Wednesday, July 31, 2013

VW Sales Goals in Doubt

Volkswagen has seen U.S. sales drop this year, raising questions among automotive analysts as to whether it remains on track to meet its stated goal of leading global automakers in sales, production and earnings by 2018.
The German automaker took aim at that mark in 2010, amid a fledgling economic recovery in the United States and continued uncertainty in Europe.
Since then, Europe's economy has been buffeted by crises in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland, and the recovery in the United States has proceeded tepidly.
As such, while the auto industry has largely recovered from the depths of a severe slump that came amid the Great Recession, it's been hard for any automaker to post dramatic enough gains to enable huge leaps up the sales and production charts.
For VW, problems also persist with its perceived quality and reliability.
Recent rankings by J.D. Power and Associates once again placed VW in the below average category in quality.
And though it has seen impressive sales gains from its Jetta small sedan, competition from other brands in that segment, and a reinvigorated truck and crossover SUV segment have meant only limited impact from Jetta's uptick.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Camry in Tough Fight to Hold onto Top Spot

With competition hotter than this summer's weather in the midsize sedan market, Toyota is trying to fend off a slew of challengers to keep its Camry in the No. 1 slot.
Camry's sales have slid two percent in calendar year 2013, as rivals such as the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Ford Fusion have posted sharp gains, according to sales data.
In response, Toyota has turned to financial incentives to try to keep Camry at the top, where it's been for 10 years.
J.D. Power and Associates reported that Camry's price cuts were among the highest in midsize sedans, while its sales price, averaging $20,900 as of early this month, was among the lowest in the category.
The venerable Camry hasn't had a dramatic styling overhaul as has been the case with some of its rivals, which may be curbing sales growth.
"The Camry is still a great vehicle, and still is very reliable, but as for style, people have to make their own choices about that," said Georgia Walker, a sales analyst with automotive retailer DriveTime in Atlanta. "With all of the choices on the market today, there is a lot of competition and automakers have to use price, warranty and style to make their cars stand out," she said.

Friday, July 26, 2013

2013 Infiniti JX35: Luxury and Surprisingly Good Value

When you think luxury family vehicle, you probably think of a vehicle that, while nicely appointed, is hugely expensive and consumes way too much fuel.

Well, if you’re talking about the 2013 Infiniti JX35, you’d be dead wrong, except for the first characteristic, that is.

This crossover SUV has three rows of seats, rides smoothly and has a number of convenient features.

And for a vehicle of this size and level of luxury, both its sticker price and fuel economy are quite reasonable.

The JX35’s engine is a 3.5-liter six-cylinder that makes 265 horsepower and is mated to a continuously variable transmission.

You can choose from front- or all-wheel drive.

The JX35 is rated at 17 mpg city, 23 highway, which isn’t bad for such a large vehicle.

In our extended road test of the JX, we set the drive mode to Eco (Sport and Snow are the other settings), and got right around 20 mpg in combined city/highway driving.

Unfortunately, like many luxury rides, it takes premium fuel, so that drives your cost up somewhat.

The styling of the JX35 is simple, yet with a slightly sporty flair.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hyundai Santa Fe Facing Safety Probe

The  Hyundai Santa Fe is being investigated by federal safety regulators over complaints that its power can suddenly fail.
The complaints say that the 2013 sport utility vehicle's right-front axle shaft can fail, causing the vehicle to be unable to move. There have been no crashes or injuries, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says.
The probe covers nearly 50,000 vehicles, and could lead to a recall.
The Associated Press reported that in one complaint, an owner told NHTSA there was a loud bang under the SUV as it was being driven out of a subdivision. After that it would not move in drive or reverse. The owner called Hyundai's roadside assistance number, and the Santa Fe was towed to a dealership, where technicians found a cracked axle, according to the AP.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

GM Vehicle Recall May Expand

A recall of three General Motors vehicles may expand by 5,000 cars as federal regulators investigate a problem that can stall engines or cause fires.
GM recalled more than 38,000 Chevrolet Malibu Eco, Buick LaCrosse and Buick Regal sedans in May to address the problems with defective generator control modules. Each car, from the 2012 and 2013 model years, has GM's eAssist gas-electric hybrid system.
The cars covered by the recall had been sold, according to news services, but GM agreed to test vehicles that had not been sold.
A fire was reported in one of the unsold vehicles, according to regulators, prompting the possibility of the expanded recall, news reports said.
GM told news services that it continues to cooperate with the investigation.