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First Drive: 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Four-wheel-drive crossover good start for German maker's comeback.

by on Oct.07, 2016

The all-new 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack gives drivers the off-road capability they've been longing for in a small crossover.

The fallout from Volkswagen AG’s diesel test scandal has been blamed for the company’s woeful sales performance in the U.S. during the past year.

But while VW still can’t sell vehicles with diesel engines in the U.S., the VW brand also has been hurt by the huge shift that has moved more than 11 points of market share from the passenger car column of the sales ledger into the truck and utility vehicle column.

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It was as if Volkswagen’s product planners were preparing to play soccer when the game on tap was American-style football for which shoulder pads and helmets are required. (more…)

Chevy Readying to Offer Cruze Hatchback in US

Next generation model following lead of others.

by on Jun.22, 2015

While not confirmed, Chevrolet appears to be ready to introduce Cruze hatchback to U.S. shores.

Chevrolet is looking to right a wrong in its product line-up by adding a hatchback to the next generation Cruze portfolio of compacts.

The Cruze may have been slated to have a hatchback in its stable of coupes and sedans, but GM product chief Mark Reuss has called the omission of a Cruze hatchback for the U.S. “a pre-bankruptcy planning mistake.” While the automaker hasn’t acknowledged the addition publicly, Automotive News reported the vehicle was shown to dealers last week.

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The automaker hasn’t offered a compact car as a hatchback since 1987 when you could get the Chevy Cavalier – the first generation of the Cavalier – in that version. (more…)

VW Golf, Ford F-150 Nab North American Car, Truck of the Year Awards

Victory bittersweet for Ford as Mustang misses podium.

by on Jan.12, 2015

Joe Hinrichs, Ford's President of the Americas, celebrates winning truck of the year with F-150.

The year is off to a good start for both Volkswagen and Ford Motor Co., the two makers coming home with new trophies as winners of the closely watched North American Car and Truck of the Year awards, with the Golf “family” and the new F-150 pickup.

The announcements came at the opening of this year’s Detroit Auto Show, an event that is likely to see the debut of some of the contenders for next year’s best-of cars, trucks and crossovers, with more than 45 different vehicles set to make their global debut/

A Proven Winner!

For both Ford and VW, Monday’s victories provide more than just another trophy for the closet. They serve as justification for some significant, if risky, strategic moves.


VW Offering Two Extreme Golf Concepts at LA Auto Show

Golf R 400 and GTI Roadster to make North American Debuts.

by on Nov.14, 2014

The Volkswagen GTI Roadster first debuted in digital form for the popular Gran Turismo racing game.

It’s already won strong kudos, most recently landing honors as Motor Trend Car of the Year. But Volkswagen plans to show that it can keep the excitement building for its new Golf “family” with the North American debut of two extreme concept versions at next week’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

Designed to “erase the boundaries between the virtual and real worlds,” the GTI Roadster was originally designed as a CGI competitor for the classic PlayStation game GranTurismo 6. A sheet metal version was revealed at the annual Worthersee enthusiast gathering in Austria last May.

What a Concept!

The Golf R 400 concept, meanwhile, “shows just how far the Golf R can be taken using the experience gained from VW’s involvement in World Rallycross,” the maker explains. The “400” in its name refers to the 400 PS – 394-horsepower – 2.0-liter TSI engine under the hood. It’s enough to propel the rally car concept from 0 to 100 kmh (0 to 62 mph) in just 3.9 seconds, with a top speed of 173 mph.


VW Golf Tabbed Motor Trend 2015 Car of the Year

Magazine picks entire Golf line-up for the honor.

by on Nov.13, 2014

Motor Trend named the Golf line-up its 2015 Car of the Year: one of several honors its earned recently.

Volkswagen’s efforts to bolster sales in the U.S. may have just gotten the high-profile shot in the arm needed to offset its nearly two year trend of falling sales in the U.S.: the Golf was named 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year.

The award was actually given to the entire Golf line-up, which started with the GTI that debuted this spring and was followed by the Golf 1.8T, Golf TDI Clean Diesel, and e-Golf models.

Keeping the Conversation Going!

VW’s seen sales drop every monthly for some time in the U.S. Its total sales in 2013 were down 6.9% and through October the company’s sales are off 12.2%, although GTI sales are up nearly 23% for the year. (more…)

Green Car Finalists Announced

Battery power vies with diesel, CNG and advanced gas options.

by on Oct.21, 2014

The BMW i3 is one of five cars up for the 2015 Green Car of the Year award at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

There’s been plenty of attention paid to electric vehicles over the last several years, but not all green machines have a battery under the hood.

