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It costs $380 to replace the menacing taillight on the 2015 Dodge Durango SUV.
 

The latest tech is great -- until you have to replace it

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 24
At night, the thin band of bright red LEDs on the rear of the 2015 Dodge Durango stares back at the drivers behind like an evil-looking menace in a space helmet.
It’s one of the most unique lighting signatures on the road today.
Just don’t hit it.
There is a downside to rapidly advancing automotive technology: Break something, and you’ll pay an eye-popping amount to get it fixed.
We all know about showroom sticker shock. Average transaction prices for light vehicles in the United States hit ...
     
Continue reading "The latest tech is great -- until you have to replace it" »
Mar 24, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET
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That vroom-vroom … is it real or digital?

Posted 11:03 am U.S. ET, March 20
COLUMBUS, Ind. -- Andrew Pontius, Faurecia’s chief exhaust engineer, sat in the front seat of a BMW 328i sedan. With his finger on an iPad touchscreen and one foot on the accelerator pedal, he showed me how exhaust sounds will be generated in the future. 
Pontius revved the Beemer’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. With a touch of the iPad screen, the engine emitted the sensual moan of a V-6 Maserati. 
With another touch, I heard the throaty roar of a BMW M3 V-8. Next, the V-8 muscle car growl of a 2014 Ford Mustang 5.0-liter V ...
     Continue reading "That vroom-vroom … is it real or digital?" » Mar 20, 2015 11:03 am U.S. ET
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Small utility vehicles' big payoff

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, March 17
blogs
Jeep's Renegade. (BLOOMBERG)
Tiny crossovers and SUVs could be immune to America’s long-standing love-hate relationship with small cars. We love ’em when gasoline is expensive and shun ’em when it’s cheap.
But gasoline is cheap right now, and the new crop of tiny SUVs and CUVs such as the Nissan Juke and Buick Encore is off to a fast start. U.S. consumers are gladly paying thousands of dollars more for rugged-looking small vehicles that offer the ability to haul gear and a slightly higher ride height and seating position.
And the cherry on top for automakers is the low investment required to create a small uti ...
     Continue reading "Small utility vehicles' big payoff" » Mar 17, 2015 11:30 am U.S. ET
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2016 Mazda MX-5 curb weight: 2,332 pounds

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, March 17
blogs
The redesigned Mazda Miata MX-5 is nearly as light as the original, yet with a power-to-weight ratio exceeding that of its predecessor.
As fans of lightweight roadsters know, it’s hard for manufacturers to continually lighten and shrink cars, especially with changing safety and efficiency regulations.
But Mazda’s still fighting the good fight -- and winning. The 2016 Miata MX-5 roadster will tip the scales at just 2,332 pounds.
Mazda said the new MX-5's curb weight would be close to the first generation’s flab, which turns out to be almost true. The original Miata for North America came in at about 2,210 pounds, just 122 pounds less than the new one. With 26 years of regulations in between, that’s a pretty good res ...
     Continue reading "2016 Mazda MX-5 curb weight: 2,332 pounds" » Mar 17, 2015 11:00 am U.S. ET
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A test drive converts a Cadillac skeptic

Posted 11:30 am U.S. ET, March 10
blogs
The Cadillac ATS with a turbo 4 cylinder engine: A surprise to drive for one skeptic. (BILL TRUETT)
There’s one last item to address before we close the book on my recent column about General Motors’ latest efforts to reposition Cadillac.
Thanks to central Florida Cadillac dealer Alan Starling, we tested my theory that a good way to obliterate Cadillac’s lingering dinosaur brand image is simply to let people drive the cars.
In a previous column, I mentioned that my brother’s mental image of what Cadillac is tod ...
     Continue reading "A test drive converts a Cadillac skeptic" » Mar 10, 2015 11:30 am U.S. ET
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Why McLaren can be profitable without an SUV

