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Auto blogMon, 03 Nov 2014 19:57:00 EST
Motorweek's decades of history on television make it the perfect medium to look back into the automotive past and see how things are different now. It recently added old road test videos to its YouTube channel of the Acura NSX and Toyota Supra, as well as the Ferrari F40. For one of its newest flashback clips, Motorweek has exhumed an affordable five-car challenge of 1986's premiere hot hatches.
By today's standards, this is an eclectic field that features fondly remembered classics like the Volkswagen GTI 16-valve and Acura Integra. However, it also throws in some nearly forgotten contenders like the Dodge Colt Turbo and Ford Escort GT. The angular Toyota Corolla FX16 GT-S rounds out the group.
It's fascinating to watch Motorweek run the quintet through the slalom, down the drag strip and on various roads. What's most striking in this clip is the difference in the definition of a performance car between then and now. With its 16-valve, 1.8-liter four-cylinder, the GTI is the burliest of the contenders with 123 horsepower, but it still takes 8.8 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour. By today's standards, that would make it a plain-jane economy car, and not even a particularly quick one.
The Detroit News reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has officially closed its investigations into 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2004-2005 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey models. The separate probes found no issues that pose safety concerns. NHTSA began investigating certain Grand Cherokee SUVs over complaints that power steering hoses could detach during operation, thereby increasing the risk of a vehicle fire. Of the 24 reports of failure, none alleged smoke or fire in the engine bay, and Chrysler has since modified the power steering cooler assembly to reduce the likelihood of the failure.
Meanwhile, certain Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey vehicles garnered a government probe after receiving complaints that the models were equipped with faulty scissor jacks. The agency had received six reports of the jacks failing or causing injuries, including one incident that resulted in a fatality. But NHTSA says the jack failure rate is similar to those found in other vehicles. In those six cases, the government agency found the jacks were being used for something other than changing a tire, and investigators could not determine whether the emergency brake was set or the rear tires were properly chocked.
Not only have we been told that the 2015 Ford F-150 is tougher, more durable and up to 700 pounds lighter than the current truck, Ford COO Mark Fields said it's also "CAFE-positive." That means, for the first time in the history of corporate average fuel economy standards, the F-150 would be a positive contributor on Ford's CAFE balance sheet instead of being a vehicle it needs to counterbalance with frugal offerings.
Fields' comments made at the Detroit Auto Show were among quotes from other Ford execs that confirmed the carmaker will be using aluminum for more of its vehicles. CEO Alan Mulally said it would "proliferate across our lineup," with speculation being that we'll see it applied to crossover and sport utility models first, since they'll benefit the most. Even gaining the massive scale of using aluminum on the world's best selling vehicle for its first effort - on average, the company sells two times as many F-150s in a single day as Land Rover sells of its aluminum Range Rover in a month - Ford will be looking to further spread the cost of its five-year development investment in aluminum technology. And that should mean better handling and fuel economy for those of us who don't need to wear hardhats at the office.