Tag Archives: Pontiac

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 35: “Some Humor, Some Serious, Some Green and Some Kia!”

Episode 35 starts with introducing this weeks guest Craig Cole also known as the skinny one on the RoundAbout Show. Moving into the garage we talk about the 2011 Kia Sorrento EX I was in this past week along with the 2011 Honda Odyssey that just landed in Craig’s driveway.

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

  • EPA releases fuel economy ratings for the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt
  • Electricity providers excited and nervous about possibilities of electric cars (Link)
  • Flying cars? Yes! (Link & Link)
  • GPS and iPhone radar detectors? (Link)
  • Ten worst new cars (Link)
  • Lil Pete and Lil Kenny (Link)

Next came our main topic which was discussing General Motors playings matchmaker for current Saturn and Pontiac owners. (Link)

Last we plug our respective blogs, RoundAbout Show,  AutoBird Blog and Accelerate Mpls.

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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.

SEMA 2010: The Good, The Bad, The Very Ugly

I’m going to skip right to the chase, the 2010 SEMA show is going on right now. High Gear Media has been obsessively covering the show both on Motor Authority and on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Each year there is some hot stuff and then there is the not so hot stuff. There are many things I eagerly awaited to see this year, one of the higher profile reveals for me was the 2011 Dodge Charger. Mopar Underground was given cart blanche to customize a brand new 2011 Dodge Charger R/T and that lead to the Dodge Charger RedLine. While the paint is a special factory option, the rest of the shiny looking aftermarket bits are not for sale yet.

The ugly is, well very ugly this year. Can’t believe I am saying this, but the world might have actually found the ugliest Toyota Prius. Also, Pontiac is now dead, which means we will not see the Camaro’s cousin known as the Trans Am. So leave it to the aftermarket world to customize a Camaro to look like a Trans Am. The only problem is, it is hideous! Good lord, look at that beak. This was only day one and so much has happened it’ll make your head spin. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings.

Ford Kills Mercury – The World Didn’t Know Mercury Still Existed

Mark this down next to Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and the rest of the fallen brands (Oldsmobile and a long list we will not go over). Today Ford announced that Mercury is dead. They will wind down by the end of the fourth quarter this year. Remember how Mercury was going to bring back the Tracer based off the new 2012 Ford Focus? Yea that is not going to happen. More attention will be focused on Lincoln and that division will get seven all new or severely refreshed cars. Ecoboost will spread throughout the Lincoln lineup including the next generation Navigator. That essentially just confirmed there will be a next generation Navigator. Ford went on to say that Lincoln will become a technology powerhouse, with more features and better fuel economy than the competition. It also confirmed that a C segment car based off the 2012 Focus will come to Lincoln now. I actually believe that something can be made of Lincoln is Ford really works at it. Ford will have to either really do something and put its weight behind Lincoln like they say, or else it too will probably have to be on the chopping block at some point. Time will tell.

TT No Go Home – Parking Fail

Leaving work this week I spotted a very large parking fail.  Essentially the Audi TT is for lack of better words, screwed.  The Pontiac Grand Prix and Dodge Stratus boxed him in really good.  The Grand Prix is actually touching the rear bumper while the Stratus at least is not touching though is very close.  Talk about a huge parking fail.  I would be irate if I owned this TT.  I have yet to figure out how some people can be so bad at parking.

Cars & Café – April 3, 2010

It has been four long months of winter wonderland but the sun has finally broken out and the snow is melted.  Another season of Cars & Café has come upon us and the first one of the season did not disappoint.  I was a little nervous as the weather predictions for Saturday were calling for rain, but that all changed last Friday.  I started to get hope as the prediction changed to a chilly 51 degrees and sunny.  I woke up early Saturday morning (late, I was supposed to get up at 6 but had a major alarm clock fail on my part.  I forgot to turn it on and woke up at 6:37 am) and looked outside to find the sun breaking cover.  Excited, I hopped in our 1990 300ZX and headed out to the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen.

