Category Archives: Auto Shows
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Roadster was named the 2016 World Car of the Year, as well as the 2016 World Car Design of the Year. The only auto maker to have been nominated for both World Car and World Car Design, the MX-5 won in both categories. Joining its stablemate, the CX-3-was a finalist for the 2016 World Car Design of the Year, as well.
The fourth generation MX-5 is the first Japanese model to win the World Car Design of the Year award. Both the MX-5 and CX-3 are designed with the Mazda dynamic KODO-Soul of Motion design philosophy: Quality and style teamed with beauty and sophistication.
The MX-5 approaches one-million units of production; proof that Mazda s designs can connect with people all over the world.
Lots of great introductions at the 2016 New York Auto Show this year, among them the Prime, formerly the PHEV, plug-in hybrid. The Prime claims 120 MPGe and can cruise up to 35 km when charged to full capacity. The Prime will do 135 km/h in EV mode, and gets a larger 8.8-K wh battery, a bigger package than its non-plug-in equivalent.
Prime is the first Toyota to use a dual-motor generation system that uses both a electric motor and generator to provide power to the wheels. Which means more acceleration.
The Prime gets a new body styling to improve aerodynamics and increased cargo space. Added are a charge port to differentiate the Prime from the Prius hybrid. New styling tweaks, all-new front and rear fascias; the rear with full taillight bar. Two 4.2-inch color TFT displays on the dash can be alternated between the steering wheel controls.
A Safety Sense P (pedestrian detection), pre-collision auto braking, lane departure alert, full-stop dynamic cruise control are all added to the Prime. Consumers can opt for rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring systems.
The Prime will be available in dealerships in the fall. Pricing will be announced closer to then.
ELKHART LAKE, Wis., January 20, 2016 – Road America will again offer a ‘road trip’ to the Chicago Auto Show in February. Leave the driving to a deluxe motor coach-the Auto Show Express-Wisconsin residents too, can join in the fun.
Operating on Tuesday, February 16 and Wednesday, February 17, the motor coach will offer convenient round-trip service from five locations located along Interstate 43 including Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Cedarburg, Milwaukee and Racine.
For just $50 each, riders get admission to the Chicago Auto Show and the round-trip. Express bus service will depart from the following pick up points for the trip to Chicago between 6 and 11 a.m. Return trips from McCormick Place to Wisconsin will depart from McCormick Place at 4 p.m. So this year, spend less time sitting in traffic, and more time enjoying the Chicago Auto Show on behalf of your friends at Road America.
• 6:15 am Departure from Holiday Inn Manitowoc Parking Lot (BACK WEST LOT, near I-43) (Exit 149)
• 6:50 am Departure from Sheboygan Park & Ride, adjacent to Home Depot, West of I-43 (Exit 123)
• 7:35 am Departure from Cedarburg Park & Ride (Exit 89), East side of the interstate
• 8:20 am Departure College Avenue Park & Ride, Milwaukee (Exit 319), SW Lot, West of Interstate
• 8:45 am Departure Racine Park & Ride at Hwy 11 (Exit 335)
For more information on the Road America Auto Show Express, and to reserve your spot, visit www.roadamerica.com or call 800/365-7223. Small coolers are allowed on board. No carry-ins at the show allowed and all bags are subject to search. Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted. Visit www.chicagoautoshow.com for floor plan, list of displays and more show information.
Having spent a week in the Scion FR-S sport coupe, we were reminded of the original Celica of days past. A very popular little sport coupe, Celica’s demise was mourned by many. A stablemate to the Subaru BRZ, the FR-S has several good points; and a few not-so-good.
For 2016, Scion has given the FR-S its first meaningful update. Introduced in 2012,, the FR-s has had moderate success, in a category that is quickly disappearing. Minor changes include some visual tweaks and new trim for the cabin, two new exterior colors (Ablaze Red, Oceanic Blue), a new standard audio system, and new standard rearview camera.
The Scion FR-S raises pricing about t $400, bringing the MSRP to $26405 for the automatic, and manual $25,305. Not inexpensive, particularly for the Scion brand, the FR-S can be considered an “affordable” sports coupe.
The FR-S is for the most part, a fun coupe to drive. The ride is hard, but the seats are firm and supportive. The car is nimble and solid, offers high tech features for the young set, and of course, excels at safety equipment packages. We would have enjoyed driving it on some twisty roads rather than around town. Not just sure this writer would welcome it as a daily driver. But then, It’s not aimed at my demographic.
