Consumer Car News: 9/3/02

September 3, 2002

BIG TRUCKS DRINK GAS, STUDY SAYS
Pickup trucks are among the worst vehicles on the road for fuel economy, a new study finds, and account for a disproportionate amount of gasoline used in the U.S. The study by the Union of Concerned Scientists says while pickups make up 20 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S., six of the ten vehicles with the worst fuel economy are trucks. The Dodge Ram was singled out by the study, Reuters recounts, with an average fuel cost of $1468 a year — more than $13,000 over the lifetime of the vehicle, the scientists estimated. Authors of the report suggested that truck economy could improve by 30 percent with current technology. The report based its figures on gas prices of $1.40 a gallon.
Detroit Showing Green Bruises by Joseph Szczesny (8/5/2002)

 

2002 Cadillac Escalade EXT

2002 Cadillac Escalade EXT

STUDY: BIG SUVS NOT NECESSARILY SAFE
A new study by the University of Michigan and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that big SUVs aren’t necessarily any safer than a mid-size car, Reuters reports. The study, released this week, finds that SUVs are among the most dangerous vehicles on the road for all drivers when injuries and fatalities of other vehicles are included in crash statistics. The study also suggests what many infer from friends and neighbors: that most drivers consider large SUVs to be safer than smaller cars. The timing of the study nearly coincides with a coming book, critical of the SUV phenomenon, from the New York Times’ Keith Bradsher. The study used data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1995-1999.
Trucks Set To Pass Cars by Joseph Szczesny (12/31/2001)

 

2002 Mercedes-Benz Vision Grand Sport Tourer

2002 Mercedes-Benz Vision Grand Sport Tourer

DC CONFIRMS GST FOR ALA.
As TheCarConnection reported from January’s Detroit auto show, Mercedes-Benz will build the production version of its Grand Sport Tourer (GST) concept at its Vance, Ala., assembly plant beginning in 2004. The plant is undergoing a $600 million expansion to accommodate production of the new wagon, which will feature all-wheel drive and six-passenger, three-row seating. The GST will be built alongside the M-Class sport-utility vehicle, and sources tell TCC, will share the same platform.
Honda Thinks Global, Acts Local by TCC Team (8/12/2002)

 

LINCOLN UPGRADES LS FOR ‘03
Lincoln’s LS gets a comprehensive fluffing for 2003, a spruce-up that includes more power for both its engines and a handsome new interior. The ’03 LS V-6 makes 232 hp from its 3.0 liters, up 12; the 3.9-liter V-8 adds 28 hp for a total of 280 hp. Both are paired with a five-speed automatic that gets SelectShift semi-manual control in the V-8 edition. Both engines also get electronic throttle control. Inside, a new interior boosts storage in the center console, and adds satin-nickel plastic and walnut trim, a la the new Navigator, as well as better leather and carpeting. A THX-certified sound system and DVD-based navigation system will be available. The new LS goes on sale in the fall.
Ford Sees Progress Beyond Costs by Jim Burt (8/5/2002)

 

2003 Lincoln Aviator

2003 Lincoln Aviator

2003 Lincoln Aviator

2003 Lincoln Aviator

2003 Lincoln Aviator

2003 Lincoln Aviator

AVIATOR TAKES FLIGHT AT $39,995
Meanwhile, Lincoln has also set prices on the 2003 Aviator sport-ute. Derived from the Explorer, the Aviator makes its debut this fall with a price tag of $39,995, including $740 in destination charges. The Aviator offers a 308-hp, 4.6-liter V-8 and five-speed automatic standard, as well as a CD stereo, leather, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The pricing levels are as follows:

Rear-wheel drive, Luxury trim: $39,995

All-wheel drive, Luxury trim: $42,915

Rear-wheel drive, Premium trim: $42,945

All-wheel drive, Premium trim: $45,865

 

BENZ’ PHANTOM FILM

British TV viewers and moviegoers are currently watching a trailer for a film that doesn’t exist. It’s the latest idea in car marketing, devised by Mercedes-Benz UK to promote the brand in general and the SL 500 model in particular. Shot and edited in the familiar style of action movie trailers, it was directed by Michael Mann and features Benicio Del Toro in the role of a man who, the trailer implies, has success in everything he does. To the astonishment of all those who come into contact with him, he does it without breaking the law – but everyone’s suspicions are raised.

Naturally, Del Toro gets to drive the Merc. In one night-time scene, he waits at a red light; as it changes to green so does every other light as far as can be seen down the long boulevard. It’s indicative of the theme of the mythical picture, which Mercedes have called Lucky Star. Lucky Star is currently a film that does not exist – but according to Mercedes, it has “not ruled out the possibility” that the movie could be made. It might not be a good idea to hold one’s breath too long waiting for Lucky Star the movie, but if you want to see Lucky Star the trailer, log on to www.luckyluckystar.com.­ — Ian Norris

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