Wednesday, January 30, 2008, posted by Auto Rider at 6:09 PM

The legendary F-150 has been the best-selling pickup for 31 years now. But F-150 is now facing a serious competition in the 2009 Dodge Ram.

The 2009 Dodge Ram was launched at this year’s North American International Auto Show. With a throng of American cowboys riding on their horses alongside a herd of cattle, the Ram was flaunted outside the front door of the Cobo Center in Detroit.

The 2009 Ram boasts of higher fuel efficiency and more horsepower. Additionally, the new pickup is equipped with loads of features that other rivals failed to offer. The features include storage bins, dubbed the Ram Box, built into the sides of its bed area.

Other auto features include heated and cooled front seats; heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, memory seats with power lumbar, dual-zone climate control, steering wheel, and a 10-speaker surround sound audio system.

The Ram will also be offering three engine choices. Engine options include a 3.7-liter V6, a 4.7-liter V8 and a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 for the high-end model. The HEMI engine generates 35 more horsepower than the previous model with 380. What’s more, fuel efficiency of the new pickup was increased to produce a more captivating version.

"This is an all-new truck. It's all-new design, new features. All kinds of new storage," said Dan Bodene, Chrysler’s body-on-frame specialist. "We significantly upgraded the interior. One of the other new features for the '09 is the coil spring rear suspension, which is a first in the pickup segment."

"Depending on how you option the vehicle, you can get everything from an AM/FM radio with CD player to Sirius backseat satellite TV," Bodene said. "There's DVD available. MyGIG entertainment system is available. You can have almost anything you want in it. We've got our signature Ram design. Compared to previous trucks, we think it's a little more aggressive this time around. A lot of features built into the design have helped the aerodynamics. We've got best in class aerodynamics on this truck. It's a .419 coefficient of drag. Our previous truck was .463 in comparison.”

The 2009 Ram, which will be manufactured in Warren, Mich. and St. Louis North plants, will hit showrooms this fall.

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Friday, January 25, 2008, posted by Auto Rider at 8:12 PM

Although the Jeep Liberty has achieved some level of success, the automaker decided to give the Liberty a facelift.

Carey Russ of The Auto Channel recently took a Jeep Liberty for a test drive. Russ said that he did not recognize the vehicle instantly. "This was because about the only thing not changed in and on the 2008 Liberty was the name. The new styling - now looking like a shrunken Commander - may be the most apparent attribute, but that's only the surface," said Russ.

According to him, the new Liberty is given a longer wheelbase. This change though did not affect the maneuverability of the vehicle. The additional length and width of the said vehicle said Russ does not make any considerable change if one will look at it on the outside. But he went on to say that the changes in the dimension of the vehicle affect the interior room greatly.

Being a Jeep, the Liberty is expected to be like its rugged brethren and this is what Russ had to say about that: "Biggest difference from the crossover competition? Being a Jeep, the Liberty is designed and built to go where the pavement ends. Two-wheel drive (to the rear wheels) is standard, but there are two optional four-wheel drive systems, the new Selec-Trac II full-time system and the Command-Trac part-time system."

The power of the 2008 Jeep Liberty comes from a V6 engine which produces as much as 210 horsepower. Russ had this to say: "An interesting 90-degree single overhead cam engine, it's essentially two-thirds of a Grand Cherokee V8 and uses a balance shaft to counteract the vibration inherent in that design. Internal enhancements have reduced noise and increased low-rpm torque."

And as consumers are becoming more and more concerned about the safety features of vehicles, the automaker has given the 2008 Jeep Liberty safety features which are designed to adequately protect its occupants in the unfortunate case of a collision. "The Liberty's passengers are protected by a sturdy unibody structure with front and rear crumple zones and side impact-protection beams," said Russ.

"Advanced-design multi-stage front and full-length side curtain airbags are standard in both models, as are four-wheel antilock disc brakes with rough road detection for better off-road functioning, brake assist, all-speed traction control, hill start assist, Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Electronic Roll Mitigation systems (ERM), and a tire-pressure monitoring system."

In conclusion, Russ said: "The Jeep Liberty provides a real-deal alternative to the common crossover in the mid-size SUV class."

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Thursday, January 24, 2008, posted by Auto Rider at 7:03 PM

Mazda Motor Corp. announced Wednesday that it has developed a safety system that warns drivers who are trying to change lanes of vehicles approaching from behind. In the past, other automakers have introduced similar safety systems. The system was introduced in vehicles in the European continent. The rear collision warning system will be an option starting with the new Atenza to be released at month’s end.

The innovative system from the Japanese automaker kicks in when the vehicle go beyond 60 kilometer per hour. The said system is engineered to detect vehicles in the adjacent lanes which are 50 meters behind.

The manufacturer noted that this would be the very first time that such safety system is installed in a vehicle for the Japanese market.

The modification made to the exterior design enlivens the vehicle's appearance. The design covers chrome door handles and expanded use of black molding on the rear bumper. Interior quality, meanwhile, was also enhanced with the addition of piano black parts on the power window switch bezels, center panel, and other interior areas of the vehicle. Additionally, chrome parts were chosen for select levers and buttons. This is done to enhance the vehicle’s elegance.

