Automotive News


2014 Dodge Challenger SRT

Courtesy – Chrysler Group LLC

Does the novelty of a new car wear off easily with you?  Would you like to have a new car two years in a row without any money down, yet keep the same payments?  Then this deal is for you.

Dodge is offering a new program called “Double Up,” which allows customers to lease a new 2014 Dodge Charger or Challenger for 12 months, then trade for a new 2015 Charger or Challenger for the same payment on a 36-month lease.  No questions asked.  But that’s not all.  If the customer decides to purchase the 2015 model, they will receive $1000 cash back on the purchase.

Contact http://www.autoacademics.net for more info or to schedule a test drive near you.

 

Check out the release below:

Dodge Brand Offers ‘Double-Up’ Program on 2014 Dodge Charger and Challenger

  • Get a 2014 Charger or Challenger now; trade to a 2015 Charger or Challenger and keep the same payment
  • Innovative, industry-exclusive lease program offered through end of August 2014
  • No additional down payment required on eligible 2015 models
  • Flexibility to choose a Charger or Challenger now and switch to the other model later
  • Augmented reality App coming in May; experience 2015 Charger and Challenger on tablets and mobile devices
April 14, 2014 , Auburn Hills, Mich. -
New 2015 Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger muscle cars are coming later this year, but there is no need to wait to get into one of these performance icons.The Dodge brand has crafted the “Double-Up” program for Charger and Challenger enthusiasts. Eligible customers can lease a 2014 Charger or Challenger for 12 months, and leave the dealership with a guarantee that when they return in a year and follow program rules they will have the same lease payment on a new 2015 Charger or Challenger.

Customers can take advantage of this innovative program now through the end of August 2014.

“If you have your eye on a new Challenger or Charger, there’s no need to wait for the new models to arrive,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand President and CEO, Chrysler Group LLC. “The Dodge Double-Up program lets you drive today’s Charger or Challenger and trade to the 2015 with no increase in payment. This is our way of thanking our loyal Charger and Challenger customers, and extending this offer to any new customers longing to get into one of these iconic muscle cars.”

Both the Charger and Challenger were strong sales performers during 2013. Last year, the Charger recorded its best annual sales since 2007, while the Challenger posted its best annual sales ever.

Under this new “Double-Up” program, eligible customers may enter into a 12-month lease for a 2014 Charger (excluding Charger SE and Charger SRT) or a 2014 Challenger (excluding Challenger SRT).

When their 12-month lease is up these eligible customers who follow program rules are guaranteed the same lease payment on a 36-month lease, with no additional down payment, on select all-new 2015 Charger or Challenger models. Customers may lease any 2015 Charger (excluding Charger SE and Charger SRT) and any 2015 Challenger (excluding Challenger SRT). If customers choose to purchase the 2015 model, they will receive $1,000 bonus cash toward the purchase of the vehicle.

Customers must use the same Dodge dealership for both transactions, lease through Chrysler Capital and follow program rules for eligibility. Customers interested in this offer should see their Dodge dealer for program terms and conditions and further information.

In addition to revealing the 2015 Dodge Charger and 2015 Dodge Challenger this week at the New York Auto Show (NYAS), the brand has created a “Dodge 2015 Experience,” which provides consumers a unique browser-based 360-degree sneak preview of the new vehicles before they are available in dealer showrooms.

Dodge enthusiasts attending the New York Auto Show, and those visiting Dodge dealerships afterwards, will have the opportunity to check out the “Dodge 2015 Experience” on iPads programmed with 2015 Charger and Challenger photos, videos and 360-degree exterior and interior views.

They will also get the first peek at the upcoming three-dimensional augmented reality App coming in May. The App will allow consumers to experience the 2015 vehicles through their own tablets or mobile devices. Users can change the vehicle color and wheels, take 360-degree tours of the inside and outside of the new vehicles and drive their Chargers or Challengers on a virtual track.

