Mercury Milan Hybrid A Fresh Take for the Market

Milan Hybrid

Mercury launched its first hybrid passenger car with the 2010 Milan Hybrid. The Milan Hybrid has promised to be one of the most fuel-efficient midsize sedans available in the U.S. The new Milan Hybrid joins an updated version of the gas-only midsize sedan and features similar styling. It has a waterfall grille as well as a restyled hood, headlights and front bumper. Despite the numerous changes to the Milan’s exterior, the relatively conservative design might get lost in the large crowd that is the midsize sedan segment. The Milan Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. A continuously variable automatic transmission sends power to the wheels.

This is a fairly conventional setup for a hybrid, but the Milan Hybrid’s system differs from current competitors in a key way: While many hybrids are limited to electric-only operation to speeds around 25 mph, Mercury says the Milan Hybrid can travel on electric power alone up to 47 mph. Obviously, conditions must be favorable to allow for this type of operation, but it offers the potential for notable gas savings. The claimed range for the Milan Hybrid in city driving — around 700 miles — is equally impressive.

2010-Honda-Civic-HybridOne of the Milan Hybrid’s top competitors has been in the hybrid market for a long time, the Honda Civic Hybrid. The Civic uses gasoline-electric hybrid technology to reach fuel economy ratings of 40/45 mpg city/highway. The Civic Hybrid features a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with an electric motor. While Mercury’s legacy is at stake, one thing is for sure the Milan and Milan hybrid remain competitive in the market. Both the Civic Hybrid, found at Honda Dealerships, and the Milan Hybrid offer consumers stylish rides with great fuel efficiency.

Posted by reedman on Jun 28 2010 in Lincoln-Mercury Reviews

Jaguar to roll out Special Edition XKR

jaguar-xkrJaguar has announced they will introduce a limited-edition, high-performance Jaguar called the XKR 175. The super car, whose name, 175, indicates how many models will be produced in the U.S., will arrive at Pebble Beach later this summer in celebration of  he historic brand’s 75th anniversary. This car complements another 75th-anniversary model, called the XKR 75, which will debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July in England. There are slight differences between the U.S. and Europe versions. Most notably, the car to be sold in Western European markets will be a touch more powerful, with outputs of 530 hp and 483 lb-ft of torque.

The North American version will make 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque from the 5.0-liter supercharged V8. The electronically limited top speed is raised to 174 mph. The XKR 175 also gets a unique wheel design similar to those worn on the XJ supercharged model. There is also a special interior and enhanced aero packaging that includes a taller rear spoiler.

Posted by reedman on Jun 26 2010 in Automotive Industry News

2011 Grand Cherokee Proves its Safety with Top Award

2011 Grand Cherokee

2011 Grand Cherokee

The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee has become the latest model from Chrysler Group to earn “Top Safety Pick” status. Chrysler Group LLC holds more than 20 percent of the total IIHS 2010 Top Safety Picks in the mid-size SUV segment and more than 12 percent overall. The all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee has received a Top Safety Pick award by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) — the highest rating the organization bestows. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers more than 45 different safety and security systems working in harmony — including Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Roll Mitigation, Active Head Restraints, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and a Blind-Spot/Rear Cross-path detection system — our new Jeep Grand Cherokee will allow customers to benefit from a new level of protection, on- and off-road.

The Top Safety Pick status by IIHS recognizes automobiles with ESC that perform well in the Institute’s front-impact, side-impact, rear-impact and new for 2010, roof-strength evaluations. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2010 Jeep Patriot, 2010 Chrysler Sebring, 2010 Dodge Avenger and 2010 Dodge Journey encompass a two-fold approach to safety—passive features combined with accident-avoidance features. Almost 20 years ago the Jeep Cherokee was born. Now, more than 4 million sales later, Jeep delivers an all-new Grand Cherokee that balances legendary Jeep capability with improved, sophisticated on-road dynamics that deliver a premium driving experience. Capability highlights include a choice of three 4×4 systems, new Jeep Quadra-Lift Air Suspension and Selec-Terrain systems, and towing capability of 7,400 lbs. On-road dynamics are improved courtesy of new independent front and rear suspension systems and a new body structure that dramatically increases torsional stiffness for reduced Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels. The Grand Cherokee represents a brand new model, with top of the line Jeep capability, along with the peace of mind you are driving a safe vehicle; for many consumers it can’t get better than that.

