2005 Mazda6 Excels in AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award 3-Peat

Mazda6 Wins AutoPacific 2005 Standard Mid-Size Car Vehicle Satisfaction Award for the Third Year in a Row

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“Mazda’s style/sport/fun/value heritage pays off again in 2005 for the third year in a row with an entertaining vehicle focused on the driving enthusiast. Others may have size and bulk; 6 is lean and lithe. Others may have great automatics; 6 beckons with a manual. The Mazda 6 is not the typical mid-line, mid-size sedan. Instead, it is the exceptional one. Different to the core.”

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2005 Nissan Altima Ties With Buick LaCrosse for AutoPacific Premium Mid-Size Vehicle Satisfaction Award

Nissan Altima and Buick LaCrosse Tie for AutoPacific 2005 Premium Mid-Size Car Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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“Altima achieves class-leading performance in 2005 with a substantial upgrade to its interior finally complementing its outstanding exterior styling and powertrains. Now built in two plants, Smyrna, Tennessee (alongside Maxima) and Canton, Mississippi, Altima provides its owners a combination of style, size and performance that others in its class do not match. Think of Altima as an American-designed, American-made, Japanese brand Premium Mid-Size Car. Altima caters to owners wanting distinctive styling and driving enthusiasm.”
“The all-new Buick LaCrosse has what it takes to satisfy Buick owners demanding efficiently sized, affordably priced transportation. LaCrosse has a combination of new styling, generous interior space, driving ease and brand image that Buick owners have come to expect. LaCrosse – clearly a Buick owners have embraced. LaCrosse is American through and through delivering size and comfort to discerning buyers of American Premium Mid-Size Cars.”


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2005 Lincoln Town Car Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

Lincoln Town Car Wins AutoPacific 2005 Luxury/Large Car Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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“Owners of the Lincoln Town Car rate the large American Luxury Car tops in its category. Town Car owners are especially fond of exterior styling that communicates affluence without being ostentatious. The strongly rated Town Car interior coddles the driver and passengers in traditional American luxury. What they expect, they get.”
Town Car won its class over the perennial winner Cadillac DeVille – a winner of seven straight previous Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.


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Titan Top Ranked Vehicle, Truck, Big Pickup in AutoPacific's 2005 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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Nissan Titan Wins AutoPacific 2005 Large Light-Duty Pickup Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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Owners of the 2005 Nissan Titan rate the pickup not only at the top of its Large Light-Duty Pickup category, but also as the top rated vehicle overall. This is an outstanding accomplishment and testament to the satisfaction Titan is giving its owners.
Titan’s achievement is truly remarkable and demonstrates the inherent differences in AutoPacific’s way of measuring satisfaction compared with others. Titan is immensely satisfying, but owner surveys conducted by others show Titan has a fair share of niggling problems. But, if you are not counting things gone wrong and looking at what really matters – how well buyers are satisfied – Titan shines. Its big, powerful V8 engine combined with outstanding styling and features provide the top-satisfying product package for 2005.
“We cannot ignore that two large trucks produced at Nissan’s Canton Mississippi assembly plant won top place in their categories for 2005 – Nissan Titan and Nissan Armada. Nissan’s third large truck – the luxury Infiniti QX56 also rated very well. This is a sweep any company can be envious of.
AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are given to top rated vehicles for satisfaction in their vehicle category based on owner responses to an annual national mail survey.


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2005 Jaguar XJ Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

Jaguar XJ Wins AutoPacific 2005 Luxury Car Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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Owners of the Jaguar XJ rate the XJ highest in the Luxury Car category. The rating for XJ comes from especially strong results for exterior and interior styling, image, fun-to-drive and ease of use. XJ’s traditional and sensuous Jaguar styling resonate with its buyers and its dynamic qualities reinforce its outstanding looks.
In a close race to the finish with the 2005 Lexus LS430, the Jaguar XJ nosed ahead because of the more subjective ratings given by its owners. Styling, image, fun to drive were all rated higher than the LS430. German luxury cars, interestingly, were rated substantially lower by their owners primarily because of ease of use and niggling reliability problems that took their vehicles to the dealer service department more often.
AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are given for category wins based on owner responses to an annual national mail survey.