About Dodge Brand
The Dodge brand is tearing into its centennial year with a keen eye focused on the future and a desire to create vehicles customers want to drive and are proud to park in their driveways. With 100 years of history, Dodge is building on the technological advancements of the ’30s and ’40s, design evolution of the ’50s, the racing heritage of the ’60s, the horsepower of the ’70s, the efficiency of the ’80s and unbelievable styling of the ’90s as it paves the road to its future. New for 2014, Dodge is kind of a big deal with its new 2014 Dodge Durango with a new eight-speed transmission that delivers up to 25 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway, a new 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment center and best-in-class power, towing and driving range, in addition to its class-exclusive technology. The new Durango joins a stable that includes the new 2014 Dodge Dart, with its breakthrough 2.4-liter 184-horsepower Tigershark engine, and the celebrated 2014 Dodge Avenger. Both earned 2014 Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Also new for 2014, Dodge is bringing back the legendary throwback Shaker hood and offering special 100th anniversary editions of the Charger and Challenger with unique exteriors and interiors to celebrate the centennial. Completing the 2014 Dodge lineup are the Journey with its new Crossroad model and the 30th Anniversary Grand Caravan. The Dodge lineup features five vehicles with best-in-class power, seven vehicles that deliver 25 mpg or higher, three vehicles that deliver 31 mpg or higher and three vehicles that offer seating for seven.

2014 Cadillac Escalade

© AutoAcademics

The 2014 Escalade is the final edition of the current generation full-size, truck-based SUV offered by Cadillac, prior to the arrival of an all-new from the ground up version soon to be available as a 2015 model.  In a time where many SUVs are being downsized in the name of fuel economy, luxury manufacturers continue to explore other ways to meet their green needs, while still giving affluent customers what they want.  Available in standard, ESV, Hybrid, and EXT body styles, Cadillac is offering its fair share of choices.

This time around, AutoAcademics was briefly given the keys to a 2014 Silver Coast Metallic Cadillac Escalade Luxury.  Cadillac throws in everything but the kitchen sink, as Magnetic Ride Control suspension, adaptive remote start, power sunroof, blind zone alert, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, rearview camera, and 22” 7-spoke aluminum wheels come standard on this base model.  M.S.R.P. for our luxury tester was $67,970 with top-level all-wheel drive Platinum versions starting at $83,070.

And since we mentioned it, there’s plenty of room to haul that kitchen sink.  A remote opening window resides in the power rear liftgate, providing access to a total of 108.9 cu.-ft. of cargo room when the 3rd row seating is removed.

2014 Cadillac Escalade Dash

© General Motors

Numerous features aside, the Escalade’s interior has definitely run its course, showing its age when compared to the rest of Cadillac’s youthful lineup.  On a positive note, perforated leather seating surfaces and real brushed aluminum plating with burled wood below, surround the 8” diagonal touch-screen and provide a nice contrast on the dash.  And an analog clock and wood trim on the heated steering wheel round out the luxury bullet points.

Power is provided by a 6.2L flex-fuel V8 engine that produces 403-hp, 417 lb-ft. of torque.  Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, this combination enables our 2WD Escalade to tow 8300 lbs.

EPA Estimated Fuel Economy is rated at 14 mpg city/18 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 16.  Mileage is drastically lower when running on E85, achieving only 10 mpg city/15 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 12 mpg.

Standard is Bose audio with navigation, consisting of a 10-speaker 5.1 surround sound system with integrated phone controls.  Introduction of Cadillac’s CUE interface has been postponed until the 2015 model.

Tri-zone automatic climate control with dials for driver and front passenger adjustment reside just below.  And individual buttons for heated and cooled front seats are present, as well.

As with many full-sized vehicles today, the 2014 Cadillac Escalade has electric pedal adjustment.  And the oversized, leather and wood adorned center armrest with dual compartments ensures that everything has a place when not in use.

Luxurious amenities are not exclusive to those up front.  Leather-lined, reclining Captain’s chairs with fold-down arm rests and heated seat cushions are standard appointments for the second row.  And plenty of head, shoulder, and legroom are as expected in a vehicle this size.  What isn’t typically expected is the minimal space in the 3rd row.

