10 Tiny Bits of Automotive News – February 13, 2013

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1. Chevy Malibu sales aren’t what GM hoped for so the company is reducing prices to as low as $23,150 MSRP to generate more interest in the car.

2. Chevy has abandoned it’s “Run Deep” slogan in favor of “Find New Roads.” I always liked the Run Deep commercials. The new slogan debuts along with the new C7 Corvette ad.

3. US Mercedes Benz fans are groaning at the new that the new CLA Edition 1 will be sold exclusively in Europe.

4. Our favorite car-related commercial “So God Made A Farmer” got Dodge Ram trucks a lot of notice. But it also helped a very worthy organization. The Future Farmers of America got a cool $1 million as a result of a charity drive tied to the ad.

5. In case you are the kind of person with lots of time on your hand, good news – the Monopoly race car piece was NOT cut from the game. The poor iron wasn’t so lucky and got the boot in favor of a new cat piece.

6. Jaguar is now showing the F-Type to journalists. The preproduction cars are on tour and will start to appear in US showrooms (for ordering purposes only) later this month. Jaguar announced that the coupe version of the F-Type won’t ship until 2014.

7. You may have thought we were done with Corvette C7 news but you were wrong. GM has promised it’s staging the world premiere of the model’s convertible version at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

8. If you want the cheapest car to own, Kelly Blue Book says that at the brand level, Mazsa and Lexus earn the crown when it comes to five year costs.

9. If you had your heart set on a new 2013 Range Rover you better have already put your money down. Land Rover says the car is sold out (pre-order) for at least six months and maybe a year. Ummm can’t you guys make more?

10. Automotive News Europe says Honda’s sales in Europe are so bad that it will cut 800 workers from the Swindon, England plant that builds the CR-V, Civic and Jazz (a.k.a. Fit).

Jaguar Photo Contest – I Need Your Help!

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I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like this before but I need your help.

I’ve entered a photo contest and become lucky enough to make the finals. Normally I don’t enter contests at this late stage of my career, but once you see what this contest is about you’ll understand why I am excited. It’s not for money. It’s for a chance to be the first to drive the new Jaguar F-Type in the USA. As a car nut this is worth more than money to me.

I apologize if this is an intrusion but if you are so inclined, I am hoping you will vote for my pic and maybe spread the word. If you can see your way clear I’d appreciate your help. Of course, if you think one of the other contestants has a better photo, I urge you to vote for them instead. But please vote either way. Someone’s dream will come true and you can help make that happen.

Thanks for your consideration.

Here’s where to vote on Facebook: (You can vote three times a day on FB)

https://www.facebook.com/JaguarUSA?sk=app_152687814872318

If you don’t have a Facebook account or don’t want to sign up you can simply send a Tweet on Twitter like the one below. (You can tweet once per day)

“@JaguarUSA photo contest #CaptureAJag vote #Scott.”

Contest ends February 18, 2013

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Scott Bourne
bournemediagroup@gmail.com

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk – Mini Review

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I’ve owned seven Jeeps in my lifetime. They offer a mixture of off-road worthiness, utility, towing capacity, luxury and day-to-day comfort that simply cannot be beat for the money. Those of you who follow me know I have some exotic cars and you may be wondering – why not a “G-Wagon” or Land Rover? Well it’s simple. Every time I set out to buy a new Jeep I dutifully run over to the Mercedes Benz and Land Rover dealers and test drive their best. Then I end up buying the Jeep. Both Mercedes and Land Rover make excellent vehicles. But for various reasons I always end up back at Jeep.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

This time it was simple. The Benz is very expensive and has a harsh ride. The Land Rover is a vehicle that is constantly improving but it’s not built for guys like me – i.e., horizontally-challenged (read that as fat) drivers. I don’t fit well in the driver’s cockpit of a Land Rover so it’s back to Jeep.

