GM has the new 2013 Cadillac ATS sedan waiting in the wings, and at Ford, the mission's almost the same--to snare more entry-level luxury-sedan buyers. That task begins with the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, making its debut as a concept car at the 2012 Detroit auto show.
Lincoln's mission is a little more urgent, though. Once the best-selling luxury nameplate in the U.S., Lincoln sold just more than 85,000 vehicles in the U.S. last year, about half of Cadillac's numbers and well off the more than 300,000 cars and crossovers sold by luxury-sales champ BMW.
Working in its favor, Lincoln has the current MKZ, one of the brand's strong sales stories. In its final year on the market, MKZ sales in 2011 increased 22 percent over the prior year, and its hybrid edition has attracted new looks from shoppers normally sold on Lexus.
To grow again, Lincoln will have to win over those intenders, and analysts, who see today's Lincolns as too closely patterned on Ford-brand vehicles. Design is one way Ford hopes to change minds. Based on the same mid-size platform as the new 2013 Ford Fusion, also introduced in Detroit, the next MKZ heralds a new design direction for the sagging luxury brand.The latest theme--one of a few Ford's tried on the Lincoln lineup in the past decade--tamps down some of the brash cues on today's Lincoln MKZ and its MKX and MKT crossovers in favor of leaner, softer lines. The MKZ concept is as sleek as the fantastic-looking Fusion, but distinguished by the more delicate louvers on its new grille, and especially, by the longer arch of its roofline, and a very short trunk.
Lincoln's design chief, Max Wolff, calls the new look elegant simplicity. "It’s something warmer and more restrained, which is moving away from complex designs and traditional luxury," he said.
Inside, the concept continues a more Lexus-like interpretation of luxury, with warm colors and a touch of green. The poplar wood trim is "responsibly harvested," and is framed by aluminum trim, and surrounded by neutral leather perforated to look like champagne bubbles.
Electronics take up even more real estate in this version of the MKZ: dash buttons control the transmission, eliminating a shift lever, and big 10.1-inch and 8-inch LCD screens in front of the driver and on the center stack serve as displays for gauges, mapping and in-car apps, governed by the Bluetooth-driven MyLincoln Touch system. A panoramic glass roof brings more light into the four-seat cabin.
Compared to the current MKZ, the new version should grow, while coming in very close to the concept's overall dimensions. The concept is 194.1 inches overall, with a 112.2-inch wheelbase. Today's car measures 189.8 inches long, and rides on a 107.4-inch wheelbase.
The MKZ's new platform is said to be able to handle all-wheel drive. Powertrains and other hardware aren't detailed yet, but EcoBoost engines, an adaptive suspension and drivetrain, and a lane-keeping system are planned.
Now that it's sold off all the European luxury brands it once owned, Ford says it's committed to reviving Lincoln sales and repositioning it as a newer-age luxury leader. According to Ford's president of the Americas, Mark Fields, Ford is investing heavily in the brand so that it can "win customers in the luxury market with strong new vehicles."
It's an important piece of Ford's newly focused business plan, and potentially, a big money-maker for the company. With seven new or heavily revamped vehicles on the way in the next three years, Lincoln is getting another lease on life--and the fight to regain its spot in on the luxury leaderboard begins here.
This story originally appeared at The Car Connection
The winners of the 2012 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards have been announced, as the auto industry kicks off the new year at the annual Detroit auto show.
In December, a panel of 50 journalists named six finalists for the two awards. On the car side, the NACOTY jurors put the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and Volkswagen Passat up for top honors. In trucks, which includes vehicles classified as trucks by the EPA, the finalists included the BMW X3, Honda CR-V, and Land Rover Range Rover Evoque.
Last year, the NACOTY jurors, including High Gear Media's Marty Padgett, narrowed down the list from a set of 24 vehicles, including seven trucks and 17 cars.
To be eligible for either award, a vehicle must be substantially changed or new from the prior year.
The North American Car of the Year and Truck of the Year jury includes U.S. and Canadian automotive journalists, with all types of media included, from online to print, to broadcast and radio.
The winners of the awards in 2011 were the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Explorer.
