John's Journal: John McElroy's multimedia blog about the automotive industry

Seat Time: 2015 Ford Mustang

September 22nd, 2014 at 10:56am

2015 Ford Mustang GT

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: John McElroy
Manufacturer: Ford Motor Company
Make: Ford
Model: Mustang
Type: 2-door coupe, convertible
Competitors: Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger
Price: $24,425 (V6), $25,995 (Ecoboost), $32,925 (GT)
Made in: Flat Rock, Michigan
Drivetrain: 2.3 L I-4 EcoBoost, 3.7 L V-6, 5.0 L V-8; 6-ATX, 6-MTX
EPA Ratings: W/automatic trans: 2.3 L = 25 mpg, 3.7 L = 22 mpg, 5.0 L = 19 mpg

Final Impression:

2015 Ford MustangWow, has Ford got a hit on its hands with the new Mustang. This is more than just a pretty new face, it’s the real McCoy. From any standpoint you want to measure it, this is the best Mustang that’s ever been produced.

Let’s start with the styling. It’s a beautiful blend of heritage and modern. The instant you see it you know it’s got to be the new Mustang, and yet it looks far more modern than any Mustang currently on the road.

The rear end and rear ¾ view are particularly handsome. In a day when so many cars have a lot of mass and dead space in the rear end design, particularly below the bumper, the Mustang looks thin and lightweight. And yet it’s a wide car, giving it a well planted look. Ford designers integrated diffuser-like segments into the lower rear fascia and that effectively breaks up the visual mass and makes the car look lithe.

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AAH #258 – The Secrets of Chevy’s Legendary Small Block V8

September 19th, 2014 at 3:33pm

Audio-only version:

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- First impressions: 2015 Ford Mustang.
- Cadillac’s new leader won’t cut prices.
- ZF takes over TRW, becomes world’s 2nd largest supplier.

SPECIAL GUEST: Dave Cole, Autoharvest.org
- The untold story behind GM’s legendary Small Block V8

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Todd Lassa, Automobile; Drew Winter, WardsAuto.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Hyundai

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Seat Time: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta

September 18th, 2014 at 3:00pm

2015_jetta_tsi_4233

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Sean McElroy
Manufacturer: Volkswagen
Make: Volkswagen
Model: Jetta
Type: 4-door sedan
Competitors: Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla
Price: Base: $17,035; Top Line: $32,490
Made in: Puebla, Mexico
Drivetrain: 2.0TDI Diesel 4-cylinder; 6-speed manual
EPA Ratings: 31 city; 46 hwy

Final Impression:

2015_jetta_tdi_4229The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta is a 4-door sedan that competes against the likes of the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. The price of the vehicle we tested came in just under $22,500, which was equipped with a 2.0L diesel engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. In that trim it’s capable of hitting 31 miles-per-gallon in the city and 46 on the freeway.

The Jetta is Volkswagen’s best selling vehicle in the U.S. and it just received a series of subtle updates for 2015. Up front the most noticeable change is to the lower portion of the bumper, while out back a new decklid and taillights give the rear of the car a less-frumpy look. As you can see from those side-by-side pictures not much has really changed and the same goes for the interior too. The biggest difference comes in the form of a new steering wheel and HVAC controls. But it gets a host of new safety and technology features as well. I like when interior spaces don’t look too busy, like this one, but even though I can’t put my finger on exactly why, there’s just something about the design on this one I don’t like. I also wish the display screen was a little bigger. There’s plenty of open space on that dash and the screen can be hard to read, especially with the navigation on.

