The Chrysler Group continues to bring its refreshed 2011 lineup into focus, now releasing pricing information for the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country minivan and 2011 Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan.
The Town & Country has been thoroughly made over for the new model year, with numerous changes aimed at making the vehicle even more family friendly. This includes the addition of a more premium interior that offers higher levels of both craftsmanship and versatility, breakthrough features like the segment's first heated steering wheel, improvements to Chrysler's innovative "Stow 'n Go" seating system, a comprehensive suite of in-vehicle entertainment solutions and a bigger, more usable center console for first- and second-row passengers. Also notable is the introduction of the automaker's "Stow 'n Place" system for managing the vehicle's roof-rack storage system.
Major revisions are in evidence beneath the minivan's hood as well. The Town & Country relies on the Chrysler Group's new Pentastar V-6 engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The result is significantly more power-the Pentastar makes 283 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, as compared to 197 hp/230 lb.-ft. from the 2010 model's biggest engine-but fuel efficiency remains at 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway.
Wrapped in a revised, bolder exterior, the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country will be available in three models, all of which have destination charges of $835:
Town & Country Touring-$30,995
Town & Country Touring L-$32,995
Town & Country Limited-$39,495
The 2011 Chrysler 200 will enter the mid-size segment with an exterior that has been carefully differentiated from the outgoing Sebring, showcasing new front and rear fascias, hood, rear deck lid, front and rear lighting systems, exterior mirrors and more. In addition, an equally fresh interior, with an all-new instrument panel, Chrysler's new multi-function steering wheel and upgraded seating, debuts on the 200.
To provide a more dynamic driving experience, Chrysler engineers also retuned/redesigned the car's suspension for nimbler, more driver-centric ride and handling. Powertrain choices include the Chrysler's proven 2.4-liter I4 engine and the new Pentastar V-6, which in the 200 will provide best-in-class horsepower and "exceptional" fuel economy.
Four models are planned for the 2011 Chrysler 200, each carrying a $750 destination charge:
200 S-Slated for late availability, pricing on the Chrysler 200 S is not available at this time.
The redesigned Chrysler Town & Country and Chrysler 200 will both reach U.S. dealerships later this year.
For many people, General Motor's decision to keep the Buick brand afloat was a head-scratcher. Promising great new products that would appeal to younger buyers, Buick's most recent wares have been respectable, but nothing eye-opening. To be truly worth mentioning, I thought Buick would have to do something so un-Buick that buyers would have no choice but to take notice. Last year's Regal GS show car was promising, and when the announcement came a few months later that it would be rolling on public roads, my curiosity was piqued. Would Buick actually offer something performance oriented?
Today, the proof is in the iron, steel, and rubber. The 2012 Regal GS is clearly designed for the young and the young at heart. Peep these stats: 255-horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque, 2.0-liter turbo 4, 6-speed MANUAL transmission (optional 6-speed auto on the way), front-wheel drive with GM's High Performance Strut suspension (to quell torque steer), Brembo brakes, 19" wheels. Funny, this doesn't sound like grandpa's Buick.
Reservations, I have a few. Front-wheel drive only seems to be a questionable choice. With nearly 300 pound-feet of twist, it seems like it would take a mere toe twitch to overwhelm the front tires, and I find the lack of mention of a Limited-Slip differential suspicious. While I'm pleased to find the three-pedal variant available, it's quite surprising it's the only variant available at launch. Remember the first generation CTS-V that was only offered with a manual? "Underwhelming" comes to mind when I think of sales numbers for that car. Hopefully, buyers buy differently this go-round.
But the real question stands: are U.S. shoppers ready to accept a high-performance Buick? Sure, there's performance heritage in the brand, (Grand National) but it's been years since anything resembling performance has been adorned with a Buick badge. When I think of Buick, I think of grandpa's 2004 Century that he claims is the "last good Buick" with column shift and bench seats. Buick is trying to prove grandpa wrong, but will it work?
Being an automotive journalist allows one to drive vehicles in some pretty unique environments. Race tracks, off-road courses, exotic destinations, it's a really rough life. The good thing is that as a general consumer, you can find some fun too. This afternoon, we tried out a ride and drive event with the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It was at an off-road test course that Jeep set up for anyone to participate in at the OC Fair in Orange County, California.
Ride and drive events are great opportunities to feel like an automotive journalist, and give you first hand experience behind the wheel of a vehicle without the dealer pressure of a test drive. These events can be at auto shows, concerts, local events, and in our case, county fairs. If you're considering a new vehicle, a ride and drive event is something I highly recommend.
When Jeep develops one of these events, it goes all-out. From a rocky riverbed crossing, to steep dirt slope ascent and descent, to un-even railroad ties, what is a vehicle torture test ends up being incredible amounts of fun. It also lets you see what the 2011 Grand Cherokee is made of. I found it to be incredibly capable, but now you have the chance to find out for yourself. If you live in southern California, I highly recommend visiting the OC Fair for a test drive. If not, check out the Jeep website, or contact your local Jeep dealer for any events in your area.