Our 1990 300ZX

It was a chilly 42 degrees at 7:38 am when I rolled into the AutoMotorPlex.  Gates opened at 6:30 am and only a few tuned up Audi’s and a lonely (read awesome) BMW Z8 were there so far.  I parked in the Japanese parking area and started mingling.  Cars started pouring in around 8 am and it just never stopped.  The sun started warming things up and we reached a nice 57 degrees.  It turned into a huge turnout with couples, families and enthusiasts alike, all coming together with the passion of automobiles.

Some of the more notable (read interesting) rides included a first generation Scion XB that was white with plain steel wheels.  What made it really interesting was it was lowered, had the windows tinted, and had strips of LED lights taped (yes, taped with black duct tape) directly above the headlights.  Parked next to that was a Nissan 240SX with a broken up body kit that was held on with zip ties.  Yes, you read that right zip ties.  The 240SX was painted green with John Deer graphics.  The owner commented on how the zip ties break all the time and he replaces them constantly.

LS1 Shoved into a mid 80's Mazda RX7

All was not lost though because many really awesome cars where there as well.  There were more Corvettes from all different eras than I could count.  Some Corvettes were heavily modified some were plain stock though most were tasteful (save for a few).  A Volkswagen bus showed up and was in really good condition.  When a mid 80’s Mazda RX7 pulled in, I knew something interesting was under the hood mainly because of the sound coming out of it.  Upon further inspection the owner had shoved a LS1 engine under the hood with a custom exhaust system.  One of the most questioned cars was the original Mini Cooper but it was a stretch limo version.  The owner informed people it was originally owned by the Spice Girls and was actually signed by them on the rear.

Spice Girls Mini Cooper Limo

De Tomaso Pantera

The cars garnering the most attention were the Ford GT, Lamborghini Murcielago, De Tomaso Pantera and the Aston Martin(s).  A ton of American cars showed up and they even had their own (decent size) section.  Three Pontiac G8’s were in attendance all parked next to each other.  Two were GT’s and one was a GXP.  The GXP had a Holden badge on the rear and one GT had a custom hiding (flip down) front license plate.

The turnout was terrific. The weather held out and really ended up being beautiful.  I am not sure we could have asked for a better Cars & Café to kick off the season!  Here is looking forward to the first Saturday next month.

Next Gen Cop Car Wars – It is on Like Donkey Kong

Cop cars: No one really wants to see them in the rear view mirror, and yet everyone seems to slow down and gawk when someone else is pulled over.  For a long time, the Ford Crown Victoria, known as the Police Interceptor, has been the police vehicle of choice; with a body on frame design and rear wheel drive these cars were street tanks.  Pulling bent frames, replacing panels, rebuilding and replacing rear ends has become commonplace for police departments.  In all reality, we knew the current Crown Victoria would not soldier on forever and reality has finally set in for the Crown Vic.  Currently, the Chevrolet Impala and Dodge Charger are both being sold for police duty but Ford’s Crown Victoria is still the reigning champ when it comes to the number of police vehicles on the road. But, current Dodge Charger police vehicles walk all over the current Crown Victoria in performance.

New Caprice PPV

Last October, Chevrolet showed off the upcoming Caprice PPV (police patrol vehicle).  This vehicle is based off the Zeta platform, the same platform the now dead Pontiac G8 was based off of.  GM is utilizing the long wheel base version of this platform currently being used in the Caprice in the Middle East market.  GM says that this vehicle will only be sold for police use.  They interior has been modified for police duty, including the seats which are designed to accommodate utility belts.  The center stack is designed to allow a computer to be installed along with the high technology needed. A large touch screen is optional and will take up almost the entire center stack. In the rest of the vehicle, the trunk measures 18.5 cubic feet.  For power, the engine will initially be a one choice E85 capable 6.0 liter. V8 pushing out 355 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque channeled through a six speed automatic to the rear wheels.  After about, a year a V6 should join the engine line up.  Of course, all the heavy duty upgrades will be implemented such as brakes, alternator, transmission and other bits, all upgraded for police use.

