Steering issues for Chrysler and Dodge and airbag troubles for Volvo lead to recalls.
Chrysler is also recalling a number of vehicles -- more than 26,000 Chrysler 300 and Sebring models, plus Dodge Avengers, Challengers, Journeys and Rams, due to a problem with the electric power steering.
By Dale Jewett
The redesigned 2012 Ford Focus will get an estimated 40 mpg in highway driving with an all-aluminum 2.0-liter engine mated to a six-speed, dual-dry-clutch automatic transmission.
The normally aspirated engine combines variable camshaft timing and high-pressure direct fuel injection to crank out 160 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. That compares with 140 hp and 136 lb-ft from the aluminum 2.0-liter engine used in the current-generation Focus.
It does deliver the 'green' goods and is a marvelous piece of technology. Get over it.
After all the hype -- and all the hate from knee-jerk opponents -- the Chevy Volt has backed up its promise in a big way. Delivering up to 50 miles of all-electric driving range, at an energy equivalent of 150 mpg or more, followed by a seamless switch to gasoline power that runs at roughly 35 to 43 mpg, the Volt turns out to be the potential game-changer that GM promised all along.
Sure, at roughly $35,000 -- and that's after its $7,500 federal tax credit -- the Volt is expensive. And the recent "news" that the Volt is more a plug-in hybrid than an electric car, which I've argued all along, is correct.
But it's time to put aside the quibbling about the Volt's price and the semantic arguments as to its classification. After my two-day test of the Volt in the Detroit area, I’m convinced that no buyer will feel shortchanged. Instead, buyers will brag nonstop that they’re driving the Volt for weeks or even months without ever stopping at a gas station. That’s a powerful thing, and it’s something that opponents rarely stop to consider when they scoff at the possibilities of electric cars. It will make drivers feel ahead of the technological curve. It will let people cast a vote for breaking our dirty, dysfunctional arrangement with Middle East scumbags, and against having to send American troops abroad to fight for our oil. It will make people feel, in a word, special.
Google's Car Home GPS app takes another step forward with voice activation and customization options.
The app, for Nexus One and Droid phones running the Android 2.2 operating systems -- though there are plans to expand to other mobile devices -- starts automatically when you insert the phone into a car's charging cradle. Car Home is voice-activated -- though Roy Furchgott at The New York Times "Wheels" blog says the quality of the system is dicey -- and has six buttons on-screen that allow you to add location shortcuts or, conveniently, other car-related apps. According to Furchgott: "You can also add direct-dial numbers or directions to common destinations, like home and work."
By Jake Lingeman
The BMW M3 is a potent performer right off the showroom floor. Intake, exhaust, plugs, wires--these are things that M3 drivers don't need to worry about. But what if you're looking for some flash to go along with your fast?
German tuner LSD has an answer--gullwing doors. The company now offers gullwing-door plates for the E90, the E92 and the E93 versions of the BMW M3. LSD hinges are available as a complete set for both front doors including hinge plates, cable set materials and attachments for $2,418. Buyers can also get a one-door setup for $1,104 on the driver's side.
Swedish automaker reveals images of the new 9-4X.
The 5-passenger crossover was developed under GM ownership and shares many underpinnings with the Cadillac SRX. Both vehicles offer the same powertrain options: a 3.0-liter 265-horsepower V6 and a turbocharged 2.8-liter 300-horsepower V6. Both will be mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Standard amenities include a Bose surround-sound stereo system, 8-inch navigation screen and individual climate controls for the rear seats. Upgrades include 8-inch screens embedded in the front headrests, and driver-selected Sport, Comfort and Eco ride modes, along with adaptive suspension, for the Aero trim.
The Jeep Wrangler Black Ops edition -- both in-game and in meatspace.
The Jeep Wrangler will appear in the upcoming CoD release, "Call of Duty: Black Ops," but it will also appear at your local Jeep dealership as a real-world, special-edition Rubicon Wrangler -- the updated 2011 version, natch -- that also includes a murdered-out exterior, 32-inch off-road tires surrounding Mineral Gray alloy wheels, taillight guards and fuel door by Mopar, and logos from the video game itself.
By Mark Vaughn
A little rain drizzled over the ninth showing of the Art Center Car Classic in Pasadena, Calif., but that only served to weed out the weak. The true car lovers braved the wet and didn’t let it dampen their spirits. In return, they got the usual glorious phalanx of stunning automotive design, shared with distinguished alumni who return each year to the hillside campus.
The previous eight Car Classics had been served up in July, when, in Pasadena, it is usually about 145 degrees.
“Everyone loves the show,” said Jay Sanders, director of the transportation design department. “The only thing they’ve said is, ‘It’s so darned hot. Can you do anything about it being so darned hot?’ So we said, ‘Hey, let’s move the thing to October. And so here ya go, October weather.”
It didn’t seem to bother the cars. There were 160 of them this year. Or rather, 160 vehicles. Of those, about 120 were “cars” while the rest included two motorcycles, four go-karts, one airplane and 20 vintage bicycles from the collection of Steven and Shaun Thomas. The latter included everything from an 1865 Michaux Velocipede to a 1970 Schwinn Sting-Ray 3-speed. The plane was a full-size Icon Aircraft A5 amphibious model.
But the cars, oh, man.
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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