Consumer Car News: 4/29/02

April 29, 2002

2002 Lincoln LS

2002 Lincoln LS

Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln division will join the procession of carmakers looking to spice up their offerings with some serious performance. Senior company officials tell TheCarConnection that Lincoln will launch a 400-horsepower version of the rear-drive LS sedan, most likely in early to mid-2004. It will be powered by the automaker's modular V-8, but in this case, the engine will be upgraded from 4.6 liters to 5.0 liters. It will be mated to the same six-speed ZF gearbox found in the new 388-hp Jaguar S-Type R, according to current plans. Don't be surprised, sources add, to see the high-performance motor show up in other Lincoln products, including the Navigator, Aviator and even the Town Car. There's a contest underway among the luxury division's employees to come up with a name for the new line of products. The current front-runner is "Emerald Series," which refers to the fact that as part of the effort to create a consistent brand "DNA," Lincoln has adopted a black background behind its gun sight logo. The performance models might be visually distinguished by using a green background, along with other subtle body tweaks. As TCC recently reported, Cadillac has its own performance series under development, with a Corvette-powered version of the CTS, tentatively dubbed CTSi, due to debut early next year. McLaren is also doing a hi-po LS of its own, and showed the vehicle at the New York show.
CTSi: Caddy Sets Sights on M5 by TCC Team (4/22/2002)


AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction survey for 2002 places some brands in its winning lineup for the first time — and finds GM topping the Big Three. The survey, which seeks to measure buyer/lessee satisfaction with new cars, is topped this year by Cadillac and Lexus, and the top vehicle overall was the Lexus LS430 sedan. GM picked up five top slots, while Toyota scored nine, best of all brands. Kia makes its first mark on the list with the Sedona minivan. The category winners as released by AutoPacific include:


Compact Car                     Volkswagen Beetle

Mid-Size Car                      Hyundai Sonata

Premium Mid-Size Car         Nissan Altima

Contemporary Luxury Car    Lexus ES 300

Luxury/Large Car                Cadillac DeVille  (tied) (repeat winner)

                                               Toyota Avalon     (tied) (repeat winner)

Premium Luxury Car           Lexus LS 430             (repeat winner)

Sporty Car                        Mercury Cougar

Sports Car                        Lexus SC 430

AWD Sport Wagon              Volvo V70XC

"Green" Car                       Toyota Prius             (repeat winner)



Minivan                             Kia Sedona

Compact Sport Utility         Honda CR-V

Mid-Size Sport Utility          Hyundai Santa Fe  (tied) (repeat winner)

                                                Toyota Highlander (tied)

Large Sport Utility              Ford Excursion           (repeat winner)

Luxury Sport Utility             Cadillac Escalade

Compact Pickup Truck         Toyota Tacoma

Large Pickup Truck            Chevrolet Silverado HD

Four-Door Pickup Truck       Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab


2002 Cadillac Eldorado

2002 Cadillac Eldorado

Yesterday the Cadillac Eldorado nameplate sailed into history. The two-door vehicle, a veteran of nearly 50 years in the Cadillac lineup, is being deleted from the luxury brand’s lineup as Caddy prepares to sell its $70,000 XLR hardtop convertible in the 2004 model year. The Eldo name, says a GM release, may have a place on a future GM vehicle, however. The first Eldorado was built in 1953; the last Eldo to roll off its Lansing, Mich., assembly line was a 2002 Collector Series vehicle. The XLR, based on Corvette running gear, makes its debut in mid-2003; the Lansing Craft Centre switches over to Chevrolet SSR production this summer.
CTSi: Caddy Sets Sights on M5 (4/22/2002)


2004 Maserati Quattroporte

2004 Maserati Quattroporte

Lucky Japanese fans of Italian exotica will get a double treat this week: at the same Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art tribute to Ferrari and Maserati, the brands will show off their next projects. We’ve shown you the Ferrari FX in Daily Edition; now, take an imaginary first look at what Ferrari spokespeople say will become the next four-door Maserati Quattroporte. The Pininfarina-penned four-door is due to make its debut at next year’s Frankfurt Auto Show, but the first scale models will be shown in Tokyo on April 27th. A production version of the new Maserati is to go on sale at the end of next year.
2002 Maserati Coupe by TCC Team (3/25/2002)

U.S. highway deaths fell in 2001, while child fatalities dropped to their lowest recorded level, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported this week. The NHSTA logged more than 6 million crashes in 2001 and 41,730 deaths, down by 91. Child deaths dropped to 2658, the lowest number since the agency began tracking them in 1966. The number of drunk driving fatalities remained at roughly 40 percent of all highway deaths, according to the AP.
NHTSA: We’re Staying Alive by Bengt Halvorson (4/28/2002)

Children need more restraint, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and new regulations are needed to keep them safe in vehicles. The agency is proposing new rules that would improve the quality of crash-test dummies and testing equipment — and would create tougher standards for booster seats. If the new rules are finalized, new generation booster seats would have to restrain children up to 65 pounds, versus today’s 40-pound requirement, and would have to incorporate neck protection.


Ford is facing an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into its popular adjustable pedals. The NHTSA study will look into the spacing of the adjustable pedals on 2000 and 2001 Ford Tauruses and Mercury Sables. The pedals are also available on various sport-utility vehicles not included in the study. A recall would be issued if NHTSA determines the pedals are a safety hazard; so far the agency reports 22 complaints.
Ford Counting on PAG for Profits (4/22/2002)


Chevrolet’s 2002 Blazer with two-wheel drive has received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) worst rollover rating, according to the safety agency. The one-star rating given to the Blazer was the worst of the 26 vehicles NHTSA ranked in its most recent tests. The Ford Thunderbird, in the same set, scored five stars, the best ranking. Several sport-utes and trucks, such as the 2002 Explorer and 4WD Blazer, received two-star ratings.


Houstonians, now you can buy your next used car at the same place you buy bathroom tissue. Wal-Mart, the biggest corporate entity known in the universe, says it’s getting into the used-car business by opening lots at five of its Houston-area SuperCenters. The test markets are being run with megadealer Asbury Automotive Group; called Price 1 Auto Stores, the outlets will only offer vehicles less than four years old with less than 75,000 miles, and no haggle-prices will be the order of the day.


The AP reports that one of Segway’s first clients will be the Atlanta police. Not generally known for their own mobility, the city’s cops will pilot six of the two-wheeled transporters around Hartsfield Airport and downtown, to evaluate their possible uses in crimefighting. The 15-mph scooters have already been tested on Atlanta’s criminal-sized potholes, and will be tested for a couple of months as a possible alternative to foot and bike patrols.


Mazda’s being sued over music it’s said to have stolen from a Zombie — death-rocker Rob Zombie, that is. The artist says Mazda and its ad agency, Doner, pilfered tunes from his 1998 album Hellbilly Deluxe for a truck commercial. The always quotable Zombie told Reuters that “I don't want to play that song live and see the kids go, 'Hey! It's the truck song!'” The case is set to go to trial in mid-July — unless Mazda and Doner decide a settlement would be better than continuing to cheese off the undead.


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