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By on March 29, 2017

2017 Kia Rio LX

Yesterday, we learned the Kia badge might not be good enough for Stingers in its home country. Around here, the slinky sedan will still carry the nameplate, despite the brand’s humble beginnings.

Twenty years ago, Kia made a name for itself on these shores hawking bargain-basement priced entry-level cars, many of which quickly returned to the earth in the form of iron oxide. Today, Kia’s smallest offering has since gone to finishing school, earning a major in Economics.

(Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

supreme-court

A Supreme Court ruling between two food companies may benefit the Detroit Three and its many domestic suppliers.

The case of TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands focused on where plaintiffs in an intellectual property or patent infringement dispute can file a lawsuit. Current U.S. law dictates that the plaintiff may file a patent infringement suit in any court district where the defendant does business. This has saturated the Eastern District of Texas with countless patent and I.P. lawsuits. Plaintiffs prefer the region because rural Texas juries are more likely to rule against big businesses and the district is known for expediting proceedings.

According to a January study by the Stanford Technology Law Review, only about 15 percent of cases heard in the court actually involved a patent invented within the district or had an accused party that had an office in the area. However, the Supreme Court is expected to put the kibosh on the practice by forcing plaintiffs to try cases near the defendant’s headquarters — meaning domestic automakers could have the home field advantage in future legal proceedings.  (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

Kia Stinger Detroit Auto Show, Image KIA Motors

It was jarring, when the 2018 Kia Stinger debuted, to see the automaker’s corporate badge prominently displayed on a desirable, rear-drive sports sedan. In spite of the sales gloom that surrounds the traditional passenger car market, some of us have wondered whether the badge alone might cause performance-minded premium car buyers to overlook the model when it appears on dealer lots.

In Korea, however, no one will be able to blame the model’s success or failure on the presence of a “Kia” badge. That’s because it won’t have one. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

enzo ferari

Italian investigators said on Tuesday that they had prevented a criminal plot to steal the body of automotive legend and Formula One racing pioneer Enzo Ferrari. The scheme involved using two cars and a van, breaking into San Cataldo cemetery, absconding with the corpse, and then holding it for ransom.

Just imagine the incredible movie that would have resulted from the heist had the police not immediately foiled the plan. It would have equal parts The Italian Job and Weekend at Bernie’s.

Così buono.  (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

Brinks truck armored car

For a major city, Houston drivers spend far less time in rush-hour gridlock than those in other large U.S. metropolises. Last year, residents spent an average of 51.5 hours in gridlock, a number unchanged from the year before. Compare that to Los Angeles’ 104.1 hours, Atlanta’s 70.8, Washington, DC’s 61 or Boston’s 57.6.

Overall, Houston ranks the 11th worst city in the U.S. for congestion, despite having the fourth-largest population. The city’s relatively low density and spiderweb of highways makes traversing the urban area an easy task — a benefit for residents who enjoy the leafy suburban life.

Unfortunately, it could also explain the city’s popularity among armored car thieves. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

Ford Factory

Ford Motor Company has announced that it will invest $1.2 billion into three Michigan facilities to strengthen its status among truck and SUVs manufacturers and to further enhance its role as a “mobility company.” Most importantly, the cash is needed if Americans ever want to get their hands on a Bronco or Ranger again.

Many of the investments are included in the automaker’s 2015 promise to pour nine billion dollars into its U.S. plants over the next several years. In an agreement with UAW made almost two years ago, Ford said it would pour $700 million into the Michigan Assembly plant, $150 million into the Romeo Engine plant, and $400 million for Flat Rock Assembly.

While these were not the only locations promised capital, Ford released an official statement that all three would see the promised amount — or better.   (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

uber volvo autonomous

After Friday’s high-speed crash, it’s back to business as usual for Uber’s autonomous programs. Last week, one of the company’s self-driving Volvos was struck by a flesh-piloted crossover — causing Uber to temporarily ground its entire test fleet. With the exception of the wrecked unit, all of those vehicles are now back in action as the business attempts to get on with R&D while simultaneously moving its legal dispute with Waymo out of the public eye.

Meanwhile, Volvo’s 300-million-dollar alliance with the ride-sharing company remains unperturbed. In the crash’s aftermath, Volvo maintained that it would continue to support Uber and preserve the partnership.  (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

press02-model-x-front-three-quarter

A Tesla Model X driving in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode rear-ended a police motorcycle last week, according to The Arizona Republic.

The incident happened on March 21, when both vehicles stopped at a traffic light after exiting a freeway in Phoenix. The Tesla stopped “briefly” before it began to move forward again. The officer managed to bail before the Tesla bumped the bike.