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2005 Nissan Maxima Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

Nissan Maxima Wins AutoPacific 2005 Entry Luxury Car Vehicle Satisfaction Award for the Second Year in a Row – Top Rated Car

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Maxima has topped the Nissan lineup since the early eighties and the 2005 model continues the success Nissan achieved when the car was all new in 2004. For 2005, Maxima, in fact, is the top rated car overall. In a broad vehicle segment where Maxima is actually the least expensive entry, it wins with a combination of distinctive styling, good quality, excellent value and a healthy dose of product excitement. Maxima successfully balances value and flair in a way that clearly attracts American entry-luxury buyers.
AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award is given to top ranking vehicles in their product category based on the results from owner responses to a national mail survey.


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2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab

Dodge is expanding its bragging rights in the full-size pickup truck market, even if sales of the Ram are consistently below rivals Ford F-150 and GMC Sierra/Chevrolet Silverado. The next addition to the Ram lineup, the Dodge Ram Mega Cab, arrives in summer 2005 as a 2006 model-year vehicle. Described by Dodge public relations as their Texas hauler, they expect the Mega Cab to do for pickups what Stow-n-Go has done for minivans. While not disclosing volume targets, Dodge believes the Mega Cab will be a high-volume Ram derivative.
By taking the 160.5-inch heavy-duty wheelbase and using a six-foot, three-inch bed instead of the eight-foot bed, Dodge gained twenty inches and put it in the crew cab; nearly all of the extra space went to the second row. Dodge will offer the Ram Mega Cab only in heavy-duty configuration, with the HEMI or Cummins diesel engines.
Along with the 2500-pound payload and 16,000-pound towing capacity of the HD truck, the interior offers the first second-row truck seats that include room enough to recline as well as to slide fore and aft. These seats fold 60/40 (without removing the headrests) for a flat cargo floor, creating 71 cubic feet in cargo room. With the seats up, available cargo space is 7.6 cubic feet, and there are several closed storage cubbies behind the second-row seats. The cab has a whopping 145.2 cubic feet interior volume overall, and at 111.1 inches long is more than a foot longer than the F-150 Crew Cab. Making ingress and egress of both people and stuff into the second row easier are doors that open a full 88 degrees.
The Mega Cab will be offered in SLT and Laramie trim levels, with available conveniences including heated seats, power sliding rear window, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, full-screen navigation, and adjustable pedals.
With the changes to the seating, Dodge also tweaked the face of the truck (sides and rear remain the same) and the rest of the interior. Among the changes are a new crosshair grille even more Magnum-like; new headlights; and a new lower front fascia. The instrument panel and center stack take on some cues from the Dakota as well.

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2006 Kia Sedona

The second iteration of Kia’s Sedona minivan arrives at dealers in late 2005 for the 2006 model year. Using a platform shared with the new-for-2006MY Hyundai Sonata (NF) and next-generation Kia Optima, the latest Sedona meets the competition nearly feature for feature. Larger and more upscale, this Sedona will go head to head with the new larger, more contemporary minivans from Honda, Toyota, and Nissan and likely do it at a lower price point.
The Sedona gains size, features, utility, and a bigger engine. Replacing the existing unit will be a 240+HP 3.8L V6 being introduced to the Hyundai/Kia product range in the minivan. In the Sedona, the V6 is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. This will put Sedona in the middle of the pack from a power standpoint, giving more than the General Motors minivans (200HP, Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana SV6, Saturn Relay, and Buick Terraza), Toyota Sienna (230HP), and perhaps the Nissan Quest (240HP), but likely less than the Honda Odyssey (255HP).
With the change, the third row now flips and folds into the floor and the second-row seats are also a one-touch fold setup, features which Kia could not have left out and still been competitive. Among the premium convenience features that will be optional on the Sedona are power sliding doors and liftgate, rear-parking sensor, power adjustable pedals, power sunroof, premium sound system with DVD player, and leather seating with heat for the front seats.
Expect aggressive pricing, as well as a high level of standard features, including six airbags (the curtain airbags extending to all three rows), ABS, triple-zone air conditioning, cruise control, and captain’s chairs in the second row. Stepping up to the next trim level adds items including a chrome grille, heated power mirrors, and the power sliding doors.

