John's Journal: John McElroy's multimedia blog about the automotive industry

Seat Time: 2014 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Lux

September 2nd, 2014 at 12:29pm

2014 Volkswagen Touareg

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
Manufacturer: Volkswagen
Make: Volkswagen
Model: Touareg TDI Lux
Type: Premium SUV, 4-door and tailgate
Competitors: Mercedes-Benz M-Class; Infiniti QX70; BMW X5; Acura MDX
Price: As tested — $56, 785 (with $910 destination charge included)
Made in: Brataslava, Slovakia
Drivetrain: 3.0L, 240 horsepower 406 lbs-ft torque TDI Clean Diesel
EPA Ratings: 20city, 29highway, 23combined

Final Impression:

2014 Volkswagen TouaregWhat’s not to like about this vehicle? Yes, I’m asking you “what’s not to like about the 2014 VW Touareg TDI Lux” because for the life of me, I can’t find anything to complain about. I like the exterior styling as well as the Night Blue Metallic paint along with the 19-inch alloy wheels. It’s a nice looking stylish package. And did I mention the tailgate? It has a powered one that lifts efficiently with plenty of cargo room in back to haul the tons of donations we had to take to our local Goodwill/Salvation Army during the week I drove the vehicle. To say it’s a natural when moving items from one place to the other is obvious.

Yet it’s the other benefits of this SUV are the ones that really hit the mark for me. Let’s start with the luscious Saddle Brown interior and the comfort of the seats. I wouldn’t mind taking this sled on a drive to Alaska, especially with that 3.0-Liter, 240-horsepower turbocharged V6 clean diesel engine. I drove the vehicle for seven days around Metro Detroit going well over 450 miles only to find I had nearly a third of a tank left when I grudgingly turned it back in. And safe to say that if I’m willing to drive more than 14,000 miles round trip (to Juno and back), but more importantly with my wife as a passenger who is easily Ms. Best Ergonomic 2014, that you can be sure those 12-way power, heated front seats, 4MOTION AWD and its all-independent suspension are more than doing their jobs because there isn’t a fussier person on the planet when it comes to ride and comfort than my wife. I often wonder why no OEM has hired her as its own “tush tester.”

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AAH #255 – Plug-ins, Spin Loss and Powertrains of the Future

August 29th, 2014 at 4:08pm

Audio-only version:

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- Was Ross Perot Right? More Move to Mexico
- China & India Go After Western Automakers: Is This the Beginning of the End?

SPECIAL GUEST: Larry Nitz, GM Powertrain Executive Director, Global Transmission & Electrification

All that and much more with Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production, Stephanie Brinley, IHS Automotive and Gary Witzenburg, AutoMedia.com.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Hyundai

Subscribe to the free podcast version of Autoline After Hours:

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

Seat Time: 2014 Volkswagen CC Executive

August 26th, 2014 at 3:00pm

2014 Volkswagen CC

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
Manufacturer: Volkswagen
Make: Volkswagen
Model: CC Executive
Type: Mid-Size Sports Sedan
Competitors: Acura TSX, Buick Regal, Hyundai Azera, Infiniti G37, Nissan Maxima
Price: As tested – $38,260
Made in: Emden, Germany
Drivetrain: 2.0L turbocharged inline four-cylinder with direct injection mated to a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission
EPA Ratings: 22 MPG city/ 31 MPG highway/ 25 MPG combined

Final Impression:

2014 Volkswagen CC InteriorAs we know, the design of Volkswagens are fairly pedestrian save for the iconic Beetle. The Passat, Jetta, Tiquan, for example, all bare a striking resemblance to a lamb cake mold but less fluffy. So to say the VW CC – in this case the Executive — is the most beautifully designed Volkswagen seems a tad empty if not wholly accurate. The car’s slopey shoulders give it the look of one of its far more expensive Teutonic cousins while its two-toned milk chocolate interior is as luscious as that first summer milkshake on a hot day.

