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What you missed on 7.31.14

Posted Jul 31st 2014 7:29PM

Daily U-Turn

Thumbs downOur controversial automotive beliefs

Everyone's got an opinion, and some of ours are more unfavorable than others. Whether its one staffer's pro-vote for the Smart Fortwo, or another's dislike of a certain Hellcat-powered Challenger, these not-so-popular beliefs are often kept off the pages of Autoblog. Until now. Read our confessions, here.



Porsche MacanQuick Spin: 2015 Porsche Macan S

We already gave Porsche's Macan Turbo a proper shakedown over in Europe, but back at home, west coast editor Michael Harley was able to take the less-powerful, less-expensive Macan out for a proper drive, on- and off-road. Yes, we hit both track and trail in the new baby Porsche. Have a read in our Quick Spin.




Toyota Camry HybridCR pushes for Camry recall

There's a potential problem with certain Camry Hybrid models from the 2007 to 2011 model years, but Toyota hasn't issued a recall – yet. The folks at Consumer Reports are urging the Japanese automaker to call back some of these sedans due to problems with the brakes. Read the full rundown of CR's claims, here.


Top Stories

Edmunds' long-term Tesla Model S has been wonderful, woeful

Posted Jul 31st 2014 7:00PM

Tesla Model S

We generally don't report on other outlets' long-term model tests, but Edmunds just completed a 17-month ownership experience with a 2013 Tesla Model S. It's just too interesting not to share.

The site bought a 2013 Model S Performance model for the added range of its 85-kilowatt-hour battery and tossed on a good variety of options for a total price of $105,005, including a wall charger. In terms of driving the electric hatchback, the folks there seemed to love it. There were a few minor gripes, but for the most part it offered sufficient driving range, plenty of space and generally good quality.

However, the ownership experience was hardly flawless. The journalists there were never quite able to hit the Model S' promised range of 265 miles, with a best real-world result of 230.4 miles during their ownership. Also, while they had it, the Model S had a rash of unscheduled trips for service – seven times – and their Tesla left them stranded by the side of the road once.

These weren't just some minor quibbles, either. The drive unit was replaced three times and the main battery once. That massive center info screen had to be manually reset nine times and was completely replaced once, as well. Edmunds writers forgave some of the faults, though. Their Tesla was an early production model, and some of the fixes were a result of technical service bulletins. They never had to pay for any of it, other than buying a new set of tires.

While this is all anecdotal evidence based on just a single Model S, it doesn't make the Model S sound like an easy car to live with all the time. You can get the full skinny on the love/loathe affair directly from Edmunds by clicking here.

News Source: Edmunds

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

NLRB says Mercedes violated Alabama worker rights

Posted Jul 31st 2014 6:31PM

Mercedes-Benz US International Inc.

Mercedes-Benz has run afoul of the National Labor Relations Board after an administrative judge ruled that the company violated organizing rights of workers at the company's Vance, AL factory, which builds the M-Class, GL-Class and the new C-Class.

Judge Keltner Locke upheld the charge that MB told employees they couldn't distribute pro-union literature in the factory's common areas during off-work hours, according to Automotive News. The other charges in the September 3 complaint, meanwhile, were dismissed, with Locke saying the company took "prompt remedial action."

While Locke's ruling comes without penalties, the factory, which is formally known as Mercedes-Benz US International Inc., must tweak its rules to allow off-duty workers to solicit other off-duty workers in certain parts of the factory (parking lots, break rooms, etc.), a right provided by the National Labor Relations Act.

The decision by Locke still isn't sitting well with some of the plant's employees, though. Don White, a 19-year veteran of the facility and one of the parties to the NLRB complaint, is one such worker.

"We're allowed to talk about church, football, anything else," White told AN. "There has been a lot of intimidation to keep us from trying to organize."

