Episode 770 – More L.A. News, Fuel Economy Rules Are Official, Showroom Traffic Up

November 17th, 2011 at 12:50pm

Runtime: 9:05

More news from the L.A. Auto Show: Honda unwraps its latest CR-V; Lincoln shows off its updated MKS and MKT models; and Hyundai reveals its new Azera.  The much-talked-about new fuel-economy rules in the U.S. are official.  In a good bit of news for the industry, dealership showroom traffic is up.  All that and more, plus Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, sounds off on Fiat’s troubles.

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

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

This is Captain De Lorenzo on the flight deck.  Please return to your seat and make sure your belt is securely fastened.  It’s Autoline Daily policy that you must be belted, in case of bad news.  In a few minutes the lovely Mindy and the very talented Wendy will be coming through the cabin with our refreshment service.  Soft drinks are complimentary; alcoholic beverages may be purchased for seven U.S. dollars.  We accept credit and debit cards only.  And with that, please sit back, relax and enjoy the show . . . the latest from the L.A. Auto Show, that is.

First up, Honda took the wrapper off its redesigned CR-V, which gets a new look both inside and out. Powering the crossover is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Compared to the previous model, fuel economy is slightly better for both the front- and all-wheel-drive versions. But, a five-speed in a land of six and more? Uh, not so much. The CR-V goes on sale next month in the U.S.

Hyundai revealed its new Azera, which is the fifth vehicle in the company’s line-up to incorporate its fluidic design language. The Azera is powered by a new 3.3-liter direct injected V-6, which is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Its combined fuel is 23 miles per gallon, which Hyundai claims is best in class. And like all Hyundais, the Azera is available with a number of safety and convenience features. To my eye this may be the first Hyundai in a while that doesn’t exactly set the world on fire. I would call the design “tepid” at best.

Infiniti revealed a new crossover yesterday, the JX.  It’s larger than the EX and FX but thankfully smaller than that truck-based behemoth, the QX.  Its design is reminiscent of the sharp-looking M, with smooth, flowing body lines.  It will be powered by a 265 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 matched to a CVT.  Expect this 2013 model to be loaded with technology and carry a base price of around $41,000.

Yesterday it was Cadillac’s turn and today it’s Lincoln’s.  The blue-oval luxury brand revealed two refreshed products at the show.   The 2013 MKS sedan gets a lineup of enhancements and refinements.  The exterior design has been revamped, with the car gaining a wispy-looking grille.  And pay attention, folks, because that grille is a transition to the “new” Lincoln.  The fuller-sized Lincoln’s 3.7-liter V-6 gets a horsepower boost bringing it to an even 300.  It should also deliver three more miles per gallon on the highway.  The MKS gets a new driver-selectable suspension system called “Continuously Controlled Damping,” bigger brakes and a redesigned interior.  Changes to Lincoln’s big crossover, the MKT, are very similar, with the exterior styling being the most noticeable.  Look for the 2013 MKS and MKT at Lincoln stores this spring.

One of the other “big” reveals out in L.A. was anything but.  They Chevy Spark is a mini – car, but not a MINI Cooper.  As an A-segment vehicle it’s going to compete in a corner of the American market that’s nearly as small as it is.  One of the things GM is trying to accomplish with it is testing the waters to see if Americans have any interest in such a small car.

Well, yesterday GM was predicting a SAAR of 14 million for the month, and now a story on The Detroit Free Press seems to corroborate this estimate.  Dealerships are seeing a nice bump in showroom traffic as more and more people replace their aging vehicles.  Great news for the industry, but not for Fiat, since sales of the Cinquecento are devastatingly bad – more on that later.  The company plans to add more stores, but who knows if that will help?

And remember, you can watch yesterday’s LIVE webcast from the floor of the L.A. show.  Just swing by our website, Autoline.tv.

Yesterday the Obama Administration made the new fuel-economy rules official. By 2025, vehicles must average 54.5 miles per gallon. The EPA and NHTSA say this will add an additional $2,000 to the cost of a vehicle. Overall it could cost up to $157 billion, but the agencies say this will be offset by saving as much as $515 billion in fuel costs.