Separate rear passenger controls for the radio and other audio sources ensure that second row captains remain in control of their domain.  And adjustments for temperature are just a few button pushes away.  Footwell-located cupholders, might prove to be a risk, but thankfully 2nd row passengers each have another, with 2 more in the 3rd row.

Cadillac Escalade Cargo

© General Motors

While our driving time in the 2014 Cadillac Escalade was brief, it wasn’t our first time around the block in this vehicle.  Acceleration is brisk for an SUV weighing over 5500 lbs., and the Magnetic Ride Control suspension keeps all of that weight in check.  Not even the 22” wheel and tire combination could disturb the Escalade’s groove.  The soft brake pedal, however, does not inspire much confidence, whether driving fast or slow.

So as we wrap up our time with the 2014 Cadillac Escalade, we are reminded of all the successes this vehicle has garnered.  Big truck space and usability, wrapped up in a leather and wood adorned package, have made the Escalade an SUV of choice for many buyers.  It does now show its age, with many appointments downright outdated, but that just fills us with anticipation for what Cadillac has coming over the horizon.

Contact www.autoacademics.net for more info or to schedule a test drive near you.

2015 Ford Focus SE - front

The Ford Focus has been named the best-selling vehicle in the world for the second straight year, according to Polk, an automotive forecasting company. The 1,097,618 Focuses sold in 2013 account for an 8.1 percent increase over 2012.

Polk compiles its data from global vehicle registration data. Based on that data, the Focus edged out the Toyota Corolla each year. Larger vehicles that traditionally lead the United States in sales, like the Toyota Camry and the Ford F-150, are often much lower – or not ranked at all – on global lists.

The news couldn’t have been announced at a better time for Ford as the new Focus 4-door sedan will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show next week. The current-gen 2011-2014 Focus, designed under the company’s One Ford strategy, is a global platform that featured enhanced driving dynamics, affordable tech, and higher quality materials than previous vehicles in this class. For 2015, the Focus aims to continue this trend by offering a more upscale interior, class-leading technology, 2015 Ford Focus SE - interiorand the option of Ford’s award-winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine with a new 6-speed manual transmission, raising the bar in fuel efficiency among non-hybrid compact vehicles.

While the announcement of a new Focus for 2015 may not be as glamorous as the Mustang or F-150 reveals from earlier this year, it could be considered the most important of the bunch. The main reason is that we Americans are not the ones responsible for the Focus’ amazing sales numbers. More than one-third were sold in China. According to a December 2013 Forbes article, more than 80 percent of all Focuses are sold outside of the United States. By comparison, about half of all Camry and Honda Civic sales are IN the United States.

Also making news for Ford is the Fiesta, which was named the best-selling subcompact vehicle in the same Polk study. With 735,299 Fiestas registered, Ford sold more than 1.8 million small cars in 2013, a 4 percent increase over 2012.

Contact www.autoacademics.net for more info or to schedule a test drive near you.

2015 Ford Focus SE - rear

By:  Nick Palermo

ATLANTA: March 26, 2014:  The Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association named the 2015 Acura TLX Prototype Best in Show at the Atlanta International Auto Show, which takes place from March 26 through March 30 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Acura TLX Concept

“With more than 400 vehicles on the floor, choosing a Best in Show winner was daunting,” said Nick Palermo, president of GAAMA. “But the Acura TLX Prototype is truly a standout. Slated for production later this year, the stylish midsize sedan promises to be both sporty and luxurious. And with several drivetrain choices, the TLX will be powerful and efficient. Acura’s reputation for quality, reliability and value are sure to make the 2015 TLX an excellent choice for Atlanta drivers who want it all.”

GAAMA also awarded prizes in the following categories:

 

Best New Vehicle: 2015 Ford Mustang

2015 Ford Mustang GT

Completely redesigned for 2015, the new Mustang leaps forward while staying true to its 50-year heritage. A powerful and fuel-efficient new turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available alongside traditional V6 and V8 engine choices. Ford fitted a new suspension to improve ride and handling, too. Purists will still love it, though, thanks to styling that’s a refined nod to the original.

