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2016 Jeep Renegade – Class Leading B-XSUV?

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B-XSUV  How can a vehicle lead a class when you don’t know that that class is?  What is a B-XSUV?  The B-Class size in Euro-speak is the second from the lowest size class.   Second, what is an XSUV?  In AutoPacific-speak this means crossover sport utility vehicle.  We refuse to call these things CUVs because it is important folks know they are supposed to be SPORT UTILITIES.  This is a very new class with entries just beginning to land – Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, the Fiat 500x, etc.

Jeep Renegade  So now lets talk about the 2016 Jeep Renegade.

The 2016 Jeep Renegade shares its platform with the 2016 Fiat 500X.  The Renegade has rough and tough Jeep cues and mechanical bits that give it great chops off-road – American.  The 500X is more of a urban cruiser – Italian.

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It’s easy to like the all new 2016 Jeep Renegade on sale March 1, 2015.  It is funky looking in a Jeep sort of way, small but wide, easy to maneuver, easy to get into and out of, easy to see out of.  And it its base price is about $5,000 less than its new bigger brother the Jeep Cherokee.  This puts its base price in the same area as the old, old, old Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot that we were frankly surprised to realize are still in production.

The built-in-Italy Renegade has Jeep-DNA styling cues including the seven vertical slot grill and trapezoidal wheel openings.

Smaller Than a Honda Civic  While the Renegade is short – only 167-inches long – about 15-inches shorter than the Jeep Cherokee (182-inches in length), it makes up for that by being pretty wide.  Renegade has a 101-inch wheelbase compared with the Cherokee’s 106-inch wheelbase.  It is 74 inches wide, a bit wider than the Cherokee.  The 2016 Jeep Renegade has 56-inches of front shoulder room compared with the 58-inches for the Cherokee, but 56-inches seems spacious and generous in the Renegade.  Unlike the Cherokee, the Renegade has a lot of glass and good visibility.  So from a packaging standpoint, the Renegade comes across like a larger vehicle.  Thinking about a car to compare it to that everybody knows… Renegade has a shorter wheelbase and overall width than the 2015 Honda Civic, but is substantially wider.  The Renegade is larger than the Honda Fit, but smaller than Civic.  Wider than both.2015 Jeep® Renegade Trailhawk 2015 Jeep Renegade Limited

The base 2016 Jeep Renegade comes with a six-speed manual transmission and a 1.4L Multi-air turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 160 horsepower.  Optional sporting a 9-speed automatic transmission, is a 2.4L Multi-Air2 naturally aspirated Tigershark 4-cylinder with 180HP.  If this sounds familiar the 2.4L/9-speed auto is also found in the Jeep Cherokee, Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200, and Ram Promaster City.2016 Jeep Renegade Hill Descent

Capable On- and Off-Road  Where the Renegade shines is in the dynamics.  It is very maneuverable and easy to drive.  Designed to be a true off-roader, the Renegade has good suspension travel and an excellent turning radius.  The Jeep folks claim that the “Trail-Rated” Trailhawk version can traverse the Rubicon Trail, but we did not have the chance to prove it since we were in Hollister, California. We did, however, get to ease the Trailhawk down a grade that must have been about 45-degrees.  With hill descent control engaged the Renegade slowly, but surely, worked its way down the grade.

Pricing  The base price of the 2016 Jeep Renegade is $17,995 with a additional $995 for destination charges.  Sneakily, that price does not include air conditioning (even the most basic vehicles sold in the USA have AC standard in most cases).  That gets you a front wheel drive Renegade Sport with the 1.4L Multi-Air turbocharged 4-cylinder and a 6-speed manual transmission.  The top model Trailhawk begins at $25,995, but when you check all the boxes the price can top $32,000.  Not unreasonable for a new small SUV with loads of personality and capability.

What Would We Change  The 2.4L 4-cylinder has 180HP which is sufficient for most circumstances.  On the freeway, however, it would be nice to have a bit more power – maybe 200 or 205HP.  The center stack navigation screen is 5.0-inches diagonally with standard UConnect and when you upgrade to the system with navigation the screen grows to 6.5-inches.  In a world where bigger screens are better, we would have opted for a larger 8.4-inch screen.  According to the Renegade’s product planner, this decision was made on the basis of styling, not cost or utility.  Huh?  Go with the bigger screen.  On the plus side of screens, there is an available 7-inch reconfigurable display in the instrument cluster the driver can customize to display a myriad of information.  Good going.