Interior of the new Caprice PPV

New Ford Police Interceptor

Last week, Ford unveiled the replacement for the Crown Dinosaur, which happens to essentially be a police duty Taurus.  Of course, this will not be called the Taurus, rather it will be known as the new Ford Police Interceptor.  Like the consumer Taurus, the new Police Interceptor will come in either front wheel or all wheel drive with the same base 3.5 liter, V6 pushing 263 hp and 250+ ft-lb of torque, or the optional Ecoboost V6 pushing out 365 hp and 355 ft-lb.  The base V6 routes the power to the two front wheels while the optional Ecoboost will route the power to all four wheels.  Ford has said that a police vehicle needs ‘cop brakes, a cop motor and cop suspension’.  Apparently, the new Taurus either met these requirements or has had the necessary upgrades to meet the demands.  Additionally, the seats are new and, like the Chevrolet PPV, they are designed to let an officer sit comfortably with their utility belts on.  The trunk measures in at 20.1 cubic feet.  Ford is boasting about how the new Police Interceptor can withstand a 75 mile per hour rear impact: an industry first.  Ford also promised that another Police Interceptor model would be unveiled later this year.  That model would be a utility vehicle of some sorts most likely based off the upcoming new Explorer or the Flex, both of which are variations on the Taurus platform.

Interior of the new Police Interceptor

Current Generation Dodge Charger Police Package

A new Dodge Charger should be unveiled sometime later this year as the new 2011 Charger is scheduled to start production in November.  As the current Charger is gaining traction in the police vehicle market, you can be assured the next generation Charger will have a police package available.  The current Charger uses the 5.7 liter Hemi V8 pushing 368 hp and 410 ft-lb through a five speed automatic transmission.  The interior does not have seats specifically designed for the officer like the new offerings.  The next Charger will, undoubtedly, have more specific police officer focused interior amenities.

Carbon Motors E7

There is also an oddball player that is scheduled to enter the market.  Carbon Motors is set to bring a new type of police vehicle to market named the E7.  This is a all new car coming from an all new company.  The vehicle will utilize a 3.0 liter turbo diesel engine putting out 250 hp and 400 ft-lb with all the power being pushed to the rear wheels.  Some are claiming this vehicle might be capable of 30 mpg on the highway.  This car is the definition of high technology for the police, featuring a touch screen computer in the dash, LED police lights and suicide rear doors.  The back seat will be fully washable as it is made of hard plastic instead of vinyl like the competition.  Carbon Motors is claiming over 12,500 orders for the E7 (which is a codename while the car is in development) from 350 law enforcement agencies across the U.S..  The vehicle is scheduled to be produced in Connersville, Indiana.

Interior of the Carbon Motors E7

A quick break down of the specs we know as they currently stand-

Ford Crown Vic

239hp and 287 ft-lbs, RWD, 20.6 cubic ft trunk, rear leg room 38 in, 4127 lbs

Chevrolet PPV

355hp and 385 ft-lbs, RWD, 18.5 cubic ft trunk, rear leg room 43.2 in, 4075 lbs

New Ford Police Interceptor

263hp (365hp) and  249 ft-lbs (350 ft-lbs), FWD (AWD), 20.1 cubic ft trunk, rear leg room 38.1 in, 4015 lbs (4368 lbs)

Current Dodge Charger

368hp and 410 ft-lbs, RWD, 16.2 cubic ft trunk, rear leg room 40.2 in, 3900 lbs

So, what we have here is a new war of the cop cars.  While I do not doubt the Carbon Motors E7 will come to market, I wonder at what cost.  The vehicle is technology laden and that is probably going to be its largest issue.  The Taurus is a heavy car and adding all wheel drive adds complexity to the drivetrain.  Long term, the all wheel drive will add cost to the ownership for police departments along with those twin turbos.

