GM CVT Is DOA
The continuously variable transmission installed in some Saturn models and an Opel model inEurope, will be discontinued after a short, recall-flagged history. The transmission first became available in the 2002 Saturn ION Coupe and VUE SUV, as well as a version of the Opel Astra. GM recalled many of the vehicles with the transmission after complaints of failures and noisy operation, Automotive News reports, and extended the warranty on the gearbox. GM will limit the CVT to the VUE AWD in the 2005 model year, and then will possibly replace it with a new, efficient six-speed automatic it is developing in cooperation with Ford.
CVTs Hit Their Stride by Bengt Halvorson (8/4/2003)
No longer just a tech curiosity, the new generation of shiftless transmissions offers a real alternative to conventional automatics.
VUE in NHTSA Study
The VUE could also be the target of a safety recall if an investigation finds that suspension problems are causing the vehicle to roll over. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is studying complaints that the VUE has a flaw in the left-rear suspension that arises in emergency maneuvers; the suspension pieces can fail, as the NHTSA observed when it tested two VUEs on its own. An investigation can turn into a full recall if the NHTSA determines there is an engineering defect.
2004 Saturn VUE Red Line by Paul Wiley Cockerham (6/21/2004)
The civilized slam, with help from Honda.
Chrysler Considering Scion-Alike?
The Detroit News reports that DaimlerChrysler is looking at adding a Scion- or Smart-like brand to the Chrysler Group lineup, spinning it off of the Dodge, and/or Jeep brands. Possibly looking to the Far East for a partner to develop inexpensive vehicles in the sub-$15,000 range, Chrysler may decide by year's end whether to go along with the concept. Chrysler, according to the report, may already have three vehicles under development for the new brand, which could go to Jeep and Dodge if the separate distribution channel does not happen.
Flint: Scion and the Youth Market by Jerry Flint (6/21/2004)
First Genesis, then the exodus.
2002 Isuzu Axiom Spy Photo
RAV4 With Airbags Gets Top IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance-industry-funded research group, says Toyota
's 2004 RAV4 gets its "best pick" rating for safety in front and side crash tests. However the rating only applies to RAV4s with side airbags. Without them, the IIHS puts the vehicle's side impact rating at its lowest level. The institute also says the 2005 Subaru Legacy sedan earned a "best pick" in front crash tests but ranks in the second-lowest category despite having side airbags.
Hyundai Moving Into Lexus Territory?
Hyundai has upscale plans for its next generation of cars and trucks, according to a report in Automotive News. The industry weekly says the Korean company would like to set up a luxury brand in the U.S. as early as 2007. The brand would be positioned as Lexus is to Toyota. A Hyundai official tells the paper that the plan is more a matter of "when, not if," and that the new channel could launch in tandem with a new rear-drive luxury sedan planned for the Korean market. A new sedan slotted between a rear-drive Korean sedan and the Hyundai XG350 would be the focus of the brand, but the brand would be launched with more than one vehicle, the report indicates.
Spy Shots: '06 Hyundai Sonata by Brenda Priddy (7/19/2004)
New from Alabama - and not a Honda nor a Benz.