Consumer Car News: 12/17/01

December 17, 2001


2002 Ford Explorer

2002 Ford Explorer

The industry-funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the newest Explorer earned its top rating in crash tests, while the Jeep Liberty and Isuzu Rodeo got marginal ratings. The tests crash vehicles into a barrier at 40 mph, five mph faster than those conducted by the federal government. Ford had asked the IIHS to delay its test so that it could make modifications to the Explorer’s structure. Along with the Explorer, four other SUVs — the BMW X5, the Acura MDX, the Lexus RX 300 and the Mercedes M-Class — were awarded the highest rating.
Ford Begins Tough Struggle by TCC Team (12/10/2001)


Following a ten-year decline, car theft is on the rise in the U.S. once more, climbing 1.2 percent in 2000, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The industry-funded organization says 1.17 million cars were reported stolen last year, based on statistics from the FBI. The top ten stolen cars reads like a who’s who of the best-sellers list: the Toyota Camry was the most stolen vehicle, followed by the Honda Accord, Honda’s Civic and the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. A complete list can be found on the institute’s Web site,
TCC Tip: Hands Off, Crooks by Bengt Halvorson (1/19/2001)



2003 Hummer H2

2003 Hummer H2

GM unveiled the Hummer H2, the first product of its investment in AM General. The new truck is essentially a Hummer shape grafted on a heavily modified GM heavy-duty truck platform, with a 325-hp, 6.0-liter V-8 and heavy-duty four-speed transmission. A full-time four-wheel-drive system with a locking rear differential is standard; two tire packages will be offered, a softer highway set and a triple-sidewall set for extreme off-roading. A luxurious interior with CD stereos, power windows and leather seats will be standard with each H2, which is entering pilot production soon in Mishawaka, Ind., and goes on sale in July for $50,000-$55,000. Stay tuned to TCC for a full story on the H2.
Hummer Humming New Tune by Jim Burt (8/13/2001)


GM’s new Hummer H2 isn’t just pleasing Ahnuld fans everywhere — it’s also ticking off the Sierra Club. One leader of the green think tank says GM should be ashamed of offering such a truck within the context of the war on terrorism: “I think most Americans will agree that the Hummer (H2) is more appropriate for driving around Kabul than Kalamazoo,'' Dan Becker, a Sierra Club director, told Reuters. “This is a gas-guzzler par excellence. Here we've got people in Afghanistan fighting, partly because of our oil dependence.'' GM says the new Hummer will get about 13 mpg when it goes on sale in July, and expects the vehicle to sell as many as 40,000 copies per annum
Hummer H2 Unveiled: TCC’s Daily Edition: 12/12/01 by TCC Team (12/11/2001)



2003 Honda Pilot

2003 Honda Pilot

Slated for introduction at the Detroit auto show next month, Honda’s new Pilot SUV was designed to “get the best of both worlds,” by combining the looks and AWD of a sport-ute with the eight-passenger seating, cargo capacity and overall “family-friendliness” of a minivan.  “People buying SUVs like the attributes of a minivan.  They just don’t like the image,” Frank Paluch, project leader for the team that developed the Pilot, told TheCarConnection.  Though it shares platforms with the upscale Acura MDX, the new Honda ute will be smaller on the outside yet roomier on the inside, with lots more of what Paluch called “stuffable storage.”  It will feature a less sophisticated version of MDX’s 3.5-liter V-6, and boast a 4500-pound towing capacity.  Scheduled for launch next summer, the Pilot will be built at the Canadian assembly plant currently producing both the MDX and the Odyssey minivan.
2002 Detroit Show Preview by Marty Padgett (12/16/2001)


Along with the production Pilot SUV, Honda will show an adaptable “urban adventure” vehicle at Detroit. The Acura-branded concept, called the RD-X, is said by the company to combine the “street performance of a sports coupe with the ruggedness of a next-generation SUV.” The RD-X has 2+2 seating, a flexible rear seating/stowage compartment with a hidden nook for laptops and other valuables, and all-wheel drive. A VTEC-equipped powertrain and a racy interior round out the concept, which will make its debut on Jan. 7 during the Detroit show’s media days.
2002 Detroit Show Preview by Marty Padgett (12/16/2001)
2002 Acura 3.2CL Type S by Bengt Halvorson (12/10/2001)


A brand-new, Volkswagen-parented Bentley “supercoupe” will go on sale in the U.S. in mid-2003, the company said on Thursday. The $145,000 vehicle may be introduced at the Detroit Auto Show next month, and is described by the CEO of Rolls-Royce/Bentley as a “GT coupe.” The new platform is expected to spawn a sedan and convertible soon after the coupe’s launch. The products will be the first under VW’s stewardship, which Bentley will continue to enjoy after 2002 but which Rolls-Royce will not — it becomes part of BMW on Jan. 1, 2003.


If you already own a Viper, you’ll be pleased to know you’re first in line to buy one of the 2003 models being readied by Dodge. Next fall, when the Viper SRT-10 goes on sale, current owners will be able to purchase a new model through a couple of outlets: by confirming an advance order with Dodge Viper Headquarters from now until January 10. Owners must have purchased their Viper before Nov. 15, 2001, and must still own the car. Reservations are being accepted at and , as well as at the Viper Headquarters hotline, 877-468-6864 (Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. ET).
2001 Dodge Viper RT/10 by TCC Team (7/30/2001)
2003 Viper: Detroit Auto Show, Day Two by TCC Team (1/14/2001)


Some 120,000 Jeep Liberty sport-utes are being recalled because of a clip on the airbag assembly that can interfere with deployment of the safety devices, DaimlerChrysler announced last Friday. The automaker says no deaths or injuries are attributed to the problem, but the recall is a dent in the image of the company’s popular new SUV, which has been off to a strong sales start since its introduction earlier this year.


Olive oil and Slick 50 in the same location? Not if the health department has a say, but William L. Morris’ Chevrolet dealer and Italian restaurant is certainly a unique combination, even in car-wacko Southern California. The L.A.-area dealer’s showroom, demolished in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, has been rebuilt to incorporate a restaurant, reports Reuters. "In Southern California, it's a natural. People here love their cars," Chef Franco Onorato told the news service.

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