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AutoPacific Announces 2009 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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AutoPacific’s 2009 Vehicle Satisfaction Award Highlights Consumer Opinion As Industry Struggles
National Survey Measures Satisfaction with New Vehicles

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TUSTIN, Calif. (May 19, 2009) — In the most challenging auto sales market in years, AutoPacific today announced its 13th Annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSA). For the second straight year, Cadillac ranks highest among new car owners, taking the Highest Satisfaction Brand honors even with the turmoil surrounding General Motors and the industry as a whole.
Overall brand satisfaction ratings among Hyundai purchasers jumped 11 positions earning Hyundai 2009 Rising Star honors. This positive move was more than any other manufacturer in the survey. Hyundai scored higher in 40 of 48 rating categories in 2009 compared with 2008. Two Hyundai products took VSAs this year: the Genesis in the Aspirational Luxury Car category and the Sonata in the Premium Mid-size car class.
“These are difficult times, with news of automaker bankruptcies, companies restructuring and dealer closures a daily occurrence,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “Clearly, the dynamics surrounding the Vehicle Satisfaction Award in 2009 are far different from anything we’ve seen in many years. Winners needed to overachieve to earn their awards.”


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2009 NAIAS: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EV

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Who says extended-range vehicles can’t tackle trails? Not Jeep, as they explore the application of in-wheel motors to a vehicle with full Jeep capability. This concept is not officially Trail Rated, but that’s the direction Jeep is heading.

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The full Jeep description is available after the jump.

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2009 NAIAS: Jeep Patriot EV

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Two Jeep products at this year’s Detroit show explore applying extended-range electric powertrains to the iconic go-anywhere brand. The Patriot described here gives small SUV buyers an option, while the Jeep Wrangler EV concept explores four-wheel-drive applications.

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Jeep’s full release and more photos are after the jump.

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2009 NAIAS: Chrysler Town & Country EV

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Though Chrysler announced their intention to create extended-range electric vehicles along the lines of Chevrolet Volt back in September 2008, they used the 2009 Detroit show to provide a few more details and an update on the program overall. Also, unlike GM, Chrysler LLC is exploring using the powertrain in existing vehicles rather than creating an all-new platform.

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Four products were shown in Detroit, including a Dodge, two Jeeps, and this Chrysler Town & Country.
Full PR details after the jump.

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2009 NAIAS: Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S

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Maserati tries to put a positive spin on product at the Detroit show, enhancing the Quattroporte into the GT S. More power and luxury, the stuff of dreams.

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Follow the jump for Maserati’s announcement.

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Exhaust Note #27: Ford Flexes Creative for New Model

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Is the Flex a Cool, Tricked Out Hipster?
Ford has an all-new crossover SUV/minivan/people hauler for the 2009MY, the Flex we’ve brought you several reports on. The Flex has been filtering into dealerships, and this week was the full and ferocious advertising start.

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Flex TV ads hit hard with the start of the 2008-09 NFL season (click here for one), but unconventional outreaches include iPhone apps that allow a 360-degree view of the interior; Xbox, Dish Network, and Yahoo technology offering photos and videos on-demand; skits on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson featuring Flex; and description videos on Flex’s home page. On one hand, we’d like to give Ford kudos for enabling Team Detroit to create such an all-encompassing, innovative approach. On the other hand, this is a two-box people hauler and not a sexy icon of technology. Are they trying too hard?


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My Date With R8: A 100 Percent True Story

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A match made in heaven? Yes.

I settled into the driver’s seat, gripped the wheel and took a deep breath.
“You’re scared, aren’t you?” asked the Audi R8.
“Damn right, I’m scared,” I answered. “You’re beautiful. You’re powerful. I couldn’t afford you for myself if I sold all my internal organs on the black market. I checked.”
“Wow, you really can find anything on the internet, huh?”
“True dat, R8. True dat.”

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Mitsubishi i: Smarter than Smart?

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If you’ve read our review of the 2008 Smart ForTwo here, you’ll know that we like its chic design, spacious interior (but only for two), and its point and squirt ability in urban environs. And you’ll also know there was plenty we didn’t like about the Smart, including its limited usefulness (only two seats and tiny cargo area), lack of power, and perhaps most seriously, its frustrating and dim-witted transmission.
As good fortune would have it, we were able to arrange for a brief drive of the Mitsubish i, an interesting extension of the basic Smart idea. The tiny Mitsubishi actually does share some DNA with the Smart. Its platform is related to the Smart’s, as is its 3-cylinder engine (but reduced in displacement to – get this – 0.7 liters in order to meet Japanese Kei-class parameters). That means it’s rear-engined and rear-wheel-drive, just like the Smart.

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The Mitsubishi i expands on the basic Smart concept

From there though, the little i seems to have it all over the ForTwo. Its still petite dimensions accommodate four doors, a real back seat, and – hallelujah – a real automatic transmission (no robotized manual tomfoolery here). It looks really neat too, especially in the white that we drove. It almost looks like an iPod on wheels.

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Muscle Cars: Losing Mass, Momentum

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Okay, let me run some names by you:


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Camaro
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Pop quiz, hot shot: What decade is it?
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Exhaust Note #10 – Will VW’s Road to Mainstream Success be Smoothly Paved?

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Considering just how much Volkswagen is a part of our cultural lexicon, it’s somewhat surprising that there aren’t more of them on the road. Volkswagens have been an iconic part of our automotive landscape, and just about everyone has a Volkswagen memory – whether recent or from long, long ago.
Volkswagen enjoyed a tremendous resurgence in the late 1990s with the New Beetle and the fourth generation Jetta. Both appealed strongly to young and young-at-heart buyers, leading to incredible sales growth and an enviable owner base of youthful, hip, opinion-leading consumers. As of late, though, the brand has lost some of its luster. VW has lost some of its edge with those trend-setters that had flocked to the brand just a few years ago. Yet, losing that edginess hasn’t translated to massive sales gains to mainstream Middle America types.
Volkswagen is currently in a push to become a truly mainstream brand in the North America, as it is in many other parts of the world. They have ambitions to sell (combined with its sister Audi) one million units in the US by the middle of next decade. Those are some seriously lofty targets, making one wonder what steps Volkswagen is taking to achieve those goals.

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