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2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Toyota plans to add yet another SUV to its lineup with the FJ Cruiser, which launches in early 2006 as a 2007MY vehicle. The FJ Cruiser introduced in Chicago is a development of a 2003 NAIAS concept bearing the same name. In fact, differences between the concept and production model are minimal. The FJ Cruiser unveiled at the 2005 Chicago auto show was a prototype of the production exterior; the interior has not yet been shown. The new Toyota will be an entry-level unit with pricing promised to stay within the realm of affordability for the younger buyers it is aimed at. It offers a much more rugged, outgoing, and aggressive personality than the RAV4, or any other Toyota SUV.
The FJ Cruiser takes styling cues from the FJ 40, otherwise known as the first Toyota Land Cruiser, but puts them into a completely modern package. Among the FJ 40 cues are the upright windshield, wraparound rear windows, and white cap. The five-passenger, stwo-door FJ is aimed at young male buyers with athletic, adventurous lifestyles, and includes rear access doors. Along with the rugged look exterior and on- and off-road capability, its pricing is promised to be aggressive and affordable. Toyota’s initial sales target is 40,000 units annually, though the company expects they could sell more.
The 2003 FJ Cruiser concept got show-car power from a 250HP 3.4L V6 massaged by Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and rode on twenty-inch wheels, but the production car will offer Toyota’s 245HP 4.0L V6. The V6 will get a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. An automatic limited-slip differential will be standard with the 4×2 models, and a fully locking differential will be optional. The FJ will launch with standard vehicle stability control, traction control, and ABS. For a platform, Toyota has looked to its successful 4Runner, though the FJ Cruiser is nearly eleven inches shorter in overall length.
When the FJ Cruiser reaches showrooms in early 2006 as a 2007 model-year vehicle, standard convenience features are planned to include CD player with MP3 capability, air conditioning, and tilt steering wheel. The fairly long options will include items like seventeen-inch alloy wheels, running boards, rear sonar backup assist, front-seat-mounted side airbags as well as side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, rear-parking assist, an upgraded stereo system, and interior accents in the exterior color.

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2006 Mercury Milan

Mercury is getting much needed new-product investment as part of Ford’s more new products, faster campaign and had several announcements at the 2005 Chicago auto show. As well as the Milan, Mercury announced it is bringing a hybrid to the Mariner for 2006, a year earlier than initially planned, and introduced a redesign of the Mountaineer. Though the platform supporting Milan is found under Lincoln Zephyr as well as Ford Fusion, the Milan shares more with the Fusion than the Zephyr.
Milan targets buyers in the 26-to-35 age bracket with a stylish, contemporary entry. Mercury family cues include satin aluminum accents inside and out as well as the signature waterfall grille. The interior can be had in black or two-tone, with either satin accents or wood. While as many as six airbags can be ordered on Milan, they are not standard. The standard equipment list does, however, include a power six-way drivers seat, remote keyless entry, and power heated sideview mirrors.
The architecure used for the Milan, Fusion, and Zephyr began as the Mazda6, but is wider and longer and is not the same platform per se. It uses different suspension components, geometry, and different stampings. Though derived from the Mazda 6, the Milan gains about two inches in wheelbase and width. This translates into exterior dimensions and interior room that will be vital for success in this segment.
This four-door, five-passenger unitbody sedan offers a fully independent suspension. The front is a short and long-arm arrangement, with a multi-link setup in the rear. Power is from the oft-used Ford 210HP Duratec 3.0L DOHC 24v V6, though the Mazda 160HP 2.3L DOHC 16v I4 serves as the base engine. A five-speed manual is the standard transmission, with a six-speed automatic mated to the V6 engine.


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