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith

Infiniti to get Leaf-based electric sedan after all

Posted Jul 31st 2014 5:45PM

Infiniti LE

Infiniti suffered a huge blow a few weeks ago when CEO Johan de Nysschen jumped ship after two years on the job to take the helm at Cadillac. As boss, he spearheaded change within the Japanese luxury brand and was among the biggest champions of the Q50 Eau Rouge. However, the company is far from sunk. Plans put in place prior to de Nysschen leaving are still on the table, according to Nissan product planner Andy Palmer to Automotive News, and that could mean a rosy future for the once AWOL LE sedan (pictured above) and other models.

Back in 2012, Infiniti promised that it would have the LE on the market as a premium electric sedan by 2014. It was supposed to share the battery pack with the Nissan Leaf but with a more powerful, 134-horsepower motor. But have you seen one on the road recently? The luxury EV was eventually shelved, but de Nysschen pledged the idea wasn't dead. Maybe now is a better time for it. According to Automotive News, the LE is rescheduled to launch in 2017 or 2018. The latest version would use the Leaf platform but with a more potent, next-gen battery to give it a range over 90 miles.

Of course, the LE isn't the only thing on the way from Infiniti; it also appears to be planning a two-pronged approach for small cars. Palmer recently tweeted that the company would build the forthcoming Q30 hatchback and QX30 crossover in the UK in 2015. Additionally, the automaker is firing up a new joint venture factory in Mexico with Mercedes-Benz; building compact models there starting in 2017. According Automotive News, the Mexican-built models will be more US-focused while the UK-built ones will appeal more to Europeans.

Finally, it looks like de Nysschen's plan for a flagship Infiniti sedan may still see the road too around 2018. It will be called either the Q80 or Q90 and use four-door coupe styling with a turbocharged V6 boasting about 600 horsepower, according to AN. For a guy who is no longer with the company, he appears to still be casting a long shadow over its future products.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

Hyundai readying Juke rival with 'edgy, dynamic styling' for 2017

Posted Jul 31st 2014 4:58PM

2011 Hyundai Curb Concept

Love it or hate it, the Nissan Juke has drawn attention to itself and to its maker. Little wonder, then, that Hyundai wants to follow a similar formula.

According to our compatriots over at Edmunds, Hyundai has a whole raft of new products in the works – as you'd expect from the world's fourth-largest automaker – including replacements for the current Tucson and Elantra sometime next year, but also a subcompact crossover to target the Juke, not to mention tiny softroading rivals like the forthcoming Chevrolet Trax. Details at this point are few and far between, but it appears Hyundai is committed to making it as zany as the Nissan it will target. The Korean automaker revealed the Curb concept (pictured above) along similar lines at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski tells Edmunds not to expect a mini Tuscon, but to "Think of maybe something that looks like a Juke or something that has edgy, dynamic styling." Considering how off-the-map Hyundai went with the Veloster and its unconventional array of doors, we know the Korean automaker can think outside the box for this Gen-Y crossover. Whether the edge tiny CUV market has space for more than the Juke, however, is another matter. One way or another, look for the tiny Korean crossover to arrive sometime in 2017.
Related GalleryHyundai Curb Concept
Hyundai Curb ConceptHyundai Curb ConceptHyundai Curb ConceptHyundai Curb ConceptHyundai Curb ConceptHyundai Curb ConceptHyundai Curb ConceptHyundai Curb Concept

News Source: Edmunds

GM also sheds parts from its pickups to boost payload ratings

Posted Jul 31st 2014 4:30PM

Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

The row between Ford and Ram over who boasts the best-in-class tow rating for heavy duty pickups has revealed a number of things. Chief among them is a report that Ford removes items like the spare tire, jack, radio and center console from its vehicles in a bid to lower its base curb weight and therefore keep the truck's gross vehicle weight rating down.

For those that need a refresher, GVWR is the vehicle's curb weight plus its maximum payload. A lower GVWR allows Ford to station its F-450 among the so-called Class III pickups, despite the fact that internally, it has the makings of a more brutish Class IV truck.

