It's winter in the Northeast, and last week's Polar Vortex luckily came along just as our weekend test car was a 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
This is the all-new compact crossover that replaces the old truck-like Jeep Liberty, going head-to-head with popular compact crossover utilities like the Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, and Toyota RAV4.
After the Dodge Dart launched for 2013, it's the second new vehicle from Fiat Chrysler to use front-wheel-drive underpinnings adapted from Italian Fiat and Alfa Romeo models.
Adding all-wheel drive
The 2014 Cherokee, however, has a brand-new all-wheel-drive system that is designed to be as fuel-efficient as possible while still providing all the durability and off-road prowess that Jeep is known for.
On that front, we can only say that the Jeep crawled itself through 4 to 6 inches of snow and up our steep and unplowed driveway without drama or fuss, assisted by the "Snow" setting on the all-wheel drive SelecTerrain control knob.
We'd been eager to test the new Cherokee, having recently spent time in two different versions of the new Ford Escape, as well as a few diesel luxury crossovers.
The version we got, however, was a high-end model fitted not with the base 2.4-liter engine, but the more powerful 271-horsepower 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6. ( Continue… )
There are few shapes more recognizable than the profile of Volkswagen's most famous vehicle. If you were to ask a hundred people who knew nothing about cars to pick one out in a lineup, few would get it wrong. Aside from its charm and unique shape, one of the factors in the Beetle's impact is its longevity--and this month, Volkswagen is celebrating 65 years since the Beetle hit U.S. shores, all the way back in January 1949.
That first car was imported by Ben Pon Sr., a Dutch businessman who shipped the car to New York City. From that first car, sales built rapidly. By the mid-1950s more than 35,000 had been sold, and given another five years that figure was up to 300,000. ( Continue… )
Here's a great piece of bar trivia: The first-ever Porsche was ... an electric car.
While any ardent Porschephile knows that the first Porsche-branded vehicle was the 356 sports car of 1948, the first car designed by Ferdinand Porsche was actually the 1898 "Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton model," or the P1 for short.
The P1 was recently recovered from a warehouse where it had reportedly sat untouched since 1902. It will be displayed in original, unrestored condition at the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen, Germany.
Designed by Ferdinand Porsche when he was 22 years old, the P1--or Porsche, number one--is powered by a rear-mounted electric drive unit that produces 3 horsepower, harnessed to a 12-speed controller.
The 2,977-pound vehicle had a reported range of 49 miles, and could briefly reach a top speed of 21 mph when in "overdrive" mode, which extracted a full 5 hp from the motor.
One unique feature was the Lohner "alternating" body, which was designed to be detached from the chassis and swapped for another body depending on the driver's needs. ( Continue… )
It's still not possible to 3D print an entire car, but Honda will offer the next best thing.
The Japanese automaker is making data from old concept models available so people can print them out at home. Through the Honda 3D Design Archives website, users can download files and make their own miniature Hondas under the Creative Commons 4.0 license. ( Continue… )
U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints that power-assisted brakes can fail at times in Camry gas-electric hybrids.
The probe covers about 30,000 of the midsize cars from the 2007 and 2008 model years.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has 59 complaints about intermittent loss of power-brake assist. The agency says the problem happens without warning. It causes increased stopping distances and requires more pedal pressure to stop the car. ( Continue… )
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking to upgrade standards for child car seats for children weighing up to 40 pounds to include a new test that simulates a side crash.
According to conservative NHTSA estimates, some five child deaths and injuries to 64 other children will be prevented each year if the new standards are implemented.
The NHTSA proposal would require the first-ever side impact test for child car seats sold in the U.S.
What the test entails
Under the proposal, the new tests use a specially-designed sled to test car seats and will simulate a “T-bone” crash, where the front of a vehicle traveling 30 mph strikes the side of a small passenger vehicle traveling 15 mph. ( Continue… )
Aston Martin will be on the starting grid for the world famous Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend, for the first time since 1985. The historic British automaker’s motorsport division Aston Martin Racing together with The Racers Group will be fielding three Vantage-based race cars in the upcoming event, which is also the opening race of the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
One V8 Vantage GTE will compete in the championship’s new GTLM class, and a pair of V12 Vantage GT3s will be entered in the new GTD class. Drivers will include some of Aston Martin’s World Endurance Championship drivers; the list is Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke, Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana, Jonny Adam and Richie Stanaway. ( Continue… )
And it is a lot of money, but in China, where that price tag will be attached, Tesla promises it represents good value for buyers.
CEO Elon Musk is positive too--expensive it may be, but in comparison to rivals it's very reasonably priced--and China could wind up being Tesla's biggest market.
Toyota remained the top-selling automaker for a second year in a row, beating U.S. rival General Motors by some 270,000 vehicles in 2013, and set an ambitious target to sell more than 10 million vehicles this year.
That would mark a milestone as no automaker has ever topped annual worldwide sales of 10 million.
Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it sold a record 9.98 million vehicles worldwide last year, up 2 percent from the previous year.
The Japanese automaker has made an impressive comeback from an earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan in 2011, damaging auto suppliers and hobbling production.
Toyota also outlined plans to sell 10.32 million vehicles and produce 10.43 million vehicles in 2014.
General Motors Co. sold 9.71 million cars and trucks worldwide last year, outselling Volkswagen AG of Germany at 9.5 million.
Toyota recaptured the global sales crown in 2012 from GM, which had been the top-selling carmaker for more than seven decades until being surpassed by Toyota in 2008. ( Continue… )
Minicars are big business nowadays. That's often because they earn good gas mileage -- nothing to sneeze at, given today's increasingly higher fuel prices. They're also easy to maneuver and park, which is a nice bonus for urban dwellers.
What most minicars don't do well, however, is protect their occupants -- at least, not in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small overlap crash test. In fact, of the 11 minicars that the IIHS recently tested, only one managed to pass that test with an "acceptable" rating. ( Continue… )