2012 North American Car of the Year Shortlist
Kia Rio/Rio 5
Toyota Prius V
2012 North American Truck of the Year Shortlist
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
High Gear Media covers the 2012 Detroit Auto Show live from Cobo Center--follow the news on the Web, on Facebook or on Twitter
This story originally appeared at The Car Connection
Cadillac has been promising us a true BMW 3-Series competitor, and it is finally here. The 2013 Cadillac ATS is the compact luxury sedan that Cadillac is depending on to establish a new reputation among some of the world's top performance sedans.
The ATS follows the new-expression Art & Science design direction set by the new 2013 XTS, which was introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show this past fall. The front end does a great job mimicking the XTS while the side character line is softer and less pronounced. While the standard 17-inch alloy wheels fill the wheel wells nicely, 18-inch alloy wheels are optional. Out back, the ATS uses the third brake light as a spoiler similar to the CTS Coupe and XTS. Dual exhaust outlets emerge through a pseudo-diffuser with a center mounted backup light mounted low to the ground.
Cadillac says it created a driver-focused interior for the ATS, focusing on the placement of the pedals and steering wheel, along with the location of the shifter. The flowing dashboard wraps around into the door panels and features ambient lighting. A wide range of interior color options will be available, ranging from black and tan to more vibrant colors such as brown and burgundy, all complimented by various trim materials ranging from real wood and plated metal to carbon-fiber. Sport seats will be available for those who seek more support for spirited driving.
Riding on an all-new platform, the ATS will be available in both rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations. While the ATS gets a 2.5-liter direct-injection four-cylinder rated at 200 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque, a 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 rated at 318 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque is optional, Cadillac expects the volume engine to be the optional 2.0-liter turbo direct-injection four-cylinder engine rated at 270 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.
Both a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission will be offered, and while official fuel economy ratings have not yet been announced, Cadillac says the ATS will deliver a peak highway fuel economy rating of more than 30 mpg.
Cadillac is serious about going after the premium German marques and as such has fitted certain models of the ATS with Brembo brakes and Magnetic Ride Control. Cadillac claims a less than 3,400-pound curb weight on the ATS will be one of the lowest in the segment along with nearly 50/50 weight balance.
Like the XTS, the ATS will be a tour de force when it comes to technology. Cadillac's new CUE infotainment system will be available. Featuring an 8-inch glass LCD touchscreen display in the instrument panel and a 5.7-inch reconfigurable screen making up the gauge cluster, CUE helps control everything from navigation and audio, to climate control and vehicle settings. While CUE can be voice operated, the instrument panel does feature touch-sensitive buttons that can control main audio and climate control functions quickly. All touch controls for the instrument panel and touchscreen display feature haptic feedback, which provides a vibration confirming your selection.
The ATS backs up the in-cabin tech with a myriad of safety features including eight standard airbags and StabiliTrak. Optional technology includes full-speed, range-adaptive cruise control, intelligent brake assist, brake pre-fill automatic collision preparation, and much more. With all this optional technology available, Cadillac is not only looking towards the technology and driving-enthusiast crowd, but the safety-conscious crowd as well.
This story originally appeared at The Car Connection
Toyota has the small-car market pretty well covered. In addition to the 2012 Toyota Yaris, there are the Scion xB and iQ models, which share in many places the same showroom and the same sales lot. And that's before even considering the only somewhat larger Matrix (and Corolla), as well as the nearly like-sized 2013 Toyota Prius C that's on the way this year.
Against those Scion models, the all-new Toyota Yaris—especially in the SE trim that we drove—seems like the obvious pick.
But that's not to say we're in love with the new Yaris—or that we think it's the strongest pick in this value-minded class. While it drives light-and-nimble, gets impressive mileage without hybrid hardware, and has a well-packaged interior that doesn't feel cheapskate-grade, it will still ignite old memories of why some shoppers didn't like so-called economy cars of the not-so-distant past.
