Exhaust Notes

Decision Guide

Analysis shows car companies with least number of recalls over the past 30 years and which ones alert owners the fastest.

By Douglas Newcomb Wed 8:07 AM

Auto recallsIf you at all follow the news, you know that the massive number of recalls at General Motors has sparked three federal investigations and a landmark $1.2 billion fine has been leveled against Toyota for misleading consumers about safety defects.

This might make car buyers more concerned about the problems they may encounter down the road with a new vehicle and, specifically, how automakers rate when it comes to recalls. To help answer these questions, as well as how responsive individual automakers are to recalls when a problem is detected, the website iSeeCars.com took a closer look at federal recall data going back 30 years.


iSeeCars analyzed recall rates between 1985 and 2014 for each automaker, and compared it with sales data from 1980 to 2013. The website said it studied recall data starting in 1985 since recalls occur after a vehicle is sold and has been on the road for a few years. iSeeCars said that factoring in total automaker sales versus recall rates allows for an “apples-to-apples comparison across larger and smaller manufacturers and to ensure a fair assessment is being done of automakers of differing sizes.”


More than 1.7 million cars affected in US; three other problems affect non-US models.

By Exhaust Notes Apr 9, 2014 5:49AM
Toyota is recalling 6.39 million cars worldwide for five problems, according to statements by the automaker.

Of the 27 models, eight are affected in the U.S. totaling more than 1.7 million cars. On 1.3 million cars, the driver's airbag could be deactivated due to a cable connecting the airbag module in the steering column that can be damaged when the driver turns the wheel. The 2009-2010 Corolla, Matrix and Tacoma, 2008-2010 Highlander, 2006-2008 RAV4 and 2006-2010 Yaris are affected.  The Pontiac Vibe, an identical model to the Matrix, is also affected and included in this total.

An airbag warning light should illuminate if this occurs, Toyota said. There are no reported injuries or deaths and Toyota did not say when the recall would begin. Dealers will replace the airbag's spiral cable with a new one. 

Trion Supercars' 'Nemesis' is slated to never hit showrooms.

By James_Tate Apr 8, 2014 1:49PM

There’s a new supercar maker out there. Or, to be more precise, a new company that says it will make a supercar.

That company is called Trion Supercars, and the car it’s promising is called the Nemesis. According to founder Rich Patterson, his supercar will go 270 mph and take just 2.8 seconds to reach 60 mph, thanks to a twin-turbocharged 2000-horsepower V8 engine. It will have an 8-speed sequential transmission, and hybrid and electric versions will also be offered. Oh, and the body will be partially composed of Inconel (a nickel-chromium alloy) and sit on a chassis made of carbon fiber.


There's no word on whether the Nemesis will run on unicorn dreams, but we have our fingers crossed that this could be the first supercar to run on the promising new fuel. What the supercar will offer is “predator mode,” which affects interior illumination, ride height, suspension characteristics, rev limit, exhaust and, of course, active aerodynamics. To quote the website: “Equipt with active aero-dynamics that are programable to suit the drivers mood! [sic]”


Three upgrade stages available for fans of Mopar Hemi V8 engines.

By AutoWeek Apr 8, 2014 1:04PM

To the delight of Mopar fans, Dodge brought back the Scat Pack last November at the SEMA show. At the time, the company teased upgrade packages for the Charger, Challenger and Dart. Dodge has just now announced details on the upgrades that'll be available for the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine found in the Charger R/T and the Challenger.

Owners looking to upgrade their cars will have three three stages to build upon:


The Stage 1 package consists of a Mopar-branded cold-air intake plus fine-tuning of the ECU and the exhaust system. This will net owners an extra 18 hp and 18 lb-ft of torque for $2,195; the unique aspect of Stage 1 is that it can be implemented outside of a Chrysler service center.

Stage 2 gets a little more serious, adding a performance camshaft kit and an ECU adjustment that can result in a gain of up to 30 hp. This package costs $1,895 and does require expert installation if owners want to preserve the warranty.


The latest round of frontal crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety again show that many new cars aren't prepared for this type of accident.

By Clifford Atiyeh Apr 8, 2014 7:42AM

Two-thirds of midsize SUVs tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety don't offer enough protection in certain frontal collisions, according to the group's latest round of tough crash tests

Six of nine popular midsize 2014 SUVs scored "marginal" or "poor" on the small overlap frontal crash test run by the IIHS, a nonprofit organization of insurance companies. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner and Ford Explorer were rated "marginal," while the Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot saw "poor" scores. The Toyota Highlander was the only model to be deemed "acceptable," while only two models, the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, earned the highest "good" rating.

Last August, the IIHS conducted the same test on 13 compact SUVs, and 11 of them performed badly enough to earn substandard ratings. Also that same month, the IIHS crash-tested 12 compact cars — and only half passed with "acceptable" or "good" scores.


7-Series spinoff to battle Mercedes-Benz S600 Maybach in 2016.

By AutoWeek Apr 8, 2014 7:34AM

BMW will be previewing the upcoming 9-Series sedan at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show, according to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport. The extra-long-wheelbase 9-Series will take on the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S600 Maybach, which itself is production ready and is set to debut in a matter of months.

The 9-series will be positioned alongside the Rolls-Royce Ghost in BMW's global lineup, and is expected to feature packaging and interior appointments similar to that of the S600 Maybach while building upon the design language recently seen in the BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe.


The upcoming 9-Series will be based upon a new lightweight modular platform codenamed G11, which will be shared with a number of upcoming BMW and Rolls-Royce models. The new platform is expected to offer considerable weight savings, reducing the heft of the next-generation 7-Series down to the weight of the current 5-Series. The G11-based 7-Series and 9-Series are both expected to go on sale in 2016.


Metrocab is modeled after London’s traditional, boxy black taxi cab, but is mostly emissions-free and can get up to 100 mpg.

By Douglas Newcomb Apr 8, 2014 5:03AM

Metrocab. Photo by Metrocab.London’s boxy black taxi cabs are as iconic as the city’s double-decker buses and Big Ben. But their mostly diesel engines also add to London's air pollution. Mayor Boris Johnson, for example, recently set a goal for all of London’s taxis to become zero-emission by 2018.

The most obvious and British-based answer to meeting this objective is the extended-range plug-in taxi from Metrocab. Produced by the English sports car and engineering company Frazer-Nash, the Metrocab uses a 1.0-liter gasoline engine along with a 12.2-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

Mayor Johnson gave a thumbs-up to the Metrocab, which is modeled after London’s traditional taxi, during a recent test drive. “It’s superb, an absolutely beautiful machine and a masterpiece of British engineering,” Boris said. “It’s the Rolls Royce of taxis and it will do 100 mpg.”


G63 AMG 6x6 ‘baby Unimog’ to feature in 'Jurassic World,' due in 2015.

By James_Tate Apr 7, 2014 11:07AM

After three movies, we know to expect more from a "Jurassic Park" film than scenes of dinosaurs running amok. It also means supercool SUVs getting dirty before being trashed by dinosaurs running amok.

A Facebook fan page devoted to news and rumors surrounding "Jurassic World," the fourth movie in the franchise, broke some news recently with a picture of one of the movie vehicles, and it’s a doozy.

While under wraps, the vehicle in question is undoubtedly a Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6. Not familiar? You should be: The 6x6 is a $600,000-plus, 9,000-pound, three-axled monster conjured by Mercedes-Benz from the flightiest fancies of wealthy off-road enthusiasts that somehow has actually gone into production.



  • Cliff Atiyeh

    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

    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

    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

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