Friday, June 27, 2014

Hitachi Plant in Monroe Expanding

Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas says it has completed construction of a third production facility in Monroe. The new facility, along with new equipment for the new and existing facilities, represents an investment of an expected $80 million, the company said. 
The company said the expansion will add up to 250 new jobs by March 2017 to a facility that currently employees more than 350.  
The Monroe facility is situated on 70 acres and has two production facilities with a combined manufacturing floor area of 230,000 square feet. The new building will have a manufacturing floor area of 290,000 square feet. 
The company produces valve timing controls and propeller shafts at the existing facilities. Production at the new facility is expected to begin in 2016 and will include new products such as electric power steering systems, variable displacement pumps and others.

2014 Toyota RAV4: Worth Raving About

The Toyota RAV4 got a full makeover last year, but returns for the 2014 model year with a few extra safety features, addressing a concern that the previous model faced.
The design that the RAV 4 picked up last year is definitely much more crossover-ish, and less SUV-ish. That’s been the trend in the small SUV market for the past couple of years.
While we favor crossovers that embrace their SUV-ness more, it can also be said that the more wagon-like look has plenty of fans as well.
The new RAV4 design has lots of folds and tapers, large headlight groupings and a sweeping front grille.
Gone is the spare tire that was affixed to the back gate; it now sits inside the cargo area, under the floor.
The RAV4 features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 176 horsepower and is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg city, 31 highway for front-wheel drive models and 22 and 29 for models with the optional all-wheel drive.
Cargo space is 38.4 cubic feet, expanding to 73.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.  
The interior is sharp and sporty looking, with well-placed dashboard controls and comfortable seating.
In fact, despite its relatively compact size, the RAV4 proved to be fine for a weekend road trip that included a handful of family members and their bags.
The RAV4 comes standard with a backup camera and a touch screen audio control center.
Optional features include the Entune multimedia system, heated front seats, navigation system and dual-zone climate control.
The RAV4 was previously dinged by Consumer Reports for not having strong enough safety chops, but this year’s model is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety top safety pick.
There are eight standard airbags, antilock brakes and electronic stability control. If you opt for the technology package, you also get lane departure warning, automatic high beam headlights, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warnings.
The RAV4 starts at around $24,000 and ranges to a little more than $30,000.

For a stylish, practical small SUV, the RAV4 is worth raving about.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Toyota Shows Fuel Cell Sedan

Toyota has unveiled its hydrogen fuel cell sedan, first shown as a concept at last year's Tokyo auto show.
The car will be sold in Japan by the spring, and will hit the USA next summer.

To see a video about the car click here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2014 Honda Odyssey: Fantastic Family Vehicle

The 2014 Honda Odyssey has been updated a bit, with new styling in the front and back, a new center console and improved technology.
But, since it’s a minivan, it also now offers a feature that will surely win over parents: a vacuum in the rear cargo section to help with quick cleanups.
The Odyssey is still powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 248 horsepower. It features a cylinder deactivation system to help save fuel. There is a five speed automatic transmission on the LX, EX and EX-L trim models and a six-speed automatic on the Touring and Touring Elite models.
Fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg city, 28 highway.
On the outside, Honda created a new hood, front bumper, fenders and grille. The back of the van gets new LED-enhanced taillights.
Held over from past versions are the power liftgate and mooroof, power sliding doors and xenon headlights.
On the inside, the new HondaVac system is available on the Touring Elite trim level, which is the most expensive. Honda says it offers the same suction power as a garage vacuum and a hose that reaches anywhere in the van.
Nifty idea.
There are also second row seats that can move forward close enough to the front seats that a parent can attend to a small child.
The third row can collapse into the floor for added cargo capacity.
And if your crew is particularly thirsty, the Odyssey offers a ridiculous 15 cup holders.
That’s almost two per passenger, as the Odyssey has seating for eight.
The Odyssey starts at around $29,000 and ranges to about $45,000.