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, March 10
blogs
McLaren spends 300 million pounds (415 million euros) a year on new model development. Its latest supercar is the 675LT, which debuted at the Geneva auto show last week.
McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt says the supercar maker doesn’t need an SUV to generate the cash required to keep renewing its range.
Flewitt made the point when asked by reporters at the Geneva auto show last week whether McLaren needs to follow fellow British brands Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce into the growing niche for ultra-expensive SUVs.
CEO Andy Palmer said last week that Aston Martin would join the segment because its needs to be “less dependent on a narrow product portfolio.”
McLaren, like Italian rival Ferrari, will forgo ente ...
     Continue reading "Why McLaren can be profitable without an SUV" » Mar 10, 2015 11:45 am U.S. ET
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America, land of big spaces, spurs Hyundai Tucson redesign

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, March 4
blogs
Hoping to appeal to American tastes, Hyundai designers pushed to increase the revamped Tucson's wheelbase, add a more upright grille and front end, and pushed the crossover's A pillars back. (DAVE GUILFORD)
GENEVA -- So how do you design a crossover with a name evoking the old West -- that cowboy, cactus, rugged desert terrain ethos?
With a strong sense of the uniqueness of U.S. driving and lifestyles, says Thomas Burkle, chief designer for Hyundai Motor Europe. Burkle’s team redid the look of Hyundai’s Tucson in “very intensive cooperation” with design teams in California and Korea, he says.
The result is a bolder design that fits the U.S., Burkle says: “For me, when I’m in America you can breathe. There’s space. There’s big roads. There’s fantastic natu ...
     Continue reading "America, land of big spaces, spurs Hyundai Tucson redesign" » Mar 4, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET
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Whatever happens with a takeover, automakers always learn something

Posted 11:00 am U.S. ET, March 3
blogs
Ford gave its aluminum-production system a dry run at Jaguar starting in 2003 with the XJ sedan and then took what it learned back to Dearborn and deployed it in the lightweight 2015 F-150.
Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda and Volvo all have something in common today besides the fact that they were once owned or controlled by Ford Motor Co.
All three are starting to blossom again now that they have developed their own unique vehicle architectures, powertrains and technologies, and as Ford-based hardware ages out of production.
This is not to say that Ford was a bad corporate parent. In many ways, Ford was a good corporate steward to these automakers. There is no question that Jaguar Land Rover would not have survived -- and Mazda and Volvo probably wouldn’t have either -- were it not for Ford& ...
     Continue reading "Whatever happens with a takeover, automakers always learn something" » Mar 3, 2015 11:00 am U.S. ET
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Russia, weak euro form backdrop for Geneva show

Posted 12:28 pm U.S. ET, March 2
Automakers don’t overreact to international tensions and currency fluctuations. They’re playing the long game, making decisions that many times will be in place for decades.
That’s why the comments coming from auto execs on the verge of the Geneva auto show are so striking. They indicate that, behind the hoopla and posturing at the show, automakers are pondering how two mega-issues might reshape the industry.
Issue No. 1: Russia
The Wall Street Journal last week quoted General Motors CFO Chuck Stevens recounting GM’s s ...
     Continue reading "Russia, weak euro form backdrop for Geneva show" » Mar 2, 2015 12:28 pm U.S. ET
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Aston's clever distractions

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Feb. 27
blogs
The Aston Martin Vulcan produces more than 800 hp and will start at 1.8 million pounds. The racetrack-only car will debut at the Geneva auto show.
Aston Martin is cleverly covering up its biggest weakness -- its money-losing, aging lineup -- by creating headline-grabbing limited-edition models.
The British automaker is counting on a recently announced hypercar and a concept car created specifically for the world’s best-known spy to maintain momentum at the brand until its next all-new model arrives in late 2016.
Both vehicles feature smartly reworked technology from current models. The racetrack-only carbon-fiber Vulcan produces more than 800 hp from the company’s V-12 engine and will start at 1.8 million pounds ($2.79 million). The Vulc ...
     Continue reading "Aston's clever distractions" » Feb 27, 2015 12:01 am U.S. ET
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