Annnd we’re back, AutoInfluence making up for some lost time with our first episode of the month of August, and all your current auto news headlines. Has it been two weeks? Don’t blame it on sunshine. Don’t blame it on the moonlight. Don’t blame it on the good times. Just blame it on ‘the boogie’.
Let’s get down to the news.
Starting with the 2019 list of the Most Stolen Cars, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. In descending order, we have the Mercedes Benz S-Class long-wheelbase in the number 10 spot followed by (9) Chrysler 300 (8) Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab (7) Nissan Maxima (6) standard Dodge Challenger (5) GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab and (4) Infiniti QX80. The number three spot goes to the Infiniti Q50. Coming in second is the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, while the title for most stolen vehicle goes to the Dodge Charger when equipped with the Hemi V8. Statistically, there are five times as many theft reports on that Charger, than shown in the industry average for all other vehicles.
Ford has laid early claims on the Best-in-Class Power and Torque ratings in the Heavy-Duty category thanks to their all-new 7.3-liter V8. Paired with an all-new 10-speed heavy-duty TorqShift transmission, the Windsor-built engine is spec’d to wrangle 430hp with 475 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Initially set to be available in the Super Duty F-250 and F-350, the powertrain will also get a dyno-certified version across other SuperDuty, Medium duty and stripped chassis models as well as E-series offerings. The numbers for that version fall in at around 350hp and 468 lb-ft of torque at 3,900 rpm.
And speaking of bragging rights, Ford has released new specs for the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 which is fast-approaching supercar status. With its 5.2-liter V8 ranked as the most torque-dense supercharged engine of its kind, a 760hp rating is enough to turn anyone’s head. But paired with an Tremec 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, the GT500 also channels a seat drilling 625 ft-lb of torque, making it capable of sprinting to 100mph (and back to 0) at 10.6 seconds. Which also makes it a good thing that the car is equipped with the largest front brakes of any domestic sports coupe (with 16.5-inch rotors).
It’s been almost a decade since Ford’s early attempts at their MyFord Touch and MyLincoln touch infotainment systems began to be saddled with complaints. With reports of unresponsive voice command, connectivity issues and malfunctioning GPS it’s estimated that over 360,000 motorists are affected. As a result Ford has agreed to a $17 million group settlement that empowers current and former owners to file claims based on however many service trips they were subjected to. Beginning at $100 for single visits, the claims are tiered at $250 (for two visits) and $400 (for three or more visits). Even if customers experienced no issues, they may still still eligible for $45 in compensation. All claims (accompanied by proof of ownership) must be filed online before September 24th.
And about 13,896 vehicles are affected by a joint recall between Ford and Lincoln on Explorer and Aviator vehicles built at their Chicago Assembly plant between March and July of this year. Classified as a ‘safety compliance’ issue (meaning that affected vehicles are still safe to drive) the root cause of the recall is a missing manual park release cover, meaning a vehicle could go into unintentional motion if the e-brake is not engaged. It’s also been specified the the majority of affected vehicles, are still in the exclusive possession of dealerships. Only one incident has been reported to-date, with the result being in vehicle damage only.
GM / Chevy / GMC / Buick / Cadillac
GM has found themselves on the receiving end of a class-action lawsuit built around 2011-2016 GMC and Chevrolet diesel trucks equipped with the 6.6-liter Duramax engine. The lawsuit (which was originally filed on behalf of eight plaintiffs) estimates affected parties to number in the tens of thousands and is based around an incompatibility between engine components and American-style diesel fuels. Due to differences between American and European diesel fuels, it’s possible for air pockets to form inside of the fuel injection pump, creating metal rub which generates damaging metal shavings and debris which could lead to full engine seizure. At this point, GM has declined to comment.
Now, it was back on July 18th that the C8 Corvette Stingray was unveiled via livestream, and the viewing numbers have come in at around 471,000 people. This, of course, is impressive considering that the event was held mid-evening on west coast time. But the C8 has continued to pull in some impressive numbers in other areas, in terms of web traffic and use of interactive tools. Through the end of the month of July, Chevy’s C8 landing page received 2.4 million visits (with 750,000 of them occurring within the first 72 hours after the reveal). In addition, an interactive visualizer (which allows window shoppers to customize the C8 to fit their own tastes) brought in 940,000 completed Corvette builds and 152,000 hours logged, Chevy has reported that over 1.3 million users had made use of the visualizer.
Buick hasn’t had much to report on, aside from slow sales and discounts as of late, but we now have some powertrain specs for the all-new 2020 Buick Encore GX first announced back in May. In fact, there will be two turbocharged powertrain options available. First, a 1.2-liter three-cylinder delivering 137hp and 166 lb-ft of torque, followed by a 1.3-liter three-cylinder which serves up 155hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. The former will be mated exclusively to a Continuously Variable Transmission, while the latter can be paired with either the CVT or a nine-speed automatic.
And Cadillac has announced that, for 2020, the XT5’s existing 3.6-liter V6 powertrain will be joined a new option, in the form of the 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder, currently found in the XT4. That said, the four-banger’s 237hp rating equates to a drop in performance numbers, since the V6 already delivers 310hp.
FCA / Dodge / RAM / Jeep
Even if – as mentioned at the beginning of this podcast – they might be exposing themselves to a higher risk of theft, horsepower enthusiasts who are looking to make their next Dodge purchase – and those enjoy savings – might want to pay attention to this:
Here at AutoInfluence, we try to do our best to share updates regarding automotive recalls. That said, RAM has issued a new recall regarding a defective instrument cluster in the RAM 1500 pickup. But what’s unique about this particular recall, is that it’s for a single pickup. That’s right, RAM is issuing a recall for one particular truck that’s somewhere out there, right now. Due to NHTSA regulations a recall must involve certain red tape in terms of documentation and the steps taken to facilitate it. That said, the recall will officially take effect on September 13th. And while the idea of a single vehicle recall seems a little silly, we give props to RAM for following through and doing what’s right – simply than trying to handle things behind closed doors.
