Today hottest/favourite autonews about auto makers (Hyundai, GM, Dodge, Chevy, Mercedes-BenzB, Cadillac, BMW, Toyota), photos/videos of supercars and from auto shows
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Kia recalling 2001-2004 Optima sedans in rust-prone states over subframe corrosion

06/10/2009   [Original: NHTSA via Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Kia

The 2001-2004 Kia Optima is being recalled in several states for corrosion of the front subframe. The recall covers some 36,538 examples sold in the U.S. in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Main, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia - all areas typically noted for being high rust threats due to their difficult winters and use of road salt.

According to the recall, internal corrosion of the front subframe can weaken the mounting points near the lower control arm, leading to everything from irregular tire wear to abnormal stress levels in the system that may contribute to a cras.

The recall begins this month, but neither Kia nor NHTSA have outlined a potential fix in the recall notice posted after the jump.

Continue reading Kia recalling 2001-2004 Optima sedans in rust-prone states over subframe corrosion

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SEMA: Live GM truck highlights

11/02/2006   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, SEMA, SUVs, Trucks/Pickups, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM, GMC

The GM display was pretty lively with a whole slew of different vehicles tricked out to suit just about any lifestyle. Particularly the trucks. As we told you, GM had what seemed like hundreds of these things scattered around the booth. Some of them were so simple and lame uninspired that we didn't even bother to get live shots. The media pics and press releases should tell you everything you need to know about them. Others, although far short of what we'd consider drool-worthy, had some cool features or were so specific in their execution that we had to smile and pass them along. Without further ado, here are the ones we liked enough, for one reason or another, to share with you. The read link will take you to the previous post with the media pics and press releases.

The 2007 GMC Sierra 1500 Texas Edition was designed for Texans and so this concept sports 22-inch chrome wheels, a custom trimmed power soft tonneau cover and a custom Texas Edition slide-out toolbox. And that's what we liked-the tonneau, interior and toolbox. We didn't check, but we were wondering if the tools were glued down. If not, we're guessing the bed will be nearly empty by Friday.

The 2007 Chevy Silverado Rally Sport was a little closer to the kind of truck we'd build if we were in charge. Lowered and modified to evoke the spirit of the first-generation Rally Sport Camaros. Plus it seemed to have the highest chick-magnet quotient.

The GMC Sierra NFL Crew Cab is an upscale tailgater's dream, complete with a B-B-Q grill, cutting board and cooler, collapsible seats, a 50-inch satellite-fed plasma screen, Bose sound system, and an interior that looks like footballs flattened by William "The Refrigerator" Perry.

The Chevy Orange County Choppers (OCC) Silverado was a little more extreme. Pretty nice execution of a hideous unique design, this one had quite a crowd around it too. Lots of black and billet, with 4 chromed chopper engines mounted in the customized cargo bed. Videographer Elliot put it nicely, "What a waste of 4 good engines.

The Silverado 427, powered by GM's 7.0-liter LS7 from the Z06 with a six-speed manual, rear wheel drive only, a lowered suspension, and a fairly tasteful styling package is something that appears to be truly worthy of an SS moniker. Definitely the one at least one of us would have gone home with.

Attracting perhaps the second-largest crowd, the Dale Earnhardt Jr. "Big Red" Silverado is "Earnhardt's personal notion of off-road enjoyment." As such, it can't be knocked. Baja on the outside, boulevard on the inside, it's definitely a truck for people who like to have some fun in style.

The GMC Silverado E-85 Handyman showed off its corn power with a huge graphic running the length of the vehicle. Only thing that could have made this better would have been cob holders as winch and hitch covers. The dumping bed was pretty cool.

The 2007 Chevy Colorado Crew Cab Z71 Plus with its 320-horsepower V-8 and HUMMER-ized suspension would probably be a decent off-road buggy, if you could get past the lunar lander looks. This one received the most negative responses from the assembled crowd in an informal eavesdropping session. Perhaps not as bad as the photos seem to indicate, it certainly has a futuristic look that seems a bit odd on something as traditional as a pickup.

The 2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT by DUB was a bit of a surprise. No mention of it in the press materials, it really stood out even in this gathering of flashy trucks. Perhaps it was the baby blue paint. Maybe it was the 26-inch rims or Strut grilles. We think it was the matching Hayabusa in the bed. Definitely the best bit.

