Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Author Archive

Chrysler Recalling 800,000 Vehicles for Ignition Switch Problem

by on Jul.22, 2014

Jeep Grand Cherokees from model years 2005-2007 are part of a larger recall of Chrysler vehicles with ignition problems.

Chrysler is expanding an earlier recall, targeting nearly 800,000 older Jeep models because of an ignition switch problem that could cause the vehicles to stall and disable their airbags and other safety systems.

The move comes as federal safety regulators investigate reports that drivers inadvertently can bump the keys on as many as 1.2 million Chrysler products, causing them to turn from the On to Off or Accessory position. The problem is similar to one that has led to the recall of millions of General Motors products in recent months. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into the possibility the problem could occur on products built by other manufacturers, as well.

Keeping You Safe!

While Chrysler and its dealers prepare to notify customers and schedule repairs, the maker is advising owners to remove everything but the ignition key from their key rings to reduce the risk of an unintended stall-out. (more…)

First Drive: 2015 Dodge Challenger

Redefining the muscle car.

by on Jul.22, 2014

At 707-hp, the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat claims to be the most powerful muscle car ever to roll out of a Big 3 plant.

If you thought the golden age of muscle cars was gone and forgotten, Dodge has a big surprise coming for you next year — actually, a whole bunch of them.

After bringing back its retro-styled Challenger coupe in 2009, the Chrysler performance brand has made steady gains on the stalwarts of the modern muscle car era, the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. And for 2015, Challenger is getting not only a major design update, but a host of new variants including the new SRT Hellcat which, at a smoking 707 horsepower, is being billed as the most powerful factory- assembled muscle car ever.

We Give You the Muscle!

While modern muscle cars aren’t for everyone, models like the Challenger are gaining traction not only with the Baby Boomers who grew up listening to the squeal of rubber, but also younger buyers looking for something out of the ordinary.

(more…)

Convertible Owners are More Educated, Affluent, Finds New Study

Over half have bachelor’s degree.

by on Jul.22, 2014

The Beetle Convertible was last year's most popular ragtop - but only #48 on the U.S. sales chart.

Don’t let it go to your head, but if you drive a convertible, chances are you’re both more educated and more affluent than the typical American motorist, or so shows a new study from Experian Automotive.

You’re also  lot more likely to live in one of the sunshine states, especially California, Texas or Florida – though ragtops also have plenty of fans in more northern climes, including coastal communities in New York, as well as that heartland state, Illinois.

A Breath of Fresh Air!

While convertible sales have been shrinking in recent decades, most manufacturers offer at least a couple ragtops, and though luxury makers typically have more models in their line-ups, some of the most popular models are mainstream offerings, such as the Ford Mustang convertible and Mazda Miata roadster, noted Experian.

(more…)

Team Sets Cross-Country EV Driving Record

California to NY in just over 67 hours.

by on Jul.22, 2014

The Edmunds team takes a break from their cross-country excursion in that Model S sedan.

A team of drivers has gone a long way – 3,331.9 miles, in fact – to disprove negative perceptions about electric vehicles, setting an all-time record along the way.

Driving a Tesla Model S from Redondo Beach, California to New York City in just 67 hours 21 minutes, they showed that battery cars aren’t necessarily slow, nor limited in range, and they demonstrated the potential for new quick charging technology, as well.

Stay Plugged In!

Dan Edmunds, the director of vehicle testing for website Edmunds.com, led expedition, paired up with the auto tracking service’s photo editor Kurt Niebuhr. Significantly, they made the trip on their own, without the sort of backup often used in record runs – including an earlier trip sponsored by Tesla itself meant to prove that a Model S really could drive coast-to-coast in reasonable time.

(more…)

The 14 Worst Cars of the Decade

Vehicles that make us scratch our heads and ask: Why?

by on Jul.22, 2014

About to sink without a trace: the Coda battery sedan didn't last much longer than the media test drive.

There’s a lot to like when it comes to the latest cars, trucks and crossovers. Today’s vehicles are, to the large degree, better than ever.  Intense competition translates into more striking and creative designs, improved fuel economy, better performance and far more features.

That said, a few stinkers still slip through, models that have you wondering who was on vacation when they came up for approval. We have our own list of lemons. And by that we don’t necessarily mean they had reliability issues, but that they were plagued by bad designs, poor performance, minimal utility, unjustifiable price tags or, yes, quality problems.

Fuel for Thought!

We raised the question with a number of our colleagues to see what products landed on their list and found that a few, like the Pontiac Aztek and Acura ZDX, came up time and time again. Others were surprising. Indeed, some of our favorite products were listed at losers by media colleagues – and vice versa. So, we expect some of our readers will also question our judgment, perhaps our sanity. But here’s our list of the 14 worst cars of the past decade. (more…)

GM Issues Stop Sale on Used Cadillac Models

Unusual move reflects slow pace of recall repairs.

by on Jul.21, 2014

The announcement covers Cadillac CTS sedans using key, rather than keyless, ignition systems.

