Report: Strong US auto sales in August on pace to top 15.5M in 2013

Filed under: Car Buying

ford dealership lot

August sales will be announced next week, but early numbers say that it has been an exceptionally good month for new-car sales so far with two days left to go – including the kickoff to Labor Day weekend. Automotive News is reporting that forecasters are expecting this month to be the strongest single month since 2006 with retail sales projected to be around 1.27 million units.

Factoring this into the known 9.13 million sales through July, many experts are saying that annual sales in 2013 could be in the mid-15-million unit range including one estimate pushing this year’s totals past 16 million units – a mark the US industry hasn’t seen since 2007. The article states that sales could be even higher if automakers like Hyundai, Ford and Subaru were able to keep supply up with the demand of some of their popular models. Stay tuned as we’ll know for sure when we put together our usual By The Numbers post next week.

Strong US auto sales in August on pace to top 15.5M in 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 29 Aug 2013 17:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2014 Honda Odyssey first minivan to earn Top Safety Pick+ award [w/video]

Filed under: Minivan/Van, Safety, Videos, Honda

2014 Honda Odyssey IIHS crash test

You know an automaker is confident about the safety of its vehicles when it asks one of the top crash test agencies to destroy one of its newest models. That’s exactly what happened with the 2014 Honda Odyssey. According the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Honda requested that the agency run the updated Odyssey through its full barrage of tests, and for good reason.

Aside from slight styling upgrades and a new optional HondaVac built-in vacuum cleaner, the 2014 Odyssey was also given a more rigid passenger compartment using high-strength steel to help better protect occupants. It obviously worked. Following the crash tests, the 2014 Odyssey became the first minivan to earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating, but, more importantly, it did so with “Good” ratings in all five crash categories (four “Goods” and one “Acceptable” are enough for the TSP+). Impressive.

Scroll down for the crash-test video from the IIHS along with a press release.

Continue reading 2014 Honda Odyssey first minivan to earn Top Safety Pick+ award [w/video]

2014 Honda Odyssey first minivan to earn Top Safety Pick+ award [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 29 Aug 2013 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Study: Six small cars earn IIHS Top Safety Pick+ awards [w/video]

Filed under: Coupe, Budget, Sedan, Safety, Hatchback, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Scion, Volkswagen

2013 Honda Civic Sedan IIHS crash test
IIHS Top Safety Pick + Award
The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety has released the results of its latest small overlap front crash tests, and there’s a surprise among small cars. IIHS tested 12 cars, half of which managed “Good” or “Acceptable” ratings overall, qualifying them for the the coveted Top Safety Pick+.

Top Safety Pick+ is still a fairly rare achievement since the new small overlap crash tests were instituted, as it’s taken manufacturers time to design, engineer, build and bring to market cars that can score well on the new metric.

The overlap front crash test covers the car’s structure, restraint systems and kinematics, as well as measuring the “injuries” the crash test dummy’s heads, necks, chests, hips, thighs, legs and feet.

The highest scorers were the Honda Civic Sedan, followed closely by the Civic Coupe. These were also the only two to earn overall scores of “Good.” The Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Scion tC all earned acceptable scores overall, which was still enough to qualify them for the TSP+ rating. The bottom half of the test included the Chevrolet Sonic, Volkswagen Beetle, Chevrolet Cruze, Nissan Sentra, Kia Soul and Kia Forte.

Only 25 models have earned the TSP+ rating so far, which requires cars to earn “Good” ratings for occupant protection in four out of five tests, while scoring at least an acceptable on the fifth test.
Click through for the full press release from IIHS, as well as a video

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Six small cars earn IIHS Top Safety Pick+ awards [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 08 Aug 2013 17:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Top Gear in dustup over alleged staged hovercraft scene [w/video]

Filed under: Etc., Videos, UK, Humor, TV/Movies

Top Gear Hovervan destroying a restaurant - video screencap

Top Gear walks a very narrow line between documentary, sitcom and reality television. And while some aspects of it are true, it shouldn’t be a huge shock that there are plenty of staged elements. Still, there seem to be elements of the British public that think everything shown on the telly is true, which makes the latest controversy over Top Gear‘s fakery seem rather silly to us.

The anger stems from the July 21 episode, which actually airs tonight on BBC America (spoiler alert from here out), where Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May attempt to convert a Ford Transit into a hovercraft. The resulting hovervan can work on the road, and can kind of work on the water, as demonstrated during an extended cruise on the River Avon.

