Episode 787 – China Imposes Tariff, NTSB Wants Cell Phone Ban, Chrysler Revives the Viper

December 14th, 2011 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 6:39

In response to the U.S. placing tariffs on Chinese-made tires, China will impose tariffs on imported cars from the U.S with engines larger than 2.5-liters. The National Traffic Safety Board is calling for a nationwide ban on cell phone use and other electronic devices while driving. It’s back! Chrysler announced it will reopen its Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit to produce the next generation SRT Viper. All that and more, plus guest host Michelle Krebs from Edmunds.com shares her picks for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.

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Hello again, and welcome to Autoline Daily. It’s a fine Wednesday, the 14th of December, 2011. The year is really winding down. I’m Michelle Krebs, senior analyst and editor-at-large of Edmunds.com bringing you the latest and greatest news from the automotive world.

In response to the U.S. placing tariffs on Chinese-made tires, China will impose tariffs on imported cars from the U.S with engines larger than 2.5-liters. According to Bloomberg, GM will be hit with punitive duties close to 13 percent, while Chrysler will lose nearly 9 percent. The decision also affects BMW and Daimler, which export vehicles from the U.S. China currently imposes a 25 percent tariff on imported cars.

The National Traffic Safety Board is calling for a nationwide ban on cell phone use and other electronic devices while driving. The call for a ban is in response to a fatal car accident last year in Missouri. The NTSB says the ban should include hands-free devices as well, which would make it much stricter than what any state currently prohibits. It also means automakers would have to make big changes to infotainment systems that connect cell phones to the car.

It’s back! Chrysler announced it will reopen its Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit to produce the next generation SRT Viper. The company stopped production of the car last year. Chrysler says the new Viper will go on sale late next year as a 2013 model.

It’s no secret Honda is struggling. November sales were down more than 10 percent (subscription required) compared with last year. You can blame the tsunami or its lackluster products, but there could be more to the brand’s troubles. According to LeaseTrader.com, an automaker’s leasing and lease transferring practices can have a big impact on FUTURE sales. It polled some of its users and found nearly 42 percent of people who leased a Honda between 2000 and 2004 said they WOULD NOT buy another vehicle from the company because of the experience. Acura, Nissan and Infiniti also scored poorly.

In related news, The Detroit Free Press reports things are loosening up on the finance front. It’s getting easier for consumers to snag auto-loans. Another plus: more people are making their payments on time, with delinquencies at near-record lows. It’s estimated that in the last three months of the year just half a percent of drivers will be more than 60 days behind on their payments. The forecast for 2012 looks even rosier as banks and financing companies compete for buyers.

MCE-5 DEVELOPMENT ENGINE (subscription required)
A French company called MCE-5 Development is working on a variable-compression engine that delivers some eye-popping numbers. WardsAuto.com reports its direct-injected, gasoline four pumps out 243 horsepower with 361 foot-pounds of torque. In a midsized Peugeot 407, it’s claimed to deliver up to 38 miles per gallon, about 6.0 liters per 100 kilometers. The company’s goal is to build an engine with a compression ratio that can vary between 6 to 1 and 15 to 1. The system uses special pistons that can vary their heights to change compression.

Voting for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards is in full swing and I’ll give you an insider’s perspective, right after this.

The first round of voting for the 2012 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards just finished. We’ll know the three car and three truck finalists when they are revealed at the Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit tomorrow. The ultimate winners will be announced at Detroit auto show in January.

The winners – and finalists, for that matter – will be a surprise this year — even to us 50 journalist -jurors. This was a truly challenging year to select the industry’s best because the car category is dominated by small cars, and the truck category has not a single “real” truck.

On the car side, about a dozen candidates boast 40 miles per gallon; over a dozen are over 30-mpg achievers. That certainly is admirable. It’s just not very sexy for voting jurors. Clearly, however, it is a win for consumers who have a bumper crop of outstanding small, fuel-efficient vehicles to choose from.

Utilities dominate the so-called “truck” category again this year.

For me, the car selection required number crunching on mpg and price, including features, to determine bang for the buck. I also looked at the stories behind the vehicles.

In the end, I gave the majority of my points to the Chevrolet Sonic and BMW X3. The Sonic, a terrific small car with a lot of value, is the first ultra-small car built by a U.S. auto company in the United States – in the Detroit area, in fact — with union labor. I spread the rest of my allotted points to the Buick Verano, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Passat.

The X3, in my view, is — at last — a small utility worthy of the BMW badge. Plus it is built only in South Carolina and shipped around the globe. My votes surely don’t provide a clue to which vehicles will win in light of the varied tastes and perspectives of the 50 journalists on the jury. It’s just one juror’s take on the year’s best.

That’s it for today. Again, I’m Michelle Krebs of Edmunds.com. But before I take off, make sure you check out Autoline After Hours this Thursday night. With John AWOL, Peter De Lorenzo is in charge. He’ll be joined by Todd Lassa of Motor Trend and Scott Burgess from The Detroit News. Check it out. It’s sure to be a lively discussion. Anyway, thanks for watching, I’ll see you around.

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

119 Comments to “Episode 787 – China Imposes Tariff, NTSB Wants Cell Phone Ban, Chrysler Revives the Viper”

  1. tj Martin Says:


    Ahhhhhhh. So the ‘ bargain ‘ SLS is finally coming to market .

    Hmmn .