Ford explains away these deletions, saying a customer could order their vehicle in such a manner. It has also come to light that Ford is not the only automaker to engage in such practices.

General Motors started deleting the rear bumper and swapping in alloy wheels for heavier steel wheels for its 2014 pickups (both light-duty and heavy duty models). This is despite originally claiming that it did no such thing, a statement GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson told Automotive News was a mistake.

Wilkinson, like Ford, justifies the practice, explaining to AN, "You can delete the rear bumper, which some business customers do so they can install a custom bumper or other equipment on the back of the truck."

What are your thoughts on this? Is the process for figuring out tow ratings and GVWR too easy to manipulate? We want to hear from you. Head into Comments, and let us know what you think.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Chevrolet

Man dies after car crashes into bee-infested house

Posted Jul 31st 2014 3:59PM

honey bee, hive bee (Apis mellifera mellifera), bee swarm leaving a beehive, Germany

Leaving buildings vacant can present all kinds of dangers, as officials in Michigan in particular have found in recent years. But this tragic incident has to be a new one.

A 54-year-old man was driving his Hyundai down Spruce Road in the town of St. Charles, MI on Wednesday afternoon, but when he got to a curve in the road (just west of the M-52), he didn't turn, and his car went straight into an unoccupied home. Well, we should say that is was unoccupied by humans. In their place, the house was infested with bees. When rescue workers arrived at the scene, they were reportedly "driven back by swarms of bees," according to local news.

Sadly, the unfortunate driver died in the accident, but It does not appear to have been the bees that killed him directly. Although the Saginaw Country Sheriff's Department is still investigating the matter, preliminary reports suggest that the man suffered from a "medical emergency" (such as a heart attack, from the looks of things) before his car ever left the road.

News Source: MLive

Image Credit: Blickwinkel / Alamy

Maine patrolman saves a speeder's life

Posted Jul 31st 2014 3:33PM

Offier Mike Harrington

If speed kills, then the logical conclusion would be that police pulling over speeders are saving lives. Whether you accept that premise or not, however, one patrolman in Maine actually did save a man's life when he stopped him for breaking the speed limit.

Officer Mike Harrington of the Kennebunk Police Department had stopped one Gavin "Scotty" Falconer for driving over the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit in the coastal town in Maine, when Falconer, 84 years old, collapsed over his steering wheel. Officer Harrington sprung into action, pulled Falconer out of the car and initiated CPR.

Falconer woke up the next day in the hospital with his life restored... and a warning citation for speeding, which Harrington had apparently already started writing before Falconer collapsed. Watch the full story in the video here.

News Source: WMTW via YouTube

Autoblog editors come clean about their controversial automotive beliefs

Our Staff Voices Their Unpopular Opinions... How About You?

Posted Jul 31st 2014 3:00PM

thumb down

We all have controversial opinions. Be it whether you think the Nissan Juke is actually pretty attractive, manual transmissions aren't always better, or you honestly didn't hate the Pontiac Aztek, we all harbor some persuasion, be it big or small, for which we catch copious flak upon expression.

In recognizing that all of us here at Autoblog harbor at least one viewpoint that stubbornly goes against the grain of popular opinion among auto enthusiasts, we've decided to come clean with them right here, proudly speaking our minds in a mature, structured manner – a striking contrast to how these things tend to come up while debated in the office.

We'd also like to invite you to share your unpopular and controversial opinions with us and the Autoblog faithful down in Comments. Don't be ashamed – this is a safe place.

News Source: Copyright 2014 AOL

2015 Ford F-150 appearance guide takes the truck from mild to wild with options

Posted Jul 31st 2014 2:34PM

2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150 Trim GuideWe already know that the 2015 Ford F-150 has a base price coming in at just $395 more than the 2014 model, despite all of the new standard tech and aluminum-intensive construction in the upcoming version. Now the Blue Oval is finally giving us an idea of what that extra money actually buys customers, with the release of the appearance guide for its latest pickup.

