Category Archives: Industry News

Mazda MX-5 wins Awards


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.

2016 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0 T

Susan Frissell,

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata is available in several trim levels, including SE, Eco, Sport, Sport 2.0 T and Limited 2.0 T editions. The entry-level SE model available in two versions: SE. From there one can opt for the Sport trim level, and Limited edition. Something for everyone.son

The 2016 Sonata resembles the 2015 redesign-more bland than we would like; perhaps a needed change, to reflect the new “Fluidic Sculpture” design that closely resembles the updated Genesis. The Sonata is sleeker, with improved aerodynamics and is packed with a lot of great features. Cabin roominess abounds, from front to rear seating areas. It looks bigger on the outside and feels bigger inside. The interior feels more upscale; again mimicking the updated Genesis.

The biggest change in the 2016 Sonata has to do with the base infotainment system. The touchscreen has gone from a 5-inch to 7-inch, while adding additional features already included with the 8-inch optional screen. Hyundai has added Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Smartphone functionality. A new version of Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system now features remote ignition, automatic emergency contact notification in the event of an accident. All destination search powered by Google (w/navigation).

The entry-level engine in the Sonata is Hyundai’s 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder, with 185 horsepower. The choice of the turbocharged engine adds horsepower and quickness, but we found it to be wanting. Not as quick as expected, the 2.0-liter turbo had more 4-cylinder whine than we like. 16int

The Sonata has always been a favorite and no doubt, a great value all around. For some reason, this drive elicited some different-and unexpected feelings in this writer. While a great daily driver, we thought the sedan felt ‘light,’ less than agile underfoot, especially on wet pavement, and not as solid as some sedans.
While this impression in no way takes away from all that is the Hyundai Sonata, we felt as though other choices might be more in tune with our driving needs and choices.

Even now, no other manufacturer can beat Hyundai’s 100,000-mile warranty, more than fair pricing and vehicles that offer a lot more for the money. These are easy cars to drive and maintain, requiring very little.
Our test model was the Sport 2.0 T Limited edition, complete with several options. We especially like the new flat-bottom steering wheel, sport-tuned suspension, blind-spot warning, rear-cross traffic alert system, among up-to-date safety technology, giving it the highest possible safety rating. The center console is straight forward with old-fashioned buttons. We like the compass located in the rearview mirror and all the legroom.20-2015-hyundai-sonata-fd-1

The Sport version also has a more aggressive bumper, side chrome molding, side rocker extensions, unique rear fascia and quad exhaust outlets. As expected, the Sport version gets such goodies as Xenon headlights, sport seats with accent stitching, steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, and sport-tuned steering and suspension.

Adding a few additional items to the Sport 2.0 T limited, you get the panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise, automatic high beam headlight control, rear parking sensors, lane-departure warning system, auto pre-collision, auto engine start/stop, driver memory settings, heated steering wheel, rear window sunshade, ventilated front seat and nine-speaker premium audio system.

As with most new vehicles, connectivity is the thing; as up-do-date as possible. All Sonata models are equipped with iPod/USB/AUX inputs, SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth for phones. While the base Sonata lacks a color infotainment display, a five-inch color touchscreen is one model level up with a vibrant eight-inch color display optional. Hyundai is also offering Apple CarPlay integration with certain headunits (late availability) and a 400-watt Infinity premium audio system with next-generation Blue Link telematics.

Among those features standard in the Premium package, the 2.0 T limited version adds a six-way power passenger seat, heated rear seats, LED taillights, leather upholstery, auto-dimming rearview mirror and wood grain trim.
Our limited edition Sonata came equipped with adaptive cruise control system, adaptive high-beam headlights, lane-departure warning system, rear parking assist sensors. All of this requires a different grill, front-end; the one with a big black plastic panel. Perhaps not as attractive as the other model.

Competition in the Midsize sedan marketplace includes Ford Fusion, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Mazda6, and Subaru Legacy. Although it can be a tad difficult to name a few ‘cons’ to the 2016 Sonata, we found that the new styling is more common place. When the Sonata first entered the marketplace in 2005, it stood out. To some it was too different, but we liked it.

Our second ‘con’ we mentioned before: we didn’t find the turbo quick enough. On one occasion, the car quickly corrected itself after a sharp turn on slick pavement. While this was a good thing, the car felt light.

The ‘pros’ are many-and obvious: pricing, car for the money, long warranties, fuel efficiency, and for those concerned about the environment, the ECO edition. As stated above, the new Sonata’s generous interior space is a plus, particularly when carrying that fifth passenger. And our Limited edition 2.0 T even came equipped with a CD player, slowly becoming an obsolete feature.

