The Truth About Cars » Car Reviews http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:48:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Car Reviews http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/ Musk: Tesla Will Build Cars In China Within Next Few Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/musk-tesla-will-build-cars-in-china-within-next-few-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/musk-tesla-will-build-cars-in-china-within-next-few-years/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807330 Model S - Tesla Motors China

Though Tesla is now just delivering new vehicles to China, CEO Elon Musk predicts his company will build luxury electric vehicles in the burgeoning market within the next three to four years.

Bloomberg reports the move to localized production would allow the automaker to sell their wares while also avoiding China’s 25 percent import tariff. Right now, a new Model S retails for $118,000 in Beijing due to VAT, shipping and import duties, compared to $71,000 in Los Angeles. Musk hopes to qualify the Model S for local subsidies to help offset costs in much the same way the luxury EV sedan receives federal tax credits back in the United States.

In addition, Tesla is expanding its Supercharger network to China, with Beijing and Shanghai among the first cities to join. No word yet as to how much the automaker is investing in the expansion.

A number of challenges lay ahead for Tesla’s move into the market, including slow adoption of electric vehicles among Chinese consumers and lack of a robust infrastructure, as well the loss of China general manager of operations Kingston Chang prior to the automaker’s entry. That said, Tesla plans to increase overall global sales 56 percent this year, moving 35,000 EVs out of the showroom in so doing.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/musk-tesla-will-build-cars-in-china-within-next-few-years/feed/ 20
UAW Ends Fight For Organization Of Tennessee VW Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/uaw-ends-fight-for-organization-of-tennessee-vw-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/uaw-ends-fight-for-organization-of-tennessee-vw-plant/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 20:30:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806762 volkswagen-chattanooga-solar-park-08

The Huffington Post reports the United Auto Workers has withdrawn its petition with the National Labor Resources Board challenging the results of the February 2014 election regarding organization of the workforce at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

UAW President Bob King said the decision to withdraw was made “in the best interests” of all parties involved, citing the “historically dysfunctional and complex process” such a challenge before the NLRB would entail. King added that resistance met by both Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and U.S. Senator Bob Corker regarding the union’s effort to subpoena the politicians also factored into the decision to stand down:

The UAW is ready to put February’s tainted election in the rearview mirror and instead focus on advocating for new jobs and economic investment in Chattanooga.

Though the challenge — which would have led to a new election at the factory had it been successful — has been withdrawn, King said the challenge did shed light on the election by “inform[ing] the public about the unprecedented interference by anti-labor politicians and third parties,” such as the number of documents gathered by Nashville, Tenn. CBS affiliate WTVF-TV linking Gov. Haslam’s administration to incentives made to VW for a new factory on the alleged stipulation that the Chattanooga plant remaining unorganized.

Had the UAW stood firm with their petition, the first hearing would have been held Monday.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/uaw-ends-fight-for-organization-of-tennessee-vw-plant/feed/ 93
New Nissan Compact Hatch To Lead Fight For Increased European Growth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/paris-2014-new-nissan-compact-hatch-to-lead-fight-for-increased-european-growth/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/paris-2014-new-nissan-compact-hatch-to-lead-fight-for-increased-european-growth/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806258 Nissan_Almera_front_0071129

Eight years after the Nissan Almera left Europe, the automaker is planning a return to the C-segment hatch market in October, with the overall goal of 5 percent overall European market share by the end of FY 2016 in mind.

Automotive News Europe reports the compact hatchback will bow at the 2014 Paris Auto Show prior to going on sale soon after, and will be built in Nissan’s Barcelona, Spain factory, where capacity has been boosted to 80,000 units annually with the aid of a $178 million investment.

As for the Qashqai, which took over for the Almera in Europe upon the latter’s departure to great success, Nissan Europe boss Trevor Mann believes the compact won’t ding sales of the second-gen compact crossover:

In any segmentation you get that cannibalization. We think Qashqai sales will stay level. That car has defied what’s normal. The original annual sales target was 130,000 units. In the first year we made 160,000 units and since then we’ve been making 300,000 units.

Currently, Nissan holds around 4 percent of overall European market share. With the compact hatch leading the way, the automaker aims to own 5 percent by the end of FY 2016 in late March 2017.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/paris-2014-new-nissan-compact-hatch-to-lead-fight-for-increased-european-growth/feed/ 3
Rental Grinders Of The Road: First Place http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/rental-grinders-of-the-road-first-place/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/rental-grinders-of-the-road-first-place/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 16:55:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805434 jgcglass

You’ll search long and hard to find someone else as firmly committed to the removal of the SUV from the American road as your humble author believes himself to be. Although I drove four different Land Rovers during the company’s BMW and Ford periods (a ’97 five-speed Disco, a ’99 Rangie 4.0S that I talked my father into buying, an ’00 Freelander, and an ’03 Discovery 4.6) I had what I felt to be a valid excuse: a BMX and mountain bike hobby that found me on dirt roads and fire trails nearly every weekend. As soon as my knees fired me from those sports, I fired the Rovers and got a Phaeton like decent people do.

The bulk of SUVs foisted on the American public have been irredeemable pieces of garbage, misshapen and deeply offensive embarrassments, gravid with the moist spawn of limitless profit yet crawling with the maggots of brand destruction, long-term customer disappointment, and, occasionally, violent death at the hands of a collapsing roof. You could be forgiven for thinking that the Jeep Grand Cherokee is nothing but another such triumph of cynicism and Barnum-esque contempt for the motoring public, but you would be wrong.

I come to praise the JGC, not to bury it, but there are a few things that must be said before we drive the Ford Edge from the arena. To begin, the rear seat and cargo area in the Jeep aren’t as good as what you find in the Ford. I found riding in the back to be actively painful and so did my passenger. In the interest of fairness, I have to point out that we were both recently struck by a Hyundai Sonata directly in the pelvis; in the interest of accuracy, I have to point that shortly before being passengers in this car we were in a new Viper running hard laps around a California racetrack and were both perfectly comfortable.

Luckily, we were able to distract ourselves with the dual USB power ports and the AC-115 outlet in the rear console. This is such a fantastic idea, and so intimately familiar to Ohio white trash like myself who have Southwest A-List Preferred status and therefore are well-acquainted with the company’s dual-charge airport-lounge seats, that one wonders it wasn’t implemented by someone else years before. Not to worry, it’s here now.

Still, it’s worth noting that the car that a well-respected American autojournalist and club racer called “the American Range Rover” in an email I recently received doesn’t come anywhere near the English Range Rover when it comes to rear-seat accommodations. Even Dad’s ’99 4.0S was far superior to this brand-new Jeep, and the newest Rangies are light-years ahead. In the area of ride, as well, the Indians Brits have the advantage and have long had it. My Discoveries rode better than either the Jeep or the Ford. In this test, however, the Jeep has the clear advantage because the Edge has a weird secondary-ride characteristic that makes every road feel paved with thick gravel. There’s a kind of urrrrrrrrrggggggh that communicates itself along with the copious road noise to all seats in the Edge. It’s tiring and aggravating in equal measure. The Jeep’s no Range Rover but it’s on par with a Camry, ride-wise.