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2015 Dodge Charger Pursuit – Coming to a PD Near You

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2015 Dodge Charger PursuitWith the demise of the Ford Crown Vic, Dodge has been winning the police patrol car fleet battle.  Sure Ford has its Interceptors and Chevrolet is pushing its Caprice from Australia, but apparently Dodge makes a financially attractive pitch for its Charger Pursuit.  We’ve been seeing more and more of them rolling around Southern California as Crown Vics are retired, uh, sent to taxi fleets.

With the update of the 2015 Dodge Charger, the Pursuit has been updated as well.  You can tell the 2015 Charger is different because the front end styling is clearly different.  Other changes to the exterior styling are more subtle and it is a surprise when Dodge execs contend that every exterior panel is new with the exception of the roof and rear doors.  Dodge continues with its distinctive LED racetrack taillamp graphic and adds LED daytime running lights to the front.2015 Dodge Charger Pursuit

The interior has been upgraded with soft-touch materials including a 1-piece instrument panel pad with aggressive graining.  Like the civilian Charger, the Pursuit instrument cluster has an added 7-inch driver information display.  In the center stack there is a 5-inch screen for Chrysler’s UConnect infotainment system.  Unique to the Pursuit is a column mounted shifter, “police-duty” front seats designed to accommodate the belt gear police normally wear and a modified center console.

Police Advisory Board Input  Dodge has a 22-member Police Advisory Board and their input was valuable in determining what upgrades the 2015 Dodge Charger Pursuit has over the civilian Charger.  With “modern” interfaces, Dodge has enabled re-mapping of the steering wheel buttons to handle aftermarket police equipment.  The instrument cluster can be customized 100 ways to optimize its display for police use.  The heavy duty anti-lock vented disc brakes have been upgraded and brake cooling ducts added to the lower front fascia.  The performance tuned suspension has been upgraded with more durable bushings up front.

Factory upfit plans are offered for law enforcement to customize packages for their organizations.  Chrysler’s Mopar accessories group has developed and tested equipment that meets and exceeds the durability cycle and test requirements of the 2015 Dodge Charger Pursuit.  There is a Base Police Prep Package and a Wiring Police Prep Package.  Both are designed to handle the broad power requirements of communications gear, lighting, sirens, cameras and computers.  There is a slide-out trunk tray available and also a trunk fan to keep all the electrical and electronics gear in the trunk cool.

V6 Pentastar A Safe Alternative for Most Pursuit Work  There are two engines available:  370HP 5.7L HEMI V8 and 292HP 3.6L Pentastar V6.  The Pursuit is standard with rear wheel drive and optional with all wheel drive.  While patrol officers probably want the HEMI, the Pentastar V6 is probably sufficient for 90% of police applications.  Word on the street is that younger officers don’t know how to handle the more powerful V8 and the V6 provides plenty of power for most applications.  Safety first with the V6.  Macho cop pursuits with the HEMI.


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2014 Chevrolet Impala Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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mm_gal_item_c2_1.img_resize.img_stage._2General Motors is turning out some darn good cars these days and the 2014 Chevrolet Impala is a good example.  The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is the highest scoring Large Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The Impala designers, planners and engineers understood who the target buyer is and developed a vehicle that meets their requirements. The 2014 Impala beat out some very impressive competitors in the Large Car category, such as the Hyundai Azera, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Buick LaCrosse, and the Toyota Avalon.  George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, says, “When we first saw the new Impala we were impressed with the car’s presence and top-notch execution.  Clearly, Impala owners agree and give it AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award for 2014.”

Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle questionnaire, the Chevrolet Impala led in five satisfaction categories and was within three percentage points of another three.

The top five highest ratings by 2014 Impala owners are: same exterior styling, same cargo space, same interior lighting, same passenger room, and the same wheels as now.

No vehicle is perfect. Impala owners would like to see better driver seat visibility, more power and acceleration, and simpler technology that is easier to use.

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2014 Chevrolet Corvette Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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2014-Chevrolet-Corvette-109-mediumThere is no doubt the all new C7 Corvette has recast America’s sports car in ways that ring the buyers’ bells.  The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is the highest scoring Sports Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The designers, planners and engineers at Chevrolet did an outstanding job listening to what their customers wanted. The Corvette was at the top of its category against some impressive competitors such as the Porsche Cayman, Porsche Boxster, MINI Coupe, Mazda MX-5, Nissan 370Z, and the Mercedes-Benz SLK.  The C6 Corvette previously won the Ideal Vehicle Award for the 2012 model year.  The Corvette has won AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award for the last three years in a row.  George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, says, “Chevrolet has improved the Corvette in all ways.  They have achieved a rare one-two win of AutoPacific’s annual owner-based awards.  Not only is the Corvette satisfying its buyers, but it is also an ideal interpretation of the iconic American sports car.”