    Having driven several Vipers and one SLS …….. well now I’m really wondering just how good the bargain SLS will in fact be

    The ‘ real ‘ SLS proving itself to be quite the GT , whereas every Viper I’ve driven was better suited to be a Track Day Special .

    Hmmmn .

    Oh well . I’m still glad its back 8)

  2. tj Martin Says:


    Gee Michelle those are some real compelling reasons to be voting for what is supposed to be the best new car/truck sold in the US .

    With logic like yours , remind me to never purchase a car or much of anything else for that matter thats gotten your vote

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    I guess that a car does not have to prove itself anymore, specially after all the accolades bestowed last model year on the new GM version of the Firebird, the Firecrap.

  4. tj Martin Says:


    Aint that nice

    Small business’s can’t get a loan to save their lives to either expand or maintain their endeavor

    Home Buyers with outstanding credit and substantial cash down can’t get a loan from anyone

    Collage bound students are having to beg/borrow and steal just to be considered for a loan

    But……….. oh yes !

    Car buyers can now get a loan !

    Brilliant ….. Or not !

    What a Downside Upside Down world we live in

  5. cwolf Says:

    Sorry,tj,your GLK was not included in the “best”.Perhaps you would be more agreeable if it were.

  6. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    A)The GLK is hardly ‘ new ‘ so therefore does not qualify

    B) I really could not care less what anyone thinks of the GLK . I love it . It suits me and the Mrs to a tee and thats all that matters

    C ) My complaint is the criteria Michelle’s using in making her choice , not whether or not I agree with her or not …..

    But for the record I DO NOT and in fact never have agreed with her logic on anything she reports on .

  7. cwolf Says:

    Most of us have a great admiration for the car you leased…or we wouldn’t have prodded you toward it.

    I don’t know Michelle’s history or view points,but I find it refreshing she has stepped up to the plate to place her votes towards American made/assembled vehicles. Slanted or not,my perceptions of Michelle’s American Pride is something that has been lacking for too long!

  8. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    Sorry mate but I don’t see ‘ Patriotism as a valid criteria to vote for what is supposed to be the best new car/truck sold in the US

    ‘ Sold ‘ not built being the ‘ key’ word here

    And yes i know you and others likes my car as well . My ” couldn’t care less ” comment was more a retort for what felt like an accusation on your part in post #5

    ( re; ” ….. perhaps you would be more agreeable …. ” )

    If’n I’s mistaken accept my apologies

  9. Mark Says:

    John, what do you think of Chrysler’s brand strategy? Ram split off from Dodge a while ago and now the Viper is an SRT and not a Dodge? Mopar is getting a strong emphasis. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

    I go to a Dodge dealer for an SRT Viper and I got to a Chrysler dealer for an SRT 300? I can go to either for Mopar parts?

    I’ve been paying attention to these changes and I’m confused. I can’t help but think that the average consumer will be baffled. It sounds like brand management run amok.

  10. Brett Says:

    I think everyone should feel and think the same way about everything. Don’t you?

  11. Chuck Says:

    GAAAAAAAAAA! C’mon folks!!

  12. Autos101 Says:

    “tj Martin Says:
    December 14th, 2011 at 12:36 pm


    Gee Michelle those are some real compelling reasons to be voting for what is supposed to be the best new car/truck sold in the US .

    With logic like yours , remind me to never purchase a car or much of anything else for that matter thats gotten your vote”

    Well Said. Hear, hear! I Absolutely Agree, and I was shocked that Michelle even admitted her poor choices on camera

  13. cwolf Says:

    Glad we’re still mates and #5 was just a poke in the ribs for any possible thought of disagreement,on yor part,towards any other who strays from your views. Certainly nothing to take serious. Always remember,I am rarely confrontationl on fun matters. And nothing like the new “Bob” that has joined the crew of late.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    Maybe she meant Sonic the hedgehog, he’s pretty fast, after all.

  15. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf


    Got it !

    And …. no worries . Even if it had been serious , I wouldn’t have let affect me or my opinions towards yourself . I’m fine with disagreement etc . HtG and i have it out what must be at least every other week or so and ……. he’s still mien freunde . Just not when it comes from a ‘ Sock Puppet ‘ or somebody just intent on getting up my nose for no good reason

  16. Autos101 Says:

    “cwolf Says:
    December 14th, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Sorry,tj,your GLK was not included in the “best”.Perhaps you would be more agreeable if it were.”

    What can we do… not every Vehicle can be as good as that utter piece of Junk RENAULT ALLIANCE, which DID win all kinds of LUDICROUS, INSIGNIFICANT and frequently CORRUPT (see Autoextremist Rants of years past!) “employee of the month” awards like these.

    But why am I going that far back? WHo won the idiotic award last year?

    Yes, the STUPID, STUPID Volt!

    I rest my case.

    “baby, baby light my fire!”

    The 21st century FORD PINTO!

  17. cwolf Says:

    No,pedro,that Sonic will never catch on. They are only utilized by the “underground!”

  18. tj Martin Says:


    Or maybe she’s thinking she’s on the Foodie website and meant..

    …… Sonic Burger ?

    Nahhh even she’s gotta have more taste than that !

  19. Autos101 Says:

    The valid reason to vote for the Sonic or the X3 is that they are vastly superior to the Aveo and the previous X3 they replace, not that they are built in Michigan or Alabama respectively, which should have NOTHING to do with ANYTHING.