Our Limited didn’t have the boxy LED running lights, by the way. Which means that all the Jeeps you do see with them are Summits or Overlands or the BigTruck-approved JGC SRT-8. Think about that. The roads in the Midwest and East Coast are thick with those LED squares. I wonder what the model mix is for the Grand Cherokee? Betcha it’s heavily biased towards the big-money models.

Which explains why our forty-thousand-dollar Limited tester had the miniature uConnect screen. You need to give the punters a reason to step up to the high-end models, and fitting the Limited with the cheapo screen helps. Incidentally, my father and I went around and around about this when he bought his: he just wanted to spring for the bigger uConnect package, while I thought it was critical that he spring for an Overland or Summit, just so my friends would be impressed when he picked me up from school. It was his money, so he did it his way. Still, when I bought my Accord I briefly considered the JGC and I guarantee you that the Overland was my minimum entry point.

Not that the Limited doesn’t give a solid account of itself in all the touch points. This is where the surprise-and-delight comes in; everything you touch in this car feels pretty first-rate. Even the cheapo uConnect, sitting forlornly and miniscule in its monstrous double-DIN sized cavity like the rebound boyfriend of someone recently dumped by Kobe Bryant, feels reasonably upscale to operate. Even the secret volume-and-channel buttons that arrived in the original uConnect-equipped Chryslers have been upgraded with a smooth finish and a more dignified “click”. Someone’s sweated the details on this car again and again. In this respect, Jeep is more than well-positioned against the rest of the $40,000 brigade. The people who do Cadillac interiors should be locked inside this Jeep and denied food and water until they’ve learned how to make center-stack buttons feel like something other than the power switch on a knockoff Walkman radio.

For the two of us lucky enough to be in the front seat at any given time, then, the Jeep was a brilliant place in which to spend a nine-hour drive. The stereo was better than adequate, although again the rear-seat passengers were victimized, this time by an unpleasant sub-200Hz resonance in the cargo compartment during tracks as diverse as “How Ya Like Me Now” and “Night Passage”. Given that said cargo compartment was stuffed to the roof, one wonders how bad it would have been otherwise.

The HVAC was adequate for all four corners, although neither car could summon a genuine freezing blast of cold air such as what you’d get from a modern S-Class or a classic Fleetwood Brougham. Power, on the other hand, was better than adequate, aided by the 8-speed transmission. No, it’s not GT-R fast, but it’s faster than its V-8 powered predecessors and it returns a reported 25mpg on the freeway. (Incidentally, in response to the “what was your average speed” question in yesterday’s test, the answer is “we had little to no traffic both ways and rarely dipped beneath 75, never exceeding 90.) This powertrain makes the HEMI irrelevant to all but the most acceleration-obsessed and it reinforces my personal conviction that the Pentastar is one of the world’s best engines, initial quality misses be damned.

Unlike the Edge, the Jeep usually required a little correction after rapid lane changes or highway-object avoidance, but who suffers from that? You guessed it — the back-seat passengers, who get head-tossed as a consequence. Starting to see a pattern here?

As fate would have it, your humble author and his companion found themselves in the back of a loaded pre-facelift Lincoln MKX halfway through the show, courtesy of a friend who ordered an Uber ride to get us away from his party before my falling-down-drunk slightly inebriated lady friend harassed poor Travis Okulski any more. (“YOU! YOU’RE TRAVIS! YOU WERE CRYING DURING THAT YOUTUBE VIDEO! YOU’RE GREAT! HEY, EVERYBODY, IT’S TRAVIS!”) Twenty minutes in the back of that MKX, even over miserable roads, reinforced the Edge platform’s potential to serve the back-seat crowd much better than the Jeep can manage.

Oh, well. The era where well-dressed couples double-dated to society balls and country-club parties in deVille coupes or Holiday 98s is long gone, if it ever existed. Most of the time, these suburban warriors will find themselves with one trophy wife in front and one child, approximately the size of a roast turkey, in the back. So as long as you’re driving, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is our undisputed champion, and recommended without reservation.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/rental-grinders-of-the-road-first-place/feed/ 57
Ich bin ein Hotrodder: A Story of My Opel Diplomat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ich-bin-ein-hotrodder-a-story-of-my-opel-diplomat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ich-bin-ein-hotrodder-a-story-of-my-opel-diplomat/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=804154  tumblr_m5sxgur4Ci1qzut9po1_1280-394x350

While JFK was busy capturing the hearts of the German people with his Ich bin ein Berliner speech, the GM engineers at Rüsselsheim were busy at work finishing their next big project – the series of full-size (on European scale) luxury models, called Kapitän, Admiral and Diplomat. Introduced in February of 1964, the new models were meant to take on Mercedes-Benz, though they shared something in common with contemporary America cars, in that they were really just one car, offered in different equipment levels, and with different engine options. Kapitän was the cheapest, with an inline six under the hood, standard manual transmission and relatively sparse equipment. Its size, equipment and power put it somewhere between American compacts and midsize cars of the time, like a smaller 1964 Chevelle, with a dash of Buick styling.

The other two models were more interesting. The Admiral added some equipment, and available V8 engine – the venerable Chevy Small Block, in 283 cubic inch guise. The top of the line Diplomat, which came with even more luxury, shunned the six cylinder altogether. It was produced with a choice of the 283ci V8, and the famous 327, both teamed with a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. The Diplomat even spawned a sexy, Riviera-like V8 coupe model, with only 347 examples and now exceedingly rare – and terribly expensive.

In the next four years, nearly 90,000 KAD Opels were built. Most lived their lives on Germany’s roads and Autobahns, but some went to other countries. A few even got to the other side of the Berlin Wall. And at least two or three (although probably more) made their way to Hungary.

Around the time of the KAD’s final production run, a white Galaxie 500 coupe, with a 390 big block engine, rolled off the Ford assembly line on the other side of the world.

1

For the next half a century, those were totally unrelated events. While the Galaxie 500 puttered around Southern California, preserved by the desert climate, the Admirals and Diplomats in Hungary led eventful, hard lives, which lead them in the state of wrecks.

But their stories were meant to come together. Early in the new century, a Hungarian guy called István bought up three KAD Opels, and started putting them together to build one good car. And some time after that, the old guy owning the Galaxie decided to put it on eBay, where a young guy from Czech Republic saw it, and decided to buy it. That guy was me, and the goal was to import the car, have some fun with it and then flip it for a profit. It didn’t work, because I chose the wrong car. Instead of buying a nicely preserved, but uninteresting four-door, with shiny paint and gleaming chrome, which would sell easily in Europe, I decided to buy a car muscle car enthusiast would like – two-door with a big block engine, discs in front… but also with faded paint and lots of dings and scrapes. Which meant the car didn’t sell, and as my attempt on US classic car importing business fell apart in the global financial crisis, I was stuck with a car I had no means to restore.