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Seat Time: 2015 Lincoln Navigator

September 16th, 2014 at 9:43am

2015 Lincoln Navigator

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: John McElroy
Manufacturer: Ford Motor Company
Make: Lincoln
Model: Navigator
Type: Full-size SUV
Competitors: Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX570
Price: Base: $62,475; Top line: $75,065
Made in: Louisville, KY
Drivetrain: 3.5 L EcoBoost V-6; 6-speed automatic
EPA Ratings: 4×2:16 city/22 hwy/18 combined mpg; 4×4: 15 city/20 hwy/17 combined mpg

Final Impression:

2015 Lincoln Navigator InteriorThe “new” Lincoln Navigator is really just a refresh of a vehicle that badly needed it. The last time the Navigator was redesigned was in 2007, a shockingly long time to leave a vehicle unchanged in the marketplace—and a good indicator of why the Lincoln brand has been struggling. Happily, the refresh dramatically improves the driveability of the vehicle. But it also shows why the Navigator falls short of becoming a true luxury vehicle.

First, the good news. Lincoln dumped the 5.4 liter V-8 and replaced it with a tweaked version of its 3.5 liter EcoBoost V-6. Now rated at 380 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, it’s the most powerful version of the 3.5 to hit the streets. BTW, the engine hits peak torque at only 2200 rpm, right smack dab in the middle of where you’re going to use it the most. And that transforms the way this big SUV drives.

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AAH #257 – Meet the Man Who Made the Hellcat

September 12th, 2014 at 4:38pm

Audio-only version:

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- First impressions: Mazda MX-5 Miata and Lexus RC.
- Remembering Jim Harbour.
- Sergio Marchionne fires Ferrari Chief, Luca di Montezemolo.

SPECIAL GUEST: Russ Ruedisueli, VLE & Head of Engineering at SRT.
- What’s the REAL horsepower rating on the Dodge Challenger Hellcat? Where else is this engine going?

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production; Chris Paukert, Autoblog.com.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Hyundai

Subscribe to the free podcast version of Autoline After Hours:

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Thanks to our partners and friends AutoFieldGuide.com and WardsAuto.com for embedding AAH!

AAH #256 – Why Luxury Brands are Murdering Mass-Market Cars

September 5th, 2014 at 4:50pm

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- How come Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn’s direct reports are leaving left and right?
- Is the “The Hydrogen Transition” on the horizon?
- Are down-market luxury cars stealing sales from mass-market brands?

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production; Dave Sullivan, AutoPacific and Joe White, The Wall Street Journal.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Hyundai

Subscribe to the free podcast version of Autoline After Hours:

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Thanks to our partners and friends AutoFieldGuide.com and WardsAuto.com for embedding AAH!

Seat Time: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

September 4th, 2014 at 3:00pm

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: Mercedes-Benz
Make: Mercedes-Benz
Model: C-Class
Type: C300 Sedan; C300 4MATIC Sedan; C400 4MATIC sedan
Competitors: BMW 3 Series; Audi A4; Lexus IS; Cadillac ATS
Price: C300 — $38,400; C300 4MATIC — $40,400; C400 4MATIC — $48,590 (all prices do not include $925 d&d charges)
Made in: Mercedes-Benz Vance, Alabama factory for the Americas; Also built in Germany, China & South Africa
Drivetrain: C300 — 2.0L Turbo Inline-4 (RWD); C300 4MATIC — 2.0L Turbo Inline-4 (AWD); C400 4MATIC 3.0L Bi-Turbo V6 (AWD)
EPA Ratings: Not rated yet

Final Impression:

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-ClassCommunications and marketing teams try their best to find the perfect location to unveil a new car to the media. There’s a lot that goes into the deciding which city is chosen like the accessibility of its airports, whether or not it has good roads and of course nice hotels don’t hurt either. But then there’s the more cheeky question like the car’s aesthetic: does the environment work with the vehicle? Sometimes it does, many times it doesn’t and then there are times the teams just choose a spot so the box is checked. However, when city and car come together there’s a certain symmetry that works for both of them; and as as far as I’m concerned, that’s what happened when Mercedes brought the media and its new car to the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle, Washington is known at least throughout my world for a couple of important items: Coffee, the tech industry and the Grunge music movement of the ’90s. And what they’ve done for the city — in simplest of cultural terms — is help transform the city and area into a thriving metro scene. Just the kind of area that fits hand-in-glove with the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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Seat Time: 2015 Acura TLX