 

Best Green Vehicle: 2015 Kia Soul EV

2015 Kia Soul EV

Efficiency is grand, but green cars shouldn’t be boring. That’s why the funky yet practical Kia Soul makes such an ideal platform for electrification. When it goes on sale later this year, the 2015 Kia Soul EV is expected to provide 80-100 miles of zero-emissions driving, on par with competitors. The Soul EV adds value with a standard DC fast-charging port to quickly recharge batteries using a commercial DC fast charger.

 

Best New Truck/SUV: 2015 Cadillac Escalade

2015 Cadillac Escalade

Stylish, high-tech and luxurious, the new 2015 Escalade is the latest iteration of an SUV that’s become a symbol of automotive indulgence. Few vehicles can match its spacious comfort or truck-like towing capability. The fourth-generation Escalade brings finer interior appointments, bold LED lighting and standard CUE infotainment.

 

Best New Crossover: 2014 Toyota Highlander

2014 Toyota Highlander

Drivers expect crossover vehicles to provide the space and comfort of an SUV along with the efficiency and drivability of a sedan or wagon. The redesigned 2014 Toyota Highlander hits a sweet spot. With a standard third-row seat, the Highlander accommodates up to eight passengers. All-wheel drive is available, as is a fuel-efficient hybrid version. Trim choices range from value-oriented to near-luxury.

 

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GAAMA objective is to further professionalism of the automotive media, provide a forum for newsworthy people and products connected with the automotive industry and to bring together people whose activities are related to the field of automotive journalism, public relations and related fields for the mutual benefit of all parties.

2014 ATL Auto Show Tix

It’s that time of year again!  Atlanta’s four-wheeled finest have convened in the Georgia World Congress Center, showcasing everything from green to mean cars that are (or soon will be) available on your local dealers’ lots.

March 26-30, in C Building of the Congress Center, visitors can explore over 30 different lines of cars, trucks, and SUVs/crossovers.  AutoAcademics saw notables, such as Ford’s all-new F-150 pickup truck, the 2015 Chrysler 200, Hyundai’s luxury-swathed K900, and Cadillac’s tough, yet classy redo of the Escalade, to name a few.  And if you’re looking for something a little less likely to end up in your neighbor’s driveway, BMW is showcasing its all-electric i3, Maserati’s sweet sounding Ghibli is present, and some ultra-exotics from McLaren and Lamborghini are in appearance, too.  Even the Fox5 Storm Chaser Ford Expedition is on display.

For those of you who like the classics, you may want to check out the “THEN & NOW” section that features old school and new school pairings of similar models.  And if you’re like AutoAcademics and enjoy participating in the experience any way you can, be

Camp Jeep

Camp Jeep

sure to take a look at the Ride and Drive events where Chrysler, General Motors, Kia, Mazda, Toyota, and Volkswagen will let you take a spin in any number of their vehicles.  If that’s not enough, Camp Jeep has made its first ever appearance at the Atlanta Auto Show, allowing attendees an opportunity to ride shotgun, experiencing the extreme off-road capabilities of Jeep vehicles.

Basically, there is something for everybody, and if you happen to experience Atlanta’s finest gathering of new cars, keep an eye out for us.  You may just see AutoAcademics taking in the scenery with Thor, Spongebob Squarepants, or Captain America this weekend.

 

Here are a few of the vehicles you may want to see up close:

 

2015 Chevrolet Colorado / Tahoe / Suburban

2015 Chevrolet Colorado 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe 2015 Chevrolet Suburban

 

2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

 

2015 Kia Soul EV / Kia K900

2015 Kia Soul EV 2015 Kia K900

 

2014 BMW M4 / BMW i3

2014 BMW M4 2014 BMW i3

 

2014 Nissan Rogue / Nissan GT-R Nismo

2014 Nissan Rogue 2014 Nissan GT-R Nismo

 

2014 Mazda3

2014 Mazda3 sedan

 

2014 Jeep Cherokee / 2015 Chrysler 200

2014 Jeep Cherokee 2015 Chrysler 200

 

2014 Toyota Highlander / Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

2014 Toyota Highlander 2014 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

 