07 (1)

At the same time, István fixed up his Opel. He put the best parts of the two or three cars together, fixing up the best body, rebuilding the 283 engine, fitting the modern 200R4 transmission with a bunch of hot-rodder upgrades, and painted the whole thing flat black, to achieve the cool hot-rod look. To spice things up, he added red wheels, and dual exhausts with glasspack mufflers. But before he got around to restoring the interior or finishing details, he got fed up with the thing. He needed change, and he wanted to go American.

I guess you can see where this is going. Two guys with cars that are hard to sell, both in Central Europe, both lusting for what the other one has.

I don’t even recall for sure who did the first contact. I think it was me. We exchanged e-mails for some time, sending photos of our cars, details about their condition, lists of what was done (on his) and what needed to be done (on mine). And eventually, we came to agreement that we really like each other’s car, and that we’ll go through with the trade. It was decided that it would be me who will do the trip, trailering my Galaxie to István’s place in Budapest. I called a friend of mine with a Seat Alhambra and a car trailer (yes, my American friends – while you think that your ¾ ton truck may not be enough to trailer a car, we do it with minivans), we agreed on a date, and off we went.

IMG_0058

The trip itself would be quite uneventful, with the exception of my idiot friend conveniently “forgetting” he was meant to do it for free (to repay some money he owed me), and needing me (totally broke at the time – partly because of said idiot’s actions, like blowing up transmission and differential in my Chevy Caprice) to pony up the fuel money. The exchange went well, I got a tour of the speed shop where István worked, full of cool muscle cars, hot rods and motorcycles. I did a test drive, and fell in love with the car. We shook hands, loaded the car, and off we went.

My slight annoyment about having to pay for the fuel grew into full-blown rage when I found out that we’re nearly out of fuel, have no Hungarian money and may not make it to the first gas station in Slovakia. I firmly decided to unload the Opel and proceed home, leaving my idiot friend stranded in Hungary – with no money, and no ability to understand their language. Fortunately, the venerable 1.9 TDI turbo-diesel marvel once again shown its unbelievable efficiency and took us to Slovakia, and then home.

Fotografie0309-1024x768

So, I was now in possession of a huge (for Europe, it was about the size of the S-class) beast with a slight identity crisis. The car wasn’t sure whether it’s Admiral or Diplomat (although the paperwork said Diplomat), and most of all, it was a cross between an old German luxury sedan and typical American muscle car. With some hot rod influences here and there, starting with the red wheels and Mooneye decals, and ending with the monstrous roar from the exhaust.

Simply put, it was a perfect car for my daily driver, and that was exactly what I wanted to do with it. At the time, I basically had no other fully street legal and functional vehicle, except for the steady stream of press cars. And I had this idea that unlike the 1967 Dodge Coronet, which I also owned at the time and which could only be registered as “antique”, slightly restricting the daily-driver duties, the Diplomat was the perfect solution for times when I had no press car.

ulice

Of course, using the nearly half a century old hot rod for daily driver duties has its problems. If we dismiss the obvious stuff, like fuel consumption(circa 10 to 16mpg) and its enormous size, there was still the other white elephant – it’s a hot rod.

Those of you who live in good old US of A are probably familiar with what a Chevy Small Block with glasspacks sounds like. For the rest of you, it is best likened to four Harley-Davidson motorcycles with loud pipes, running in unison. Slight problem, if you want to go somewhere, or come from somewhere, during the night, and don’t want neighbors to key your car or throw stuff at you. But this could be avoided by leaving and approaching your home while idling – at least that didn’t set off car alarms.

But being a hot rod, meant for nice, sunny days, the Opel had no choke. And starting a carbureted vehicle with no choke, especially in colder weather, means revving the engine for at least a minute, before you set off. Or it would stall. Which gives your neighbours about a minute to come out of their houses and murder you.

Also, the car lacked some other unnecessary stuff, like a heater. And the lowered front end was pretty cool to look at, but the wheel lock was a bit reduced by the tires rubbing against wheel arches. Which sucks for maneuvering in parking lots.

IMG_1285

But non of it mattered, because, oh, boy, it was fun to drive. Of all the cars I owned, this got closest to my ideal of a big, evil, noisy hot-rod/muscle car thing. Not that it drove any good of course. Those big Opels were basically midsize American cars, modified just very slightly for European use. And even pure European cars of that time weren’t significantly better driving or handling than American ones – this came much, much later.

I don’t remember the handling of that thing very much, mostly because it didn’t have any. By turning that monstrous steering wheel in front of you, you were able to somehow tell the car where it should go, and it somehow obeyed. With disc brakes, it was somehow able to stop. But driving fast into corners wasn’t something that would ever cross your mind.

And the funny part was that it wasn’t even fast. It sure sounded fast, and with an open diff and 185-section tires, it was able to lay rubber, peg-legged, for maybe 60 feet. But the 283 was totally stock, with a 2-barrel cabrburettor, and it had 190 horsepower originally – which I suspect were SAE gross horsepower, leaving the “real” number somewhere around 160hp. I can imagine how slow the thing had to be with original Powerglide two-speed, but thankfully, the 200R4 made things a bit more sprightly. And extremely firm shifts of the hot-rodded tranny helped the “feeling of speed”.

The car roared off the line, with heavy jolts on each shift, squealing rubber… and then got beat by just about anything at least remotely quick, including some faster diesels. In a way, it was a really safe way of having fun, because you were going slow all the time, anyway.

IMG_1284

I had big plans for the car. Buying some nicer and bigger wheels, fixing up the annoying problems like too loud glasspacks or missing heater. Or at least registering it in my name, instead of running on the expired Hungarian temporary tags all the time. I even thought about adding some more horsepower, either by massaging the 283, or selling it to someone who wanted a stock engine, and building a Chevy 302. Actually, I think that was one of my best project car ideas of all time – German sedan with 8000rpm-revving Chevy engine.

But then life got in the way. A failing business meant debts to pay – and a lot of them. That’s why I still drive a borrowed Town Car, and why I had to sell the Opel some three years ago. I don’t think I drove it for more than maybe a thousand miles, but even in that short time, I’ve made tons of memories with it.

When I offered it for sale, no one in Czech Republic wanted it – even when I lowered the price way under its worth. I nearly sold it for peanuts, when I realized I didn’t try Germany. And of course, because Germans love old German cars, it sold – in about three days, for basically what I wanted in the ad (and I regretted not wanting more afterwards).

Last I heard from the new owner, he sent me some pictures of the car with new Cragar mags, straightened bodywork and a new paint (again flat black), and scoop sticking out of the hood. I guess the Opel is still alive and well, terrorizing the Germany’s streets.

