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2009 Volkswagen Jetta: Motorist Choice Award Winner

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VW_09_JettaTDI_3.jpg“Pulling ahead of the competition in the Mid-Size Car segment, the Volkswagen Jetta wins AutoPacific’s 2009 Motorist Choice Award. This after winning AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle and Owner Recommendation Awards. Jetta offers a touch of class and German engineering not found in the competition which, when added to the high ratings for powertrain and safety, makes it a Motorist Choice.” — AutoPacific
“The Jetta has best-in-segment ownership costs. The Jetta has the highest retained value and lowest fuel costs in the segment.” — IntelliChoice
Owner Satisfaction Highlights
* Cargo Space / Capacity
* Powertrain and Acceleration
* Braking
* Handling
* Fun to Drive
* Feeling Safe While Driving
Cost-of-Ownership Strengths
* Best-in-Segment Ownership Costs
* Best Retained Value
* Lowest Fuel Costs


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2009 Volkswagen Tiguan Wins AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size CUV

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2009_VW_Tiguan.jpgVolkswagen seizes the lead in the Mid-Size Crossover SUV segment over strong competition including the well-regarded Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and major change Ford Escape. How did they do that? With great owner satisfaction ratings for overall satisfaction, and specifically with respect to:
• Fun-to-drive, power/acceleration, handling
• Exterior and interior styling including instrument layout, the feel of interior fabrics and materials, and the quality feel/operation of controls
• Durability/long lasting


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VehicleVoice Panelists' Opinion of Manufacturers

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During the last week of March 2007, 1,254 VehicleVoice panelists responded to an Internet survey concerning their opinion of major automakers in the USA. VehicleVoice asked these questions because the opinion of buyers and their attitudes towards various aspects of a manufacturer’s image are critically important. Managing image and opinion plus understanding what is driving that opinion can influence whether a person will positively consider or reject a brand next time they are in the market.
The key question in the VehicleVoice survey was whether the respondent’s opinion of a manufacturer had changed since this time last year. If their opinion had changed, the panel member was given the chance to explain why their opinion had changed. We received over 5,000 comments concerning these manufacturers. Some were as short one word. Some were as long as a page of 10-point type. Folks really had a lot to say and their comments were fascinating.

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Discussion for each of the brands is below the fold.


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My Automotive Holiday Wish List

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One of the interesting things about working in the automotive industry is the exposure you get to all kinds of different vehicles and technology. And the folks at AutoPacific and VehicleVoice get to sample all kinds of cool, not so cool, and plain awful cars, trucks, SUVs, and tech gadgets. So, at this festive time of year, I thought it might be fun to organize my own “holiday automotive wish list” for your reading enjoyment. It’s not scientific, per se, but it does perhaps relate to our own “top ten” cool car bits and pieces.

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1. 2007 Saleen/Parnelli Jones Boss 302 Mustang
This is big. There are all kinds of mustangs out there, but this is the one you want to grab and hang on to. It’s officially called the Saleen/Parnelli Jones, but it’s unofficially the best 302 Boss Mustang on the planet (and it is different from the upcoming Ford Boss 302).
There are so many Mustang variants out there, one might wonder about long-term resale and value. Well, there’s no need to worry about resale with this bad boy. It is very similar in design (including awsome shaker hood scoop) to the 1970 Boss 302 Mustang that Parnelli Jones won the Trans Am Championship in. But, it has all of today’s creature-features, plus tire smokin’ power. A 302 CID (5 Liter) SOHC V8 putting out 400HP at 6000rpm – and this car is essentially blueprinted. So, while it doesn’t have Shelby horses, it does have purebred power – and a unique “look” that will keep this car’s value in the black for the rest of your life. (Watch for our podcast on the new Saleen/Parnelli Jones Mustang next week – I get Parnelli to share the history of this car and why it really is a Parnelli/Saleen, not the other way around!)


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VW Axes Traditional Car Ads for New Media

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Volkswagen NA has turned another corner in its quest to turn traditional marketing programs upside down. Following up on its successful FAST campaign, VW has upped the ante with a new multimedia program called “VDUBSROCK.” While it’s too early to know if the program will be a success, there’s no doubt it is establishing the importance of community marketing and new media in the sales process.

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Buy a Guitar, Get a Car… Reminiscent of Buy a Bike, Get a Jetta – Jetta Trek
The VW program promotes an unusual opportunity. Purchase one of four VW models (GTI, New Beetle, Jetta, and Rabbit), and get a new guitar – and not just any guitar, either. The First Act Garage Master guitar includes a built-in pre-amp, so you can plug the axe into your new car and literally play along with music in the car.


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Volkswagen iroc – Next Scirocco – VW Gets Revival Bug

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Volkswagen has revealed their latest concept car, the Iroc. Dressed in Viper Green metallic paint, a color pulled from the 1976 Scirocco range, the model is our first look at the direction Volkswagen will go in developing a new-century Scirocco, as well as new take on the evolution of the VW corporate face and the company’s intent to use grille shape to differentiate models. Volkswagen had already confirmed a Scirocco revival for the 2009MY. We don’t know if VW needs another hot hatch, with the GTI admirably filling that role, but it could make for an interesting proposition.

