General Motors today announced pricing for the 2014 Chevrolet SS. This large, rear-wheel drive, 4-door sedan will start at $44,470. The MSRP includes destination, but not the U.S. government’s excise gas-guzzler tax, the amount of which was unknown as of this writing.
The Australian-built SS shares elements of its basic design with the Chevrolet Camaro and law-enforcement-fleet-only Caprice PPV. The SS is Chevy’s first rear-wheel-drive sedan since the Impala SS, which was last produced in 1996.
Offered in a single trim level, the SS uses a 415-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Incidentally, this was the same drivetrain used in the 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP, which was another car that shared the SS’ platform.
Standard amenities include LED headlights, hands-free parallel parking, a Bose-brand audio system, a head-up instrument display, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, a rearview camera, rear-obstacle detection, keyless entry/engine start, and Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system.
The only extra-cost options are a $900 power sunroof and a $500 full-size spare tire.
The 2014 Chevrolet SS is scheduled to go on sale in late-calendar 2014.
Since the Volkswagen Group took over stewardship of Bentley, the German carmaker has pretty much left its British subsidiary to its own devices. VW provides some chassis and powertrain expertise while Bentley’s own designers and engineers craft the equivalent of automotive sculpture inside and out. This partnership has paid dividends, as Bentley has seen its sales consistently increase in the U.S. (its biggest market) and around the world.
You might not need us to tell you that a Bentley is fabulous. Stunning lines, sumptuous interiors, and tremendous power are just a few of the many high points of the brand’s entire product line.
What’s not to love? Price and fuel economy are obvious things, but a few of the niggles I had with our recent 2014 Bentley Continental GTC Speed convertible go a bit deeper than that. While this is still an absolutely wonderful grand touring sports car, this shining diamond has a few flaws.
Disclaimer: The spleen venting here is strictly that of the author, and the opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the entirety of Consumer Guide Automotive.
While channel surfing on a lazy weekend afternoon about five years ago, I stumbled across a program called Wheeler Dealers, airing on Discovery Channel’s HD Theater (now called Velocity TV). The premise of this British television show was fairly simple. Former car dealer Mike Brewer would purchase a “modern classic” car, hand it off to expert mechanic Edd China for a light-to-moderate restoration, and then sell it in the hopes of making a profit.
The first several seasons focused on affordable vehicles. Some that might be familiar to U.S. audiences include the Porsche 924, Saab 900 Turbo, Toyota MR2, Jeep CJ, Chevrolet Corvette C4, and Lexus LS400. Others featured U.K. or other Euro-centric models, including the Ford Capri (dubbed Britain’s Mustang), Austin Mini, Peugeot 205 GTi, and Lancia Delta Integrale.
Brewer’s charisma and China’s ability to fix pretty much anything has allowed Wheeler Dealers to develop quite a following both in the U.K. and abroad. Though the featured cars have become more expensive over the years, the overall concept remains unchanged. It’s must-see television if you’re even remotely interested in cars.
My wife and I might be in the market for a new vehicle sometime in the not-too-distant future. While my job as an auto critic gives me unique access to the industry’s latest and greatest, I will still need to get into the proverbial trenches to research not only the product but the dealerships who sell them.
Based on my initial scouring of various Chicago-area dealership websites, I began to notice issues that made navigating these online showrooms as uncomfortable as the experience would likely be if I were to visit the brick-and-mortar location. At any moment, I felt like a guy in a zoot suit and gold tie would come up behind me and ask, “What can I do to get you into this car today?”
Fortunately, other dealerships selling the same brands of vehicles do the online thing right, providing me with plenty of tools to ensure a relaxed, yet thorough experience.
With this in mind, here are five things I believe dealerships can do to improve their virtual showrooms.
In the last five years, many cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans have come and gone in the U.S. retail landscape. Many made indelible impressions. Others slipped softly from our consciousness. It’s the latter that I wish to celebrate. Here are five vehicles from the last five years that you either forgot were sold in the U.S. or never knew existed.
2009-2011 BMW 335d
This entry from BMW kept its talents hidden very well. On the outside, it looked like any other 3-Series sedan. Under the hood, though, was a rocket ship waiting to be unleashed. The 335d employed a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine producing 265 horsepower and a massive 425 pound-feet of torque. For comparison, the V8 engine found in the BMW M3 manages “just” 295 pound-feet at a much higher engine speed, 3900 rpm versus the 335d’s comparatively paltry 1750. We put that power to good use during our test drives, yet the cars returned nearly 33 mpg. Though no hard data is available, it’s been said that BMW sold fewer than 2,000 of the 335d during its brief run. A diesel 3-Series will return to the U.S. for the 2014 model year: a 4-cylinder with a less-impressive, but still meaty, 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
With new-car prices ever on the rise, the average new-car buyer might find it nigh on impossible to enter the luxury market. Hold on to that dream, dear readers, because here are five vehicles you can buy right now that allow you to have that premium feel without too much of a hit to your bank accounts.