On the inside the car has the tech it’s supposed to have though most of it seems B-list. The RNS 510 Navigation system with its 6.5-inch screen along with the Fender sound system all could stand to be punched up a bit.

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Seat Time: 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic

August 25th, 2014 at 3:05pm

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

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
Manufacturer: Daimler AG
Make: Mercedes-Benz
Model: S550 4Matic
Type: Full-size, 4-door sedan
Competitors: BMW Alpina B7, Audi A8 L W12, Lexus LS 600h L
Price: As tested $121,345
Made in: Sindelfingen, Germany
Drivetrain: 4.6 L twin turbo V-8, 7-speed automatic
EPA Ratings: 16 city/26 highway/19 mpg combined

Final Impression:

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class InteriorIf you are ever going to fully appreciate all the technologically packed into this Mercedes, you’d better be ready to earn a PhD in owner’s manual studies. This has got to be the most complicated machine to ever roll off an automotive assembly line. The good news is that you can just jump in this car and go, because the basics of everyday driving are simple enough for anyone to figure out the first time they sit behind the wheel. But if you want to get your money’s worth out of all the controls and functions, get ready to hit the books for some serious study sessions. And even at that you’ll probably need some refresher courses.

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AAH #254 – The ART of Audi

August 22nd, 2014 at 2:24pm

Audio-only version:

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SPECIAL GUEST: Jamie Dennis, Audi Quality & Technical Service Director
- Audi has new technology that transmits its expert technicians into any service center. How and why are they doing this?

All that and much more with John McElroy, Autoline.tv and Gary Vasilash, Automotive Design & Production.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Hyundai

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: 2015 Lexus IS 250 F-Sport

August 20th, 2014 at 3:00pm

2013 Lexus ISC

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
Manufacturer: Toyota
Make: Lexus
Model: IS 250 F-Sport
Type: 2-door convertible
Competitors: BMW 4-series convertible, Mercedes SLK, Audi A5 convertible
Price: $51,065
Made in: Tahara, Japan
Drivetrain: 2.5 L V-6, 6-speed automatic
EPA Ratings: 21 city, 30 highway, 24 mpg combined

Final Impression:

2013 Lexus ISCIf you enjoy going out on a nice sunny day and motoring down a pleasant country road in a car with the top down, stop reading this review right now and go out to your local Lexus dealer. This car is ideal for open-top motoring at leisurely speeds.

The hard-top roof opens and closes easily at the touch of a button, with no latches, covers or snaps to deal with. And all the other controls seem to be located where ever you intuitively reach for them, making this car a breeze to drive. OK, there. Now I’ve said everything nice that I have to say about this car.

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Seat Time: 2015 Lexus NX

August 19th, 2014 at 3:00pm

2015 Lexus NX 200t

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: Seamus McElroy
Manufacturer: Toyota
Make: Lexus
Model: NX
Type: Small Crossover
Competitors: Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X3, Audi Q5
Price: Not Available
Made in: Kyushu, Japan
Drivetrain: 2.0L four-cylinder turbo w/ six-speed automatic. 2.5L four-cylinder hybrid w/ CVT.
EPA Ratings: All MPG numbers are estimated. 2.0L (FWD) – 22 city/ 28 highway/ 24 combined. 2.0L (AWD) – 21 city/ 28 highway/ 24 combined. 2.5L (FWD) – 35 city/ 31 highway/ 33 combined. 2.5L (AWD) – 33 city/ 30 highway/ 32 combined.

Final Impression:

2015 Lexus NX 200tLexus is jumping into the small crossover segment later this year with the all-new NX. The company is aiming to sell around 3,000 a month in the U.S. or about 36,000 a year.

