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2007 Chicago Auto Show: 2008 Nissan Armada


For 2008, Nissan decided to keep things simple, giving a uniformed look to the Titan, Pathfinder and Armada — at least around the front. Otherwise, the new Armada’s massive bulk gets little nipped and tucked besides some new light treatments and a rear-­end adjustment.

There are several new interior features, including a much improved center stack, power-folding third-row seats, an optional heated steering wheel, an intelligent key system, a hard-drive-based entertainment system, Bluetooth hands-free calling and a DVD navigation system with live traffic updates. There’s no word on when the 2008 Armada will become available, but check back next week when our full coverage of the Chicago Auto Show gets into gear.

By David Thomas | January 31, 2007 | Comments (19)

2007 Chicago Auto Show: 2008 Nissan Pathfinder


The big news for the revised 2008 Nissan Pathfinder lies within the cabin and under the hood. Powering the updated Pathfinder is an optional 300-plus-hp, 5.6-liter V-8 engine that will be offered in addition to the standard 266-hp V-6 that currently sees duty in so many of Nissan’s vehicles.

The interior gets a new center stack, a navigation system and a hard-drive based entertainment system. If you look closely at the outside you’ll notice a revised grille and slight changes to the front and back ends. We’ll learn more about availability next week during the Chicago Auto Show’s media days. 

By David Thomas | January 31, 2007 | Comments (7)

2007 Chicago Auto Show: 2008 Nissan Titan


Nissan entered the full-size truck market with the Titan in 2004, but it didn’t endear itself to many truck fans. The 2008 model will arrive this spring sporting the new corporate truck face seen on the new Pathfinder and Armada. It will also come in a long-wheelbase version. There’s also a new trim called PRO-4, which joins the XE, SE and LE versions.

Inside the Titan we see some upgraded materials and a lot of new features, like optional Bluetooth hands-free calling, heated leather seats and a DVD entertainment system.

Power comes from a 317-hp, 385 pounds-feet of torque V-8 engine that’s rated to tow 9,500 pounds. That figure doesn’t match new offerings from Toyota and Chevrolet, which both best the 10,000-pound mark.

By David Thomas | January 31, 2007 | Comments (18)

Ford Promotes Edge SUV with Free Video Podcast


Ford is jumping on the iTunes bandwagon with a new promotion called EdgeMusic Videocast, a feature meant to promote its new SUV by allowing users to download video podcasts for free. The first features music videos by modern rock acts Wolfmother, Gomez, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Cat Power. Each month there will be a new podcast with different artists, and they’ll be easily downloadable via iTunes or other podcast readers.

We’re not sure if this is the perfect tie-in — and all the songs seem so three-months-ago — but we give Ford credit for the attempt. Perhaps they can try to get some exclusive videos next time out.

Check out Ford’s EdgeMusic website for more details.

By David Thomas | January 31, 2007 | Comments (4)

2007 Chicago Auto Show Update: New Nissans, Rondo Concept, VW R32


The Chicago Auto Show kicks off next week, but we’ve got some information that just came through the door — well, actually the email inbox — and figured we’d share.

  • Nissan will preview its three debuts for the Chicago Auto Show online tomorrow. You’ll find all three 2008 models — Pathfinder, Titan and Armada — on KickingTires at the stroke of midnight EST tonight.
  • Kia will debut a concept version of the new Rondo called the Rondo SX, shown here. It’s a sport-tuned version of the small people-hauler. We’re not sure why there’s a need for such a thing, but we were impressed with our glimpse of the Rondo in Detroit. It’s a nifty little utility wagon/van.
  • Rumor on the interwebs is that Volkswagen will debut a high-powered version of the Golf/Rabbit, called the R32, stateside. We’re unsure if this will be the current R32 being sold now in Europe or a new version based on the already peppy GTI.
By David Thomas | January 31, 2007 | Comments (1)

Best-Selling Cars of 2006

Ford F150

A few readers recently asked when someone would release the list of last-year’s best-selling cars. The answer, it seems, is now. MSN Autos tracked down the top 10 best-sellers of 2006 using data from Automotive News, and there are few surprises. The Ford F-150 still tops the list, and the Chevy Silverado comes in second despite a 6.7% downturn in overall truck sales last year. The full list including total sales is below.

