The Texas Auto Writers have completed the 2013 Auto Roundup where 53 vehicles competed in 19 categories. Weather at the Texas Motor Speedway complex was near-perfect, and 47 media members were on hand to evaluate the drivability, the functionality, and the overall experience of the vehicles from 13 different manufacturers.
Top honors at the Texas Auto Writers Associations’ 2013 Auto Roundup indicate that Texans like their performance cars and that Texas is a market of active families on the move together. Ford’s Mustang Shelby GT500 and dramatically redesigned Fusion won Car of Texas and Family Car of Texas, respectively. The new-for-2013 model, the 640-horsepower SRT Viper GTS was voted Supercar.
2013 TAWA Auto Roundup Results
With the final count of some very close voting in many categories,
a complete list of the winners is as follows:
Sub-Compact Car – 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo
Compact Car – 2013 Buick Verano Turbo
Performance Compact – 2013 Scion FR-S
Mid-Size Car – 2013 Ford Fusion Titanium
Full-Size Car – 2014 Chevrolet Impala2LZ
Mid-Size Luxury Car – 2013 Lexus GS 350 F SPORT
Full-Size Luxury Car – 2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum Collection AWD
Performance Coupe – 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT 392
Performance Sedan – 2013 Cadillac ATS Premium Collection
Minivan – 2013 Chrysler Town & Country Limited
Activity Vehicle – 2013 Dodge Journey Crew
Performance Utility – 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
Supercar – 2013 SRT Viper GTS Coupe
Green Vehicle – 2013 Chevrolet Volt
Best New Feature – Ford: Hands-Free Lift Gate
Best New Interior – 2013 Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Luxury Edition
Best Value – 2013 Ford Focus ST
Family Car of Texas – 2013 Ford Fusion
Car of Texas – 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
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The In Wheel Time studio will be standing room only this morning as we welcome Mac Delaup, Past President of the Houston Automobile Dealers Association and President of John Eagle Honda. HPD’s Troy Dixon holds a chair for his guest, racer Peter Blach from TX2K13, our own Mike “out of this world” Marrs, President of the Texas Auto Writers Association, makes a rare trip to Houston to review his truck of the week and Niftee 50ee’s Randy Shannon brings John Hunt with Bob’s Auto Express to talk about fabrication.
There’s a big swap meet taking place today at Houston Motorsports Park so will talk to John Mandabach about that as well as the upcoming circle track season.
As always, we have new car reviews including the all-new Toyota Avalon, Ford Flex and Honda Accord. And we’ll review the Chicago Auto Show as well as bring you the news from the auto industry.
It’s a full house and full show this morning 9 AM to Noon onYahoo! Sports Radio 1560 AM or hear streaming audio and watch streaming video on www.InWheelTime.com.
It is Saturday Nite on Seawall Boulevard in Galveston. The Mustang behind is looking real hard, and the Camaro on the side is wondering about the Grabber Blue Detroit Iron that is cruising the ‘wall’. With enough time behind the wheel to adequately prove that once a horsepower fool, always a horsepower fool, on this Saturday Nite, there is no need to prove anything to anyone. It is, however, good to be the King, even if it is only for a short while.
Whether you want to relive a spent youth, or looking for an affordable sports car in a variety of packages, the Ford Mustang is still kick’n ‘as-phalt’, as our 2013 GT proves. The power wars continue to bring almost unimaginable levels of street power across the industry via technology that can also provide a certain amount of fuel economy to generate a modern muscle driving experience at its best.
The 2013 Ford Mustang offers an interior cabin that is cozy and yet comfortable for a performance car. There are soft-touch surfaces that create somewhat of a premium feel to go with the flat surfaces and plastic panels that may even be considered part of the retro concept. The front buckets are stylish, and the rear seats look appealing, but don’t be deceived by the looks. Room for an adult is there, but it seems more for 8-yr old gkids, and don’t plan on getting a car seat back there without some serious work. The round gauges in the dash are easy on the eyes, with a mix of modern digital displays that provide information that can include a track setting option that is fun to play with.
There are not a lot of changes on the exterior from 2012 models, proving if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but maybe tweak it a little. For 2013, the Mustang sports high-intensity-discharge headlights up front, and the always popular sequential LED taillights to go along with body-color rocker panels
The Mustang GT came equipped with air conditioning, power windows/doors, ‘Shaker’ AM/FM/CD player with auxiliary inputs, SIRIUS satellite radio, split folding rear seats, and remote keyless entry. Our GT test car included a power 6-way driver seat, ambient lighting, and a good feeling leather wrapped steering wheel. The GT trim level includes a 4.2-inch color information screen, a limited slip rear axle, and a list of safety items that include a latch child safety system.
