Friday, March 22, 2013

Mazda Shows Off New Mazda6 Sedan

Mazda presented its new, award-winning Mazda6 sedan to automotive journalists in Atlanta this week. The new version of this midsize sedan offers improved fuel economy, refreshed styling and enhanced technology.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Winners from the Atlanta Auto Show

Last week's Atlanta International Auto Show produced some award winners, as selected by members of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.
GAAMA voters looked at such characteristics as "greenness," fuel economy, affordability and styling.
Taking home the top prize was the Mazda6 midsize sedan.
See what the voters liked about that car and others by reading the full story.

Thanks, GAAMA

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hyundai Sales Growth Expected to Slow to Five-Year Low

Hyundai, after dramatically raising its U.S. vehicle sales in the past five years, is expecting its slowest growth since 2008 because of limits to its production capability.

Hyundai's U.S. chief executive told Bloomberg News recently that sales are likely to increase 4.4 percent to 734,000 units in 2013. John Krafcik reportedly cited better efficiency at the company's manufacturing facility in Montgomery for that projected gain.
“There are no plans to expand capacity. We have shown the last few years that without a new plant we’ve been very capable of finding incremental production,” Krafcik, said, according to Bloomberg.

Hyundai's recent years of sales gains were led by its redesigned product lineup consisting of the Sonata midsize sedan, Elantra compact and Accent subcompact.

Hyundai this year is rolling out a new version of its Santa Fe SUV.
John Tavius, a sales analyst with auto retailer DriveTime in Atlanta, said Hyundai's limited production capacity could hurt it in the long run with consumers.

"It's hard to predict what might happen, because demand is always coming and going," he said. But if enough consumers get frustrated by limited supplies, which would likely bring on higher vehicle prices, buyers might start to look elsewhere, he suggested.

DriveTime's dealerships sell used cars, but Tavius keeps a close eye on the new car market to try to spot emerging trends in the pre-owned segment.

"Buyers focus on the best value for the money, and we see that a lot, so it's not surprising when people start turning away from one brand toward another."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Atlanta International Auto Show Displays Latest And Greatest

The annual Atlanta International Auto Show is in full swing at the downtown Georgia World Congress Center, with hundreds of vehicles on full display for the general public.
One of the key trends in the automotive industry in recent years has been the emergence of technology, especially that which enables greater connectivity between the driver and information and entertainment options.
At this year's show, that technology will be on full display among many of the vehicles.

Here's a quick glance at what some automakers have been tinkering with:

The Chrysler Uconnect system offers drivers Internet access, in-dash apps, a smartphone app, emergency assistance and cloud-based voice recognition systems.

With Sprint's Velocity for Vehicle Manufacturers system, the 2013 Dodge Ram truck can serve as a mobile hot-spot. The system can connect with other WiFi spots in the area, so if the truck is parked near, say, a Starbucks, Panera Bread or public library, the driver can use the Internet in the car for free. If the driver has no access to free Internet, customers can select a monthly data plan or an on-demand pay-per-use option.

That offers access to 911 and roadside assistance via the press of a button on the rearview mirror (much like General Motors' OnStar system), SiriusXM satellite radio, voice recognition, hands-free text messaging and access to digital music through an SD card slot and USB ports.

An upgraded version, UconnectR4, offers all features of the lower priced version plus a "full feature" navigation system with 3-D city maps and digital terrain modeling that gives you a picture of what your route looks like. A smartphone app available for both systems also provides remote locking and unlocking of the doors and starting the vehicle.

With its voice recognition system, Ford's MyFord is easy to use. You can tell it to make calls hands-free or find and play your favorite music. With SYNC Services, you can receive turn-by-turn directions and vehicle health reports.

GM is touting its Cadillac User Experience in its luxury brand. It allows touch access to maps, music, temperature controls and more, functioning like an iPad.

Buick's Intellilink high-definition color touch screen gives infotainment and navigation options, including intuitive voice command, Bluetooth3 connectivity, smartphone integration, and Pandora and Stitcher streaming Internet radio. You can also select LaCrosse’s rear seat entertainment system.

Many cars are coming to market equipped with technologies like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, electric power steering and advanced GPS. Each advancement in this area moves us closer to self-driving cars.

It's already been proven that cars can pilot themselves with existing technology. Now it comes down to the nearer-term applications for autonomous operation.

Audi recently demonstrated an A7 model with a self-parking feature.