    AND one more thing:

    Auto buyers should be asked to choose US-made autos ONLY when those harassing them to do so never buy a CHinese or Banglasdesh or Korean import again from Walmart, Sears, or wherever the hell they shop.


  20. tj Martin Says:

    @ Autos101

    “…The 21st century FORD PINTO! ”

    If only the (re)VOLT(ing) were that good !

    Maybe then my criticisms would be toned down ….. well …. maybe ……. just a little bit ;-)

  21. cwolf Says:

    @14 Kudos mein freunde; just be careful you new parot doesn’t take a dump on your shoulder.Enjoy your new pet.

  22. tj Martin Says:

    FYI Autos101

    That should of read ;

    ” Come on baby light my fire ”

    Hmmn . Jim Morrison quotes ;

    ” No one gets Out alive ” fits the VOLT as well


  23. tj Martin Says:


    Huh ??????

  24. Autos101 Says:

    “cwolf Says:
    December 14th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    @14 Kudos mein freunde”

    That’s “Mein Freund” (singular) or “Meine Freunde” (plural).

    You’re Welcome. And the irony is, your name sounds German (or from that region anyway) and mine is not.

  25. Autos101 Says:

    tj Martin Says:
    December 14th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    FYI Autos101

    That should of read ;

    ” Come on baby light my fire ”

    Thanks for Correction. wrote it from memory, plus I am more of a Rolling Stones type

    “Stray Cat Blues”

  26. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG et al

    For your viewing pleasure ;


    Compliments of MBUSA – AMG etc

    But before you get your shorts tied up in a knot , thats ROAD curves , as in driving , not girl curves ;-)

    Check out the slide/video shows on #’s 1&2 Ahhhhh the Italian Alps ! Madonna Mia .

  27. Autos101 Says:


    What happened to MERIT?

    What happened to the consumer buying the BEST?

    REGARDLESS where it is made?

    You want to go the way of trade wars?

    Welcome to the even greater Depression, and you’d be lucky to avoid W W III.

  28. Buzzerd Says:

    Banning cell phones
    Road safety is already very high but if we want to make it better I don’t think creating more laws is the answer but maybe just maybe we could get police to enforce any law that doesn’t involve a radar gun……………. nah that will never work.

  29. Autos101 Says:

    BEfore I heard the show today, I had a lot of respect for Michelle Krebs as an Auto Journalist (even tho she also writes for that rag the NY Times), and was thinking how much better she is than that rabid EV Fanatic Christie who will be on tomorrow.

    Now that I heard her, without any shame, give those lamest of the lame excuses for voting the way she did, my opinion of her has taken a beating.

  30. tj Martin Says:

    # 24

    Off topic moment

    Rolling Stones . Right up and until ” Exiles on Main Street ” Two thumbs up . Past that .. not so much .

    And no worries . Music is my profession , so don’t mind the corrections and/or additions .


  31. cwolf Says:

    Seems to me you have a new admirer,thats all.

    There are a growing number of EV’s,like the Volt and pure electrics com’in our way so there is little reason to contue the banter. Clearly much work needs to be done towards battery improvement,so IMO, I think using mild hyb’s. as a tool during this exploration seems a more practical approach.

  32. tj Martin Says:


    HtG and myself might ( actually would ) take serious issue with your NYTimes insult

    He being still and myself being former New Yorkers as well as avid readers of said newspaper .

    Just saying

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    From the NOCATOTY site:

    “The goal is to select a car and a truck that set new benchmarks in the classes in which they compete. Jurors evaluate the vehicles on factors including value for the dollar, innovation, handling, performance, safety and driver satisfaction.”

    Here is the “short list” they are voting from:

    2012 North American Car of the Year Short-List Candidates:
    Audi A6
    Audi A7
    Buick Verano
    Chevrolet Sonic
    Chrysler 300/SRT-8
    Fiat 500
    Ford Focus
    Hyundai Accent
    Hyundai Elantra
    Hyundai Veloster
    Kia Rio/Rio 5
    Scion iQ
    Subaru Impreza
    Toyota Camry
    Toyota Prius V
    VW Beetle
    VW Passat

    2012 North American Truck of the Year Short-List candidates:
    BMW X3
    Honda CR-V
    Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
    Mercedes-Benz M-Class
    Mini Countryman
    Nissan Quest
    Saab 9-4X

    It looks like Michelle’s car votes reflect “value for the dollar” more than some of the other guidelines, but they mostly make sense.

  34. tj Martin Says:


    Anyway Ms Krebs is an Edmunds pundit , not the NYTimes

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m all for banning cell phone use while driving. It causes crashes, and, maybe more than that, causes very inconsiderate driving by people distracted by their electronic toys.

  36. tj Martin Says:


    May it never be so !!!! wink wink



    ” It looks like Michelle’s car votes reflect “value for the dollar” more than some of the other guidelines, but they mostly make sense ”

    And why does this statement not surprise me in the slightest ?

    Ughhh !!! These ‘ New Rules’ are killing me !

    ( restraint Tj …. picture your happy place and exercise restraint …….. )

  37. Autos101 Says:

    30: utterly off target.

    Just because two people can see the light and agree on an important issue does not mean they… admire each other or any other arbitrary and indeed unnecessary conclusion.

  38. Autos101 Says:

    Thanks for the lists, Kit.

    Lots of good cars to choose from.

    Passat Diesel and Prius V would be my favorites.

    Unfortunately while VW has priced the base new Passat (with the cheaper interior) very low for a car of this size, the diesel is another $6k, and half of this is doe to the good folks (not!) at the EPA.

