Category Archive:

Ward's 10 Best Engines of 2007

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WardsAuto.com has announced its 10 Best Engines for 2007. Let’s see how VehicleVoice agrees with the Wards’ results… they are presented in alphabetical order:

Audi AG 2.0L turbocharged DOHC I4 – Audi A3 –
We agree wholeheartedly with this engine selection, but Ward’s gives it short shrift by identifying only the Audi A3 as having this engine. It is also found in the Audi A4, Volkswagen Eos, Volkswagen GTi, Volkswagen Jetta and even the Volkswagen Passat. A real nice driving 4-cylinder turbo that is the workhorse of the spirited Volkswagen/Audi lineups.
BMW AG 3.0L DOHC I6 – BMW Z4 3.0si – BMW in-line sixes are always works of art. Smooth, effortless, always feel that they are putting out more horsepower than their ratings. Ward’s has selected the higher horsepower version found in the Z4 3.0si – it puts out 255-horsepower and has 220 pound-feet of torque. This engine is also found in the BMW 530 sedan.
BMW AG 3.0L turbocharged DOHC I6 – BMW 335i – We don’t really go with turbocharged engines much. There is usually no replacement for displacement. But the 3.0L Turbo in the 335i is a sweet piece. Turns the 335i into a Q-ship with near M3-levels of performance.
DaimlerChrysler AG 3.0L DOHC V6 turbodiesel -Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec/Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD – We appreciate the sentiment, but until a diesel can be sold in all 50 states, we won’t agree that it is one of the best engines. Diesels deserve a significant place in the USA automotive landscape, but regulations, technology, fuel costs, fuel availability have all conspired against widespread diesel acceptance.
DaimlerChrysler AG 5.7L OHV Hemi V8 – Chrysler 300C – Chrysler Group has built a franchise around the HEMI. The low cost, Mexican-produced, overhead valve, high output engine almost singlehandedly resurrected Chrysler from its early 21st Century doldrums. Don’t forget the HEMI can be found in all large, rear wheel drive Chrysler, Dodge products as well as the two largest Jeep entries.
Ford Motor Co. Duratec 35 3.5L DOHC V6 – Ford Edge/Lincoln MKX – Ward’s specifies the Ford/Lincoln Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles as the vehicles where the new Duratec 35 is found, but don’t forget the Lincoln MKZ (Zephyr) and the Mazda CX-9. While this higher output V6 is sorely needed by Ford and will eventually find its way through the Ford lineup, somehow the horses feel weaker than its 263-horsepower output suggests. We’ll reserve judgment on this one.
Ford Motor Co. 4.6L SOHC V8 – Mustang GT/Mustang Shelby GT – The 4.6L is the workhorse V8 for Ford’s rear wheel drive platforms. A very reliable, bulletproof powerplant, the 4.6L has proven to be very flexible up and down the horsepower scales. Driving the higher horsepower versions in the Mustang is a delight.
Mazda Motor Corp. 2.3L DISI turbocharged DOHC I4 – MazdaSpeed3 – A very willing and berserk powerplant in the MazdaSpeed3, the 2.3L Turbo provides more than enough power to generate nutso torque-steer in the MazdaSpeed3. Torque steer has always been a bugaboo in high output front wheel drive Mazdas and the combination of power and chassis dynamics in the MazdaSpeed3 may have set a new high (or low).
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. 3.5L DOHC V6 -Infiniti G35 – We assume that Ward’s is referring to the higher output VQ found only in the Infiniti vehicles for 2007/2008. A significant upgrade from previous VQ V6s, the Infiniti has been finessed to new levels of power, smoothness and “engine music”. Still a bit of a lump in the fuel efficiency category, however. And the VQ’s refinement has pretty much been sub-par compared to the Audi, BMW and Lexus (Toyota) sixes against which it competes.
Toyota Motor Corp. 3.5L DOHC V6 -Lexus IS 350 – Another Japanese V6 putting out over 300-horsepower from 3.5-liters. Sweet, quick revving, quick. But unlike the Nissan VQ in the Infiniti, the Lexus 3.5L seems to lack the passion that really stirs the senses. Maybe it is the “engine music” thing. But it’s far more likely the effect of the Toyota engine’s astonishing refinement.


