Consumer Car News: 3/25/02

March 24, 2002

2003 Buick Park Avenue Ultra

2003 Buick Park Avenue Ultra

The restyled 2003 Buick Park Avenue Ultra has something no other Buick has had in decades — portholes. GM showed off the new Park Avenue Ultra on Wednesday in, of all places, Manhattan and unveiled the Park’s new shape, which incorporates portholes on the front fenders. The refined styling complements the Park’s 240-hp supercharged engine, 17-inch chrome-plated aluminum wheels, vertical-bar grille, P235/55R17 Goodyear Eagle LS blackwall touring tires and a standard Gran Touring package that features a specially tuned suspension and rear stabilizer bar. The Park Avenue Ultra goes into production in September 2002.


For the fifth year in a row, Chicago’s CCC Information Services says the 1991 Toyota Camry is the most stolen vehicle. Theft has gone down nearly three percent year over year, but CCC says three vehicles — different models of the Camry, Honda Accord and Honda Civic — still dominate the top 25 most stolen vehicles on the annual list. Chevrolet’s full-size trucks were the top-ranked domestic vehicles, and five of the top 25 were American-branded trucks and SUVs. For more info, see


2002 Subaru Impreza

2002 Subaru Impreza

The latest vehicles to earn a “good” crash rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are the Subaru Impreza, Mitsu Lander, Volvo V40 and the redesigned Dodge Ram, the industry information group announced on Wednesday. The Ram’s rating is a significant step forward from the last model’s “poor” rating. The IIHS performs a 40-mph offset crash, while the Feds use a 35-mph standard. The lowest finisher in the most recent tests was the Kia Sedona minivan, which earned a “fair” rating.


DaimlerChrysler has confirmed release dates for a series of vehicles from its new Performance Vehicle Operations group, which was launched in January. A spokesman for the Chrysler Group's new Performance Vehicle Operations unit says the first vehicle tuned by PVO, the Dodge Viper SRT-10, is now due out in October. The Chrysler Group also plans to bring out two more PVO vehicles next year: the Dodge Neon SRT-4 will debut in early 2003 and the Dodge Ram SRT-10 will come out later in the year, says David Elshoff, a Chrysler Group spokesman. GM also is getting closer to unveiling plans for its new and as yet unnamed performance vehicle group, a spokesman said. "We'll be making some moves in the not too distant future," said a GM official.
SRT Ram: ’02 Detroit Show, Part V by TCC Team (1/14/2002)


Ford, Nickelodeon and Scholastic are teaming up to teach children car safety. Using the popular characters from Blue’s Clues, the trio hopes to educate kids in schools about safety in and around cars. Lisa Owens, Ford Division marketing communications coordinator, said in a statement that “partnering with industry leaders like Nickelodeon and Scholastic enables us to reach a large audience of children and positively influence how they think about safety.” Children can go online to to play educational games; print and in-class materials are part of the campaign, too.
Ford Wants You in A Diesel (3/17/2002)


Child car-seat maker Graco says it will recall almost one million SnugRide car seats made for infants because of a possible design flaw, USA Today reports. The company has already pulled the seats from store shelves, the paper reports, because it suspects the seat could detach from its base in a crash. The seats, produced under the Century brand, cannot be sold until the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) decides on further action, which could include an official federal recall.


What do you get when you put Minnie Driver and a Cadillac CTS in the Hollywood Palladium together? Not an Oscar, but a charity event. Last night’s ten (that’s the name) fashion show paired ten celebs including the entirely apropos Driver, LeAnn Rimes and Jane Leeves with ten GM concept vehicles including the Caddy CTS, Hummer H2 and Chevy SSR. The items worn by the celebs will be auctioned on eBay, with GM matching the bids and proceeds going to the celeb’s charity of choice. In case you missed it last night — if your Blahniks were in cold storage, for example — GM is replaying the Webcast of the show at


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