2015 Hyundai Genesis

2015 Hyundai Genesis

 

Acura TLX Concept

Acura TLX Concept

 

2014 Audi A3 sedan / Audi RS7

2014 Audi A3 sedan 2014 Audi RS7

 

2015 Lincoln MKC / Lincoln Navigator L

2015 Lincoln MKC 2015 Lincoln Navigator L

 

2015 Ford F-150 / 2015 Ford Mustang GT

2015 Ford F-150 2015 Ford Mustang GT

 

2015 Cadillac Escalade

2015 Cadillac Escalade

2013 Lexus ES 350

Currently in its sixth generation, the ES has been a staple in the Lexus lineup since the beginning of Lexus time.  Consumers happy with the Camry, but ready for the step up to more luxury found the ES a perfect choice.  Since then, however, midsize entry-level luxury sedans have evolved over the years.  Cushy comfort is out and sports car-like driving characteristics are in (blame Bavaria’s finest).  The 2013 Lexus ES 350 arguably employs its most aggressive design language yet, and from a first glance, this car’s DNA appears to have mutated as well.  The question is, “Is it really as sporty as it looks?”

Outside, the Lexus spindle-shaped grille and “L” designed daytime running lights and taillights help to highlight the new design motif.  Our Matador Red Mica tester came optioned with the Premium Package, hard disk drive Lexus ES 350 18" wheelsnavigation, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a few other options to bring its M.S.R.P. to $43,684.

Under the hood, is a 3.5L aluminum V6 engine that makes 268-hp.  It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift that drives the front wheels.

Fuel economy is on par with, if not better than, other luxury sedans in this class.  The EPA rates the ES 350 at 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway, with a combined rating of 24, and AutoAcademics saw an average of 25.1 mpg during testing.

Inside, the Lexus ES 350 has 10-way NuLuxe seating, and the console, steering wheel and dash are accented with dark brown bird’s-eye maple wood and piano black trim.  As expected, the ES is very comfortable for both the driver and passengers.Lexus ES 350 NuLuxe Seats

Depending upon your interests, however, the driving dynamics of the ES 350 are also what you would expect.  The very feats that the ES accomplishes so successfully can also be its Achilles heel in the realm of sports sedans.  Although the engine pulls satisfyingly strong, both from a standstill and while cruising, the isolated cabin tends to mute the good sounds (engine and exhaust) along with the bad (wind, tires, etc.), withdrawing occupants from any spirited driving tasks at hand.  This, along with the comfort-biased suspension tuning minimizes the experience while cruising down the road.

The 6-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly, and the ES does have the Drive Mode Select dial, similar to what is found in the LS 460 FSPORT, but in the 350’s case, you can only control steering resistance (Sport) and HVAC efficiency (Eco) with the dial, not suspension rates, transmission shift points or throttle mapping, as with the LS.

AutoAcademics recognizes that everyone does not want a hardcore sports sedan, and that is the beauty of the current gen Lexus ES 350.  Its exterior styling is possibly the nicest yet, and few (if any) cars offer a quieter, smoother cruise on the highway in this price range.  And when you think about it, to all those transitioning out of Camrys, looking the part is possibly all that’s really necessary.

Check out video of AutoAcademics’ first look and drive of the 2013 Lexus ES 350 below.

IMG_20131111_132443

A study conducted by Fixya shows that the Toyota Camry edges the Honda Civic as the most reliable of five popular vehicles.

The “Test of Time” report compiles information from four million troubleshooting requests to determine which car is most dependable. It also highlights the most common problems for each vehicle. The report encompasses all models of the five cars from the past 10 years.

All five vehicles were assigned a number based on the ratio of total cars sold to the number of problems reported. The Camry (.15) ranked highest, while the Civic (.17) was close behind. The Honda Accord (.28) finished third, followed by the Toyota Corolla (.33) and the Ford Focus (.54).

The report gives car buyers an opportunity to consider potential problems – and future repair costs – before purchasing a vehicle.

