By Brad Constant
Automakers are going to great lengths to get more miles per gallon from their vehicles and everything is being looked at--even the engine oil.
Every 2011 General Motors car rolls off the assembly line with the engine filled with a new generation of oil. Other automakers, such as Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group, are also beginning the switch to new oil, known by its industry grading as GF-5 or SN, or, in GM’s case, Dexos1.
The grade identifies oil that’s designed to help engines run more efficiently and better protect them from wear. Those are key properties as automakers wring more horsepower out of smaller engines and make greater use of heat-producing turbochargers and superchargers.
The protection properties of the new oil also have the potential environmental benefit of increasing the mileage interval between recommended oil changes.
Mulitple manufacturers move back into the minivan segment
The staid family hauler suffered a decline with the rise of the SUV, leaving several years during which only Toyota, Honda and Chrysler produced them. Now? Ford and Nissan, and possibly GM, will be bringing new swagger wagons to the market to cater to the 67 million-strong demographic now approaching its prime child-rearing years from the 30s to 40s.
By Thomas Geiger, Automobilwoche
Porsche is counting on hybrid drive to help reduce its fleet CO2 emissions.
“In the future, we will have hybrid drive in every model line," development chief Wolfgang Duerheimer said.
Earlier this year, Porsche launched a hybrid version of its Cayenne SUV. A Panamera sedan will go on sale with the Cayenne's hybrid technology in 2011. According to Porsche engine chief, Heinz-Jakob Neusser, the Panamera hybrid will be able to travel about 3 miles under electric power.
Porsche's first electrically powered sports car, the 918 Spyder, will come next, with small production runs planned in three to four years.
Mercedes SL-Class tops the list, study finds -- but it isn’t just about the machine; it’s a sex thing, too.
Why does one car seem to attract more attention from law enforcement officials than others? Could it be unfair profiling? Maybe, but it’s mostly a matter of driver personality and the vehicle they choose.
According to a recent study by Quality Planning, a San Francisco firm that verifies policyholder information for auto insurers, drivers of stylish, more spirited-looking vehicles have a higher likelihood of being ticketed than those who drive more sedate sport-utility vehicles and minivans.
The study looked at the propensity of various vehicle makes to attract tickets, based on the number of moving violations per 100,000 miles driven. Drivers of the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class roadster were 4.04 times more likely to get a ticket than the average for drivers of all vehicles. Drivers of the Toyota Camry with Solara trim level were second, at 3.49 times more likely to be cited, followed by Scion tC drivers, at 3.43 times. Hummers came in fourth at 2.92 times more likely to get a ticket, and the Scion xB was fifth at 2.70 times.
By Dave Guilford, Automotive News
There's a strange disconnect surrounding Better Place, the company best known for its plan to extend the range of electric vehicles by relying on speedy battery swaps.
Automotive executives are nearly unanimous in dismissing the idea. With the conspicuous exception of Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, rarely does an executive express interest.
Yet Better Place is getting increasingly credible support from governments, banks and major corporations. So far this year, it has signed an extensive deal with General Electric and picked up $350 million in financing.
Some luxury brands to back away from V12 powerplants.
Take an Aston Martin Vantage -- already a supermodel among sports cars -- then stuff a 510-horsepower V12 inside like an oversized kielbasa in a too-small bun. Add a buttery manual transmission, an increasing rarity in the 6-figure class, and what do you get? The $190,000 payoff is called the V12 Vantage, and it’s as fast and focused a sports car as any to wear the Aston Martin badge, ever.
For anyone lucky enough to afford this V12 fantasy: Enjoy it while it lasts. High-end automakers are beginning to walk away from the megasized, gas-guzzling V12, V10 and V8 engines that make it hard to achieve fuel-economy rules. Mercedes-Benz has said “nein” to V12s in future performance cars. And its big-block 6.2-liter V8, which drives seemingly every AMG model, is being downsized to a less thirsty, 5.5-liter V8 with dual turbochargers. BMW’s redesigned M5 will ditch its V10 for another twin-turbocharged V8.
By AW Staff
If the belt is not properly attached to the anchor, it could fail during a crash. Dealers will inspect the vehicles and properly install the belt webbing to the anchor pretensioner, if necessary.
Despite tough times, some luxury carmakers are seeing a rise in sales.
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5