In a somewhat surprising report, the Highway Loss Data Institute says you’re more likely to avoid an injury in an accident if you drive a hybrid. The odds of getting injured are 25 percent lower in a hybrid than a non-hybrid. HLDI says the extra weight of a hybrid helps protect occupants better. On average, hybrids are 10 percent heavier than standard cars. However, the same report says hybrids are 20 percent more likely to get in an accident with a pedestrian because it’s harder for pedestrians to know when one’s around when operating in electric-only mode. I gotta’ tell ya’, studies like these make me crazy and I assign exactly zero credibility to them. ZERO. Here’s the thing. I barely passed physics in high school but I do remember one key fact: When something bigger runs into something smaller the smaller thing is going to lose.

Coming up next, my thoughts on Fiat’s North American debacle.

On Monday it was reported that the Chrysler Group has suspended production of its 1.4-liter FIRE engine that powers the Fiat 500 in North America due to slow U.S. sales of the subcompact. The Italian-owned automaker is said to have a 184-day supply of Fiat 500 coupes and cabrios available to dealers.

Hmmmmm. Remember all of the glowing pronouncements by Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne about how the Fiat 500 would “transform the U.S. market” and that the automaker would easily sell 50,000 units in the first year? Even though he downgraded that prediction somewhat when the roll out of the car turned out to be a complete disaster, the bottom line is that just 15,826 Fiat 500s have been sold in this country to date. Let me repeat that, just 15,826.

The problem wasn’t with Marchionne’s delusional thinking about Fiat and what it could and would do in this market, because even though he fancies himself a genius and his minions think he is so very, very special, the bottom line is that delusional thinking is delusional thinking in any language. And Marchionne is no different from any of the other auto industry executives of the last, say 50 years, who were convinced they were special and who were equally convinced that they couldn’t possibly be wrong.

The problem with all of this, of course, is that Marchionne’s vision for the future health and well-being of the Fiat-owned Chrysler hinges upon Fiat making it here in the U.S. so that the table can then be set for the launch of Alfa Romeo.

And that dog is just not gonna hunt, even with a prosciutto-wrapped T-Bone.

Reality has yet to set in for Marchionne on this Fiat deal, and that spells trouble for the Fiat dealers who have ponied-up big cash for the privilege of signing up for Sergio’s “vision.” And that reality is that Fiat will never be more than a small-time bit player here, at best.

Talk about a giant pasta bowl of Not Good.

And that’s the High-Octane truth for Thursday, November 17
Anyway, on behalf of me and all of my colleagues I’d like the thank you for choosing Autoline Daily.  We know you have a choice when it comes to online automotive-themed programming and we’re happy you went with us.  We look forward to serving you on future shows . . . over and out.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com


76 Comments to “Episode 770 – More L.A. News, Fuel Economy Rules Are Official, Showroom Traffic Up”

  1. tj Martin Says:


    An AutoAnarchist’s Opinionater ;

    The truly Ironic thing is if you look at the numbers is its only the JEEP division of Chrysler/FIAT that in any way is proving successful at the moment , what with FIAT sales being all but non-existent and Chryslers so called gains barely catching up with their extensive loses

    So wouldn’t it be Funny if in fact JEEP winds up being the true savior of Chrysler/FIAT with FIAT heading back to Italy with its tail between its legs and Chrysler hanging on for dear life ?

    It could happen . But it won’t . Not unless Marchionne is finally unhinged from the Chrysler/FIAT leadership and someone with …. lets say a more REALISTIC view of the World at hand comes into to power.

    But …… in the mean time , and holding onto a glimmer of hope , listen up all you JEEP executives / engineers / UAW workers etc .

    DIG in , get the quality of your product up to its potential and spend a minute or two longer building the things RIGHT and you just might wind up being Chrysler/FIATs true savior

    You heard it here first from the AutoAnarchist Tj Martin 8)

    Opinionator #2

    FORD Turns Chicken ;

    First FORD raises the middle digit to Chevrolet by upping the Horsepower in the new Shelby , out doing both the ZR1 and the ZL1 in the horsepower wars .

    Great ! Fantastic I say .

    But then …… when Chevrolet at the LA Auto Show issues a challenge between their ZR1 and ZL1 versus the Shelby GT500 on the ‘ Ring ‘ driver of choice , fastest time wins , period .

    FORD in a whimpering gesture of ( urp ) politeness issues a public decline .

    No Guts , No Glory FORD .

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    Inferior car and inferior marketing, what do you expect? They should have launched with at least 2 models.

  3. dcars Says:

    Chrysler needed a small car, Fiat need an outlet. This issued seamed pretty obvious, let Chrysler sell the 500. It would have created foot traffic within the Chrysler store and maybe sold a couple of more 200′s. I’ve been to the Fiat boutique and it wasn’t any thing more than a nice place for the salesman to hang out.