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LA Auto Show – 2007 Toyota Tundra

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The 2007 Toyota Tundra is already in production but won’t be on sale until February 2008. Still a 2007 model year full-size pickup truck, Tundra’s intro is awaiting availability of its 5.7L V8 engine. While we brought you the reveal in February 2006 at the Chicago Auto Show (click here), Toyota later showed the truck at the Texas state fair and again used much of its exhibit space at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show II to showcase the truck in advance of public sale.
A photo collage without many comments seems appropriate…

Toyota Tundra “Street Concept” – Regular Cab Design Study

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Motor Trend Selects 2007 Toyota Camry as Car of the Year

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Toyota Wins with “America’s Mainstream Car”

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Motor Trend part of PRIMEDIA’s (NYSE: PRM) Consumer Automotive Group, announced today that the redesigned Toyota Camry, the sixth edition of America’s best-selling car, is Motor Trend’s 2007 Car of the Year. The award goes to the entire Camry range, including the Camry Hybrid. The complete report on Motor Trend’s 2007 Car of the Year will be published in the January issue, available on newsstands December 5, 2006.
“Creating an innovative, engaging automobile with broad mainstream appeal is one of the toughest tasks facing any automaker,” said Angus MacKenzie, editor in chief of Motor Trend. “The Camry is the one car rival automakers all wish they could build. It offers something for nearly everyone–performance, efficiency, and roominess–at a price point most Americans can afford.”
MacKenzie added, “Toyota offers the Camry with a regular four cylinder engine, or a sporty V-6 that enables it to hit 60mph in just six seconds – that’s about as fast as a V-8 musclecar from the 60s and 70s. Buyers looking for ultimate fuel economy can choose the Camry Hybrid, which uses the same innovative hybrid powertrain technology as Toyota’s Prius to save gas.”


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Blowing Off the Lot – the Hot Sellers

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Since we have identified the vehicles that have the longest days supply, we have been asked to show which vehicles have the shortest days supply. Which vehicles are so hot they just blow off the dealer’s lot? As with the slower moving vehicles where we arbitrarily cut off the days supply at 150 days, here we are using 50 days as the cut off point. The details are shown “below the fold”


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Toyota FJ Cruiser – Ubiquitous at SEMA 2006

Yes, SEMA wanted to salute American Muscle this year and they were successful. In front of the North Hall and inside the lobby rows of Muscle Cars both past and present lined up to receive their deserving accolades. The big block Chevys, Fords, and Dodges pulled at my heartstrings. I could hear the gurgling exhaust notes, feel the rumbling deep in my chest, and smell the high octane burning through four barrel carbs, down high rise manifolds, across forged pistons, and out the dual exhaust with an irregular lope. I kept reaching for that Hurst® shifter and mashing down with my right foot, adrenaline pumping hard through my veins. But it was time to stop daydreaming! Today I would be walkin’… a lot.

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In my quest to see most if not all of SEMA I found it interesting that on the front lines there may have been blown Camaros, tweaked Challengers, and race-ready Mustangs but in the trenches Toyota’s FJ Cruiser was chosen by many exhibitors to strut their aftermarket stuff. From Toyota’s own exhibit flaunting TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and an off-road prepped FJs, the latter with a twin-stick Atlas® t-case, to those companies supplying aftermarket bumpers, stereo equipment, and creating convertibles; the FJ’s were everywhere.


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2007 Nissan Sentra – Sentra in the City

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AutoPacific and VehicleVoice had the opportunity to evaluate the all new 2007 Nissan Sentra on the roads East of San Francisco Bay. The all new Sentra competes with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cobalt. For 2007, every major dimension has been expanded to meet American tastes.

