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Volkswagen Jetta and Mercury Milan Win AutoPacific 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Mid-Size Car Segment

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The Volkswagen Jetta is top-ranked in the Mid-Size Car Segment, winning its 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award based on some traditional Volkswagen strengths, such as Fun to Drive, Braking and Handling. Owner ratings in these important dynamic areas were complemented by strong ratings in Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features and Overall Quality.
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The Mercury Milan ranks at the top of the Mid-Size Car category, winning the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award with strong ratings for Styling and Feeling Safe While Driving. In the two years Milan has been on the market, it has established a Reputation valued by its owners. Milan owners rate their Experience with their Lincoln-Mercury Dealer highly and find the Milan a good Value for the Money.

Posted in: Awards, Mercury, Volkswagen

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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Cadillac Top Brand, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Top Car, Toyota Sequoia Top Truck and Top Vehicle

Tustin, California, May 29, 2008 – A study released today by noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. summarizes the results of its 2008 model year vehicle satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck.
In a year that promises to be the toughest in a decade, owner-based awards like AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help customers make their purchase decisions.
The brand with the highest satisfaction rating is Cadillac. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction in 2008 is the new-for-2008 Toyota Sequoia Large Sport Utility Vehicle. The passenger car with the highest overall satisfaction score is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
There are twenty-eight Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. At the manufacturer level, multiple top ranked award winners include: General Motors (eleven categories), Toyota (nine categories), Ford (six categories), Volkswagen (four categories), Honda (three categories) and Hyundai (two categories).
“Cadillac wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award as the top brand in a close race. Strong satisfaction performance by Cadillac cars and trucks has Cadillac winning over other leading luxury marques including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Top ranked finishes by Cadillac’s Escalade, CTS and DTS helped cement their industry topping position.”
Peterson continues, “Vehicles that are all new received top rankings in several categories: Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion xD, Toyota Sequoia, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Saturn Vue and Nissan Rogue. These new-for-2008 vehicles were strongly rated by their owners showing that the industry continues to improve as new vehicles are added to the hotly contested American car and light truck markets.”
From a vehicle type perspective, Traditional Sport Utility Vehicles received the highest ratings as a class closely followed by Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles. Peterson says, “Clearly, SUVs continue to be one of the most popular and satisfying vehicle types available in the USA today. Even with skyrocketing gas prices, SUVs are attractive and Crossover SUVs fill the bill for most SUV buyers with better fuel economy.” Cars scored slightly below industry average followed by minivans and pickup trucks.


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Volkswagen Routan – Chrysler Minivan Roots Mean Function, Not Fun

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VW Wants to Hit the Big Time in the US Market
Like so many other second tier brands today, Volkswagen is talking publicly about big goals in the US. True, Volkswagen is a huge player in many world markets, particularly Europe, China, and Latin America. Here in America, however, Volkswagen is definitely something of a niche player, despite its enviable brand image. Apparently, Volkswagen wants to become a mainstream player in the US as it is in the rest of the world, rather than a marque that appeals primarily to fashionable hipsters as it does now. By about the middle of the next decade, Volkswagen wants to be selling 800,000 vehicles in the US, up from about 230,000 last year.
With that in mind, what could possibly be more mainstream than a Chrysler minivan? It’s the ultimate symbol of traditional family values, a paragon of responsible and sensible thinking. And, despite the fact that minivan popularity is declining, the segment still represented over 800,000 sales in 2007. So, Volkswagen has partnered with Chrysler to create a German remix of the Town & Country minivan, dubbed Routan. It will be built in the US by Chrysler alongside the Town & Country and Caravan.

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Volkswagen Passat CC: A 4-Door Coupe, Or a Very Pretty Sedan?

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High-Style 4-Door Aims to Show That VW’s Styling Mojo is Alive and Well
Volkswagen unveiled the Passat CC at NAIAS today, and it really is a looker. Long, low, and sleek, it aims to be a statement of cutting edge design: an artistic blending of cutting edge product design and everyday practicality. When it goes on sale later in the year, it will supplement the standard issue Passat sedan, giving the Passat lineup three unique bodystyles – sedan, wagon, and this third variant. In keeping with the car’s high-design message, VW’s product intro video showed it parked at the gorgeously minimalist Marmol Radziner modern pre-fab house near Palm Springs, a strong statement of practical yet avant-garde design.

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Volkswagen refers to the car as a coupe, despite its four sedan doors. Does this all sound a bit familiar? It should, as Mercedes-Benz captivated hearts and minds just a few short years ago with a similar idea, the beautiful CLS.


