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J.D. Power customer survey of dealers counts Cadillac, Buick as big winners

Posted Apr 14th 2014 5:35PM

2014 Cadillac CTS, front three-quarter view

Cadillac and Buick have taken the trophies in J.D. Power's latest Customer Service Index Study examining satisfaction with dealer service. Surveying more than 90,000 owners and lessees of 2009-2013 model-year cars, the study found that those with pre-paid maintenance packages were ten percent more likely to buy their next car from the same brand.

Dealer satisfaction scores have improved overall, Cadillac nabbed the luxury segment ahead of Audi and Lexus, taking the crown that Lexus held last year. Buick keeps the mass-market dealer satisfaction win in the family, finishing ahead of Volkswagen and last year's winner GMC. The study also found that service department use of tablets increased customer satisfaction, as did "best practices" like "providing helpful advice." Who knew?

You can find details on those and more findings in the press release below.

News Source: J.D. Power

1964 Ford GT40 prototype sells for $7M

Posted Apr 14th 2014 5:00PM

1964 Ford GT40 Prototype

Seven-figure Ferraris are not horribly rare. Heck, an eight-figure Ferrari isn't a rare occurrence. Between modern masterpieces like the Enzo and more classic offerings, cracking the million-dollar mark isn't a particularly tall order for the cars from Maranello. For a Ford, though, it's a big deal.

Now, this is not just some rare Mustang. This is a GT40, the car that Henry Ford II commissioned to whip Enzo Ferrari around a track in France. As far as the Le Mans-winning racers go, they don't get much rarer than this one. Sold at the Mecum Auctions in Houston, this is one of the prototypes, meaning it's one of the very first GT40s ever built. That makes its $7 million winning a bid, a record for on-air coverage of the auction, a pretty darn impressive figure.

You can watch the auction below, but first, take a look back at our original story on this rare Blue Oval.

News Source: Mecum Auctions via YouTube

Chrysler dealers terminated in bankruptcy still stuck in court

Posted Apr 14th 2014 4:30PM

Car Dealers Push House Bill To Save Dealerships Cut By GM, Chrysler

Part of the deal for the federal bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors was that both organizations were required to trim their vast array of dealerships. This move did not sit well with the people that would be losing out on franchises, though, and in Chrysler's case, 148 of the shuttered dealers have fought for money they feel they are entitled to.

These dealers believe that they should be compensated by the federal government, as Chrysler wouldn't have trimmed its sales centers had it not been ordered to by Uncle Sam. Now, thanks to the ruling of three judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the dealers will get a chance to argue their point.

According to Automotive News, the dealers argue that the mandatory shuttering of dealers was unconstitutional, because the federal government was taking property without compensation. If the dealers are victorious, not only would the government be out millions of dollars, but a precedent could be set that would allow similarly closed GM dealerships to cash in.

To win, though, the dealers will need to prove that the government actively coerced Chrysler into closing down dealers. There would also need to be a demonstrable value to the dealership franchises, had there not been government interference.

"We have to show the government bailout was not the only avenue," said Leonard Bellavia, the lawyer in charge of the dealership team. "If they would have pursued another, those dealers would not have been terminated."

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Gene Haas granted F1 license by FIA

Posted Apr 14th 2014 4:01PM

NASCAR Charlotte Auto Racing

Gene Haas, co-owner of former NASCAR champion team Stewart-Haas Racing, has officially received a Formula One team license by the FIA. The new squad could begin racing as soon as the 2015 F1 season.

"Obviously, we're extremely pleased to have been granted a Formula One license by the FIA. It's an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to Formula One," said Haas in a statement to Autoweek.

Last year, the FIA announced it would begin accepting applications for new teams to join the sport, and Haas was among the early rumored applicants. He was recently considered a front-runner among the potential teams.

F1 has been a tough place for Americans in recent years. The USF1 team attempted to break into the sport but suffered financial trouble. There have also been the ongoing attempts to add a race in New Jersey to the calendar. The early success of the Circuit of the Americas shows that we aren't entirely unlucky at F1, though. Maybe, Haas' team will be another positive example.