    Among trucks, a tossup btw the M class and the new X3.

    And J Lo and the Fiat 500 get the “Dawg of the Year” award.

  39. cwolf Says:

    I would never puposely tick off any prior NuYauker.Heck,the corned beef I had the other day in Ann Arbor was so delectable,anyone from the “Big Apple” state would want one.. And I would be kind enough to share!

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    So tj, what would you vote for? Of the cars?

  41. Autos101 Says:

    To the domestics I say,

    Build a superior vehicle and they will come.

    Look at the Chevy Cruze, even tho not perfect, it was so much better than the Cobalt it replaced,

    that it even dethroned the Camry as the USA’s best selling car for one month! (admittedly the Camry had been hit by the Tsunamis etc)

  42. tj Martin Says:


    Hmmmn .

    Looking at the short list , who has the most money to be sliding under the table ?

    Hmmmn . Want to prognosticate the winner accurately ?

    As the saying goes ” Follow the Money ”

    ( there ….. now I feel a little better )

  43. Autos101 Says:

    So how come the Prius V wagon is listed as a Car and the MINI Countryman as a truck? Go figure.

  44. tj Martin Says:

    # 39

    At least ( as much as I’m not enamored by it) the Scion/Toyota iQ is a genuinely innovative and creative design , albeit not well suited to the American market with that CVT behind its motor .

    Even the Brits like it better than Marchionne’s Madness e.g. the FIAT 500 and the Sonic ….. well the Sonic … all improvements aside is still a Korean clap trap no matter where they build it

  45. tj Martin Says:


    Cause the Countryman is taller and has a higher ground clearance ?

    As well as the Countryman is advertised and promoted by MINI as an SUV .

    Hmmmn . Seems like enough of a reason to me , in light of the other vehicles they’re calling ‘ Trucks ‘ this year

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Probably cause MINI kind of markets the Countryman as an SUV, and sells it with AWD, while the Prius V make no pretense of being anything other than a wagon/hatch.

  47. HtG Says:


    My votes, Focus and Evoque will be selected. Though I don’t know much about these cars. Just predicting the jury results.

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Sonic has scads of competition in Europe, but not nearly as much here. Time will tell if it’s reliable, but Sonic is one of the better performing cars in it’s class here, and is competitively priced, if not loaded up too much.

    iQ is sold with manual transmissions in Europe, which would help it a lot.

  49. cwolf Says:

    My hat toss is for the Sonic and the Evoque. Most dramatic changes is something the judges may be attentive to.

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    After seeing the Motorweek piece on the new Camry Hybrid, I have to give my vote to the new Camry, truck would be the M class, the others just make no sense at all.

  51. Autos101 Says:

    Oh, that’s different.

    If we are to predict the Jury results, then the Evoque has a better chance, and among cars anything goes… Sonic, Focus, SR-T Chrysler,…

    PS I misread the Countryman as the Clubman.

  52. Autos101 Says:

    The Camry Hybrid is very competitively priced, $26600 or so, almost identical to the mild bybrid (E-assist) MAlibu Eco which has far inferior City MPG

    But the Camry looks awful on the outside.

    Gone is the Camry of 1992…

  53. pedro fernandez Says:

    We can’t live in the past, and wishing it ain’t gonna bring it back either. Seems that ALL manufacturers have forgotten why FWD came into being to begin with, the new CRV has less room in the front cause they made the console bigger than before so now it is more claustrophobic than its predecessor.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I think the Camry looks ok, which is what they were after. I haven’t driven one, but sat it one and found it very easy to find a good seating position. I suspect it will continue to lead US sedan sales for the foreseeable future.

  55. tj Martin Says:


    Every single car , with the exception of the Scion iQ is in fact nothing more than either a re-hashed , badge engineered , stripped down ( in the case of the Passat ) slightly modified or somewhat updated version of cars/trucks that already exist

    Therefore IMHO None of them deserves to win or even be considered .

    The iQ ( and again I do not like it ) is the only genuinely NEW car on the entire list .

    And again … if you truly want to predict the results and be 100% accurate …

    Follow the Money

  56. tj Martin Says:


    This ones for you mi amigo ( re; #52)


  57. cwolf Says:

    tj,yes you can correct me or comment. As far as I understand,the Sonic is nothing like past Korean models and its design may be one of the only remaining major engr.Korean inputs. The manual LTZ I drove the other day made a real impression for a sub-compact. As of now,I may prefer it over the Fiesta and Fit. It’s quiet,spacious,spunky and handles well. Captain,my seat is secure and am ready for incoming!Fire away.

  58. tj Martin Says:

    Well gentlemen , as my Brit friends would say , Crimbo’s around the corner , the planes leaving this evening and I’ll be …


    …. to parts unknown ( well … the Mrs an I know :o )

    Happy Holidays to all and see you on the other side ( of the new year that is )

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Ignoring whether the cars on the list are “rehash” or “all new,” a lot of them have been around for about a year in their present form. Maybe the list would be too short if it only included the ones that have only been around for a couple months, like Prius V, Passat, and Sonic, and the ones that haven’t even arrived yet, like iQ.

  60. Autos101 Says:

    Weeeeell, I went and read that Motorweek Camry Hybrid Article and I want to ‘revise my remarks’

    it did not look Subaru-ugly, just boring. Another (black) new Camry i saw in the flesh looked worse up close.