Disappointing engine performance and bland design put the 2016 Sonata a few steps back in our driving log. Nevertheless, it continues to remain an excellent value, and a great car to drive over the long term.


Pricing: starts at $26,887
Engine: 2.0-liter, Turbocharged, I-4, 240 hp., 260 lb. ft. torque
Transmission: six-speed automatic w/Shiftronic lock and Shiftronic manual shift mode, FWD
Wheelbase: 110.4 in.
Length: 191.1 in.
Width: 63.5 in.
Height: 58.1 in.

Susie Wolff: Hanging up Her Helmet

2014_DTM_HockenheimringII_Susie_Wolff_by_2eight_8SC3775Dani Ben-Ari

Susie Wolff, wife of Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff, has announced she is formally giving up her dream to become the first female driver to reach an F1 grid since Lella Lombardi made 12 starts in the series between 1975-1976. However, she did manage to come close at both the 2014 British GP at Silverstone and German Grand Prix, where she participated in the first Friday practice session in both of those race weekends. She became the first woman to drive in a Grand Prix weekend since Giovanna Amati in 1992.

Born December 6, 1982 in Oban, Scotland, Susie (nee Stoddart) began karting from an early age, and in 1996 she was named the British Woman Kart Racing Driver of the Year. In 1997, she competed in a number of different karting categories and succeeded in most of them, including winning the 24-hr Middle East Kart Championship, champion in both the Scottish Junior Intercontinental “A” and the Scottish Open Junior Intercontinental “A” categories. She was again named British Woman Kart Racing Driver of the Year.

In 1998 she moved up to the British Junior Intercontinental “A” Championship and was placed 10th overall in her first season in the class. She also competed in the Federation Cup European Intercontinental “A” Championship and she was placed 11th overall, as well as named British Woman Kart Racing Driver of the Year, before being crowned Top Female Kart Driver in the World the following year.

From there, Wolff moved up to single-seater racing, driving for Motaworld Racing in the 2001 Formula Renault Winter Series. In 2003, she again competed in the Formula Renault UK Championship where she finished 9th overall and made her first podium finish this season, as well. She achieved recognition for her efforts this year as she was selected as one of the finalists in the prestigious BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award and was selected as the BRDC Rising Star of the Year. This was followed by a 3 podium finish for the Comtec Racing team in 2004.

Wolff progressed to the British Formula 3 Championship to race for the Alan Docking Racing team in the Championship Class in 2005, but was sidelined by an ankle injury suffered during the winter. Susie did however, make a one-off appearance in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Brands Hatchin in June before returning to competition in 2006. This time she moved up to drive a 2004-spec Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe for the Mücke Motorsport team in the DTM, the German Touring Car series. She remained in the series through 2012.

After marrying Toto in October 2011, Susie was named as a development driver for the Williams Formula One team (of which she and husband Toto were stockholders) the following April, and promoted to test-driver for 2015. During her tenure with the team, she played a role in the development of the FW35, FW36 and FW37 through extensive simulator work alongside getting behind the wheel for straight line aerodynamic tests and during numerous test days.

Wolff, however, has decided to retire from all motorsports following the Race of Champions at the Olympic Stadium in London on November 20-21, along with Williams driver Felipe Massa.

Claire Williams, deputy team principal said, “It has been a pleasure to work with Susie over the years and see her develop as a driver within the team. Her feedback and knowledge of the car has been an important part our recent development and we will be sorry to see her go. We want to thank her for all her efforts and wish her the very best for her future endeavors.”

In turn, Wolff thanked Williams for the opportunity given to her the last few years

2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 4-Door Sedan

Susan Frissell

The Lancer is available in several trim levels, including the ES, DE, SE (new model introduced in 2013), and GT, all with various amenities and features. For our purposes here, the EVO model (MR) which we drove is quite a different animal. Featuring a new design for 2016, the Lancer across the board is a nice looking sedan with enhanced features and technology.

Both the Ralliart and Evolution models are high-performance, track-like sedans/hatchbacks. Our MR sedan came equipped with Mitsubishi’s 6-speed Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission, with a manual option and paddles.

All those who go there…be clear, the Evolution is not a daily driver. Although, some may disagree with this writer, the Evo is a powerful, 291 horsepower-equipped sedan. And it is fast! Word is, Mitsubishi will be discontinuing the Evolution model after this year.

Nevertheless, Mitsubishi made a few updates for 2015 including heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, a new cupholder and more standard features on the MR model.