“Buying a car is a big decision – both financially and for reasons of safety, and every vehicle is going to have its own, unique problems,” said Fixya CEO and founder Yaniv Bensadon. “Consumers often turn to Fixya when troubleshooting issues with their cars, and by organizing and publicizing the data from years of questions and answers being posed, we sought to give consumers a fair and accurate comparison between these vehicles to aid their purchase decisions.”

According to the report, gas pedal and acceleration issues were the most common for the Camry and Corolla. The most prevalent problem for the Civic was brakes. Transmission problems ranked highest for the Accord and power steering for the Focus.

Fixya, as stated on its website, “is a community based trouble-shooting resource that provides consumer-generated, practical product tips to help consumers solve problems on over 12 million products.” The website attracts 20 million visitors monthly.

Further details from the press release are below. For more information, click on this link for the full report: http://blog.fixya.com/fixyareport/feb2014/car-report-sedans-test-of-time.html

The biggest issue among Honda Accord owners was transmission trouble– whether that was the engine stalling while starting the vehicle, a slight delay in response time when accelerating, and the gearbox feeling like it is disengaging while driving the vehicle. Smaller issues included headlight and power steering issues, but these are both less worrisome and expensive for Accord owners.

Over the years, Toyota has experienced serious gas pedal and acceleration issues with the Camry (and Corolla) – and in 2009 saw widespread controversy due to the issue. This has been cause for concern with Camry owners, along with power steering and troubles with its electrical system.

Not surprisingly, Fixya users also experienced these same gas pedal problems with their Toyota Corollas. The Test of Time report offers several potential causes and solutions, one of which being user error from not shifting to neutral when shifting in to gear.

Ford Focus owners reported having a lot of problems with the power steering in their vehicles, which could be caused from rundown brake pads, the power steering fluid needing to be replaced, or even a steering rack in need of inspection and tune up.

Honda Civic owners on Fixya had the most trouble with their brakes – whether that was problems with their brake lights or the brakes themselves. Issues with brakes are particularly worrisome to owners, with consumers feeling vibrations when braking and taking longer than normal for braking to complete. This could be caused from worn down brake pads, warped brake rotors or a faulty brake pin.

Below are the top five problems for each line of sedans in the Fixya Test of Time Report, as well the number of troubleshooting requests attributed to that specific problem:

 Top 5 Toyota Camry Issues:

1. Gas Pedal/Acceleration — 43,000

2. Brake lights — 30,500

3. Power Steering — 24,000

4. Electrical System — 18,250

5. Windows — 18,000

 

Top 5 Ford Focus Issues:

1. Power Steering — 73,500

2. Headlights — 34,500

3. Door Issues — 33,750

4. Electrical System — 33,000

5. Break Lights — 11,000

 

Top 5 Honda Accord Issues:

1. Transmission — 74,000

2. Headlights — 37,250

3. Power Steering — 36,750

4. Fuel Pump — 28,250

5. Electrical System — 18,500

 

Top 5 Honda Civic Issues:

1. Brake lights — 35,750

2. Brakes — 23,500

3. Electrical System — 16,750

4. Dashboard — 13,250

5. Headlights — 10,500

 

Top 5 Toyota Corolla Issues

1. Gas Pedal/Acceleration — 63,250

2. Brakes — 42,500

3. Engine — 41,000

4. Electrical System — 33,000

5. Power Steering — 31,750

 

© General Motors

© General Motors – 2014 Cadillac ELR

The 2014 Cadillac ELR is a luxury coupe that aims to find that perfect balance between art, science, and innovation.  With heavily used stylistic cues from the 2009 Converj concept, Cadillac wants to deliver a driving experience that is luxurious, sporty, and environmentally friendly.

Just as the Cadillac ELR will be produced in limited numbers (some say as little as 10,000 will be made in total), the plug-in electric hybrid’s colors will also be limited, available at launch only in silver, graphite, red, and metallic black.  The ELR’s wedge-shaped silhouette is a modern look forward, without leaving Cadillac’s heritage behind.  On each corner, jeweled LED head- and tail lamp elements, signed by Cadillac itself, offer nods to Caddys from the late ‘40s, and “shaved-look” door handles allow the ELR’s character lines to remain in formation.