  4. tj Martin Says:

    EuroZone News

    Warning . For those faint of heart or overly invested in the EU the storm clouds on the horizon are only getting darker . You’ve been warned ;


  5. HtG Says:

    group hug for the FIAT dealers

  6. tj Martin Says:

    @ dcars

    What they ( Chrysler/FIAT ) should of done was to bring over the model the 500 is based on and its bigger brother , selling them at Chrysler dealerships as you suggested , but at substantially lower than MINI prices .

    Placing the 500 head to head with the MINI , at barely any discount , has proved an abject failure in the EU/UK ( with the MINI and the Citroen DS3 killing sales even in Italy ) and its only done worse here .

    But ….. thats Marchionne’s Madness for you . His logic being … how shall we say ….. Downside Upside Down

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    FIAT, as a brand will never make it here, if they try to compete with the big boys. FIAT 500 can sell in reasonable numbers for a niche product, if they will just sell it along side Jeeps and Chryslers, and at a fair price.

  8. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG – Did you catch my other book recommend this morning ?

  9. MJB Says:

    We’ll see how long it takes for Marchionne to pull the plug on the 500.

    Too bad too. I really like the design. I know others here do not. But that’s nothing new. I’m always liking stuff other people can’t stand.

  10. tj Martin Says:


    If it ( 500 ) can’t sell in its own homeland ( Italy ) against ‘Niche ‘ competition ( DS3 & MINI ) what makes you think it can sell here ?

    The sad truth is the 500 is the $50 box in a fancy bow , trying to sell for $100 , that for once the general public hasn’t been duped into buying .

    Maybe FIAT needs a Hollywood Bump like the Prius got to get its sales off the ground . Hmmn 8)

  11. MJB Says:


    Oh well. What can I say. Corvette guy OWNS Mustang guy! …And always shall.

    And, yes tj, I know you love you some Mustang.

  12. HtG Says:

    8 I saw it, tj. Thanks. I’m eating up The Limit right now.

    9 I like the looks of the 500 a lot too, MJB. And the paint jobs are pretty sexy. Don’t worry about your taste not being mainstream, that’s what Apple is for.

    (yes I did, tj) he he

  13. tj Martin Says:

    #9 The design would of been fine had they placed something mechanical to equal the style underneath it all .

    Thats the problem . Its all Form with Zero Function

  14. HtG Says:

    maybe one reason Ford didn’t want to take on Corvette is what happens to the handling at high speed. Ie, Flugplatz means airport.

  15. tj Martin Says:


    Thppppppppppt :o

  16. HtG Says:

    13 The twin air engine would have been interesting, but maybe it’s wheezy on the highway if you’ve got an auto.

  17. tj Martin Says:


    Oh and with the Scuderia Ferrari Edition the 500 also became rather cynical ( to its buying public ) as well

    That one was and is a TRAVESTY beyond measure .

    I can just hear Enzo spinning in his grave at some 14,000 RPM with that move of Stronzetto’s ;-)

  18. tj Martin Says:


    Its the chassis/platform thats the root of the problem , not so much the engines . Pun intended

  19. HtG Says:

    I do wonder what happens when you go buy a 500. The dealers won’t discount the MSRP, but are they generous with your trade? It helps on the tax, too.

  20. tj Martin Says:

    Woodshed time fellas . See y’all on the morrow .

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There is a whole lot more competition in the way of small, niche cars in Europe than there is here. Some of the “almost mainstream” cars like Ford Ka have styling that might appeal to the same crowd as the 500.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There is now a FIAT dealer about 25 miles from me. I’ll go check it out in a few days, and see what the “atmosphere” is like.

  23. HtG Says:

    18 Is this because of the small wheelbase and track compared to the weight distribution, especially with the high seated passengers? It’s one shorty

  24. HtG Says:

    22 I went to the one near me on a sunny warm saturday afternoon. Empty. I didn’t want to say.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I”m still waiting for your list of “completely negative” reviews on the 2012 Passat. I’ve read several reviews, and none of the are even close to being completely negative.

    Yeah, the main problem with the Passat is expected reliability, and the dealers. I’d be hesitant to buy a FIAT 500 for the same reasons.