September 3rd, 2014 at 2:53pm

2015 Acura TLX

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: John McElroy
Manufacturer: Honda Motor Company
Make: Acura
Model: TLX
Type: 4-door sedan
Competitors: Lexus IS, Infiniti Q40, Cadillac ATS
Price: Base: $30,995. Top line: $42,500
Made in: East Liberty, Ohio
Drivetrain: 2.4 L I-4 w/8-spd automatic; 3.5 L V-6 w/9-spd automatic, AWD avail w/3.5 L
EPA Ratings: 2.4 = 24 city/35 hwy/28 combined; 3.5 2WD= 21 city/34 hwy/25 cobined; 3.5 AWD = 21 city/31 hwy/25 combined

Final Impression:

2015 Acura TLX InteriorAcura’s smaller cars have always suffered from what I call the “boy racer” syndrome. Their buzzy free-revving engines, knife-edge handling, and stark interiors were great for treating your daily commute as if it were a qualifying session, but unpleasant for everyday motoring. It’s as if they designed their cars for 20-year-olds even though most their buyers are over 40.That’s a key reason why the Acura brand never acquired a truly premium image. It never felt as if it were in the same league as Mercedes, BMW or Audi. But the new TLX could represent a turning point. It brings a level of refinement and sophistication we have not seen from the brand in this class of car.

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Seat Time: 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Lux

September 2nd, 2014 at 12:29pm

2014 Volkswagen Touareg

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Manufacturer: Volkswagen
Make: Volkswagen
Model: Touareg TDI Lux
Type: Premium SUV, 4-door and tailgate
Competitors: Mercedes-Benz M-Class; Infiniti QX70; BMW X5; Acura MDX
Price: As tested — $56, 785 (with $910 destination charge included)
Made in: Brataslava, Slovakia
Drivetrain: 3.0L, 240 horsepower 406 lbs-ft torque TDI Clean Diesel
EPA Ratings: 20city, 29highway, 23combined

Final Impression:

2014 Volkswagen TouaregWhat’s not to like about this vehicle? Yes, I’m asking you “what’s not to like about the 2014 VW Touareg TDI Lux” because for the life of me, I can’t find anything to complain about. I like the exterior styling as well as the Night Blue Metallic paint along with the 19-inch alloy wheels. It’s a nice looking stylish package. And did I mention the tailgate? It has a powered one that lifts efficiently with plenty of cargo room in back to haul the tons of donations we had to take to our local Goodwill/Salvation Army during the week I drove the vehicle. To say it’s a natural when moving items from one place to the other is obvious.

Yet it’s the other benefits of this SUV are the ones that really hit the mark for me. Let’s start with the luscious Saddle Brown interior and the comfort of the seats. I wouldn’t mind taking this sled on a drive to Alaska, especially with that 3.0-Liter, 240-horsepower turbocharged V6 clean diesel engine. I drove the vehicle for seven days around Metro Detroit going well over 450 miles only to find I had nearly a third of a tank left when I grudgingly turned it back in. And safe to say that if I’m willing to drive more than 14,000 miles round trip (to Juno and back), but more importantly with my wife as a passenger who is easily Ms. Best Ergonomic 2014, that you can be sure those 12-way power, heated front seats, 4MOTION AWD and its all-independent suspension are more than doing their jobs because there isn’t a fussier person on the planet when it comes to ride and comfort than my wife. I often wonder why no OEM has hired her as its own “tush tester.”

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AAH #255 – Plug-ins, Spin Loss and Powertrains of the Future

August 29th, 2014 at 4:08pm

Audio-only version:

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- Was Ross Perot Right? More Move to Mexico
- China & India Go After Western Automakers: Is This the Beginning of the End?

SPECIAL GUEST: Larry Nitz, GM Powertrain Executive Director, Global Transmission & Electrification

All that and much more with Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production, Stephanie Brinley, IHS Automotive and Gary Witzenburg, AutoMedia.com.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Hyundai

Subscribe to the free podcast version of Autoline After Hours:

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Thanks to our partners and friends AutoFieldGuide.com and WardsAuto.com for embedding AAH!