Sporty in looks, the FR-S has an aerodynamic look and feel, is well-built and economical. We found the center console cupholder feature annoying. The two-cup holder moves back/forth in the console but is in the way of the driver’s elbow. I spilled my coffee more than once.
We found that driving in Sport mode was more comfortable (less bumpy, more smooth) than standard mode. Getting the gearshift to move into gear proved more difficult than it needed to be. New features for 2016 on the FR-S include a 7-inch audio screen, featuring more resolution, a revised Nav system, connect Bluetooth (Aha lite, iTunes, tagging included on non-Nav model); standard backup camera, interior feature color changes (changed steering wheel bezel, door grips and center console side ornament to high brightness silver color).
The FR-S is powered by a 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine, with 200 horsepower. At 151 lb-ft, it’s not exactly a pocket rocket.. The engine is a variation of a Subaru design, with the addition of Toyota’s direct- and port-injection system.
Steering may not have the anticipated precision of a sports car, but it’s tight and performance-oriented. Brakes worked well, effective and not jerky. Tires are 17-inch, hold the road well and give the car a heavier feel
Sitting in the FR-S gives one the feel of a sports car, but getting in and out of it aren’t so pleasurable. The cabin is for the most part, quiet even with a small growl. It is a sporty vehicle, after all.
Head and leg room in the FR-S is more plentiful than expected. The small back seat space is hardly worth it, but could hold packages (or a 5-year-old), and the like. Some reviewers believe an adult passenger can fit in the rear seats; we’re not so sure.
Cargo space is what would be expected for a two-plus-two coupe. Not as much as a Corvette, for instance, but enough for a couple of suitcases and gear. Also helpful are the fold flat rear seats, opening up additional horizontal space.
Scion says the FR-S was designed to hold four wheels and tires, a toolbox, a helmet, and a driver–all you need for a basic day at the track. I suppose that could work. Our silver exterior color wouldn’t have been our choice for a sport coupe: Rather, the blue or yellow, maybe even red would be a better fit.
Standard features on the 2016 Scion FR-S are generous which makes up for a lack of many options. Consumers can choose most of the options and upgrades on their own rather than in the usual packages. We wish more manufacturers would operate this way.
Optional equipment available on the FR-S includes carpeted trunk and cabin floor mats, an ashtray kit, mud guards, wheel locks, suspension kits and larger wheels. Not on the option list is navigation. This seems strange as it is available on the Subaru BRZ.
Standard equipment includes manually adjustable six-way driver and four-way passenger front seats; fold-flat rear seats; a first-aid kit; a leather-wrapped steering wheel; an eight-speaker audio system; USB/Bluetooth/auxiliary inputs; and more.
Competition for the Scion FR-S includes Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang, Nissan 370Z and Miata MX5. Some pretty hefty choices.
MSRP: $26,405; total vehicle price $27,175; destinaiton $770
Engine: 2.0-liter H-4, 4-cylinder Boxer DOHC, 16-valve, 200 hp., 151 lb. ft. torque
Transmission: six-speed sequential automatic w/paddle shifters, Dynamic Rev Management
Wheelbase: 101.2 in.
Length: 166.7 in.
Height: 50.6 in.
Width: 69.9 in.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal.
Tires: 215/45R17 all-season
Wheels: 17-inch alloy
Car of the Year awards went out at this year’s New York Auto Show by 75 automotive journalists. Out of 24 finalists, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan won “Car of the Year” honors, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe won “World” title in the luxury class. AMG took home the Performance Car class award.
BMW’s 18 electric vehicle won the “Green Car” title, while the Citroen C4 Cactus won the Design class.
Kelly Blue Book’s 2015 online tracking study of brand perception by some 1200 in-market new vehicle shoppers, awarded the Subaru: Most Trusted Brand; Honda: Best Overall Brand and Most-Trusted, and Ford F-150 won its sixth award in seven years.
