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Nissan Launching Virtual Showroom With Microsoft Kinect Hardware

On: Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 11:14AM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan Launching Virtual Showroom With Microsoft Kinect Hardware test 2

Nissan recently revealed the 2013 Pathfinder on Facebook. While it chose not to use a hard auto show debut, it did show the new model at both the 2012 Chicago and New York auto shows. In the absence of a physical model, Nissan used a Microsoft Kinect for Windows-based interactive system to reveal the car at those shows. It's now bringing that system to select dealerships, allowing customers to take a tour before the actual model has even launched.

Nissan calls it the Pathfinder Kinect Experience. Each of 16 participating dealerships will use a Kinect for Windows-based kiosk to provide virtual tours. Instead of pointing and clicking like you would on a virtual Web tour, you use natural body motions to inspect the car. The Experience essentially mimics a physical "kicking the tires"-style inspection.

Most Stolen Car Of 2011...1994 Honda Accord

On: Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 2:37PM | By: Chris Weiss

Most Stolen Car Of 2011...1994 Honda Accord test 2

Triple-digit speeds, smoking tires, sexy female accomplices in even sexier sports cars - these are the images of auto theft popularized by Hollywood and pop culture. And if you needed confirmation that they're purely fiction, just take a look at the new National Insurance Crime Bureau's Hot Wheels report. The most stolen car last year was a Honda Accord...from nearly 20 years ago.

If Hondas wasn't so darn reliable, 18-year-old Accords might be virtually non-existent. But it's just that reliability that makes them available to criminals nearly two decades after rolling off production lines. And, in opposition to the glamorous auto theft of popular culture, thieves are snatching them up more than any other car.

The Hot Wheels report has the 1994 Accord in the number 1 most stolen spot of 2011. The NICB says it's the only report that examines all theft data as reported to law enforcement without regard to a vehicle’s insured status.

All new, one of a kind McLaren X-1

On: Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 1:15PM | By: Chris Weiss

McLaren X-1 test 2

Nearly every car fan is familiar with the McLaren F1, one of the fastest, most iconic supercars of modern times. Now it's time to familiarize ourselves with the McLaren X-1. Not quite as fast or sexy as the F1, but even rarer, and arguably more memorable, the X-1 is a one-of-a-kind model recently revealed by McLaren Special Operations.

McLaren's Special OPs is the branch responsible for bespoke projects and customizations. McLaren announced the division at last year's Concours d'Elegance Pebble Beach event. This year, it showed the latest design.

Lincoln Enjoys High Marks In Consumer Satisfaction

On: Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 10:38AM | By: Chris Weiss

Lincoln Enjoys High Marks In Consumer Satisfaction test 2

Staring into the awkward split-mustache grille of the current generation Lincoln family, it's hard to believe that anyone could be completely satisfied with their Lincoln. After all, Lincoln is really a "me too" luxury brand that isn't all that serious about high-end luxury. But, according to a new survey, Lincoln's customers are more satisfied than any other auto brand's.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index finds that satisfaction among automobile and light vehicle consumers is up by 1.2 percent, tying 2009 for an all-time high average of 84.


Fiat's On The Right Track With The Abarth 695 Maserati Edition

On: Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 5:20PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Fiat Abarth 695 Maserati Edition test 2

Plenty of automakers come out with "special" editions of cars to help revive interest and temporarily boost sales based on essentially a novelty-inspired purchase. Oftentimes, these specialty cars come with fancy paint jobs, lots of useless body cladding, lots of badges, but not much in the way of actual tangible improvements. There are of course, exceptions to every rule -- enter the Fiat Abarth 695 Maserati Edition. Although we have not been shy about our lackluster excitement about the Charlie Sheen-backed Fiat 500 over the last few months, it seems that Fiat is back at it again with an updated version of its sporty little go kart. But the big question is: Is the Maserati Edition actually an upgrade worth talking about?

Nissan Recalls 7,800 JX35 Models

On: Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 11:33AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Nissan Recalls 7,800 JX35 Models test 2

Nissan is bringing back 7,842 of its JX35 crossover models to the factory. It seems that the models built between February 15 and June 22 of 2012 are at risk for a manufacturing mistake involving the gas tank. These cars had a fuel line improperly placed inside the gas tank, which can cause the float inside the tank to get hung up and not drop properly in relation to actual fuel levels. This can cause the gas gauge to read improperly, and display a higher level than what actually exists. Obviously, this can cause potentially significant issues for drivers, including the car stalling, running out of gas without proper warning, and potential damage to the fuel pump.