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2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad

07/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Crossovers/CUVs, Dodge, Quick Spin

Dodge Journey Crossroad

Watchers of the auto industry will notice a theme among the formerly bankrupted American automakers, General Motors and Chrysler. There are the post-bankruptcy vehicles, and the pre-bankruptcy vehicles. The former, in the case of Chrysler, include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as the 200 and 300. For GM, there's the Cadillac ATS, Chevrolet Impala and Buick Encore, among others. These vehicles have the freshest styling, with sharp exteriors and well-crafted interiors, as well as advanced powertrains and well-sorted chassis.

As for the pre-bankruptcy vehicles, they tend to be easy to spot. Most suffer from inferior driving dynamics, cheaper interiors, poorer fuel economy and often homely looks (we know, there were some decent cars before the bankruptcy, but they were pretty heavily outweighed by the bad ones). Think late, last-generation Chevrolet Impala or Chrysler 200. Increasingly, though, we're seeing vehicles that split the balance between pre- and post-bankruptcy. Vehicles like the Dodge Journey.

The Journey debuted in 2007 as a 2008 model year vehicle, meaning it should fall into the latter category. But heavily breathed upon in 2011, it now enjoys a new, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, a big, critically acclaimed touchscreen display and in the case of today's tester, a new-for-2014 Crossroad spec.

So which is it? Is its pre-Fiat DNA too much to overcome, or is the Journey Crossroad the ugly duckling that became a less ugly duckling? Naturally, we had to find out.

Driving Notes

  • The Crossroad builds on the well-equipped success of the mid-level Journey SXT Plus, and includes Chrysler's excellent 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system with Bluetooth and satellite radio, as well as dual-zone climate control.
  • While the Crossroad doesn't add any new tech to the package, it butches up the looks of the mostly inconspicuous Journey body with off-road-inspired front and rear fascias that give the model more of a crossover look (the standard model can still look a lot like a minivan or wagon). That newfound attitude is furthered by the inclusion of 19-inch black-finish five-spoke wheels, dark chrome grille surrounds, smoked taillights and black headlight housings.
  • The Crossroad's cabin includes leather seats with "sport mesh" inserts, while liquid graphite trim pieces add some flash to the plasticky cabin. While they're largely from the Chrysler parts bin, the addition of a leather-wrapped wheel and gearshift knob (both part of the Crossroad trim) help elevate the cabin to a somewhat more premium feel.
  • Dodge offers a prehistoric 2.4-liter engine and four-speed automatic on the Journey, but we feel confident in saying you really don't want this. Instead, upgrade to the aforementioned 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 ($1,700 on the front-wheel-drive model, or $3,400 for the all-wheel-drive six-cylinder). This V6 sings to the tune of 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty of grunt for the 4,238-pounder. Adding the Pentastar also adds a six-speed automatic. The downside of this package, though, is that you'll be netting mediocre fuel economy - the best the Pentastar/AWD Journey can hope for is a dismal 16 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on the highway.
  • We shouldn't be surprised, but the Pentastar/6AT combination is still very good to drive several years after its debut. Power is abundant, and the V6's revvy nature makes it a surprising bit of fun. It sounds quite nice, too. The six-speed is quick on upshifts, although we found the Crossroad's unit to be slower than we remember on downshifts.
  • The ride isn't too objectionable. Secondary impacts (body shuddering and whatnot) can be present, but they only really popped up on some of the worst roads we came across. On smoother thoroughfares, there is nothing terribly offensive about the ride, aside from a excess of vertical movement, and the addition of 19-inch wheels has done surprisingly little to hurt the ride much, either.
  • The Journey's driving environment is a fairly typical one for the CUV market. The driver rides high, and the range of adjustment on the six-way power driver's seat is just fine. The seats themselves aren't heavily bolstered (a plus for easy ingress/egress), but we still think they'd be quite comfortable for long hauls.
  • Of course, the folks who buy the Journey aren't likely to be too interested in dynamic driving impressions. As a family vehicle, there's little reason to think that the Crossroad wouldn't make a suitable companion for those who need two rows everyday, but who appreciate the additional utility provided by an extra pair of seats. Space in the second row is certainly manageable for the longer-legged, although not surprisingly, the optional third row is somewhat cramped. Opting for the third row, though, does add a tilt/slide function to the second row and a recline function to the third, both of which are rather nice.
  • The third row does, however, have a big impact on cargo volume, as it shrinks from 37 cubic feet to just 10.7 cu ft when the back seats aren't stowed.
  • Prices for the Journey Crossroad start at a very reasonable $24,995 for a front-drive model, although the sticker will read at least $28,395 if you want something like our all-wheel-drive, V6-powered tester. From there, things can increase quickly. There are eight different optional packages that add everything from the aforementioned third-row seats, to a backup camera, upgraded stereo and heated seats. In our case, we had all of that, and then some.
  • With an as-tested price of $32,315, our Journey included a sunroof ($1,095), upgraded 368-watt, six-speaker stereo ($395), a navigation and backup camera pack ($995), a Popular Equipment package (heated seats and steering wheel, plus automatic headlamps for $995), a rear-seat entertainment system ($1,195) and the optional third-row seats, which added a tilt and sliding function for the second row ($1,500). As we mentioned earlier, we'd strongly recommend opting for the $3,400 AWD/Pentastar combo.
Mainstream family rigs don't get much older than the Dodge Journey. Having first debuted in 2007 as a 2008 model, and last getting a refresh in 2011, it's one of Dodge's oldest offerings. More worryingly, it's a vehicle the brand is going to need to rely on once the Dodge Caravan is put out to pasture. It's not a bad vehicle now - and compared to some pre-bankruptcy vehicles, it's easily one of the better ones. But in a segment where consumers are extremely picky and competition is seriously intense, the Dodge Journey may be a good value, but it's still hard to recommend, tough new looks or no.
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Autoblog Project Garage: Underbody rust mitigation

