Seat Time: The Aurora Borealis of Britain – 2016 MINI Cooper S Clubman

September 23rd, 2016 at 1:00pm

Untitled-1

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
Vehicle: 2016 MINI Cooper S Clubman
Price: $32,530 (including $850 Destination)

Final Impression:

P90187445_highRes__mid

Though its sales might not exactly show it, there’s a cult of personality that surrounds the MINI Cooper. It starts with a simple wave… by passing MINI motorists and moves onto hundreds of owners who vacation together by driving cross-country in what’s called MINI TAKES THE STATES.

But how does a brand ignite such a passion? Well it’s got to start with the car so let’s look at my recent MINI loan and try to figure it out.

I drove the 2016 Cooper S Clubman with MINI’s 2-Liter twin turbo 4-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. This powertrain always delivers a very high “fun quotient” whichever Driving Mode you’re in: Sport, Mid or Green.

But despite the “cuteness” inherent in the MINI – it is a great looking design – I find the car a tad heavy when it comes to ride and handling. The suspension seems ultra stiff for my taste. And when you try to close those exclusive Clubman Split Rear Doors, it helps if you’re bench-pressing about 300 pounds – they’re not exactly feather-light.

P90187486_highRes__mid

And though you can’t complain about the upgrades that BMW continues to pump into the brand’s interior, for some reason I just don’t feel comfortable in the cabin. Whether it’s the legroom, headroom or some other reason, even though I like the brand and its vehicles, they’re just not for me.

But they do seem to be for a lot of other people. So why is there such love for the brand? I can point to a couple reasons.

First, you can customize the heck out of the car. Want a Cooper Hardtop 4 Door in Electric Blue? That’s the easy part. From there it gets a little tougher since you’re choosing from a possible ten million combinations. That’s a bit overwhelming for me but many MINI owners seem to like it.

MINI enthusiasts also seem to like the special editions the brand releases as well. Like the “Highlands Countryman” or the “Carbon MINI Hardtop 4 Door” and “Seven Edition” available on several cars.

giphy

Then, of course, the other attraction for many is the quirkiness of the brand, which is still evident in today’s design. The toggle switches throughout the cabin are an homage to the ‘60’s version of the MINI as is the large dial on the center of the I.P. But where that dial used to be the speedometer – which is now in the traditional spot — today it is home for the technology center with Navigation, Entertainment and a Rear View Camera among others situated there. And just to prove that not even technology can escape the MINI touch, the dial is encircled by what’s called a LED Center Instrument ring, which changes colors with systems and functions.

For instance, the Park Distance Control can flash from red to yellow to green when in reverse each color denoting distance. In fact, those same colors also represent the three Driving Modes as well. And still other features like the Audio System, Climate Control and Active Driving Assistant each have several different colors associated with a function. All in all, we guessed about 50 different color combinations, but even that might be conservative.

If I were in MINI Design I might ramp up all those colors and lights mentioned above, and release an Aurora Borealis Edition. And to make it even more exclusive – it would only be available at the lone MINI dealership in Alaska (Anchorage). Now you’ve got to say, that’s quirky.

Untitled-4

AAH #348 – Chianti Classico & Lusso: The Story Of The Fiat 124

September 23rd, 2016 at 10:42am

Audio-only version:

NEWS TOPICS:
01:17Fiat 124 Spider
22:37 – Ford-150 Quadrasteer
29:11 – Recent press events
31:38Apple buying McLaren?
45:51Top tier gasoline
01:04:35BONUS FOOTAGE: Post-show

At last count there maybe more than 45,000 species of spiders throughout the world, but in our studio there’s only one: the 2017 FIAT 124 Spider Abarth. Fiat rebooted this sports car from the ‘60s earlier this year with the help of competitor Mazda. Get the story on how they put together this new edition of an Italian Classic.

SPECIAL GUEST: Leia Horton, Fiat 124 Spider Engineering

PANEL: John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Todd Lassa, Automobile; Bob Gritzinger, WardsAuto

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Lear Corporation.