3 SEMA Light Truck Accessary Alliance, Las Vegas
4 APA Luncheon, Detroit, MI
4 PAPA, Chandler, AZ
4-6 AAPEX, Las Vegas
4-7 SEMA Show, Las Vegas
19 MPG Keynote Breakfast, IVY Award, Los Angeles Auto Show
18-20 Los Angeles Auto Show Press Days
21-30 Los Angeles Auto Show Public Days
9 MPG Dean Batchelor Awards Banquet, Los Angeles
16 IMPA Luncheon, NYC
12-13 North American International Auto Show Press Days, Detroit, MI
16 North American International Auto Show Black Tie Charity Event, Detroit
17-25 North American International Auto Show Days Public, Detroit
2-13 Chicago Auto Show Media Preview, Chicago
13 Chicago Auto Show First Look for Charity, Chicago
14-22 Chicago Auto Show Public Days, Chicago
3-4 Geneva Motor Show Press Days, Geneva, Switzerland
5-15 Geneva Motor Show Public Days, Geneva, Switzerland
2014 Chicago Auto Show product debuts include:
- 2014 BMW 740Ld xDrive
- 2015 Chevrolet City Express
- 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD CNG Bi-Fuel
- 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad
- Honda Civic Si Forza Motorsport
- 2014 Hyundai Veloster RE:FLEX
- 2015 Kia Soul EV
- 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid
- 2015 Lincoln Navigator
- 2014 Lingenfelter Reaper
- 2014 Nissan Versa Note SR
- Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner
- 2015 Subaru Legacy
- Toyota TRD Pro Series including the Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner
- 2014 Volkswagen Global RallyCross Beetle
- 2015 Volvo S60 Polestar
- 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar
Thursday February 6, 2014
The 106th Chicago Auto Show kicked off at 8 a.m. on Thursday, February 6 with Toyota Senior Vice President of
Automotive Operations Bob Carter delivering the keynote address at the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) breakfast. Celebrating 23 years at Toyota, Carter regularly attends the Chicago Auto Show
Hosting its first news conference Thursday in South Hall, Toyota debuted the new TRD Pro Series for the Tundra, Tacoma and 4Runner in their off-road display area that resembled a desert landscape. The course spanned 30,000 square feet, and included obstacles such as the 14-foot-tall hill, a water crossing, a giant see-saw and various frame twisters, side tilts and suspension-focused challenges. This writer took a trek with a Toyota driver at the wheel in the new Tacoma truck.
Open for the press to sample, Toyota’s course will be a popular exhibit during public days. Bleachers are available for the public to sit and watch as the trucks take to the mud and logs. Toyota has partnered with three charities in their “Drive for A Cause” campaign. For those who participate in the ride and drive, they can choose the American Red Cross, AMVETS or FFA, and Toyota will make a contribution.
All a part of its 45,000-square-foot exhibit, featuring more than 50 vehicles, including the FT-1 sports car concept. Show attendees can sample what it might be like to ride/drive the FT-1 through Toyota’s simulators.
Also present at this year’s Chicago show is Toyota’s FV2, a future mobility car operated by the driver shifting his or her body to intuitively move the vehicle in any. The FV2 helps enable safe driving by providing a wide variety of safety information, including advance warning about vehicles in blind spots at intersections.
Don’t miss the futuristic iROAD concept car, a three-wheeler with motorcycle-like maneuverability, perfect for short-distance in the city. Shown at the display are the revised Corolla, RAV4, Tundra, 4Runner and Highlander models. For techies, the exhibit offers three iPad games.
The Prius “family” is on display, as well as hybrid versions of the Avalon, Camry and Highlander. And motorsports fans won’t want to miss the “Toyota Racing Zone,” with NASCAR in mind. A Matt Kenseth #20 Sprint Cup Camry is on display, along with a Toyota/NHRA Funny Car.
Featured at the Lexus display is the RC-F coupe, designed to support the most powerful V-8 performance car ever built by Lexus. Recently debuted at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, the RC-F is equipped with a 450 hp. Engine. Also on display is the Lexus RC 350, featuring a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine with 8-speed sequential transmission. The F Sport, along with the Lexus IS is also on display.
As expected, the Scion display is filled with social media goodies, appealing to youthful buyers. A Ride-and-drive program is available for show goers to try out, as well as Scion’s “Master Dashboard” video wall. Scion introduced at Chicago’s show its “Scion Swag Machine,” the world’s first Instagram-powered near field communication-enabled vending machine. By tagging or posting an Instagram image with an event-specific hashtag, users will trigger the web-connected machine releasing giveaways inside. As always, the Scion display features fun stuff.
