The Truth About Cars » North America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 13 Sep 2014 17:39:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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 » North America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Kia Eyeing Diesels For U.S. Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kia-eyeing-diesels-for-u-s-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kia-eyeing-diesels-for-u-s-market/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:20:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863481 Kia is apparently looking at expanding into the niche diesel market in the United States – but not just yet. Speaking to Just Auto, Kia’s Orth Hendrick, who is VP of Product Planning, said “The problem right now is that there are different emissions standards in Europe and the US, which means we would be faced […]

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Kia is apparently looking at expanding into the niche diesel market in the United States – but not just yet.

Speaking to Just Auto, Kia’s Orth Hendrick, who is VP of Product Planning, said

“The problem right now is that there are different emissions standards in Europe and the US, which means we would be faced with different after-treatments, and that makes it very expensive…But with EU6 in 2017-18 there would be the same standards in both Europe and the US, and that gives us a better chance.”

Now, the question is, what will be Kia’s first diesel? If I had to place a bet, I’d say the next-generation Soul.

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BMW To Announce Second North American Factory Before Summer Break http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-to-announce-second-north-american-factory-before-summer-break/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-to-announce-second-north-american-factory-before-summer-break/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852977 Still mulling over where to build a second North American factory, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer stated his company would have an answer before the automaker goes on summer break. Automotive News Europe reports the automaker is considering countries who have signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, including Canada, United States and Mexico, for a […]

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Still mulling over where to build a second North American factory, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer stated his company would have an answer before the automaker goes on summer break.

Automotive News Europe reports the automaker is considering countries who have signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, including Canada, United States and Mexico, for a factory where it may build the 3 and 1 series, as well as MINIs.

BMW is doing this in order to properly battle Teutonic competitors Audi and Mercedes, both of whom have or will have factories in place to meet demand, as well as better handle currency challenges by producing popular vehicles in the same market they are bought. All three are also battling it out on record deliveries for 2014, with China and the U.S. as the battleground.

Meanwhile, BMW is spending $1 billion to expand its Spartanburg, S.C. plant to 50 percent increased production capacity by 2016, when the full-size X7 will be among the 450,000 X Series SUVs to leave the line annually. The outgoing record holder in Dingolfing, Germany produced 342,000 3, 5, 6 and 7 series models in 2013.

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Alfa 4C Arrives In 86 North American Showrooms, Brings 342 Pounds Of Luggage http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/alfa-4c-arrives-in-86-north-american-showrooms-brings-342-pounds-of-luggage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/alfa-4c-arrives-in-86-north-american-showrooms-brings-342-pounds-of-luggage/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=841969 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has just released their initial list of dealerships who will have the right to sell the Alfa Romeo 4C to North American customers, while the sports car will bring 342 pounds of luggage for the trip from Modena to the selected showrooms. Autoblog reports all but four dealerships will be in the […]

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has just released their initial list of dealerships who will have the right to sell the Alfa Romeo 4C to North American customers, while the sports car will bring 342 pounds of luggage for the trip from Modena to the selected showrooms.

Autoblog reports all but four dealerships will be in the United States — the remaining four are in Canada — and the majority of those will be concentrated in three of the 33 states on the initial list: California, Florida and Texas. The chosen ones were drawn from a list of existing Fiat and Maserati dealerships, and though expected cities like Los Angeles, Orlando and Austin will be among the chosen, a few big names didn’t make the first cut, including New York, Seattle and Louisville, Ky.

Meanwhile, the chosen dealerships “will have a unique staff dedicated to the brand’s premium market clientele,” per the words of Chrysler Group vice president of network development Peter Grady. The dealerships are undergoing “an intensive curriculum” to ensure the success of the 4C and limited-edition 4C Launch Edition as FCA presses forward toward its goal of over 300 Alfa dealerships in North America.

As for the 4C itself, Jalopnik says the sports car packed on an additional 342 pounds to its 2,153-pound Euro-spec frame for the U.S. market, coming into port at 2,495 pounds. Aside from the usual federalization mandates, some of the weight comes from the standard air-con and radio equipped in the U.S.-spec model.

