a lot different than the 2013 model, the 2014 edition sports a number of upgrades designed to make it more family-friendly.

You could say that parts of the 2014 Honda Odyssey suck and actually mean it as a compliment. This will be the first vehicle on the market to offer an onboard vacuum cleaner. Offered only on the top-line Touring Elite model, the “HondaVAC” was developed with commercial vacuum company Shop-Vac. The hose and nozzle are cleverly hidden in one of the rear side panels. It includes a replaceable filter and canister bag, and it draws power from the car’s electrical system. The vacuum can run continuously when the engine is on and for up to eight minutes with the engine off.

Other changes to the 2014 Honda Odyssey include upgrades to the vehicle’s body structure that are designed to enhance safety in a crash. Touring Elite models will include forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning. Infotainment systems come from the 2013 Honda Accord and include an HD Radio receiver, SMS text message capability, and access to the cloud-based Aha Mobile interface.

Mar
28

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

Subaru is using the 2013 New York Auto Show to show off two vehicles that represent what officials call the “two sides of the brand.” One side is geared toward environment friendliness, the other toward high performance.

On the former front, observe the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid. The conventional XV Crosstrek launched for the 2013 model year. Essentially a Subaru Impreza Wagon with a raised suspension, the vehicle is similar in concept, but obviously smaller than, the company’s Outback station wagon.

The Hybrid looks almost identical to its all-gas-powered sibling. It shares the gas model’s lofty 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive. It has less than one cubic foot less passenger room and only about 1.5 cubic feet less cargo space. Both vehicles will use a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed “Boxer” 4-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Take these aspects out of the equation, and the Hybrid is actually quite different from the standard model. Engineers reworked the chassis to accommodate the hybrid system’s extra weight. As for that system, a 13.5-kilowatt nickel-metal hydride battery powers a 13-horsepower electric motor. This is smaller than other battery/electric systems. As such, this vehicle will run solely on electric power only in very specific circumstances.

Mar
28

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi is following its former corporate partner, Chrysler, in resurrecting a name from the past to power a new-generation small car. Dodge has the 2013 Dart; Mitsubishi has the 2014 Mirage.

The Mirage name has a long and convoluted history. Part of the complication comes from Mitsubishi’s ties with Chrysler. A car based on the Mirage was sold through Dodge and Plymouth dealers as the Colt and through the short-lived Eagle brand as the Summit. From 2002 to 2012, a car that was technically a Mirage was sold in markets outside the U.S. as the Colt. Confused yet?

The 2014 model that will be offered for sale in the U.S. is a 4-door subcompact hatchback that slots between the Chevrolet Spark and Honda Fit in size. It derives some of its basic design from a car manufactured in Thailand and sold to that market, Japan, and Australia.

Powering the U.S.-spec Mirage is a 74-horsepower 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine paired with a 5-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT). The company is projecting fuel economy of 37 mpg city/44 mpg highway.

Mar
28

2014 Scion tC

See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Scion tC.

Toyota’s youth-oriented division unveiled a significantly freshened version of its best-selling car at the 2013 New York Auto Show. The 2014 Scion tC was also joined by a collection of new limited-edition models designed to celebrate the brand’s 10th anniversary.

The 2014 tC gets freshened exterior styling, revised interior materials, a stronger body structure, and new infotainment features. The engine is unchanged. It remains a 179-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The automatic gets a couple new tricks, including software designed to cut shift time by up to 50 percent. The new automatic transmission includes a rev-matching feature that blips the throttle on downshifts to match engine speed with the vehicle’s speed. This feature has been adapted from the company’s FR-S sporty/performance car. In addition, tC’s handling has been tweaked with enhanced stabilizer-bar hardware, optimized shock absorbers, a stiffer body via additional spot welds, and a retuned power-steering setup.

Mar
28

2014 Volvo V60

After remaining idle for several auto shows, Volvo is announcing a major product offensive in New York. Most of its lineup will be significantly freshened for the 2014 model year. The company also plans to sell the station wagon version of its S60 sedan in the United States.