Every day, thousands upon thousands of new cars are being transported overseas on ships. These carriers are like floating parking garages, only they're way bigger than your average land-based parking garage. Many carry over 4,000 vehicles, some closer to 6,000. As an example, here are the stats for one infamous car carrier, the MV Cougar Ace:
Length: 652 ft. 11 in. / 199 meters
Beam (Width): 105 ft. 10 in. / 32.26 meters
Capacity: 5,542 vehicles
Engine: 15,683 horsepower
Speed: 18.6 knots / 21 mph
Cost: Over $100 million
Saying that car carriers are massively large is probably one of the most obvious statements you'll hear today, but until you actually see the inside of one it's difficult to grasp just how huge they really are. As the video after the jump shows, these ships are too big to walk anywhere, or your break would be over before it even began.
It's pretty funny to watch the lengths some car dealers will go through to move iron. Monkeys in the trunk, giant inflatable gorillas, rapping about a Mazda3... wait, what? Yep, one particularly creative Mazda dealer, South Tacoma Mazda of Tacoma WA, put a sales guy on camera to rap about the Mazda3. The result is something so lame, it's funny.
This is the type of thing that could go viral, or not. Only time will tell. It reminds me of the episode of The Office where Dwight and Michael produce the Scranton rap. That, along with this Mazda video, is evidence that nerdy white guys rapping are hilarious. Would you buy a car from this guy? I would...only if he performed the rap when I picked the car up. Video after the jump.
Cadillac is growing its bread and butter midsize CTS line. It started with the sedan, then the CTS Coupe concept car started a raging fire in car guy's bellies at the Detroit auto show a few years back, and the sport wagon rolled out during the coupe's production development.
Few cars on the road are as distinctive as the CTS, and the coupe makes the prior an understatement. Not since the Camaro has a production car looked as close to the concept as the CTS Coupe. But the question remained: "how does it drive?" We were on the ground at the first drive launch in Napa Valley, CA earlier this week to find out. Read my 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe review here and be sure to sound off in the comments below with what you think about Cadillac's hot new coupe.
Sometimes I wonder if the hybrid's days are numbered. Aside from being a stopgap solution until a full electric infrastructure is built, hybrids are going to have an increasingly difficult time competing with new gas and diesel engines. Case in point, Ford.
First, the 2011 Mustang V6 became the first car with over 300 horsepower to achieve 30mpg. Now, the 2011 Ford Fiesta has been rated by the EPA to achieve 40mph on the highway (when equipped with the 6-speed PowerShift auto). Both the Mustang Fiesta achieve these feats without any fancy electronic motors or batteries getting in the way.
It's not that hybrid technology is bad; it's just significantly more expensive to engineer and produce. As a result, hybrids hit your wallet a bit harder than gas- or diesel-only powered counterparts. Now, increased development in gas and diesel power plants are yielding results that were previously relegated to electric battery-assisted drivetrains without that hit to your wallet. Cars like the Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen Jetta TDI, and now the 2011 Ford Fiesta are proof of this development.
It's no secret that I think the 2011 Fiesta is a great little car. It's fun, practical, efficient, and proves to be an excellent little package. Pulling in 40mpg, the Fiesta has as good a shot as any at being successful in a segment that's traditionally been less-than-successful stateside. The 40mpg club is a small one, and the Fiesta is a welcome addition. Anyone else think the hybrid's days are numbered?
Looking back, luxury convertibles were practically invented when the first horseless carriage hit the street. The Mercedes, first marketed in 1901 by Daimler, could be credited as one of the first automobiles, and guess what? No Top. With that kind of history, there are certain expectations around luxury vehicles that can run topless, especially those build by Mercedes-Benz.
For 2011, Mercedes-Benz continues the luxury convertible tradition with the E-Class Cabriolet. The new E-Class cab replaces the CLK convertible that ceased production in 2009, and promises to deliver unseen levels of luxury and innovation to the segment. Interestingly, the luxury and innovation items (AIRCAP and AIRSCARF) aim to make vehicle occupants feel like the soft-top is up when it's down.
Indeed, it seems a bit strange to drop almost $60,000 on a convertible designed to make it feel like the top's up when it's down, but there's a certain inexplicable joy when headroom's infinite and your hair's just ever-so-softly wafting in the wind at 70 mph. Mercedes-Benz invited us to drive the all-new E-Class convertible, and it's obvious MB's learned a thing or two about building a convertible. Read our full review to get the inside scoop.
The Lancer Evolution (EVO) is legendary in the tuner/aftermarket community. A pocket-rocket in every sense, the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive compact car is an object of lust for many enthusiasts.
But what if you're not an enthusiast, or you are and you require a bit more space? Mitsubishi has attempted to answer that question with the Lancer Sportback. While the Sportback isn't offered in race-ready Evolution trim, it is available in Ralliart trim, which aims to close the gap between the base Lancer and Evolution.
Skeptical, we got ourselves one for a week to test it out. Is the 2010 Lancer Sportback Raliart really good enough to compete in the enthusiast arena? Is it practical enough to live with every day if you're not an enthusiast, or an enthusiast with a need for space? Read our review to find out.
The 2010 Beijing auto show is currently underway, and China's car show has been gaining ground as of the past few years. With the explosive levels of development across the Pacific, China is quickly becoming a showcase for consumer products, including automobiles.
GM has introduced a concept that takes the upcoming Chevrolet Volt extended range plug-in electric vehicle to crossover form at the 2010 Beijing show. Visually and mechanically, very similar to the production-ready Volt compact, the Volt MPV5 promises to bring the benefits of an electric vehicle to the crossover segment.
No word on solid production go-ahead, but I would bet that if the Volt compact sells well when it goes on sale this fall, we'll be seeing the Volt MPV5 in the not so distant future.