Photo credits:
Opel, myself, Radek Beneš, István Zitas (pictures in gallery below)

Fotografie0309-1024x768 ulice IMG_0058 P1080758 P1080759 P1080760 P1080761 P1080772 P1080773 P1080774 P1080776 P1080780 P1080784 P1000107 P1000108 P1000110 P1080757 05 06 07 08 31 (1) 218 219 11 IMG_1285 IMG_1284 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ich-bin-ein-hotrodder-a-story-of-my-opel-diplomat/feed/ 39
Rental Grinders Of The Road: Second Place http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/rental-grinders-of-the-road-second-place/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/rental-grinders-of-the-road-second-place/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 20:13:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=804954 cheroedge

The assignment was simple: Take four people and an oversized amount of luggage from sunny Powell, Ohio to Manhattan for the New York Auto Show, using the 556-mile “high road” path down I-80. (The “low road” is the 555-mile grind on Route 70 and its endless Pennsylvania 55-mph construction zones.) To make things interesting, and to save the parking charges at Kimpton’s delightful but pricey “Muse” hotel, we decided to do it as a pair of one-way rentals.

Fate threw us a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with a fairly comprehensive equipment list, and a stripped-out Ford Edge SEL. The Cherokee had just two thousand miles on the digital odometer, while the Ford was livin’ on the edge of its 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Two nine-hour slogs, two crossovers-of-a-sort with two relatively different philosophies but surprisingly similar execution, one winner. Full disclosure: there aren’t any non-stock photos because everybody involved was a hurry to get to, and get out of, the city. Deal with it.

Second Place: Ford Edge SEL V6

This doesn’t really feel like a fair test, does it? Taking the highly-regarded, do-it-all, no-effort-spared-inside-or-out Grand Cherokee, a trucklet so near and dear to our hearts that my father just bought one, and putting it up against the old-platform Edge, a car that was never a favorite of the critics even when it was new. This is like letting Ivan Drago into the ring with Apollo Creed, right?

The thing is, the public doesn’t share the autojourno opinion. True, our own Tim Cain’s rankings show the mighty JGC at #21 in the US-market March sales chart, moving a strong YTD of 40,838. However, the Edge is #33, with a YTD of 33,238. Furthermore, both vehicles are showing a positive sales trend compared to last year. As far as your neighbor is concerned, the bloom is firmly attached to both of these roses.

Our silver Ford Edge SEL was the best of a fairly bad bunch of available CUVs and SUVs for the return leg from LGA to PWL (okay, I just made that up; Powell certainly doesn’t have an airport, although there’s a place to fly model airplanes near the Splash Park) and although we’d have liked to have had an example with lower mileage on the clock, it didn’t really make much of a difference. The Edge has always counted a remarkably solid-feeling structure among its obvious virtues. When my son’s mother traded her Flex Limited for an Edge Limited three years ago, I was immediately struck at just how much more solid, heavy, and inert the Edge felt compared to its larger and (it must be said) more pedigreed sibling. It’s an illusion; the Flex is bigger and it performs better in a crash. But the Edge just feels milled somehow. Probably because in some ways it’s basically an old Fusion with an extra half-ton of metal bolted on somewhere. Thirty-plus-thousand miles of rental abuse didn’t change that.

My first impression of the Edge, as Bark M. picked us up outside the hotel, was positive: it holds more actual luggage than the Grand Cherokee, by quite a bit. The assemblage of roller bags, Tumi carryalls, and laptop messenger cases that filled the Jeep to the roof didn’t even impede rear vision in the Edge. The same was true for the rear seat, which offered more room for shoulders and feet. On the negative side, the center rear armrest was remarkably crappy and, unlike the Jeep’s, forced you to choose between having cups in the fold-out holders and actually using it as an armrest.

Once on the move, however, it became apparent that road noise was going to be a conversational deterrent. Some vehicles are absolutely brilliant when it comes to having a four-corner talk among occupants; my Phaetons were almost too good at it, because you could hear the whispers between occupants in the other row. The Edge is on the other end of the spectrum; it’s necessary to raise your voice to be heard ahead or behind. The Flex, for what it’s worth, is better. In fact, the Flex is better than the Edge at almost everything. Had we been able to get a Flex to go face-to-face with the Jeep for this test, the finishing order wouldn’t have been nearly as obvious.

As a base SEL, the Edge has basic cloth seats. As we expected, the front seats didn’t measure up to the JGC Limited’s leather-lined chairs in any way — but in back, it was a different story. I’ve had a few ribs and vertebrae broken in the past few months and I found the Edge’s rear seats to be much better than the Grand Cherokee’s, in both short-term comfort and long-term support. The same three-hundred-mile stretch that had my ribs audibly cracking and snapping in the Jeep turned out to be no problem in the Ford, even though I’d been pre-brutalized by the trip out to NYC.

When it came my turn to drive, on the other hand, I immediately wished to be a passenger again. The Edge is so completely outclassed as an on-road proposition by the JGC that it’s hard to believe that the former is the transverse-engined platform sans off-road pretenses. Only in lane-change transitional behavior does the Ford have any edge whatsoever over the Jeep; there’s a secondary wobble-back that just doesn’t happen in the Edge. It’s a slightly more relaxing vehicle to pilot for that reason alone.

Nominally, the 3.5V6 in the Edge is a near equal to the 3.6 Pentastar V6 in the Chrysler product, but in the real world it’s not as good, possibly because of the brilliant ZF automatic you get with the Pentastar. Mileage, too, isn’t quite up to par. I drove both vehicles in a conscious effort to maximize reported economy, never exceeding 85mph and staying in cruise control for long stretches of time, and the Edge claimed 23.6mpg on a segment where the Grand Cherokee claimed 25.1. Brakes are okay on both cars, but neither offers the stepping-on-a-steel-block feel you’d get from, say, the monobloc Brembos on a Cayenne. These cars are built to go (shopping), not stop (global warming).

In most respects, the Edge feels a generation behind the JGC. It isn’t just the little touches, like the USB charging ports for both rear seats in the Jeep. Rather, it’s the entire touch-and-feel interface between you and the car. This is a long-in-the-tooth refresh of a twelve-year-old platform, and it feels like it. Nearly five years ago, I was pretty impressed by a loaded Limited, as you can see in the below LLN video of which I’m not particularly proud:

Okay, you have to admit the pizza thing was kind of funny. Or not. Anyway. This SEL doesn’t have most of the stuff you see in that video, which makes it feel even older than it is. Surely Ford’s amortized this platform to the point where they should be able to throw the full MyFordTouch system in at the $32,395 net price of our base AWD SEL, but they continue to expect that you’ll spend an additional two grand to get it. If you don’t — and National Car Rental certainly didn’t — you get a Fiesta-grade interior screen about the size of what you got with the original Nintendo GameBoy.

The net effect is surprisingly downmarket for a vehicle that costs more than a loaded Camcord. The stereo, in particular, is embarrassingly poor. There’s not a lot of surprise and delight here for the money. Some of the interior trim, like the door cards, just feels deliberately crappy. Other parts are simply plain, and that’s no longer good enough in this segment.

You can argue that the Edge SEL works best as a bait-and-switch to get you into a much better-equipped Limited. That vehicle would have been a better competitor to the Grand Cherokee Limited, which at a net $39,390 is more than twenty percent pricier. In fact for $38,695, you can get an Edge Sport AWD, which has the motor and the equipment to take the fight directly to Jeep. In the final analysis, however, it wasn’t the frosting that caused us to rank the Ford second. It was the cake underneath it, which is stale. Eventually, the sales numbers will reflect that. In the meantime, feel free to avoid adding to them.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/rental-grinders-of-the-road-second-place/feed/ 30
Horn: VW Phaeton To Return To US In 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/horn-vw-phaeton-to-return-to-us-in-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/horn-vw-phaeton-to-return-to-us-in-2018/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=804098 phaetons

In an interview with Bloomberg at the 2014 New York Auto Show, Volkswagen America CEO Michael Horn says the Phaeton will return to the United States market as early as 2018.

