It’s been a busy week, and we don’t just mean the new-car unveilings going on at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. Even back here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., there’s been plenty going on, much of which has nothing to do with how this or that candidate is doing in this or that poll. Yes, there’s news totally unrelated to political candidates and campaigns out there! So for a refreshing break from the shouting class on cable news channels–and their respective websites–sit back, relax, and take a look at the highlights from this week’s automotive news.
Monday, September 24
It’s no secret that trucks are no longer meant just for hauling lumber, towing farm equipment, and so on. Sure, they’re still used for that, but if you’re the worksite foreman, it just won’t do for you to show up in the same, ratty, black-bumpered, steel-wheeled, whiteish pickup that the rest of the guys drive. If your towing involves horses, you’ll likely want to appear at the polo grounds in something other than what’s clearly a work truck. Until recently, Chevrolet’s offerings in the premium luxury truck arena have been limited to the Silverado LTZ, but it was no match for things like the Ford F-150 Limited, or the Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn. So Chevy’s upping the ante with its own luxed-out pickup: the Chevrolet Silverado High Country. It promises lots of luxury…but you’ll have to wait until next year, since it’ll only be available on the next-generation of Silverado.
Tuesday, September 25
It’s no secret that the 2013 Cadillac ATS is a winner. We’ve already expressed our admiration after a thorough preview of the model in Atlanta a couple months ago. Now, official numbers are starting to trickle in, and it appears Caddy is making good on its fuel economy numbers, with the EPA now saying the ATS will in fact get more than 30 mpg on the highway. That’s an important number for luxury car buyers these days, and pretty impressive for a 270-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. That’s not the only ATS related news: our friends over at Motor Trend have pit the Cadillac against its biggest rival, the BMW 3 Series. Who won? You’ll have to check out Motor Trend’s Head 2 Head to find out.
Wednesday, September 26
Remember what we said above, about luxury trucks, foremen, polo ponies and all that? Well, you could credit–or blame–the whole trend on the Ford F-150 King Ranch, which got a thorough update for the 2013 model year at the Texas State Fair. As the State Fair slowly transforms from showcasing livestock, farm equipment, and deep-fried everything into a must-attend new truck show, Ford especially has taken advantage. And what better place to introduce the Texas-themed King Ranch? Sporting standard leather, embroidered floor mats, and options like a navigation system and Ford’s CrewChief fleet monitor, the F-150 “owns work,” at least according to Ford. Other updates for the 2013 Ford F-150 lineup were also announced, such as more power for the standard 3.7-liter V-6 engine.
Thursday, September 27
The 2013 Nissan Altima has all the makings of a hit. It looks good, evolving but not abandoning the style that has made the car popular over the past decade. It has an upscale interior that borrows many of its styling themes from Nissan’s Infiniti luxury division. It’s roomy, gets good fuel economy…the list goes on and on. Now comes word that it’s acing its safety exams, too. While we’re still waiting to see what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has to say, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the 2013 Altima five stars in its crash tests. The Altima is one of the first 2013 model year vehicles to be tested under the NHTSA’s newer, tougher tests. Much of its competition is to come, but for now, the Altima has set a high bar.
Friday, September 28
Recalls are a way of life for automakers. While often sounding benign–how scary is a mislabeled spare tire, after all–many recalls can lead to dangerous situations that can result in a crash. However, while car owners almost always take care of recalls as soon as they’re notified, up until now there’s been a glaring exception: Rental car companies. But no more. At long last, rental companies have agreed to legislation that will force them to repair recalled vehicles before renting them out. After resisting, they are now backing the Rachel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012, named for two women who were killed when their rented Chrysler PT Cruiser crashed after a recalled, but not repaired, part malfunctioned.