Monday, November 21, 2011

Plug-in This Prius for Even Better Fuel Economy

Let the confusion begin anew! Despite the rising popularity of hybrid vehicles, many people still seem to think that you have to plug them in.
      Generally, you don't.
      Unless, that is, they are plug-in hybrids, which are beginning to gain popularity (a la Chevrolet Volt).
      Toyota is unveiling its new Prius Plug-in, a variation of its now venerable hybrid car.
      The ones that came before could not be plugged in. Sales of those models will continue.
       This one, however, runs on gasoline and electricity, just like the previous Prius, but the source of the electricity can now come from a wall outlet or charger.
      Got all that?
      Toyota says the Prius Plug-in will go on sale in March in 14 states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. In 2013, it will be sold in the rest of the states.
       The Plug-in has a manufacturers' suggested retail price of $32,000, according to Toyota's website. But that may vary depending on how it is configured.

Continue reading on Plug-in this Prius for even better fuel economy - Macon Automotive |

Chrysler Adding Jobs, Boosting Production

Chrysler announced last week that it will add 1,100 jobs in Ohio as it ramps up production of its Jeep Liberty SUV.
The automaker is investing $1.7 billion as it plots future production, and says it wants to build the strength of its Jeep brand in North America and globally.
"It's becoming probably the star of the European market," CEO Sergio Marchionne said. "I have similar expectations for Jeep ... in the eastern part of Europe, Russia and China."
A Dodge Nitro on the line at the Toledo Assembly Complex. The Jeep Liberty is also built at the two-plant complex.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Toyota Rolls 'Em Off the Line in Miss.

Toyota announced that it has begun production of its Corolla compact sedan at a new plant in Blue Springs, Miss.
Toyota now has 14 plants in North America that build 12 models.
The Mississippi plant was scheduled to begin production in 2010, but was delayed by the economy, Toyota said. It will employ nearly 2,000 people by next year.
Toyota is just the latest auto manufacturer to start or expand vehicle production in the Southeast.
Kia builds vehicles in West Point, Ga., Hyundai has a plant near Montgomery, Ala., Volkswagen recently opened up shop near Chattanooga, Tenn., BMW has long operated near Greenville, S.C., Nissan builds in Mississippi and there are others.

Love Its Looks or Hate It, You Can't Deny the Nissan Juke is a Sporty Little Rascal

The Juke offers a sporty ride in a compact crossover package.As Nissan's smallest crossover, the Juke occupies a unique position, not only because of that status but also because of its unusual looks.
In our week and a half of test driving it, we got an equal number of "that's really cool looking" and "that's really ugly" comments, hurled presumably at the car, not at its driver. Most critiques of the driver tend toward the latter remark.
The Juke is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 180 horsepower and 170 pounds-feet of torque, which is quite a bit of a car of this size. The Juke, after all, is built on the platform of Nissan's Versa subcompact.
The Juke has a continuously variable transmission, but a six-speed manual is an option (on SV and SL trims that have front-wheel drive). All-wheel drive is also available.
The Juke is equipped with an Integrated Control (I-CON) system, which lets the driver pick from three driving modes: Normal, Sport, and Eco.  Nissan says the I-CON system changes the throttle response and steering based on which mode of driving is engaged.

Continue reading on 2011 Nissan Juke: Love or hate its looks, no denying its sportiness - Macon Automotive |

Thursday, November 17, 2011

People Will Travel on Thanksgiving, Shocking Survey Finds

The highways will be crowded this Thanksgiving weekend, according to AAA, which projected a rise in travel.

Amazingly, it appears that people are planning to travel for the coming Thanksgiving holiday.
Some 42.5 million Americans are estimated to be hitting the road on or around Thanksgiving, according to the American Automobile Association.
AAA says last year, 40.9 million people traveled during the holiday.
The numbers suggest that it is evidently common for people to travel during holidays.

OK, sorry for the sarcasm, but don't you get sick of reading "news" stories such as this at each holiday?

Perhaps a bit more pertinent (but not much) is how much people are paying for gasoline this holiday compared with a year ago.