With undeniable agility and tractability, the Evolution can be a hoot to drive; even with expected Turbo lag, it is a performance star. Equipped with the latest technology, including Active Yaw Control, Active Center Differential, and helical-gear front differential, the Evo edition provides excellent steering and handling.

Offering versatility, the Lancer Evolution has very supportive front seats. One can opt for the Premium Package on the GSR model which includes Recaro leather-suede seats, but expect to pay upwards of $45 K for this decked out model. Our test Evolution, well-equipped listed for just under $41,000; no small change for a ‘play’ car; meaning, most probably wouldn’t opt to drive this sedan every day.

Even with its thrilling performance, the Lancer Evolution lacks refinement. No kidding! Shoppers will be limited too, except when opting for lower trim models. Fuel economy is not top-notch (again, expected), and the interior is noisy. Hitting any kind of bump in the road is jarring, giving the Evo a road quality ride rating of minus zero.

Competition over the last 10 years of the Lancer Evolution has included the Subaru WRX; more recently the Ford Focus ST and Fiesta ST. The most notable-and a lot more fun-is the VW GTI. Our pick, hands down, in this category of vehicle.

While boxy in design, the Lancer is a nice-looking sedan. Our test model-named “Wicked White” was attractive, sported MR decklid badging. Our test vehicle came equipped with one option, the Touring Package (leather seating surfaces, power glass sunroof, heated front seats, sound dampening enhancement, scuff plates, $2,000).

We had to laugh at one standard feature: Child-safety door locks. Ha! Who would dare transport a child in this pocket rocket?

The Lancer Evo is a fun car to kick it up in once and a while, and performs that function better than most. We had a lot of fun during the week in the Lancer Evo. Got lots of stares, dares and interested onlookers. We especially had fun driving in Sport Mode, at as high a speed as areas would allow!evo2015-mitsubishi-lancer-4-door-sedan-cvt-gt-fwd-steering-wheel_100492887_t


MSRP: $38,995; total vehicle price $40,995; destination $610
Engine: 2.0-liter, Turbo MIVEC DOHC 16-valve inline, 4-cylinder, 291 hp., 300 lb. ft. torque
Transmission: Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift, steering wheel paddle shifters, 6-speed TC-SST
Wheelbase: 104.3 in.
Length: 177.0 in.
Width: 71.3 in.
Curb weight: 3,527 lbs.
Warranty: 3 yr./36,000-miles basic; 5 yr./60,000-miles powertrain ltd., 7 yr./100,000-miles Anti-corrosion; Roadside Assistance
Tires: 245/40 R18 93W Yokohama high-performance
Wheels: 18×8.5 BBS-forged alloy
EPA Fuel Economy: 17/22 mpg.

2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon: The Unminivan

Susan Frissell,

Transit Connect Wagon

Transit Connect Wagon


Referred to as the ‘unminivan,’ the new Connect Wagon is a great addition to the Transit Connect family. In competition with Nissan’s offerings for small business owners, these relatively new cargo offerings are attractive, functional and fun to all potential buyers, not just those hauling cargo.

According to Minyang Jiang, Transit Connect brand manager, the Connect Wagon “drives like a car, has the flexibility of a utility and can haul the payload of a full-sized pickup.” Offering affordability and functionality, the new Connect addition is a great combination.

T.C. Wagon space

T.C. Wagon space

Now on sale in North America, the Connect Wagon has a starting price of $25,000, and is available in two-wheel base lengths: five-passenger with removable seating or seven-passenger with fold-flat seating. Sliding doors, a choice of rear liftgate or side-hinged cargo doors, and more than 100 cubic feet of cargo space (payload of 1,270 pounds), the Connect Wagon is available in XL, XLT and Tintaium versions.


T.C. Wagon interior

T.C. Wagon interior

Buyers have a choice of two engines: The standard 2.5-liter (28 mpg), and the 1.6-liter EcoBoost (29mpg.). Both engines are paired with Ford’s six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. Introduced in Europe in 2002, the Transit Connect van has been named International Van of the Year by an auto media panel in Europe. Debuting in North America in 2009, T.C. vehicles have become popular with entrepreneurs and businesses alike. Posting its strongest sales in 2013, just under 40,000 units, T.C. sales are up 12.7 percent since 2012. This year has been the strongest sale year, to date.

Cadillac Dealers Support the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer Chicago

cadlogoChicagoland Cadillac dealers will be supporting the 12th annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer again this year. For the fourth year in a row, dealers will donate $25 for every new-car test drive taken at one of the 16 area dealerships on Saturday April 12 and Saturday April 26, 2014. For those interested in test-driving a beautiful new Cadillac model, you just have to provide your name and Avon Walk Participant number (if you are the walker), or the walker’s number whose fundraising goal you would like to support. With a donation on the walker’s behalf, Cadillac will donate $25 to the fundraisers account.

