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2010 Tampa International Auto Show: The Best from Japan And Europe

On: Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 10:20AM | By: John Welch

2011 Toyota Sienna test 2

Thursday morning brings us more images from the 2010 Tampa International Auto Show. Today we feature various Toyotas', Hondas', Acuras', Subarus', BMWs', Volvos' and Mercedes-Benzeses. The shape and lay out of the Tampa Convention Center compromises picture taking, but we have done our best for you. Check out the fantastic corral of Infiniti's, possibly our most pleasant surprise. Not much to report from Honda. The updated Accord Coupe is more interesting then its CR-Z stablemate, even though the CR-Z is brand new, and all gee-whiz hybridized. This is a car that needs an immediate reboot- it does not live up to the hype.

Mercedes, BMW and MINI were all crammed into floor space that was woefully inadequate, limiting our ability to get good shots. Not much was missed here, as none of these brands presented anything especially new or exciting. Same with Subaru. We raved about the then-new Legacy last year, but it has not aged well. The cartoony styling is bulbous in all the wrong places; the Leggy's attractive interior might not be enough to overcome its unfortunate outer skin. Good thing it packs a turbo flat-four, a manual option, and All Wheel Drive. Who honestly cares what it looks like from behind the wheel? I for one, it's embarrassingly unattractive.

Venture inside the post to see just what I'm on about (sic)  . . .

Six-Wheeled Supercar Gets Real

On: Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 3:10PM | By: Chris Weiss

Six-Wheeled Supercar Gets Real test 1-1

Yes, six wheels. No typo. The Covini C6W isn't exactly a stranger to supercar circles. It's been in development for the past 32 years and is based upon a race car from the 1970s—the 1976 Tyrell P34 race car. However, between its odd, six-wheel stance and its three decades worth of slogging through development, we would have thought the Covini would never move past the prototype stages. Only it has. Finally. After a variety of delayed production launches, Covini is finally ready to give the world what it [doesn't] desires: a 430-hp, six-wheeled supercar.

UAW Demonstrates Over Hyundai's Treatment of Temporary Workers

On: Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 3:04PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

UAW Demonstrates Over Hyundai's Treatment of Temporary Workers test 1-1

The UAW said in a statement this week that it supports the rights of workers who are on strike in Korea against Hyundai, and it plans to hold a rally for those workers at the Hyundai America Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

UAW President Bob King plans to travel to South Korea this week. King reports that a recent strike at a Hyundai auto parts plant has cost the company $173 million in lost vehicle production.

Aston Martin One-77 Selling Just Fine

On: Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 11:47AM | By: Chris Weiss

Aston Martin One-77 Selling Just Fine test 1-1

One might think that introducing a near-$2-million car in the middle of down economy might prove to be a bad idea. But so far, it's been working famously for Aston Martin. Aston Martin recently said that it has sold 60 of the 77 examples that it plans to build of its One-77. The price of that model: $1.87 million.

By far Aston's most expensive car, the One-77 has been moving along right on schedule. Not only have 60 buyers committed to the $1.87 million car, but many have also ordered or expressed interest in the Aston Martin Cygnet, a Toyota iQ-based subcompact that Aston introduced last year. After all, you can't drive a 750-hp, $2-million supercar all day every day, why not have a matching commuter for more practical affairs?


Lincoln Hires Cadillac Designer to Help Improve Quality

On: Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 10:14AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Lincoln Hires Cadillac Designer to Help Improve Quality test 1-1

In the minds of many automotive consumers Cadillac is the epitome of luxury automotive design and engineering. The Lincoln brand is Ford Motor Company’s attempt to compete with the General Motors-owned Cadillac. It makes perfect sense for Ford to bring a former Cadillac designer on board to help the company compete with its formidable rival.

This was recently the case when Ford hired Max Wolff to fill the newly created position of design director for Lincoln. Mr. Wolff is a native Australian, who “comes in the wake of Ford’s pledge to deliver seven new or significantly improved vehicles to its sole luxury brand in the next four years."

GM Sees Big Future in EN-V Commuter; People With Taste Disagree

On: Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 9:56AM | By: Chris Weiss

GM Sees Big Future in EN-V Commuter; People With Taste Disagree test 1-1

GM is currently hard at work on a vehicle that won't so much rival other cars and trucks as it will public transportation. The automaker believes that its EN-V is the perfect solution for urban commuting where space, traffic, and pollution are factors that argue against more traditional vehicles. GM is hoping that the future of urban driving will look a lot like its "Electric Networked Vehicle."

2010 Tampa International Auto Show: Ford and Chrysler

On: Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 4:33PM | By: John Welch

2011 Ford Focus test 2

The second installment of our MT Auto Show coverage shines the spot light on Ford and Chrysler. Both companies are enjoying a rebirth of sorts, Chrysler with its much improved interior design and Ford with its, well, everything. Alan Mullay has been crapping golden eggs for two years now, and by the looks of Ford's 2011 product line, his uncomfortable bathroom situation isn't going to get better anytime soon.