© General Motors

© General Motors

The plug-in hybrid’s charge port is located on the driver’s side front fender, just above the stylish 20-inch wheels surrounded by low-rolling-resistance tires.

To maximize aerodynamics, active grille shutters close automatically at highway speeds, and then open again when extra cooling is needed.

Under the hood, the ELR’s electric drive system is similar to the Chevrolet Volt’s in the same way that a Lotus Elise’s engine is to a Toyota Corolla.  They have the same source, but different details.  Cadillac’s version provides 295 lb.-ft. of instant torque and is powered by a T-shaped 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack located down the center of the car for optimal weight distribution.  Using only the battery, the ELR can travel up to 35 miles before the 1.4L gasoline generator is needed for charging.  Up to 340 miles is possible when the gas, electric, and human componentry work together.  If totally depleted, charging with a 120V electrical outlet takes 12-1/2 to 18 hours, or 5 hours with a 240V charger.

Around back, the Cadillac ELR has 10.5 cu. ft. of cargo capacity, and comes with pretty much everything you’d need to keep it running while on the go.

Inside, your senses will be welcomed with the look, smell, and feel of burl woods, carbon fiber,

© General Motors

© General Motors

and suede and premium leathers, accented by satin chrome surfaces.  Extra details, such as motorized cupholders and storage cubbies, and the remote opening glovebox are novel ways to impress coworkers still stuck in cubicles.

The 2014 Cadillac ELR is referred to as a 2+2 body style, with seating for two in back, as opposed to 3.

Technological features include standard Cadillac CUE with Navigation, programmable charging schedules, and energy efficiency reports via smartphone and online.  The dash has multiple 8-inch configurable displays that offer 4 modes of personalized information ranging from minimally elegant to a seemingly innumerable amount of tech details bordering on OCD.  A Bose 10-channel audio system with active noise cancellation is standard.

To help sweeten the pot, Cadillac is offering and installing a complimentary 240-volt home charging station for early adopters.

© General Motors

© General Motors

With an M.S.R.P. of $75,000, before any federal tax credits, luxury-minded techies and eco-friendly consumers will need to decide if the 2014 Cadillac ELR offers enough art, science, and innovation for their hard-earned kilowatts.

Contact http://www.autoacademics.net for more information or to schedule a test drive near you.

Take a look at AutoAcademics’ exclusive video of the 2014 Cadillac ELR below.

Photo courtesy Discovery

Photo courtesy Discovery

By:  Stephen A. Lawrence

Expensive vintage cars, father/son teams and a little bit of history sounds like a winning combination for a new TV show, but is it enough to compete for that valuable, and ever-diminishing space on your DVR? Rods N’ Wheels, a new reality series that focuses on classic car restoration, premiers on Discovery on Monday, January 27 at 10 p.m.

So what makes Rods N’ Wheels different from the other car shows already on the air? AutoAcademics chatted with Billy Derian and Steve Reck, the stars of Rods N’ Wheels, to find out. Their answer wasn’t as direct as we expected.

Derian and Reck believe that restoring vintage cars that could have ended up in a junkyard is like saving a piece of American history.

“A car can’t be replaced,” Reck said. “I love taking something ugly and turning it into something that puts a smile on your face when you go out.”

“I think of the stories of the people who owned it,” Derian added. “When I see a ’49 [Ford] Woody, I see a drive thru movie, a first kiss, a family. Cars are the backdrop of all of that.”

The first episode of Rods N’ Wheels meets that objective. The cameras follow Derian and Reck, their sons and a few other amusing characters as they work on classic cars at Da Rod Shop in Simi Valley, CA. But what Derian and Reck seemed just as enthusiastic about was the sense of camaraderie the guys in the shop shared. Reck says he and

Photo courtesy Discovery

Photo courtesy Discovery

Derian have known each other for 20 years and all of the guys working in the shop have been friends for a long time, as well.

“We want to show the interactions between fathers, sons and friends,” Derian said. “How cars can bring us all together, it’s not much different than food and culture.”