Subscribe to the free podcast version of Autoline After Hours:

Stitcher-Icon-1 YouTube

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

ATW #2029 - Health of the Auto Industry

September 22nd, 2016 at 4:00pm



David Andrea, Center for Automotive Research; Brett Smith, Center for Automotive Research; Bernard Swiecki; Center for Automotive Research. Topic: Health of the auto industry.

It was 8 years ago that the world economy was on a knife’s edge. And it was also the time when some of the world’s largest automakers declared bankruptcy while others stood by holding their proverbial breath.

Now, a decade later it’s a brand new story, or is it? Have the OEMs really cleaned up the poor practices that led to their own knife’s edge or just rearranged the deck chairs?

John McElroy welcomes three observers of the auto industry from Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Center for Automotive Research including Bernard Swiecki, Brett Smith and Dave Andrea, to discuss the car industry’s current health and what the future holds on Autoline THIS WEEK.

AD #1950 – McLaren Denies Apple Rumors, ZF Develops 4-Wheel Steer for Pickups, New Player Emerges in the EV Game

September 22nd, 2016 at 11:47am

Runtime: 7:40

To watch this episode on YouTube click here.

- McLaren Denies Apple Rumors
- Vacuum Maker Sucks Up Aston Martin Developer
- EV Startup Says It’s Better Than Tesla
- How Clean Are EVs?
- ZF Develops 4-Wheel Steer for Big Pickups
- NHTSA Adopts SAE Autonomous Definitions
- Classic Car Market Cooling Off

Visit our sponsors to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: Bridgestone , Dow Automotive Systems and Lear Corporation

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher | YouTube

continue reading »

AD #1949 – Volkswagen Hit by Barrage of Lawsuits, Investors Line Up to Buy Takata, You Said It!

September 21st, 2016 at 11:50am

Runtime: 9:14

To watch this episode on YouTube click here.

- VW Hit by Barrage of Lawsuits
- Investors Line Up to Buy Takata
- Auto Insurance Targeted by Disruptors
- Happy Anniversary Peter Schreyer
- You Said It!

Visit our sponsors to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: Bridgestone , Dow Automotive Systems and Lear Corporation

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher | YouTube

continue reading »

AD #1948 – NHTSA Says Computers Are Legally Drivers, Uber Sets Up Shop in Detroit, The Proper Way to Announce Price

September 20th, 2016 at 11:49am

Runtime: 7:48

To watch this episode on YouTube click here.

- NHTSA Sets Federal Guidelines for Autonomous Cars
- Level 3 vs. Level 4 Autonomy
- Uber R&D Headed to Detroit, Not Silicon Valley
- The AAA Says Americans Waste Billions on Premium Fuel
- Honda Sets Up New Motorcycle Website
- GM Averts Canadian Strike
- GM Shows the Proper Way to Announce Price

Visit our sponsors to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: Bridgestone , Dow Automotive Systems and Lear Corporation

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher | YouTube

continue reading »

AD #1947 – Golf Alltrack to Plug VW’s SUV Gap, DARPA Teams Up With Pratt & Miller, GM Faces Strike From Unifor

September 19th, 2016 at 11:27am

Runtime: 8:28

To watch this episode on YouTube click here.

- GM Faces Strike From Unifor
- VW Suspends Audi Executive
- Golf Alltrack to Bridge VW’s SUV Gap
- DARPA Teams Up With Pratt & Miller
- Waze Adopts INRIX Parking Data
- How Elio Keeps Its Price Low

Visit our sponsors to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: Bridgestone , Dow Automotive Systems and Lear Corporation

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher | YouTube

continue reading »

AD #1946 – Tesla Getting Into More Supplier Battles, German States Sue VW, Lexus Spider Web Seat

September 16th, 2016 at 12:17pm

Runtime: 8:38

To watch this episode on YouTube click here.