  26. G.A.Branigan Says:

    It’s official……..sergio MACARONI is a moron.LOL,his mishandling/mismanaging of this mega corp is coming back to bite that egomaniac right in his pasta fazool ;}>

  27. Lex Says:

    Fiat 500 is the new Smart for Two!

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    There’s a difference between “cheapening” an interior and making the interior less “complicated” The article Kit refers seems to point out that VW made the interior on the new Passat more simplistic with less bells and whistles like most of the competition, if that is the case then kudos to them. An excellent example of this would be the older Accords, while their interiors would be considered archaic by today’s standards, the quality of the material and workmanship was top notch. Sergio proved to be like Castro after all, promising and not being able to deliver.

  29. HtG Says:

    When I sat in the new Jetta, my cheap valve didn’t lift. So I went to sit in the more expensive Eos: no much difference to me. The vinyl in Jetta felt a bit grippy though, and maybe some people perceive that as ‘economical.’

  30. Jon M Says:

    So Hyundai’s fluidic design theme now hits the Avalon-envying (ie bland & boring) Azera. My question, though, is who is getting fired for not mentioning that it looks like it’s moving even when it’s standing still? Tepid it is, Peter, but I sure hope you don’t think the other Hyundais set the world on fire with their it only looks as good as it does because they looked so bad before design theme. And besides the exterior, Hyundai has a long way to go on their interiors. Even if their car designs were worthy of art museums, the inside is still leaves a lot to be desired.

  31. Lex Says:

    JEEP is the best brand under the Chrysler/Fiat umbrella! Hey, wasn’t JEEP a part of the nearly forgotten American Motors Company?
    Didn’t Chrysler buy American Motors to get the JEEP Brand? Maybe that is Machionne’s plan all a long. He buy’s Chrysler to get JEEP and a piece of the Bailout Money for the US Government. He Invests little or nothing in Chrysler (only refreshing models)and lets it wither and die. Once the dust has settles he jetison the Chrysler Brand and sell off all of it’s assets, taking the money back to Europe to save Fiat. He grow’s the JEEP Brand around the world to make lot’s of money for Fiat. In the end all he only had to sacrifice the Fiat 500 in the US Market.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    This morning, I stopped by the local Toyota dealer and saw something else, beyond suspect reliability, that the Passat TDI will have to deal with for the “exceptional fuel economy” market. That is the new Camry hybrid. Their first one just came off the truck. It had 43-39 EPA numbers, and was well equipped, with a sticker of $27K.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Sergio may be smarter than we think, if that is his plan.

  34. Lex Says:

    The New Hyundai Azera is better looking that the previous version, but I agree with Peter De lorenzo that is it nothing special. The Body Line is broken along the side of the vehicle, giving it larger looking rear quarter panels. The Side Lines should have continued from the front of the vehicle sloping upward along the body side and wrapping as it does around the top of the trunk lid. This would have given it a faster more wedged / rakish / sexier design.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    Tell me something Jeep lovers, where is the next platform for the next Cherokee gonna come from now that Daimler is out of the picture? It takes tons of cash to develop such a new architecture from the ground up.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Until this article, I’d thought of the Azera as being in the same category as Daewoo Leganza. I’d forgotten they made it, given all the publicity regarding Sonata et. al.

  37. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Jeep has steadily gone down hill in both quality and engineering.Macaroni AND manley have driven the jeep brand into the ground,pardon the pun.The list for the wrangler jk’s recalls,and ‘soon to be recalled’,is long.The most recalls for one year was on my 08 JK.One or two weeks after I got rid of it,I got yet another recall in the mail.As much as I love jeeps,especially the Wranglers,it is doubtful if they ever see my money again.

    In 05,Jeep unveiled a Wrangler pickup concept vehicle.It was a smash hit,through the roof props and people,(me included)wrote letters to Jeep wanting one.Last year they rolled out an updated version to be seen and again,it was a “hey I want one…when can I order it” from many Jeep people,again including me.To date,Jeep doesn’t want to build it….just tease with it.

    For years we have been asking for a diesel JK.We wrote letters only to be ignored.More customers gone,and dipshits macaroni and (un)manley still don’t get it.And hey….manley went and had a ‘special built’ JK for his own worthless ass.The ‘regular’ off the shelve JK wasn’t good enough for him.That speaks volumes to us ONCE loyal Wrangler buyers/owners.’nuff said.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, funny you should mention Daewoo and their stupid way of first getting into the American market by using sales people working out of a briefcase without even having a sample car to test out, and using Goodyear for service. Talk about dumb-ass ideas and someone actually thought it would work.