Posted by reedman on Jun 17 2010 in Jeep News

The Rise of the Turbocharged Engine

2011 Chevy Cruze

2011 Chevy Cruze

The turbocharged engine – for many years in the automotive world these were reserved for high-end, on-demand powered vehicles. But today turbocharged engines have finally gone mainstream. While these engines were originally found on vehicles such as the Porsche 911 way back the the 1970′s, many automakers have turned to this growing technology as a source of powerful fuel efficiency.  Turbochargers boost pressure in the engine, increasing torque and horsepower, while dropping fuel consumption. As the price of gasoline dropped and the availability of gasoline increased throughout the ’80′s, turbocharging became an added bonus for expensive vehicle owners who loved driving fast and hard. At this year’s New York International Auto Show, it was clear that the technology isn’t just being used for its get-up-and-go possibilities any more here in the United States, as high-performance turbocharged models were joined on the show floor by much more affordable, turbocharged models from automakers such as Chevrolet.

In fact, the use of the turbocharged engine has changed so much in the last decade that turbocharging could eventually become a standard feature on all gas engines. It may be a more expensive technology than the standard gasoline engine, but it offers customers what they want: more power and better fuel efficiency all together.

The Chevy Cruze might be the best example of where the technology is headed. Everything about this compact is geared towards fuel economy, including the standard Ecotec 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which gets as estimated, hybrid-like 40 mpg on the highway. Topping out at 138 horsepower, Chevy claims that the power is there when you need it — the Eco delivers 148 lb-ft. torque at just 1800 rpm — but the 4-cylinder fuel efficiency is always there.

Posted by reedman on Jun 10 2010 in New Technology

Ford to Close Mercury’s Door: The End of an American Car Brand

2010 Mercury MilanFord Motor announced this week that it will cease making Mercury brand vehicles later this year. While the demise of Mercury was much speculated, the end of yet another storied American car brand will close its doors at the end in the fourth quarter. Mercury had slowly decreased in models, with this year the production line consisting of just four, the Milan, the Mountaineer, the Grand Marquis, and the Mariner.

Ford said Mercury accounts for less than one percentage point of the company’s 16% market share. Ford noted that overall sales rose 23%, but those of Mercury vehicles, fell nearly 11%. The philosophy behind this move, Ford claims, is that they can better allocate resources to its core Ford and upscale Lincoln brands. Furthermore,  Ford said it plans to introduce seven new or refreshed Lincoln models over the next four years to better compete against its rivals.

There are no stand-alone Mercury dealerships in North America, Ford said, adding that it is working with dealers to maintain “properly located” Lincoln-only and Ford-Lincoln dealers. Mercury, introduced in 1939, was conceived as a premium offering to Ford and was once an important source of incremental sales, Ford said. However, the better-known Ford brand often left Mercury in the shadows, despite marketing efforts to distinguish the brands. Today, the profile of consumers who buy Mercurys is largely indistinguishable from those that purchase Fords, the automaker said. Further, the majority of Mercury sales are to fleet buyers and others purchasing through discount programs.

Sales of Mercury peaked in 1978 at more than 580,000 vehicles but have declined ever since, to about 92,000 last year. It was among the last of a group of not-quite-luxury brands among U.S. automakers that included General Motors’ Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac lines. Buick is still around, but GM shut down Oldsmobile in 2004 and Pontiac was shuttered earlier this year.

Posted by reedman on Jun 3 2010 in Lincoln-Mercury News