Consumer Car News: 10/14/02

October 14, 2002
Zero percent isn’t just back at GM — the company said on Thursday that it would roll in delayed payments and eliminate down payments as part of a new “Zero, Zero, Zero” incentive program. The program, effective through October 31, will give buyers of 2002-2003 GM vehicles zero-percent interest, along with no payments for 90 days and no down payment. Saab and HUMMER vehicles are excluded from this seemingly ultimate hybridization of current financing deals. "These enhancements will leverage GM's current programs in the marketplace by offering no payments for 90 days and no down payment for qualified buyers, further demonstrating GM's leadership," said Bill Lovejoy, group vice president of GM North America Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing.
Sept. Sales: Signs of Slowdown by Joseph Szczesny (10/7/2002)


2004 Ford CrossTrainer

2004 Ford CrossTrainer

The vehicle formerly known as the CrossTrainer is now to be known as the Freestyle. Ford told dealers in Las Vegas that the crossover vehicle, due in showrooms in 2004, would get the new name. Earlier this year, at the Chicago Auto Show, Ford announced the vehicle as the CrossTrainer, with no indication that another name was being considered. The Freestyle is a six- or seven-passenger vehicle with three rows of seats and available all-wheel drive; Ford also promises the wagon, to be based on the upcoming Ford Five Hundred sedan, will be available with a V-6 coupled to a continuously variable transmission.
Spy Shots: ‘05 Ford CrossTrainer by Brenda Priddy (9/30/2002)


2004 Mercury Monterey

2004 Mercury Monterey

After confirming the coming presence of a new Mercury minivan a month ago, Ford announced yesterday that the new Mercury Monterey minivan would compete in the $30,000 luxury minivan niche behind the power of a 4.2-liter V-6 and class-leading safety equipment such as a three-row side airbag curtain. The Monterey, due in late 2003 as a 2004 model, will sport a third-row seat that flips and folds to create a flat load floor in back, like the seats in the Honda Odyssey, Mazda MPV and Ford Expedition. Power adjustable pedals, forward and reverse object-sensing systems, and a tire-pressure monitoring system will also be standard on the luxury minivan.
MERCURY by Bob Plunkett (9/15/2002)


As Mercury preps for the Monterey, Ford will release its own version of the improved minivan, again under the Windstar name. Ford says the 2004 Windstar, due at the end of next year, will get revised styling and a new interior complete with a folding-flat third-row seat. It will carry over many features introduced as standard this year, like Ford’s AdvanceTrac electronic stability enhancement system and better NVH.
Ford Makes Changes in Crown Vics by Jim Burt (9/30/2002)


For the second time in three years, General Motors has unveiled some of its most important future powertrain products and technologies to let the world know exactly where it’s going. Why? To improve its image and head off criticism that many of its engines and transmissions are not yet world-class competitive. In an Oct. 4 media briefing, GM Powertrain pulled the wraps off a 500-plus-hp V-12, a new global family of “high feature” V-6 engines, upgraded OHV V-6s, expanded Displacement on Demand (DOD), six-speed automatic transmissions and a whole lot more. Read about them today inside TCC:
GM Shows V-12, New Six, And More by Gary Witzenburg (10/8/2002)


General Motors says it will offer a new remote vehicle-starting feature on one of its 2003 models. Owners of the unnamed vehicle will be able to start their engine with a remote key fob in what the company calls the first factory-installed remote start system that is integrated with the vehicle safety and security systems, and fully warranted by the vehicle manufacturer. The start-up feature allows the engine to run for ten minutes before cutting off the engine if the vehicle is not driven.
GM Shows V-12, New Six, And More by Gary Witzenburg (10/8/2002)


Honda says the city of Los Angeles will be the first customer for its FCX fuel-cell vehicle, due to be released in limited numbers this fall. The fuel-cell vehicle, shown around various auto shows, is being introduced to the city’s employees as they prepare to take delivery of five FCXs this winter. “Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles hold great promise for future clean air vehicles and it’s important that Los Angeles play a leading role in development and early use of this technology,” said L.A. Mayor Jim Hahn at the announcement of the sale. Earlier this year, the FCX became the first vehicle to earn Federal and California certification as a zero-emission vehicle.

DaimlerChrysler says it will deliver 60 fuel-cell vehicles in 2003, becoming the latest automaker to confirm production plans for the new green machines within the next year. DaimlerChrysler, a part owner in Ballard Power Systems which is developing the fuel-cell technology for the company, says its fuel-cell vehicle will be available around the world, although the first vehicles will be demonstration vehicles and a transitional step to full production by the end of the decade.

The J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study(SM) is out, and expressive vehicles are in, according to the survey results. This year, the MINI Cooper, Cadillac Escalade EXT and Ford Thunderbird took the top slots in their respective segments, while Ford and the Lincoln brand took five top slots overall and GM and Honda each took three. And for the first time, Hyundai took a first place with the Sonata, ranked first in the entry-level mid-size segment. The survey judges eight areas of performance and design including exterior styling; engine and transmission; comfort and convenience; ride, handling and braking; seats; heating, ventilation and cooling; cockpit and instrument panel; and sound system.

About 400,000 Taurus and Sable vehicles are being recalled for improperly spaced pedals, Ford said on Tuesday. The 2000-2001 Mercury Sable and Ford Taurus vehicles affected — some 424,164 of them — have adjustable brake and gas pedals that might be manufactured improperly. Some ten percent of the vehicles involved in the recall might have pedals that are close enough together that drivers could press the gas and brake at the same time. Ford says it has recorded two injuries and 18 incidents because of the problem.

The sequel to the first X-Men movie will showcase the new Mazda RX-8, along with a host of actors wearing lizard skin, blue paint, and razors for fingernails. The box-office hit’s sequel, dubbed X2, is due on May 2, 2003; the RX-8 isn’t due in showrooms until later next summer as a 2004 model. The RX-8 will be rotary-powered and could be the second Ford to be driven by Oscar winner Halle Berry in a film within a year — she’s also driving a coral-tone T-Bird in the November James Bond movie Die Another Day.

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