  39. Aliisdad Says:

    1. Fiat needs to bring in several models including some larger and sportier cars than the 500…I hope it is not already too late to turn it around.
    2. Fiat has vehicles that are kind of “Jeep-like” that might be a platform for new Jeep models.
    3. I own and have owned Jeeps, and they used to be great(quality and ability)and could go through almost any bad conditions; however, they seem to be deluting the brand with “whimpy” Jeeps that look the part but seem pretty lightweight as Jeeps…I suppose this does appeal to more people who just want the Jeep look and image, but will they continue to be “real” Jeeps?? By trying to make something to please the posiers, they might lose out in the end…

  40. Bob Aubertin Says:

    My I have your ATTENTION please:

    Has anyone who is so negative about the FIAT 500 gone out and did a test drive with this AWESOME microcar? As NIKI once said “Just Do It”.The quality is unbelievable from the moment you enter the car and close the door.The interior fit & finish is Top notch.Drive the car it will amaze you and that my friends is the REAL Deal.

    Oh by the way,I drive a 2010 300C.

  41. dcars Says:

    #6 I agree TJ.
    I know this not a popular thing to say, but I truly hope that Fiat makes it. Too many people depend on Chrysler/Fiat for a living.

  42. HtG Says:

    40 tj Martin drove it, and described it here some months ago. I’ve sat in several, front and back seats. Walked around the car, looking closely at how it’s put together. I really like it. I’m impressed with all the standard features. I would go for a test drive if I didn’t feel like I’d be abusing the salesman, since I’m not buying. I’ve also studied how the engine air induction system works, and how the rear suspension is fashioned. I’ve spoken to a sales woman for quite some time. I hung around the FIAT booth at the New York Autoshow to see how people reacted to the cars, and how the company presented itself. I’m not just shooting my mouth off.

  43. Aliisdad Says:

    Bob, you are right!! Yesterday, I did mention that I did drive a 500 at a local dealer, and really agree with what you say about it… It does seem a little small for a lot of people and their needs, though…That is why they really need to bring in some larger models and SOON!!! I think people will be impressed with the FIATs, their quality and how they drive…Some of us remember FIATs of the past that were cool cars (especially 124 spyders and the beautiful coupes), but they developed a kind of bad reputation for quality…I am not really sure that they were actually much worse than other imports of the era if properly maintained, but many people past a certain age have that opinion of FIAT…Yet, others still maintain, drive, and love their old FIATS, still…Anyway, I think today’s FIATS are good, modern cars; and this impression is confirmed to me after driving the 500…However, if Chrysler does not make a real effort to sell and promote them, it will end in failure…We have seen these problems before when American car dealers try to sell “foreign” cars, and a lot of it is salesperson attitude…Remember Opel at Buick, English Ford (Cortina) at Ford dealers, and Hillman/Sunbeam/Simca at Chrysler-Plymouth dealers??!? Hopefully, they will pull it off, this time; or, bye bye FIAT cars forever in the US…

  44. tj Martin Says:

    # 40

    Why yes I have ( driven the 500 ) Had one for an entire weekend because of some promo work I’d done ( unfortunately )

    And FYI my car until recently was a MINI Cooper

    My opinion at the end of the weekend ?

    First i regretted doing the promo thing even though i was well compensated

    Second , in comparison to the MINI the 500′s interior was uncomfortable , cheap and plasticy feeling

    Third in comparison to the MINI the handling was atrocious , the power delivery was a joke ( note mine was a MINI Cooper not a MINI Cooper S ) the tranny was rough and stiff as well as a pain to shift .

    Fourth the quality of the paint as well as the materials used was compared to the MINI pathetic

    And on and on and on .

    So AWESOME ? I rather think not . More like PRETENTIOUS MiniCar wannabe that showed its Econo Box roots just a little too clearly in light of the price in the window

    Suffice it to say I did not sign the contract to do further promo work for FIAT .

    The 500 is one very sad little joke Marchionne is playing on the buying public that amazingly the public IS NOT Buying , here or in the EU/UK


    @ Kit

    Amazing . I say I’m off for the day and you’re still asking for links etc ?

    Hate to tell you this Kit but even in this so called Digital Age there’s still a lot of info thats Print Only or by Subscription Only so in less you want me digging up old issues in hope you might find them used , as well as you pay for the subscriptions I have there’s nada I can do .

