Tag Archives: Detroit Auto Show

This Week’s Wheels: 2012 Volvo S60 R-Design

I’m a little late on this since I’ve been driving this car for two days, but upon arriving home from the Detroit Auto Show I found this fire engine red 2012 Volvo S60 R-Design was waiting for me.

Being the R-Design, it has Polestar tuning with 325-horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque sent to all four wheels. With two days of driving under my belt I can confidently say I’m happy Volvo didn’t die.

For more updates make sure to follow Motor Authority on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook as I report on my experience for work.

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 37: “NAIAS Roundtable”

Episode 37 starts with introducing this weeks guests Zane Merva from AutoInsane.com and Adam Barrera from HighMileage.org. This week we find the garage filled with an Infiniti QX56 that is in Zane’s garage for the week. I had the Mitsubishi Outlander GT and currently have a MazdaSpeed3.

We skip the major news of the week and dive right into our main topic. This week we have a roundtable discussion surrounding the major reveals at the Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS) show.

  • 2012 Audi A6
  • 2012 Chevrolet Sonic
  • 2012 Buick Verano
  • Porsche 918 RSR
  • Cadillac CTS-V Coupe race car
  • 2012 Toyota Prius V
  • 2012 Ford Focus Electric
  • 2012 Volkswagen Passat
  • 2011 Chrysler 300
  • 2011 BMW 1M Coupe
  • 2012 Ford C-Max
  • 2012 Honda Civic Concept

We finish up by discussing our winners and losers of the show.

Last we plug our respective sites: HighMileage.orgAutoInsaneAutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.

Download this episode (right click and save)

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 36: “Bad Beak”

Episode 36 starts with introducing this weeks guest Nick Saporito from GM Inside News and Ford Inside News. This week we find the garage quite full. Both Nick and I  have had Cadillac Escalade Platinum’s along with Chevrolet Cruze’s. Also in the garage I have a Mitsubishi Evolution MR and Nick has a Buick Regal Turbo.

We then move along to the major news of the week segment. This week included:

  • Top 10 ugliest car grilles [Link]
  • Dealers are creating monster Camaros [Link]
  • Great YouTube find: CHP video from 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake [Link]
  • How to install and iPad in your Mustang [Link]

Next came our main topic which was discussing what’s coming in 2011. We take a look at Ford’s financial goals along with some Detroit Auto Show talk.

Last we plug our respective sites: Ford Inside News, GM Inside News, AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.

Download this episode (right click and save)

2011 Detroit Auto Show – See You There

The holidays are over and winter is in full swing, that can only mean one thing, it’s time for the Detroit Auto Show! Sunday I’ll be packing my gear and flying out to Detroit to walk under the bright lights and sip on Monster Lo-Carb.

The High Gear Media crew (myself included) will be invading COBO bright and early (5 AM CST) to bring you the latest coverage. We have a Detroit Auto Show hub that will pull in all the latest news, videos, pictures and more from the show floor. We will also be live tweeting and posting to Facebook through out the day. So make darn sure to bookmark our Detroit Auto Show hub and also become a fan and or follow our sites on Twitter, of course some information will also flow here as well. Now where did I put my pony keg of Monster Lo-Carb…

Full Disclosure- My NAIAS travel and accommodations are being provided by General Motors

Buick Dropped The Ball And Created #GSFail

I wanted to write this editorial on Thursday night, but decided it was better to wait a few days and see how the dust settled. How would the fans react? Would my emotions on the topic change once I calmed down? The answer is no.

Buick announced the production version of the Regal GS in Miami, Florida last Thursday. It wasn’t without a few surprises. The biggest surprise of which was a lack of all-wheel drive. Most people assumed the 2.8 liter turbo V-6 from the Opel Insignia OPC would not make the trek across the Atlantic. As for the all-wheel drive, that is a different story.

Lets not forget about power output. The 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder will put out 255 horsepower and 295 pound feet to the front wheels (no, that was not a typo). This engine has also done duty in the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, HHR SS,  Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn Sky Redline. For all of these models you could purchase a $650 factory upgrade at the dealership that would kick things up a notch, pushing out 290 hp and 340 lb-ft, all while keeping your factory warranty. The engine has the potential.

The Regal GS will feature GM’s terrific HiPerStrut front suspension system, which in theory, should curve most of the torque steer which this beast is sure to feature.

So where are the two main problems? Well, it’s a combination of power and drivetrain. The engineers said they did not need all-wheel drive for the Regal GS. Their reasoning was the added weight wasn’t necessary and the power output did not require it. Wait, the power output did not need it? Hey, we stumbled onto the second problem!