Derian genuinely sounded excited about the opportunity to work – and star in a television show – with his son, Billy Jr. as he elaborated on what he hopes the show will accomplish.

“There aren’t enough dads mentoring sons,” Derian said. “We want to show the importance of teaching work ethic. If you can take your kid under your wing in his 20s and bring him along, it means a lot.”

Billy Jr. (whose guns apparently scared the sleeves off of his Rod Shop shirt) and Reck’s son Shane (who Derian says could be a great mechanic if his OCD didn’t force him to wear rubber gloves) do a lot of the grunt work, but are trying to prove their worth so they can one day take over the shop. Some of the other players like Mike “The Professor” and the 3’5″ Arty “The Party” are intriguing and could use more time on camera, while others felt like they were – quite literally – along for the ride.

This hour-long premier is not lacking for content, but two layers in the multi-tiered show seemed to stand out for me. First, I wanted to see the transformation of the 1932 Ford 3-Window and the 1968 Camaro, which were the featured vehicles in this episode. Both came into the shop in less-than-desirable condition and they left looking like they belonged on a showroom floor. I just wish the producers could have brought us along for more of that journey from point-A to point-B.

The other aspect that drew me in was Billy Jr. and Shane’s quest to impress their fathers by restoring and selling a beat-up Camaro. My mind was inexplicably torn between rooting for their success and laughing at some of their ill-advised decisions. The feeling that they didn’t really know what they were doing added a dimension that was missing from the more experienced fathers’ half of the episode.

Even with parallel plots, a handful of key players and a restoration process for two separate cars, Rods N’ Wheels squeezed in a few short segments to remind viewers that it’s OK to learn something while they’re watching reality TV. A brief history lesson on each of the featured vehicles emphasized their respective importance to American automotive lore. And a trivia question called “Professor’s Corner” will keep know-it-alls from changing the channel during a commercial break while they wait for the answer.

The guys at Da Rod Shop are likeable and set a strong foundation for the series. Hopefully Rods N’ Wheels will find that perfect balance of content and interesting characters that could make this one of the more memorable TV car shows.

EXTRA CREDIT

Before we let Derian and Reck off the hook, we asked them for a quick tip on buying cars.

“The biggest criteria,” Reck said, “is to make sure of what you’re buying. Check twice. Buying what people say isn’t always what you are getting.”

Check out some teaser clips from the show below.

 

 

With fuel economy being a primary factor for most consumers when purchasing a car, the minicar category (those smaller than subcompacts) has gathered much attention, especially in the new car market.  With ratings upwards of 40 mpg, these fairly inexpensive vehicles might be just what some people have been looking for, especially if you live or commute in an urban environment.  The minicar’s diminished stature allows for simplified maneuverability in traffic, as well as easier parking in tight spaces.

Since 2012, however, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has been shedding new light on vehicle safety.  The new small overlap crash test has revealed a literal weak spot on many new vehicles sold today.  And as a whole, the minicar’s smaller dimensions put vehicles in this category at a disadvantage.

What makes this test different, is that only a quarter of the vehicle’s mass (read: safety structure) is impacted, allowing all of the force to travel down the side of the vehicle, as opposed to being spread out across the front, as with the traditional front end collision tests.  The small overlap crash test is the closest recreation currently to what might happen if an opposing vehicle veers into the lane of oncoming traffic.

Of the 11 cars tested on a scale of Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good, only the Chevrolet Spark earned a rating of Acceptable, the highest achieved in the minicar category.  Those receiving Marginal are the Kia Rio, Mazda2, Ford Fiesta, and Toyota Yaris.  The Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit, Mitsubishi Mirage, Fiat 500, Toyota Prius c, and Nissan Versa each received the lowest rating – Poor.

John Nolan, Senior Vice President of Vehicle Research for the IIHS, stated that “a small overlap crash can be devastating, because often the main structural elements of the vehicle are bypassed.”  Vehicles such as the Fiat 500 and Honda Fit fared the worst in this test, with the passenger compartment being seriously compromised.

Contact www.autoacademics.net for more info.

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