    And they got 40 MPG AVERAGE, veeeery good fro such a vehicle. And the price is right.

    Now they only need $4 gas. or $5.

  61. tj Martin Says:

    Well since its become a ‘ Tull’ kind of a day .

    One last Xmas gift to you all ;


    Do pay attention to the lyrics if you would

    @ HtG – There’s a hint in there somewhere to be found if’n you can uncover it ;-)

    Sorry . Had to be done :o

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Sonic is certainly nothing like past cars built, or designed by Daewoo.

    The Sonic is peppier and quieter than Fit or Fiesta. It’s roomier than Fiesta, but maybe not as roomy as Fit. I’d rather take my chances on the reliability of a Fit, but the Sonic would be more fun, and get comparable mpg to the other two. I like the hatch version.

  63. Autos101 Says:


    it’s not automotive, but it is a 100% INCREDIBLE show to the last minute.

    If there was a Nobel for Acrobats, this team should get it!

  64. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems like they should put the Camry hybrid power train in the Prius V, if it would fit. It should get as good of mpg as the 1.8 power train they are using in the “big” Prius, but be peppier.

  65. HtG Says:

    61 Sonic is neat. But Focus is a tour de force. Again, I don’t know much about these cars.

    60 tj, you’re staying with Dave on his private Island in the Caribe? Yes?

  66. cwolf Says:

    Oh…Those were the days! I went to a Tull concert back then.There was so much smoke in the air,noone had to take any of their own! I can still see him standing on one leg while playing his flute. Guess he didn’t have to do a dance that way!

    Another reason for the “rehash” of cars is due to the too many regs that hinder differenciation. In the end,it really doesn’t matter does it? because they are views of only 100 who,if lucky, drove around for an hour in some of them. Just heep these folks on top of the CR and J.D.Power group,then take what you get with a sense of reality.

  67. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The variable compression engine looks quite interesting; especially with the varying ethanol content of gasoline, perhaps this new type of engine can more fully utilize the increased octane potential of the higher percents (we may see in the future) of these ethanol fuels. Hopefully this new type of technology will be robust enough to be useful; the ICE does still seem to have some tricks up its sleeve.

  68. Autos101 Says:

    The prius C next year will use a 1.3 lt, I believe. 64 MPG city-60 hwy (my exrtapolation from the 90ish Japanese cycle lenient MPGs) est is even better than that of the original 2-seater tiny Honda insight with a manual.

    And they say it will be $4,000 LESS than the modestly priced regular prius.

    I predict it will be a smash hit. The Prius Plug-in, not so much.

  69. cwolf Says:

    “Possibilities are only limited by ones imagination”…How true!

  70. HtG Says:

    A little film about the MCE-5 technology. 10min


  71. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The thing that came to mind to me regarding variable compression, along with variable valve timing, is that you switch from normal valve timing and compression for power when you need it, and increase the compression and re-time the valves for Atkinson cycle operation when power demand is minimal. From what I’ve read multiple places, an Atkinson cycle engine is around 10% more efficient than a regular engine, but needs higher compression to make these gains.

    Also, with flex fuel engines, you could use higher compression when running on E85, to take advantage of the fuel’s high octane rating.

  72. T. Bejma Says:


    tj – Ever drive a Sonic? I had one for the weekend a few weeks ago and I was very surprised at how REALLY good it is! For a $15,000 base price, it was peppy (not even the turbo), handled well, had a ton of room and really looked good in person. I am sure if Michelle had more time, she would have told you all of that as well…

  73. HtG Says:

    TB, gotta agree with you about Sonic’s looks. All the creases and details in the metal makes for an attractive object for the eye. I walked around the car for about 10 minutes, and was impressed with how it was put together.

  74. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Did you drive a turbo, or non-turbo Sonic?

  75. T. Bejma Says:

    The other good car on the NACOTY list is the Verano. Not on the same exact platform as the Cruze (actually the next generation of the Cruze will be on this platform) and really a car that created a market position that no other major carmaker plays in – luxury compact. Sit inside the Verano and you’ll think your in the LaCrosse or the Regal. Even from the front it looks like the Regal! Not my cup of tea (I appreciate sport more than quiet and fancy woodgrain) but I think there will be a lot of old G6 buyers loving the Verano.

    No one’s asking but my favorites…

    Audi A7 (for exterior only – LOVE IT – hate the German interiors – so bland…)
    Sonic (wish they offered a 2.0l Turbo and this option package – http://www.zercustoms.com/news/images/Chevrolet/Chevrolet-Sonic-Z-Spec-3.jpg )
    None of the “trucks” impress me…

    Where is the Kia Optima? Don’t know what the interior is like but I drove behind one the other day and that is one fine looking rear end!

    The Passat is a JOKE! Drove one out at the Milford proving grounds side by side against the Sonata (crap) and the current rental car queen Malibu and the Malibu handled the best of the three! The Audi A4 was the best of the four though.

  76. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I really like the looks of the A7, but it’s way too pricey, and like most VW/Audi products, the reliability is suspect.

  77. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That custom Sonic looks cool.

    Would the 2.0 turbo used in the HHR SS physically fit in the Sonic? Even if it would fit, that might be too much power, with lots of torque steer and bad stuff, unless they did AWD, which would be expensive.

  78. HtG Says:

    77 check out the cross drilled front discs. Then look further back. Too funny.