During the public days of the show (Feb 8-17), Scion will offer a full lineup ride and drive at McCormick Place’s North Building. Those who are interested are encouraged to register at the Scion Live Drive registration area.
Featured at the Scion display are 10 vehicles, including the 2014 limited edition Monogram Scion Series FR-S and tC models, and a yellow highly-modified FR-S, named the “Hottest Sport Compact” at the SEMA show.
Buick’s display features the 2014 Buick LaCrosse and 2014 Buick Regal, now available in showrooms. Standard with the next-generation IntelliLink connectivity, the LaCrosse gets an 8-inch reconfigurable color instrument cluster display, and new active safety technologies. The 2014 Regal gets advanced all-wheel-drive and standard 2.0-liter Turbo engine.
Chicago plays host to the 2015 GMC Canyon, the latest addition to GMC’s three-truck strategy, giving Chevrolet and GMC the distinction of being the only brands to offer a full range of pickups with a mid-size, full-size and heavy-duty option. The Canyon, Sierra 2500 and Sierra 3500 HD are all on display and feature new capabilities, new bolder styling, upgraded interiors with smart features, available Duramax/Allison powertrain. Also on display are the full-size SUV’s 2015 Yukon Denali and Yukon XL.
Do not miss the all-new Corvette Z06 on display this year. With a 6.2-liter, 625-hp. Supercharged V-8 engine and seven-speed manual or new 8-speed automatic transmission, this is one powerful Vette. More powerful than the all-new Stingray at 450-horsepower.
Wider tires and wider stance offer the best in performance. Add to that Corvette’s new competition bucket seat with large side bolsters for more lateral support, and you’ve got one serious performance vehicle.
Don’t miss the Cadillac exhibit for a look at the recently introduced 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe, to go on sale in summer 2014. Photographers couldn’t take their cameras off the Elmiraj concept, or the 2014 ELR electrified luxury coupe.
Also displayed is the redesigned 2015 Escalade, and the other award-winning Cadillac vehicles – the ATS, CTS, XTS and SRX.
Not to be missed by truck enthusiasts is the all-new F-150, to go on sale this Fall. First making the scene at last month’s Detroit Auto Show, this new truck is a stunner.
Featuring all aluminum body panels, the redesigned and reengineered F-150 gets rid of 700 pounds, boosts fuel economy and new engines, all with six-speed automatic transmissions: a 2.7-liter twin turbo Eco-Boost V-6 with automatic stop/start, a 3.5-liter normally aspirated, and 3.5-liter twin turbo Eco-Boost V-6 and 5-liter V-8. Gone is the 6.2-liter V-8. Other new features include remote tailgate lock/unlock/release using the key fob, power outlets to charge tools, 360-degree exterior cameras for navigating narrow roads, trails, integrated cargo bed loading ramps, and cargo box brackets/cleats to secure storage bins.
Of course, the 2015 all-new Mustang is on display, along with the first-ever purchased 1964 convertible. On Friday owner of the ’64 Gail Wise was at the show and available for interviews.
A fun time was spent trying to win at the new Mustang-themed pinball games made by Chicago pinball machine maker Stern Pinball. A demonstration was given by one of the world’s top-ranked pinball players Zach Sharpe.
Ford’s C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car is on display, the first of its kind solar-powered vehicle, as well the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. Featured is the vehicle’s PlantBottle Technology: the car’s fabric is made of 30 percent plant-based materials used in the rear seat cushions, seat backs, head restraint, door panel inserts and headliners.
For 2014, Ford has updated and stretched its Ford Transit Connect vehicle. The all-new Connect Wagon is now available in the U.S. market, and is one of the most fuel-efficient seven-passenger vehicles available. Officially endorsed by Tall Clubs International, the Transit Connect is roomy enough to seat the “vertically gifted.”
On Wednesday night, Lincoln hosted the media at the reveal of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator
Featured at the Kia display is the Kia Soul EV, a battery powered no-gas offering. Available after the Chicago Auto Show, the Soul EV claims up to 120 miles driving range before needing a five-hour battery recharge (240 volt), or 25 minutes using a fast charger.