To underscore that point, just check out the five finalists for the 2015 Green Car of the Year. The nominees for the annual award, which will be presented at the Los Angeles Motor Show next month, present a mix of alternatives that include not only the requisite EVs, but also a diesel, a bi-fuel package and a conventional gasoline-powered model. The list is dominated by three European models with one each from Japan and the U.S.

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“These five exceptional vehicles reflect an expanding ‘green’ car field that embraces diverse fuels and technologies as answers to a more efficient and low carbon future,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and “Each offers a distinctly different approach to driving ‘green’ that appeals to buyers with varying needs and perspectives on how best to lessen environmental impact, while maintaining the joy of driving.” (more…)

First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf and GTI

Worth the long wait.

by on May.29, 2014

The U.S. version of the VW GTI arrives about a year after its European launch.

It’s been a frustrating year for Volkswagen fans, the automaker forcing them to watch the roll-out of its all-new, seventh-generation Golf in Europe and much of the rest of the world while waiting for the Golf and GTI models to make the jump across the Atlantic.

Finally, they’ve arrived – but are they worth the wait? The all-new 2015 VW Golf and its sporty spin-off, the GTI, certainly seem to have everything going for them.  They’re bigger, roomier, more visually appealing, and while more powerful, they’re also more fuel-efficient, whatever your powertrain choice.

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That seemed like an awfully difficult formula to dismiss as we headed out West to take the new compact models for the requisite test drive through the San Francisco Bay area. And, as we quickly discovered, the Golf and GTI more than lived up to our initial expectations.


VW Updating, Renaming its Small Wagon

SportWagen gets upgrades, but no AWD for US.

by on Apr.14, 2014

The new 2015 VW Golf SportWagen will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show.

Volkswagen’s compact two-box model is getting both an update and a new name, the old Jetta wagon set to reappear as the 2015 Golf SportWagen.

It’s a fitting decision considering the new model will share the same modular underpinnings as the all-new VW Golf and Golf GTI we’ll finally be seeing later in 2014 – a full year after those models debuted in Europe.

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Like the basic Golf, the SportWagen will be produced at the VW assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico, assembly plant. It will be lighter, stiffer and more well-equipped than the old Jetta wagon. (more…)

VW Shows Sporty Fun Can Also Be Enviro-Friendly with Golf GTE

Plug-in hatch set to debut in Geneva next month.

by on Feb.21, 2014

The new VW Golf GTE is the more enviro-friendly sibling of the sporty GTI hot hatch.

If you equate the word, “sporty,” with “gas-guzzling,” Volkswagen is out to prove you wrong with the upcoming launch of the new Golf GTE.

The “E,” of course, is the giveaway, this plug-in hybrid-electric hatchback set to make its world debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.  According to VW, the new model will deliver as much as 31 miles in all-electric mode and using the European rating system gets an estimated 157 miles per gallon.

Green Machines!

But it also can pump out 201 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, enough to defy the traditional image of a hybrid by launching from 0 to 100 kmh (0 to 62.5 mph) in just 7.6 seconds. It can hit a top speed of 135 mph, and will even reach 81 mph in battery mode – though you’ll expect that to cut your range substantially.


VW Hopes All-New Golf Will Reignite Sputtering U.S. Sales

Compact models set to debut this spring.

by on Feb.07, 2014

The sporty Golf R model.

Volkswagen of America is hoping the introduction of the all-new GTI and Golf models — as well as revisions to the Jetta — slated to reach in showrooms this spring will help reignite the brand’s sputtering sales in the U.S. market.

The seventh-generation Golf is already a hit in Europe but VW decided to delay its North American launch a year, a move many analysts believe contributed to a sharp decline in its U.S. sales last year after several years of rapid growth.

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The surge began in 2010 and saw VW sell more than 400,000 units in the American market for the first time in 40 years. But progress stalled last year as sales plunged 7% despite the overall U.S. market reaching its highest point since before the recession began.  The downturn was considered a major factor behind the ouster of Volkswagen Group of America CEO Jonathan Browning, even though the maker’s smaller Audi brand achieved a Cinderella-like comeback that saw it set all-time U.S. sales records.