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Honda, Nissan, Toyota Set Production Record Against Weakening Yen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/honda-nissan-toyota-set-production-record-against-weakening-yen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/honda-nissan-toyota-set-production-record-against-weakening-yen/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 16:32:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=706538 As the yen weakened against the dollar for a second consecutive year, Honda, Nissan and Toyota all set production records in their North American plants in 2013, according to Automotive News. Outputs for the trio last year include 1.86 million units for Toyota, 1.78 million for Honda, and 1.47 million for Nissan, though gains on […]

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Toyota Baja California Assembly Line

As the yen weakened against the dollar for a second consecutive year, Honda, Nissan and Toyota all set production records in their North American plants in 2013, according to Automotive News.

Outputs for the trio last year include 1.86 million units for Toyota, 1.78 million for Honda, and 1.47 million for Nissan, though gains on the production line didn’t match sales in the United States. However, exports took up the slack in U.S. showrooms, with more units sent to growing markets such as South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Latin America.

As far as individual models are concerned, Honda built 466,695 Accords at their Marysville, Ohio plant in 2013, around 20,000 more than the number of Camrys Toyota workers at the automaker’s Georgetown, Ky. plant.

The Japanese Three expanded their presence in North America as insulation against a falling yen, which fell 17.6 percent against the dollar in 2013 after falling 11 percent in 2012, as well as protection from overseas production disruptions that could affect North American output. In fact, Honda will soon open a plant in Celaya, Mexico to build the Fit, with the long-awaited 2015 NSX to be assembled in an experimental plant in Marysville.

Regarding Hyundai and Kia, the two South Korean automakers set a few records of their own in North America, including 399,495 Sonatas and Elantras leaving Hyundai’s Montgomery, Ala. plant, and 105,647 Santa Fes rolling out of the Kia line in West Point, Ga.

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Supply Chain Bottleneck Due In Five Years According to Study http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/supply-chain-bottleneck-due-in-five-years-according-to-study/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/supply-chain-bottleneck-due-in-five-years-according-to-study/#comments Wed, 13 Nov 2013 14:22:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=650146 Bottlenecks are bad things to experience. Around 70,000 years ago, the Toba supervolcano eruption reduced humanity to anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs — thus creating a genetic bottleneck — alongside a global cooling event concurrent with the Last Glacial Period. For automakers in the United States and their North American supply chain, their […]

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Bottlenecks are bad things to experience. Around 70,000 years ago, the Toba supervolcano eruption reduced humanity to anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs — thus creating a genetic bottleneck — alongside a global cooling event concurrent with the Last Glacial Period.

For automakers in the United States and their North American supply chain, their Toba event is coming.

A study from Detroit consulting firm Harbour Results, Inc. warns that in five years’ time, the North American auto industry will experience a 40 percent bottleneck in their ability to screw together the cars and trucks we so love, due to falling short $6 billion in tooling capacity. As it stands, the industry will need $15.2 billion in tooling each year to avoid this fate; current industry capacity is $9.3 billion.

The issue isn’t helped by the fact that there are only 750 tool shops in North America, down a third from their peak in the late 1990s in part due to the global recession. On top of this, the average age of a toolmaker in each of the shops hovers around 52, with few new toolmakers coming up in the ranks to replace them; Harbour Results’ CEO Laurie Harbour states the training needed to bring aboard a toolmaker takes six years to complete.

On the other side, the automakers are planning to introduce 154 new models between now and 2018, a third alone coming down the ramps in 2014. With each new model requiring around 3,000 new tools to screw them all together, if not more due to increasing complexity, capacity can only continue to be strained.

Along with the other issues at hand, there’s also the fact that the automakers producing their goods in North America prefer to keep their business inside the NAFTA zone, ignoring Chinese toolmakers who could make the tooling needed quickly and cheaply. That said, Chinese and German toolmakers are planning to set up shop in the economic zone soon in an effort to encourage automakers to reach out for their tools once the latter opts to remove their blinders.