The guide basically explains everything you could want to know about what changes occur among the multitude of trims on the 2015 F-150. There are five levels for the new truck. Although, that is something of a misnomer because most of them are also available with either Sport or Chrome packages, plus the FX4 Off-Road option with Hill Descent Control, an electronic-locking rear axle, off-road shocks and skid plates. With 13 available colors, including 4 new ones, and 14 wheel designs in various sizes, pickup buyers should have no problem specing one to fit their style.

The lineup starts out with the base XL with a black grille and fascia and 17-inch wheels. However, across most of the range the Sport and Chrome packages are also available to add either body-color or chrome accents, respectively. Next up is the XLT with a standard chrome grille but also available with a black, billet-style one with a body-color surround. Things really start getting plush with the Lariat model with leather trim, a three-bar front end and 18-inch wheels. The King Ranch sticks with that look but adds power running boards, 20-inch wheels and two-tone paint. Finally, the top-dog Platinum is all about bling with yet another frontal design, chrome door handles and mirror caps, a big logo running across the tailgate and more.

All of the options are certainly a lot to take in, and Ford clearly doesn't want any potential customers to fall through the cracks in terms getting exactly what they want from their F-150. Check out the gallery to see all of the differences between the trims for yourself.

News Source: Ford

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL, Related images copyright Ford

Tesla selling like gangbusters in China

Posted Jul 31st 2014 1:57PM

Earns Tesla

"Will it play in Peoria?" asks the age-old question about how Broadway shows would be received in Middle America. Well, apparently Tesla Motors plays well in Beijing. It's part of Tesla chief Elon Musk's grand plan, of course.

The California-based maker of the battery-electric Model S has delivered about 1,000 of the vehicles in China since shipments started there in April, Bloomberg News says, citing Dougherty & Co. analyst Andrea James, Barclays Plc analyst Brian Johnson and Wedbush Securities analyst Craig Irwin. Tesla also started shipping its first right-had drive Model S sedans to the UK in June.

It is estimated that all those deliveries helped push Tesla's second-quarter global vehicle deliveries close to the 7,550 mark, which is more than the company forecast and would set a new quarterly record (Tesla's second-quarter results will be announced later today). It would also mark about a 45 percent jump from Tesla's 2Q sales a year ago.

The Model S is priced at about $120,000 US in China (the culprits include the top-of-the-line battery pack as standard equipment and steep taxes that the government charges on vehicle imports) but that hasn't swayed status-conscious buyers from footing the bill, apparently. Tesla declined to comment on the China sales estimate when contacted by AutoblogGreen but we may learn more later today.

News Source: Bloomberg News

Image Credit: Ng Han Guan / AP Photo

ETC

Honda asking used-car buyers to sign liability document [w/poll]

Issue Arises From Ongoing Takata Airbag Recalls

Posted Jul 31st 2014 1:30PM

AUTO SALES OUTLOOK

New cars under recall must be repaired before a dealer can sell them but used cars are under no such mandate.

When it comes to informing the car-buying public about potential safety hazards on used vehicles, there are two emerging schools of thought among used-car dealers.

In one camp: those who disclose as little as possible. Used-car giant CarMax leaves it to customers to check to see whether a car is under recall. Consumer groups filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission last month, because they believe the lack of information amounts to deceptive advertising.

In the other: Honda, which has gone in the opposite direction. The company recently started disclosing possible recalls related to airbag malfunctions in certain vehicles. Honda is asking customers buying those used cars to sign a document that acknowledges they've been made aware of the issue. Buyers may be better informed, but such a signature could also shift liability away from the automaker.

It's a vexing issue on several fronts.

