Consumer Car News: 5/20/02

May 20, 2002


1999 Acura Integra GS-R Coupe

1999 Acura Integra GS-R Coupe

The 20 largest insurance companies say that claims are down since 1980 — but that payouts are higher, Reuters reports. The companies represented by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) also says the 1999-2001 Acura Integra has the highest theft rate and claim costs, due in part to hot-rod thieves that steal the vehicles for their engines and transplant them into Honda Civics. The Integra from those years is eight times more likely than normal to be stolen. The HLDI says in 1980, 15.2 of every 1000 vehicles were reported stolen; the number dropped to 2.6 vehicles per 1000 last year, but the average claim has risen nearly fivefold to about $6300.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that car crashes cost the nation $230 billion each year, or $820 per person. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said that, based on figures from the year 2000, that alcohol-related crashes are responsible for nearly $51 billion, while the agency attributes $40 billion of the losses to speeding.
NHTSA: Two-Wheel Mayhem? by Eric Peters (4/29/2002)



2004 Chevrolet Colorado

2004 Chevrolet Colorado

Remember the spy shot of the Chevy Colorado we showed you last week? Now GM is issuing its own remarkably similar illustration of the ’04 Colorado, which begins life in the fourth quarter of 2003 in the GM factory in Shreveport, La. Chevrolet confirms the Colorado name in a press release: "With the development of an all-new truck, it is crucial to select a new name that resonates well with customers and has a strong presence,” Russ Clark, the Colorado’s marketing director said in a statement. Stay tuned for more info on the Colorado, or click here for the latest from TCC’s insiders:
Spy Shots: 2003 Chevy Colorado by Brenda Priddy (4/29/2002)



2003 Saab 9-3

2003 Saab 9-3

Saab’s goals for the new 9-3, set to go on sale in October, are fairly lofty. In the releases accompanying this first photo of the new 9-3, GM’s Swedish luxury brand pits its new premium compact against BMW’s 3-Series and Audi’s A4. To that end, Saab says the new 9-3 is the biggest product development project in its history. A new body structure for the front-driver is teamed with an independent rear suspension for good handling. Under the hood, two new 2.0-liter turbo fours produce 175 and 210 hp, respectively; new five-speed and six-speed manual gearboxes are joined by a five-speed automatic with Sensotronic manual gear selection. Longer and wider, the 9-3 also sports ESP and brakeforce distribution, as well as traction control.


A Saab spokesman says the brand’s plans for a seven-passenger sport-ute have been scuttled. Kevin Smith told the wire service that the plans to build a Saab version of the upcoming Cadillac SRX proved difficult and more expensive than planned. Smith added that Saab plans to boost sales volume in the U.S. to 70,000 vehicles per year by 2004, by introducing a new range of vehicles, including a new 9-3 entry-level vehicle later this year and a crossover wagon variant in 2003. The new 9-3 will be the first GM product built on the company’s Delta platform, which will also spawn replacements for the Pontiac Grand Am and other compact to mid-size front-drive vehicles.
2002 Saab 9-3 Viggen Conv. by Paul Wiley Cockerham (1/28/2002)


The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) report on insurance claims and costs issued last week showed that Saab’s lineup scored some of the lowest numbers of injury insurance claims, the company crowed on Thursday. The study, based on data from 1998-2000, showed that Saab’s 9-3 and 9-5 lineups had relatively fewer accidents causing injuries than other vehicle makes. The complete HLDI report can be found at


General Motors will recall 60,000 mid-size sport-utes to correct a problem with the vehicles’ fuel filters, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday. The Chevy TrailBlazer/Olds Bravada/GMC Envoy triplets have been recalled four times prior. The current recall affects vehicles built between September and November 2001; NHTSA says the fuel filter could loosen and cause a leak. Prior recalls include a major one at launch to correct a suspension component problem.


Automotive News reports that Daewoo Motors USA is hearing the death knell. The Korean brand’s U.S. operations, says the industry weekly, is near a bankruptcy filing that could come as soon as this week. Dealers are said to be unable to receive parts or warranty checks from South Korea, and as a result are preparing a class-action lawsuit naming Daewoo, GM and the Korean Development Bank and charging they broke franchise laws. GM recently took a 42-percent stake in select Daewoo assets — which did not include the company’s U.S. sales arm.
GM-Daewoo Deal Done by Joseph Szczesny (5/6/2002)



2002 Holden Cross8

2002 Holden Cross8

Believe it or not, Australia, with just 20 million inhabitants, is the world's second biggest market for four-wheel-drive vehicles. And that's not in a per-capita sense either; in outright numbers, only the Saudis consume more off-road vehicles. Which makes it seem strange is that this vehicle, the Holden Cross8, is the first serious attempt at a volume-selling SUV by any Australian carmaker. Until now, Aussie consumers have been satisfied with a wide range of imported off-roaders, but the Cross8 underpins GM subsidiary Holden's bullish mood at the moment. And, of course, when you have allies like GM product supremo, Bob Lutz, batting for you, maybe that's not such a dangerous point of view. Will Lutz bring the Cross 8 to the States after the Holden Monaro nee Pontiac GTO? Read more today inside TCC:
Will Holden’s Cross8 Cross Over? by David Morley (5/13/2002)


The police department of New Brunswick, N.J. is suing Ford, alleging that the Crown Victoria is prone to leaking fuel and catching fire in high-speed rear-end collisions. The suit follows a recent concern of the state of Arizona police, which complained that the vehicles had suffered fatal fires in the course of duty because their fuel tanks were punctured. Ford says the half-million Crown Vics it has built for law enforcement, including the current generation, are safe; the company has requested departments make minor fixes to reduce the chance of suspension components piercing the fuel tank in a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the issue in select Crown Vics, Grand Marquises, and Town Cars.


Saturn’s latest introduction isn’t a new sedan or sport-ute — though it too is plastic. GM’s newest car brand will offer its own credit card. The Saturn Card becomes available in June and will allow customers to purchase parts, accessories and service on time. The card is an extension of the partnership that brought the GM Card to market in 1992.


The reliability and safety mavens at Consumer Reports are recalling 15,000 gifts given to subscribers for fire-safety and tire-pressure hazards. The gift — a glovebox organizer — contains a flashlight that could overheat and melt, and a tire pressure gauge that doesn’t read properly, according to Reuters.'' Consumers Union learned a valuable lesson - we need to test any product that we offer as a premium in our own labs with the same rigor with which we rate the products you see in Consumer Reports,'' Consumers Union President Jim Guest says in a letter to readers due in the July issue.



Sales of new convertibles in the United States have risen 63 percent since 1996, underscoring America's rekindled passion for the open-air driving experience. In 1996, convertibles accounted for only 1.3 percent of all registered vehicles according to R. L. Polk & Co. That number now stands at 1.9 percent, a difference of more than 103,000 registrations. The most popular convertibles for 2001 are as follows:


 Model        2001 Retail Registrations  % of all Convertibles

 Ford Mustang         36,335             14%

 Chrysler Sebring      32,767             12%

 Mazda Miata           16,284              6%

 Mitsubishi Eclipse     13,470              5%

 Volkswagen Cabrio   13,224              5%

 BMW Z3                 12,836              5%

 Chevrolet Corvette   12,648              5%

 Lexus S430             12,260              5%

 Porsche Boxster      11,374              4%

 Mercedes SLK        10,741              4%


Source: R. L. Polk & Co.


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