Another potential cause of the coming automotive production bottleneck? Disasters such as the Marl Chemical Park explosion in 2012, the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami in 2011, or a similar incident like the Lac-Mégantic derailment this year.

The only solution to all of these scenarios, in the words of Charlie Sheen, is for automakers to plan better by finding where the bottlenecks could occur, and promptly finding ways to avoid them, whether it’s through shifting key component manufacturing elsewhere or simplification of their latest and greatest.

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Hamster Heart, Electric Soul http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/hamster-heart-electric-soul-kia-soul-ev-in-north-america-soon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/hamster-heart-electric-soul-kia-soul-ev-in-north-america-soon/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=648482 If you’re into EVs but find theTesla Model S too expensive, and the Leaf too jelly bean, then Kia would like to offer you something with a bit of soul. An electric Soul, that is. The Soul EV will be the first EV sold outside of South Korea, with experience gained from the development and […]

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Kia Soul EV

If you’re into EVs but find theTesla Model S too expensive, and the Leaf too jelly bean, then Kia would like to offer you something with a bit of soul. An electric Soul, that is.

The Soul EV will be the first EV sold outside of South Korea, with experience gained from the development and limited introduction of the Ray EV to government and rental fleets in their native market. Though no specific date has been set for the Soul EV’s North American rollout, Kia says to expect the electric hamstermobile to arrive in showrooms sometime in the second half of 2014, possibly bearing a 2015 model year designation.

If you’re lucky enough to be introduced to the Soul EV next year, expect drive away in a vehicle made for the city without looking like an electric wizard. Under the hood will be an electric motor pushing 109 horses out through the front door while providing 210 square-pounds of Whole Foods Market-pulling torque. Zero to 60 takes about 12 seconds, and you’ll be able to go back to the future with the Soul EV’s top speed of 90 mph.

The Soul EV will utilize what Kia calls the Virtual Engine Sound System, or VESS. At 12 mph or less, or while backing out with those organic goodies, the VESS will emit an audio alert of some sort to warn those hipsters to move out of your way in an ironic manner.

As for range and charging, the Soul EV is definitely meant for commuting to and from the hip neighborhood you call a home, with a target range of 120 miles per charge. While putting in your time at that awesome startup that will revolutionize the way you play with running vicious candy farmers, the Soul’s 27 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack will take five hours to charge on a standard 240v outlet, or 25 minutes on fast-charging through a 100 kW outlet.

Finally, the Soul EV is not only eco-conscious on the road, but is totally granola on the inside as well: the materials used are composed of biomass, from the foam in the seats to the dashboard holding the instrument cluster and 8-inch display.

The price of admission to feel like an electric hamster? Unknown as of this time, though word on the street is that it might be sold for around $35,000 on our shores. Like the Fiat 500e, this is strictly a compliance car meant to appease regulators. Hyundai’s corporate direction for ZEVs will be based around fuel cells, not electric vehicles.

In the meantime, enjoy this brief spy shot gallery with some bonus meta-commentary on the idea of “exclusivity.”

Soul EV Spy Shot 01 Soul EV Spy Shot 02 Soul EV Spy Shot 03

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Piston Slap: When RON met PON…Mon!!! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/piston-slap-when-ron-met-pon-mon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/piston-slap-when-ron-met-pon-mon/#comments Mon, 25 Feb 2013 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=478898 Brian writes: Hola! First off, love the site, long time listener, first time caller. I recently had the amazing opportunity to act as chauffeur for my good Chilean friend Diego’s road trip through Patagonia. He had access to a little four banger 1998 Daihatsu Feroza (Rocky in the US) but did not know how to […]

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Brian writes:

Hola! First off, love the site, long time listener, first time caller. I recently had the amazing opportunity to act as chauffeur for my good Chilean friend Diego’s road trip through Patagonia. He had access to a little four banger 1998 Daihatsu Feroza (Rocky in the US) but did not know how to drive. So I gladly I wrestled this thing around Southern South America in a circuit of just over 3000 Kilometers that took us south on Chile’s famous Carretera Austral (dirt roads cutting through the Andes) and back north through Argentina’s Route 40 (very similar to route 66 in the US).

