Auto Notes - April 2017
Sales slump? While light vehicle sales in the U.S. were generally sluggish in January, February picked up for GM and Nissan, both up for the month, and Mercedes-Benz had its best-ever February sales, up almost 7 percent. Ford, Toyota, and FCA US all had positive truck and SUV sales, but a decline in cars placed them in the red.
Subaru continued its uninterrupted U.S. sales gains setting record sales in both January (up 6.89 percent) and February (up 8.3 percent, the best-ever month in U.S. sales). February also marked the highest-ever sales for Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and WRX models. Through February, Subaru has had 63 consecutive months of sales gains in the U.S. This year marks the 50th anniversary for the automaker in the U.S. and the company expects it to be another record-setting year.
Cadillac had a decline in February sales over 2016 in the U.S., but it’s a hot seller in China as the brand posted an 89.6-percent increase in sales over the same month in 2016.
GLC a winner. Mercedes-Benz has won the prestigious Motor Trend 2017 SUV of the Year award for its all-new GLC model, a replacement for the former GLK. The small luxury SUV was hailed for its overall performance, as well as for its competitive pricing ($41,875 base).
The AWD GLC300 is powered by a turbocharged DOHC 1.4-L engine that Motor Trend judges said “made more power than advertised.” With an aluminum block and mated to a nine-speed transmission, the engine creates 241 HP at 5,500 RPM plus 273 lb-ft of torque at 1,300 RPM. Rated fuel economy is 21/28/24 MPG.
A combination of the M-B E-Class (chassis) and C-Class (interior and electronics), plus generous new features, Motor Trend editors said the GLC “isn’t the sexiest choice for SUV of the Year, but it’s without hesitation the smartest.”
Chicago debuts. The 2017 Chicago Auto Show in February had its share of global and North American vehicle introductions. One of those was the long-awaited revamp of the Ford Expedition. Even though it’s been around for almost two decades, the 2018 model is the just second-generation version. The Expedition is now four inches longer, but 300 pounds lighter due to its new aluminum body panels. In total, there are 40 new-to-the-model features.
Also debuting in Chicago were more than 20 other vehicles that included the 2017 Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition with a twin turbo V-6 engine; a Mercedes-Benz Metris concept van that allows commercial customers to tailor their vehicles based on specific needs, including a roof-hinged side panel that opens up like a tool box; the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SUV Weekend Edition that offers amazing features for road travelers; and the NV Cargo X project vehicle, a rugged heavy-duty van from Nissan that allows for driving on- or off-road.
Other intros included the Jeep Rubicon Edition that replaces the JK chassis with numerous upgrades; the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure with a tow package and upgraded radiator, an engine oil cooler, and transmission cooler; and the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT with a 6.4-L HEMI V-8 engine.
New York show. Four floors of the Jacob Javits Convention Center will be filled with just under 1,000 cars, trucks, SUVs, and specialty vehicles at the April 14-23, New York International Auto Show, the nation’s first (1900) and largest attended auto show.
Highlights at the show include the World Car Awards, a Technology & Mobility Conference, the National Automotive Technology Competition for high school students, plus dozens of global and North American vehicle debuts.
Safety first. Known for their class-leading safety features, Volvo debuted its new XC60 model at the Geneva Motor Show in March that has three new advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to provide drivers with automatic steering assistance to avoid potential collisions.
One of those features, within the City Safety system, offers steering support when braking alone would not help avoid a collision. It also reacts to pedestrians and large animals at speeds up to 62 MPH, but a new Oncoming Lane Mitigation system, which warns drivers of lane departure and steers the vehicle back into their own lane, is active up to 86 MPH.