Driver's News: April 10, 2006

April 9, 2006

Mazda CX-9 Is No Stretch

2007 Mazda CX-9

2007 Mazda CX-9

Mazda will bring its new CX-9 crossover to the New York auto show next week, but Ford's Japanese affiliate is careful to announce that the new seven-seater isn't mechanically related to the five-seat CX-7 it showed at this January's Los Angeles auto show. The CX-9 has specs that sound much like Ford's new Canadian-built Edge crossover; the Mazda will be built in Japan, but it too has a 3.5-liter V-6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, which a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Mazda is holding more details for New York but confirms the CX-9's standard equipment will include stability control, anti-lock brakes and six airbags.

How is the CX-7 related to the CX-9?

 

Audi Unveils 2007 TT

2007 Audi TT Coupe - side

2007 Audi TT Coupe - side

2007 Audi TT Coupe - side

2007 Audi TT Coupe - side

Apparently, Audi just couldn't wait. The German automaker was all set to lift the veil on its next-generation TT at the New York International Auto Show, next week. But Audi decided not to wait for the New York show, a lightly attended event for the European press, and unveiled the car in Berlin on Thursday.

It's been six years since Audi introduced the original TT, a car that did a lot to buff up the automaker's sporty image. For the new version Audi increased both the car's overall length and width. It now measures 165 inches nose to tail, and 72.4 inches door to door, up five and three inches respectively.

Read more about the new TT

 

'07 Durango: Re-Grilled, E85ed and ESPed

2007 Dodge Durango

2007 Dodge Durango

2007 Dodge Durango

2007 Dodge Durango

Dodge will update the Durango SUV for the 2007 model year in anticipation of a new hybrid version coming in the 2008 model year. For this year, the Durango sports a revised grille that mirrors the one installed on the Caliber hatchback. The 4.7-liter V-8 engine available on the Durango is now available as an E85-powered vehicle, which means it can use ethanol-blend fuel instead of gasoline. And inside, the Durango gets curtain airbags, electronic parking assistance and stability control. Dual-zone climate control, remote starting and 20-inch wheels are new options. In the 2008 model year, the Durango will get more updates to its floorpan, second-row seats and electrical system so that the HEMI-powered versions can be mated to a battery pack, turning the HEMI into a hybrid powertrain. Dodge promises up to a 25-percent fuel-economy benefit from the dual-mode hybrid coming in '08.

Spy Shots: '07 Chrysler Aspen by Brenda Priddy (12/12/2005)
New Durango-based ute coming in January.

 

Chevrolet Prices New Avalanche

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche

2007 Chevrolet Avalanche

The second-generation Chevrolet Avalanche-which the GM brand calls the "industry's most flexible utility vehicle" - will start from $32,490. Chevrolet will offer three trim levels on the new four-door pickup, with the midlevel LT starting at $33,170. The top-line LTZ will be priced at $39,905. Four-wheel-drive versions will be priced at $35,490 for the base version, $36,170 for the LT and $42,905 for the LTZ. All versions available at launch will be powered by Chevy's 5.3-liter V-8, which features cylinder-deactivation technology. The Avalanche also will be offered with E85 flex-fuel capability.

 

Jeep Prices Compass from $15,985

The second vehicle in the family that includes the Dodge Caliber will come to the New York show with a pricetag just under $16,000. Jeep says that the Compass hatchback will be priced from $15,985 when it goes on sale later this year as a 2007 model. While promising Jeep 4x4 capability, the company also says the new vehicle will have great fuel economy and a flexible interior, too. The base version will come with the 172-hp, 2.4-liter four also found in the Caliber, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. With four-wheel drive the price increases to $17,585. A "E" package adds air conditioning and power windows/locks/mirrors. The Limited edition starts at $20,140, or $21,740 with four-wheel drive.

 

Armstrong To Pace Indy 500

Chevrolet will return as usual to the pace position at the Indy 500. But this year's pace-car drive is more accustomed to cruising circuits on two wheels instead of four. Cycling champion Lance Armstrong will be the pilot of the pace car at this year's Brickyard run on May 28. Armstrong will be driving a new Corvette Z06; it's the 17th time a Chevrolet will pace the event and the eighth time that the Chevrolet in question will be a Corvette. Armstrong recently retired from cycling after a seventh consecutive victory in the Tour de France.

 

Obese Kids Lead to Bigger Car Seats

The increasing girth of American children has led car-seat makers to super-size their products. The Associated Press says that more than 250,000 children between one and six years old are too big for their car seats, a problem that can lead to injury in accidents from poor-fitting seats and improper installation. More than 23 percent of kids from ages two to five are overweight, the AP cites from government data, and more than ten percent of children in the same age range were obese in the 2001-02 time frame. Seatmakers are responding by making seats that are wider and outfitted with stronger materials to withstand the forces generated in an accident by a larger child.

 

Hybrids Lose Lifetime Energy Battle, Study Says

Hybrid advocates trumpet the environmental benefits of the gas-electric vehicles. But a new study says that the overall energy picture for hybrid vehicles isn't as favorable as it seems. CNW Marketing Research, of Bandon, Ore., says that when the total cost of hybrids to the environment is calculated, including factors like recycling batteries into a "dollars per lifetime mile" figure, hybrids come up short against gas-powered vehicles. CNW's energy cost per mile driven figured that the most "energy expensive" vehicle from 2005 is the Maybach at $11.58 per mile, while the Scion xB checks in at the bottom of the scale, at $0.48 a mile. Some hybrids, like the Honda Accord Hybrid, actually get higher lifetime costs than their gas counterparts: the Hybrid Accord has an energy cost per mile of $3.29 while the gas version's is $2.18. CNW accounts for the differences by citing the investments in lightweight materials along with the cost of recycling batteries. The auto industry as a whole, CNW says, has an average dollar per lifetime mile of $2.28; GM's HUMMER H3's figure was $1.949 per mile, lower than the Honda Civic at $2.42 a mile. "If a consumer is concerned about fuel economy because of family budgets or depleting oil supplies, it is perfectly logical to consider buying high-fuel-economy vehicles," says Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research, Inc. "But if the concern is the broader issues such as environmental impact of energy usage, some high-mileage vehicles actually cost society more than conventional or even larger models over their lifetime."

2006 Hybrid Buyers' Guide (9/12/2005)
What to look for in the new wave of fuel-sippers.

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