The Japanese automaker said all models in the range, including the four-door Axela, five-door Axela Sport and Mazdaspeed Axela, sport remarkable improvements. They are available at all Mazda, Mazda Anfini and Mazda Autozam dealerships across the nation.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008, posted by Auto Rider at 6:00 PM

The Mazda Motor Corp. has launched its four-door, four-seater sports coupe RX-8 at this year’s North American International Auto Show with a serious bang. The new generation coupe boasts of a refreshed styling and an improved performance to wow more auto enthusiasts.

The Japanese automaker restyled the front and rear bumpers, wheels, headlights, and LED taillights while retaining the traditional rear-hinged rear doors. What is more, the automaker made the exhaust pipes and alloy wheels bigger than the previous model.

The RX-8 entertained a stiffened body by using a bar between the front suspension towers. Aside from enhancing stability of the car, it is also resorted to improve handling. The gearing was also modified to make the car even faster.

"Dating back to the Cosmo Sport released in 1967, every sports car ever developed by Mazda has had the same fundamental mission - to provide car lovers with a vehicle that's fun-to-drive, exciting to look at and easy to own," said Tetsu Nakazawa, Mazda North American Operations' RX-8 vehicle line manager. "The new RX-8 embodies that mission, conveying the unique and distinctive Mazda brand DNA to the fullest."

To make the revision catchier, Mazda’s pool of engineers zeroed in on innovation in three areas – styling, packaging and performance. "The enhancements made to RX-8's exterior, interior, packaging and performance takes it to a whole new level of visual and driving excitement," added Nakazawa.

Also, a flagship new sport package of the car will also be available. This will include a sport-tuned suspension, a body kit (with a new front bumper and side sills as well as fog lights and high-performance tyres) and Recaro front seats with leather side bolsters, reported Reuters.

The revised models are expected to go on sale in the United Kingdom in the summer. According to the maker prices and specifications will be announced nearer the time.

"You will see this design philosophy in the future," von Holzhausen said last Wednesday at the AutoWeek Design Forum. “If Mazda doesn't evolve and reinvent its "skin," it runs the risk of becoming obsolete. Look at BMW. They recreated their skin. It was controversial but now they are selling more cars because of it.”

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008, posted by Auto Rider at 5:55 PM

At motors shows like the North American International Auto Show, automakers either showcase concept vehicles which are equipped with high technology features or design concepts which may be used by latter models. Lincoln unveiled the MKT concept at the ongoing NAIAS.

What powers the MKT concept vehicle is a 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine which is turbocharged. This is what Ford has been tinkering with in the past as part of its dedication to create more eco-friendly engines. According to the automaker, the engine used by the MKT concept produces power equivalent to that produced by a much larger V8 with the same fuel efficiency as an ordinary V6 engine. The engine is complemented with an advanced engine technology which includes electric power steering, aerodynamic enhancements, advanced transmission, and weight reduction.

Along with the unveiling of the MKT concept, Ford announced that they will be using the MKT's engine on half a million units of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles within the next five years. These engines though will only be available in North America.

Mark Fields, the president of the Americas at Ford, had this to say: "EcoBoost engines can deliver better fuel economy and performance on a full range of vehicles, from small cars to large trucks. The Lincoln MKT concept offers the comfort of a luxury sedan, the spaciousness and flexibility of a full-size utility and the performance of a sporty roadster - executed with new technologies and materials that make it as environmentally friendly as it is elegant. The Lincoln MKT concept is understated but powerful - inside, outside and under the hood."

The space inside the Lincoln MKT is one of its best points of interest. As Americans favor vehicles with large interiors, it is not surprising that Lincoln's MKT was designed with enough space. Peter Horbury, the executive director of Design of The Americas at Ford, said: "We envisioned this concept as a modern grand tourer, really a Learjet of the road. With the Lincoln MKT concept, you find a premium utility that could as easily accommodate a businessperson slipping into the back seat on the way to his or her next meeting in the chaos of Manhattan as a family packed up for a weekend getaway to the coast."

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008, posted by Auto Rider at 10:01 PM

The increasing price of gasoline has forced many consumers to purchase smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles. It has also meant the decline in sales for American automakers like Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler which are known for manufacturing large vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks. Further concerns about the increasing price of petroleum fuel were uncovered by a poll conducted by Wall Street Journal and NBC News.

The Auto Channel recently reported that in the said poll, Americans cited that the major economic concern for them is the increasing price of gasoline. In connection with this finding, the Car Care Council warned vehicle owners that if they will not take care of their vehicles, they are running the risk of aggravating the problem.

Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, said that keeping a vehicle in tip top shape is a good way to battle the increasing price of gasoline. "The best way to fight higher costs at the gas pump is to keep your vehicle running properly. You can't control the price of gas, but you can control how much gas you burn by proper maintenance and how you drive," said White. "Performing simple and inexpensive maintenance can save as much as $1200 a year in gas cost," he added.

To help vehicle owners take care of their vehicles, the CCC offered some tips. One of these tips is to constantly check the vehicle gas cap. As gasoline is highly volatile, it can vaporize and be wasted if a vehicle's gas cap is damaged or loose. According to the figures posted by the Car Care Council, about 17 percent of the vehicles on the country's roads have defected or missing gas caps. At that rate, 147 million gallons of gasoline will be wasted every year.

The Car Care Council also advises motorists to have their tires checked. If a vehicle is running with under inflated tires, it is like driving with the parking brakes activated. That means fuel wastage could amount to about a mile or two per gallon. Spark plugs should also be checked by motorist as dirty spark plugs can cause misfiring which translates to fuel not being burned thus being wasted.

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