It was initially thought that Buick wanted the Regal GS to take on the likes of the BMW 335i and the Audi S4, like the Opel Insignia OPC does in Europe. These power numbers do not put it even close to competing with those vehicles. Zero to sixty is quoted as “under seven seconds.” Are you joking? That’s slower then the Acura TSX V-6. Did I mention the new Hyundai Sonata Turbo has more horsepower and posts better fuel economy? That isn’t even a “sports car.” Don’t even think about getting close to a BMW 335i or Audi S4 in race away from that stop light.

Also high on the disappointment list is the removal of the terrific Recaro seats. The Opel Insignia OPC features them, as did the Regal GS Concept. I sat in them at the Detroit Auto Show last year – those were comfy seats.

Fans on Buick’s Facebook fan page were outraged. Many have claimed how this car just got knocked off their list. I was told by someone that three people in Detroit that were waiting for this car called the dealership and are no longer interested. My own cousin who has a 2002 Audi A6 2.7t was waiting for this car – I had convinced him this might be the replacement. Now? Not so much.

The Twitter community was just as outraged. The hashtag #GSFail was created quite quickly and really spread fast. Enthusiasts across the nation shared their disappointment.

I still remember standing three feet away from Bob Lutz at the Detroit Auto Show last year. I overheard him talking about the Regal GS to a reporter – he was smiling ear to ear, proud of what Buick was transforming into. What I wouldn’t give to hear Bob Lutz’s candid thoughts on how this car turned out.

My garage has a poster in it of the Regal GS concept car from last years auto show season. The car is something I was looking forward to.

The fact that I have not driven the car is not lost on me. Without a question, the car looks the part. In fact, it probably is still fun to drive, but that isn’t the point. The point is the car is not what was expected from the GS. It has been slightly watered down in all the wrong places, and the enthusiasts know it. The GS model is meant to be niche, meaning it is meant for enthusiasts.

Buick had the opportunity to really make a move here. This car could have stood for something, having the potential to truly ignite enthusiasts and maybe even convert a few past Pontiac owners. Now, it is another watered down product we are getting from Europe. In a discussion this weekend with Nick Saporito, I think he said it best: “the car is “good enough” with excuses.”

Sound off in the comments and we are also running a poll over at Motor Authority about whether the Regal GS meets your expectations. Check it out and vote here.

AutoBird Podcast Episode 12

Episode 12 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The week in review included people buying old GM stock, and the social media at NAIAS along with the my take on the major reveals at NAIAS.  We move along to a new segment we are introducing talking about the major news of the week.  This week included-

  • Cadillac CTS Wagon gets a price drop
  • Audi suspending A3 production
  • The Mini Cooper Countryman
  • 2011 Mazda5

We then proceeded to introduce another new segment called clip of the week.  This week we featured the clip of Conan O’Brien using the Bugatti Veyron to get back at NBC.  This was truly a hilarious stunt pulled by Conan.

Last but certaintly not least, we discuss our three main topics.  This week those included the 2011 Buick Regal getting priced, the latest in the string of Toyota recalls, and Honda’s hybrids being behind sales projections.


Download this episode (right click and save)

BREAKING- GM To Manufacture Its Own Electric Motors

GM announced that they will be the first U.S. auto manufacture to build its own electric motors in house.  This will lead to the next generation rear wheel drive 2 mode hybrid system.  That should be hitting the market sometime around 2013.  GM says they realize that we need to lessen our dependence on petroleum and that they have a wide array of alternative energy solutions in mind.  Those solutions include-

  • Mild Hybrids- GM hybrid system
  • Full Hybrids- 2 Mode hybrid system
  • Plug-In Hybrids (PHEV)- Modified 2 mode hybrid system
  • Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (EREV)- Voltec system
  • Battery Electric
  • Fuel Cell

The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) was recently shown on the Cadillac XTS Concept vehicle at NAIAS (Detroit Auto Show).  This system is scheduled to hopefully debut on the production XTS in 2013.

GM says they plan to invest a total of $246 million in electric motors and electric drive facilities.  $2 million will be spent in Pontiac, MI for the electromagnetic computational facilities while $26 million will be spent for the development and validation dynamometer facilities.  Indianapolis will be receiving $10 million for development and validation dynamometer facilities.  Torrence, CA will receive $6 million for characterization and development dynamometer facilities.  Another yet to be disclosed U.S. location will receive money for a high volume electric motor manufacturing facility.