Ten days, two ferry rides, a flat tire and a dead battery along the way, but totally worth it for the amazing landscapes we traversed and experienced.

I was surprised to see that at almost every gas station we stopped at in both countries, the lowest grade octane available was 93, which being from the US I assumed was for fickle sports car engines and old ladies who don’t know any better. My question is, is this true of most countries outside the US and what are the benefits of putting high grade gasoline in an econobox?

Gracias!

PS:  Included are two photos of the little green devil, I feel in love with her but unfortunately couldn’t fit her in my suit case on the flight back. So maybe a question for another day is, what is the financial feasibility of purchasing a car in another country instead of renting and then shipping it back to the US after your trip? Auto-tourism?

Sajeev answers:

Well, if I fell in love with my decal-less “16 Valve EFI” Ford Ranger, I can totally relate.  Financial feasibility of shipping cars like that?  None, but importing them as an antique (over 25 years old) is somewhat feasible but still challenging.  Perhaps an update on my imported Ford Sierra is in order. And while a Merkur XR4ti is no substitute for a proper Ford Sierra Ghia 5-door, I’m guessing that isn’t true about the Feroza-Rocky: just get a US-Spec Rocky.

To your other question, a simple answer: regional octane ratings fit under the RON, PON, or MON systems. You didn’t see “our” 93 octane gas, most countries in South America use a different octane rating system. I mentioned this once before to an intrepid Piston Slapper in Pakistan, and the same is true here.  Per Wikipedia:

“Chile: 93, 95 and 97 RON are standard at almost all gas stations thorough Chile. The three types are unleaded.”

So odds are the gas you saw/smelled was closer to “our” 87 octane, not 93 octane. But don’t take my word for it, listen to your fellow TTAC readers:

 

TTAC Commentator John R writes:

Visiting the parents in Panama and I had to grab a photo of this. Gasoline a bit dearer, but you have choice between 91 and 95(!!!) octane. Diesel is also relatively cheaper…depending where you are Stateside.

Also, as a side note:

Just from driving around US metal is sucking major wind down here. Korea and Japan (in that order for good reason $20k for a Civic basic!) are run it with Peugeot, Fiat and Skoda picking up the scraps…Skoda! The typical luxury suspects are here also but with Cadillac being nonexistent. One wonders if they are even being sold down here. What is a bit more interesting to me is that I see a lot more of the Infiniti EX than the G. The Qashqai is in well represented for good reason – its a real looker. Seriously, I want a Qashqai. If the Rogue didn’t already look homely enough…

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Review: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2013-volkswagen-jetta-hybrid-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2013-volkswagen-jetta-hybrid-video/#comments Fri, 18 Jan 2013 14:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=472993 If I say “hybrid,” most people think: slow, efficient, awful-to-drive, Prius, tree-hugger, Democrat and California. Pretty much in that order. The people’s car company however is on a mission to change your word association. In 2011 VW crafted the ridiculously fast supercharged Touareg Hybrid. For 2013, the Germans have some new words for you to […]

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If I say “hybrid,” most people think: slow, efficient, awful-to-drive, Prius, tree-hugger, Democrat and California. Pretty much in that order. The people’s car company however is on a mission to change your word association. In 2011 VW crafted the ridiculously fast supercharged Touareg Hybrid. For 2013, the Germans have some new words for you to associate with “hybrid”: direct-injection, turbocharged, 7-speed, DSG and Jetta. Is this enough to sway Prius shoppers looking for a more engaging ride? More importantly: should you get the Jetta Hybrid or the Jetta TDI? VW tossed us the keys to a dark blue fuel-sipper to find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

No longer just a “Golf sedan,” the sixth-generation Jetta shares no sheetmetal with its hatchback cousin. VW has long been known for restrained styling and the Jetta doesn’t depart from their formula of simple lines and slab sides. Still, it has a more elegant look to my eye than the Civic or the Prius. For hybrid duty VW gave the Jetta requisite aerodynamic tweaks, some hybrid badges and aerodynamic wheels. Contrary to the rumor mill, the American Jetta is the same basic car as the European Jetta (unlike the Passat) with tweaks inside and out for the different markets.