A few years ago, when the xD joined the lineup, it got an added aesthetic zing compared to the Yaris—along with somewhat better performance. This time, the 2012 Yaris seems to have inherited many of the very same cues (in the roofline, the edgier lower air dam, and dash). The exterior seems have about the same stance as the outgoing model from the front or back, but from the side it looks longer and lower (it's slightly longer). We see a pretty heavy Subaru influence in the beltline, with the chunky door handles and the side crease leading into flared-out taillamps—as well as the rally-racer-ish, chunky rear fascia.
More wannabe rally-racer, less charmingly Euro
To our eyes, from some steps back, the finished product just isn’t as charming as the previous model. On the outside, where the previous model has an outgoing, Euro-hip design that never seemed to look dated, that’s a bad thing.
Inside, where the instrument cluster was a centrally mounted oddity, and controls and displays weren’t quite as straightforward as they could be, we welcome the changes. In fact, the interior and IP are quite cheerful and well-designed. The dash of the 2012 Yaris has more of a horizontal, shelf-like orientation, and there are various bins built into the center tray as well as the doors and lower dash. Just in front of the front passenger is a shallow shelf; with no texturing at the bottom, we were puzzled as to what to place there that wouldn't slide annoyingly back and forth with every corner...
What's under the hood is familiar; it’s a 106-horsepower, 1.5-liter DOHC in-line four with variable valve timing—essentially the same engine as in the last generation. It feels inherently more flexible here than either the 1.6-liter in the Hyundai Accent and more refined than the base 1.8-liter in the Sonic, but it's impossible to overlook that both of those engines have 30+ horsepower more. The Yaris' five-speed manual gearbox is one of the lightest, most precise-feeling gearboxes in this class, even if the throws are a bit long—go with it if you can, as the four-speed automatic is a dinosaur next to much of the six-speed competition.
The meat of the engine's revband is pretty wide; keep it in the 2,500-to-5,000-rpm range and it feels quick and responsive. But the engine gets quite a bit more vocal as the revs rise, and even at 70 mph engine noise is ever-present if you don't have the audio on.
A joy in urban areas--but not all that perky
Just like the previous Yaris, the 2012 model is a joy to drive in tight urban areas. We liked the way the electric power steering felt—it’s secure on-center at higher speeds, and even at lower parking-lot or S-curve speeds it seems to load up with a nice, progressive feel off-center. That said, we feel like the Yaris should feel a little perkier than it is, given the fact that it's one of the lightest entries in this class, at around 2,300 pounds.
We tested the sportier, upmarket trim of the Toyota Yaris, the SE, which also gets rear disc brakes at a time when they're not even available on any trim of some models, like the Chevrolet Sonic. The pedal feel is quite firm and positive—far better than the mushiness you get in the Sonic or the uneven actuation of the Accent.
If we had a consistent complaint about the last-generation Yaris—in just about every variation we drove—it was that the suspension just felt too mushy, making it prone to early body lean and understeer in corners, as well as (thanks in part to the short wheelbase) an almost buoyant feel over rough surfaces. This Yaris—especially here in SE form—felt much more buttoned-down. Toyota has not only tuned the suspension to be a bit firmer, but stabilizer bars are a bit thicker, and these changes go a long way to make it feel more planted in quick maneuvers. While it doesn’t quite approach the quick, Miata-influenced feel of the Mazda2, or the uncanny isolation of the new Chevrolet Sonic, the 2012 Toyota Yaris comes closer to striking a middle ground that will appeal to those who want a small and nimble yet comfortable urban car.
Better seats (in the SE)
For now the Yaris is only offered as a three- or five-door Liftback (hatchback), though a four-door sedan is due (the outgoing Yaris Sedan is still available at dealerships, as a 2012). With a couple more inches of wheelbase and length than before, there's more cargo space in back as well as a bit more passenger space in the new Liftback, compared to the previous one. In the front seats, we like the rather high seating position, where you get a good view out and yet have plenty of spare headroom. On the other hand, it does feel a bit like you're sitting ON the car rather than IN it. We can see some drivers annoyed at the lack of telescopic steering adjustment, but everything felt right to this lanky driver.
