By Chris Haak
The phone rang one afternoon.
“I got you a Malibu to drive.”
“Oh, OK. What year? Is it the current generation, a 2008 through 2010?”
“Well, actually, it’s a 2000.”
Digging into my mental database of model-year changes, I thought, “Uh-oh. The previous generation Malibu ran from 2004 through 2007. That means that this one is the original N-car Malibu, produced from the 1997 through 2003 model years.” A quick Google images search confirmed that my memory was accurate.
By Kevin Gordon
Acura has announced that it will be selling a “sport” wagon version of the TSX later this year. Acura’s marketing gurus are clearly attempting to avoid the dirty-dirty term station wagon. In fact, during the Acura press conference they were sure to point out the family truckster from National Lampoon’sVacation movie fame, and then go on to try to convince the audience that this car was nothing like the fake wood grained wagons of the 80s. As an aside, I think someone should jump on the UK’s nomenclature of estate… The 2011 Acura TSX Estate sounds pleasing to me. No matter what it is called, it remains a gussied up version wagon version of the Accord that has been sold in Europe for the past few years. I am happy to say that it improves on the looks of the TSX and adds some needed utility to the sedan.
Americans have been proven to be averse to anything with the name wagon in it. Maybe Acura should have named it a Sports Utility Car or Sports Activity Car, on second thought, the abbreviation on the acura.com site might not work. It could get to be a human resources nightmare. You go to work in your new ride and ask the new receptionist if she wants to see your SAC. Then again, you could show her your new Accord Crosstour and really offend her.
By Kevin Gordon
Good news for the North American automotive enthusiast! Manufactures have listened to your request to not make another high performance version of their SUVs and instead put some extra horsepower in the wagon version of their mid-sized car. Cadillac has decided to bring some added utility to their CTS-V super-sedan. The best part, this is not a watered down version. You get to enjoy all 556 horsepower along with magnetically-controlled suspension in caddy’s new family-hauling wagon packaging.
With the rear seats folded the wagon version of the CTS effectively doubles the cargo carrying capacity of the CTS sedan, so now you can subject twice the amount of stuff to the huge g-loads afforded by 551 ft/lbs and six-piston Brembros.
By Chris Haak
This morning in New York, Infiniti revealed its all-new QX56 full-size SUV. Unlike its immediate Nissan Armada-based predecessor, the new QX is based on the overseas-only Nissan Patrol SUV. The Nissan Patrol is basically Nissan’s answer to the Toyota Land Cruiser, and makes a very solid foundation for the QX in coming years. Humorously enough, the Patrol even looks very much like a Land Cruiser, except one with a Nissan Pathfinder’s grille grafted onto its front.
Back to the QX56 – with Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi plant changing over from pickup and SUV production to focus on light commercial vehicle production, the QX56 in its recent state was not a model whose existence was easy to justify. In fact, the Titan – which donated its chassis, front sheetmetal, and portions of its interior to the Armada (and to a lesser degree, to the QX56) very nearly went out of production directly by Nissan, until Chrysler and Nissan agreed to scrap the agreement to rebody the Dodge Ram as a second-generation Nissan Titan.
By: Kevin Gordon
Subaru has announced its 2011 Impreza WRX lineup. The major change from last year is a growth of 1.5 inches in width at the front and back fenders, giving the WRX the same stance as the STI. Also, the sedan will be available with this wider track, making the car look far more aggressive than the last year’s WRX. It is a significant difference in person, and really changes the personality of the car. It is important to note that in person the color of the car makes a difference in dramatic the fender flares appear. Look at the bulge in the rear door on the sedan in the press photos below; wonderful! It is almost like something you would expect to see from Mercedes-Benz Black division.
Other than the newly-increased girth, the WRX gains firmer sub-frame bushings (but not the pricey aluminum suspension bits) and an extra bit of tire width at each corner. All of the changes only add up to 34 extra pounds over the 2010 model’s curb weight. This additional personality, track, and grip should make the next WRX a favorite of the autocross enthusiast and has opened the door for people who really dislike hatchbacks but want to have a car that couldn’t be mistaken for a Toyota.
By Brendan Moore
The Chrysler media relations people are on a charm offensive here at the show, telling everyone that they are a viable company with a long, prosperous future in front of them.
The cynical among you might say something along the lines of “it sounds like they’re trying to convince themselves more than anyone else”, or, “whistling past the graveyard,” or the other sorts of snarky things overly-cynical people say, but I would expect that from the likes of you.
Anyway, beside the general message of “here to stay”, Chrysler is also endeavoring like mad to make the Ram brand their new truck brand, separate from Dodge trucks, and so is giving all sorts of Ram-branded stuff to the journalists that want it. I demurred, but did get this nifty press release.
By Brendan Moore
First, it is obvious early this morning that there are more press people here this year as opposed to 2009. The breakfast for the media was crowded, the hallways are filled with people, there are no empty seats in the media communications center, etc.
The amount of media attending in 2009 was the lowest, at least from an observational viewpoint, that I’ve seen in the past couple of decades. And have I mentioned that everyone here last year seemed sort of depressed?
So, that’s an obvious difference this year.
Second, in my quick spin around the floor early this morning, it looks as if the manufacturers’ stands are more expensive this year – another good sign, and a continuation of what I saw in Detroit earlier this year.
Perhaps everyone is shaking off the malaise of last year – finally.
I’m off to some early morning press conferences – we have three writers here at the New York Auto Show this year, so you can expect updates during the day, and more posts this evening.
By Kevin Gordon
I live in a very small minority in the United States of America, sharing a passion with the limited number of people who love watching, and being a fan of, Formula One. I can understand why the average red-blooded American has a hard time understanding and appreciating this sport.
And yet, I cannot seem to grasp how many of those same people in this country can have an intelligent discussion about BCS rankings in college sports.
With that being said, this year in Formula One (F1), rule changes have caused even less passing and eliminated even more excitement from the sport. Despite this, and the world press generally disparaging F1, I believe it is still the most important spectacle in motor sport.
After the Bahrain Gran Prix drivers up and down the grid called for rule changes to remove some of the boring from the regularly schedule Formula One processional. The largest change is that this year F1 cars start the race with a full tank of fuel. During the race the only need to pit is to make the required change between tire compounds. This resulted in the top placed cars running very similar lap times and the field generally finishing in the order that they started. Could the F1 race in Australia be saved? Yes! The recipe involved a dash of light rain and impatient drivers. The real question remains, during the next dry race will we revert to your regularly scheduled parade of carbon fiber at 18,000 RPM?
My guess is coming right up…