Interior

The biggest difference between the Euro and American Jetta is the interior. While both vehicles share a common design, the American version swaps squishy dash bits for hard plastic to keep the price competitive. That’s fine in a $17,000 compact car, but for a $24,995-$31,180 hybrid, harsh plastics would have been decidedly low rent. Thankfully VW had Euro Jetta parts hanging around and the MSRP of the Hybrid justified their installation (the GLI gets the up-market parts as well). The swap makes the Hybrid cabin a nicer place to spend your time than the diesel model, although the hard plastic center console and door panels remain. Fear not, it’s still a classier cabin than the Civic Hybrid or the Prius and VW had the sense to keep the gauges where they belong instead of some odd binnacle in the center of the dash. Instead of the two-dial cluster found in the standard models, the Hybrid model uses a unique four-dial unit with a “power gauge” instead of a tachometer. The power gauge displays the percentage of total system power being used from 0-100% as well as regenerative braking status.

VW offers the compact hybrid in four different trim levels, base, SE, SEL and SEL Premium. Regardless of trim, the seats are covered in VW’s “V-Tex” leatherette material. Seat cushions have not been upgraded vs the non-hybrid models so the padding is fairly firm with minimal bolstering and manual lumbar support for the driver only. If you’re one of those VW fans that misses the premium-feeling interiors they used to offer in America, stepping up to the Hybrid or GLI brings the Euro-mojo back. The TDI? Not so much. Then again the Hybrid is $2,000 more than a comparable TDI, so you’d expect better digs.

Out back, the rear seats are as low to the floor as the Civic or Corolla but are a more comfortable with improved padding. Rear passengers with longer legs will appreciate the Jetta’s 38-inches of rear legroom (2 more than Civic Hybrid, Prius or Corolla). Despite having similar headroom numbers as the Corolla and Civic, my hair brushed the ceiling  in the back leaving me to question VW’s measuring devices. If you have a short torso and long legs, the Jetta is the place to be, otherwise check out something taller like a C-MAX.

VW positioned the batteries in the trunk to preserve the Jetta’s trunk pass-through. If that sounds like a no-brainer design wise, go check out the Toyota Camry Hybrid which retains the folding rear seats, but when folded they reveal a small and strangely positioned pass-through. The larger portal is possible because VW’s 60-cell, 1.1-kWh battery pack uses dense lithium-ion chemistry as opposed to nickel metal-hydride packs common on Toyota’s hybrids. VW also chose to keep the compact spare instead of either converting to a battery compartment or ditching it for a can of fix-a-flat to save weight. Keeping the spare tire and adding the battery means the cargo capacity drops nearly 30% to 11.3 cubic feet vs the regular Jetta.

Infotainment

Base hybrid models start with an AM/FM/CD player with Bluetooth audio streaming and the requisite aux input. SE and SEL models upgrade the base head unit to VW’s touchscreen display audio unit with XM-Radio and VW’s USB/iDevice interface (MDI). VW’s proprietary MDI cables plug into a port in the glove box. VW includes an MDI to iDevice cable while an MDI to USB cable is available at your dealer. In case you’re wondering, you can use an apple adapter to connect your iPhone 5 and it worked properly.