Nissan has said it will begin notifying owners as of the first week of September to schedule a free inspection and (if necessary) replacement of the faulty parts. Owners can call Nissan at 1-800-647-7261 with any questions.

Read on for the full report.

Small Cars Are Getting More Comfortable To Sit In

On: Fri, Aug 24, 2012 at 11:04AM | By: Chris Weiss

2013 Ford Fiesta Interior test 2

Once considered "penalty boxes" for their cramped dimensions, cheap materials and lack of power, small cars have undergone a sort of renaissance in recent years. This is partly because high gas prices have convinced consumers that saving money is more important than rolling large, but it's also because manufacturers are making better quality small cars. A new study shows that this quality extends to the seating.

The new J.D. Power and Associates US Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study shows that small car consumers are now buying cars with more seat features than in previous years. Despite the likelihood of being on the frugal side, small car customers are increasingly checking option boxes like "heated seats" and "leather seats."

The study finds that small cars have captured more than a third (35.4 percent) of the market so far in 2012. It also shows that 27 percent of new-vehicle owners replaced their car with a smaller 2012 model.

2013 Chevy Spark Is July's Hottest Seller

On: Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 3:19PM | By: Chris Weiss

2013 Chevy Spark test 2

As we learned last month, new cars tend to equate to fast-selling cars. This month, the all-new 2013 Chevy Spark benefits from being the new kid on the block. The tiny car knocks off the previous sport and luxury leaders to be the fastest seller of July.

In June, the Cadillac XTS and Subaru BR-Z tied for the title of quickest selling cars, according to data from Edmunds. Those two took a slide down July's chart to make room for the Chevy Spark. The $13,000 minicar took an average of just 6 days to roll off of dealer lots.

Bentley Reveals Sketches Of Mulsanne Convertible

On: Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 10:27AM | By: Chris Weiss

Bentley Reveals Sketches Of Mulsanne Convertible test 2

Few things say "d'Elegance" like a Bentley, so it's not surprising that Bentley made its presence at the Concours d'Elegance Pebble Beach known by revealing sketches of a new model. That model is a convertible version of its Mulsanne grand tourer. Bentley calls it the "world's most elegant convertible."

Bentley revealed the hard-top Mulsanne at Pebble Beach three years ago, so it was a fitting venue for a preview of the convertible.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Gets More Infotainment, Loses Engine

On: Wed, Aug 22, 2012 at 4:00PM | By: Chris Weiss

2013 Hyundai Genesis Gets More Infotainment, Loses Engine test 2

Hyundai announced recently that the 2013 Genesis will get some updates and tweaks. The model loses the 4.6-liter V-8 engine and gains a new navigation system.

Hyundai implies that it has dropped the 4.6-liter engine to simplify the Genesis line-up. The 429-hp 5.0-liter V-8 will be offered exclusively on the high performance 5.0-liter R Spec, while the 333-hp 3.8-liter V-6 will power other Genesis models. In other words, Genesis buyers won't have an option of engine.

What Genesis buyers will have is an optional 64-GB Driver Information System with navigation and 8-inch display. The system includes an improved user interface with rotating dial with joystick-type function, enhanced voice recognition and redesigned navigation screen layouts. A new set of "hot keys" provides more direct control over certain functions.

Study Shows Customers Still Value People Over Social Media In Car Buying

On: Wed, Aug 22, 2012 at 12:49PM | By: Chris Weiss

Study Shows Customers Still Value People Over Social Media In Car Buying test 2

We've seen social media climb in importance in the automotive industry over the past few years. Social media now sometimes serves in place of auto shows when it comes to new model reveals and announcements. It's a tool for advertising campaigns and contests. It sometimes even serves as the design department. According to a new study, however, it isn't yet a top resource affecting auto buying behavior.

In what it calls the largest automotive study in North America, consumer research firm Maritz Research finds that close to 22 percent of auto buyers report that the good old fashioned salesperson is still the most influential source of information. In fact, the salesperson took a big leap in 2011, surging higher than the previous five years.