  45. Alex Kovnat Says:

    We are told that the cost of 54.5 MPG CAFE rules will be

    > offset by saving as much as
    > $515 billion in fuel costs.

    Yadda, yadda. We could save upwards of a trillion dollars in fuel costs by settling for driving no more than 40 miles per hour. But are Americans willing to give up their 65 to 70 (or more!) miles per hour highway trips to visit Grandpa Hank or Aunt Matilda or whomever?

  46. tj Martin Says:

    MARCHIONNE’S MADNESS ( a woeful tale )

    Here’s a prime example of Stronzetto Marchionne at his finest

    IF you had happened to go to the Ducati M/C factory in Italy BEFORE they signed an agreement with M-B AMG ( promo’s sponsorship etc ) Would you like to guess what the NUMBER ONE car you’d of seen in both the Executive all the way down to the Janitors parking lot ?

    #1 MINI Cooper
    #2 An assortment of BMW’s

    For years !

    Want to know why ?

    Well if you’d of looked down the road to see what MotoGP team Marchionne and FIAT were ( and still are ) sponsoring you’d of notice the FIAT logos on ;


    To say the least Ducati and its employees took just a tad bit of offense to that , turned around cut a deal for purchasing only with BMW/MINI for the employees IN SPITE of BMW having its own WSBK team that was competing with Ducati’s WSBK team …. and voila !

    Aint no stinkin FIAT’s in the Ducati parking lot . Lots of MINI’s and Bimmers though . Still is as a matter of fact .

    Nice move on Marchionne’s part don’t you think ? ;-)

  47. cwolf Says:

    I have always liked the CR-V because the size is more to my liking,like the early model Escape I once owned. The new model appears nice,but when looking at the front end,pictured in LeftLane News,I was disappointed. The front reminds me of a closed clam shell;equally curved top and bottom. I then compared the new CR-V to the new Escape and the Ford wins my vote for a better exterior,anyway. I’d like to know where each is made.

    The Lincoln grill is an improvement over earlier models and adding larger breaks was more of a necessity than an improvement. But what Lincoln is doing is nothing more of the same,except with a refrshened coat of lip stick. They should have hit the auto show with a new Town Car,the small luxury car they invissioned for fuel economy buyers,then captivated owners of their best selling mid-sized car,the MKZ,with something fresh,new and irrestible. The two models shown are not big sellers and a wasted opportunity.

  48. tj Martin Says:


    Also on the FIAT 500 , if you’d read the reviews in AW as well as Jalopnik on the Toyota iQ you’d of noticed both saying this ;

    ” The Toyota iQ in fact drives bette than the longer and heavier FIAT 500 we’d tested ”

    A Micro Car ( the iQ ) driving better than an A Class ( the SMART is a Micro Car , the MINI and 500 are A Class )

    That says it better than the ten page review i could give you on the shortfalls of the FIAT 500 .

    Its a very very bad joke that like dcars said earlier is probably gonna cost a lot of Chrysler employees their JOBs . In fact read the news . The 500 already has ( cost several hundred jobs )

    Hopefully Berlusconi’s demise ( Marchionne’s #1 Ally and money bags ) will lead to Stronzetto’s ouster and the folks at JEEP can get Chrysler back on track

    Awesome car indeed ! Compared to what ? A Reliant Robin ?

  49. tj Martin Says:


    I like the looks of the new Escape/Kuga as well but its the price point ( pundits say much more expensive ) that I think is gonna kill its sales .

    They ( FORD ) should of kept both . The Escape for the bargain hunter and the Kuga for everyone else . Then they could of let the market decide

    Honestly had the Kuga/Escape been available when I was car shopping I’d of given it a look . Still probably would of wound up with what I’ve got , but I’d of seriously considered it

  50. tj Martin Says:

    And I still maintain that FORD wimped out BIG Time in the face of Chevrolets Slap Down / Call em out , challenge .

    Where’s the guts and fortitude there FORD ?

    Don’t really believe in the new Shelby or is it cause you know something we don’t know ?

    That is all ( for today )

  51. pedro fernandez Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, the 500 is built off a lesser, cheaper model and that is never a good idea and even a worst value. ex. the old Seville was built off the Nova architecture.

