• Toyota announces five recalls covering 6.39 million cars [Update]

    April 9, 2014
    Toyota has issued five separate recalls that cover 6.39 million vehicles manufactured between 2004 and 2013. A total of 27 models sold all around the world are affected by various mechanical and electronic issues, marking the second-largest recall in the automaker’s history.

    3.5 million cars built from April of 2004 to December of 2010 are being recalled to replace a spiral cable that can get damaged as the steering wheel is turned and eventually break. The driver’s airbag will not deploy in a crash if the cable is ruptured, though a warning light will come on to warn the driver of the issue. Toyota says that 1.67 million affected cars are located in the United States and Canada but it has not yet specified precisely which models are affected.

    2.32 million two-door cars manufactured between January of 2005 and August of 2010 are being recalled to fix faulty seat rails that can cause the seat to slide forward in the event of a crash. 670,000 of the affected cars are in the United States, but a full list of affected models has not been published yet.

    The remaining three recalls respectively cover the starter motor, the windshield wiper motor and a bracket that holds the steering column. All of the affected cars are located either in Europe or in Asia.

    Toyota stresses that it found out about the bulk of the issues by looking at warranty claims and that no crashes or injuries have been linked to the defects. However, at least two engine fires have been reported as a result of the starter motor issue.

    The list of U.S.-spec cars affected by at least one recall includes the RAV4, the Corolla, the Yaris, the Highlander, the Camry, the Tacoma, the Matrix and the Pontiac Vibe.

    Stay tuned for more on this developing story over the course of the day.

  • Nissan Juke-based Infiniti crossover coming to Beijing

    April 9, 2014
    Infiniti has confirmed it will unveil a compact crossover based on the Nissan Juke at the Beijing Motor Show that will open its doors on April 20th.

    The yet-unnamed model was recently previewed by a dark teaser image during a press conference held in Beijing. The teaser image doesn’t reveal what the crossover will look like but it suggests it will share the bulk of its sheet metal with the Juke while wearing a brand-specific front fascia.

    The crossover is one of seven Infiniti models that will be launched across China in 2014. The other vehicles include crossovers like the QX50, the QX60, the QX70 and a facelifted version of the QX80, as well as two versions of the Q50 sedan. Most models will be built in Nissan’s Xiangyang, China, factory in order to avoid the tariffs that the Chinese government slaps on all imported cars.

    Infiniti is going to great lengths to catch up to German rivals like Audi and BMW on the lucrative Chinese market. Sales grew by 50 percent last year and skyrocketed by 153 percent in the first quarter of 2014, a sign that the company’s efforts are paying off.

    Look for full details about Infiniti’s Juke-based crossover to emerge in the coming days. Although Infiniti is keeping its lips sealed about the car until its formal debut, we don’t expect it to be sold outside of China.

  • New York Preview: 2015 Ford Focus Sedan

    April 9, 2014
    Ford has published a full set of details about the updated 2015 Focus Sedan that will debut next week at the New York Motor Show.

    Like its hatchback counterpart, the 2015 Focus Sedan features a brand new front fascia that falls in line with Ford’s Kinetic design language thanks to design cues such as an Aston Martin-like grille with five slats, sharp headlights, a redrawn bumper and a rippled hood. The rear end features more minor updates such as redesigned tail lights and a new trunk lid.

    Inside, the Focus is fitted with a new center console, a standard rear-view camera and a three-spoke steering wheel, while thicker carpet and window glass work with additional insulation in the engine bay to reduce cabin noise. Safety-conscious buyers can order radar-based blind spot warning and lane-keeping systems at an extra cost.

    The Focus Sedan will be available with a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine rated at 123 horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque. Exclusively linked to a six-speed manual transmission, the engine will return an estimated 32 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway.

    The current Focus’ 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine carries on unchanged. The mill sends 160 horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque to the front wheels via either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic unit.

    The 2015 Focus will inaugurate a new SE Sport Package that adds a stiffer suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels and a spoiler on the trunk lid. SE Sport Package cars ordered with the aforementioned dual-clutch transmission benefit from shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

    Both hatchback and sedan versions of the 2015 Focus will arrive in showrooms in a couple of months. Ford has confirmed it will unveil a facelifted version of the performance-oriented Focus ST this summer.

  • Next Ford Explorer, Expedition to go aluminum?

    April 9, 2014

    The 2015 F-150 might not be the only upcoming Ford model to switch over to aluminum-intensive construction, a new report finds.

    The Blue Oval is considering transitioning future iterations of its Explorer and Expedition SUVs to aluminum, according to Edmunds.

    Such a move would likely make the utilities more costly than their steel-bodied forbears, but the resultant weight savings and efficiency gains would put Ford in a better position to meet the strict fuel economy regulations that loom just over the horizon.

    Additionally, as the Explorer and Expedition already have higher pricetags, they’re strong candidates for aluminum conversion because the additional cost wouldn’t impact them to the same degree as Ford’s less expensive offerings.

    Aside from lightweight materials, Ford is also said to be evaluating a number of other mileage-boosting measures, including active aerodynamics and lower rolling resistance tires.

    If Ford green-lights the project, Edmunds predicts that the aluminum-bodied SUVs could arrive in showrooms within 5 to 6 years. The 2015 F-150, which is up to 700 lbs. lighter than the last-generation model, will launch late this year.

  • Citroen teases new DS premium SUV ahead of Beijing unveiling

    April 9, 2014
    Citroen has released a teaser image that appears to show a new crossover or SUV that will be added to the DS lineup.

    The photo was not accompanied by any additional information, other than a promise that the new DS “marries power and refinement.”

    The release aligns with recent rumors pointing to a premium SUV known as the DS X7, designed specifically for the Chinese market. Serving as a rival to the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 — or the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, depending on its size — Citroen’s new X7 is said to be based on the Wild Rubis concept that was revealed last year.

    Early rumors suggested the production Wild Rubis would be built with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, however recent reports surrounding the X7 point to a choice between several gasoline mills without a hybrid option.