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Consumer Car News: 2/18/02

February 18, 2002


2002 Hyundai Clix concept

2002 Hyundai Clix concept

The Clix concept from last week’s Toronto auto show provides another look at some of the new products that may be coming from the Korean carmaker, Hyundai. In contrast to the upscale Equus HCD-7 sedan unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show earlier this month, the Clix is a slick crossover vehicle that makes a basic proposition: “fun follows function.” Developed at Hyundai’s European design center in Frankfurt, it has a power top that lets it convert between a sports coupe, a T-top, a convertible and even a pickup. Under the hood is a direct-injection, 2.2-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine putting out a hefty 300 horsepower. That’s mated to a sequential six-speed transmission and full-time all-wheel drive. Like other recent Hyundai show cars, the Clix is definitely not aimed at the entry-level market. Inside and out it features sophisticated design cues making extensive use of aluminum. Hyundai officials wouldn’t speculate on whether the Clix will hit the assembly line, but they have said the automaker plans to roll out a process of new products by mid-decade.
HCD-7: 2002 Chicago Show, Part III by TCC Team (2/11/2002)


2002 Ford Explorer Sport

2002 Ford Explorer Sport

Two separate rulings in court gave Ford a bit of hope in putting to rest the long-bubbling Firestone drama. The first came from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which decided that despite pressure from tiremaker Firestone, it would not launch a formal safety investigation into the Ford Explorer. Firestone's parent Bridgestone had asked the agency to review data that it felt suggested a design flaw in the Explorer, a flaw that caused tires to separate and cause accidents. But NHTSA announced on Tuesday that it wouldn't proceed with the investigation: "The data does not support Firestone's contention that Explorers stand out from other SUVs with respect to its handling characteristics following a tread separation,'' NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge said in a statement. Both Ford and Firestone have recalled or replaced Wilderness AT tires linked to some 271 deaths and nearly a thousand injuries in the course of the past decade.
Ford, Firestone in Class Action by Jim Burt (12/3/2001)

In the second decision in Ford's favor on Feb. 12, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said it would consider the wisdom of a lower court ruling that gave class action status to the Ford/Firestone tire lawsuits. The case, which claimed Ford and Firestone misrepresented the safety of the vehicles and thus owed monetary damages to any owner of a 1991-2001 Explorer equipped with Firestones, was granted class-action status in late November in an Indianapolis district court. Both Ford and Firestone told Reuters that they were pleased by the appeals court's decision to review the case. "We are ... optimistic that after the facts are presented the court will agree that a class-action suit is frivolous and unwarranted," Kathleen Vokes, a Ford spokeswoman, told the news service.


DaimlerChrysler Corp. wants you to have your child safety seat inspected -- and they're launching a media campaign to steer customers to seat-inspection stations around the country. The company says its surveys indicate that only four out of ten users of the seats know where to have them inspected, despite a massive effort to create a network of more than 1500 stations across the country. The company says only 200,000 inspections were performed in 2001; in response, it will advertise a toll-free telephone number -- 866-732-8243 -- and a Web site,, where inspection locations can be found.

Some 1.6 million Jeep Grand Cherokees are being recalled by DaimlerChrysler after hundreds of reports that the vehicles roll backwards when placed in park. While DaimlerChrysler says it believes that drivers are mistaken in the reported incidents, it has agreed to recall the 1993-1998 models in question and retrofit them with new shifter pieces to ensure the shifter is firmly in park. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the move won’t end its investigation into the Jeep, which it has linked to 364 crashes, 159 injuries and five deaths, according to Reuters; the agency reports that in preliminary tests, the Grand Cherokee was five times more likely than any other SUV to have a reported rollaway, and four times more likely than Chrysler’s own Dodge Durango.
How Bad Off Is Chrysler? by Jim Burt (12/10/2001)


Twin recalls from DaimlerChrysler involve more than 585,000 vehicles. On Tuesday the company said it would recall 316,148 Jeep Wrangler sport-utes built from 1989 to 1995 for a parking brake fix; the brakes are prone to releasing without driver input. In the second recall, some 268,740 2001 Dodge Ram full-size pickups for a fire hazard originating in the alternator wiring. Both problems will be corrected at dealers free of charge.

The latest Ford recall involves 1995 Mustangs, Tauruses and Sables. Eight fires have been reported in some models of these vehicles; the fires are thought to be caused by overly tight cooling-fan bearings. The recall involves some 640,975 vehicles.

Automotive News also reports in its Monday edition that some 3.3 million Toyota Camry and Sienna owners will be covered for damage done to their vehicle’s engines from sludge deposits. The paper reports Toyota has received more than 3000 complaints for the problem, and until recently the company had not covered the issue under its current warranty. In light of the complaints, the company now says it will fix vehicles for owners that can prove “reasonable efforts” at regular oil changes and maintenance.



2002 Ford SVT Focus

2002 Ford SVT Focus

As Ford’s SVT performance spin-off plots deliveries of the first 390-hp Mustang Cobras, the performance microbrand is also celebrating the production of its 100,000th vehicle, a 2002 SVT F-150 Lightning. Special Vehicle Team was made public at the 1992 Chicago auto show and first delivered the 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra, following it with various performance editions of the Contour sedan and F-150 pickups. Today’s SVT products include a 380-hp F-150 Lightning and the 170-hp SVT Focus; the 390-hp, ’03 Cobra arrives at dealers in the fall.
2001 Ford F-150 Lightning by Dan Carney (8/20/2001)
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