  52. cwolf Says:

    At the present,I’m not that worried about the projected increases of Ford’s new models. If they are not notably better than the competition for the asking price,they simply will not sell,thus the prices will be reduced or rebates offered. I have always owned Ford products because of a Z-plan discount and have had no major problems with any. But I am loosing interest in the brand because their new products are always delayed and over-loaded once they hit dealer lots. My biggest peeve is Fords habit of promoting a variety of anticipated offerings and variations,such as diesel as an example,only to realize the generated excitement is nothing more than hype. For example: The Kuga/Escape was said to have a diesel option and the C-Max only comes in a loaded hybred. Deception does not settle well with me!

  53. pedro fernandez Says:

    It’s hard to get Americans to spend more dough for domestic brands, regardless of what they’re being told about better quality, they will pay more for European brands due to their perceived better quality and refinement.

  54. cwolf Says:

    I’ve noticed some resent changes in cars on the road. 300′s were plentiful on the pike,but numbers seem reduced 50%. Conversely, Impala numbers seem to have come out of nowhere,in town and on the pike! I now see more Impalas than Cruzes. Focus remain steady as the Corola,but Fiesta’s seen around town are leaping ahead. Kind of an unexpected transition IMO.

  55. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ cwolf:I have been on the Ford X-plan for many years,yet my last purchase was a chevy.Ford’s quality is good,but when the competition (Ram and Chevy)have a 5 yr/100k mile warranty,Ford will lose to it.At least for me.Now chevy may be coming out with several small diesels for the 2013 lineup.Sorry Ford,ya gotta bring more to the table….

  56. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    #50 T.J.

    I can see your point T.J. but maybe the real truth lies in the fact that the ring is the ZR1 and ZL1 development track and Chevy knows it very well. Do you think Chevy would accept a challenge of the ZL1 vs. GT500 (no Corvette included) at Fords Dearborn test track with their driver of choice?

  57. Jon M Says:

    @ #47


    The CR-V is made in East Liberty, OH. The 2012 Ford Escape is said to be made, when it acutally goes into production, in Louisville, KY. The current model year is built in Claycomo, MO, I believe.

  58. cwolf Says:

    @ G.A.Branigan: ditto. Just don’t become fooled by the longer warranty ploy. You are paying for it,one way or the other. Since “73″, the number of Fords owned by me or my wife and me,not one problem has occured that wasn’t warranted. At the end of our education and finacially limited,we bought a used Taurus that later required a tranny rebuild. It was a big mistake, to say the least! All of our new cars had over 200k mi. when traded or sold having no out of pocket expenses beyond the norm. Call it a combination of luck and good maint.,Fords have reliably met all of our needs.

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “tj” says:
    “Hate to tell you this Kit but even in this so called Digital Age there’s still a lot of info thats Print Only or by Subscription Only so in less you want me digging up old issues in hope you might find them used , as well as you pay for the subscriptions I have there’s nada I can do .”

    The new Passat has gotten at worst, mixed reviews, and at best, mildly positive reviews, both from the online and print media. Yes, I read both.

    We know you hate both VW and Chrysler, but I am getting tired of your lies and misinformation. I suspect some other people who are paying attention are also getting tired of your lies and misinformation.

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The 500 is built on a twist beam platform, not the best for handling, but so is a Corolla and a bunch of other cars. So what? Most people will never know the difference. The New Beetle was built on an outgoing Golf platform, and sold well early on. People who buy the 500 do so mainly because it is “cute.”

    Of course the MINI handles better. I appreciate that, but probable 2/3 of MINI buyers couldn’t care less. They buy them because they are “cute.” FIAT people just need to accept that the appeal of the 500 is its “cuteness” and decent fuel economy, and forget the “boutique” sales experience. It is not working. They got off to a bad start if they wanted to sell them as a cheaper MINI, so now, they need to sell them at more dealers as a “cute” alternative to Yaris et. al.

  61. HtG Says:

    60 I agree with you,Kit, on the cuteness quotient of the 500. Man alive, in some colors, I feel the tug. (and I recall at the VW dealership, the salesman telling me that the weaknesses of the rear suspension were something that became evident on the limits mostly). I think the poor economy is also tough on a 500 whose pure utility is limited.

  62. HtG Says:

    sorry, I meant to write on the rear suspension of the Jetta as described at the dealer.

  63. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Especially with the automatic, the gas mileage of the 500 is not good for a car that size. With a manual, it is 30-38, one mpg better than a base MINI, both city and highway. I suspect it would be easier to achieve those numbers that with a lot of cars.