Front seats (admittedly, the SE's “exclusive sport seats”) feel much improved compared to what you got before in the Yaris, or what you presently get in the Nissan Versa. They're somewhat wider and noticeably longer, and have a little bit of natural contouring and side support, and they no longer feel like short benches, cutting off circulation to the thighs. But we did note that the fabric acted as a lint brush of sorts to our clothes, collecting stray pet hair and the like.
Ride quality feels better, too, even though the suspension seems to keep body motion more under control—likely a product of the added wheelbase.
But has gas mileage really improved over the past 30 years, and what do automakers really need to do in order to ensure their cars meet tough new Corporate Average Fuel Economy targets by 2025?
According to MIT economist Christopher Knittel, the answer is simple: maintain the same rate of automotive technological innovation we’ve seen since 1980s while simultaneously replicating the average weight and power of new cars sold 30 years ago.
Has Gas Mileage Changed?
Thirty years ago, the U.S. was recovering from the second major oil crisis to hit the nation.
With gas prices still high, high gas mileage cars like the 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit proved a popular choice for those wanting to save as much at the pump as possible, while older cars like the original 1973 Honda Civic offered used car buyers a way to avoid high fuel bills.
In fact, if you look at the change in gas mileage between a car made in 2006 and 1980, there’s an average fuel economy increase of just 15 percent, while average curb weights have increased by 26 percent, and power by a massive 107 percent.
Larger, Faster, Safer
Why the disparity between power and weight increases and fuel economy?
It’s simple. Cars have got a whole lot more complex. Thirty years ago, satellite navigation systems and complex entertainment systems were unheard of. And electric windows, crumple zones and airbags were considered high ticket items on luxury cars like the 1981 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
As more safety and entertainment features are added to a car, so the weight increases. In order to compensate, automakers have had to increase engine power.
What we’ve been left with, Knittel explains, are larger, faster, safer cars whose engines are actually 60 percent more efficient than engines produced 30 years ago. But because modern day cars are so much heavier and require more energy to move, any gas mileage improvements in engine design are not as great as they could be.
Although Knittel praises developments in fuel injection technology, engine control systems, lighter engine components and variable-speed transmissions his report, he also concludes that making cars smaller and less powerful is the key to better fuel economy.
According to his own calculations, Knittel says automakers have already built engines that are technically capable of meeting 2025 CAFE standards, but need to reduce both the curb weight and power output of the average vehicle by 25 percent in order to transfer that gas mileage from the laboratory and onto the road.
In other words, Knittel wants cars to go on a diet, or go back to the same weight and power output they had in the 1980s.
In addition, Knittel advocates higher gas taxes, and a change in consumer preferences driven by governmental policy changes.
Incorrectly applied though, bad policy could make matters worse. “If you force people to buy more fuel-efficient cars through CAFE standards, you actually get what’s called ‘rebount’, and they rive more than they would have,” he cautioned.
Thanks to developments in carbon-composite technologies, automakers have already started to make cars lighter. But a 25 percent drop in curb weight is a big challenge, especially if current safety and entertainment levels are to be kept.
And power? Academically, Knittel’s research makes sense, but we’re not sure the average car buyer is ready to give up the extra horsepower we’ve all become so used to.
We think a better solution lies in the world of plug-in vehicles, combining small gasoline engines with efficient electric motors to increase gas mileage and reduce emissions, but what do you think?
Let us know in the Comments below.
This story originally appeared at The Car Connection
As automakers are reporting December 2011 sales, a recovery that began early last year seems to be growing more steady, and stronger.
Each of the Big Three automakers--Ford (NYSE:F), General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Chrysler--reported sales increases for the month and for the year, as retail vehicle sales bested levels last seen in the depths of the financial crisis. Asian automakers are yet to file their numbers, but with Korea's Hyundai and Kia and Japan's Subaru likely setting annual sales records, only Toyota and Honda, the companies most affected by the March earthquake, may be poised to break rank.
Total light-vehicle sales for 2011 are expected to come in at nearly 12.8 million units, with 10.3 million of those sold to retail customers. In December alone, the retail-sales figures should top one million units; according to J.D. Power and Associates, that would be a first since August of 2009, when Cash for Clunkers drove demand temporarily out of recession.