This is where people are getting angry. In one scene, the trio pass a riverside restaurant and decided to stop in for a bite. Patrons sitting on the water’s edge are then mercilessly blown and splashed by the jet wash of the hovervan’s fans. Here’s the controversy – those “patrons” were apparently staged actors. Yes, Top Gear is in trouble with the British public because they used actors for a segment rather than ruining the days of unsuspecting people.

Video and images were released on Twitter by one of the actors, according to Britain’s The Mirror. A BBC spokesperson’s response to this latest uproar is pretty much what we were thinking as we watched the episode last weekend: “I think Top Gear viewers are intelligent enough not to have been taken in.” Clearly not all of them. Check out video of the stunt below.

Continue reading Top Gear in dustup over alleged staged hovercraft scene [w/video]

Top Gear in dustup over alleged staged hovercraft scene [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 29 Jul 2013 13:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Chevy Impala goes from bottom to top of Consumer Reports sedan rankings

Filed under: Sedan, Chevrolet

It’s got a new design, it’s got new objectives, it’s got a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it’s a central part of what could be Chevrolet’s “strongest, most competitive retail sedan lineup ever,” and now the 2014 Chevrolet Impala has added Turnaround Artist to its resume, going from last to first in Consumer Reports‘ large sedan ratings.

As if it didn’t earn itself a couple of beers for that alone, the triumph is all the more noteworthy because the Impala is the first domestic sedan in 20 years to reach that position. CR only began rating cars with a score in 1992, and since then the number one slot has been from Japan 11 times, Europe nine times.

The Impala conquered with features like its “surprisingly agile handling,” “excellent braking,” “generally high-quality materials” and a technology interface that is “refreshingly intuitive and easy to use.” Going beyond its segment in worth, whereas the previous Impala scored a 63, this one scored a 95; only the BMW 135i coupe and Tesla Model S have scored higher. And wait until you get to the part where it’s considered “competitive with… the Audi A6 and Lexus LS460L….”

Yeah, you read that right. And you can read even more of it in the press release below.

Continue reading Chevy Impala goes from bottom to top of Consumer Reports sedan rankings

Chevy Impala goes from bottom to top of Consumer Reports sedan rankings originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 06:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Formula E calendar set at ten races, top F1 teams being courted

Filed under: Motorsports, Performance, Electric

Formula E, the open-wheel EV racing series has finalized the calendar for its inaugural season. Set to kick of in 2014, the races looks like to have been distributed quite evenly across the globe.

Two American races (LA and Miami) along with a pair of South American races in Rio and Buenos Aires round out the contests in the New World. London, Berlin and Rome make up the European leg of the championship, while Beijing, Bangkok and Putrajaya cover Asia.

This news follows a report from Autoweek that Formula E is courting some of the top Formula One teams. According to AW, series organizer Alejandro Agag is already in talks with McLaren, and is of the opinion that one day the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull will take part in the emissions free series.

Despite the current lack of big names, the parts of the Formula E cars look promising. Batteries from Williams are mated to electric motors from McLaren, while Dallara provides the chassis. Like F1, there’s only one tire supplier, although we’re happy to announce it’s Michelin rather than Pirelli. Series test driver Lucas di Grassi showed us just what the FE cars can do with an in-car video a few months ago.

As for drivers, we don’t see Sebastien Vettel leaving his gas-powered racer soon. Formula E could see an influx of retired F1 drivers and GP2 veterans, although Agag told Autoweek “I can’t say any names yet.” The series will kickoff in 2014, in the Italian capital of Rome.

Formula E calendar set at ten races, top F1 teams being courted originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 16 Jul 2013 18:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Study: Ford F-150 bumps Camry from top of Cars.com American Made Index

Filed under: Car Buying, Truck, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Toyota

2013 Ford F-150 XLT

With July 4th just around the corner, what better time could there be for Cars.com to announce that the Ford F-150 is the Most American car of 2013? This may be especially true since it was the Toyota Camry, a car produced by a company based in Japan, that had held the top spot from 2009 to 2012.

Cars.com compiles its Most American list by considering the amount of parts each vehicle uses that come from America, where it’s final assembly takes place and how many units per year are sold. “While the assembly point and domestic parts content of the F-150 didn’t change from 2012-2013, vehicle sales are responsible for bumping the F-150 to the top spot,” according to Patrick Olsen, Editor-in-Chief of Cars.com.