  79. cwolf Says:

    Kit,My Sonic test drive was a real eye opener for me;See my comment #57 Dec 9.

    TBejma: The Verano is a very lux. smaller car and was on my list for a work car. Unfortunatly, its engine is that of the Regal,is too over weight and the fuel economy is on par with larger vehicles.Perhaps the new Lacern gets even better mileage with that stop/start thing. For sure,it is in a different catagory…..the luxury one,yet why would anyone wanting in this catagory choose the smaller Virano over the equal and larger buicks while getting equal or less mpg’s? Put simply….there are no benifits.

  80. cwolf Says:

    Bejma, It seems you have a position where you have opportunities to experience an array of autos. Your observations appear honest and un-biased. I listen to what you have to share. Prefering the Malibu’s handling over the others mensioned caught my attension. IMO,it is an OK average car,yet interests in them seem to be faultering and reviews for the new one are equally as lack-luster. GM had such great opportunities with this car,but it seems they have dropped the ball. The A4 is a slick car,in many a way. You’re very fortunate not to have to maintain anything Audi…You may have needed to get a part time job and a second driver.

  81. pedro fernandez Says:

    Forbes, who should stick to money matters, just put out a dumb-ass list of cars that can reach 200k miles, surprise, surprise no Corolla, no Camry, no Civic, no Accord, no Sentra, no Panther, no good list, I say. WE had Hyundai Smoke for a while here, now we got GM Jimmy.

  82. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ll have to find that list. It should be interesting, but sounds like it is very flawed, given the omissions you mention.

  83. cwolf Says:

    pedro,for the most part,I don’t see why a good many car today shouldn’t pass the 200K mark. Seem everone is hyping their own views/reports. Without knowing the sample source,size,bias(due to under the table deals),they all should be reviewed with a portion of caution. By the way,you’re awful quiet on the comments today.

  84. Kit Gerhart Says:

    @Cwolf #79,
    With the current power train, the reason to buy Verono over the other Buicks is that it is cheaper. If the diesel they plan to put in Cruze is as good as, or better than VW’s TDI, that would be a good fit for Verono, and would st it apart from the direct competition.

  85. T. Bejma Says:


    The only version of the new Malibu that is launching currently is the Eco model, so I would take any new reviews with a grain of salt. Even though it will only come with 4cyl, the non-Eco versions should please the driving enthusiast. Very difficult to get both economy and performance. I can also understand interest in the current version starting to go down. With the Regal as a competitor and the amount of time the current Malibu has been out, it makes sense but it is still a competent vehicle in the segment and, in what I experienced, even better than some newer offerings.


    Yes, the 21/32 mpg from the Verano is not spectacular, but the buyer for this type of car is not as concerned about getting 40 mpg. The eAssist (with start/stop) offered on the Regal and the LaCrosse is really a nice feature, I feel there is more of an advantage for performance than mileage. You get V6 performance with a 4cyl mileage in a pretty big car.

    Thanks cwolf for the compliment. I do have a lot of opportunities to drive a lot of cars (and purely enjoy driving) while working at GM and while traveling for them. My job keeps me on the road about 75% of the time and I always rent cars through National so I can pick what I want to drive. I like driving the competition to see what they have to offer. Even though my heart is with GM, as I said, I enjoy driving, everything. Also the quality and reliability have evened out and all of the automakers have some nice offerings, so there is a lot of things to see.

    Off topic, but on my mind…

    I am getting tired of the closed minded people that stereotype a particular brand based on previous years. I have seen some great strides in quality just in the 5 years I have been at GM. When I first started, we hardly looked at Warranty data in my department, now, whole teams are organized to solve issues base on – ONE WARRANTY RETURN! Days of warranty spills of hundreds and thousands of parts seem to be in the past. Before I get off my soapbox, just would like to see people keep their minds open around here and not make the only goal to explain why one person’s opinion should not even be considered.

  86. HtG Says:

    TB, you’re tempting to call Avis and rent me a Cruze for a day(I want to see what it is all about, but don’t want to mislead a salesman). As for stereotyping a make, I’ll say that after experiencing problems with a car, I feel it in my guts, and it’s hard to be open minded.

  87. cwolf Says:

    T. Bejma: My prior GM plant makes wheel brgs,both hub and spindle) for your company. As a result,I get to take visiting engrs. cars for a lil’drive and,of course,many workers remain faithful to GM products. I must say,Gm reliability is much better,but the hardware is problematic,i.e,hinges,pulls and knobs loose or falling off. All reports state this is an on-going problem for GM,so why aren’t they addressed? Why do Caddy’s continue to be prone with EL problems? You say the company is agressive,but in many areas is appears they have taken to deft ears.

  88. cwolf Says:

    HtG, Unfortunately,I go through quite a few cars traveling to/from work. Have been hell-bent on only buying from the Big3,spesifically Fords,but I also have driven a slew of foreign brands,just in case I am to be swayed. And I do like several of them a lot. If I had to choose today a car meeting my over-all needs, it would be the Cruze. The ECO model is a serious consideration,but I am not partial to low=resist tire and it is not offered with leather seats. Leather holds the shape much better and longer. You won’t be disappointed.

  89. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Having owned two Ford Focuses in the past I can say are a very nice little car.Never one problem in either one,07′ then I bought my wife a 09 SEL at her request.Heated leather comfortable seats,excellent mpg etc.The Ford sync worked perfectly.I would be surprised if the Focus didn’t win.