New cars under recall must be repaired before a dealer can sell them, under rules imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But used-car sellers are under no such mandate. Honda's disclosure helps consumers understand their new purchase may contain a potentially lethal defect, but some are worried that it could frighten customers away or expose dealerships to greater liability.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: AP Photo / Carlos Osorio / Shutterstock

Bret Michaels Poisons Nissan's commercial trucking ops

Posted Jul 31st 2014 12:45PM

Bret Michaels for Nissan Commercial

Mötley Crüe isn't the only 1980s hair-metal band getting into the world of auto promotion. Poison frontman and reality show star Bret Michaels is following their lead and doing some advertising of his own. Where the Crüe have been all over the airwaves in recent years with a Super Bowl ad for Kia and music licensing with Dodge, Michaels has taken a very different route by becoming the pitchman for Nissan Commercial Vehicles.

The videos run the gamut to advertise predominantly the NV line of full-size vans, but the NV200 shows up a few times too. The star of this new campaign is Michaels' full-length music video (above) for the song Tough Love. It's basically a parody of all of those '80s rock ballads where the bands would slow the tempo down a little and reveal their softer side. Michaels rocks out at the Nissan proving grounds in Stanfield, AZ, while showing off the evaluation process and strutting around like a proper rock frontman. There are also a bunch of shorter videos (below) with the singer highlighting each part of the vans' torture testing. Although, the dialogue in these come off a bit more stilted. With these '80s metal bands getting into advertising, can it be long before Warrant is shilling for Fiat or Ratt for Mazda?

News Source: Nissan USA via YouTube [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]

2015 Porsche Macan S

Stuttgart's Entry-Level Crossover Is Everything But

Posted Jul 31st 2014 11:57AM



I'd be willing to bet that 99 percent of all Porsche Macan owners will never take their vehicle on a track or see any more off-roading than a dirt path to a summer cottage, yet I maintain that there is no better venue to explore the absolute outer limits of the automaker's newest small family transport than on a racing circuit and an off-road course. It's testing at each extreme of the vehicle's operating envelope, with both challenges requiring very different capabilities. With that in mind, and looking forward to dirty floor mats and corded tires, I jumped at the opportunity from Porsche to wring out its new Macan S at Willow Springs International Raceway, located in Southern California's high desert.

The range-topping Macan Turbo (base price $72,300 plus $995 destination), with its 400 horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 gets most of the glory these days. But many, including myself, would argue that its slightly less powerful sibling, the Macan S, is actually the pick of the new litter. Despite having 60 fewer horses under the hood and giving up six-tenths of a second in the sprint to 60 miles per hour, it costs a massive $22,400 less – money better spent on equipment that improves the crossover's ride comfort and capability, or perhaps a well-used Boxster for weekends.

Despite a reasonably attractive starting price of $49,900 (plus destination), very few Porsche buyers will leave the showroom with a base model. My Dark Blue Metallic Macan S tester was equipped with a slew of mechanical upgrades, including air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), Sport Chrono Package and 21-inch 911 Turbo Design wheels. A Premium Package and a few other miscellaneous options bloated its price to $69,870. That's a very steep price for the premium compact crossover segment, but it's still less than a base Macan Turbo.

Rather than toss us keys in the Willow Springs paddock, Porsche delivered its Macan models to us scribes in Pasadena and then routed us over Angeles Crest Highway towards the track, which is located near Edwards Air Force Base. This generously provided me with another three or so hours behind the wheel, most of it on twisty two-lane mountain roads that were a nice preamble before our track and off-road excursions.