  64. Dale Leonard-Lakewood,O Says:

    Peter you are 100% on the “Eject” button regarding Fiat. Only us people in our 60′s remember this car. It’s been gone for far to many years to make a comeback in the United States. This car has no following and never will,except for someone my age,that owned one and remembers how much fun they were….and I mean were! Mr.Macaroni is full of himself. And Alfa-Romero is another chapter in itself. It never had a following,except for Tow trucks,as they were so unreliable you needed one. Keep up the great commentary.

  65. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m starting to see quite a few Impala police cars. Some departments, like the county sherriffs here, now realize that you don’t need RWD for a police car.

  66. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Assuming your Kindle/(sch)Nook etc formats the pages the same as the book .

    The quote on page 125 starting ” Most Racers I know …. ”

    That one rang a little too true and far too close to home for me .

    I’m wondering if that applies to being a musician as well , especially since I’ve pursued both .

    Serious thought needed on this one . Serious thought .

  67. tj Martin Says:

    500 Color palate

    Now there I’ll have to disagree .

    The styling of the 500 , though not up to MINI / DS3 standards is kinda cute

    But those colors !

    Red that’s so dull its almost grey

    That Bat Guana Green that resembles something you’d let up after a hard night on the town .

    A black thats more dull dusk than black

    The white thats …. well ….. not .

    Especially when viewed up close for a couple of days ( I had 4 ) , it seems to me both the palate , quality and execution of the paint on the 500 is less than acceptable

    e.g. CHEAP !

  68. tj Martin Says:


    ( subtitled the new SOB story )

    Since we’re all so sick of the SAAB stories of late , here’s the newest contender for the late 2011- 2012 SOB story ;


  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks like this will be as never-ending and drawn out as the other SAAB story, and there will probably not be a pretty ending.

  70. tj Martin Says:

    # 68

    Yup . At least as bad if not worse than SAAB’s

    Only at least one can blame SAAB’s woes on an entire plethora of reasons

    Whereas the Austin F1 debacle all comes down to two excessive egos unable to get out of their own way , never mind work together towards a common goal .

  71. HtG Says:

    66 I know what you mean about that teal green. It’s out there. How about this Abarth ad, though?

    65 Why yes,tj, my Kschwindle does have a search feature. On racers childhoods, I know from literature that it requires a calamity in childhood to make an artist. Also, it’s hard not to relate the trouble my cuz had to the emotional depth of his play.(I also presume that Yo Yo had a delightful time) But you read in The Limit about the sickening and certain risks these guys were creating, and wonder about where the drive comes from to fight everyone else to get to the top. In the book on driver thinking I’m reading, it’s like there is a rage to be the first; a switch goes on. Most people won’t do this stuff.

  72. dcars Says:

    I have driven the Mini and it was great. the car’s interior is unique and feels substantial. I’ve not driven the 500, but have checked out. It’s a nice looking car inside and out. The interior seams a little frail, but nicely done. The exterior of the 500 seams a bit feminine. The mini on the other hand seems more geared to men; if they don’t paint it in the softer hues. My daughter questioned my man hood for considering a “baby blue” mini…. her term! it was ice blue.

  73. tj Martin Says:

    @ dcars

    Too funny . The daughters comment

    You might want to inform her though that former Ferrari owners ( Me ) 1% bikers ( yes really ) serious hot rodders , more than a couple of Bonneville competitors , Rock Stars etc etc can be counted amongst the owners of the BMW MINI , regardless of color choice ( one Bonneville 200 MPH club members car is Ice Blue )

    Still though , pretty funny comment from the daughter . Bit misinformed , but still funny :o

  74. tj Martin Says:


    re; Abarth Ad .

    Another in the long list of new FIAT 500 travesties

    An ‘ associate’ ( not a musician )and friend is a direct descendent of Carlo Abarth . His opinion when he saw and drove the ( urp ) Abarth 500 in Italy was …… errrr …… less than complimentary . Fact is in English or Italian I can guarantee you Ben would never let me get away with repeating them here , even on the weekends .

  75. tj Martin Says:

    …. add to # 73

    … not even in Carlo’s original tongue , Austrian .


  76. Bob Aubertin Says:

    Ladies & Gentlemen

    Their is a 10K base price differential between a BMW-Mini and a Fiat 500.Mini is not a microcar,whilst a Fiat 500 & Smart for 2 are.The “Cinquecento” is a HOT seller in Canada.

    In summary;
    We Canadians are more knowledgeable about car size & cost comparison.