No damage was reported on either vehicle, since the officer estimated the Model X was only going three miles per hour.  (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

Refreshed 2018 Acura TLX to Make World Debut

Slowly but surely, the inhabitants of the Acura stable are dropping the toned-down version of the brand’s polarizing “shield” grille in favor of the far more appealing “diamond pentagon” mouth.

That grille debuted on Acura’s Precision concept car before appearing on the redesigned 2017 MDX. Now, it’s the TLX sedan’s turn for plastic surgery. The automaker promises a refreshed and shieldless TLX at the New York International Auto Show on April 11, hoping that a new face might turn the tide on the midsize sedan’s flagging fortunes. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

I’m an idiot. Thursday night, I filled up a car with gas. That was clearly in the background of my mind when on Friday, we loaded up our 2015 Honda Odyssey for a long-weekend trip to Prince Edward Island. Luggage, children, dog, stroller, front door locked, back door locked, side entrance locked, patio door locked, […]

By on March 28, 2017

2008 Maxima, Image: Nissan

This week’s episode of Ask Jack is all about the magic boxes that separate today’s cars from their predecessors — and the unintended consequences of when it all goes wrong.

Reader Eiriksmal writes:

I hope I’ve startled you with this bold introduction. There’s a question I have that only you can answer … probably. It takes a sophisticated man with all sorts of worldly experience that I lack.

You see, I drive a car without antilock brakes, traction control, or stability control. I’m a whipper snapper who’s only been driving 14 years, so I never knew an era without ABS, at the very least. My beloved sixth-generation Maxima, what with the six-speed manual, has a malfunctioning ABS module, so the ABS and TC (no yaw sensor was installed on the 6MT cars — ESC was autotragic only) are kaput. I’ve driven it sans braking assistance for 2.5 years, but today was my first heart-clenching episode caused by a lack of experience with driving an ABS-less car.

I noticed when bedding in some new brakes recently that the back end tries to come around the front in a panic stop after the wheels lock. Sometimes it just squirms a little, other times it would step the back end out a solid 6-8 inches. This confuses me. When I’m pointing in a straight line, holding the steering wheel tight, and jamming the pedal to the floor, why does the lighter back end try to rotate around the heavy nose?

Today, a jerk in an Escape lumbered out in front of me …

This sounds like trouble.

(Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

2015-Corvette-Z06-rear-spoiler

Maybe the answer’s a no-brainer, but perhaps it’s more complicated than that. We’re living in an era where traditional norms no longer apply to the auto industry.

Yesterday, we told you how ex-General Motors product man Bob Lutz is totally open to the idea of turning Corvette into its own brand — a progression of an opinion he’s held for years. Corvette needn’t offer just two-seat hardtops and convertibles, at least not in this day and age, he claims. SUVs are simply too big to ignore, and everybody’s doing it, don’t you know?

Maybe Corvette aficionados don’t want to leave those checkered flags in the garage when they pick up the kids at soccer practice. And what about those times when Home Depot is closing in 14 minutes and you really need that slab of particle board? (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

2000 Dodge Durango, Image: FCA

TTAC Commentator flipper35 writes:

I have a 2000 Dodge Durango (wrote about the brakes on it before, all is good with them) and the lights are not the greatest. After replacing the passenger side due to a deer ramming its butt into it, its headlights no longer match. I’ve looked on several Mopar forums and there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on which lights are good — but they can all agree on what is crap.

So, I am willing to spend $300 on a proper headlight upgrade if that’s what it takes. I see a few conversions where you bake the headlights at low temp to release the glue and then put bi-xenon with the flappy shield in with the ballasts and wiring kit. They sound reasonable but there are some other projector-style lights out there that would be less work if they are focused and aligned properly. I’m mechanically inclined but with family and other projects I would rather spend less time on these and more time on replacing stuff like the worn grommets on the electric seat adjustment screws and such. (At 190,000 miles, it needs front suspension bushings, too.)

(Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

2015-Chevrolet-CorvetteZ06-003-sm

Former General Motors vice chairman and product development bigwig Bob Lutz has always had lots to say about the Chevrolet Corvette, and advanced age hasn’t diminished his enthusiasm for the model and its potential.

Even in the pre-recession, pre-bankruptcy days, a pre-retirement Lutz opined that the ‘Vette nameplate could host more than just a sports car. Back then, Lutz wasn’t saying that Corvette should be spun off as its own make, but he is now. (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

pumping fuel

California has green-lit light-vehicle pollution targets that the Trump administration has placed under review. As expected, the Golden State is going to continue playing hardball over Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Already critical of the automotive industry for asking the president to reconsider federal guidelines through 2025, the California Air Resources Board hinted that it wouldn’t stray from the emission targets set by the Obama administration in 2012. On Friday, CARB finalized its state emissions rules while setting an updated ordinance on zero-emission vehicles. “We’re going to press on,” said Mary Nichols, head of the board, during last week’s press conference.  (Read More…)

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