For those in and around Toledo, OH be warned: JeepFest 2019 takes place this weekend. Beginning at 11A on Saturday a 90 minute parade will take place, traveling west on Monroe Street, north on Huron Street and over to Adams Street. There will also be 4-mile Run/Walk beginning at 8:30A on Sunday. Expect road closures, delays and detours during both events. And for those Jeep-lovers participating, we at AutoInfluence hope that you have a fantastic time.
And while the headline isn’t directly pertinent to FCA brands, Rezvani is busy re-teasing the 2020 versions of their iconic Tank SUV which are expected to deliver this coming winter. $2500 deposits are already being taken for preorders despite pricing details having yet to be revealed. But the vehicle is being touted as the “toughest, most powerful production SUV on the planet”. Previous versions have come equipped with a 500hp 6.4-liter Hemi V8, followed by a supercharged variant which cranked the output up to 707 horse. The newest version is expected to be powered by the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 found in the SRT Demon, meaning the newest Tank will command over 1,000 horse. It will also come equipped with an all-new suspension system developed by Fox Racing and for all of you survivalists out there, you can even score some military-graded ‘electromagnetic pulse protection’. As we said, not a Jeep, but really something you off-roaders might want to check out.
There has certainly been plenty of talk regarding the 2020 Toyota Supra, ranging from praise to criticism with all kinds of debate in between. That said, there’s little point in debating one simple fact: the fact that it’s fast. At least that’s the takeaway following the Supra’s 1minute 58.92 second run at Buttonwillow Raceway in California. With a sub 2-minute lap considered ‘very quick’ for a production car, it’s worth pointing out that a 997 Porsche 911 GT2 made the run in 1minute 59.7 seconds. That said, the comparison may not be apples-to-apples since we’re uncertain of the track conditions and how they might have differed for each one of those times, but it’s certain a feather in the cap for Toyota…if you’re gonna beat a Porsche.
On the flip side of the spectrum, Toyota is issuing a 14,000-vehicle recall for the 2019 Toyota RAV4 in both traditional and hybrid versions. The issue involves a damaged connector in the audio display unit which could disable the backup camera system. Notifications will be sent out to affected owners, with a free replacement to be facilitated at the dealership level.
Honda / Acura
The enduring popularity of the Honda Pilot is about to be enhanced further, when the SUV receives the same line-topping Black Edition treatment that proved so popular in the (debatably less popular) Honda Ridgeline. An aggressive blacked-out styling for the Elite trim level will be priced to start around $49,620 MSRP.
And August 15th will mark the debut of Acura’s Type S Concept as part of Monterey Car Week. “The return of Type S is a pivotal moment for Acura, sending a powerful message that we are committed to fulfilling the Precision Crafted Performance brand promise across our lineup,” said Jon Ikeda, vice president and Acura Brand Officer. For those of you interested in a brief teaser, you can check it out right here:
Hyundai / KIA
Over at Hyundai the 2019 NEXO Hydrogen Fuel Cell SUV has earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – marking the IIHS’ first assessment of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The midsize premium SUV fared well in all six categories designed to assess crashworthiness, earning the NEXO some legitimate praise.
And with Kia having been named J.D. Power and Associates higher ranked mass market brand, another win has emerged, this time for the Kia Forte. Winning J.D. Power’s praise as part of their Automotive Performance Execution And Layout (APEAL) study, the Forte has topped the compact car segment in terms of Initial Quality. The study assesses vehicles in ten categories: exterior, interior, storage, audio, seats, heating / ventilation, driving dynamics, powertrain, visibility and fuel economy.
Nissan / Infiniti
While most Nissan-related headlines have danced around the dissolution of the automaker’s relationship with French automaker Renault – there is discussion of steps being taken to streamline the lineup, in preparation the next-gen slate of offerings to come. One such move involves the Titan XD, with the 5.0-liter Cummins diesel V8 configuration being discontinued after December 2019. In addition, the regular-cab versions of both the Titan and Titan XD will be phased out as well.
And, having already mentioned IIHS recognition, it’s worth mentioning that the 2019 Infiniti QX60 has also received a Top Safety Pick award, as well as a 5-Star Overall Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program.
Over at Mazda a 22,4571 vehicle recall has been initiated for the 2019 Mazda3, to rectify an assembly issue with the rearview mirror. That said, this comes on the heels of a 262,000 unit recall of the Mazda3 we had previously reported last month and a 190,000 unit recall from back in April. That said, if you’re an owner of a 2019 Mazda3, you’ll want to make sure you’re on top of all of these recalls.
On the receiving end of another class-action lawsuit is Tesla. With blame being set at the feet of Tesla Updates 2019.16.1 and 2019.16.2 the lawsuit claims electric range has dropped anywhere from 12 to 30 miles (per charge) in certain Model S and X vehicles equipped with 85kwh battery packs. In a recent response, Tesla seemed to acknowledge the possibility of such issues in a “very small percentage” of vehicles, adding that they “have been working to mitigate the impact on range” through “over-the-air updates”.
And finally, Volkswagen has released a full breakdown of changes being made to their 2020 lineup. You can find all the details as media.vw.com with specific details provided for each individual North American model. That said, VW has also reported such highlights as: Wi-Fi, wireless charging and a more substantial safety suite across most of the lineup.
So, that about wraps thing up for us. We’ll be back next week with more current auto news headlines. But in the meantime, say hi to your mom for me.