Our Mustang GT extras included a Comfort Package providing heated front seats, leather trim, voice-activated navigation, side scoops, and some really cool heated side mirrors that project the iconic Mustang image on the ground as part of the lighted entry system. The test car also included the Brembo Brake Package, and the optional larger 19” wheels.
Under the Hood
As the power wars continue, it is fortunate that power and good fuel economy, at least decent fuel economy are no longer exclusive. Our test GT showed up with a 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 420 horsepower with 390 lb-ft of torque. Backed by a Tremec 6-speed manual and a traction-control system, the rear wheel drive GT runs straight and can fog an intersection without generating leather ripping fear from the passenger seat.
Driving the 2013 Mustang GT
Just sitting behind the wheel, looking at the round gauges will bring back memories of Mustangs gone by. The 6-speed short throw shifter feels good in the hand, and each shift is solid, with a few quirks that need to be accounted for, at least for this driver. For example, coming out of reverse, without paying specific attention, it is easy to think the gates to first gear were completed but the transmission can still be in reverse. Not a good thing if you are feeling foolish after backing out of a parking space. The seats were comfortable, even large compared to memory, as one 6’2” passenger noted. The Mustang GT is one of the best in creating the muscle car experience, as more than one old school passenger was heard muttering agreement. Fuel economy for the GT is rated at 15/26 mpg (manual), 18/25 mpg (automatic), and we have to admit, it is hard to keep a foot out of it, with a little Steve McQueen shift blip almost mandatory. We averaged almost 13 mpg in town, but out on IH 10, a 70 mph cruise got us in the 23 mpg area consistently, and down the coast highway at 60 mph, we did get just over the 25 mpg mark.
What we liked about the 2013 Mustang GT
Performance. More accurately, comfortable retro performance in a techno package that is fun to drive. Put the satellite radio on the ‘60s on 6’, let the Shaker audio system do it’s magic, and it is as close to a time machine as most of us will see.
What we didn’t like about the 2013 Mustang GT
There are a few things like the rear seat being too small for much other than good looks, and the trunk opening to the massive trunk space being difficult to get large bags in. But the center console is what we don’t understand. The covered lid seems to far back and as we use it as an armrest, that puts the latch under my arm. A 1 – 2 shift is good, as is a 3 – 4 shift, but once that arm is at rest on the console, a 4 – 5 shift or a 4 – 3 down shift which moves the arm off the console, off the latch, and the thing pops open. Not just up open but 180 degrees open, and to close it requires a very un-natural reach back. I ‘am just saying.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of a GT model starts at around $34,300, with our test car having $5,5775 worth of options. Add in destination charges and the test ride tags out to $40,870 worth of Detroit Iron in the drive. Direct comparison iron is the Chevy Camaro and the Dodge Challenger, both of which can be had as performance trim levels as well as a nice base trim.
For more information on the 2013 Ford Mustang GT, visit your local Ford dealer or visit Ford online at www.ford.com.
NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2012 – The all-new Ford Fusion is the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan in America with an EPA-certified 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway and 47 mpg combined fuel economy rating for its hybrid model.
Fusion Hybrid tops the Toyota Camry Hybrid by 8 mpg highway and 4 mpg city, and delivers the highest-ever fuel economy numbers in city and highway driving for a midsize sedan.
“The new Fusion is part of our plan to offer vehicles with the very best quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value,” says Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. “We are absolutely committed to class-leading fuel efficiency as a reason to buy Ford vehicles, with customers able to choose the fuel-efficient powertrain that best fits their lifestyle.”
Power of choice: Two EcoBoost engines, one hybrid, one plug-in hybrid
The all-new Fusion brings the widest range of powertrain options to the U.S. midsize segment.
Fusion offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants and two fuel-efficient EcoBoost® four-cylinder engines for customers. In addition, Fusion is available with Ford’s patented Auto Start-Stop system, which automatically shuts off the engine at stationary idle to help save customers even more fuel in stop-and-go city driving. Fusion is available in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations with both six-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions.
“Ford is bringing power of choice to midsize sedan buyers,” says Mark Fields, president of The Americas. “More than 2 million customers this year will purchase midsize cars. Our new Fusion delivers the fuel savings people truly want and value, with technologies that cost two to three times the price on some German sedans.”
