on 06.21.2011 03:08
Mazda launched its U.S. (Mazda3-based) Mazda5 multi-activity vehicle (MAV) for 2006 and follows with a restyled, updated version for 2012. While that first mini-minivan was versatile and cleverly packaged, it was also underpowered (hardly up to Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” marketing persona) and a bit rough-riding. This new one aims to enhance its visual appeal while building on its strengths and correcting its deficiencies.
The 2012 Mazda5’s styling is more expressive thanks to Mazda’s first production application of its “Nagare” design language, which we’ve seen on several recent concepts. Its body sculpted as a “single bead of water with ripples intentionally left on its surface,” beginning at the (Mazda-signature toothless grin) grille and passing over the headlamps, hood and front fenders, bodysides, rear lamps and tailgate in a continuous stream.
Elements of Nagare in the cabin include the lines along the instrument panel and the design of the seat fabric and stitch pattern. Since each second- and third-row seat folds flat for cargo, the Mazda5 can be a two-, three-, four, five- or six-seater, depending on the mix of people and cargo you want to haul. Each row is about two inches higher than the one in front (“stadium” seating), and—because the second-row seats adjust fore and aft—passengers can trade off enough legroom that adults can ride in the way-back row. More...
on 05.03.2011 22:01
Concluding a two-year competition to select the "Taxi of Tomorrow," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today that Nissan won the privilege to supply the nation’s largest taxi fleet with vehicles for the next 10 years. Nissan beat out the Ford Transit Connect and Turkish manufacturer Karsan.
The Nissan NV 200 will take to the metropolis' streets in 2013. An adapted commercial vehicle sold in other markets, the NV 200 for the United States will be built in Mexico and carry a sticker price of $29,000 when equipped for duty.
"Nissan is proud to provide the next generation of taxis for the City of New York," said Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares. "The NV200 taxi will give Nissan the opportunity to showcase our dedication to vehicle quality and urban mobility to more than 600,000 passengers every day." More...
on 05.03.2011 00:07
Ultra-practical minivans, now much larger and far better than Chrysler’s early ‘80s pioneers, have been making a mini-comeback lately. While GM and Ford opted out a few years back in favor of increasing varieties of car-based “crossover” utilities (CUVs), Chrysler has hung tough and now has nicely upgraded new 2011 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan models to compete with recent all-new entries from Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
The new exterior look begins with a Chrysler 300-like front fascia, grille and winged badge and projector-style front fog lamps. Around back, the rear liftgate has curved back glass, a body-color aero spoiler, a rear light bar and new LED taillamps. Segment-first features include a heated steering wheel, a new Stow ‘n Place roof rack system that allows the roof bows to be stored in the rails when not in use and a new “fuel economizer” driving mode that helps maximize efficiency.
Consistent with other 2011 Chrysler products, the Town & Country’s new interior is lovingly crafted with high-quality soft-touch materials, new entertainment features, ample storage and seating options that include improved available Stow ‘n Go second-row seating with a new one-touch fold-down function. An array of Uconnect infotainment features offers touchscreen and voice control of media sources, navigation and hands-free phone capability. Beyond that are available Dual DVD entertainment, SIRIUS satellite radio, Travel Link and Backseat TV, plus Uconnect Web for instant access to web sites, email and more—when the vehicle is stopped. More...
on 03.09.2011 22:14
The name may be confusing, the purpose is clear. Chrysler Group has introduced the commercial-grade Ram Cargo Van based on the Dodge Grand Caravan. This isn’t the first time that a work-ready Caravan has been offered by Chrysler Group, but this is certainly the best of the breed.
To be marketed under the Ram brand, the Cargo Van or C/V features a solid sliding door, rear quarter window, and backlight privacy panels in place of glass windows. However, the C/V can be configured with different combinations of panels and glass. Inside, it features a structural aluminum rear load floor. Two flooring options will be available, including one with a flat, uninterrupted, high-capacity surface. A second, optional floor provides through-the-floor access to three exclusive storage bins and load floor tie-downs.More...
on 03.01.2011 22:25
Never had a minivan so excited the automotive world than when Volkswagen introduced its Microbus concept on the 2001 show circuit. It seemed like a slammed dunk, but the challenges in bringing the flat-nosed design to production and meeting increasingly stringent crash-test standard derailed that model. Our consolation prize? A Chrysler-redux called the Routan. But, to quote a great Star Wars line, there is another.
Volkswagen unveiled its Bulli concept at the Geneva Motor Show this week, revealing a pint-sized interpretation of the 2001 stylings and a healthy dose of the flower-child-era original. This wee machine is sized more like a Scion xB than a true minivan, making it very well placed for a global market, especially amid a tough economy.
Slightly longer than a Golf, the Bulli is powered by a an 85-kW electric motor, supplied by a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery concealed in the sandwiched floor behind the sills. VW claims 0-62 mph in 11.5 seconds, 87 mph top speed, and a theoretical driving range of 186 miles. More...
on 02.01.2011 14:18
Now that Ford's Crown Victoria is gone, along with its Mercury Grand Marquis counterpart, no full-size, rear-wheel-drive sedans are available for taxi use. Ford itself has a solution for that dilemma: a modest-size van that works well for carrying either cargo or people.
First offered for the 2010 model year, the Transit Connect aimed primarily at cargo hauling. In the European mode, this sensibly sized van combines useful cargo volume with the fuel-efficiency of a four-cylinder engine. Available to both fleet operators and private parties, the Transit Connect also became available with a two- or three-passenger backseat.
For the 2011 season, Ford has taken another step, making a taxi prep package available. Not since the last boxy, roomy Checker sedans disappeared from the market in 1982 has a truly distinctive taxicab plied urban American streets. When the taxi package is installed, the rear seat is repositioned for additional passenger space, adding heavy-duty vinyl seat surfaces. A rear-seat blower includes passenger-operated controls.
At the New England Auto Show on December 1, the first Transit Connect Taxi was delivered to Boston Cab Dispatch. Several additional New England companies have ordered the new cabs, which were approved by the Licensing Division of the Boston Police Department last April. More...