I think that many markets in the snow belt, such as the Northeastern part of the U.S. and Minnesota, Detroit, Illinois and others, will embrace the optional all wheel drive in the Taurus and that the rest of the market share will most likely shift to the Chevrolet PPV.  The next generation Dodge Charger will undoubtedly sell some police units and I am sure the Carbon E7 will sell, but it is too early to tell in what numbers.  According to Ford, the police market gobbles up nearly 60,000-70,000 vehicles per year!  My sources tell me that the PPV, with the V8 costing approximately $17,000-$18,000 to the fleets, you can take about $1,000-$2,000 off that price when the V6 launches.  Time will tell who wins this war but without a question, it will be interesting to watch.  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

AutoBird Podcast – Esp 14: “Say Your Goodbye”

Episode 14 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The week in review included January’s numbers and Betting on the Little Guy.  We move along to the major news of the week segment.  This week included-

  • Latest Toyota recall recap
  • GM deciding to keep the Renaissance Center
  • Current Saab 9-5 ends production
  • All new Saab 9-5 hitting showrooms in Q2

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment.  This week we featured the preview from the documentary on closure of Ohio GM plant which earned an Oscar nomination.

Last but certainly not least, we discuss our main topics.  This week those topics included a goodbye to Saturn and Pontiac along with Colin making the argument that Kia might be in a crisis.

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Toyota – The Hits Keep Coming

I do not even know where to start. The Toyota situation is getting so far out of hand it is not even funny. This started months ago when a family was killed when driving a loaner Lexus ES350. That situation has since come into the limelight of both the media and the government. Currently, the total recall count is a little over 6 million vehicles. This is due to the “sticky accelerator.”

The decision came down Tuesday that all sales would come to a halt on the vehicles affected. This sales freeze will be in affect until a fix can be implemented. Toyota has said they expect a fix in the next two weeks rather than months. With that said, they failed to mention what that fix might be. I would call this a “we are scrambling as quickly as possible” tactic. Many are convinced Toyota does not have a fix yet. Others are reporting Toyota already has the fix and new parts are starting to ship. It is hard to know what to believe at this point. The freeze affects eight models which makes up about sixty percent of all North American sales for Toyota. The list of affected vehicles is as follows-

• 2009-10 RAV4

• 2009-10 Corolla

• 2009-10 Matrix

• 2005-10 Avalon

• Certain 2007-10 Camry

• 2010 Highlander

• 2007-10 Tundra

• 2008-10 Sequoia

Avis/Budget car rental announced they will be removing nearly 20,000 Toyota’s from its fleet immediately. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, who now also owns Alamo and National Car Rental, will be pulling all Toyota’s and Pontiac Vibe’s included in the recall. While numbers were not provided by Enterprise it is estimated to be about 4% of their fleet.

It is coming out now that Toyota has known there was problem since mid 2008. In June of 2008, Toyota announced “sticky pedals” are a drivability issue not a safety issue. Well we all know how that turned out now that people have died. Toyota has ignored this problem. They continued to sell cars when they knew something was wrong! This is just ridiculous. Even further, Toyota was contacted last Friday by NHSTA after they heard the models were still being sold. It took four days for Toyota to make the announcement of the sales freeze on the affected models. It almost seems as if they had no intentions of stopping sales until it started hitting the public and governmental eyes.

I have spoken with many people who are shocked at this whole situation. In a conversation with a gentleman in the baby boomer generation the words, “Never in my life have I seen an auto manufacturer halt sales of over half their line up. This is history in the making.” He continued to compare this situation to 9/11, the difference is that this is going on inside Toyota. Another friend compared Toyota to big tobacco.

Many see this whole situation as getting out of control. I have heard some say it is snowballing. I personally think this is far from over and it will get much worse. Toyota’s reputation has now been thrown into question in front of the public view and in a terrible way. It will be interesting to see how current Toyota owners react when it is time for them to purchase a new car. This could benefit Ford, Hyundai, and General Motors. Time will tell if that happens. In recap, Toyota knew what was going on before people were killed, they continued to sell vehicles, more people died, did not fully think through the recall, things are going to get worse. I think I’m going to get sick.

AutoBird Podcast Episode 9

Episode 9 starts by discussing the past week on both of our respective blogs, AutoBird Blog and AccelerateMpls. The first topic was the Cadillac SRX that I drove this past week. The rest of our conversation focused on the year in review. Everything from the sad stuff to the funny stuff, nothing was left out. Things mentioned included the best/worst automotive brand of the year, best/worst nameplate of the year, the Ram brand, losing Saturn, Saab, Pontiac, Hummer, and much much more. We look forward to episode 10 in 2010!