Fuel economy numbers for the remainder of the Fusion lineup are:
* 1.6-liter EcoBoost: 25 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, 29 mpg combined
* 2.0-liter EcoBoost: 22 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, 26 mpg combined
* 2.5-liter: 22 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, 26 mpg combined
* Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid: Projected 100-plus MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent)
The Fusion equipped with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine is available with Ford’s patented, fuel-saving Auto Start-Stop system, which smoothly shuts off engine power when the car is stopped and seamlessly restarts as the driver releases the brake pedal. This feature, available for just $295, improves fuel efficiency by 3.5 percent and reduces emissions.
Fusion Hybrid features two additional innovations to help deliver industry-best fuel efficiency: Ford’s patented SmartGauge® with EcoGuide that coaches drivers for top fuel efficiency; and ECO Cruise, a greener cruise control functionality that helps optimize powertrain elements for convenient yet economical highway travel.
Fusion Hybrid achieves a top speed of 62 mph in electric or EV mode and also has Active Grille Shutters, which make the car more aerodynamic at highway speeds to improve fuel efficiency. An underbody with aerodynamically designed panels provides even better fuel efficiency.
World-class craftsmanship, driving dynamics
The full Fusion range delivers visual quality through improved materials, elevated levels of craftsmanship and attention to detail. To deliver its world-class driving dynamics, Ford engineers equipped Fusion with a specially tuned electric power-assisted steering system, MacPherson strut front suspension and all-new multilink rear suspension that is comparable to the setups found in more expensive Audis and BMWs.
“Fusion is a driver’s car,” said Raj Nair, group vice president of Product Development. “We have carefully tuned this car to reward the driving expert and flatter the novice.”
Ford’s quietest midsize sedan ever, Fusion Hybrid models are equipped with Active Noise Cancellation, which uses the audio system to mitigate powertrain noise.
Technology you can use
The all-new Fusion offers an unprecedented portfolio of driver assistance and convenience technologies using sensors, cameras and radar to enable the car to “see” and respond.
Fusion can help drivers maintain proper lane position, adjust vehicle speed to changing traffic conditions, identify suitable parking spaces and practically park itself – it can even aid drivers backing out of a parking space in which visibility is obstructed. Specific technologies include:
* Lane-Keeping System: Using a small, forward-facing camera behind the inside rearview mirror, this system “looks” down the road, monitoring lane lines to determine that the car is on course. The system will alert a driver if drowsiness or erratic lane-keeping is detected. The second element warns a driver with a steering wheel vibration if the Fusion drifts too close to lane markings. Finally, Lane-Keeping Aid will actually apply pressure on the steering to help bring the car back into proper lane position
* Adaptive cruise control: Using forward-looking radar, this system “looks” down the road when activated, slowing the Fusion when slower traffic is detected ahead. The system can help slow the car if the potential of a crash is detected
* Active park assist: Employing sensors, this technology identifies a suitable parallel parking space, calculates the trajectory, and steers the car to properly position it within the spot. Drivers operate accelerator and brake pedals
* BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert: Sensors in both Fusion rear quarter-panels are able to detect traffic in a driver’s blind spot, providing both audible and visual warnings if traffic is detected. BLIS technology enables cross-traffic alert, warning the driver of oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space with obstructed views, such as between two large vehicles
The all-new Fusion also offers the newest version of Ford’s award-winning SYNC® communications and entertainment system, which enables voice-activated communication through a driver’s mobile phone and interaction with the car’s audio system.
Fusion is available with the latest version of MyFord Touch®, allowing a driver to interact with vehicle systems through voice control, a touch screen tap or a conventional button.
Both SYNC and MyFord Touch – powered by SYNC – help reduce the potential for driver distraction through voice-controlled functionality, allowing drivers to keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
Fusion equals growth
The midsize car segment is the fastest-growing segment in America this year. Overall U.S. industry sales are up 15 percent in 2012, while midsize car sales have grown 26 percent.
To meet expected demand for the new Fusion, Ford is adding 1,200 hourly jobs and investing $555 million at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Mich.
New Fusion models begin arriving at dealers nationwide this fall.
You may be familiar with the look of the Soul since there are many of them around the streets of Houston. It’s your basic little box with a car-like nose. The trailing edge of the box is slightly tapered so as not to mimic the Scion xB – which it doesn’t .
There are 3 trim levels, two of which have quirky names, base, + (plus sign) and ! (exclamation mark). I had the top of the line ! model.
This loaded-up Soul has everything you’d want and expect in a car that starts at $19,600 for the “!” model and includes 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, a sunroof, houndstooth pattern two-tone upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and the Audio Upgrade package. If you tack on the Premium package for another $2,500 you’ll get what I had… keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic climate control and a navigation system with real-time traffic.