The SEL Premium model gets VW’s 5-inch touchscreen navigation unit (RNS-315) seen in a number of other VW vehicles from the Golf to the Passat. VW stores the database on 4GB of built-in flash memory which speeds up address entry and rerouting. Unfortunately VW’s infotainment offerings are getting a long in the tooth compared to the latest offerings from Toyota, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Dodge and Chevrolet in terms of graphics quality and functionality. While Honda has yet to send HondaLink down to the Civic, everyone else is doubling down on voice recognition to search for tunes on your USB/iDevice. On the flip side, the SEL Premium gets the 9-speaker Fender audio system which is possibly the best speaker system available in a compact car.

Drivetrain

Apparently I’m not the first person to say: “gee, a small direct-injection turbo engine would be the perfect engine to jam under a hybrid’s hood.” Rather than altering the Jetta’s base 2.0L engine to run on an Atkinson cycle and adding a motor (like everyone else), VW reached into their Euro engine bin and selected their 1.4L TSI engine. The boosted, direct-injection mill is good for 150HP at 5,000RPM and 184lb-ft from 1,400 to 3,500 RPM all on its own. The engine is then mated (via a clutch pack) to a 20kW (27HP) and 114lb-ft water-cooled motor. Because gasoline engines and electric motors have different power delivery characteristics, you don’t just add the numbers to get the system total. The combined output rings in at 170HP while the torque remains 184ft-lbs but broadens to a range of  1,000 to 4,500 RPM. While that sounds tasty enough, torque below 1,000RPM improves considerably thanks to the motor cranking out 114lb-ft from essentially zero RPM.

Instead of mating the powerplant to a traditional automatic transmission like VW did with the Touareg Hybrid, the engineers pulled the new 7-speed “DSG” dual-clutch transaxle out of the bin. If you’re interested in exactly how the power flows, this might help: Engine > clutch > motor > clutch > transaxle > wheels. An important fact that isn’t immediately obvious but should be kept in mind is the 1.4L engine’s appetite for premium gasoline. While all vehicles sold in the US must run safely on regular, you will notice a drop in power when doing so.

About that fuel economy

Hybrids are all about fuel efficiency, right? Well, not if you’re GM or Porsche (or a Touareg), but I digress. This hybrid is about efficiency with a Germanic twist. Rated for 42MPG city, 48MPG highway and 45MPG combined, the Jetta falls short of the Prius’ 51/48/50 MPG or the C-MAX’s 47/47/47 rating but it is higher than the Civic Hybrid at 44/44/44 or the  Jetta TDI’s 30/42/34 score. VW claims they could have matched the Prius numbers but they chose not to, instead favoring handling and performance over economy at all costs. And I could have beat Obama in the last national election but I chose not to run so I could devote my time to TTAC.

During a 743-mile week of mixed driving I averaged 37.6MPG. On the same driving cycle I averaged 41.5MPG in the C-MAX, 49.6MPG in the Prius, 42.8 in the Civic Hybrid and 36MPG in the Jetta TDI. When driven gently, our tester scored 46.6MPG on a 40 mile highway trip and 43.2MPG running around town. While these numbers fall short of the Jetta’s EPA numbers it is important to keep in mind that a 10% difference between EPA numbers and real world numbers are more pronounced when the numbers get bigger. Is this a problem? Not in my book. In reality the difference between operating a Prius and the Jetta is fairly small.

Our tester was an SEL Premium which came standard with 205/50R17 tires, an upgrade from the base model’s 205/50R15s. If you do the math, the 17-inch tires provide approximately a 10% larger contact patch on the road which improves handling but logically must take a toll on fuel economy. We were unable to get our hands  on a base Jetta Hybrid to verify this and VW didn’t respond to my questions with straight answers. Tire choices are an important part of the high-efficiency package, something to keep in mind when you buy new tires for any car.