Driving Notes
  • In real-world driving on smooth pavement, it's hard not to be impressed with this crossover's road manners. Whether negotiating sweeping corners or short straights, the compact five-passenger Macan feels as planted as a two-passenger sports coupe half its height. I have nothing but praise for its engine, brakes and suspension on the public roads – quite honestly, each are a bit overkill for the actual task at hand, especially on heavily patrolled American roads.
  • If forced to muster a complaint, I'd lodge it at the electrically assisted steering, which feels a bit light for my tastes (Porsche uses the same basic steering rack as the Audi Q5, but its ratios and boost have been altered to suit its higher-performance badge). I prefer my steering a bit heavier, especially mid-corner when the front wheels are heavily loaded.
  • Despite sharing its Modular Longitudinal Platform (MLP) with the aforementioned Audi and a half-dozen other VW Group siblings, the engineers from Stuttgart have meticulously reworked every component to ensure i's pure Porsche – meaning in stock form it is every bit as capable on a track as it is on public roads. Competitors may offer crossovers with sport packages and oversized wheels and tires, but nobody (not even Audi's range-topping SQ5, which weighs nearly 300 pounds more) can touch the powertrain on today's entry-level Macan S, which arrives with a standard twin-turbocharged V6, dual-clutch (PDK) gearbox, six-piston front calipers and 19-inch alloys in staggered sizes, the latter of which can be good for performance but may be irksome come rotation or replacement time. Most of those are firsts for the segment.
  • Track time was configured as a lead-follow event, behind a Cayman piloted by a talented Porsche Sport Driving School instructor. Although most would believe the sports car would leave a much larger crossover eating its dust (of course, its lap times were quicker), the Macan S wasn't far off the coupe's pace. The 4,112-pound crossover (the S model is about 130 pounds lighter than the Macan Turbo), with electronics configured in Sport Plus mode for aggressive track duty, made excellent use of its PASM and PTV Plus on the tight circuit. The standard all-wheel-drive system is shared with the automaker's 911 Carrera 4, meaning the Macan S genuinely behaves like a sports car, clawing its way around each corner with minimal body roll. With four very active contact patches, I was able to actually pull out of the corners quicker than the fleeing rear-wheel-drive Cayman. I tossed and threw this crossover around at ridiculously fast speeds and it maintained its composure in spectacular manner.
  • The twin-turbocharged V6 and PDK twin-clutch gearbox deserve praise, too. The engine generates plenty of torque down low, and it doesn't mind running up to its 6,700-rpm redline. The transmission operates in lightning-quick fashion when the Sport Plus button is engaged, and it intuitively downshifts into turns and holds its gear when tenaciously cornering. This Porsche would never be even my tenth choice as a track car – it's still too big and heavy – but it has the capability to really scoot when prodded. "Mechanically sound" and "technically brilliant" – two phrases I'd use to describe the on-track performance of the Macan S.
  • To prove itself equally as capable off-road, Porsche later led us up a short, but challenging, dirt trail in the mountains surrounding the track. Despite rolling on high-performance Continental summer tires that lacked aggressive tread blocks, the determined Macan S used its electronically controlled all-wheel drive system to slowly creep up some very steep inclines (there's no low range transfer case, so the traction control automatically brakes a spinning wheel to send power to the axle with the most grip). Hill Descent Control worked its magic on the way down. Ground clearance seemed to be the limiting factor, as expected, but my tester was able to use its air suspension to raise the chassis and gain some additional space beneath its rails when the going got tough. I'd personally choose something less expensive to scrape and dent on the Rubicon (a Jeep Wrangler comes to mind, or even a Cherokee or Grand Cherokee), but the outing on the loose trails convinced me that the Macan S has billy goat genes beneath its slick bodywork.
  • A day behind the wheel of the entry-level Macan S demonstrated that Porsche has raised the dynamics bar in the compact crossover segment, much as it did with the Cayenne a decade ago, delivering a model that is competent and comfortable on the street and extraordinarily capable (maybe unnecessarily so?) on track and dirt. It remains to be seen how many people will pony up this sort of money for a compact CUV, but so far, the Range Rover Evoque has proven to be a masterstroke for Land Rover, which suggests that the Macan could be a huge success. In any case, Porsche's new baby leaves the less-costly BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK and the Audi SQ5 chasing taillights and inhaling dust – at least until we see each of them answering the new challenge.

Vital Stats

Engine:
Twin-Turbo 3.0L V6
Power:
340 HP / 339 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed DCT
Base Price:
$50,895
As-Tested Price:
$69,870

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL / Porsche

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