Auto News Briefly

'Survivor': Look - an Avalanche! When the popular CBS "Survivor" series returns Oct. 11, the contestants will be vying for Chevrolet Avalanches along with the

$1 million purse. Three will be given away during the 13-week contest set in Kenya's Shaba National Reserve: one to the ultimate winner, another to the contestant who wins a special reward challenge and a third to the winner of a consumer sweepstakes through The marketing deal calls for the SUV-pickup to appear in one episode. Pontiac had a similar deal with its Aztek during the last two "Survivor" contests. General Motors is paying $450,000 per 30-second spot with an average of two spots per show. (For more on the Aztek, keep reading.)

HIGH STANDARDS - Massachusetts car dealer Angelo Salvadore says he has been using U.S. flags for years to decorate his dealerships: small ones for vehicle antennas, larger ones for flagpoles. But, according to the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette, nearly 80 flags have been stolen from Salvadore Automotive Group dealerships since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "It is kind of sad, but in a way I'm not disappointed," Salvadore told the paper. "I know they're on the road. They're there for a purpose, a good purpose: respect." Salvadore said he tried to order more flags, but his supplier is out of stock.

IN A WORD - In May, Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli debunked speculation that General Motors eventually will take 100 percent control of alliance partner Fiat Auto, a step Fiat could trigger by exercising a "put option" beginning in 2004. But speculation continued, which is perhaps why Fiat Auto CEO Roberto Testore was even more emphatic at the Frankfurt auto show: "I can confirm on behalf of my shareholders that there is absolutely no intention ever to exercise the option. ... The answer is 'No.' "

WHO KNEW? The Pontiac Aztek, which has become the perpetual butt of ugly jokes, has won a beauty contest - sort of. The 2001 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study of J.D. Power and Associates ranked the Aztek at the head of the class for entry-level sport-utilities. The catch? Owners said the most appealing factors are the powertrain, sound system and interior comfort. They gave Aztek's exterior appearance somewhat lower marks. Luckily, you can't see it while you're driving.

Tags: J.D. Power

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