So how does it drive? Awesome. Now I’m not trying to sell this car, just being totally honest here. This is NOT a sports car, so I didn’t expect, nor want, sports car-like ride and handling. This is an everyday, user friendly, fun, nicely equipped car that can zip you around town with a sporty-type ride, yet won’t beat you to death with a stiff suspension.
Highway travel is a breeze too. There is plenty of passing power in the 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine that whirrs out 164 horsepower. I had the 6-speed automatic transmission, which is the only one available in this top model. If you want a stick-shift – which I couldn’t imagine why – a six speed manual is available in the base and plus models.
I grew up in an era when controls were all operated manually and still really appreciate climate and audio adjustments that can give me the instant satisfaction I’m looking for. But I also appreciate navigation with a touch screen that incorporates audio, so I know the artist to which I’m listening, or the year the song was released.
One crazy feature that took me back to the late 60’s was lighting surrounding the speakers in the front door panels. Not only can you change the ring color but you can also synch it to the beat of the music. My friend Tommy (Puss) Wilson strapped a similar gizmo under the dash of Renault Dalphine and I thought that was the neatest thing, almost as good as Mike Campagna’s “reverb” unit located in the glove box of his Chevy Biscayne.
As for shopping comparisons to the Soul, let’s mention again the quirky Scion xB, just a lot more bulky looking , the Chevy Sonic and the bizarre, weird, odd-looking Nissan Juke. The only reason we throw the Sonic in there is pricing and size, other than that, it’s what I consider more mainstream in looks. As for the xB, it may have more interior space, but the current model losses a bit of the quirk and leans more toward ugly.
Speaking of ugly, another competitor to the Kia Soul is the Nissan juke. Now my fellow Texas Auto Writers all raved about its power and handling, and if that’s what you’re after, then I must agree. However, I can’t get past the disjointed front end on the Juke. Imagine wanting to show off your new girlfriend and you bring the chick nobody wanted to date to the party. What do you say? Oh, how nice, what a cool ride, absolutely love it…while deep down inside all of those friends and family members are wondering if you were high on something when you thought she looked good.
Back to the Soul, here’s what I really like about it. It’s kind of like a wagon without the wagon look, with plenty of cargo space to handle the Home Depot stuff or the kids soccer equipment with comfortable rear seating. If you need to haul a nightstand to Aunt Mary’s house or take your better half on a weekend back to nature trip, fold down the rear seats and you’ll still have room for the dog.
Oh, and did I mention fuel mileage? The 2.0-liter Soul gets a solid 26 mpg-city and 34-highway.
I’m giving the Kia Soul ! a five out of five stars. Loved it!!
Did we mention guests? We’ve got those too, including GM’s Craig Eppling who’ll give us updates on the full lineup of the General’s troops. American Tire Distributors Jeff Dziekan joins the fray with tire tips and what folks are buying this summer.
Don was the guest of Mazda at this week’s Dynamo soccer game at the new BBVA Compass Stadium. He’ll talk to Steve Pridgeon, Mazda Marketing Manager for the Gulf Coast region, about the Dynamo special edition CX-5 on display there and to be given away later this year.
Niftee 50ee’s Randy Shannon brings Pat Pinkerton with him to discuss Cool Car Storage and hot rods
Mike tells you what it’s like to drive the new Ram 3500 Dually and Don reports on his week with the Kia Rio.
As we go to press with this preview, Don is working on a very special guest that will be calling in to surprise even the In Wheel Time Staff.
We invite you to join us Saturday morning from 10 AM to 1 PM for In Wheel Time on 1560 The Game / Yahoo! Sports Radio. If you’d rather catch us in front of your computer, log into WWW.InWheelTime.com to listen and see us broadcasting live via our new video stream.
Proceeds Go to Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer
The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer will receive $300,000 from auction proceeds of the first production-model 2013 SRT Viper GTS, following the Barrett-Jackson Orange County (Calif.) event this past weekend.
To support children and families dealing with the challenges of pediatric cancer, Chrysler Group’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) brand teamed with The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer and the American Le Mans Series, by auctioning the world-class supercar.
As a tribute to U.S. military members past and present, the Jeep brand has created the new 2012 Jeep Wrangler Freedom edition. Available in red, white or blue, the new Jeep Wrangler Freedom edition features a military-inspired star decal on the hood and rear quarter panels, along with an “Oscar Mike” (military jargon for “on the move”) fender badge.