Following behind Kia’s recently introduced Cadenza is the all-new near-luxury Kia K900, a high-luxury $35,000 rear-wheel-drive sedan. To be introduced this Spring, the K900 (a stablemate to the Hyundai Equus-shared platform), is equipped with either a 3.8-liter, 311 horsepower V-6, or 5-liter, 420-horsepower V-8 with eight-speed automatic.
Buyers of Nissan’s Versa will now have two new trim levels to choose from, along with the Versa Note and its five trim levels, including the SL and SR. Expanded equipment and feature choices are new for 2015, in addition to 40 mpg highway fuel economy with the standard 1.6-liter engine and Xtronic transmission. On sale this spring, the sub-compact offers a Versa Note SR with sporty front and rear fascia and grille, unique rear spoiler, 16-inch sport aluminum alloy wheels and interior enhancements. The Versa Note SL includes standard NissanConnect smartphone integration for iOS and Android including Google, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Facebook, NissanConnect Apps, Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant and Divide-N-Hide Adjustable Floor.
Nissan shared with the media an early preview of the 2015 Versa Note hatchback and the debut of the sporty new Versa Note SR. Joining the Note are the S MT, S Plus CVT and SV CVT. Also for 2015, Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System with steering wheel-mounted controls becomes standard across all trims of Versa Note. One new option package is also available for 2015, the SR Convenience Package, and new content is added to the SV Convenience Package and SL Tech Package.
This second generation Versa Note SR adopts a modern, sculpted look, with an added range of exclusive features a unique front fascia and grille combined with a dark headlight treatment and standard fog lights with black and chrome accents. Body-color side spoilers and redesigned side mirrors with integrated turn signals complement the Versa Note’s distinctive look. A unique rear spoiler, SR badging and high-contrast machine-finished 16-inch sport aluminum-alloy wheels with dark paint mounted with 195/55R16 all-season tires complement the sporty look.
Interior enhancements abound on the Note SR and include an exclusive 370Z-inspired leather-wrapped steering wheel, suede-like fabric seats with sporty orange accents and double stitching, a redesigned piano black center instrument panel with silver accents and chrome knobs, and Euro-inspired Fine Vision triple-dial gauge cluster with The Note SR is equipped with an advanced 1.6-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine with dual fuel injection and Twin CVTC mated to Nissan’s next generation Xtronic tranny. EPA fuel economy is expected to be estimated at 40/31 mpg., 35 mpg combined.
For more about the Nissan Versa Note SL and SR go to www.nissan.com
Subaru introduced its all-new 2015 Legacy. A departure from Legacy’s past, the 2015 gets new safety technology, higher fuel efficiency, interior refinement and the largest passenger volume in the midsize sedan segment. The only car in its class with standard all-wheel-drive, the Legacy adds a new and improved EyeSight driver-assist system and available rear radar system.
Buyers have a choice of two Boxer engines: 4-cyolinder and 6-cylinder. Standard equipment includes Lineartronic CVT transmission, Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive, an estimated 26/36 mpg and is available in Standard, Premium and Limited trim levels. The 2015 Legacy 2.5i expects to exceed fuel economy of some of the other midsize models. Arriving in dealerships in summer 2014, the new Legacy design resembles Subaru’s Legacy Concept introduced at the 2013 Los Angeles Show. Offering more equipment than ever, the 2015 Legacy raises the bar for reach trim level, including a higher level of luxury. New standard HID low-beam headlights adorn the Legacy 3.6R Limited and safety is enhanced with a rear-view camera.A new type of airbag restraint has been added, along with front-seat cushion airbags. Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Steering-Responsive Foglights, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems all make the new Legacy a safety leader. The 2015 Subaru Legacy introduces a new type of airbag restraint and a new available rear radar system. The new front seat-cushion airbags help to keep occupants in place in a frontal collision. In addition, the new Legacy offers a smoother, quieter ride due to an acoustic windshield, liquid-filled engine mounts, and thicker panels all around. More room and greater refinement provide the key to a much-improved Legacy model. Too many improvements to list here, the 2015 Legacy is an industry leader.
MotorWeek announced the winners of their annual list of Drivers’ Choice Awards during media days and Chrysler took top honors in two categories: Best Pickup Truck went to the Dodge Ram, and Best Small Utility went to the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. John Davis, host and creator of MotorWeek told the crowd he was “really impressed with the Ram 1500 when it won in 2013, and felt justified in make the 1500 a back-to-back winner.”