News Source: Autoweek

Image Credit: Mike McCarn / AP

Dodge offering novel 1-year lease on '14 Challenger and Charger models

Posted Apr 14th 2014 3:30PM

2014 Dodge Charger and Challenger

Dodge is just days away from unveiling refreshed versions of the Charger and Challenger at the 2014 New York Auto Show, models promising updated styling and new powertrain options. Depending on how you look at it, the company is either so confident in its forthcoming 2015 models that it's offering an interesting Double-Up lease deal on the current vehicles, or it's so eager to clear out existing stock that it's resorting to novel lease deals. In any case, what they present is an interesting scenario, one which allows buyers to get the existing model right now, and then trade up to the facelifted 2015 models in one year.

Starting April 17, when the refreshed cars debut through the end of August, buyers can lease a 2014 Charger or Challenger for one year and exchange it for a three-year lease on a 2015 model next year, with no additional money down and the same monthly payment. Customers can even switch vehicles when the new lease starts. If drivers want to buy the '15, they get $1,000 off the purchase price. To be eligible, both leases must use the same dealership and be financed through Chrysler Capital. The Double-Up deal excludes the SRT versions of both cars and Charger SE models.

To offset the flood of one-year-old models coming back to dealerships, Dodge has struck a deal with rental car agency Enterprise, which has agreed to buy them all. "One-year leases are highly unusual in the industry," said company spokesperson Ralph Kisiel, and the fleet sale deal is what makes it possible.

This offer might be a good way for Dodge to boost flagging sales of both models this summer. According to Chrysler sales data, Charger sales are down 4 percent, to 24,956 units from January through March, and the Challenger is down 24 percent in that time, with just 11,034 sold. Maybe the refreshed vehicles and lease deal will provide the sales jolt they need. Scroll down to read all of the details.

News Source: Dodge

First 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 sells for a cool million

Posted Apr 14th 2014 2:57PM

Chevy Corvette Z06 Auction

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick loves buying first-built Chevrolet models for charity. He paid $1 million to buy the first production 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible and $650,000 to get the first 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28.

Hendrick's latest purchase happened at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Palm Beach where he got into a bidding war to pay $1 million to get the first 2015 Corvette Z06. The bidding came quick with the car reaching $100,000 within 3 seconds and hitting $500,000 in about 35 seconds.

The money from the sale was donated to the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Scroll down to watch the video and the bidding war that raised the price so high.

News Source: SPEED - MOTORS on FOX via YouTube

Image Credit: Related images Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Subaru teasing STI surprise for NYC show?

Posted Apr 14th 2014 2:15PM

Subaru WRX STI new york auto show

Subaru is no stranger to the Special Edition car, least of all where its vaunted WRX and STI are concerned. From Spec C to Prodrive to 22B, more than a handful of STI's around the world have been released as limited-run editions, often with stirring results. So, while we were more than a little bit surprised to see that big-wing crop up on the Subaru Twitter page today, we can't say as though its not true to the brand's history.

However, while most of the interesting WRX STI variants have been offered to Europe and Japan only, whatever is wearing that carbon-fiber-lipped wing is set to debut at the New York Auto Show this week.

We don't have a clue as to the precise nature of the car in front of that wing, save to say that it's likely based on the STI. We can guess, however that the extra vertical supports and the use of carbon fiber indicate a higher-performance version than currently exists. Anything from a racing application to some new goodies for the aftermarket are in the realm of possibility.

Expect to see Subaru's surprise unveiled at the NYC show on Wednesday. Till then, have fun guessing at what car may be attached to that mighty tail, below.

News Source: Subaru via Twitter

Bugatti mules could signal Veyron successor in the works

Posted Apr 14th 2014 1:30PM

Bugatti Veyron Test Car

The chances of a new product from Bugatti are getting closer. The tally of available Veyrons left keeps dropping, with only around 40 units to go to complete the stated 450-car production run. The supercar maker has reportedly begun development on a successor, and that is looking increasingly likely because a pair of test cars with some intriguing modifications have been spotted lapping the Nürburgring.

We recently saw the white car testing in a short video; now a new set of spy shots have given us an even better look. The car appears stock, until you notice the weird aluminum armature at the back. The wires and boxes indicate it's likely for data acquisition, and given the location, engine testing would be a good bet.