This is a wonderful opportunity to not only support ‘the cause,’ but also to get yourself into one of Cadillac’s 12 beautiful new models. All it takes is a couple of hours out of your Saturday afternoon-hopefully, a sunny one-to support the Avon Walk and luxuriate in Cadillac’s CTS Coupe and Sedan, CTS-V Coupe/Sedan, ELR Coupe, XTS sedan, ATS Sedan, CTS Sedan, CTS sport wagon,, CTS-V wagon, SRX, Escalade and Escalade ESV.

Potential test drivers need to provide the dealer with the name and Avon Walk participant number of the walker whose fundraising goal they will be supporting and a donation will be made directly to the walker’s Avon Walk fundraising account. Drivers can also make a general donation to the 2014 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Chicago.

For more information, go to

Participating dealerships include Arnie Bauer Cadillac (Matteson), Bill Jacobs Cadillac (Joliet), Cadillac of Naperville (Naperville), David Bruce Auto Center (Bourbonnais), Ettleson Cadillac (Hodgkins), Frank Shirley Cadillac (Oak Lawn),  Gary Lang Cadillac (McHenry), Grossinger Autoplex (Lincolnwood), Grossinger City Autoplex (Chicago), Heritage Cadillac (Lombard), Napleton Cadillac (Calumet city), Schepel Cadillac (Merrillville), Steve Foley (Northbrook), DeKalb Cadillac (Sycamore), Tony Rizza Cadillac (Tinley Park) and Weil Cadillac (Libertyville).

GM VP Speaks to Midwest Automotive Media Association

Susan Frissell

October 29, 2013: A Technical Journey. John Calebrese, VP Global Vehicle engineering for General Motors spoke at the monthly MAMA luncheon. A 34-year veteran of GM, Calebrese has seen a lot of changes; some not so great, he told MAMA members, journalists. With several vehicles on-site to demonstrate, GM is looking at “bright times ahead,” says Calebrese. What GM has realized, notes Calebrese is that consumers have an ‘engagement” with their cars. With all brands ranking above average in today’s marketplace, Consumer Reports still manages to come up with 14 recommended buys. As aggressively as any automobile manufacturer today, General Motors has several engineering centers around the world. Truly global, GM has a presence in Michigan, Mexico, China, Korea, Russia, Germany, Brazil, South Africa, Thailand, Australia and India. Calebrese also noted the many unique patents (433) granted to 428 employees of GM, along with 69 tool method secret inventions to 127 employees.

Impressive. Manufacturers obviously have to stay ahead of the game in today’s competitive marketplace, continually keeping the game going. With all the global requirements expected, as well as increased fuel economy, one can’t be sleeping. The new world order, says Calebrese, is ‘mass optimization;’ “every gram counts.” What is news is that GM’s Chevrolet brand sells better around the world than it does in the U.S, although it appears when navigating the highways and byways, that Chevy is doing quite well here, particularly the Cruze. Calebrese also touched on GM’s new ECOTEC engines on their trucks: 4.3 V6, 5.3 V8 and 6.2 V8 configurations. sparkEngines are more refined and less intrusive with less friction, while interiors are also more plush and quieter. And GM is earnestly doing their part to up the mileage in all its vehicles. The media had the opportunity to drive the all-new, available only in California, Spark EV. What a great little commuter. So quiet. In December, GM will introduce the Cadillac ELR, an extended range electric vehicle.

Cutting-Edge Technology at Chicago’s Auto Show

Monica Gostkiewicz

Chicago Automobile Trade Association

CHICAGO (February 14, 2013) – Cutting-edge technology tied to safe driving is one of the chief trends showing up at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show – the nation’s largest. Manufacturers are developing new innovations that comply with road-safety regulations.

In an effort to keep Illinois roads safe, 75 municipalities throughout the state, including Chicago, have banned the use of cell phones while driving. Automakers have long been the leaders in developing hands-free interfaces allowing vehicle occupants to remain connected to their mobile device.

According to Chiago Auto Show Chairman Mike Ettleson, “Hands-free operation and smartphone interconnectivity applications are just some of the new technologies on display here at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show.”

Infotainment – described as information-based media content that includes entertainment – is on display in every exhibit and becoming mainstream in today’s cars. Specifically, center console display screens have become increasingly popular in recent years. Although initially offering only general information like outside temperature, radio station and vehicle status, screen features have now expanded to include rearview cameras and apps similar to those found on smartphones. Some manufacturers, such as General Motors, offer technology that can read a driver’s text message aloud without ever needing to reach for their phone.