Autoblog reports the full-size luxury sedan — which last sold in 2006 on our shores — has been under consideration by the automaker for a return sometime between 2018 and 2019. No word has been given on whether or not the 2018 Phaeton will be underpinned by the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, as it was the last time the sedan was sold.

Whether the return will be marred once more by customers scoffing at the idea of paying Audi-A8 money for a VW badge depends on what Horn does to improve dealer relationships, which are strained between the automaker and the network as of late. Currently, both sides are in negotiations regarding improvements to bonuses, marketing and other issues in the hope narrowing the “great distance” between the two parties.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/horn-vw-phaeton-to-return-to-us-in-2018/feed/ 104
Beijing 2014: Production-Ready Ford Escort To Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-production-ready-ford-escort-to-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-production-ready-ford-escort-to-debut/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:30:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=804042 000-ford-escort-concept-shanghai

After several years of dormancy, Ford revived the Escort name for a concept sedan at last year’s Shanghai Motor Show. That concept is now production-ready, and will make its debut this weekend at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show.

Autoblog reports the Escort will be made locally in China through a joint venture, and may sport either a three- or four-cylinder powerplant driving the front wheels.

As for other global markets, an Escort was spotted in Europe earlier this month undergoing testing, but nothing more has come of it.

002-ford-escort-concept-shanghai 000-ford-escort-concept-shanghai 001-ford-escort-concept-shanghai 003-ford-escort-concept-shanghai 004-ford-escort-concept-shanghai ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-production-ready-ford-escort-to-debut/feed/ 63
New York 2014: BMW Debuts 2015 228i Coupe With Track Handling Package http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-bmw-debuts-2015-228i-coupe-with-track-handling-package/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-bmw-debuts-2015-228i-coupe-with-track-handling-package/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803970 bmw-228-track-1-1

For those who opt to save $11,000 by selecting the 2015 BMW 228i Coupe over the M235i, a new Track Handling Package will soon join the options list to help bring the coupe on par with the M235i’s handling skills.

Though power will remain the same — a 240-horsepower four cylinder — Autoblog reports the package will enhance the 228i Coupe’s handling through BMW’s Adaptive M Suspension, Variable Sport Steering, and for stopping power, M Sport Brakes. A set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on exclusive 18-inch alloy wheels aid in delivering the goods to the road.

The Track Handling Package will be available to 228i Coupes with either six-speed manual or eight-speed Sport Automatic transmissions beginning this July, and can be selected during the ordering process. Pricing will be announced closer to its showroom arrival.

bmw-228-track-2-1 bmw-228-track-1-1 bmw-228-track-8-1 bmw-228-track-4-1 bmw-228-track-5-1 bmw-228-track-7-1 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-bmw-debuts-2015-228i-coupe-with-track-handling-package/feed/ 10
New York 2014: 2015 Infiniti Q70 Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-infiniti-q70-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-infiniti-q70-revealed/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 22:14:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803746 2015-Infiniti-Q70-01

Appearing alongside the 2015 Infiniti QX80 at the 2014 New York Auto Show, the 2015 Q70 takes dead aim at the German performance and large sedan markets.

Though the Q70 takes its looks from the Q50, it won’t have the latter’s steer-by-wire system, nor Infiniti’s newest two-screen infotainment system. What it will have is a long-wheelbase variant dubbed the Q70L, which will boast 5.9 inches of rear-seat legroom and a choice of either the 3.7-liter V6 good for 330 horsepower or the 5.6-liter V8 pushing 416 horsepower; the standard model will have four more horsepower from the V8, as well as a hybrid option not available to the newer addition.

Safety systems for both models include lane-departure prevention, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, and Backup Collision Intervention.

2015-Infiniti-Q70-01 2015-Infiniti-Q70-09 2015-Infiniti-Q70-06 2015-Infiniti-Q70-05 2015-Infiniti-Q70-03 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-infiniti-q70-revealed/feed/ 47
New York 2014: 2015 Infiniti QX80 Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-infiniti-qx80-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-infiniti-qx80-unveiled/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 22:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803666 2015-Infiniti-QX80-side-angle

The 2015 Infiniti QX80 joined the 2015 Q70 on stage for its unveiling at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

Under the massive hood lies a 5.6-liter V8 delivering 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft to all four corners through a seven-speed automatic, while safety tech such as automatic-dipping headlights and Predictive Front Collision Warning System aim to deliver all inside safely to the office.

For those wanting something more exclusive, the QX80 Limited ups the game with 22-inch wheels and ash wood trim to the self-described “man cave,” in addition to the standard entertainment system, high-grade leather and adjustable seating.

No word on how many Limiteds will be built, let alone for how much one will sell, but for the rest of us, the base price may be higher than the $63,695 for the outgoing model when the new SUVs arrive in U.S. showrooms this fall.

2015-Infiniti-QX80-steering-wheel 2015-Infiniti-QX80-side-angle 2015-Infiniti-QX80-front 2015-Infiniti-QX80-rear 2015-Infiniti-QX80-interior-1purple-side 2015-Infiniti-QX80-interior-06 2015-Infiniti-QX80-interior-02 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-infiniti-qx80-unveiled/feed/ 40
New York 2014: 2015 Kia Sedona Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-kia-sedona-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-kia-sedona-live-shots/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 21:34:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803610 2015-Kia-Sedona-4

The 2015 Kia Sedona quietly made its public debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show, ready to take up to eight passengers to the nearest Trader Joe’s after soccer practice.

Behind the tiger nose, Kia dropped in a 3.3-liter V6 pushing 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic.

Inside, up eight passengers can pile in depending on configuration, with third-row riders receiving 34.8 inches of legroom, second-row gaining 41.1 inches, and the parents enjoying 43.1 inches up front. Access to the third row is enabled by the Sedona’s Slide-n-Stow system in the second row, which also allows for increased storage room if needed.

Other features include auto-opening tailgate, surround-view monitoring, electronic stability control and ABS.

2015-Kia-Sedona-4 2015-Kia-Sedona-5 2015-Kia-Sedona-3 2015-Kia-Sedona-2 2015-Kia-Sedona-1 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-kia-sedona-live-shots/feed/ 19
New York 2014: 2015 Dodge Challenger Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-challenger-debuted/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-challenger-debuted/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 21:07:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803530 2015-Dodge-Challenger-7

Prior to the 2015 Dodge Charger descending onto the stage, the 2015 Challenger made its world debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The Challenger will arrive in showrooms ahead of its sedan brother in Q3 2014, and will bring with it eight different trims, including the R/T Shaker and 392 HEMI Scat Pack. Under the hood — whether shaking or static — a choice of three engines will send power to either the standard six-speed manual or the new eight-speed Torqueflite automatic: 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 (305 hp); 5.7-liter HEMI V8 (375 hp); and 6.4-liter HEMI V8 (470 hp/lb-ft of torque).