The black Veyron is wearing slightly widened bodywork and may also have a wider track. According to our spy shooters, those absolutely massive black wheels may be made from carbon fiber. Another interesting note is the panel cut out at the rear of the car behind the driver's side tire. There is clearly a radiator visible behind it. Perhaps, both cars are testing new powertrain options?

Bugatti has refused to give a precise timeframe for the launch of the Veyron successor, but it has promised that it won't be revealed until all current models are sold. It has also reportedly dropped plans to attempt the four-door Galibier supercar. Whatever Bugatti comes up with is going to have to be mind-blowing to outdo the modern supercar trio of the Porsche 918, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari.
Related GalleryBugatti Veyron Spy Shots
Bugatti Veyron Spy ShotsBugatti Veyron Spy ShotsBugatti Veyron Spy ShotsBugatti Veyron Spy ShotsBugatti Veyron Spy ShotsBugatti Veyron Spy ShotsBugatti Veyron Spy ShotsBugatti Veyron Spy Shots

Image Credit: CarPix

Leno's steam-powered 1925 Doble E-20 is fascinating

Posted Apr 14th 2014 12:44PM

Doble E-20

The steam-powered car is considered an old-fashioned relic in today's age, but in his latest video showing off his 1925 Doble E-20, Jay Leno demonstrates that at its best, steam provided a realistic challenge to the internal combustion engine. This car has some real provenance too. Famous industrialist Howard Hughes is counted among its owners, and Leno claims he liked it so much because it was the only car that performed as well as his Duesenberg.

While the Doble's four-cylinder compound engine makes only 150 horsepower, it produces a staggering 1,000 pound-feet of torque, according to Leno. That much power means that a transmission isn't necessary, and it directly drives the rear end.

For much of the video, Leno puts on his teacher's cap and explains step-by-step how the Doble's advanced steam engine works, and it's a very complicated piece of machinery, especially if your are used to internal combustion engines. One of the most interesting parts is the system's efficiency, because after being used in the engine, the gas is condensed back into water and heated again.

If you're a fan of engineering or mechanical systems, this is a fascinating video to watch, and it's amazing how functional the Doble makes steam power appear. In fact, it's almost possible to see steam as a realistic alternative to modern engines. Scroll down to watch Professor Leno give you an inside look at his idea of the pinnacle of the steam-powered automobile.

News Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube

2014 Mazda6: Winter's End Update

How I Used All The Grip The Six Could Offer (And Some Luck)

Posted Apr 14th 2014 11:57AM

2014 Mazda6 Long-term

The Winter Without End is seemingly dead. Outside my office windows, my brown and yellow lawn is fully exposed to the increasingly powerful sunshine, the morning birdsong is louder than anything until the garbage trucks start rolling, and I'm seriously considering having the summer tires put back on my personal fleet. That last one is a little scary, as I'm a firm believer in the April Snow Jinx, but you get the idea.

The long-term Mazda6 has also long since left my driveway. Looking back on my notes from the time it was in my charge, however, I see all remarks are dominated by one highlighted section at the top: "worst winter drive of all time." I hardly need the reminder, to be honest. Here's what happened.

When the Mazda showed up at my door, we'd already fitted the thing with its new winter rubber: Bridgestone Blizzaks. Plunking down for dedicated snow tires was a near necessity this year – as it almost always is in Michigan. We didn't see much reprieve from snow-choked, iced over roads here in Ann Arbor, and the knobbier rubber proved invaluable in getting me out of my house time and again.

Vital Stats

Engine:
2.5L I4
Power:
184 HP / 185 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Base Price:
$20,880
As-Tested Price:
$31,765

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jeremy Korzeniewski, Drew Phillips / AOL

Kia pulls covers off 2015 Sedona with New York as its backdrop

Posted Apr 14th 2014 11:30AM

2015 Kia Sedona

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the 2015 Kia Sedona. The automaker is sticking firm with its convictions in the minivan segment, but it's hedging its bets, saying the Sedona's "CUV-like styling and proportions offer all of the functional convenience of the segment while defying its design limitations."