- Tesla Battles Suppliers
- German States Sue VW
- Why Hyundai Wants Luxury Brand
- Volvo is Wagon Its Tail
- Lexus Spider Web Seat
- IDSA Design As a Change Agent

Visit our sponsors to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: Bridgestone , Dow Automotive Systems and Lear Corporation

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher | YouTube

continue reading »

AAH #347 – Here We Go With Elio

September 16th, 2016 at 11:41am

Audio-only version:

NEWS TOPICS:
00:50Elio Motors
22:423D Printing
29:01Doctor Data
37:20 – VW Full Line Drive
46:04Google & the Michigan Legislature
48:14 – Ford demos Autonomous Fusion to Journalists
51:51 – Otto – Uber’s Autonomous Semi

SPECIAL GUEST: Jeff Johnston, VP, Engineering Elio Motors

It’s got three wheels, one door and is made from pure imagination. Even though it sounds like a Willy Wonka invention, this is a real car.  The brainchild of engineer Paul Elio, the E-Series is a two-seat, 84mpg vehicle that’s road ready. But the question is, when will it be customer ready?

PANEL:  Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production; Lindsay Brooke, SAE; Chris Paukert, Roadshow by CNET

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Lear Corporation.

Subscribe to the free podcast version of Autoline After Hours:

Stitcher-Icon-1 YouTube

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

Seat Time – Shattering The Minivan Stigma With Styling: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

September 16th, 2016 at 8:30am

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited

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
Vehicle: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
Price: $48,455 as tested

Final Impression:

Minivans have a problem. Even though they are one of the most practical vehicles you can buy, most people would not be caught dead driving one. They don’t want the stigma of being branded as a soccer mom or a baseball dad, even though that’s exactly what they are. That’s a key reason why minivan sales are half of what they were 20 years ago.

CH017_012PFcga11f5bepnq61j5hmn4tuo54k

But maybe Chrysler has cracked the code of how to get rid of that stigma. The new Pacifica looks nothing like the boxy Town & Country it’s replacing. That’s largely thanks to the jaunty angle of the D-pillar, and the wraparound look of the backlite and taillights. It looks more like a premium CUV than a minivan, especially in profile.

The stigma issue also explains why Chrysler enlisted the help of comedian Jim Gaffigan for its Pacifica television ads. His wry sense of humor (he can’t seem to remember his kid’s names) is aimed squarely at dads to convince them that it’s cool to drive a minivan.

The striking styling is more than skin deep; the interior is gorgeous. Or it least on the top-of-the-line Limited model it is. Sumptuous is a word that comes to mind. Every surface seems to be wrapped in leather or some kind of soft-touch material. The styling lines and color combinations are soothing, inviting and decidedly upscale. Lower-level models look good, but use a lot more hard plastic.

pacifica-features-technology-full-1

The Limited version I drove came with the “Uconnect Theater and Sound Group” option which transforms the middle seats into a multimedia entertainment center. It features seatback video screens, HDMI outlets, USB ports, Blu-Ray and DVD players, a 115 V power outlet, wireless headphones, remote control and a 760 W amplifier. The option costs $2,795 which is awfully pricey but probably worth every penny for anyone traveling with kids. Maybe not just kids. On one long drive I found myself back there playing solitaire on one of the video screens.

Chrysler continues to have an edge on its competitors with its Stow ’N Go seats that fold into the floor. On the Pacifica the rear row can be electrically operated. No more full body stretches to reach into the back. No more tugging on straps or latches. Even the valets were impressed to see it in action, and they see everything.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

The Pacifica drives as good as it looks. It’s noticeably quiet inside partly thanks to the use of noise cancellation.It provides good command-view seating, all-around good visibility and does not feel overly bulky when you’re trying to park it.

On the open road its 3.5 L V-6 provides plenty of power. I was stunned to see it deliver 27 miles per gallon traveling 80 miles an hour on a long highway drive. That’s partly due to its 9-speed automatic transmission. Chrysler has had a lot of problems with this transmission in other models and there were a couple of times where I thought it shifted funny. If they offer an extended warranty, I would take it.

Even so, I’m impressed by the Pacifica. Chrysler closed the quality gap considerably to the Toyota Siena and Honda Odyssey, especially with the interior design. But you pay for what you get. The Limited model that I drove came with a sticker price of $48,455. That’s a lot of money for a family hauler, even though it’s quite competitive with comparable Siena and Odyssey models.

Now I can’t wait to see how it sells. If the styling truly does shatter the stigma the Chrysler Pacifica could bring a lot more soccer moms and baseball dads back into the segment.

CH017_002PF8ncmdd2v0jqmp3h92redronam1




Or get the Weekly E-mail