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LA Auto Show – Volkswagen space up! Blue – Deutschland In Da House Y’all

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Whether you’re tired of fuel prices creeping up to $4 dollars a gallon, uncomfortable with the idea that your money is making it’s way over to the Middle East or simply want the feel good endorphins to pump through your body as you are seen as a socially responsible human being, a hybrid may be the answer. They have become the American answer to slow all personal transportation energy woes and Volkswagen, no stranger to fuel efficiency, wants a piece of the action. The VW space up! blue plans to provide just that…


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2007 Frankfurt Motor Show: The Color this Fall Was Green

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I spent two days crisscrossing the massive Frankfurt auto show, and the focus on reducing emissions and improving fuel economy and “green” solutions could not be missed. Very few manufacturers were not talking about fuel economy gains in their powertrain lineup and many announced hybrid plans or showed hybrid concepts. What we’re seeing here is the culmination of years of research, rather than fiberglass what-if models. Many of these hybrids or other technology-based solutions will be on the roads later this decade.

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Mercedes-Benz will, during the 2009CY, offer a hybrid powertrain in the S-Class and the M-Class, while a smart fortwo mild hybrid system goes on sale in October. Porsche gave updated the Cayenne’s diesel for more power but also promises a parallel series hybrid using the existing 3.6L V6 by the end of 2010CY. General Motors took the system shown under the Chevrolet Volt in January, replaced the gasoline engine with a diesel one, and created the Opel Flextreme as well as showing off an Opel Corsa Hybrid. Volvo put a plug-in hybrid into the C30 to create the Recharge concept. Land Rover is adding stop-start systems in 2009CY, and Audi will bring a hybrid to the Q7.
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Small cars are more prevalent on international roads and therefore more prevalent at auto shows outside the United States. Toyota brought us the iQ, Volkswagen the up!, and Ford the Verve. Renault’s latest Twingo was on the show floor as well, though this was not its debut.
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Notable exceptions to the small and green game were Ferrari and the 430 Scuderia (introduced by Michael Schumacher himself), the Aston Martin DBS (officially introduced at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance), the Bentley Continental GTS Speed, the Lamborghini Reventon (of which only twenty will be made, with a price tag around $1.4 million), and Maserati.
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Day two of Frankfurt’s show holds most of the supplier press conferences, leaving us a chance to take photos and see some general reaction. Frankfurt’s convention center has 10 halls, with at least seven of them holding the major manufacturers and others holding aftermarket and supplier stands. Walking the full show requires much time and comfortable shows and several hours. Interest was strong in the Mercedes-Benz F700 Concept (previewing the next S-Class), the Audi A4, Opel’s Flextreme, Ford’s Verve and Kuga, and Jaguar’s XF. Peugeot and Citroen concepts, the 308RCZ and the Airscape, saw plenty of attention, as did Nissan’s very odd-looking Mixim.
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The Volkswagen Tiguan stand was flocked with people getting a chance to get in and crawl around the new model, with plenty also checking out the up! city car. Interestingly, every time I went through hall 6, home to Italian makes Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Ferrari, and Maserati as well as Porsche and Hyundai it was completely mobbed. On the other hand, Kia’s Kee coupe concept and BMW’s X6 concepts didn’t seem to grab attendees as much.
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While going green may be good for us, hybrid systems and new engine developments don’t make for great pictures or put the enthusiasm into driving that a great-looking design can. Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you more detailed coverage of many of these. Stay tuned.
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Volkswagen up!: What a New-Century Bug Might Look Like

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Small City Car Concept Revives Rear-Engine Layout, Explores the Future of Interior Displays
At an event the evening before the official start of media days of this year’s Frankfurt auto show, Volkswagen revealed their latest city car concept. Small outside and big inside, the up! takes a layout similar to the first Beetle, with a rear-mounted engine (though VW did not specify what engine might be packed in back there).

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Cute and clever, VW may consider bringing the up! to the U.S. market in a few years. At less than 136 inches long, up! is about 30 inches longer than the smart fortwo, but about the same length shorter than the current New Beetle. Instead of a traditional center stack, up! offered a seven-inch touch screen that VW called “the way that future human-machine interface will look and operate.” Not only a touch-screen-based system for controlling navigation, climate, audio, and phone, a proximity sensor reacts to hand gestures. Once the element you wanted to control shows up in the menu, a simple wave of the hand brings up the specific control screen. Glad they cleared that up for us! Instead of gauges, there is an eight-inch screen in front of the driver, displaying all the relevant information. This small concept offers seats for four, with all but the driver’s seat removable and stowable. Described as similar to a self-inflating mattress, a valve allows air to be released and the seat adjusted for maximum comfort for any passenger.
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Many of Volkswagen’s concepts find their way into production eventually, and VW continues to explore solutions for a low-cost city car that is environmentally friendly, economical, affordable, and still profitable. Whether or not we see up! in the States, a four-door version is likely to find its way into production in a few years.
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Sure does remind me of the Mitsubishi i… looks more substantial, but the concept is very similar.
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Volkswagen Eos Ties Ford Mustang for Win of AutoPacific 2007 Ideal Vehicle Award for Sporty Car:

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The all-new Volkswagen Eos ties as Most Ideal Sporty Car for 2007. The retractable hardtop Eos is a competitive all-rounder with its usefulness enhanced by its retractable hardtop – convertible, sporty coupe all in one package without the compromises required by a pure soft-top convertible.
No wonder Ford sells so many Mustangs! Most Ideal Sporty Car, and segment leader in 14 out of 15 categories the Mustang blows today’s competition into the weeds. New competition is coming in the next couple of years, but it looks like Ford’s designers and engineers know best what Sporty Car buyers require and deliver it in spades.