11/11/2006   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Maintenance, Tech

Quite simply, rust sucks. Most any vehicle regularly driven during winters in the Salt Belt will fall victim to corrosion, and the various spray-on undercoatings available from the aftermarket have their shortcomings. Specifically, the spray-on application of these coatings often results in incomplete coverage, and what is applied will typically degrade upon repeated exposure to a decade's worth of abrasive road debris.

After dropping the fuel tank on our 1996 Buick Roadmaster, we found some oxidized ugliness despite the vehicle's near-impeccable maintenance record. Fortunately, the damage was caught before significant amounts of sheetmetal were lost, and modern technology has provided us with the tools to keep the situation from getting worse.A spray-on rubbery undercoating had been applied at some point in this vehicle's past, but as can be observed in the below pictures, it didn't provide adequate coverage. Moisture, salt, and dirt managed to get where the undercoated wasn't present, and the result was a lot of rust.

The situation looked bad enough as soon as we dropped the fuel tank, and removing a few of the heat shields showed even more corrosion. Left alone for another year or two, and this would have resulted in rusted-through sheetmetal. Fortunately, though, the damage is mostly cosmetic at this point, and can be treated relatively easily.

First, we'll remove the loose rust, paint, and undercoating, and then we're going to apply a coat of do-it-yourself truck bedliner (we got the idea from all the off-road guys that are using the stuff to cover their vehicles inside and out). Herculiner was on sale at a local home improvement store, so we picked up a gallon of it along with a few cheap paint brushes and a quart of zylene (this is the only solvent that's recommended for use with this product). Several other products are made specifically for this task from vendors such as Eastwood and POR-15. We've seen those used with success, but the DIY bedliner had the advantage of being available on a weekend.

To remove rust (and fingerprints), a 4" grinder with a quality twisted-wire brush makes quick work of the task. Before proceeding, it's wise to don a face shield and a dust mask, and a pair of tight-fitting mechanic's gloves is also a good idea (looser fabric gloves bring the risk of getting twisted up in the rotating brush, which isn't fun).

There's not much in the way of tricks or secrets here - it's just a matter of applying some elbow grease, and keeping body parts clear of the bristles. Watch out near edges, as the brush will tend to grab and jump somewhat unpredictably.

Heating up some of the loose undercoating in the wheelwells with a torch and scraping it off seemed like a great idea, until the burning material started landing on our arms and legs. A few singed hairs later, we decided to abandon this course of action. It's a dumb idea for a variety of reasons, so don't do this.

As it turned out, the brush did a wonderful job on the undercoating, instead of smearing and clogging up the brush like we'd though would happen.

This is why we suggested a face shield instead of some light-duty safety glasses.

There was also a portion of the lower rear quarter panel that had been "sandblasted" by debris thrown up from the rear tires, so we decided to tape it off and apply bedliner. It's low enough that it won't be easily visible with the car on the ground, and anyways, almost anything looks better than rust.

After taping off the area, we lightly scuffed it with a Scotchbrite abrasive pad.

After wirebrushing the frame and underbody (which, by the way, spectacularly fouled a previously clean garage), the area was wiped down with a damp sponge to remove any remaining dust. A quick hit with a powerwasher would have worked quite well, but we were hesitant to create a mudpit that we'd just have to lay in while completing the project.