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette owners are satisfied with their vehicle and do not want much change. Of the fifteen categories in the Idea Vehicle survey battery, the 2014 Corvette leads or ties in four satisfaction categories and was within three percentage points or another five.

The top five highest ratings by Corvette are: same exterior styling, same exterior size, same ride/handling, same interior lighting, and same seat fit as now.

Although the Corvette led in its category there are several things owners would change. Owners would like it to be easier to get in and out of the vehicle (they don’t want to crawl out of the driver’s seat with their hands on the ground?), want simpler information and entertainment system, better driver visibility (it’s a sports car, already!), and more power and acceleration (owners of high-powered sports cars always want MORE).

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2014 Chevrolet Corvette Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The all-new C7 2014 Chevrolet Corvette is the highest scoring Sports Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Just behind the Corvette is the Porsche Boxster, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Porsche Cayman, MINI Coupe, Nissan 370z and the Mazda MX5.  The Corvette has won the Sports Car VSA for three years in a row.

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette led in wins or ties in twenty-eight out of fifty. The Corvette was also within one tenth of a rating point for nine other attributes. This put the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette hitting the top of the mark in over seventy percent of the satisfaction categories.

The top ten highest ratings by Corvette owners are: handling and braking, exterior and interior styling, power and acceleration, vehicles reputation and image, exterior color and size, and it is fun to drive.

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2014 Chevrolet Camaro Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro is the highest scoring Sporty Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Coming in just behind the Camaro are the Hyundai Veloster, Scion tC, Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang, and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

The 2014 Chevrolet Camaro led its category with twenty-nine of fifty wins or ties in satisfaction. The Camaro also was within one tenth of a point with six more attributes. This puts the Camaro leading in seventy percent of the satisfaction categories.

The top ten highest ratings by Chevrolet Camaro owners are: exterior color and styling, brand and vehicle reputation, handling and braking, image, perception of reliability and durability, perception of feeling safe when driving, and it is fun to drive.

Competition for the Camaro gets stiffer for the 2015 model year with the all new 2015 Ford Mustang being introduced and the facelifted 2015 Dodge Challenger entering the fray.  The Hyundai Genesis coupe also is due for a update and reportedly gets a V8 engine for the first time.  Camaro also is getting a facelift about now, so the playing field will be mostly all new for 2015.  It will be interesting to see how the Sporty Car dynamics play out.

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2014 Ford F-Series Super Duty Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The 2014 Ford F-Series Super Duty is the highest scoring Heavy-duty Pickup Truck in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award. Coming in behind the F-Series SD is the GMC Sierra Heavy Duty. Followed by the Ram Heavy Duty and the Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty.

The 2014 Ford F-Series Super Duty demonstrated their excellence in Heavy-duty Pickup trucks by winning or tying in thirty-nine of fifty satisfaction attributes. The F-Series Super Duty was within one tenth of a satisfaction point in five other attributes, putting it at the top for Heavy-duty pickups.

The top ten highest ratings by F-Series SD owners are: exterior color and size, brand and vehicle reputation, handling and braking, power and acceleration, exterior styling, the perception or reliability and dependability, and feeling safe while driving.

Ford is not to be left falling behind its competition.  With its convincing win in 2014, the Super Duty is updated for the 2015 model year with a more powerful PowerStroke diesel engine and enhanced up-market trim packages – the King Ranch and Platinum models.  These are very profitable units for the Ford and the Super Duty models represent about one third of Ford’s F-Series production.

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2014 Chevrolet Sonic Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The 2014 Chevrolet Sonic is the highest scoring Economy Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. The Sonic edged out some impressive competitors such as the Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta, Fiat 500, Hyundai Accent, and the Kia Rio.

The 2014 Chevrolet Sonic ties in one out of fifty categories and was within one tenth of a rating point with eight other attributes. The Sonic is a leader in eighteen percent of the satisfaction categories.  While Sonic does not win by an overwhelming margin, it is close in so many categories that it edged into the lead to win its class.

The top ten highest ratings by Sonic owners are: the perception of reliability and dependability, exterior color and styling, the safety rating and perception of feeling safe while driving, exterior size, safety features, overall quality, fun to drive, and the brand reputation.

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2014 Chevrolet Impala Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is the leader in scoring for the Large Car category in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Coming in behind the Impala are some impressive competitors: the Hyundai Azera, Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon, Buick LaCrosse, Dodge Charger, and the Ford Taurus.