Do not miss the all-new redesigned Chrysler 200; what a looker, and the redesigned 300. These cars will be flying out of the dealership.
The most recognizable pickup available, Ram 1500 delivers best-in-class fuel economy (18/25 mpg.), with its powerful 3.6-liter V-6 engine, as well as its sophisticated technologies, such as the TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission, stop/start system, thermal management system, pulse-width modulation and active aerodynamics. A new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine is available for 2014, with upped fuel ecnomy and 9,200 pounds of towing capacity.The 2014 Jeep Cherokee is a departure from Jeeps past. This mid-size sport-ute offers a segment first: a 9-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy improvements of more than 45 percent, upgraded on-road ride and handling, new design, exclusive technology and 70 advanced safety and security features. Powered by two new engines, the 2014 Cherokee offers three innovative new 4×4 systems that feature the first use of a fully-automated disconnecting rear axle. Available technology includes an 8.4-inch touch screen media center, the seven-inch full color instrument cluster display, inventive storage solutions and cargo flexibility second to none. The all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee is available in four different models in the United States: Cherokee Sport, Cherokee Latitude, Cherokee.
On display the Chicago Auto Show are offerings from Forza Motorsport, including the Honda Legends Car Pack, and one-of-a-kind Civic Si Coupe. Attendees can be among the first to play the new Honda Legends Car Pack for Forza Motorsport 5 on Xbox One. The new car pack features the redesigned 2014 Civic Si Coupe, the 1984 Mugen CRX and the 1994 Prelude, all available for download on Xbox One. This is the second straight year that Honda and Forza Motorsport have teamed up to bring gamers exclusive Honda-branded content.
For more information on the entire 2014 Civic lineup, customers can visit www.automobiles.honda.com/civic
The Acura display debuts a futuristic and emotional new television commercial set against a backdrop of an otherworldly racetrack. Opening with four robotic horses, the brand is represented by the traditional approaches to luxury performance. Emerging from the starting gate, the horses jockey for position as spectators watch from the grandstand, focusing on one participant who seems to know that something special is about to happen. All of a sudden an elegant and powerful dark horse emerges from the pack and transforms into a 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, then joined by the 2015 TLX Prototype and the NSX Concept car….”Let the race begin…..” (See the commercial at http://youtube/3MuKgGaW7o0)
Quite an intro to the Acura cars for 2014 and 2015, and viewers are challenged to keep an eye on the brand. Acura’s aim: “To sharpen our focus on Acura’s two incredible new sedans and on the NSX supercar as the ultimate expression of Acura performance.” Positioning the Acura vehicles in the context of ‘incredible athleticism,’ Acura focuses on its competitive spirit.
The handsome TLX Prototype and the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD models featured in the new commercial reflect the future of Acura’s performance sedan line-up, with 377-horsepower, the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive), is equipped with the world’s first hybrid electric torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. Look for it in dealerships this spring.
The all-new TLX, showcased in prototype at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month, will launch mid- with much improved performance, enhanced by next-generation Acura powertrain and dynamic handling technologies.
The mid-engine NSX supercar, launching in 2015, will be powered by a mid-mounted, direct-injected and twin-turbocharged V-6 engine mated to Acura’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD™ system. For more go to www.acura.com.
Wednesday, February 8: 104th Chicago Auto Show. The first of two days at the Chicago Auto Show began today with the annual MAMA breakfast, with guest speaker John Maloney, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs-Morton Grove-Maloney brought the media up to speed on the latest Volvo products and progress. “Everyone has a car story to tell,” Maloney noted, and indeed, growing up in the 1950s–60s, during the greatest decades in automotive history, many of us do have great memories.
Volvo is on the move, stated Maloney, with cooler and more stylish vehicles to offer. Offering up its “Concept You” for the auto show, Volvo has given us some idea of where they are going in the future. For sure, changes will include fewer engines, fewer parts, better fuel efficiency and more alternative methods. If anyone knows anything about the Volvo brand it’s that safety is at its core. Making that evident this morning, Maloney boasted that by the year 2020 Volvo will make an automobile that will guarantee that no one will be killed or seriously injured in one of their vehicles.