Power now expects 2012 sales to rise to 13.8 million units, with retail sales accounting for 11.7 million of those.
"Next year, the automotive industry will look to build upon the strong finish to 2011," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, in a release. "But the real test in 2012 will be weathering a summer selling slowdown and posting a full year of a progressive recovery."
Those numbers are in line with most automakers' expectations, including those of General Motors. However, Ford's range puts 2012 sales volumes somewhere between 13.5 million and 14.5 million units--hedged against political uncertainty in an election year, but still a signal that the year ahead could be a good one.
The numbers for 2011, and for the final month of last year:
General Motors: GM (NYSE: GM) says each of its brands increased sales in 2011. Cadillac grew slowest, at 3.7 percent and 152,389 units, while Buick was up 14.3 percent, to 177,633 units. Chevrolet rose 13.4 percent in 2011 to total sales of 1,775,812 vehicles, while GMC was up 18.8 percent on annual sales of 397,986 units.
For the month of December 2011, GM sales rose 4.7 percent, with Chevrolet up 8.9 percent at 161,158 units sold. GMC moved 41,960 vehicles for a 0.5-percent decrease from December 2010. Buick's sales dropped 12.4 percent from the same period in 2010, to 14,974 vehicles. And Cadillac fell 2.7 percent on the month, to 16,259 units.
GM says its sales highlights included a 54-percent boost for the Chevy Cruze, a 20-percent lift for the Camaro--and a record month for the Volt, which sold 1,529 units, for a total of 7,671 on the year, against a stated goal of 10,000 units.
Ford: Ford (NYSE: F) sales were up 17.4 percent in 2011, with a total of 2,062,915 vehicles, giving the company its third market-share increase in a row--something it hasn't done since 1970. The Fusion sedan accounted for 248,067 units, a record for the four-door, while the Explorer ended the year up 123.6 percent. Even the dated Escape pulled off a 33-percent year-over-year increase, but the Flex was off 19.9 percent. Ford also sold 584,917 trucks in 2011. For December 2011, Ford sales totaled 201,737 units, an increase of 15.6 percent.
Ford's Lincoln brand watched its sales rise 4.3 percent in December, but was off 0.2 percent on the year, for a total of 85,643 units. December's sales of 8,403 units were helped by a 22-percent boost in MKZ sales and a 6.7-percent increase with the MKX, but the MKS sedan was off 15.3 percent and the MKT crossover was down 32.4 percent.
Toyota / Lexus / Scion: Toyota ended a difficult sales year down 7 percent, much of the decrease due to supply problems after the March 11 earthquake in Japan. U.S. sales totaled 1,644,661 vehicles; Toyota accounted for 1,446,109 of those, down 6.1 percent. Lexus' yearly total reached 198,552 units, down 13.7 percent, while Scion sold 49,271 vehicles in the U.S. in 2011, an increase of 7.5 percent.
For the month of December 2011, Toyota sold 152,776 vehicles, a 1.9-percent boost; Lexus reported 25,355 sales, an 8-percent slide. Scion sold 4,159 units, for an increase of 5.1 percent.
Chrysler: Sales of Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat vehicles totaled 1.37 million units in 2011, for a strong 26-percent increase over an abysmal 2010. Chrysler says that's the biggest boost for any full-line manufacturer.
In December 2011, Chrysler says it sold 138,019 units in the U.S, an increase of 37 percent, and its best month since May 2008. The Chrysler brand moved 23,974 units, up 83 percent, with strong numbers for the 300 and 200 sedans--up 661 percent and 242 percent, respectively.
Jeep rose 41 percent on the month with 43,577 units sold; the company sold more Grand Cherokees last month than in any month in the past six years.
Dodge's numbers were up 28 percent in December, to 41,548 units, with a 227-percent sales boost for the Charger sedan. Ram trucks rose 10 percent to 26,595 units, and the Fiat 500 caught a ray of hope with sales up 44 percent over November 2011 to 2,325 units moved in December.