It’s become something of a regular occurrence for manufacturers to issue so-called “stop sales” when they suspect a new model might have a problem that could lead to a recall. Volkswagen recently ordered one for its new Golf and GTI models, and General Motors has issued several this year, including one covering its popular Chevrolet Cruze sedan.

But GM has now issued another, more unusual stop sale, this one telling its dealers to park and sit on some older Cadillac models because of potential ignition switch problems. The order covers Caddy CTS models sold during the 2003 to 2013 model-years, as well as 2004 to 2006 Cadillac SRX sport-utility vehicles. A handful of 2014 Cadillac CTS models were also included.

Breaking News!

The move, however, does not affect vehicles sold by non-GM dealers, whether franchised or independents, so shoppers need be aware that the vehicles have not yet been repaired and could be subject to problems until GM comes up with the appropriate fix.

(more…)

The Reluctant COO: Nick Scheele Dies at 70

Obit: former Ford COO was knighted in 2002.

by on Jul.21, 2014

Former Ford COO Nick Scheele.

He was dapper, affable and erudite. He was also a bit reluctant when asked to take on the mounting disaster that was Ford Motor Co. at the beginning of the new Millennium. But Nick Scheele was nothing if not loyal, and despite worsening health problems and a desire to simply fade away into the gentle bliss of retirement, in 2001 the British executive agreed to serve as the Detroit maker’s chief operating officer.

Scheele helped guide Ford through some of the worst times in its more than 100-year history, setting the stage for its unexpected recovery. He also propped up the long-troubled British maker Jaguar, helping restore its once glamorous image as one of the automotive world’s design leaders.

Free Subscription!

Ultimately, the man described by London’s Telegraph as having “a backbone of steel” did get his chance to retire, more or less. But even after leaving Ford in 2005, Nick Scheele continued to find other ways to serve until his death last week at the age of 70.

(more…)

All-new Mazda2 Breaks Cover

Picks up Japanese maker’s latest design language.

by on Jul.18, 2014

The new 2016 Mazda2 debuted in Japan today.

We got our first hint of what’s to come during the Geneva Motor Show last March when Mazda rolled out the Hazumi concept vehicle. But now, the Japanese company is making it official with the formal roll-out of the new Mazda2 subcompact.

It marks a completely new look for the new model and suggests that Mazda is serious about gaining traction in the small car segment – which has been growing just about everywhere, including the U.S. For American buyers, the redesign might seem to be coming quickly, considering the Mazda2 has only been offered here since 2011. But what’s known as the Demio in Japan was last updated seven years ago and is now entering its fourth generation.

We're a Luxury You Can Afford!

Mazda isn’t ready to talk about the American version of the Mazda2/Demio, but in overseas trim it’s going to be sold with three different engine options, both 1.3-liter and a 1.5-liter gasoline packages and a 1.5-liter clean diesel. Both use the maker’s new SkyActiv technologies, including high compression and direct injection, to yield significantly better mileage than potential buyers might otherwise expect. (more…)

On Track and Under the Hood of the 2015 Ford Mustang

Ford offers hot laps – and some secrets about the ’15 pony car.

by on Jul.18, 2014

The 2015 Ford Mustang celebrates 50 years of the legendary pony car with improvements in almost every aspect of the car.

“We’re still tweaking,” concedes Tom Barnes, the head of the vehicle dynamics team bringing the new 2015 Ford Mustang to life.

But with the all-new pony car set to roll into showrooms in just a matter of months, most of the work is completed, giving Ford the chance to show off the new Mustang by taking a handful of journalists under the hood – and for some hot laps around its Dearborn, Michigan, proving grounds.

Subscribe Free!

While far from a hands-on driving experience, the event revealed that the 50th anniversary Mustang is likely to live up to the promise laid out by Ford’s global product development chief Raj Nair, who boasted to the media group that “This is the greatest, best-performing Mustang we have ever had.”

(more…)

Say Goodbye to the Steering Wheel

Experts anticipate autonomous vehicles will soon take over.

by on Jul.18, 2014

An endangered species?

Google will soon begin rolling out the first of 100 self-driving microcars, most of which will have some familiar features missing, namely such traditional necessities as a steering wheel, brake and gas pedal. And while the Google vehicles will just be prototypes designed to test the tech firm’s autonomous driving technology, a survey of industry experts anticipates that the basic design could soon become the norm, rather than the exception.

The majority of the 200 respondents surveyed for this month’s Intelligent Vehicles Symposium, or IVS, anticipate vehicles being mass produced by 2035 won’t have steering wheel, gas or brake pedals, even rearview mirrors or horns.

Insight!

That’s in line with a separate study by Navigant Research that predicted about 95 million autonomous vehicles a year will be sold by 2035.

That figure is “reasonable to me,” said Alberto Broggi, a professor at the University of Parma, in Italy, a leading researcher on autonomous vehicles, and a key participant in the IVS conference — which was sponsored by the IEEE. But he questions whether all of those vehicles will be fully autonomous or still allow motorists to take control if they want – or need – to.

(more…)