The 2015 Sedona can be configured to seat either seven or eight occupants, and its size specifications put it right at or near the top of its class in most categories, including leg room. Kia says this is the final piece of the styling puzzle that started when design director Peter Schreyer took the helm of the Korean company's studio. We certainly see some masculine cues, especially with its high belt line and relatively small windows. We think the end result is pretty attractive though it falls clearly in minivan territory, you're welcome to draw your own conclusions after scrolling through the image gallery above.

2015 Kia SedonaKia promises the new Sedona will provide "an element of desire" with "improved driving dynamics" to go along with all that room inside. To that end, the new Sedona's chassis is reportedly 36-percent stiffer than the best of its competition, due to a body shell crafted from 76-percent high-strength steel. Kia expects a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, though the van has yet to be crash tested.

We'll have to wait a bit before we can test Kia's claims of driving enjoyment, which is often lacking in the minivan segment, but we're at least sure to enjoy the Sedona's 3.3-liter V6 and its 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, routed through a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. Again, those specifications are right in line with class leaders.

Kia's latest UVO technology will be included, which will come with a new Kia App Store that we look forward to hearing more about, and there are extras for both the Apple and Google ecosystems. A cooled glove box is helpful in this segment, as are USB ports for charging and household-style outlets. We're also pleased that Kia has fitted the minivan with a Surround View Monitor to help parking and maneuvering in tight spaces.

The 2015 Kia Sedona will be unveiled this week at the New York Auto Show, with an on-sale date in the late-third or early-fourth quarter of this year. Scroll down below for the complete press release.
Related Gallery2015 Kia Sedona
2015 Kia Sedona2015 Kia Sedona2015 Kia Sedona2015 Kia Sedona2015 Kia Sedona2015 Kia Sedona2015 Kia Sedona2015 Kia Sedona

News Source: Kia

2015 VW Jetta gets official just ahead of NYC reveal

Posted Apr 14th 2014 10:59AM

2015 Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen has offered up the lightest of refreshes on its Jetta for 2015, making subtle styling tweaks to the front, rear and interior while adding a few doses of new equipment. One of the biggest tweaks is the new, 2.0-liter TDI engine, which is now more efficient, returning 45 miles per gallon on the freeway (compared to 42 mpg on the 2014 model) while retaining the previous engine's 236 pound-feet of torque.

Normally, we'd run through visual changes first, but really, the tweaks made are so minor that only the staunchest of VW enthusiast is going to notice them. The new, optional xenon headlights and their 15 LED running lights are the most obvious changes, while the LED taillights of the GLI and Hybrid should stick out a bit. VW's primary focus, it seems, was on the exterior's aerodynamics, rather than aesthetics.

The trunklid is slightly more aerodynamic, as is the front fascia and the rain gutters along the A-pillars. Sill covers, wheel spoilers and an underbody panel on the rear axle are less noticeable aero tweaks. Both the Jetta 1.8T and TDI include an active grille shutter on the radiator, to further reduce drag at speed.

Volkswagen has made some mild tweaks to the interior, with a color multi-function display and some new chrome trim on "mid and high-level trims." The big changes on the interior are the wealth of new driver assistance features. Blind spot monitoring comes to the Jetta, along with cross-traffic alert and frontal collision warning. It's unclear if these will be options or part of a pre-determined package or trim level.

We'll have more on the Jetta and Jetta TDI from the floor of the 2014 New York Auto Show. Take a look below for the full press release.
Related Gallery2015 Volkswagen Jetta
2015 Volkswagen Jetta2015 Volkswagen Jetta2015 Volkswagen Jetta2015 Volkswagen Jetta2015 Volkswagen Jetta2015 Volkswagen Jetta2015 Volkswagen Jetta2015 Volkswagen Jetta

News Source: Volkswagen

2015 Nissan Murano gets edgier, lighter for NY [w/video]

Posted Apr 14th 2014 10:05AM

2015 Nissan Murano

2015 Nissan Murano rear 3/4Nissan's Murano stands as one of the originators of the crossover movement – it was perhaps the first such vehicle to throw out the idea that a CUV had to look like a boxy, cladded-up sport utility vehicle in order to be successful. Now poised to enter its third generation, the midsize Nissan is not only getting a new look and a host of new technologies, it's getting a new home: Canton, MS.