Honda / Acura: Honda says it sold a total of 1,147,285 vehicles in the U.S. in 2011, a slide of 7.1 percent from 2010, with sizable sales losses due to the Japan earthquake last March. Honda accounted for 1,023,986 units, off 6.9 percent; Acura was down 8 percent, to 123,299 units. The Honda Accord tallied 235,625 sales, fewer than the Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion; the Civic hit total sales of 221,235 units, and the CR-V, 218,373.
For the month of December, Honda sold a total of 105,230 units, down 18.8 percent over the same period in 2010. Honda brand accounted for 92,101 units, off 19.3 percent; Acura sold 13,129 vehicles in December 2011, off 15.2 percent from the same year-ago period.
Nissan / Infiniti:Nissan says it sold a total of 1,042,534 vehicles in the U.S. in 2011. Of that, 944,073 units were moved by the Nissan brand, a boost of 17.3 percent. The Altima narrowly beat out the Hyundai Sonata as the fourth-best-selling passenger car, with volumes of 268,981 units. Infiniti sales were off 4.8 percent on the year at 98,461 vehicles.
For the month of December, Nissan sales of 89,937 marked an increase of 10.7 percent over the same period in 2010. Infiniti sales fell 12.1 percent, to 10,990 vehicles. The electric Nissan Leaf accounted for 954 units in December, for a total of 9,674 deliveries since launch, a handful arriving in customer garages in December 2010.
Hyundai: In advance of an official sales release, Hyundai USA CEO John Krafcik sent his company's results out via Twitter. "It's official: 50,765 new Hyundai owners in Dec (+13% over last yr) & 645,691 in 2011 (+20% over '10). Thanks all, and welcome aboard! ^jfk" Of the numbers, 225,961 units were Hyundai Sonata sedans, which likely makes the four-door the fourth-best-selling passenger car, to retail customers, Krafcik added.
Kia: Kia says it sold 485,492 vehicles in the U.S. in 2011, a new all-time record surpassing the one it set in 2010, and also a 36.3-percent increase. December 2011 sales totaled 43,390 vehicles, a 42.5-percent increase. Kia's share of the U.S. market is now up to 3.8 percent.
Volkswagen: Volkswagen says its sales soared in December 2011 by 36 percent. The monthly tally of 32,502 units marked its best December since 1972 (!). On the year, VW sold 324,402 vehicles, up 26.3 percent versus 2010, for its best U.S. sales year since 2002. The Jetta continues to post huge sales increases--in December, it's up 54.5 percent--and the Passat keeps its streak going as well, with a 124-percent boost in December 2011. Diesel sales are starting to shrink across its lineup, at least temporarily: December's share for diesels at VW was 18.4 percent, versus a year-long average of 21.6 percent.
Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes-Benz reported it sold 264,460 vehicles in the U.S. in 2011, a 17.5-percent increase over 2010's 225,007 vehicles. In December 2011, MBUSA sold 28,006 vehicles, up 30.4 percent over December 2010 (21,469).
BMW / MINI: BMW says its combined BMW/MINI retail sales totaled 305,418 vehicles in 2011. That's up by 14.9 percent over 2010's 265,757 vehicles--and it eclipses the Mercedes-Benz figures. In December 2011, BMW/MINI sold 32,545 vehicles, an increase of 17.9 percent from the 27,600 units it sold in December 2010.
Subaru: Subaru reported sales of 266,989 units for 2011, another all-time record for the Japanese automaker and an increase of 1.2 percent--despite supply problems it had in the wake of the Japan earthquake. Subaru says it's within striking distance of 300,000 units in 2012. December sales were up 26.3 percent, to 33,701 units.
Mazda: Mazda posted total U.S. sales of 250,426 units in 2011, an increase of 9.1 percent. In December, the Japanese automaker sold 22,353 vehicles, up 4.1 percent over the same period in 2010. The big winners: the CX-9, up almost 28 percent, and the Mazda5, with a sharp 52.5-percent sales increase over December 2010.
Audi: Audi says it sold 117,561 vehicles in the U.S. in 2011, for an overall gain of 15.7 percent. In December, Audi sold 12,655 vehicles, up 20 percent over the year-before numbers.