With lots of new and innovative technology in store-such as animal detection systems, car train improvements and the continued creation of a global brand, Volvo is on an upward trend. Volvo predicts they will sell 800,000 cars in 2020. Soon to build a plant in China to serve the Chinese auto market, Volvo will tweak their vehicles sold there: Some with longer wheelbases. Projected to sell 13.7 million cars in 2012, Volvo sold 14.1 million in 2011, up from 11.5 million in 2010. Their vision is not to take driving away from the driver, says Maloney. Rather, they will continue to strive to add more of those last minute safety interventions.
On a local note, VP of Membership for MAMA (Midwest Automotive Media Association’s) Kirk Bell announced to the group MAMA’s annual award for Family Vehicle of the Year. The nonprofit group of automotive journalists and public relations professionals developed the award to help the consumer make a wise buy when it’s time. Criteria includes a vehicle that sells for less than $50,000, either new or significantly redesigned/updated, have been present at both MAMA rallys within a year: Out of a list of 11 contenders, the winner: 2012 VW Passat.
GMC’s presentation included a look at the new 2013 GMC Acadia Denali. With the focus on trucks and SUV’s, GMC is making headway with its newer CUV models (Terrain), with an increase in sales. Sales of the 2011 Acadia were up 16 percent in 2011, with 52 percent of buyers new to the brand. Sporting a new grille and face, Acadia also shows off some fancy LED lights, upgraded interior and red ambient lighting. Improved handling, ride and driveability are also features of the new and improved 2012 Acadia.
Hyundai’s CEO and President John Krafcik announced an uptake in sales for 2011; a very good increase at 29 percent retail growth. Rated number one in Dealer Attitude Surveys, Hyundai has come a very long way. A year of lots of awards, Hyundai’s Elantra was recently named The North American Car of the Year, and in the effort to end recent consumer controversy about miles-per-gallon, Popular Mechanics confirmed that Elantra, indeed, can achieve the mileage it says it can: 40 mpg and more. Neck and neck with Ford Focus (avg. 47.5 mpg.), Elantra hit a high of 47.6 mpg. Two new 2013 Elantra models were announced for 2012: Coupe, GT. The only compact car to offer three models, Elantra can’t seem to keep up with the demand. First to be offered in Spring 2012 will be the 2013 Coupe, decked out with 17-inch alloy wheels and a sport suspension. Appealing to younger buyers, the Elantra Coupe will have 1.8-liter engine, with the manual delivering 40 mpg., and have more space than the Honda Civic. Early summer will bring the European-inspired GT model, complete with a long list of standard equipment, such as a cooled glove box. At 151 pounds lighter than the Mazda3, the new Elantra GT will be the lightest vehicle in its class, but with a 37 percent increase in body stiffness and comprised of 57 percent high tension steel. Three steering modes will also be available, and fuel economy will be upwards of 39 mpg./highway. One very cool feature will be the badge-concealed, flip-up lid rear camera. Cool!
Up next was KIA, also with bragging rights about its increase in sales in 2011. Introducing nine new models in three years, KIA has been on a roll. Living their dream, KIA was the fastest growing car brand in the U.S. in 2011. With all-time best sales in 2011 of 485,000 units, KIA has experienced 78 percent growth in volume since the introduction of the KIA Soul. One can’t help but assume much of KIA’s success can be attributed to their clever advertisements. Especially the hamsters. Come on, who among us cannot connect with those rapping hamsters? (the hamsters, by the way, have won two Nielsen awards and their latest ad has become the number 1 most-shared video in the world on UTube). “Doers,” KIA hasn’t been sitting around. The Sorento, built in Georgia will soon be joined by the building of various iterations of the Optima. Attempting to bring more affluent, stylish-conscious consumers into the brand, KIA will introduce the 2012 KIA Optima Ltd next month. Complete with all premium technology and features, the new Optima adds elegant touches, including a turbo. With an MSRP under $35,000 new Limited Optima will be another hit for KIA, along with two turbo-charged models. Partnering with Kinetic Motor Sports, KIA will offer a serious racing-style, yet street legal, Optioma. KIA will continue to provide the lowest cost of ownership in the industry over a 5 year period, as it offers up new and innovative features, such as UVO eServices, an enabled free Smartphone app. Also news at KIA is their reach into the world of racing. KIA’s gone racing with its Forte coupes and Optima sedan in the ST series. Tom Kearns of the design department introduced the KIA Track’ster concept. A high-performance, 2-liter turbo with 250 horse, this KIA based on the Soul, will be a hit if it ever hits the showroom. Sporting three doors, the Track’ster has massive rear tires (285/35-19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 high-performance), a widened body and stretched wheelbase (101.2 in.), large 14-inch vented and cross-drilled disc Brembo brakes and modified cockpit. While there are no plans to produce the Track’ster yet, its appeal is obvious.