In achieving this level of satisfaction, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala wins in twelve categories and ties in fourteen. This puts the Impala as a leader in twenty-six out of fifty satisfaction categories. At over fifty percent for satisfaction measurements the Impala is at the top.

The top ten highest ratings by Impala owners are: the perception of reliability and durability, the exterior size, color and styling, braking and handling, feeling safe while driving and the safety rating, the overall quality, and the interior styling.  Clearly the all new Impala with its new, more expressive styling sets the standard in today’s Large Car segment.

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AutoPacific 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards Announced

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AutoPacVSAlogo blogOn Monday June 16, 2014, AutoPacific announced its 18th annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSA), identifying the most satisfying 2014 model year vehicles on the market.  Other automotive awards provide information on defects – things gone wrong.  AutoPacific’s research looks at the issue of vehicle ownership in a totally different way – how satisfied a new vehicle is to its owner.  While it’s important to know how well a vehicle is screwed together, it is even more important to learn how well buyers and drivers feel about their vehicle.

The AutoPacific 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards objectively measure owner satisfaction with 50 separate attributes ranging from interior comfort and convenience to fuel economy and performance. “Vehicles that score highest in the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are delivering value and satisfaction across a wide range of attributes,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “The winners perform well in 50 separate categories that objectively measure the ownership experience.” An industry benchmark for measuring how satisfied an owner is with his/her new vehicle, AutoPacific’s VSA are based on the results of responses from over 92,000 new vehicle owners.

For 2014, the most satisfying brands are Lincoln, Top Premium Brand and GMC, Top Popular Brand. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction is the new-for-2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class that also wins AutoPacific’s second President’s Award for achieving the highest VSA score ever.  The truck with the highest overall satisfaction score is the new BMW X5 Premium Luxury Crossover SUV.

“With the launch of each new car and truck, carmakers try to improve the product and increase the satisfaction of their buyers,” explains Peterson. “By surveying a substantial number of owners who have purchased a new 2014 model year vehicle, The AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards provide an objective measurement of how well the makers are doing. More than one-third of new vehicle buyers are positively influenced by objective awards based on owner ratings when deciding on a new car or truck.”

The awards in 2014 are much more diverse than they have been in previous years, with no single brand dominating the results.  Multiple top-ranked award winners are:  Chevrolet with four winners; Lincoln with three winners; Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Kia, and GMC with two winners each.

The brands that improved their relative ranking positions in 2014 compared with 2013 are:  GMC moving from 17th to 8th position; Lincoln moving from 6th position to 1st position; Ford moving from 25th to 19th; Chevrolet moving from 21st to 16th.  Brands with the largest drop in position were Volkswagen moving from 16th to 28th position and Jaguar dropping from 7th to 17th.

From a manufacturer perspective, General Motors was tops with seven wins and Ford had four wins.

“AutoPacific 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards help vehicle buyers sort through an increasingly complicated selection of brands and models.  For the 2014 model year, there are 274 models and 32 brands from which to choose a new vehicle.  The VSA clearly shows the buyers which vehicles are at the top of the class they are considering,” says Peterson.

Top 2014 model year performers are:

PRESIDENT’S AWARD FOR HIGHEST VSA SCORE EVER: Mercedes-Benz S-Class

HIGHEST SATISFACTION PREMIUM BRAND: Lincoln

HIGHEST SATISFACTION POPULAR BRAND: GMC

2014 PASSENGER CAR WINNERS:

Premium Luxury Car

Executive Luxury Car

Aspirational Luxury Car

Luxury Mid-Size Car

Large Car

Mid-Size Car

Premium Compact Car

Compact Car

Economy Car

Sports Car

Sporty Car

Hybrid Car/EV

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Lincoln MKS

BMW 3-Series GT

Lincoln MKZ

Chevrolet Impala

Kia Optima

Mercedes-Benz CLA

Kia Soul

Chevrolet Sonic

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Camaro

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2014 LIGHT TRUCK WINNERS:

Heavy Duty Pickup

Light Duty Pickup

Luxury/Large SUV

Mid-Size SUV

Premium Luxury Crossover SUV

Luxury Crossover SUV

Large Crossover SUV

Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV

Mid-Size Crossover SUV

Compact Crossover SUV

Minivan

Ford F-Series Super Duty

GMC Sierra

Infiniti QX80

Jeep Grand Cherokee

BMW X5

Cadillac SRX

GMC Acadia

Toyota Highlander

Nissan Rogue

Hyundai Tucson

Honda Odyssey


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