GM says that since 2003 they have “quietly” been testing, designing, and validating their capabilities in house to develop and produce the electric motors themselves.  Using suppliers means relying on someone else.  They like the mantra “If you want it done right, do it yourself.”  Personally I am a huge fan of this saying.  Also mentioned was the fact that they will work with “their best suppliers” to produce the best product possible.

Click read more for the full press release after the break.

Read More…

Major Reveals from the Detroit Auto Show

Aveo RS Concept

The current Aveo is pretty much less then competitive. Seen as the joke of the line up, no one really wants to like the current Aveo, which it is not hard to fault them. GM is serious about the next generation Aveo, and the Aveo RS concept gives a glimpse of what we will be getting. Of course the show car stuff, neon lights, center exhaust, huge wheels and brembo brakes probably will not make production.  I suppose the center exhaust on the Cadillac CTS Coupe concept made it to production, so who really knows. Hopefully an Aveo RS model will come along with the normal, “plain Jane” model. This is something a “tuner” could enjoy and maybe even have it be fun to drive.

I had the opportunity to look at the concept Aveo RS on stage up close. I was somewhat impressed with the details. The interior did have a “leather covered” dash though we will all be realistic knowing that it definitely will not make production. The seats were very well bolstered, and I am not sure that those particular seats will make production either. The gauge cluster will definitely make production and the center stack is more then likely the real deal. I actually had the opportunity to see the production exterior at the product technology event last August. The front facia on the Aveo RS Concept is very close. The exposed headlight bezels, dual port grill and sharp front clip are all there. The neon lights and other extras are more show than go and probably will not be in the production model. I will note, when we spoke with Ed Welburn it was asked if the RS model would get the show cars neon halo’s around the headlights. It would make sense for them to make it to production on the RS model due to the Camaro RS model having neon halo’s. It was suggested to Ed Welburn that all RS models should have the halos. I personally think this would be a great idea. We will see as the production Aveo should hit the sales floors in late 2010.

Buick Regal GS

The new Regal is not even on sale yet but Buick knows it needs to be a ringer. The LaCrosse started bringing in lower age customers and GM is hoping the new Regal for Buick will continue that trend to an even further extent. The new Regal will be hitting show rooms this spring, and this is certainly a preview of a production Regal GS to come. This is merely a rebadged Opel Insignia OPC, but with a different engine (according to the paperwork). I got some seat time in the Regal GS concept and the Recaro seats were phenomenal. The back seat was not quite as spacious as I thought it might be. I was comfortable in the car, but getting in and out was not an amazing experience. The C-pillar in the rear was quite close to my head, and I would have easily whacked my head upon exiting the rear had I not been paying attention. The rear has just enough head room with a fast roof line that cuts it close. The interior roof is sculpted out so you are not hitting your head. The front was very nice with the aforementioned seats, a flat bottom steering whee, and the six speed manual transmission, which felt like short throws.

GM is saying the GS model of the Regal would come with the optional 2.0 liter engine from the CXS trim variant but with more boost going through the turbo. GM is pegging the numbers at 250 hp and 295 ft-lb. This is all very interesting because the Opel Insignia OPC has a 2.8l turbo charge V6 putting out over 300 hp and 300 ft-lb. The problem with that engine is it is thirsty for gas. I think GM is trying to gauge the publics reaction to maybe a I4 instead of a V6 in the Regal GS variant. I asked if I could open the hood and was instantly told no! The press photos of this car showed a V6 engine cover which was the same engine cover in the Opel Insignia OPC. My guess is this was an Insignia OPC with swapped out badges, so the V6 was still under the hood. While we really do not know what engine will come, one thing is for sure, the Regal GS variant will probably be coming sooner then later. I for one am definitely ready to see if this can be a budget Audi S4 because that would really help stick Buick on the map. Afterall, that is what the Regal GS is supposed to do anyways.

2012 Ford Focus

The embargo was up and the pictures/specifications were, for the most part, out in the public view. That did not stop Ford from throwing one heck of a reveal for the upcoming 2012 Focus. Coming in both hatchback and sedan form, the new Focus gives us style and class, things the current Focus is sorely lacking. Let us not forget the awesome technology that will be available in the new Focus. That latest generation of Microsoft powered SYNC will be onboard and the new MyFord interface will of course be an option. Ford had one sedan and one hatch on display. I was given the opportunity to see the interior of the sedan up close. The quality of materials was terrific, though I was told this was a hand built one off vehicle. They are not even in preproduction, so I was not allowed to sit in it. The hatchback was off limits, so I was not able to touch that either. The wheels on these two at the show were 19 inches, but I would be surprised to see something that large even as an option. Interesting note about the gas cap on the hatch back, it is well integrated with cut lines and it somewhat blends in. That is just one example of how Ford stressed about the small stuff on this car. The new Focus will go into production late this year and hit dealerships in early 2011.