I had the first 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee to hit the west coast when they went through their re-design. It was a much improved vehicle over past years. But I did have some  problems with the car and while fixed under warranty, I chalked it up to first year quirks. That vehicle came to an unfortunate end (un-related to those problems.) So I went in search of a new one. Lucky for me – Jeep has had time to perfect the new design and when I saw the Trailhawk concept, I knew I’d be trying to buy one as soon they hit local dealerships.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I will take a time out here in the review to note that buying this Jeep was one of the more exasperating experiences of my car-buying life. I went to several dealerships in Nevada and California and in at least two of them, nobody even knew what a Trailhawk was. One guy even treated me like I was stupid. “Oh that’s just a concept car they’re never going to make,” he said. Ummm well have you looked at your own website? Another dealership was staffed by a guy who just hung up on me when I said I was interested in a Trailhawk. @Jeep on Twitter offered to help – but never did. Luckily, I found a sales manager at a local dealership in Las Vegas and all’s well that ends well. But I swear, I never had to work so hard to give up $50 grand in my life!

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Now on to the car itself. Jeep has taken an already great product and made it better for guys like me who actually take the vehicle off road. I got the Hemi (did you even have to ask?) and the rest of the Trailhawk’s list of goodies which make this one a real rocker.

Here are just some of the special features on the Trailhawk:

* Special graphics and badging.
* Stitched leather seats with Trailhawk logo. (Black with red stitching.)
* 18-inch Goodyear Silent Armor all-terrain tires with Kevlar reinforcement
* Solid steel rock rail body protection
* Quadra-Lift air suspension, with nearly 11 inches of ground clearance
* Selec-Terrain traction control system with five settings: Snow, Rock, Sand/Mud, Sport, and Auto
* Rear Electronic Limited-slip Differential (ELSD, V-8), which can transfer up to 100% of the engine’s torque to one rear wheel in order to keep the Jeep moving forward even in the most extreme situations
* Quadra-Track II or Quadra-Drive II (V-8) with a two-speed transfer case to help conquer the toughest obstacles

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

The Trailhawk has black headlamp buckets, and gray grille, rearview mirrors and wheels. All of which are not only cool looking, but designed to reduce reflections.

If you find yourself in a rocky or wet area, push a button and the Jeep raises to 10.6 inches. If you want to get low to the ground and let grandma out at the Walmart parking lot push another button and the Jeep lowers to a mere four-inch elevation.

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The tires are designed not to cut on rocks and the big, beefy steel rock rails look like they will more than do the job of protecting the body from damage off road.

The rear electronic limited-slip differential on my car, along with a two-speed transfer case allow this Jeep to tackle any environment I might try to drive in.

The vehicle performs on the open road much like the 2011 model I owned. There is one difference. It’s actually more luxurious in that it haw power lift gate, built-in GPS and better seats. But it is also a tad noisier. The Goodyear Silent Armor Kevlar tires have an aggressive off-road tread pattern that will hold you in place off the grid but which make more tire noise on the freeway.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

I have plans to take this beast to Moab so I can make some photographs of areas I’ve avoided in the past for fear of getting stuck. Just playing around in the hills behind my house, the Jeep has been extremely capable on rough, rocky, dirt roads. As long as you know how to drive, the Jeep will get you there.

With dealer prep, tax, title, dealer freight, etc., I paid just shy of $50k. This is roughly $14k less expensive than the Range Rover Sport and $80K less than then Benz. And even if it weren’t less expensive, it would be my first choice.

If you want something that sets you apart from the crowd, that is luxurious and that can also get you out of town when the Zombie apocalypse hits, take a look at the Trailhawk.

Photo by Scott Bourne - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

(NOTE: As shown there are just a few mods. I added tint, clear bra to lights and mirrors, a new audio head end from Alpine with JL Audio Subwoofer and Focal speakers. I also painted the brake calipers red to match the tow hooks.)

I will do a separate shorter review of the interior in a few weeks – with photos.

Highly Recommended.