Inside, drivers will have adjustable gauges, UConnect with remote-start and Performance Pages adjustable performance system, and two touchscreens at the ready.

As for outside, the new Challenger takes its cues from the 1971 Challenger, though with modern upgrades such as LED daytime running lights and LED tail lamps.

2015-Dodge-Challenger-7 2015-Dodge-Challenger-6 2015-Dodge-Challenger-1 2015-Dodge-Challenger-5 2015-Dodge-Challenger-4 2015-Dodge-Challenger-3 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-challenger-debuted/feed/ 29
New York 2014: 2015 Dodge Charger Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-charger-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-charger-live-shots/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:32:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803314 2015-Dodge-Charger-10

Alongside the 2015 Dodge Challenger, the 2015 Charger made its debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The Charger, which will follow the Challenger to the showroom a few months later, will bring both the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 5.7-liter HEMI V8 to the party. The former will push 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic, which will also help send the HEMI’s 370 horses and 395 lb-ft of tire-destroying torque to the back or, if equipped, all four wheels.

The big change, however, is its Dart/Durango-esque look, including LED daytime running lights and the blacked-out grill that will likely be obscured by the bull bar of the police-ready variant when the fleet orders are delivered and prepped.

2015-Dodge-Charger-10 2015-Dodge-Charger-13 2015-Dodge-Charger-18 2015-Dodge-Charger-17 2015-Dodge-Charger-7 2015-Dodge-Charger-9 2015-Dodge-Charger-8 2015-Dodge-Charger-23 2015-Dodge-Charger-16 2015-Dodge-Charger-20 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-charger-live-shots/feed/ 43
New York 2014: 2016 Audi A3 TDI Sportback Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2016-audi-a3-tdi-sportback-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2016-audi-a3-tdi-sportback-live-shots/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:22:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803234 2015-Audi-A3-TDI-Sportback-6

The 2016 Audi A3 TDI Sportback turned up at the 2014 New York Auto Show wearing white over its diesel-driven FWD system and automatic transmission.

The diesel in question is a 2-liter turbo pushing 150 horsepower to the front through a standard six-speed S tronic transmission.

Inside, drivers can kick out the jams through the hatchback’s MMI infotainment and Bang & Olufsen audio systems while passengers make use of the on-board 4G LTE connection.

No word on pricing, fuel economy or other details beyond an arrival time of Summer 2015.

2015-Audi-A3-TDI-Sportback-7 2015-Audi-A3-TDI-Sportback-6 2015-Audi-A3-TDI-Sportback-1 2015-Audi-A3-TDI-Sportback-5 2015-Audi-A3-TDI-Sportback-4 2015-Audi-A3-TDI-Sportback-3 2015-Audi-A3-TDI-Sportback-2 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2016-audi-a3-tdi-sportback-live-shots/feed/ 15
New York 2014: 2015 Subaru Outback Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-subaru-outback-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-subaru-outback-revealed/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:21:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803114 2015-Subaru-Outback-06

The 2015 Subaru Outback made a stop at the 2014 New York Auto Show as the fifth-generation wagon makes its way to the showroom floor this summer.

Under the bonnet, a choice of either a 2.5-liter flat-4 or 3.6-liter flat-6 will send 175 to 256 horsepower through a standard CVT to all four corners. The Legacy-esque Outback should average 28 mpg from the flat-4, 22 with the flat-6.

As for safety, rearview camera, pre-collision braking and adaptive cruise control make up part of the overall driver-protection package on-offer from Subaru.

2015-Subaru-Outback-01 2015-Subaru-Outback-06 2015-Subaru-Outback-02 2015-Subaru-Outback-rear 2015-Subaru-Outback-back 2015-Subaru-Outback-taillight ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-subaru-outback-revealed/feed/ 43
New York 2014: Honda Announces 2015 Fit-Based HR-V CUV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-honda-announces-2015-fit-based-hr-v-cuv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-honda-announces-2015-fit-based-hr-v-cuv/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:54:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803034 honda-hr-v-2

Automotive News reports Honda announced the Fit-based subcompact crossover will be called the HR-V, releasing the first official photos during the 2014 New York Auto Show. The crossover will enter U.S. showrooms later this year from Honda’s Celaya, Mexico plant, where the Fit is made, and will be priced just below the CR-V, currently $23,775 to start.

honda-hr-v-2 honda-hr-v 2015-honda-hr-v-suv-rear-view ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-honda-announces-2015-fit-based-hr-v-cuv/feed/ 118
New York 2014: Mazda Skyactiv Chassis Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-mazda-skyactiv-chassis-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-mazda-skyactiv-chassis-live-shots/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:14:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=802970 Mazda-Skyactiv-Chassis-05

While Mazda’s new MX-5 Miata’s debut will have to wait another day, the iconic roadster’s new Skyactiv Chassis made the rounds at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

As demonstrated, the new chassis places the engine further back toward the center while providing the upcoming Miata with a lower center of gravity and 220 pounds in weight savings over the outgoing chassis. Front and rear suspensions have been reworked, and steering improvements have been made, including the introduction of electric power steering.

Mazda-Skyactiv-Chassis-02 Mazda-Skyactiv-Chassis-03 Mazda-Skyactiv-Chassis-05 Mazda-Skyactiv-Chassis-06 Mazda-Skyactiv-Chassis-07 Mazda-Skyactiv-Chassis-08 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-mazda-skyactiv-chassis-live-shots/feed/ 26
New York 2014: Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-land-rover-discovery-vision-concept-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-land-rover-discovery-vision-concept-live-shots/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:58:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=802778 Land-Rover-Discovery-Vision-Concept-06

The future of the Land Rover Discovery family — the Discovery Vision concept — was unveiled before attendees at the 2014 New York Auto Show Wednesday.

The concept SUV’s design language will be echoed throughout the entire family that will begin entering showrooms in the coming years, though that’s only the beginning for the Discovery’s silver future.

Among the many driving enhancements on-board the concept include Remote Drive Control — allowing the driver to maneuver their Defender out of the bog without needing to be behind the wheel — Transparent Bonnet display for avoiding obstacles obscured by the height of the bonnet, Laser Terrain Scanning, and Smart Glass augmented reality system.

Land-Rover-Discovery-Vision-Concept-06 Land-Rover-Discovery-Vision-Concept-05 Land-Rover-Discovery-Vision-Concept-02 Land-Rover-Discovery-Vision-Concept-03 Land-Rover-Discovery-Vision-Concept-08 Land-Rover-Discovery-Vision-Concept-01 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-land-rover-discovery-vision-concept-live-shots/feed/ 28
Too Big To Fail, Too Confused To Operate: Analysis Of 619 Pages Of Cobalt Engineering Documents [w/ Full Text] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/too-big-to-fail-too-confused-to-operate-analysis-of-619-pages-of-cobalt-engineering-documents-w-full-text/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/too-big-to-fail-too-confused-to-operate-analysis-of-619-pages-of-cobalt-engineering-documents-w-full-text/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799138  

DSC_9144
The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently released the documents GM submitted for investigation, which includes emails and internal reports documenting GM’s response to reports of their early Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models inadvertently shutting the car “off” while driving due to an ignition cylinder that was, simply, too easy to turn out of the “run” position; and in the case of several accidents, allowed the ignition cylinder to rotate out of the run condition before or during accidents, causing the airbags to not deploy when required.