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While Chevrolet and Dodge race to revive storied muscle cars from the late 1960s and early 1970s, VW is planning to revive the Scirocco coupe. The first Scirocco was introduced thirty-three years ago, and was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro.
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The Iroc is a three-door hatchback with a coupe-like stance, a long roof, and a steeper rear window; the result is optimized interior space wrapped in a sporty appearance. A pillars are hidden behind an unusually wide windshield. The concept looks to revive the idea of the first Scirocco rather than an idealized version of its specific form. The first formula was a front-drive, performance-oriented, four-seat sports coupe. There is seating for four and room for weekend luggage.
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The concept shown held VW’s new TSI gasoline four-cylinder, available in Europe but not yet offered in the States, though the U.S.-spec car could offer a V6 instead. The 1.4L DOHC 16v I4 engine gets diesel fuel economy from gasoline, and VW is developing this engine in several outputs and levels of assist, ranging from 150HP to 210HP. The TSI, or twincharger, engine employs both turbo and supercharging to maximize output from a small, fuel-efficient engine. The transmission, of course, is the VW-Audi DSG automated manual. As was true of the first Scirocco, the version due to arrive Stateside for 2009MY will be based on the most recent Golf platform.


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When a Manual Becomes Automatic

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I learned how to drive with a manual transmission. My instructor, a former racing driver turned attorney, explained how important it was to have control over the gears and to not assume anything – or to leave chance to an automatic transmission. I loved shifting when I started driving, and yes, it did make me feel as if I had more control over the vehicle. Once, during a rainstorm, my “total control” did put me (aged 16) and my BMW 1602 askew in somebody’s front yard. With that exception, I have always enjoyed driving a car with a manual transmission. I must be lucky, as my wife feels the same way.

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A Typical 6-Speed Stick

Yet, manual transmission cars have been on the decline for many years, notably here in America. Drivers here seem to prefer the lack of exercise required when sitting on the highway or freeway with 200,000 of your closest neighbors sharing the same lane and destination. And recently, when searching for a new car, I’ve come across more and more situations where a manual transmission just wasn’t available.


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Volkswagen Shows Concept Motorcycle – GX3

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Three-Wheeled, Two-Passenger Toy
Volkswagen AG dispatched a group of German engineers, planners and marketers to the USA to learn about the American car market. The code name for this group of traveling market monitors was “Moonraker”. The Volkswagen GX3 concept is a product of the Moonraker project.
Volkswagen’s Design Center in California worked with the Moonraker team to develop a new concept for fuel-efficient fun mobility specifically geared toward U.S. buyers. The direction was to create a quintessential and pure driving machine. The inspiration was the minimalist design language found in GP motorcycles and F1 race cars. The result is the GX3. Though not the first time that VW has studied a three-wheeled vehicle, this one the company claims may be built if reaction is positive. VW is looking beyond the typical vehicle shapes and segments to come up with new opportunities for increasing U.S. sales.
At its introduction at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006, the GX3 created a mob scene when Wolfgang Bernhard, the new head of the Volkswagen group in Germany, drove the GX3 onto the stand. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents were on hand to learn what GX3 has to offer. The first thing to come to mind is a striking similarity to a twenty-plus year old concept called the Trihawk that used a Peugeot front wheel drive system and a single rear wheel “dragged” along for the ride. Trihawk was purchased by Harley-Davidson in the mid-1980s but never saw production after Harley bought the brand and the vehicle. In those days, Harley was in dire straits and had no resources to expand beyond its bread and butter motorcycle lineup.


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Volkswagen Passat Range Expands With New Wagon

Passat Wagon Introduced at 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show
The all new Passat sedan went on sale in in the USA in Fall 2005, with the launch of the wagon in January 2006, about the time that the range also added 4Motion models just in time for Winter in the Snow Belt. The Passat wagon has been available in Europe since late 2005 with the USA launch at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show clearly overshadowed by the reveal of the Volkswagen GX3 concept 3-wheel motorcycle.
The wagon benefits from all of the updates the sedan received for 2006 model year, including all-new sheetmetal bearing the latest design direction of the brand and a switch from longitudinal to transverse engine placement. The Passat continues with a choice of in-line four or V6 powerplants. The previous-generation offered a W8 engine that did not sell well has been dropped with the transverse powertrain Golf-based Passat.
The Passat sedan and wagon are offered in similar trim and engine packages, including the 2.0T Value Edition, the 2.0T, the 3.6L and the 3.6L 4Motion. There are two engines available with the latest North American Passat, an in-line four-cylinder and a V6, with no diesel yet offered. A direct-injection 200HP 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16v I4 replaced the prior generation’s 1.8L four-cylinder. The V6 engine is also a direct-injection unit that replaced the 2.8L of the prior generation. While several VAG products offer this latest VR6 in 3.2L displacement, the Passat (and Touareg) gets a 280HP 3.6L version. Volkswagen only offers its 4Motion system when the V6 is selected, whether sedan or wagon. The sedan and the wagon offer the same powertrain lineup, the same basic trim level setup, and the same optional equipment. Models taking the 200HP I4 are badged 2.0T, with the V6-equipped models badged 3.6L or 3.6L 4Motion. Only a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic is offered; no manual transmission is planned for this family-oriented entry.


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2005 Volvo XC90 Top Luxury SUV Winning AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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Volvo XC90 Wins AutoPacific 2005 Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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“The widely acclaimed Volvo XC90 car-based sport utility rates highest among Luxury Sport Utility Vehicles for 2005. XC90 owners rate their Luxury SUV strongly in the reputation of the Volvo brand, feeling safe while driving (no surprise there… it’s a Volvo!), front seat room, cargo capacity, interior materials, anticipated resale value, quietness and controls. These combine to deliver a very balanced product from a respected brand.”
The Infiniti QX56 was a close second to the Volvo. XC90 nosed out the QX56 due to its perceived superior safety attributes.


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