    As to the bullshit over no more cell phones in vehicles,what a crock.I have hands free which means all I do is ask to call whomever and it’s done.No hands,and no distractions.It’s the self centered buffoons that really believe that can safely text and drive.

    What’s next…no talking to passengers,which btw is far more dangerous then hands free cell calls.Don’t believe me?Next time you and yours are out in your car,and she asks you a question,you turn your head in her direction to talk.Doesn’t happen talking hands free.Dumbass people will always be dumbass.Remember,you can’t fix stupid.

  90. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like driving different cars, and I have owned a lot of different brands. I was at Milford once, for a “ride and drive” event on the truck loop. It was fun, and interesting. I don’t remember the year, sometime in the 90′s, but among the cars were the then-new Lexus GS, Mercedes M-Class, and Dodge Durango. Also, they had a few “not for American consumption” cars like a Ford Ka. They had an EV-1, but I didn’t drive it because the line was too long.

    It seems like leather is being replaced by vinyl as “upscale” seating material on lower end cars, and “standard” on expensive cars. I assume that today’s vinyl will hold up better than that of the 60′s to early 80′s, but, somehow, vinyl doesn’t seem like the right seat material for a $55K E-Class, or even a top-of-the-line Sonic LTZ. I guess I’ll be more convinced if the vinyl in my MINI goes a couple more years without cracking.

  91. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “What’s next…no talking to passengers,which btw is far more dangerous then hands free cell calls”

    There is good research saying quite the opposite. A passenger is a second set of eyes, attached to vocal chords to scream if the driver @#$%s up, or doesn’t see something happening. The person at the other end of a cell phone during a heating conversation about money, domestic quarrels, romance, or whatever, doesn’t know what is going on around the driver.

  92. pedro fernandez Says:

    Can’t believe they’re going back to vinyl, I don’t like it in the cold nor the hot weather,they crack and end up looking like crap, it calls for mandatory seat covers. I had them in my car until recently and my front buckets are like new, no wear or tear despite their 13 yrs of daily use, specially the driver’s side.

  93. pedro fernandez Says:

    Every day I see cases of distracted drivers veering off their lanes, not keeping up with traffic, etc I hate laws as well but sine the only thing some people respond to is monetary punishment, I see no other solution. Another one would be if you’re distracted and cause an accident, it should be your fault automatically, no excuses.

  94. HtG Says:

    93 many moons ago I got busted for going through a red light, but went to court to protest. In the holding tank with all the other toughs I discovered that our town nails people for driving while talking on a cell phone. Quite a few were pleading for mercy from the judge. Rats!

  95. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @#91:What good research?By whom? Probably as credible as the moonbats crying ‘global warming’ and ev’s are the way to go.Some people just plain drive better then others and that will not change.Take away the ability to send or receive texts when the vehicle is in motion and 99% of the problem is solved.The phone manufacturers can and will do this.Get caught with a ‘hacked’ cell phone and you caused an accident,go to prison.No fines,just give them a year in prison and watch the numbers drop like a rock.Too many damn laws as it is now.

  96. XA351GT Says:

    I’m all for a ban on phones while driving but how exactly are they going to enforce the hands free cases. You know those people busted will say they were singing along with their radios. Also if you implement a total ban on any kind of hand held device that would also have to include police radios along with cb radios that truckers have used for years. The real problem is texting . You have to take your eyes off the road to do it no matter how good you think you are at doing it. This will seriously impact the cash cow infotainment systems in vehicles.

  97. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Google “hands free distracted driving” or similar, and read some of what comes up. An article here has some good explanation:


    If you are a global warming/climate change denier, you might be hard to convince, though.

    Anyway, distraction of brain function happens, even if your face is pointed towards the front of the car. I rarely talk on the phone when driving, but when I do use the phone, I know I don’t drive as well.

  98. T. Bejma Says:


    HtG – Good luck finding a Cruze in the rental fleet, I’ve not seen one yet in all my miles of traveling the midwest. If you are in the SE Michigan area I can get one for you to drive without having to worry about the hard sell. That offer goes to anybody here in the area. Just need a little notice and I can grab a company car and bring it to you to drive. If it has a Z or a V in the name though, I probably can’t ;-)

  99. HtG Says:

    It’s a generous offer TB. Thanks. I’m not near MI, but it looks like I may be able to rent a Cruze; maybe I’m wrong. The salesman’s pressure doesn’t bother me except that I know the guy is working, and I’m playing. I walk into a dealership with salt-pepper hair, those guys think, ‘this guy can get credit!’

  100. J D Says:

    I had lost the link to autoline and had to do a search. I found this link while searching.(http://www.detroityes.com/home.htm)showing some of the old auto plant buildings and many grand old building in Detroit that have been torn down. After seeing this and feeling sad, I was wondering how downtown Detroit is doing today?

  101. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here’s a good article about driver distraction:


    I agree that it would be very hard to enforce, but making it illegal would reduce the amount of driving while phoning. Maybe all cars should have a build-in cell phone jammer that jams all cell phone signals inside the car, with the car in any gear other than park with an automatic, or reverse with a manual transmission.

  102. cwolf Says:

    Morning Kit. Driving with a set of hed phones on doesn’t seem realistic,but the conclusion still has some validity. How about just a ban on anything hand held? This would include all the EL gadgets,lunches,and mirror and make-up. Watching a young lady putting on mascara while steering with her knees was a hoot! This idea is more logical,don’t you think?