Herculiner recommends using no solvent other than zylene when preparing a surface for use with its products, so we engaged in a rare moment of following instructions and did exactly that. Specifically, it's stated that the use of any alcohol will prevent the proper curing of Herculiner, so definitely avoid that.

Clean, oil-free rags are also a must, and Scott's heavy-duty disposable rags work well for this sort of work.

Wearing thick neoprene gloves is probably a good idea, as zylene strikes us as something that probably shouldn't be allowed to be absorbed through the skin. Good ventilation or a respirator is also a requirement.

Stir the material thoroughly, making sure to mix in all the rubber particles that are lying in the bottom of the can. Herculiner states that its bedliner can be thinned with up to 10% zylene if necessary, but we applied it at full strength (presumably, thinning would be highly recommended if one attempted to shoot this through a spray gun).

Starting off with a small roller, start applying the material to the larger open areas.

If the roller starts sliding over smoother areas, just lay down a thin skim coat and come back with a second application in 15-20 minutes. Interestingly enough, the thick bedliner will go down easier on the areas that have been roughed-up by corrosion.

Tighter spots will require the use of a brush, which doesn't do a great job of smoothly applying the thick bedliner. Try to restrict its use to corners, and use a dabbing motion.

Removing uncured bedliner (and other similar polyurethane-based coatings) from the skin will require some rough scrubbing with a harsh solvent such as zylene or acetone. Removing the stuff after it dries is damn near impossible. It'll soak through thin cotton (such as t-shirts), and thinner rubber gloves will eventually be ripped open on all the sharp corners of the underbody. Take this into consideration when dressing for the job, and don't say that we didn't warn you.

A bit of Dupli-Color's spray-in bedliner was used to reach a few select areas that weren't easily accessed via brush or roller. This didn't seem to go on as thick as the roll-in bedliner, so we tried to limit its use.

When finished, make sure to thoroughly clean the rim of the bedliner can before replacing the lid. If this isn't done, it'll be damn tough to remove the lid upon the next use. Mop up any spills immediately with zylene, because the bedliner is near impossible to remove from most surfaces once it cures.

During this session, we concentrated on the rear portion of the car, and covered the area that's normally inaccessible with the rear axle and fuel tank installed under the car. The next round of work will take place when we drop the exhaust for replacement, since it's currently obscuring a few areas that we'd like to cover. We're quite happy with the way that the quarter panels turned out (it looks like crap in the above photo, but that's because the car was filthy after all the wirebrushing), and will likely apply the same treatment to the rocker panels before the paint in that area takes on too much damage. We also see ourselves applying this to the underbody of the rest of our fleet as time permits, because the material and labor cost of this project is far less than that of extensive rust repair in the future.

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The different sides of diesel: Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins vs. Smart Fortwo CDI

04/30/2007   [Original: Pickuptruck.com via Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Trucks/Pickups, Euro, Dodge, SMART

As was recently discussed over on Autobloggreen, Pickuptruck.com, our oft cited source for all the news that's fit to haul, has come up with an interesting comparison between diesels. The test pits one of the largest diesels this side of a semi, currently available for public consumption (and consume it does -- fuel that is), the Dodge Ram 2500 versus one of the smallest, the Smart FourTwo Brabus edition, a real-life Bambi meets Godzilla comparison.

One point that we found to be rather interesting was that the Cummins 6.7-liter diesel engine actually scales rather well when compared to the 0.8-liter engine of the Smart. In other words, if the Smart's engine were the size of the Cummins engine, it would get worse mileage. Our advice, which we could have provided even without this particular comparison test, is to buy the truck if you need to haul lots of stuff, and to buy the Smart (when it comes to the U.S.) if you want to eke the most miles out of each gallon of diesel fuel and don't need to haul much.

If you want to relive memories of pre-movie-cartoon Bambi meets Godzilla fun, click here! Thanks Tokyo!

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VIDEO: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG hot-laps the 'Ring

07/16/2009   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Videos, Supercars, Mercedes Benz, AMG

Click above to view the video after the jump

You know the stats. You've seen the leaks. Now, it's time for some video. The crew at MotorTrend were invited to the preview drive of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG in Germany, and the buff book's Editor-At-Large, Arthur St. Antoine, enjoyed some passenger seat time with Bernd Schneider as the five-time DTM champion put Mercedes' new gullwing supercoupe through its paces. Make the jump to check out the full 13-mile hot-lap around the Nordschleife. Top tip Dan!