The documents, totaling 619 pages (some with repeat info), reveal just how deep seated “old GM” was in their cost cutting ways (Driving down supplier costs to the point of sacrificing quality, admittedly poorly designed ignition cylinder, and removing internal quality control on the parts), and just how blind sided “new GM” was during their investigations. It also confirms how suspended engineers Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman were involved in the ignition switch response, and fuzzy problem solving. Full text and an analysis of key documents below.

We already know the basics of how this happened, but it’s still surprising just how ingrained GM was in putting the issue aside. The key issues are these:

  • GM became aware of the ignition issue in the 2001 preproduction Saturn Ion and the 2005 preproduction Chevrolet Cobalt.
  • Gary Altman initiated the report that lead to the insert, and Ray DeGiorgio consulted on the fix and argued against ignition switch changes.
  • Many different options were proposed, including suggestions from Delphi.
  • Cost played a major role in the decision to not recall the ignition switch early on.
  • The later key insert was the result, and was seen not as a fix, but as a “containment.”
  • GM also had very little oversight on parts from Delphi, only relying on Delphi’s incomplete testing.
  • GM’s engineers knowingly put the cars to market with a defective ignition switch.
  • This lead to ISB #05-02-35-007.
  • In 2006, DeGiorgio eventually signed off on design changes for Delphi, that included a stronger spring and plunger for the detent mechanism in the ignition cylinder, which provides a physical resistance between the different key positions.
  • When implemented in 2007, the new ignition cylinders cost less than a dollar per unit more than the original design; $400,000 to retool the production lines. These are the same changes that were deemed “not an acceptable business case” in 2005
  • As company, however, no one knew who signed off on the change until the Melton family lawsuit.
  • In court, DeGiorgio testified that he was unaware of changes to the ignition cylinder that would have effected the detents, only mentioning the key change..
  • Later investigations showed that the Cobalt had a substantial number of airbag warranty claims.
  • Higher level GM representatives broadsided by NHTSA’s investigations and disapproval of their slow reaction to other recent recalls.

First up, Gary Altman’s and Ray Giorgio’s role in the ignition cylinder issue is a problem. In court, Altman claimed that he did not feel that the Melton’s car was “unsafe.” This coming after submitting the initial mechanical complaint about the ignition falling out of run, in 2004:

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf
During the investigation, several different approaches to modify the ignition cylinder were brought up to DeGiorgio. All of which were quickly dismissed by DeGiorgio, because the switch was already “very fragile,”

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (1)
Later on, all fixes were dropped, as it wasn’t deemed necessary. With a tight deadline and budget, the engineers could not justify any of the fixes at the time, as it wasn’t an “acceptable business case.”

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (2) docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (3) docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (4)

In 2006, DeGiorgio finally signed off on a design change for Delphi. The design change included  a stronger spring and longer detent plunger to increase the force needed to switch the key between different positions, along with an unrelated electrical upgrade. In an unexplained move, DeGiorgio did not assign a new part number to the improved switch design. The design change added 90 cents to the parts cost, and about $400,000 in tooling costs.

 

cobalt report 3
docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD047.pdf (1)

But, with this large of a role in the decision to delay the redesigned ignition switch, DeGiorgio claimed that he was not aware of any mechanical changes to the switches during his testimony in the Melton family suit against GM:

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD056.pdf
Though, he did sign off on the changes, and worked with Delphi to test batches of ignition cylinders that contained an upgraded PCB (Printed Circuit Board), and detent plunger:

cobalt report 14

democrats.energycommerce.house.gov sites default files documents GM-Commodity-Validation-Sign-Off-2006-4-26.pdf

 

Curiously enough, though, is that GM had very little oversight on Delphi’s quality control, and Delphi did not check the rotational torque needed to turn past the switches detents. GM simply accepted Delphi’s parts and trusted their QC. But with rumored tensions between GM and Delphi, it’s said that cost cutting measures might be to blame as GM forced Delphi to push prices down, sacrificing parts quality. If this were true, GM’s choice to outsource QC to the supplier left them in the dark for too long, preventing them from seeing the immediate effects of their problems with Delphi:

cobalt report 4cobalt report 18

While this was going on, GM released the key insert as a “containment solution;” it would be the minimum needed to alleviate the problem for effected customers. This was chosen over two other modifications to the ignition cylinder, which were seen as a “partial solution” in the case of adding an additional detent mechanism to add more resistance to rotating the key out of “run,” and a “sure solution” involving moving the ignition switch higher up on the column, using a gear drive system to reach the rotary switch responsible for selecting which electrical circuit to run on. The added gearing would also increase rotational torque, the design stated.
cobalt report 11
cobalt report 12cobalt report 13
In 2007, the NHTSA began to probe into the surprising number of airbag-related complaints, despite “GM’s indications that they see no specific pattern.”
cobalt report 15

The issue was set aside, for the most part, until GM was informed by the Melton suit that there was a possible design change in the switch, based on an investigation into junkyard-found switches from the effected models. The testing showed that there was a noticeable change in detent torque, but no documentation from GM to show the changes. The GM engineers and representatives in the case were caught off guard by this design change, and began an internal investigation. This investigation lead GM engineer Brian Stouffer to find the documents that showed DeGiorgio signing off on design changes with no part number change.

cobalt report 5cobalt report 16
Finally, the most impressive point of this story comes from GM’s reactions to the NHTSA’s investigations. The NHTSA emailed GM asking for clarification on several other recalls, documenting GM’s reactions to other product issues with a disdain for GM’s penchant for doing the least amout possible to avoid full recalls; ie: regional recalls for parts failures in the rust-belt states. Saying that some were broadsided by this information would be an understatement:

cobalt report 19[...]
cobalt report 19

The response by Mike Robinson, VP for environment, energy and safety policy, sums up GM’s perception and confusion over their responses to the Cobalt issue, and several other poor recall responses in the past. “This note from NHTsA, both the content and tone, comes like a bolt out of the blue,” he states, “We worked way too hard to earn a reputation as the best and we are not going to let this slide.”

cobalt report 19
To summarize, GM is its own worst enemy. They responded poorly to incredibly early reports, dismissing the issue too quickly as a casual problem. With reports going back to 2001, during the Saturn Ion development, there is no reason why the switch should have come unmodified to the Cobalt development; never mind the dismissal of the problem before the car was produced. Ray DeGiorgio’s role in this problem is larger than he initially lead on in the Melton case, though his motive in this discrepancy is unknown at this time.