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For the Record
Global development effort between Nissan and Renault. Delayed by about a year after bombing in USA product clinics. Went back to the drawing board to get it right.
Built at Nissan’s Aguascalientes Plant in Mexico: Plant underwent a $800 million upgrade to accommodate all new Sentra and all new Versa. 350,000 units per year capacity.
On sale October 12, 2006.
Target Customer: Echo Boomers – Generation Y between the ages of 18 and 29. Sentra needs to serve many purposes – going out with friends, carrying a bike, taking road trips, buying furniture at IKEA.
Strives to be Compact Class Benchmark
No longer a compact car aimed at the lowest common denominator customer, the new Sentra strives to be the benchmark of its class when it goes on sale October 12, 2006. While the Sentra slots into the Nissan car lineup above the all new Versa (which actually is larger in some dimensions) and below the all new Altima, the Sentra has grown over its predecessor in wheelbase (+5.9-inches), overall length (+2.3-inches), overall width (+3.2-inches) and overall height (+4.0-inches). Now the “compact” Sentra nudges the Mainstream Mid-Size Car in basic dimensions.
The Sentra has substantially more passenger volume than Civic, Corolla, Mazda3 and Cobalt. Similarly, it has a large cargo volume only slightly topped by Corolla and Cobalt.
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Scion xB – Wins Motorist's Choice Small Wagon

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AutoPacific Take on win by Scion xB –
Scion xB owners’ satisfaction ratings for its size and package strongly contribute to its class-leading performance in the Motorist’s Choice Awards’® Small Wagon category. The xB “rolling box” design makes it very easy to get into and out of and easy for the driver to see out of. These are important factors to the xB owner. While xB is small on the outside, it is huge on the inside with its limousine-like rear seat getting rave reviews.
IntelliChoice Analysis – The Scion xB is a true Motorist’s Choice ‘no-brainer’. We at IntelliChoice named the xB as a Best Overall Value of the Year winner in 2006 thanks to its amazing resale value and low expected maintenance and fuel costs. And when you factor in the low entry price, the xB shines. The amazing thing is that it came to the U.S. market to attract younger drivers, but it seems to be a bit hit across all ages. With a Cost of Ownership of just $23,500 vs. $27,000 for it competitors, can you blame them?


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Toyota Avalon – Wins Motorist's Choice Large Car

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AutoPacific Take on Win by Avalon – The all new Toyota Avalon is targeted squarely at the leading edge of the Baby Boomer generation. It wins the Motorist’s Choice Award® for the Large Car category with a combination of image, package and dynamic characteristics. Owners’ satisfaction ratings strongly support the reputation of the Avalon and Toyota for high quality. Seating capacity is a strong satisfaction characteristic and owners tell us Avalon is no slouch in the performance department. They give it strong ratings for power and acceleration, handling and braking. These driving dynamics make the Avalon feel like a very safe vehicle.
IntelliChoice Analysis – Just like the LS430 is the leader for Lexus, the Toyota Avalon is a true flagship. Not just for Toyota, but for the inaugural Motorist’s Choice award winners as well. The Avalon has established itself as a no-compromise and rewarding vehicle to it’s owners, but it’s role as multiple Best Overall Value of the Year winner in Large Car class also confirms it’s amazing value. With a 5 year Cost of Ownership over $4000 less than the amazing Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Impala, and others, it is a true Motorist’s Choice.


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Motorist's Choice Awards – a New Benchmark Rating Automotive Excellence