By David Thomas | January 31, 2007 | Comments (27)

The Urban DINK: 2007 Audi S6


When I explained the whole Urban DINK concept a few weeks back, I forgot to mention there are two strata of DINKs out there: the upper class and lower class, meaning those who can afford an $80,000 sports sedan, like the Audi S6, and those who can’t.

My first impression of the S6 was just how cool it seemed for a sedan. Granted, underneath this sedan’s hood is a V-10 engine — borrowed from Lamborghini — that churns out a cool 435 horses, but it’s still a sedan. My first day in the S6, I had just come from a television interview, so I was dressed in a suit and tie. I’ll admit it: I felt a lot like that guy in “The Transporter.” Remember how he found the girl in the trunk of his BMW 7 Series? That was before he moved on to the Audi A8 in the sequel, but I think you could fit at least three Nicole Ritchie-sized actresses into the S6’s trunk.

With $80,000, why wouldn’t an upper-class urban DINK just move on to that A8 instead of the smaller, yet infinitely faster, S6? Because he’d look like an old man driving that A8, or, unlike the guy in the movie, a simple chauffeur. A smart S6-owning DINK would also be able to take out clients, in-laws or anyone else of importance unlike the DINK who bought a Porsche 911. Plus, did I mention the S6 has a 435-hp V-10?

By David Thomas | January 31, 2007 | Comments (1)

Nissan Prices New 2007 Altima Hybrid


Nissan is only selling its new Altima Hybrid sedan in eight states — California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont — because of their strict emission standards. That’s too bad, because its just-announced starting price of $24,400 and 42/36 mpg city/highway fuel economy estimates sound like they would make the Altima Hybrid a hot item in 42 other states and maybe even the District of Columbia.

Plus, since it’s the first hybrid from Nissan, owners will be eligible for $2,350 in tax credits. The Altima Hybrid is on sale now in those eight states. The reason Nissan doesn’t sell this everywhere really rests in the high cost to produce it and the fact that the company will probably lose money on every hybrid sale, much like other automakers do. It’s also a bit too late for Nissan to get the high level of free publicity that Toyota did from the Prius to offset its losses. We asked how many people would buy a VW Jetta hybrid, but the Altima is here now. How much would hybrid fans pay for an eco-friendly Altima?

By David Thomas | January 30, 2007 | Comments (13)

Pontiac G8 to Debut at Chicago Auto Show


We all knew it would happen, but GM made it official today, announcing that the all-new Pontiac G8 sedan will debut at the Chicago Auto Show next week. The announcement was prompted by an ABC News special that aired last night in which GM’s Rick Wagoner showed off the front end of the new G8 to Charlie Gibson. As we told you before, the new G8 is based on the also-new Holden Commodore sedan that GM produces in Australia. It will be rear-wheel drive, with an optional V-8 engine of some type, we’re sure.

Photo Courtesy of Jalopnik

2007 Chicago Auto Show: 2008 Pontiac G8

By David Thomas | January 30, 2007 | Comments (6)

VW Plans Hybrid Touareg, Not Jetta


Corporate shakeups don’t usually change the products we see at local dealerships, but a recent change at Volkswagen has shifted the company’s plans for the introduction of a hybrid vehicle. The new head honchos in Germany felt that putting a hybrid engine — at an additional cost of roughly $2,500 — in a Jetta wouldn’t sell because of the price. Instead, VW’s first hybrid power plant will be in a Touareg SUV.

We think a hybrid Jetta not only would sell, but is more in line with what the Volkswagen brand has been all about since it landed in the U.S. What would you rather see on lots? A hybrid Jetta or a hybrid Touareg?

[Volkswagen Revises Hybrid Plans, Focuses on Touareg, MotorTrend]

By David Thomas | January 30, 2007 | Comments (10)

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