The car can be stopped at a parking facility and it moves itself inside with the tap of a smartphone app. The car can search for a spot and park itself. The driver is notified on his or her phone once the car is safely parked. And when the driver returns to the parking facility, he or she can get the car using the same app.

Audi says the system requires some infrastructure outside of the car, like sensors on parking spots.

And even a non-automotive company, technology giant Google, is getting into the act.
With video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to "see," the company has for years been working on an automated car that can steer through traffic and use detailed maps to navigate the road.

Google has said it thinks this technology can create the "trains of tomorrow," which will drastically decrease the number of deaths on the road while improving efficiency by trimming the average 52 minutes the average person spends commutes each day.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hyundai Seeking to Settle Mileage Fraud Suits

Hyundai is nearing a settlement of 38 federal lawsuits filed against it after the company overstated fuel economy figures of its vehicles.

The company recently said in California court filings that it would issue payments to some 600,000 vehicle owners from model years 2011 - 2013. The payment amount was not disclosed, but reportedly will depend on the vehicle and the degree to which its mileage was exaggerated.

In November, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered overstated numbers in Hyundai vehicles. While the company acknowledged the problem, it attributed the discrepancies to procedural errors.

However, evidence suggests that by touting its fuel economy so robustly in its marketing, Hyundai might have been tempted to deliberately mislead consumers.

The vehicles involved include the Hyundai Azera, Accent, Genesis, Santa Fe, Sonata Hybrid, Tucson and Veloster.

Since acknowledging the fraud, Hyundai reportedly has been paying vehicle owners about $88 annually, an amount calculated by how much the mileage was overstated and the average gasoline price.
A number of buyers who did not accept Hyundai's settlement filed federal lawsuits and Hyundai is now seeking to settle with those claimants.
Consumer Watchdog, a California group that represents some of the plaintiffs, opposes the settlement offer because the payment amount has not been disclosed. The group is also displeased because it claims that unclaimed payments will be recouped by Hyundai, rather than being distributed to buyers.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Toyota Camry: Any Way You Get It, You Get A Great Sedan

The Toyota Camry has long been one of the standard bearers in the midsize sedan category, and with good reason. It has a reputation for quality and dependability.

And despite trouble in recent years for Toyota, with its reliabilty ratings being tarnished, Camry has remained largely in good stead with consumers.

Toyota likes to brag about how 90 percent of Camrys bought in the past 15 years are still on the road.

And whether you choose the four-cylinder engine model, six-cylinder model or hybrid, the Camry remains a wise selection.

We recently got a chance to test each, and found that the Camry is an easy car to be fond of.
Its design is pleasant, even if it's not particularly striking.

It has 16-inch wheels standard, with higher trim levels getting 17- or 18-inchers.

The V-6 model has dual exhaust pipes, with a single pipe on the four-cylinder.

The four-cylinder engine is a 2.5 liter that makes 178 horsepower, while the V-6 is 3.5 liter and makes 268 horsepower. There's a standard six-speed automatic transmission, with the SE trim getting paddle shifters for those who choose to use them.
The hybrid's engine is a 2.5-liter four cylinder that makes 156 horsepower, but when combined with the electric motor, horsepower climbs to 200. The engine is linked to a continuously variable transmission.

Fuel economy across all Camrys is great.

The four-cylinder gets 25 mpg city, 30 highway, the six-cylinder gets 21 and 30 and the hybrid gets an astounding 43 city and 39 highway.

As a buyer, one thing to appreciate about Camrys is that you can choose a modestly trimmed version and still get a number of good features, or you can go to a higher trim level and get a nice taste of luxury.
Cruise control, power windows and doors, Bluetooth connectivity and air conditioning are standard.
But you can opt for pleasant touches such as wood-grain interior trim, leather seating and heated front seats, as well as advanced technology such as Toyota's Entune telematics system, which offers Internet radio and information searches, among other services.

Each Camry also offers a comfortable environment for drivers and passengers. Taller motorists and passengers will be very comfortable up front, but if they have to sit in the back, they shouldn't be too cramped.

Cabin noise is also minimal, and the temperature controls and audio systems enhance comfort.

The Camry has a broad pricing range, starting at around $23,000 and ranging to close to $33,000 for the highest trimmed V-6 mode or hybrid.

There's a good reason you see so many Camrys out on the roads, and if you've never owned one, go check it out and you'll see why so many buyers choose this great midsize sedan.