David Szczepanski, lead connected customer specialist at General Motors notes,”Since 2007, a ton of smartphones have been piling into people’s pockets, so a lot of that technology and a lot of those trends we are seeing have been moving into the vehicles.” In the Chevy Spark, notes Szczepanski, the brain is really the phone. All of the data lives on your phone, the processing happens on the phone, but the screen is how you interact with it.

Szczepanski says that playing around with the new technology is a lot of fun, but that it will also help keep you safe. “If you ask [the technology] a question that it needs you to look at the phone, it will say ‘Sorry, for your safety, I can’t do that.'”

Also moving driver safety to the fore in its infotainment offereings is Kia Motors, according to Kia Motors Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications Michael Sprague. Kia’s UVO eServices, an in-vehicle communications and infotainment system, allows drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road, says Sprague. “But [drivers can] still access their Blackberry, iPhone, or any other PDA that they bring into the vehicle so you can phone your friends, you can listen to your music, you can schedule service if your vehicle needs it; there’s a whole slew of products that this vehicle can help you communicate with.”

Infotainment and tech amenities have even made their way into trucks – a line of vehicles historically noted for their “work horse” capability and towing and load capacities. Doug Scott, Ford’s truck group marketing manager, said the feature content in a number of Ford trucks rivals that of any vehicle on the road. However, Scott points out that Ford’s concept trucks have even more to offer.

“Next gen LED lighting, toggle switches, a 10-inch screen in the center console…again, stretching the envelope. That’s what you try to do with a design concept is give the customer an idea of what the future might look like and really stretch your boundaries,” said Scott.

Other infotainment and technology features appearing in 2013 cars include:

  • Active and passive safety technology
  • Adaptive cruise control with brake assist
  • Smart phone app integration
  • WiFi hot spot

To request the video clips included in this release, please email Jennifer Morand at For photo and logo assets for download, please visit:


The much anticipated 2014 Chevrolet Corvette



Unveiled at a private event on Sunday January 13, the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette will make its official debut at this years’ North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Dubbed a “halo vehicle for the company,” the 2014 Corvette will wow some, yet disappoint others. A grand departure of Corvettes past, the redesigned 2014 Corvette is beautiful, anyway you look at it.

One of 13 new or significantly redesigned vehicles for GM this year, the Corvette has been eagerly awaited by all Corvette fans and owners, but also by the general public.  More to follow….

Lincoln will compete in luxury market with redesigned MKZ

Announced today by Ford Motor Company, Lincoln, in an attempt to revive the reputation and sales of the once great luxury brand that is now far behind its competitors, is “reinventing” themselves.

According to Jim Farley, Ford’s head of global sales and marketing, and the head of the Lincoln relaunch, the “reinvention” includes the debut of four new cars in the next four years, starting with the 2013 MKZ and MKZ Hybrid. Spoken at today’s press event at Lincoln Center Plaza in New York, Farley said Lincoln will get the word out, first by featuring its first-ever Super Bowl spot. Lincoln will get the word out, noted Farley, via social media, using Tweets curated by Jimmy Fallon.

For the press event, Lincoln brought Emmit Smith, who said that just as football fans supported him as he became the NFL’s all-time rushing leader, fans will support Lincoln’s new push by “writing” the commercial. A second TVad featuring the image of Abraham Lincoln and famous Lincoln owners, including FDR and Dean Martin, will begin airing tonight, according to Adweek.

In September, Ford put on a similar New York event to launch the 2013 Fusion. On hand for the announcement was Ryan Seacrest; at Times Square and 47th Street, no less.

So far, the Fusion has met Ford’s high expectations for the midsize sedan market, and recently was named Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year.

Unfortunately, a dismal eighth in the American luxury segment, Lincoln hopes the new MKZ will be positively reviewed. Like the Fusion, it will come in a hybrid version, good for 45 mpg . Initial photos would indicate the MKZ looks like a winner, if the brand can just get potential buyers in the door.

At the top of the MKZ luxury market are several big competitors, namely, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus, as well as Cadillac, which GM has just put through its own revival, including the launch of the new XTS and ATS sedans.

According to Farley’s announcement, in order to compete, Lincoln will focus on stellar customer service .  Perks for new customers will include “Lincoln Date Night,” with a dinner and weekend trip, and “Lincoln Host,” an online “concierge” service available to owners and lessees.

The MKZ and MKZ Hybrid are expected to arrive in dealerships later this month. Lincoln is now called the Lincoln Motor Company, the name it had when it was acquired by Ford in 1922.

Read more: