Monthly Archives: November 2012

Subaru introduces 2014 Forester at Los Angeles Auto Show

Subaru of America, Inc. today introduced the all-new 2014 fourth-generation Forester, their popular all-wheel drive crossover SUV, at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The 2014 Forester is recognizable by its bolder exterior design and roomier interior, in addition to improved performance and higher fuel economy.

Arriving in dealerships spring of 2013, the five-passenger 2014 Subaru Forester is a total re-design of the Subaru crossover SUV that’s built a strong reputation for safety, performance, dependability and versatility. With virtually the same footprint as the outgoing model, the 2014 Forester offers expanded room, comfort and utility. A new 250-horsepower 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged BOXER engine leads the line, which will also include models powered by a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter naturally aspirated BOXER engine.

As with all previous Forester models, the 2014 version comes standard with Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, a distinction from competitive models that come with front-wheel drive as standard and offer all-wheel drive as an extra-cost option. The 2014 Forester will jump to the head of its segment in all-wheel drive fuel economy, with the 2.5i models with the CVT achieving manufacturer-estimated fuel economy ratings of 24 mpg city / 32 mpg highway / 27 mpg combined.

According to Subaru, the 2014 Forester combines evolutionary design themes with sharply defined new details in an all-new body. The 2.0XT models feature an exclusive aggressive looking sport design front bumper along with a one-piece mesh style grille and chrome-rimmed fog light bezels.

The 2014 Forester is built on a new platform featuring a 0.9-inch longer wheelbase (now 103.9 inches), with increased length (by 1.4-inch, and width by 0.6-in.) Because of Subaru’s mastery of efficient vehicle packaging, the 2014 Forester offers notable gains in roominess, particularly in the rear seat, where legroom is now 41.7 inches. Higher seat hip points, a lower center tunnel and shorter front console also provide greater legroom and comfort for the center rear seat passenger. Maximum rear cargo area room with the 60/40 split rear seatbacks lowered is now 74.7 cu. ft., which is among the best in class.

The 2014 Forester 2.5i model will be available in base, Premium, Limited and top-line Touring versions. The turbocharged Forester 2.0XT comes in Premium and Touring versions. The 2.5i models offer a choice between a new 6-speed manual transmission and the Subaru Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is also used in the Subaru Impreza®, Legacy® and Outback® models. A high-torque version of the CVT is standard in the Forester 2.0XT models, where it features 6-speed and 8-speed manual shift modes with steering wheel paddle switches.

High-line 2014 Forester models equipped with the CVT also feature new X-Mode control for the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and Hill Descent Control to provide extra control in certain driving conditions. New safety features for all 2014 Forester models include anti-whiplash front seats, a driver’s knee airbag, Brake Override and an impact-sensing fuel system cutoff.

A new Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) system contributes to fuel efficiency, providing excellent feedback to the driver, on all 2014 Forester models. In addition to the turbo engine, the 2.0XT models deliver sharper handling responses from a sport-tuned suspension with 18-inch wheels, and the 2.0XT also features larger brakes than the 2.5i models, with ventilated front and rear rotors.

The Forester’s four-wheel independent suspension system delivers agile handling and a highly compliant ride quality. The 8.7 inches of ground clearance is higher than for many crossovers and SUVs. Yet, the Forester maintains a comfortably easy and low step-in, enhanced in the 2014 model by wider-opening rear doors and by side sills that are 2 inches lower than before.

The 2014 Forester features new amenities and conveniences, along with more upscale luxury features on high-line models. All but the base 2.5i model come with a standard rear vision camera and color multi-function display. New available features include a power rear liftgate with automatic close, Keyless Access and Start and the EyeSight driver assist system. Using a stereo camera system developed by Subaru, rather than radar, EyeSight integrates Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning.

The available touch-screen navigation system offers smartphone integration with Aha® smartphone integration features. The top-line Touring models come standard with the navigation system plus an eight-speaker, 440-watt harman/kardon®audio system.

  • The highlights:
  • All-new design with improved performance, economy, comfort and space
  • Up to 32 mpg estimated highway fuel economy
  • New 250-hp direct-injection turbocharged 2.0-liter BOXER engine available
  • New 6-speed manual transmission for 2.5i models
  • New Lineartronic® CVT, with 2.0XT also featuring 6-speed and 8-speed manual shift modes
  • Enhanced Active AWD system with X-Mode and Hill Descent Control
  • Available EyeSight® driver assist technology

Porsche Receives Three 2013 Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Awards

Atlanta.  Porsche has received three Best Resale Value Awards from Kelley Blue Book’s for the 2013 Porsche Cayenne and 2013 Porsche Panamera vehicles.  Cayenne and Panamera were named Best Resale Value in their respective classes.  In addition, the Cayenne SUV is one of the Top 10 cars with Best Resale Value according to Kelley Blue Book’s

Mazda planning debuts at Los Angeles Auto Show

IRVINE, Calif., Nov. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today confirmed the announcement of several North American vehicle debuts at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show.  The all-new 2014 Mazda6 mid-size sedan, updated 2014 CX-5 compact SUV and face-lifted 2013 CX-9 mid-size SUV will make their first continental appearances.  All vehicles are scheduled to be on sale this winter.  A global debut from Mazda Motorsports as well as official timing and vehicle application for the U.S.-destined SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine also will share the stage.


“It’s definitely an exciting time for the Zoom-Zoom brand,” said Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO, MNAO.  “The long-awaited, redesigned 2014 Mazda6 will naturally receive much interest but let’s not take away from our strong SUV lineup in the CX-5 and CX-9, which are segment leaders in their own right.  Motorsports, an innate part of Mazda’s soul, will have important news to share and last but most certainly not least SKYACTIV-D will be here.  I have no doubt that consumers will look at Mazda’s upcoming lineup with wide eyes, stirred hearts and driving inspiration.”

Taking nearly identical design cues from the TAKERI Concept, the 2014 Mazda6 follows in the all-new footsteps and clean-sheet-of-paper approach of CX-5 to become the second production vehicle to feature the full breadth of the KODO “Soul of Motion” design language and also fully incorporate SKYACTIV®[1] TECHNOLOGY.  Mazda6 will feature a new SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine as well as new-to-market technologies in the Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) system, an automated safety feature designed to mitigate front-end collisions at low speeds, and i-ELOOP, a Mazda-developed capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system for improved fuel economy.

The 2014 CX-5 also will receive the SCBS system, which will be available as part of an upgraded Technology Package for Touring and Grand Touring models.  At this time, CX-5 will not be equipped with i-ELOOP.

Both the 2014 CX-5 and 2014 Mazda6 will go on sale in January 2013.

Available at Mazda dealerships now, the 2013 CX-9 receives a mid-cycle facelift, immediately evident in its familial KODO design enhancements to the front and rear fascia.  The three-row, seven-passenger SUV stalwart also becomes even more tech savvy with Mazda’s next-generation audio and infotainment system that includes a 5.8-inch color multi-information touch screen display, updated Bluetooth® audio and phone connectivity, a TomTom technology-based in-dash navigation system, HD Radioâ„¢ Technology, Pandora® and Short Message Service (SMS) audio receipt and delivery.

Mazda Motorsports will unveil an all-new competition race car which will make its motorsports debut in January at the 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona, the premier motorsports endurance race in the United States.  The vehicle will be equipped with a turbocharged SKYACTIV-D 2.2L, making it the first diesel-powered competitor in the 51-year history of the 24-hour race.  Upon build-completion, the diesel racing engine remained 63 percent OEM stock.  Mazda will be seeking its 24th motorsports class win.

More information on Mazda’s Los Angeles Auto Show vehicle debuts as well as updates on its global business plans will be announced during a press conference on Thursday, November 29.  The presentation will begin at 9:30 AM PST and will be held at the Mazda display booth located in the Los Angeles Convention Center’s South Hall.

Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers.  Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.  For more information on Mazda vehicles, including photography and B-roll, please visit the online Mazda media center at

[1] SKYACTIV is a registered trademark of Mazda Motor Corporation (MC).

Notes from George

Winter’s-A-Comin’ – Affordable All-Wheel Drive

By George Straton      

If we got away lucky lucky with some spring-time weather for Thanksgiving this week, WBBM-TV meteorologist and “Drive…He Said” friend, Ed Curran, would caution that meteorological winter is still another week away.  We are willing to go out on a limb and make a forecast of our own: that by the first of the year more than one piece of crystalized H2O will fall from the heavens above.

Once the snow starts sticking to the pavement, buyers in the market for new sets of wheels, white knuckles, sweaty brows and all, will make B-lines towards models which can send power to “All Wheels.” Keeping in mind, whatever advantages all-wheel drive offers in the slippery also apply in the dry.

While slight weight and fuel economy penalties are associated with all-wheel drive hardware, in recent years the gap with front or rear-driven vehicles has truly narrowed.

Drive…He Said” recently tested two “affordable” all-wheel drive applications with divergent missions.

2012 Subaru Impreza Sport wagon On-Road All-Weather Traction on the Cheap:

Boy do we have an affordable all-wheel drive car for you. A brand that was once  viewed as quirky as SAAB and was likely confused with now defunct Swedish car-maker, has made lots of converts in large part due to its allegiance to all-wheel drive as a staple in its entire model line-up (save for the BR-Z). For 2012 Fuji Heavy Industries automaker has given us a re-bodied Impreza Sport five-door wagon. Haunches are less exaggerated than in the last model, now more squared off. The additional D-pillar with imparts the profile of a wagon. A 104″-inch wheelbase results in 35″-generous inches of rear leg-room and 22.5-cubic feet of trunk, which doubles when rear seat-backs fold, is competitive with many compact crossovers. However, be prepared for an overall somber interior in terms of finish. Standard hands-free connectivity is welcome. However, pairing devices is hardly intuitive thanks  to an infotainment head-unit which resembles that in an early 1990s Honda Civic and which offers minimally improved sound. Kudos to Subaru USA’s Customer Service call center, where a living, breathing agent answered our call on the first ring (sans queues). The same agent returned our call with a fix, inside of an hour.

Overall build quality in the Impreza Sport is good down to the polished door fasteners. Quite a few plastics are actually soft. A steering wheel adjusts for height and reach, and the center arm rests slides forward. The driver’s bucket is plenty wide with a modicum of side bolstering. And parents will be heartened by what have to be the easiest-to-access child seat anchors out there, minivans included. Each latch in the Impreza Sport has it’s own cavity in the rear seat cushion, concealed by fabric flaps. Many fingers will owe Subaru gratitude.

For years Porsche has been touting the packaging and weight distribution advantages of horizontally-opposed piston (aka “boxer” / “flat”) engines for the track. Subaru is the only other company which offers “flat” engines in its mass produced street cars in the U.S.. With the primary advantage being that the 2.0-Liter flat-4 cylinder gas powerplant in the Impreza Sport sits in front of the front wheels. So the 148-horsepower flow rear-wards, split evenly between the front wheels and then those “out-back.” When sensors detect loss if traction at a wheel, the viscous coupling of that wheel’s axle shaft will detach power to that wheel. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and aggressive stability control easily prevented the 205/55 Yokohama Avid S34 tires from breaking traction on dry pavement.

Despite an ultra-short 4.1:1 gear ratio, meant to make more of the 145-pound-feet of torque available, we found ourselves frequently downshifting the 5-speed manual gearbox by two gears for any meaningful freeway acceleration. That Impreza Sport manual transmission rewards drivers with direct, if long-ish throws and feather-light clutch engagement. Without an extra 6th gear engine, drive-line, tire and wind-noise become cabin intrusive in concert. Steering reactions are whoopsie-doo slow to inputs. The front strut rear double wishbone suspension deserve more higher spring and damping rates given the excessive roll and dive. Disc brakes at each corner begged for more aggressive pads with better initial bite, as the brake dust would have been camouflaged by the attractive smoke-finished 17″ alloy wheels.

Perhaps the 2012 Impreza Sport’s less-than-icy air-conditioning helped matters, but we’ll take the 28 miles per gallon in boisterous combined driving. As we will the good ride compliance on rough city roads. The price-meter just barely moved from $19,000 to just over $21,000 in the case of our Camelia Red Pearl premium tester. To find another car with the boxer engine’s low-speed raspiness you’d have to multiply that figure by at least a factor of three. And that Porsche Boxter has neither the Subie’s standard all-wheel drive nor its utility.

2012 Jeep Compass 4×4 – Off-Road Capability For a Bit More Dough

A local kid from Belvidere, Illinois, the 2012 Jeep Compass 4×4 is initially a front-drive compact crossover utility vehicle, sharing its platform with the Mitsubishi Outlander. Optionally, it is fitted with Jeep’s Freedom II all-wheel drive system. Under normal dry traction conditions, 100% of engine power is fed only to the front wheel, by way of a continuously variable transmission.  However in the event that ABS and stability control sensors at either front wheel sense slippage, the electronic coupling engages and power is fed rear-wards. Without any snow to contend with, we tried out our Compass Latitude 4×4 first on an off-road trail. Suffice it to say that with a “19:1 selectable “crawl” ratio in the CVT assisted by an electronic locking brake differential, 9-” inches of ground clearance and a maximum 29.6-degree approach angle, the little sport-ute handled some steep grades admirably.

You’d expect the 2.4L inline-4 twin-cam gasoline engine’s 172-horsepower rating should be up to snuff for a 3300-pound compact-ute. Alas, the super wide spacing of the CVT band ratios requires constant battering of the accelerator pedal to obtain any meaningful motion. Twenty-two (22) miles per gallon in combined driving,  isn’t too shabby for an off-road CUV. Invaluable was the Compass’ tow hook as a leaf and mud hill got the best of us during a photo-op. It proved that the tuned-for-the highway quiet 215/65 Goodyear Wrangler SR-A all-terrain tires, on 17″ alloy wheels, should never by mistaken as true off-road mudders.

On blacktop, the Jeep Compass’  front strut / rear multi-link suspension does a good job of quelling excessive body motion. Only the nastiest impacts transmit to the seat bottoms. Steering is sufficiently quick if “galaxies-away” in feel. More numb, if it’s possible, is the spongy brake pedal response fed by four disc rotors. There aren’t lots of soft touch materials and the plastic grains are dicey. Still the isolation of  the Compass cabin from noise was a welcome surprise. The former Wrangler-style front fascia, with its pancake-shaped headlamps, has been sent to the showers in favor of a more streamlined front treatment in line with the Grand Cherokee line.

The 2012 Jeep Compass 4×4 is priced starting at $21,000. Our Latitude-spec tester creeped and crawled out the door for just under $26,000. That included luxuries like heated seats, universal garage door remote,  and hands-free voice commands for media / communications. Off-road equipment includes hill descent braking drive/power-train/ fuel tank skid plates, engine oil cooler and a trailer tow wiring harness for 2,000-pounds of trailer-pulling. The steering wheel, adjustable for tilt, has the kind of illuminated infotainment and cruise control buttons that are well sized, spaced and intuitive. Seats were covered in a annoying fabric which clung to pants like contact cement, while the skin inside the pants slid around. Rear seat legroom and headroom each measuring 39″-inches would be more impressive were it not for the extension of the driver’s center console which protrudes into the space normally reserved for the rear seat middle passenger’s feet. Feel free to load 22 cubic-feet of cargo behind the second row seat, or 54 cubes if you flip the seat back down. Rugged outdoor types and backyard types alike will appreciate the clever pop-out flashlight recessed behind the cargo bay ceiling courtesy lamp.

Yeah, we know there are prettier, more “car-like” compact CUVs out there, with monikers like CR-V and CX-5. For the money, though, none of them offer the all-wheel drive off-road adventures which await in the Jeep Compass.

Our two budget choices for all-wheel drive, good for winter’s powder and summer’s pavement, each in their respective element. (From top to bottom); (1) The trail-rated 2012 Jeep Compass 4×4 starts at $21,000 – our Latitude tester came in just south of $26k. (2) 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport wagon, with full-time all-wheel drive for a admission price of $19,000, with our “Premium” edition ringing up for a still real “bang-for-the buck” at $21,000

And, hey “…Let’s be careful out there….” on the roads this winter!


Book Review: Treasure Box of Classic Woodys


Sebastopol, CA Fetherston Publishing has published a limited edition “treasure box” that will rev the engine of any die-hard classic automobile fan. When it comes to the history of automobiles, Fetherston Publishing has captured the history, spirit and beauty of Woodys. In fact, their celebrated 400-page book has already achieved a string of five-star reviews from some of the automobile world’s most respected critics.

Wanting to offer something even more special to the woody fan, Featherston is today announcing a limited run of their exclusive Treasure Box of Classic Woodys swag.

At the heart of the package is a 400-page book, including 19 chapters, capturing not only the history of OEM station wagons, sedans, and convertibles, but also numerous one-offs, special builds, hot rods and even a chapter on the fake (aka wallpaper) Woodys of the fifties, sixties and seventies.

Opening out to 24×12 inches, readers can enjoy learning about the history of woody wagons built by Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler Town and Country, Chrysler, Dodge and DeSoto, Ford, Mercury, Packard, Plymouth, Studebaker, International, Hot Rod Woodys and Surf Decals. Minor American makes, including American Bantam, Keller, Willys, Hudson, Nash and even Reo are also covered. There’s a chapter on types of trees used to build Woodys, and also on the decals of the world of surfing.

Fetherston’s Treasure Box of Classic Woodys is delivered in a custom maple and mahogany box, which resembles a woody tailgate. The presentation includes the book, a Dime Store toy woody wagon, a wood sample set, vintage and contemporary surf decals, classic woody postcards, and two genuine postage stamps for inclusion in the frontispiece.

David Fetherston call this book ‘The Last Great Woody Book’! As Fetherston notes, printed books are disappearing, and to produce such a book, complete with woody history and nearly 800 images, is unheard of with this type of publication.”

This intriguing and highly valued boxed set offers something extra special for the Woody fan this Christmas. It is priced at $459 (including free domestic shipping). The print run was only 500, so with this short supply in mind, Fetherston urges woody enthusiasts to act fast to avoid disappointment.

For more information, please visit:


David Fetherston


Women drivers now rule the road

Dani Ben-Ari

Women have always influenced the actual development of the auto industry, from Bertha Benz (see and Alice Huyler Ramsey (the first woman to drive across the continental United States in 1909) to racing legend Danica Patrick. Now, for the first time in history women not only outnumber male drivers by nearly one million. And the gender gap among motorists is only expected to increase as the number of teenagers and young adults behind the wheel continues to decline, according to a study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute.

“This changing demographic will have major implications on the extent and nature of vehicle demand, energy consumption and road safety,” commented study author Michael Sivak, who noted that “women are more likely to purchase smaller, safer and more fuel-efficient cars; to drive less, and to have lower fatality rates per distance driving.

It should also be noted that as of 2010, women not only bought 65 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S., but were credited with influencing over 80 percent of all vehicle purchases-including accessories-with those between 40-50 years old buying the most. Next come the 30-40 year olds, followed by 50-60 year olds, followed by those under 30 years of age. Last come women over 60.*

Although some experts speculate that the growing use of the internet may be part of the decline in younger drivers, a more persuasive reason may lie in the eroding economy, including the fact that there is much more unemployment for 16-24 year olds than a generation ago. Als0, the enormous rise in insurance premiums for young males under 25, not to mention gas prices and high costs of maintaining vehicles in general, are also reasons for the decline in younger drivers.

*For more information readers are encouraged to check out Car Ownership For Women by Dani Ben-Ari, currently available on and other online book vendors.



Hurricane Sandy yields a lot of flood-damaged vehicles

Prospective Car Buyers Be Wary

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, flood-damaged cars may “flood” the used car market. No matter the vehicle, Hurricane Sandy did not exclude any make or model. Cars, trucks and motorcycles have been damaged by one of the biggest storms to hit the east coast. What happens to those cars, you ask?  Many of them end up for sale in the used car market.

According to industry experts, Sandy will have a larger impact on the auto industry than Katrina. In 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, approximately 640,000 vehicles in the Gulf Coast area were damaged., a vehicle history reporting service reports that many cars damaged by Hurricane Katrina are still on the market today. With Hurricane Sandy hitting a larger region based on population, we can expect history to repeat itself.

Unfortunately, flooded cars are not easily identified. Many states, such as New York and New Jersey do have laws for branding vehicles damaged by flooding. However, dishonest dealers or owners can often move cars to other states where a clean title can be issued– a practice known as “title washing.”

After Hurricane Katrina, authorities reported truckloads of flooded vehicles being taken out of the flooded states to other parts of the U.S. where they were dried out, cleaned, and readied for sale to unsuspecting consumers. Prospective purchasers of these vehicles may not have known that the vehicles had been soaked by saltwater, making the vehicles’ engine controllers, airbag systems and other electronic systems prone to failure.

So how can the average consumer check whether a vehicle for sale has been flood-damaged?   The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), a national database aggregates data from state DMVs, salvage yards, and insurance carriers into a national repository of historical records– records that cannot be “washed.” Used by law enforcement to trace vehicles across state lines, the NMVTIS database can be accessed by consumers online through, hosted by approved NMVTIS access provider Private vehicle history reporting companies like Carfax maintain an independent database and serve as an alternate source.

Of course, checking the car itself is as important as looking into historical brand records. recommends that consumers also obtain a vehicle inspection by an AES-certified mechanic and to be wary of deals that are too good to be true. The saying “trust, but verify” is best applied here.

KIA and Hyundai Manufacturers Agree to Reimburse Customers

11/4/2012: Recently, procedural errors at the joint Hyundai/Kia testing operations overstated the fuel economy ratings for approximately 900,000 Hyundai and Kia models sold between 2010 and 2012.With the appropriate corrections in place, the 2012 Hyundai/Kia fleet fuel economy level is reduced by an average of 3 percent.

In response to the U.S. EPA, the test processes have been corrected and a program put into place to reimburse owners of affected vehicles for additional fuel costs incurred to date and in the future.

Owners are asked to log onto or to determine if your vehicle is affected. If your vehicle qualifies, you can get an estimate on the site of your reimbursement amount, which is based on the model you own, your odometer reading and the average gas price in your area. An extra 15 percent will be added to your reimbursement amount for the inconvenience.

Visit your dealer with your estimate in hand and they will arrange to have a debit card sent to you.