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Apple – Coming to a Center Stack Near You

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Disclaimer: VehicleVoice and AutoPacific exclusively use Macintosh computers. Beginning in 1986 and continuing through all the rough years, Mac has powered AutoPacific. Never a PC.
FACT: Steve Jobs, Chairman of Apple, Inc. and Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of Volkswagen AG met last week apparently to finalize an Apple/Volkswagen initiative to bring Apple technology to Volkswagen vehicles in the future. The announcement came from Volkswagen with very-secretive Apple refusing to comment. So, we’ll have a Volkswagen “iCar” soon?
RUMOR: Several Apple-related announcements concerning Apple interfaces with cars will be made at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

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iPod, iPhone, SYNC Force Apple to React
We have heard vibrations about Apple beginning to move into the automotive space for years.
First, consumers have been screaming for better solutions to integrate their iPod with their car for years now. Some solutions have been successful. Some have been very crude. But this has forced Apple and the carmakers into a dialog about how to best integrate iPod with their vehicles.
Second, with the recent introduction of the iPhone, Apple has another device that makes the second step towards the holy grail of car-dom. More on that later.
Third, with Microsoft’s SYNC (see the VehicleVoice video podcast of the SYNC system from the 2007 CES) system being launched on Fiats and Fords it is only logical to believe Apple will move into the same space, but probably do it better with more elegance and intuition.
Fourth, Apple’s sense of design would blend perfectly with the design language of several premium brands. Apple could become an icon in automotive entertainment like Bose, Nakamichi, Levinson, Infinity, Rockford Fosgate, but with even more style and elegance.
Fifth, using Apple TV-type interfaces, the car, home computer, iPhone, iPod could be inter-connected wirelessly every time the car pulls into the garage. Steve will own the world.
The Holy Grail – Full Automotive Integration with One Portable Device
Since AutoPacific began working in “Telematics” in the late 1990s, it was apparent that the holy grail for integrating with the automobile would be some sort of portable device that would wirelessly sync with the car. Imagine the car as a receptor and the monitor in the center stack as the display monitoring the interface. A person’s iPhone holding GPS data could immediately sync with the navigation system. The data would be continuously updated through the iPhone and to the car. A person’s address book, music files, etc would be on the iPhone and synced with the car continuously. Since these devices would be on the “human” and not hardwired into the car they could more easily and cheaply upgraded. And, it would all look great!
Can’t wait for CES. I wanna to see this stuff. Hope it’s true.
Just to show the iCar idea is not new, check out this link from 1999. And, check out the 1998 story below the fold.


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2007 Motorist Choice Awards Announced

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The Motorist Choice Award is in its second year and is a collaboration between AutoPacific and IntelliChoice.com. AutoPacific, widely known for its industry expertise and research, and IntelliChoice, known for its comprehensive cost of ownership information, designed the Motorist Choice Award to help consumers identify the most satisfying cars and trucks that are also the least expensive to own.
Using data from AutoPacific’s national Vehicle Satisfaction research and the IntelliChoice Best Overall Value information, AutoPacific and IntelliChoice have developed a unique tool that can be used by consumers to help them sort through the myriad of choices in today’s automotive marketplace.
Here are the 2007 Winners of the 25 individual segment awards:
SEGMENT – Winner
Aspirational Luxury Car – Lexus IS
Compact Car – Mazda3
Compact Crossover SUV – Chevrolet HHR
Compact Pickup – Toyota Tacoma
Compact Sport Utility/ORV – Toyota Tacoma
Economy Car – Honda Fit
Image Compact Car – Volkswagen GTi
Large Car – Toyota Avalon
Large Heavy Duty Pickup – Chevrolet Silverado HD
Large Light Duty Pickup – Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Large Luxury Car – Cadillac DTS
Large Sport Utility – GMC Yukon XL
Luxury Crossover SUV – Acura MDX
Luxury Mid-Size Car – Nissan Maxima
Luxury Sport Utility – Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Mid-Size Car – Volkswagen Jetta
Mid-Size Crossover SUV – Honda CR-V
Mid-Size Sport Utility – Toyota 4Runner
Minivan – Honda Odyssey
Premium Luxury Car – Lexus LS
Premium Mid-Size Car – Nissan Altima
Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV – Nissan Murano
Premium Sports Car – Lexus SC
Sports Car – Porsche Boxster
Sporty Car – Scion tC
The press release can be found below the fold.
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