Continue reading VIDEO: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG hot-laps the 'Ring

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On the Block: Back to the Future III DeLorean up for auction

11/23/2011   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Coupes, Auctions, Etc., Celebrities

Back to the Future III DeLorean DMC-12

There are reported to be just three surviving Back to the Future Delorean DMC-12 movie cars left in existence, and only one of those is held in a private collection. Next month, you'll have a chance to take it home. One of the stainless-steel wonders used in Back to the Future III is headed to the Profiles in History auction block. The Icons of Hollywood auction will feature a litany of items from the trilogy, including the vest worn by Michael J. Fox's character Marty McFly and a remote-control hoverboard. This has the makings of the best Halloween costume ever.

According to the auction house, the DMC-12 was used in 1955 drive-in move scene where Marty heads off into the Old West. The vehicle was built specifically for off-road use, though the auction doesn't specify exactly what sort of modifications were made to the gullwing machine to handle bouncing through the desert sand. The auction house expects the vehicle to roll away with a winning bid between $400,000 and $600,000. Hit the jump for the full press release.

Continue reading On the Block: Back to the Future III DeLorean up for auction

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Video: A closer look at the 2015 BMW M3 and M4

01/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Detroit Auto Show, Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Videos, BMW, Luxury

2015 BMW M3

It's fair to say we're going to miss the E92 BMW M3. Its high-revving V8, flame-styled looks and excellent driving character made it quite simply one of the best cars of the 2000s. It's replacements, the new M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe have a lot to live up to.

We still have a few months to wait until we can drive the new cars, but that doesn't mean we can't get excited in the meantime, learning everything we can. To find out, we sent west coast editor Michael Harley onto the Detroit Auto Show floor earlier this week to talk about the new M cars with BMW product manager Victor Leleu.

If you want a concise, but highly informative rundown of these new cars, look no further than this video. Leleu talks about the styling, weight savings and engines in a lot of detail, making this an interview M fans aren't going to want to miss. Scroll down for the full video.

Continue reading A closer look at the 2015 BMW M3 and M4

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Woz pranks the Internet with 'his' Tesla Model X

04/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Flex-Fuel, Tesla Motors

Our new Tesla! (@ Tesla Supercharger Station) http://t.co/1QRCg1Kyub pic.twitter.com/8XRrpeMEQp

- Steve Wozniak (@stevewoz) April 23, 2014
People pay attention to Steve Wozniak. People pay attention to Tesla Motors. Put the two together, with the bonus of a not-yet-available Model X, and you've got the makings of Twitter gold. This was proven yesterday, when Woz Tweeted a picture of himself with what he said was "our new Tesla!" Excited admirers offered their congratulations and wanted to see the cool Falcon doors in action.

But it was all a dream too sweet. The Model X, after all, isn't due until the end of the year and even an Apple co-founder can't bend time that much. Tech editor at The Street Chris Ciaccia popped the bubble with this Tweeted explanation: "Despite @stevewoz tweeting a pic of him w/the Model X, not his new car. Just a photo op with the display model at that charging station." So, really, "Woz's" Model X could belong to anyone who wants to go to wherever the display model is located and snap a picture.

We would not be surprised, though, if Woz is one of the 12,000 (guesstimated) pre-orders for the Model X. The all-wheel drive, all-electric CUV can hit 60 miles per hour in under five seconds thanks to a powertrain similar to the one in the Model S. Like the popular S, the X will come with either a 60- or 85-kWh battery. You can see the Falcon doors move up and down, digitally, here.

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GM expected to release multiple employees over ignition switch recall

06/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hirings/Firings, Recalls/TSBs, GM

GM IPO

General Motors is set to hold a major briefing on the results of its internal probe into the ignition switch debacle this morning, with early reports claiming that multiple employees could be terminated due to their role in the recall (or lack thereof).

At the top of the list is Ray DeGiorgio, an engineer who could be thought of as one of the problem's initiators, after he violated company protocol in 2006 by fixing the ignition switch defect without notifying regulators. DeGiorgio, along with the Chevrolet Cobalt's program manager, Gary Altman, have been suspended with pay since April 10. It's unclear if Altman will be terminated, an internal source told Automotive News.

Along with DeGiorgio, at least one vice president is likely to be sacked, along with other engineers and members of GM's legal team.

We have a reporter on the ground at the GM briefings, which start at 9:00 AM today. Look for plenty of coverage on the internal probe's findings throughout the day.

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