Drive

VW’s 7-speed DSG proved an interesting companion out on the road. The feeling behind the wheel is very different from other hybrid vehicles which, up till now, have predominantly used CVT-type transmissions. Like other vehicles with dual-clutch units, shifts are more noticeable than a regular automatic with a definite moment where “nothing is happening” as the DSG shifts from one gear to another. The effect seems less pronounced in the hybrid than in other VW models and the smoothness penalty is worth the improved efficiency to me. On the down side, as regenerative breaking uses the traction motor (which is located on the input side of the transaxle) braking and downshifting at the same time causes some strange brake feel as the regenerative braking “turns off” during the shift, then comes “back on” after the shift is complete. In general, the transitions between regenerative and friction braking just aren’t as polished as they are in the Ford, Toyota, Lexus or Infiniti hybrids but they are a bit better than the Civic.

 

The Jetta Hybrid is the most dynamic hybrid under $40,000 I have ever tested, barely besting the Civic. Although the C-MAX is a competent handler, its 3,650lb curb weight makes it feel less responsive than the 3,300lb Jetta. If you want something even more nimble, that Civic hybrid is a bantamweight 2,868lbs. Helping the Jetta around the corners is a coil spring suspension, similar to the one used in the GLI, which replaces the cheaper torsion beam setup used in the lesser Jettas. Thanks to the suspension change (and the extra curb weight from the batteries), the Hybrid model also delivers a more composed ride on broken pavement. Curb weight isn’t everything when it comes to driving however. While the Civic handles curves like a pro, even a full-sized van will eat its lunch in the straights and that’s where the Jetta pulls its lederhosen up and sprints. Our tester scooted to 60 in 7.12 seconds, just a hair behind the more powerful 188HP C-MAX and a full 2 seconds faster than the Civic Hybrid, Prius or the oil-burning Jetta TDI.

After a week and 743 miles with the fuel-sipping German I came to an important conclusion: this hybrid system should be jammed under the hood of every VW product in America. Aside from replacing the tachometer with a “power gauge,” this system presents few drawbacks while improving both performance and economy. It all comes at a price, the Jetta Hybrid is about $4,500 more than a comparably equipped gasoline Jetta. The hybrid model will save you $800 a year on your gas bill (15,000 miles a year) compared to the 2.0L gasoline-only model, but the pay back at $3.30/gallon gasoline will take 6 years. The TDI comparison is where we started and where we’ll finish. The $2,000 difference in MSRP for the hybrid gets you the upgraded interior, improved gauge cluster, a version of the European coil spring suspension and greatly improved city mileage. According to the EPA it would only take 3.5 years for the hybrid to start saving you money over the diesel. This begs the obvious question: VW, where is my diesel hybrid? Until VW decides to craft such a beast, the Jetta Hybrid should take the top spot on your list.

 

 Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance and a tank of gasoline for this review.

Statistics as tested:

0-30: 2.7 seconds

0-60: 7.12 seconds

1/4 mile: 15.6 seconds at 88 MPH

Average economy: 37.6 MPG over 743 miles

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, power gauge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Hybrid Badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, 17-inch wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interiorm Rear Seats Folded, Cargo pass-through, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Engine, 1.4L Turbo Hybrid Drivetrain, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Engine, 1.4L Turbo Hybrid Drivetrain, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Engine, 1.4L Turbo Hybrid Drivetrain, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Front Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Drivers Door, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Interior, Drivers Seat, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Nissan Eyeing More North American Capacity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/nissan-eyeing-more-north-american-capacity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/nissan-eyeing-more-north-american-capacity/#comments Mon, 05 Nov 2012 15:10:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465892 Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn is eyeing another North American plant for Nissan, one that could be used to build both Nissan and Infiniti vehicles. Infiniti, Ghosn said, is “too dependent on Japan”, though he stopped short of suggesting that the brand needs its own factory. A separate production line at a current factory would suffice, Ghosn told Automotive […]

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Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn is eyeing another North American plant for Nissan, one that could be used to build both Nissan and Infiniti vehicles.

Infiniti, Ghosn said, is “too dependent on Japan”, though he stopped short of suggesting that the brand needs its own factory. A separate production line at a current factory would suffice, Ghosn told Automotive News. Currently, the only Infiniti model made in North America is the JX crossover, and Ghosn is adamant about introducing more North American production for the brand.