The new Ford Focus is as advertised: stylishly European with utility to match. The sedan is more attractive then its Cruze competitor, and the interior quality is neck and neck with the Chevy. If anything, the surprise here is that the Chevy is so good, Euro Focus customers have enjoyed upmarket interiors for six years now. This was our first opportunity to get intimate with a Fiesta, and the news is good here as well. Roomy and ergonomic, the Fiesta is a lovely car for the money. Volkswagen has some serious competition coming from this pair of reinvigorated Ford hatches.

To say that Chrysler's design department has woken from a looong slumber recently would be putting it lightly. The beleaguered automaker has found a new direction with its interiors, utilizing soft plastics and foam trim in ways you wouldn't expect. The New Charger's interior still looks, cheap, but it is a different sort of cheap from its predecessor. Instead of looking like a toy, the Charger dash now has more of a real-car feel too it. Chrysler has also turned up the wick on the Jeep Grand Cherokee passenger compartment. The big Jeep has tasteful wood and pleasing shapes for days. Still not wehat i would call world class, but significantly improved. It's ok if Chrysler is proud of these two models, because elsewhere in the Chrysler booth things were still pretty bleak. What, no Fiat?!

Check inside the post for an image gallery of the most important products from Ford and Chrysler for 2011.

Toyota Sues GM Over Closing Of NUMMI

On: Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 3:58PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Sues GM Over Closing Of NUMMI test 1-1

Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to sue Motors Liquidation Corp., the old General Motors, for breach of contract related to a joint venture at the NUMMI plant. It is common that two industry leaders join forces in order to participate in a project that is mutually beneficial—particularly in the automotive world. On numerous occasions the public has come to hear about various vehicle-producing moguls who join forces in the name of efficiency.

As long as things go well, each party knows their duties, communication is reciprocated, and jobs are taken care of according to plan. Inevitably, problems will arise in business. This is certainly the case recently, when a deal between Toyota and General Motors went sour. Litigation is now impending.

2010 Tampa International Auto Show: GM And Korea

On: Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 12:25PM | By: John Welch

2011 Buick LaCrosse test 2

The AutoShopperBlog spent Sunday perusing the Tampa International Auto Show, presented by Motor Trend. Not expecting grandeur on the scale of a Geneva or Detroit show, we were none the less disappointed at the glaring absences from the Tampa show. No Audi, no Porsche, no Ferrari. More surprisingly there was no Fiat. You would think that the Tampa/St. Pete area would be a hot-bed of Cinquecento activity, that Chrysler/Fiat might expect to sell more than a few of the little hatchbacks in our area. Apparently they don't see it that way.

The automakers who did show up brought their best and brightest. In this post we cover three important brands from everybody's favorite bankruptcy survivor, General Motors, as well as the best from Korea. There are some interesting vehicles showcased here, from the Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra, to the Hyundai Equus and Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. I can tell you, with unabashed certainty, that the Buick Regal and Kia Optima are both excellent candidates for that second mortgage. Both cars are similar in tactile feel and interior quality. The Regal, under the sheetmetal, is a German car, so it should be this nice. The Kia is such a good car it is shocking that it isn't Germanic. The steering wheel could have come straight out of a Volkswagen GTi; the dash is raked toward the driver at an alarming angle. The sight lines are perfect, the buttons and knobs click and whir in satisfying fashion. Consult the image gallery to find out what we though of the rest of the best from General Motors and Korea . . .

Lamborghini Sedan May Make It to Production After All

On: Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 10:45AM | By: Chris Weiss

Lamborghini Sedan May Make It to Production After All test 1-1

There's no roller coaster quite like the high-end supercar market. And we're not talking the Formula Rossa at the newly opened Ferrari World. We're talking supercar rumors, speculation, and executive sound bites. It seems that as soon as one report on a speculated model is gaining steam, a new one comes out that totally negates it.

In this case, the latest report that Lamborghini would still like to build a four-door sports car ala the Estoque concept negates a report that such a car was stomped by the flared-nostriled Bull. It seems that CEO Stephan Winkelmann (kind of an important voice over there in Sant'Agata Bolognese) would like Lamborghini to pursue the model.

Ford Focus Rolls Off The Assembly Line In Germany

On: Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 10:34AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Focus Rolls Off The Assembly Line In Germany test 1-1

Ford Motor Company began production of the Focus yesterday for its European market. Ford Focus will roll off the assembly line at its Saarlouis Assembly plant located in Germany. 

The Ford Focus, a compact car offered as a sedan or stylish 5-door hatchback, is now a true 'world car', one chassis designed for every major world market. We will eventually get the new Focus, but Europe gets the first crack at it. Fun to drive, the engine puts out 151 bhp, but still provides the excellent fuel economy that Europeans demand at EPA 22 mpg city driving and 32 mpg on the highway.