The NX is built on the same platform as the Toyota RAV-4 but 90% of the parts have been newly engineered for the luxury CUV. Lexus offers two powertrains for the NX. A 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, the first gasoline turbo in the company’s line-up, which is mated to a six-speed automatic. The other engine is 2.5L four-cylinder hybrid that’s mated to a CVT. Each engine is offered in front and all-wheel drive. Fuel economy for the turbo ranges from the low twenties in the city to the high twenties on the highway. And the hybrid’s ratings range from the mid-thirties in the city to the low thirties on the highway. All fuel economy numbers are estimates.

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Seat Time: 2014 Nissan NV200 Cargo SV

August 18th, 2014 at 3:00pm

Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo Van

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
Manufacturer: Nissan-Renault
Make: Nissan
Model: NV200 Cargo SV
Type: Minivan
Competitors: Ford Transit Connet; RAM Promaster City Cargo
Price: $21,280 (base); $23,645 (as tested)
Made in: Final Assembly: Civac Plant, Cuernavaca, Mexico
Drivetrain: 2.0-Liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine; Continously Variable Transmission
EPA Ratings: 24city, 25highway (24combined)

Final Impression:

Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo VanIf Batman’s nemesis The Riddler were writing this review, it might start like this: Riddle Me This, Caped Crusader, When is a Cargo Van like a Taxi? And of course the answer is when the manufacturer is Nissan. The maker of the “Taxi of Tomorrow” uses the same NV200 shell, which was chosen to cart customers in Yellow Cab form around America’s Gotham City. Yet the problem with that particular vehicle is it’s too expensive for the notoriously “thrifty” (read cheap) taxi owners.

2014 Nissan NV200 Taxi

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Autoline LIVE from Woodward Ave. 2014

August 16th, 2014 at 1:16am

Get ready for a special webcast from the site of the biggest one-day automotive event in the world! Once again we’ll be back on the curb and ready to ogle the classics cruising up and down Michigan’s most famous avenue, Woodward. This year we’re welcoming a bevy of guests including Tricia Hecker, Director of Mopar Marketing; Jim Hall, automotive analyst; Richard Cox, Director of Dodge and SRT; Richard Rawlings, star of Discovery Channel’s “Fast N’ Loud”; Mark Phelan, critic for the Detroit Free Press; and Steve Pasteiner, classic car expert and former designer.

Seat Time: 2014 Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC

August 14th, 2014 at 3:00pm

Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC

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
Manufacturer: Daimler-Benz
Make: Mercedes-Benz
Model: ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC
Type: 4-door Sport Utility
Competitors: Acura MDX, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Jeep Grand Cherokee
Price: $51,790 (base); $69,085.00 (as tested)
Made in: Final Assembly: Vance, Alabama; Engine & Transmission from Germany
Drivetrain: 3.0-Liter V-6 Turbo Diesel (240 Horsepower); 7-Speed Automatic Transmission with Shift Paddles
EPA Ratings: 20city, 28highway (23combined)

Final Impression:

Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC 4MATICTo dredge up on old but appropriate axiom in this case, sometimes you do end up throwing the baby out with the bath water. And that’s the dilemma Mercedes-Benz finds itself in with the ML 350 BlueTec. By all accounts it’s an amazing vehicle. The 3 Liter V6 Turbo Diesel delivers power, torque, performance and we haven’t gotten to the clean diesel part yet which gave me consistent mpgs in the mid 20s throughout my week of driving. It is roomy & comfy enough for a family taking long trips or large enough to — gulp — move your mother-in-law into your home for her golden years. Yea, all that is good. The problem is when you go for the gusto and buy a Mercedes the company has done such a good job of selling its brand through the years you expect the ultimate in luxury, and as a target market customer like Prince Hamlet would say “Ay, there’s the rub.” For as nice as the ML is put together inside and out, for some reason it just doesn’t seem like a Mercedes. Maybe I’m expecting too much but having just gotten out of the E350 Sport Wagen and being blown away by everything including the luxury notes of the car, all that was clearly missing with the ML.

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