2011 Lincoln MKX

The refreshed 2011 Lincoln MKX made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show and it was truly a great spectacle. Ford had the woman who sings the song in one of the most recent Lincoln commercials on stage signing as the MKX came on stage. Of course the rest of the current Lincoln line up rolled onto stage with the exception of the Town Car. That was not a real shock, but notably absent nonetheless. The updated MKX gains the split wing grill that is quickly becoming Lincoln’s signature mark again. The rear has new tail lights and finally a back up camera is along for the ride. I note the back up camera because on the last generation it was not even an option! The interior materials get a major upgrade as does the design. The technology is all new with this being the first vehicle to get the now standard MyLincoln. This is the same thing as MyFord with the dual 4.1 inch screens on either side of the speedometer and an 8 inch touch screen on the center stack. The luxury crossover market is heating up and this is just another player that is helping to change the game.

Cadillac XTS Concept

Cadillac rolled out a concept they are calling the XTS. This vehicle foreshadows what we will see from GM as a replacement for the aging (not gracefully I might add) Cadillac STS and DTS. Riding on a stretched Buick LaCrosse platform, the XTS would come in both front wheel drive and all wheel drive. The concept is a dual mode plug-in hybrid featuring a direct injection V6 and an electric motor. It is supposedly putting out 350 hp and 295 ft-lb. There is definitely a good chance this powertrain, along with a regular gasoline engine, will make production for this vehicle. Technology is a high point for this car and it is very well connected. The center stack is essentially void of most buttons and mostly touch. The gauges are all virtual and everything is “connected.” The interior was gorgeous, and I am definitely interested to see what details from the concept make it to production. Speaking of production, we should see the XTS in showrooms for 2012/2013.

Honda CR-Z

Honda released the first hybrid in America to have a manual transmission. Many were hoping for a remake of the CRX, and to be frank, many have said they are disappointed. I think the main thing people are not happy about seems to be the lack of rear seats. The car itself does not even post amazing mileage numbers. The power will be provided by a 1.5 liter making 122 horsepower while estimated to get 36/38 mpg. This is all mated to the CVT (continuously variable transmission). The manual transmission seriously kills the gas mileage, taking it down to an estimated 31/37 mpg. The CR-Z will come in two trim levels and will probably have a base price around $18,000 when sales start later this summer.

Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S was there along with two Roadster Sports. The Roadster Sports start their lives as a Lotus and get gutted by Tesla to receive the battery pack and electric drivetrain. The Model S is the next production vehicle we will see from Tesla. This four door “sedan,” the Model S, has a rear hatch instead of a traditional trunk which allows room for the optional jump seat. This would make it so the sedan can seat seven, though the extra two in the jump seats will be small children only. The interior has almost no buttons or switches. The center stack is one large touch screen with virtual switches to flick and swipe. The door handles are flush with the car and slide out when you touch them. The whole thing is quite impressive. Some call this car vaporware, meaning it will never see production or be on sale. The honest truth is those same people said that the Tesla Roadster was vaporware and that car has been on sale and is already in the hands of many happy owners. Tesla says the Model S should see production in the next few years.


Full Disclosure- My NAIAS travel and accommodations were provided by General Motors

AutoBird Podcast Episode 10

Episode 10 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The week in review included 2009 sales numbers, and my post about why strippers are important.  We move along to talk about NAIAS (the Detroit Auto Show) and the things we will be seeing.  That list includes the next generation Ford Focus, the Chevrolet Aveo RS concept, Ford’s MyFord, and the Buick Regal GS concept.  Next we discuss the new Dodge naming scheme and announced Chrysler powertrain updates.  The last topic continues to be the Saab story that continues to unfold.


Download this episode (right click and save)

NAIAS – See You There

It is true, I will be attending the press preview of the Detroit Auto Show.  If there is anything you would like to see from me while there please let me know.  I will be tweeting most of the show so follow me on Twitter for live updates of what I am seeing at the reveals and other events.

Full Disclosure- Travel and accommodations are being provided by General Motors