Introducing the 2012 Ford Fusion in Detroit was some of Ford’s big news for 2012. This spring will bring a refreshed Escape SUV, Flex and Taurus.The Focus ST will appear in summer 2012, with the EcoBoost engine. A screamer at 250 horse and 250 ft. lb. torque, the ST will be the first vehicle from Ford’s global one approach. Ford folks also celebrated Ford’s 20-year relationship with SVT. Still popular, the SVT-equipped Mustang began its tenure in 1993, along with the F-150 Lightning truck. Producing a limited run, the SVT race-tuned Cobra R Mustangs are a niche vehicle, of course, but very sought after by some. First look for media included the Shelby GT500 Convertible, each with a commemorative lit sill plate and optional track package.
Speaking at the Economic Club of Chicago was President and COO of Toyota Motor North America, Yoshimi Inaba, recollecting his days as a Kellog School of Business in the 1970s when Toyota began to step up their pace for selling cars worldwide. Part of the Toyota team here to lead those efforts, Inaba spoke well of the U.S. and the generosity of Americans when earthquakes hit Japan. Focusing on the imortance of the automotive industry, Inaba quoted interesting facts: Over the next four years, 150,000 jobs in the industry will be created. The public may not realize that six million American jobs are in the automotive industry; it is the largest manufacturing sector, with a $500 billion payroll; second only to the Defense Dept and Social Security. Inaba shared with the audience Toyota’s launch of 19 new or updated products of late. Between their three iconic brands: Lexus, Scion and Toyota, Toyota has adopted a “wide portfolio approach” to selling cars. As the Prius “goes plural,” additional versions of the popular hybrid have gone on sale, including the soon-to-be introduced PriusC which arrives this coming spring. A plug-in seating five, the PriusC boasts 50 mpg. in hybrid mode and 95 mpg. combined. Seven in 10 hybrids on the road, noted Inaba, are Toyota, Lexus or Scion models. Since its introduction in 2000, the Prius has saved 1.1 billion gallons of gas and 16 million tons of Co2. With the RAV4EV coming, Toyota is also toying with concept sporty vehicles such as the LF-LC Concept introduced at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. And the plug-in hybrid, the N54 sports car. Inaba also shared with the group that Toyota employs more than 30,000 people in the U.S., and operates 10 U.S. plants. One-thousand engineers are employed in Michigan, and the new Highlander Hybrid will be built in Princeton, IN. Toyota will spend $400 million to expand the Princeton plant, projecting to build 50,000 more Highlander vehicles, and adding 400 jobs. Every automotive job, noted Inaba, creates three spin-off jobs.
The Chicago Auto Show opens this coming Friday, February 10 for the public, with lots to see and do..
A new feature will be Toyota’s Hybrid Monopoly Ride Experience, located in the South Hall. With more than 30,160 sq. ft. of space, Toyota will offer a closed course and show attendees will be able to experience the capabilities and advantages of the third generation Pruis, the all-new Prius V, Camry Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid. Professional drivers and product specialists will be on hand to offer fun and informational demonstrations. Hop a ride through Toyota’s eco-friendly course patterned after the Monopoly board game, while learning about all the features of the hybrid vehicles’ regenerative braking, multiple drive modes and fuel efficiency. Toyota teams up with Hasbro toy maker to present this unusual display.
Also be sure to stop by the Scion display, utilizing more than 30 percent more space at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. The display will feature a media theater called “Thunderdome,” to display products. No more Matchbox-style vehicle showcase introduced nearly five years ago. The Scion display will also feature15-foot tall overhead LED screens with action-packed videos and graphics. At the center of the exhibit will be the 2013 Scion FR-S compact car. A rear-wheel-drive sports car, the FR-S features 200 horsepower and goes on sale in the spring of 2012. Also available for review will be the Scion iQ micro sub-compact which appeared in showrooms fourth quarter of 2011. Scion’s award-winning sX guest experience featuring brand content, user participation and information sharing will also be available