Though exact specifications were not announced, Volvo officials are confirming that the 2014 V60 Sports Wagon will be available in the U.S. The 2013 New York Auto Show marks the global debut of the sporty R-Design version of this car, and we have to believe Volvo will make it available both here and in its European home market. Keep checking back with us for more information as it becomes available.

The other news coming from the Swedish car maker is a near complete revamp of its product lines. The brand’s compact XC60 crossover, volume S60 midsize sedan, SUV-like XC70 wagon, and flagship S80 large sedan all receive major updates for 2014.

Though the vehicles look mostly familiar, they get fresher styling and some new performance, safety, and convenience features. While the drivetrains largely stand pat, revised transmission programming for the supercharged T6 models promises faster acceleration. Gains in the 0-60-mph acceleration run range from 0.2 to 0.4 seconds versus the outgoing 2013 models.

Mar
28

2014 Dodge Durango

See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Dodge Durango.

Dodge’s large 7-passenger crossover is getting a makeover for 2014, and this Chrysler division is showing it off at the 2013 New York Auto Show.

On the outside, the vehicle doesn’t change a whole lot. The wrap-around rear taillights are new, and the front fascia gets a tweak. The updates are more substantive on the interior, highlighted by a new instrument panel and reworked audio/climate/infotainment interface that sports up to an 8.4-inch touchscreen.

Durango’s roster sees some tweaks as well. Base SXT, top-line Citadel, and performance-minded R/T models return. For 2014, the new Limited version replaces last year’s Crew. Another sporty model, called Rallye, joins the lineup, and it slots between the SXT and Limited.

Engines largely carry over. Standard on the SXT, Rallye, Limited, and Citadel is Chrysler’s “Pentastar” 3.6-liter V6. In the SXT, Limited, and Citadel, it produces 290 horsepower. The Rallye gets a small bump to 295 on account of a freer-flowing exhaust. Standard on the R/T and optional on the Limited and Citadel is Chrysler’s 360-horsepower 5.7-liter V8, which includes cylinder deactivation as a fuel-saving measure. New for 2014, all Durango models get an 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional across the board. Maximum towing capacity remains tops among crossovers at 6,200 pounds with the V6 and 7,400 pounds with the V8.

Mar
27

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

See Consumer Guide’s reviews of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti JX35.

Within about an hour of each other at the 2013 New York Auto Show, Nissan and its luxury Infiniti division launched a pair of gas/electric hybrid SUVs, the first such vehicles for each brand.

Nissan was up first and showed off the 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid. Aside from discreet badges, you would be hard-pressed to tell that this vehicle was not a standard Pathfinder. Indeed, Nissan officials specifically mentioned that there was no sacrifice to passenger or cargo room when they designed this vehicle.

It was basically the same story over at Infiniti, which revealed the 2014 QX60 Hybrid. What’s a QX60? It’s essentially a renamed JX35. Infiniti is renaming all of its products for model-year 2014 and onward, bestowing the Q prefix on cars and the QX prefix on crossovers and SUVs. It’s supposed to promote unity and cohesion across the brand’s entire product line. It’s not entirely surprising that the company would go down this road, as its chairman was the former head of Audi.

Mar
27

2014 Hyundai Equus

See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Hyundai Equus.

Manhattan is a high-class place to be, and Hyundai is using it to show off its redesigned 2014 Equus premium sedan. The brand’s flagship vehicle boasts revised styling, retuned suspension, and additional safety, comfort, and convenience features.

Equus’ basic platform does not change. It’s Hyundai’s rear-wheel-drive architecture, which first bowed in the Genesis sedan and later in the Genesis Coupe. For 2014, though, the Equus gets new suspension tuning designed to offer sharper handling and a more compliant ride.

Power still comes from a 429-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway.

The car reprises base Signature and top-line Ultimate trim levels. Now, all models will have standard 5-passenger seating; previously, the Ultimate could seat only 4. The revamped interior also has a new instrument panel with either a 7- or 12.3-inch display, depending on model. The Ultimate’s rear entertainment system now sports two screens rather than one.

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