Full text to all 619 pages can be find here.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/too-big-to-fail-too-confused-to-operate-analysis-of-619-pages-of-cobalt-engineering-documents-w-full-text/feed/ 135
Tesla Charging Station Coming To Carl’s Jr. In Gila Bend, Arizona http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-charging-station-coming-to-carls-jr-in-gila-bend-arizona/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-charging-station-coming-to-carls-jr-in-gila-bend-arizona/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:18:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=801170  Gila Bend 2

Pity poor Tesla Motors. The General Motors recall crisis has knocked the electric automaker out of the auto industry headlines. There were times when half the news stories on industry feeds like this one would be about Tesla. TTAC is here to help get the company back on track to maintaining their 3:1 News Stories-To-Cars Sold Ratio.

The above picture was taken in the parking lot of a Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant in dusty, desolate Gila Bend, Arizona. If you have ever been to Gila Bend you can attest to the fact that the shot is actually in color.

It was quite a jolt to spot this under-construction Tesla Supercharger station in Gila Bend this week as I was headed towards California. It proves Tesla is well on its way to building a coast-to-coast network of charging outlets. Gila Bend sits between San Diego and Tucson on I-8 at the turnoff for Phoenix, so West Coast owners on their way to Phoenix can stop here or at the Hilton Garden Inn in Yuma, Arizona to “fill up.” (Curiously, Tesla’s website currently shows no San Diego chargers or any in Tucson.)

I am sure that part of Tesla’s strategy to is locate its Superchargers at the most upscale establishments available with easy access to the interstates. In Gila Bend the best place in town is this greasy burger chain. It will certainly be a new experience for Tesla drivers to eat a Western X-tra Bacon Thickburger or walk next door to the Love’s Truck Stop during their 75 minute stopover. Certainly, members of the Tesla Motors Club are excited about Gila Bend.

If Tesla should ever go out of business, perhaps due to having no traditional dealer network as Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon suggested yesterday, or due to an end to their subsidies from the government, their charging station stanchions will become as collectable as Route 66 signs.

I want one from Gila Bend.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-charging-station-coming-to-carls-jr-in-gila-bend-arizona/feed/ 38
New York 2014: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-volkswagen-jetta-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-volkswagen-jetta-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:59:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800898 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-13

Though the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta bowing at the 2014 New York Auto Show may be refreshed, most of the work may just be too subtle to notice at first.

Updates to the outgoing model include LED running lights for daytime cruising, new tail and trunk lighting, revised rain gutters, and underbody shrouding.

Under the hood, three gasoline engines and one turbodiesel help move the Jetta along. The all new 2-liter TDI with a six-speed manual holds a combined 37 mpg while pushing 150 horses with 236 lb-ft of torque through the front wheels.

Inside, the biggest change is an upgrade in technology for the Jetta, including blind-spot monitoring, adaptive front lighting with Bi-Xenon headlamps, and rear cross-traffic alert. Other interior upgrades include new fabrics, air vent controls and ambient lighting.

The new Jetta will arrive in U.S. showrooms Q3 2014.

2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-01 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-02 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-03 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-04 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-11 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-13 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-15 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-16 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-volkswagen-jetta-live-shots/feed/ 22
New York 2014: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-hyundai-sonata-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-hyundai-sonata-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:52:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800810 2015-Hyundai-Sonata-10

Unveiled in South Korea last month, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata made its United States debut during the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The sedan, set to roll out of Hyundai’s Montgomery, Ala. plant this summer, offers an improved ride quality thanks to a stiffer chassis and lower co-efficient of drag. Up front, either a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-pot or turbocharged 2-liter put less power to the front wheels than the previous generation of engines, with the former creating 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque while the latter churning 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft torque. Both engines are forever linked to a six-speed automatic.

Those opting for the turbo-four can add the Sport trim to their Sonata, bringing bigger brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels, quad exhaust, and more aggressive bodywork to the package.

Stepping inside the sedan, those who test-drove the Genesis sedan may feel a sense of deja-vu thanks to the driver-oriented center stack. Meanwhile, Hyundai will be offering a number of safety conveniences for the Sonata, including blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert.

2015-Hyundai-Sonata-10 2015-Hyundai-Sonata-8 2015-Hyundai-Sonata-5 2015-Hyundai-Sonata-9 2015-Hyundai-Sonata-6 2015-Hyundai-Sonata-2 2015-Hyundai-Sonata-1 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-hyundai-sonata-live-shots/feed/ 50
New York 2014: 2015 Acura TLX Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-acura-tlx-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-acura-tlx-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:52:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800698 2015-Acura-TLX-22

As the Acura TL and TSX are both dropped into the crusher of history, their replacement, the production-ready 2015 TLX, took the stage today at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

Having made its world debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, the TLX in New York will retain the former’s beak nose and bejeweled headlamps on its way to the showroom later this year.

As for what future TLX drivers will receive, two engines will put the power to either the front or all four wheels: 2.4-liter four-pot with 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and 3.5-liter V6 producing 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic. The four-cylinder FWD model will be augmented by Acura’s PAWS all-wheel steering system, while the V6 receives the SH-AWD handling system when AWD is selected on the options list. Combined fuel economy is expected to be 28 mpg for the 2.4-liter 4, 25 mpg for both FWD and AWD V6 models.

Inside, drivers will enjoy soft-touch plastics, wood and alloy accenting, leather, Acura’s AcuraLink infotainment system, GPS-linked climate control, and premium stereo sound.

And the price? Acura will make that announcement closer to the launch of the TLX.

2015-Acura-TLX-22 2015-Acura-TLX-21 2015-Acura-TLX-18 2015-Acura-TLX-17 2015-Acura-TLX-16 2015-Acura-TLX-6 2015-Acura-TLX-13 2015-Acura-TLX-14 2015-Acura-TLX-11 2015-Acura-TLX-10 2015-Acura-TLX-9 2015-Acura-TLX-7 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-acura-tlx-live-shots/feed/ 50
New York 2014: 2015 Nissan Murano Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-nissan-murano-revealed-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-nissan-murano-revealed-2/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:52:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800586 2015-Nissan-Murano-10

The 2015 Nissan Murano showed off its new looks before the world at the 2014 New York Auto Show, and brought some improvements to the table, as well.

The Murano has a 3.5-liter V6 putting 260 horsepower to the front or all four corners through its CVT, weighs 130 pounds less than the outgoing Murano, and should match said crossover in fuel economy at around 18 city/24 highway.

Outside, the crossover boasts Nissan’s new design language, including “boomerang” head- and tail lamps, while the inside proclaims 60 percent less stitching in the upholstery and an infotainment system featuring 11 Bose speakers.

2015-Nissan-Murano-10 2015-Nissan-Murano-9 2015-Nissan-Murano-8 2015-Nissan-Murano-7 2015-Nissan-Murano-5 2015-Nissan-Murano-4 2015-Nissan-Murano-3 2015-Nissan-Murano-2 2015-Nissan-Murano-1 2015-Nissan-Murano-6 2015-Nissan-Murano-16 ]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-nissan-murano-revealed-2/feed/ 14