By Hans Greimel, Automotive News
Lexus plans to introduce hybrid versions of existing vehicles with each full model change, the brand's r&d chief says.
Leveraging the electric-gasoline drivetrain technology of Lexus' parent company, Toyota, will be key to differentiating the brand from European rivals, said Kiyotaka Ise, Toyota Motor Corp. managing officer in charge of Lexus development.
"We want to introduce it with each new model change," Ise said of plans to offer a hybrid option on current Lexus models. "Compared to Mercedes or BMW, hybrid technology is a key application in the Lexus. That's the most easily understood difference in the brands."
2011 Honda reasserts minivan leadership.
An all-new Honda Odyssey goes on sale Sept. 30, and America’s children are about to be seriously spoiled. Starting from $28,580, and shooting all the way to $44,030 for the new Touring Elite model, the Honda is poised to continue its run as the flat-out best minivan on the market -- in handling, interior refinement, passenger space, and now fuel economy as well.
I drove the new Odyssey in suburban New York and listened to Honda engineers tick off all the advances to their favorite family bus. Slightly larger than before, the Honda gets a carryover 3.5-liter V6 engine, with a bump to 248 horsepower, and a standard 5-speed automatic transmission; a new 6-speed comes standard on uplevel models. Variable cylinder management can run the engine on three, four or six cylinders; combined with a host of weight-saving and aerodynamic improvements, the Odyssey’s Touring models are rated at a remarkable 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway -- on the highway, that's 4 mpg better than any minivan on the market.
No Cruze hatch for the U.S.
Which is why, at the upcoming Paris Motor Show, GM will unveil a hatchback version of the Cruze. Only one problem: There are no plans to bring it to the U.S., and Rick Kranz over at Automotive News wants to know why.
Ryan Beene, Automotive News
American Suzuki's product plans are murky--partly as a result of Volkswagen's acquisition of 20 percent of Suzuki Motor Corp. this year and partly because of the growing strength of the yen against the dollar.
The Swift, a small car popular in Europe and Japan, was scheduled to go on sale in the United States this year. But its release has been delayed until next year.
Engineering for the U.S. market was completed, and Suzuki was setting the price. But Suzuki's worldwide product plans are under review following the VW deal, said Steve Younan, vice president of product planning for American Suzuki Motor Corp.
Motorcycle fatalities, injuries go down even while miles ridden increase.
Good news for 2-wheel riders across the country: According to a study by the Motorcycle Industry Council, riding a motorcycle is becoming safer.
The report says the latest research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 4,462 motorcycle riders were killed in 2009 -- 850 fewer than the 5,312 who died in 2008. That 16 percent drop in fatalities came even as motorcycle miles traveled jumped 5 percent, or 1.3 billion miles more, in the same time frame.
By Diana T. Kurylko, Automotive News
Also, an Impreza hybrid that uses technology from Toyota is expected in 2012. Toyota now owns about 17 percent of Subaru.
While updating the rest of its five-vehicle lineup, Subaru is concentrating on increasing interior space and adding features such as iPod and Bluetooth connections.
New study finds many gas-electrics aren't a good value.
To that end, the study compared only hybrids that had nonhybrid counterparts (meaning no Prius) such as the Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion -- 45 models in total. According to Wired.com:
"[The] crew looked at the typical selling price of a used hybrid so they could consider depreciation in the cost of ownership. ... including that data disproved the idea that higher resale values help offset the so-called 'premium hybrid' paid when the car is new.
Rally champ posts speed record for Mount Washington Auto Road.
Yes, this is a bit of press release fluff, but kudos to Pastrana and Red Bull, less for the record-breaking run than consistently bringing a level of excitement and daring -- on their own terms -- to the world of rally racing, record-breaking and risk-taking. They're doing interesting, compelling projects. Speaking of which, I also really wanted an excuse to post some of these awesome pictures. Check them out after the jump.
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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