While some examples in this list are from mainstream brands, their ambiance and driving experiences are decidedly more upscale. As such, we at Consumer Guide place them into our “Premium” categories. The only other “rule” is that these vehicles must carry a sticker price of less than $40,000, including destination fee. The figures listed here do not include options, but several of these vehicles can be equipped with extra-cost items and still come in under the above-mentioned threshold.
Acura TL Base
Its look remains polarizing, but under its skin is a premium-midsize sedan that’s powerful, has a solid ride/handling balance, and comes with a lot of features for the money. While I would have loved to use the sportier TL SH-AWD model, its price creeps just past our self-imposed $40,000 barrier. Still, the Base model is no slouch, thanks to its 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and slick 6-speed automatic transmission. As a final bonus, TL benefits from parent company Honda’s reputation for reliability and strong resale value.
You’re probably familiar with the successful Eat This, Not That! series of books, which document America’s unhealthiest meals while offering other suggestions that provide just as much taste with less nasty stuff.
Consider this article the automotive equivalent, but with a slight twist. I present to you five vehicles that might be on your shopping list, but I would encourage you to check out their alternatives. Eat This, Not That! crosses platforms, offering suggestions for similar meals at different restaurants. This list will primarily focus on alternative vehicles that you can find either in the same showroom or under the same corporate umbrella; e.g., Toyota/Lexus/Scion.
All cars are model-year 2013.
Drive This: Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost
Not That: Ford Explorer Sport
In this battle of 7-passenger, 350-plus horsepower midsize crossovers from Ford, the funky looking Flex wagon is our choice. It’s a bit of an apples and oranges comparison since the company positions the Flex EcoBoost as sort of a luxury-touring vehicle while the Explorer Sport is a high-performance model. The former overwhelmingly succeeds in its mission while the latter is largely a flop. Flex rides well, handles more competently than you would expect, and is plenty powerful. The Sport is fast, too, but its brittle ride, lackluster handling, and general lack of refinement leave us cold.
Shelby American, purveyor of specially tuned Ford cars, unveiled a specially tuned truck at the 2013 New York Auto Show.
The Las Vegas-based firm takes a standard 2013 Ford SVT Raptor and gives it a high-performance bent. The stock truck employs a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 411 horsepower. Shelby bolts on a supercharger and a free-flowing exhaust system to increase output to 575. Additional tweaks come in the form of a revised suspension and body kit, all designed to maintain the truck’s off-road credentials while giving it a leaner street presence.
The 2013 Shelby Raptor is a package offered by the company at a cost of $17,995. That, of course, does not include the price of the donor vehicle. Production will be limited to 100 units annually. Interested parties can place their orders now.
CG Says: We’re sure this is a perfectly capable performance truck. Selecting the SVT Raptor as the base was probably an obvious choice. However, the Raptor is designed to be an off-road-ready rig, rather than a vehicle that can burn rubber on a drag strip. You can order the 6.2-liter V8 engine on a standard F-150. Maybe the next step for Shelby will be to make a true high-performance street truck. We can always hope, right?
See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Honda Odyssey.
Honda is showing a freshened version of its Odyssey minivan at the 2013 New York Auto Show. While it doesn’t look a lot different than the 2013 model, the 2014 edition sports a number of upgrades designed to make it more family-friendly.
You could say that parts of the 2014 Honda Odyssey suck and actually mean it as a compliment. This will be the first vehicle on the market to offer an onboard vacuum cleaner. Offered only on the top-line Touring Elite model, the “HondaVAC” was developed with commercial vacuum company Shop-Vac. The hose and nozzle are cleverly hidden in one of the rear side panels. It includes a replaceable filter and canister bag, and it draws power from the car’s electrical system. The vacuum can run continuously when the engine is on and for up to eight minutes with the engine off.
Other changes to the 2014 Honda Odyssey include upgrades to the vehicle’s body structure that are designed to enhance safety in a crash. Touring Elite models will include forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning. Infotainment systems come from the 2013 Honda Accord and include an HD Radio receiver, SMS text message capability, and access to the cloud-based Aha Mobile interface.
Subaru is using the 2013 New York Auto Show to show off two vehicles that represent what officials call the “two sides of the brand.” One side is geared toward environment friendliness, the other toward high performance.
On the former front, observe the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid. The conventional XV Crosstrek launched for the 2013 model year. Essentially a Subaru Impreza Wagon with a raised suspension, the vehicle is similar in concept, but obviously smaller than, the company’s Outback station wagon.
The Hybrid looks almost identical to its all-gas-powered sibling. It shares the gas model’s lofty 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive. It has less than one cubic foot less passenger room and only about 1.5 cubic feet less cargo space. Both vehicles will use a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed “Boxer” 4-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Take these aspects out of the equation, and the Hybrid is actually quite different from the standard model. Engineers reworked the chassis to accommodate the hybrid system’s extra weight. As for that system, a 13.5-kilowatt nickel-metal hydride battery powers a 13-horsepower electric motor. This is smaller than other battery/electric systems. As such, this vehicle will run solely on electric power only in very specific circumstances.