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INTELLICHOICE.COM AND AUTOPACIFIC TEAM UP TO ANNOUNCE FIRST ANNUAL MOTORIST’S CHOICE AWARDS
– Awards Recognize Vehicles with Highest Driver Satisfaction and Lowest Cost of Ownership –
– Infiniti QX56 Wins Highest Rating Among All Classes/Vehicle Models –
AutoPacific, the industry source for automotive owner satisfaction ratings and IntelliChoice.com, the online source for automotive ownership cost and value analysis, today announced the results of the newly established Motorist’s Choice Awards for the 2006 vehicle model year.
IntelliChoice.com and AutoPacific created the Motorist’s Choice Awards to determine the vehicles that delivered both the highest satisfaction and lowest cost of ownership. The collaboration between the two respected firms, who have each been authorities on the U.S. car market for the last 20 years, takes selected owner satisfaction data from AutoPacific’s surveys of new car and light truck buyers and combines it with IntelliChoice.com’s rating methodology to create a new measurement that speaks to both the hearts and minds of car buyers.
“While the economic analysis of car ownership remains very important—it can save or cost you thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle—it is also important to recognize owner satisfaction as another significant influencer in vehicle purchases,” said James Bell, publisher of IntelliChoice.com. “These are the two key benchmarks we think car buyers should be most attuned to.”
“Ratings of owners’ satisfaction with their new car and truck illustrates how well the vehicle is satisfying the emotional and practical needs of the driver. Satisfaction is more than simply how well a product is screwed together and there are many more dimensions to the equation. Combining AutoPacific’s satisfaction results with the value analysis from IntelliChoice provides the car buyer with an outstanding benchmark to use when selecting a new vehicle,” said George Peterson, President of AutoPacific.
WINNERS
For the inaugural awards, IntelliChoice.com and AutoPacific identified 29 winning models by segment and class. The top-ranked vehicles in their respective categories are:
o Cars: Lexus LS430
o Trucks: Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 (2WD)
o SUV/Crossover: Infiniti QX56
o Minivans/Wagons: Audi A6 4.2 Quattro
In terms of overall rankings, the Infiniti QX56 SUV scored highest in both driver satisfaction and lowest cost of ownership, followed closely by the Lexus LS430 sedan.


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AutoPacific's 2006 Ideal Vehicle Awards Announced

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An “ideal” is defined as an excellent or perfect example. In the first Ideal Vehicle Awards, announced today by automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, owners rate their new 2006 model year cars and trucks by how closely they come to their ideal. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.
Those carmakers that best understand their customers and create the vehicle their core buyer group desires has come closest to the ideal.
The top-rated vehicle and top-rated car is the Mercury Montego in the Large Car/Luxury Car category. In fact, Ford Motor Company sweeps the first three positions overall with the Ford Crown Victoria and Ford Five Hundred in second and third place. The top-rated truck is the Honda Odyssey Minivan.
The top-rated brand overall is Hyundai out-pointing Mercury and Lincoln for the most ideal vehicle honors.
Ford Motor Company and American Honda have three segment winners apiece. BMW and Hyundai have two each.
Of the sixteen Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) categories, Japanese brands have seven segment winners, American brands have four, European brands have three and Korean brands have two winners.
The top-rated product segment is Large Car/Luxury Car confirming that Americans continue to value large, comfortable cars suitable for suburban and highway cruising.
Top-rated 2006 Ideal Vehicle brand: Hyundai
Top-rated 2006 Ideal Product Segment: Large Car/Luxury Car
Top rated 2006 Ideal Vehicles by segment:
PASSENGER CARS:
Premium Luxury Car: Lexus LS
Entry Luxury Car: BMW 3-Series
Large Car/Luxury Car: Mercury Montego
Premium Mid-Size Car: Hyundai Sonata
Mid-Size Car: Mercury Milan
Image Compact Car: Toyota Prius
Compact Car: Ford Focus
Sports Car: Porsche 911
Sporty Car: Acura RSX
SUT, SUV, and MINIVAN:
Sport Utility Truck: Honda Ridgeline
Luxury Sport Utility: BMW X5
Large Sport Utility: GMC Yukon
Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility: Nissan Murano
Mid-Size Sport Utility: Hyundai Santa Fe
Compact Sport Utility: Subaru Forester
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
In addition to identifying segment winners, IVA also establishes numerical ideal vehicle ratings for virtually every passenger car and light truck (except pickups) in the United States market. This results from calculating owner input across 11 specific areas related to a vehicle’s exterior size, passenger roominess, cargo space, driver’s seat comfort, drivers seat visibility, interior technology, power, ease of getting in and out, interior storage compartments and tires and wheels. The 2006 ratings reflect input from buyers and lessees of new vehicles acquired September 2005 through January 2006. Pickup trucks are not incorporated because of numerous body styles included within each pickup line.


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