As far as automakers go (as opposed to individual models), Toyota retains the top spot it held in 2012, with General Motors, Chrysler, Ford and Honda (in that order) rounding out the list. The motivation behind this list each year, according to Olsen, is “to help car shoppers understand that ‘American-Made’ extends beyond just the Detroit three” and because “a study we conducted in 2012 indicated that 25 percent of shoppers surveyed preferred to buy American.”

It should be noted, however, that Cars.com isn’t the only group with an American-made study, and not everyone agrees on the methodology used. In fact, a highly detailed study earlier this year by American University’s Kogod School of Business found that the Lambda CUV triplets from GM are the most American-made nameplates, and there isn’t a single vehicle from a Japanese automaker anywhere near its top ten.

Feel free to browse the press release below to see how the full top-10 list breaks down.

Continue reading Ford F-150 bumps Camry from top of Cars.com American Made Index

Ford F-150 bumps Camry from top of Cars.com American Made Index originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 25 Jun 2013 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Top Gear caught filming Best of British near Buckingham Palace

Filed under: Videos, Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus, Mini, Rolls-Royce, UK, Celebrities, McLaren, TV/Movies

Top Gear readies Best of British special outside of Buckingham Palace
YouTuber and car-fan extraordinaire Shmee probably had very little trouble tracking down the Top Gear film crew recently, as the group was putting together an episode that could accurately be described as “excessive.” With its flag-waving (literally) Best of British theme, the TG guys gathered a jaw-dropping array of British cars, and parked them all right in front of Buckingham Palace to make extra sure that the point was driven home.

Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were outfitted with a trio of Jaguar F-Types festooned with gigantic Union Jacks, with which to survey the landscape of British motoring glory. In the video below, you’ll see that this includes any number of Mini, Aston Martin, Lotus, McLaren, Land Rover, Bentley and Rolls-Royce models (just to name a few), as well as a healthy dose of weird stuff that most people would never guess at being built in the UK. The lawnmowers and military vehicles are especially cool.

Continue reading Top Gear caught filming Best of British near Buckingham Palace

Top Gear caught filming Best of British near Buckingham Palace originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 24 Jun 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Top Gear returns for Series 20 on June 30

Filed under: UK, Celebrities, TV/Movies

Top Gear UK

Good news, petrolheads: Top Gear is coming back for its 20th season, starting on June 30. Yes, we mean the original UK version of the hit motoring show. Time to get those DVRs fired up… hopefully that means it will air on BBC America in the States around the same time.

While we don’t have any specific indication as to what we might expect from Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May (plus The Stig, naturally), we’re certain that season 20 will include plenty of beautiful camera work, exotic locations, the fastest cars in the world, the slowest cars in the world, celebrity guests and, of course, a handful of so-called challenges that pit the hosts and their ingenuity against one another.

Want more? Satiate your never-ending Top Gear fix by scrolling through a dozen teaser images showing scenes from the upcoming show at this link.

Top Gear returns for Series 20 on June 30 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 21 Jun 2013 08:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante drops its mind-blowingly beautiful top

Filed under: Convertible, Performance, Aston Martin, UK, Luxury

2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante - front three-quarter view, blue

Behold the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante in all its convertible glory. Like its hard top twin, the convertible Vanquish boasts a 5.9-liter V12 engine with 565 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque. That thrust is good enough to push the car to a top speed of 183 miles per hour, and Aston Martin says the 2014 Vanquish Volante is the first of the company’s convertibles to bow with body panels comprised entirely of carbon fiber. It also offers the stiffest body structure in the history of the automaker’s droptop efforts.

The machine’s power three-layer top can be put up or down at speeds of up to 30 mph and can do its dance in around 14 seconds. Interestingly, designers went with a full-length windshield, which runs directly up to the cloth top. there is no sheetmetal (or in this case, carbon fiber) header between the glass and the roof. Very cool.

A six-speed automatic transmission handles shifting duties and a new set of springs and dampers help cope with altered dynamics of the convertible. Aston Martin claims the 2014 Vanquish Volante offers up a weight distribution of 51:49, and a set of carbon-ceramic brakes help bring the whole party down from speed. If you want one, get ready to shell out at least $297,995 for the pleasure. Deliveries are set to begin early next year. Check out the full press release below once you stop gawking at the gallery above.

Continue reading 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante drops its mind-blowingly beautiful top

2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante drops its mind-blowingly beautiful top originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 19 Jun 2013 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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