With dramatic new styling presaged by the Resonance Concept at last year's Detroit Auto Show, the new Murano debuting at this week's New York Auto Show includes a toned-down "V-Motion" nose and the Japanese automaker's trademark boomerang-shaped light fixtures. Aside from the chunky chrome U-shaped grille element up front, the new Murano's most striking design detail is its cantilevered roof with funky "disconnected" D-pillars, a floating look reinforced by a greenhouse edged in brightwork. Overall, it's a much more bold and expressive piece of design than Nissan's recent second-generation Rogue, fitting, as the Murano has always been on the daring end of CUV design.

Boasting a 0.31 coefficient of drag and a ton of sheetmetal surface development, the Murano's new form is available with LED headlamps and features active grille shutters for improved aerodynamics. The company claims visibility has been improved as well – and not just because of its brilliant available Around View Monitor camera system – Nissan says it has "optimized the angles and thickness of the bottom of the A-pillar," along with fiddling with the size and location of the side mirrors.

Power continues to be delivered by VQ-Series 3.5-liter V6, tuned here to deliver 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, just as it did last year. That power is routed through Nissan's latest Xtronic continually variable transmission, with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. Fuel economy figures have not yet been released, but Nissan says it expects a 20-percent improvement over the outgoing model's middling figures (FWD model: 18 miles per gallon city/24 highway) thanks to a 130-pound weight loss, improved aerodynamics and a more efficient powertrain. This, despite a larger footprint.

The interior is all-new as well, and it needed to be – the newer, less-costly Rogue had grown in size and ambition, crowding the Kyushu-built second-generation Murano's space and besting its cabin quality. The 2015 Murano looks to have successfully separated itself from its upstart sibling, with so-called "Zero Gravity" seats like those found in the Altima, along with available heating and cooling (rear seats are also available heated), a much larger panoramic moonroof and an upsized cargo area. While not the most practical of colors, the leather-lined ivory cabin seen here looks very premium, offset by piano black trim and some unusual white striated "wood" on the center console, doors and dashboard.

It is not yet clear what this means for the bizarre Murano CrossCabriolet, a two-door convertible model introduced for the 2011 model year. Based on the outgoing second-generation Murano architecture, the writing appears to be on the wall for this slow-selling nichemobile.

The 2015 Murano will become the ninth model built in Nissan's Mississippi plant, and it will hit dealers in the fourth quarter of this year. Feel free to check below to watch an official video and read all the details in the press release.
Related Gallery2015 Nissan Murano
2015 Nissan Murano2015 Nissan Murano2015 Nissan Murano2015 Nissan Murano2015 Nissan Murano2015 Nissan Murano2015 Nissan Murano2015 Nissan Murano

News Source: Nissan, nissanusa via YouTube

BMW to follow Honda back into F1?

Posted Apr 14th 2014 9:30AM

BMW Sauber F1.09 at Interlagos

The economic downturn wrought devastating effects on motor racing. Formula One alone lost half its engine suppliers when Honda left at the end of the 2008 season, and both BMW and Toyota followed at the end of 2009. But things are looking up again. Cosworth may have dropped out this season, reducing the engine suppliers to three: Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes, the latter of which admits that it may have left had the engine formula not changed. But Mercedes has stayed and is dominating the championship. Honda is coming back next season. And word around the paddock is it may not be the only one.

According to Giancarlo Minardi – founder of the team now known as Scuderia Toro Rosso – BMW engineers have been conspicuously spotted lately at F1 test sessions and grands prix, lending to speculation that the new engine regulations may entice the Bavarian automaker back into the series. According to Minardi, BMW's marketing division is pushing for the automaker's return to F1, with the board slated to make a decision in May. BMW would be more likely to consider an engine-supply deal rather than taking a team over like it had with Sauber, but with which team or teams it might collaborate remains a big question mark at this point.

As if that's not enough, Ford is said to be considering taking over Cosworth's aborted V6 turbo engine program to take both outfits back into the sport as well. Cosworth supplied F1 engines under the Ford banner for years, but returned under its own name for four seasons from 2010 through 2013 before shuttering its program to develop an engine to meet the new regulations adopted this season.

With Honda, BMW and Ford back on the grid, F1 would be back up to six engine suppliers like it had been in the 2008 season that marked the highest level of participation from automakers in decades.

News Source: Minardi via Axis of Oversteer

Image Credit: BMW

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