Ghosn sees a lack of local capacity as a major inhibitor of sales growth, and is hopeful that when Nissan’s Brazilian factory comes online in 2014, more capacity from their Mexican plant can be diverted to North America. Nissan is targeting 10 percent market share in the United States by 2017, and the timing of this achievement should be the impetus for the new plant.

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Next-Gen Toyota Prius Targeted For Stateside Production In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/next-gen-toyota-prius-targeted-for-stateside-production-in-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/next-gen-toyota-prius-targeted-for-stateside-production-in-2015/#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2012 15:07:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=442155 With a rising yen and forecasted sales of 200,000 units, Toyota is looking to kick Prius production into high gear on North American shores. The challenge for Toyota appears to be sourcing all the components needed to build hybrid drivetrains in the United States. According to Automotive News “Toyota already is scouting suppliers capable of […]

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With a rising yen and forecasted sales of 200,000 units, Toyota is looking to kick Prius production into high gear on North American shores.

The challenge for Toyota appears to be sourcing all the components needed to build hybrid drivetrains in the United States. According to Automotive News

“Toyota already is scouting suppliers capable of delivering inverters, electric motors and batteries from the United States in anticipation of the move, said Koei Saga, senior managing officer in charge of drivetrain r&d at Toyota.”

Currently, most of those parts have to come from Japan or South Korea. Initially, they may have to be imported to the future North American Prius plant, but the goal is for a local supply base. Toyota currently builds the Camry Hybrid stateside, but with imported components. Aside from cost factors, a big advantage of a local parts base is for the sake of “resiliency” – any natural disasters in Japan would not affect inventories like the 2011 tsunami/earthquakes did.

Also of note is the North American emphasis on lithium-ion equipped versions of the Prius. While only the plug-in uses a lithium-ion battery, (and base versions will continue to use a Nickel-metal unit), this would suggest that Stateside production would focus on more advanced versions of the Prius, or more plug-in versions. Presumably, the Prius c and “base” versions of the standard car would continue with the less advanced battery.

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VeeDub Is On A Roll http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/veedub-is-on-a-roll/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/veedub-is-on-a-roll/#comments Wed, 07 Jul 2010 14:15:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360400 Speaking of German car companies doing exceptionally well despite a tanking German car market, there is of course Volkswagen. The Volkswagen group sold more than 3.5m units worldwide in the first six months of 2010, besting the pretty darn good numbers of the same period in 2009 by about 15 percent, Martin Winterkorn said to […]

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Speaking of German car companies doing exceptionally well despite a tanking German car market, there is of course Volkswagen.

The Volkswagen group sold more than 3.5m units worldwide in the first six months of 2010, besting the pretty darn good numbers of the same period in 2009 by about 15 percent, Martin Winterkorn said to Reuters. He predicts (and that’s an easy call based on the half year results) that the Volkswagen group will see record car sales in 2010. What’s driving the new Wirtschaftswunder? The weak Euro, of course. And the strong position of Volkswagen in boom markets such as China.

Nevertheless, VW doesn’t want to rely on the vagaries of the foreign exchange. They are planning a new plant in “North America,” says the Rheinische Post. The plant will make engines. Where in NA is up in the air, but it looks like the southern part of North America, namely Mexico. It was no happenstance that that announcement was made in Puebla.

Meanwhile  in India, Volkswagen seeks to enlarge its footprint in the promising market. The Hindu reports that VW wants to jointly develop products with Maruti Suzuki. VW had bought a 19.9 percent stake in the Suzuki last year. Both companies are jointl working on projects and a car for India could be one of them. Volkswagen’s Christian Klingler told the Hindu: “Of course, there is a possibility of developing products together, but I cannot confirm it.”  Volkswagen has good reason to band together with Suzuki.

Said Klingler: “Suzuki is very strong in the Asian market, including India and Japan. They have knowledge in the small car segment, which is pretty unique. They make small cars and make money. Lot of manufacturers make small cars, but they don’t make money.” True, true, and true.

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