Volvo: Swedish automaker Volvo reported total U.S. sales of 67,240 vehicles, a 24.6-percent improvement over 2010. For the month of December 2011, sales hit 5,342 units, up 12.3 percent from a year before.
Mitsubishi: The Japanese automaker posted 2011 U.S. sales up 41.9 percent over 2010, at a total of 79,020 units. In December, Mitsu sales of 5,032 units marked a 3.2-percent increase over December 2010.
Porsche: Porsche had a banner year in the U.S. in 2011, with total sales of 29,023 vehicles, up 15 percent. For December of 2011, sales totaled 1,834 units, down 28.6 percent as the Cayenne slipped in the final month of the year.
Jaguar/Land Rover: Jaguar and Land Rover reported 2011 sales independently. Land Rover sold 38,099 vehicles in the U.S. last year, an increase of 20 percent from 2010; Jaguar sold 12,276 units, down 8 percent. On the year they combined for 50,375 sales, up 11 percent, their best numbers since 2007.
For December 2011, Jaguar sold 1,137 units, down 3 percent from the same period in 2010. Land Rover sold 4,743 vehicles, up 28 percent from December 2010.
Suzuki: Sales of 26,619 units in 2011 were an increase of 11 percent for Suzuki, but December's 2,566 units moved represented a 3-percent slide.
Saab: Saab sold 270 vehicles in the U.S. in December as the company faces a wind-down of operations.
This story originally appeared at The Car Connection
Buick today revealed the third section of its teaser image of the soon-to-be-revealed 2013 Encore. The full unveiling will come at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show next week.
The latest image reveals the front end of the Encore, complete with the expected grille and a first look at the lower air dam area. While it's not ground breaking in crossover styling, it's certainly shaping up to be a handsome addition to the Buick family. From the previous pie-slices, we see that roof rails will be available if not standard, and the rear-end features wrap-around taillights. A soft character line is accented by chrome trim around the window line. Door-mounted side mirrors probably help with aerodynamics and the hood is slightly sculpted.
Details from the first teaser image provided by Buick, below, include a blue ring around the HID headlight, like the one on the Enclave. We also see the Buick logo stamped onto the high-beam reflector. A dark gray waterfall grille and portholes on the hood round out the Buick styling cues. While the vent below the headlight looks odd in the picture, we'll reserve final judgement until we've seen the whole picture.
The Encore will also feature Buick's Quiet Tuning technology, seat five, and have the typical comfort and convenience features expected in a Buick. The styling will be contemporary, a spokesperson says, and in line with the rest of the current Buick lineup--a fact that's gradually being revealed.
Buick plans to reveal a section of an image on its Facebook fan page each week leading up to the reveal on January 10--meaning there's just one slice left, to arrive on the day of the full reveal. Stay tuned for more on the Encore, and for more coverage of the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.
This story originally appeared at The Car Connection
Need some work done on your car? According to a report in Auto News, you may be able to get it done at a 15% discount, provided you're one of Costco's 44 million members.
The popular warehouse club has finagled a deal with its network of dealers, making the 15% discount available on parts and labor, as well as accessories for your vehicle. There are, however, a couple of catches.
First, you'll need to be a Costco member, which runs between $55 and $110, depending on the level of membership you choose.
Second, you'll need to identify a participating Costco auto dealership. Costco has roughly 2,500 dealers in its auto program, and about 1,200 of them currently participate in the discount program. Costco hopes to have all of its dealerships onboard by the end of the year. To find participating locations in your neck of the woods, visit CostcoAuto.com. (If you're a new visitor to the site, you'll need to click here and enter your ZIP code first.)
And third, you may need to choose between the Costco discount and other specials from the individual dealership, since the 15% promotion can't be combined with other offers. Also, don't expect oil changes to be subject to the discount, since dealerships typically offer those at a price point that's just slightly above cost.
If you can clear those hurdles, though, the Costco service discount could be a good fit -- especially if you're staring down the barrel of some serious auto repairs. To get started, visit CostcoAuto.com.
This story originally appeared at The Car Connection