For a well thought out, reliable family vehicle, it’s tough to beat the Honda Odyssey.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Honda, Nissan and Mazda in Air Bag Recall

Worldwide recalls linked to defective air bags made by the Japanese supplier Takata widened on Monday as Honda, Nissan and Mazda recalled a total of almost three million vehicles for crucial fixes.
Japanese and American regulators are investigating reports that defective Takata air bag inflaters — used by at least seven global automakers — could cause the air bags to rupture, injuring passengers with flying debris.
It was the second recent recall over Takata-made air bags, prompted by what Takata said were inadequate records that made it difficult to identify potentially affected vehicles. On June 11, Toyota said it would recall 2.3 million vehicles worldwide because of the defect. In April and May last year, several Japanese automakers, along with BMW, recalled a total of 3.6 million cars over the same defect. In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said this month that it would investigate whether recalls should be issued for other automakers’ vehicles.

2014 Toyota Prius v: So Practical, So Fuel Efficient

The 2014 Toyota Prius v is largely unchanged from the prior model year's version, but that's a good thing.
This is a good, reliable, practical vehicle that offers outstanding fuel economy.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

GM, Hyundai among Winners in J.D. Power Quality Survey

General Motors and Hyundai came up winners in the annual J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. The study found that automakers as a whole struggled to launch vehicles that had technology that consumers found easy to use.

You can check out the survey report here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2015 Subaru WRX: Performance at a Nice Price

For a performance car at a reasonable price, the Subaru WRX has been among the better choices over the past few years.
The 2015 model year version gets a complete remake, most notably dropping the hatchback version and going sedan only.
The WRX is still built on the same chassis as Subaru’s Impreza, the more practical, tame model in the family.
But the WRX’s new body is more sculpted and includes bulging fenders, a hood scoop and 17-inch alloy wheels. It comes standard with projector headlights and full LED headlights as an option.
The interior remains fairly sparse, but with a few little touches to stay true to its rally car character, such as a leather-wrapped flat bottom steering wheel, aluminum pedals and bolstered seating.
The engine is new, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 268 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque. Additionally, two new transmission options have been added: a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission. Subaru said it also has added something called an active torque vectoring system, which works with the symmetrical all-wheel drive to make steering more responsive and cut understeer.
Fuel efficiency has improved, with the manual getting 21 mpg city, 28 highway and the CVT getting 19 and 25.
The key reason to buy a WRX is to have fun driving. After all, it’s not the most practical model you’ll find, and it’s got a distinctive rally car style that run of the mill sedan lovers might find too funky.
But for driving enthusiasts, it’s a cool toy to take out on the roads, or better still, an empty parking lot.

The WRX starts at around $27,000 and ranges to about $30,000.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2014 Toyota Tundra: A Few Changes, but Still a Powerhouse

The Toyota Tundra has received a few changes for this model year, but it's still a formidable competitor in the pickup market.
See what's new.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2014 Honda Civic Coupe: Restyled and Road Ready

The 2014 Honda Civic Coupe has been given updated styling, and this popular compact car now looks better than ever, while still delivering good fuel economy and safety features.
 The new styling gives the coupe a more athletic, tapered look.
The coupe is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 143 horsepower and is mated to a continuously variable transmission, which is new for this model year. Also available is  a five-speed manual.
Fuel economy is good at 29 mpg city, 38 highway.
The interior fit and finish of the Civic Coupe compares favorably to some luxury cars. The high quality materials used in the seating, dashboard and elsewhere throughout the cabin look and feel great and create a pleasant environment for driver and passengers.
For options, you may select leather seating and heated front seats.
The technology in the car is solid, with the Civic Coupe offering USB/iPod port, Bluetooth connectivity and Pandora internet radio standard, with navigation system optional.
For safety, the Civic Coupe features a standard backup camera, antilock brakes, electronic stability system and airbags.  
The Civic, which gets most of its sales from its sedan version, starts at around $19,000 and ranges to about $27,000.

For a reliable, attractive compact car, it’s hard to beat the Civic Coupe.