Jeep will donate $250 from each Wrangler Freedom Edition it sells to charities that benefit U.S. military members. Specifically, funds will be split between the Fisher House Foundation and the I Support Foundation. Fisher House Foundation provides a “home away from home” for military families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury, while the I Support Foundation provides resources to troops returning home – such as jobs and various healthcare needs – and issues grants to 40 charities that provide valuable services to U.S. veterans.
“The Jeep brand has a long, renowned history that began with its significant presence and success within the U.S. military,” said Mike Manley, President and CEO – Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “Jeep – and particularly the Wrangler – is the icon for capability and durability, and is a true symbol of American freedom. The new Jeep Wrangler Freedom Edition is created in honor of Jeep’s one-of-a-kind history, and as a tribute to all of the brave men and women who have and continue to serve in the U.S. military.
“It is with both pride in our history and gratitude to all those who have served that we have chosen to donate $250 from each Jeep Wrangler Freedom Edition to be divided between these important charitable organizations that benefit current and returning military members,” Manley added.
Chrysler Group LLC also offers a $500 cash allowance to military members that may be applied toward the retail purchase or lease of an eligible Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck or FIAT vehicle. Eligible consumers include active military, active military reserve, retired military (honorable discharge and 20 years of service required), and retired military reserve (honorable discharge and 20 years of service required).
The new 2012 Wrangler Freedom edition is now available in Jeep showrooms.
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performance flagship sedan, is now certified by the EPA as the class leader in large sedan city
and highway fuel economy.
than the 2012 Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Charger and Toyota Avalon.
The all-new Taurus demonstrates fuel economy isn’t limited to compact car sizes. All three
engine options for the 2013 model have now been certified at 25 mpg or higher in EPA highway
space or convenience preferences to get them,” said Raj Nair, vice president of Engineering for
Global Product Development. “Taurus fuel economy showcases Ford’s success in developing
smaller yet more powerful engines for its larger vehicles.”
• Smart battery management
• Aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff
• Reduced friction lubricants
dealerships later this summer.
The Nissan GT-R sports car and Chrysler’s Town & Country minivan took “best of show” honors at the 2012 Texas Auto Writers Association Auto Roundup.
Performance figured heavily in the Car of Texas category. The legendary GT-R, making its second appearance at a TAWA event, packs 545 horsepower. The second-place finisher, the Hyundai Equus, has 429 horsepower for 2012. Subaru’s BRZ, a brand new rear-wheel-drive sports car co-developed with Toyota, came in third.
In the family category, the Ford Taurus and Nissan Quest were the next highest-scoring vehicles.
Dodge’s new Dart hit the mark with a majority of TAWA members, earning first-place finishes in three categories. (And as many TAWA members know, calamity struck Sunday evening when the Dart originally brought to the track was damaged in a freakish accident. We drove the 145-hp 2.0L. The one Chrysler had planned was a turbocharged 160-hp 1.4L.
Compact Car of Texas: 2013 Dodge Dart, 2012 Buick Verano; 2012 Hyundai Veloster
Subcompact Car of Texas: 2012 Fiat Cabrio; 2012 Chevrolet Sonic; 2012 Scion iQ (The Sonic had just one point less than the Fiat)
Mid-Size Car of Texas: 2012 Buick Regal GS; 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco; 2013 Volkswagen CC Sport Plus
Full-Size Car of Texas: 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist; 2012 Dodge Charger SXT; 2012 Hyundai Azera
Minivan of Texas: 2012 Chrysler Town & Country; 2012 Toyota Sienna; 2012 Nissan Quest
Green Car of Texas: 2012 Chevrolet Volt; 2012 Nissan Leaf; 2012 PriusC
Performance Compact of Texas: 2013 Subaru BRZ; 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth
Performance Coupe of Texas: 2013 Ford Mustang GT; 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG; 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8
Performance Sedan of Texas: 2013 Ford Taurus SHO police package; 2012 Jaguar XFR; 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8
Performance Utility Vehicle of Texas: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8; 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan; 2013 Mazda CX-5
Supercar of Texas: 2013 Nissan GT-R Black Edition; 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe; 2012 Jaguar XKR-S Coupe
Mid-Size Luxury Vehicle of Texas: 2012 Cadillac SRX AWD; 2012 Infiniti M35h; 2012 Audi A7 3.0
Full-Size Luxury Vehicle of Texas: 2012 Chrysler 300 Luxury Series (lone entry)
Best New Feature: 2013 Dodge Dart; 2012 Hyundai Veloster; 2012 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Best New Interior: 2013 Ford Taurus SHO; 2012 Chrysler 300; 2012 Hyundai Azera
Best Value: 2013 Dodge Dart; 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth; 2012 Hyundai Equus