 AAA says that in the U.S. now, gas is averaging $3.39 a gallon, compared with $2.88 last Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nissan Quest Makes Hauling the Family a Stylish Event

The Nissan Quest has SUV-like styling and an interior that is luxurious.The Nissan Quest got a clever redesign last year and is back for 2012 as a well-thought out, spacious family vehicle.
The makeover it received last year gave it an SUV-like appearance, with its tall structure and boxy, as opposed to rounded, edges.
The Quest has always been a bit different when it comes to styling in the minivan category (some would argue there is no style in the minivan category). But Nissan deserves props for that, because buyers in this segment don't necessarily want to look like they are driving the same thing as all of their neighbors.
And for those who would argue that minivans lack style, check out the subtle touches on the Quest, such as the chrome door handles and interior design, which say upscale SUV more than they say soccer-mom mobile. 
Nissan offers the power-sliding side doors and power liftgate that give minivans the practicality that their users demand.
On the inside, you'll see the seating configuration offers two middle-row captain's chairs, as opposed to a bench. Those seats don't remove, as is the case in some competitors, but they fold down to add to cargo room.

Continue reading on If your family road trip isn't fun, don't blame the Nissan Quest - Macon Automotive |

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Toyota Recalling More Than Half a Million Vehicles for Steering Woes

Toyota said today it will recall about 550,000 vehicles worldwide — mostly in the United States — for problems that could make it harder to steer.
The Associated Press reports that the recall affects 447,000 vehicles in North America, as well as 38,000 in Japan and another 25,000 in Australia and New Zealand, citingToyota spokesman Dion Corbett. In Europe some 14,000 vehicles are being recalled along with 10,000 in the Middle East and 14,000 in Asia outside Japan.
Toyota took 79 reports about the defect dating back to 2007, said Corbett. There have been no reports of accidents or injuries stemming from the problems, he said.

In the U.S., the recall affects the 2004 and 2005 Camry, Highlander, Sienna and Solara, the 2004 Avalon and the 2006 Highlander HV and 137,000 Lexus vehicles including the 2004 and 2005 ES330 and RX330 and 2006 RX400h.

Toyota will mail owners a notification to make an appointment with an authorized dealer to have their car inspected once replacement parts have been produced in sufficient quantities.
Toyota has recalled some 14 million vehicles since 2009 for problems such as acceleration and braking flaws. It has received a great deal of criticism for allegedly not being forthcoming enough about its problems. 
The company has said that it has been trying to communicate better with customers and empower regional operations outside Japan to make safety decisions.
On Tuesday, Toyota said its earnings fell by 19 percent, to $1 billion, in the third quarter, as it continues to deal with difficulties from Japan's earthquake and tsunami. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Camaro Convertible Makes Performance Fun

2012 Chevrolet Camaro Exterior

Chevrolet rolled out a convertible version of its Camaro muscle car for the 2011 model year, and thank goodness it did. This car is great looking and fun to drive.

The convertible comes with a V-6 or V-8 engine and a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, just like the coupe.

Chevy added structural reinforcements such as a tower brace under the hood, a reinforcement brace for the transmission and underbody bracing to bolster the convertible's rigidity, producing a more sports car-like ride.

The Camaro convertible's power soft-top takes about 20 seconds to lower, and it's quite easily done. There is a latch above  the windshield that you release, then touch and hold a button, and voila -- roof is gone. 

The canvas top features sound-dampening material and a glass rear window with a defogger, and has the silhouette of the coupe's metal roof when raised.
The car looks great with top up or down. 

Camaro LS and LT models take the V-6 engine, while a V-8 is featured on SS models. With the automatic transmission, the V-8 has an Active Fuel Management system, which shuts down four cylinders under light loads.

The Camaro takes three suspension settings, with the LS and LT models getting a sport-tuned suspension, the SS convertible having the FE3 setup and the SS coupe holding the new FE4 performance suspension. SS models also hold large Brembo-brand brakes and adjustable electronic stability and traction control settings and manual-transmission versions have Launch Control.

Engine features are:

  • 323-hp, 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 with 278 pounds-feet of torque
  • 400-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 with 410 pounds-feet of torque (automatic SS)
  • 426-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 with 420 pounds-feet of torque (manual SS)
  • Standard six-speed manual transmission
  • Optional six-speed automatic
Camaros range from around $24,000 to about $42,000.

For good looks, fun driving and a retro, muscle car style, it's hard to beat the Camaro.