  103. HtG Says:

    Don’t insurance companies have a role here? What if liability contracts were written so drivers agreed not to use handheld devices while driving? The politics work better.

  104. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That would help a lot, and would be semi-enforcable.

    I was being a bit facetious about the jammers; it would really cause an uproar if anyone made a serious suggestion about doing that.

  105. tj Martin Says:

    ( a quick note from TJ whilst on layover in HtG;s backyard )

    @ T. Bejima

    re; Your ‘ prejudice ‘ against GM products comment

    NOT TRUE !

    Sorry there T but having driven the SRX and the C6 for an extended period of time ( 8 days or more ) having spent a full day with the new Camaro , as well as driven the Equinox and the Cruze , not to mentio having driven multiple cars when searching for a new ride , the ONLY car in the line up I can say ANYTHING positive about is the C6

    Oh the Vetter has its problems , but its performance for the dollar overcomes a multitude of its ills

    The SRX was an abject disaster that after the first three days of driving became a Torture device

    The Camaro’s outward visibility was ludicrous and its functions counterintuitive ( and that was with a friend who writes for CAR who whole heartedly agreed. His rental and he hated it . He being an Antipode who usually loves American Iron )

    The Cruze ? It was OK but in truth IMHO the Malibu was the better car

    The Equinox ? A sad and pathetic joke

    As to the VOLT , what lack of intelligence it must of taken to use Li batterie , which are unstable even in Lap Top /SmartPhone usage is beyond me , especially in light of the fact that I KNOW GM’s engineers were fully warned of the consequences during the early days of design

    So PREJUDICE against GM ? Only if you consider objective and thorough testing/driving and research results to be equaling Prejudice .

    Fact is had GM anything in its lineup worth my money I’d of purchased one in a heartbeat ( pun intended )

    Sad fact is they did not and my money unfortunately went overseas

    ( a reminder also T if you read my review in 2010 of the new SRX , that I really wanted to love that car , hoping to buy American and purchase one , but again after three days I hated the thing with a passion )


    @ HtG – Caribbean ? Me ? I don’t do no Tropics !

    Hmmn . Here’s a poem … fill in the blanks …. they rhyme … for a hint .

    On our way to ________ we stopped in Vermont , but can’t wait to get out and finally be in _____________

    Happy holidays all

  106. HtG Says:

    please give Her Majesty our warm regards from the Colonies.

  107. cwolf Says:

    Weren’t one of you enthusiasts loking for a truck wit a Diesel. Built in Alabama,Mahindra will make your dreams come true soon!

  108. Autos101 Says:

    Cwolf: you seem years out of date. Mahindra betrayed all the foolish dealers that invested in it and then had to go away with its miserable tail between its legs.

  109. Autos101 Says:


    Unless if you mean this? LOL…

  110. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “The Equinox ? A sad and pathetic joke”

    Huh, it’s a lot roomier than a GLK, and a whole lot less expensive.

  111. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The projected mpg ratings of the Mahindra diesel truck are 19-21, while a 4 cylinder Tacoma manual gets 21-25. I think I’d rather have the Toyota.

  112. cwolf Says:

    Our parking lot is full of Equinox and a commonality on the pike. I know several who purchased cars after their first Equinox, only to buy another. They are nice for the price,get great mpg’s for an SUV and have lots of room. And ,unlike the GLK,it doesn’t require premium fuel.

    Sorry Auto101,guess your radar is off cuz the rattle-trap is a-com’in just in time to replace the Ranger segment. Thptttt.

  113. Autos101 Says:


    I wonder if you realize what a JOKE Mahindra Pickups are. They are not even 80s standards. They are 1950s.

    And their MPG as Kit mentions is TRULY PITIFUL for a small pickup.

    NOT WISE to take a fourth world maker seriously, ESPECIALLY from a place like India, which is truly “Hell on Earth” in many, many respects.

  114. Autos101 Says:

    Both the Equinox and the Cruze did great in sales and look good, if unexciting, from the outside. No ugly-butt Subarus here.

    The 2WD Equinox is rated a STELLAR 32 MPG EPA HWY.

    I have not driven any of the two, I rarely go test drive any cars these days, so only when i have to rent do I check out the new ones.

    And I did rent a Malibu (which is one class higher than the Cruze, so why compare, TJ?) in June 2010 for a couple days on a long trip and got a very good 33 MPG. It had leather inside, but the engine was rather tame.. if not lame..lol.

  115. Autos101 Says:

    In half an hour, we’ll have today’s show, with Christie Schweinberg telling us again that we are neanderthals if we don’t appreciate these jokes the pure EVs and the Plug-ins…

    I can’t wait..LOL

  116. HtG Says:

    come on man, she’s doing John a solid.

  117. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I was picking on the Mahindra truck in #110, but not much. The Mahindra with 19-21 mileage ratings is a 4WD automatic. The Tacoma equipped that way gets 18-21 but, of course, on gas.

    The Tacoma mileage I posted in #110 was a 2WD manual.

  118. Richard Tait Says:

    Hey guys.

    It’s been a while since I posted, though I still watch all the episodes. Just a footnote, NTSB doesn’t stand for National Traffic Safety Board. It stands for National TRANSPORTATION Safety Board.

    Thanks, John and Friends! Continue the great work!

  119. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    NTSB is using outdated research. Also, why blame talking for an accident that was caused by texting.?

    Very suspicious decision and If I had to bet, I would say the NTSB is way off on this one.