Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cadillac's playing us all

Something hasn't seemed right to me since the spy photos surfaced a few days ago of the next CTS undergoing testing. Now I think I know why.

Is this not the next CTS? No, definitely not. Is Cadillac going the wrong direction stylistically - I don't think so. What had me puzzled was the fact that the camo does absolutely nothing to actually disguise the car. Come on, camo that leaves the entire grill, headlights, and fog lights easily identifiable? I don't think so.

My guess? This is a play by Cadillac, in the same vein as Audi plays the spy photographers, to generate buzz for their products. I think they are putting a lightly disguised car out with the express purpose of getting the photos taken and published.

Take a look at the pics over at ACAtT and let me know what you think.

All Cars, All the Time

Thursday, April 20, 2006

2008 Cadillac CTS spy shots

The Car Connection is showing spy photos that confirm that the mock-up Bob Lutz previewed on CBS' 60 Minutes is actually the new CTS. Through this modest disguise, you can see many of the cues that were clearly shown on 60 Minutes.

It is obvious that this is not the exact car shown in the rear-views in the Cadillac styling studio - further suggesting that that car may have been a rumored coupe version of the CTS.

With more in-your-face styling than the current CTS it should be a worthy successor.

Read about it:

Spy Shots: 2008 Cadillac CTS - The Car Connection

Autoshow Season - Mazdaspeed 3

Mazdaspeed 3Well, the waiting is almost over for the highly anticipated high-performance version of the popular Mazda 3 small car.

Coming to your local Mazda dealer later this year, the Mazdaspeed 3 (available in the 5-door hatchback body style only) packs the Mazdaspeed 6's turbo, direct-injection 2.3l 4-cylinder with over 250hp (final numbers haven't been released), routed through the Mazdaspeed 6's 6-speed manual transmission to the front wheels (250+ hp, under 3000lb car, front wheels only?...that could be fun, I guess). Helping get the power to the ground is a limited-slip differential as well as electronic torque control that works in the lower 3 gears to help balance turbo boost with the car's ability to use that torque.

Safety equipment includes standard ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and Dynamic Stability Control.

Mazdaspeed 3 InteriorInside, the Mazdaspeed 3 has aggressively bolstered seats with Mazdaspeed stitched into the seatbacks. Also expect a high level of standard equipment in keeping with the 'Mazdaspeed as flagship' positioning.

2007 marks a mid-cycle refresh for the entire Mazda 3 line and brings chassis stiffening to the beast of a 3 (in addition to wider bodywork, 18" wheels, and suitably high-performance tires).

Mazdaspeed 3Even without AWD, the Mazdaspeed 3 looks to be an interesting addition to the performance small-car segment. It will be interesting to see how they choose to price this car (hopefully it will be significantly below the high-20's where the Evo and STi's play).

Sky Redline - the search begins

It's really a shame what a little greed does to a good idea.

Right now, I am in the shopping phase for a Saturn dealer that will basically do what most would consider to be the bare minimum for any Saturn dealer - charge sticker price for a Sky Red Line. It seems that most of the dealers, at least locally, are putting questionable 'packages' on all of their Sky's (in stock, ordered, it doesn't seem to matter) and then charging exorbitant prices for them...for instance, almost $4000 for a clear bra and some undetermined 'performance' upgrades at Saturn of Highlands Ranch, CO.

No dealers appear to be taking employee discount, but that is certainly their prerogative. But the high-profit packages, that they require you take are just evil.

That's why I have started putting together a list of dealers and their policies on the Sky over at one of my other web sites:

http://caddyedge.com/sky-msrp-dealer-list/

Here, you'll see that my current options are looking like Saturn of Fort Collins or maybe one of the dealers in Indianapolis (though they already have 60+ Skys on order and are expecting any new orders to be delivered in early 2007).

Congrats to them, though for doing things the 'Saturn Way'.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Keeping them honest - Sky MSRP list

Saturn is a great concept as most people understand it...set a fair price for the car and people don't have to fight the dealer to not get screwed. The dealer makes fair money and people can be less stressed by the buying experience.

You'd think that by adding great product to that mix, that you'd have the best of all worlds...well, that assumes that the Saturn dealers don't get greedy and try to circumvent the 'Saturn Way' in order to make a quick buck (at the cost of their and their brand's reputation).

The Sky roadster is the first example of Saturn dealers trying to do an end-run to pad their bottom line (at the expense of the consumers who might be, after years of being told this by GM and Saturn, lulled into a sense that Saturn plays fair).

Well, one consumer rarely can change this sort of corruption - but one can try to shine a spotlight on the dealers who are playing by the rules.

Over at one of my other sites, the Caddy Edge, we have a Saturn Sky MSRP list (with links to any other known Sky MSRP lists that already exist).

If you know what the policy of your local Saturn dealer is with regard to purchasing a Sky (MSRP?, required add-ons?, accepting employee pricing plan?, etc) then go to the Sky MSRP list at the Caddy Edge and let the world know.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Autoshow Season - Suzuki SX4

Suzuki SX4Been waiting for years for Fiat to make a return to the US? Well, soon you'll be able to pick up your little piece of Italy at the local Suzuki dealer in the form of the SX4.

Co-developed with Fiat and sold on the Continent as the Sedici, the SX4 is a little tall-wagon available exclusively with an all-wheel drive system (making this little Suzuki the least expensive AWD car on the road - starting price is expected in the 15's). The system is controlled through a 3-mode switch on the dash that allows you to select front-drive only, automatic all-wheel drive (which routes up to 50% of the power rearward on demand), or a 'locked' mode that forces the system into sending power to all 4 wheels for demanding situations like mud or snow.

Powered by a 2.0l 4-cylinder with 143hp and 136lb*ft of torque routed through a standard 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto, makes this 2800-2900lb car not the speediest around, but most buyers likely won't care.

With standard equipment like seating for 5, decent cargo room behind the rear seat (9.5 cubic feet), standard 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS (available traction and stability control), 16" alloy wheels, and 24 mpg city/29 mpg highway (30 with the automatic)...this could easily become Suzuki's most popular vehicle in snow states (I'm expecting a lot of them out here in Colorado).

More pics below:

Suzuki SX4

Suzuki SX4

Suzuki SX4

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Autoshow Season - Suzuki XL-7

Suzuki XL-7Since Suzuki redesigned their Sidekick...err, Grand Vitara recently, it would be expected that a new version of the stretched 7-seat version, the XL-7 would be forthcoming.

This would be right and wrong. Wrong in that we might have expected just another stretched Grand Vitara, right in that a new 7-seater from Suzuki under the XL-7 badge was announced at the New York autoshow.

This time around, instead of a body-on-frame design, Suzuki has borrowed the GM Theta (Chevy Equinox, Pontiac Torrent, Saturn VUE) chassis, stretched it in order to make the only 3-row seating version of this platform, and then asked nicely for the GM high-feature 3.6l VVT V-6 that used to be a Cadillac exclusive.

Nice looking fit and finish inside hints at what might be expected from a mid-cycle refresh to the Equinox/Torrent (Saturn just got a much improved interior for the 06 VUE).

This should help nicely in getting Suzuki to their 100k sales goal for this year.

More pictures below:

Suzuki XL-7

Suzuki XL-7

Suzuki XL-7

Suzuki XL-7

Suzuki XL-7

Autoshow Season - Lexus LS600h Hybrid

2008 Lexus LS600h LAs previously announced, Lexus has debuted their new luxury flagship at the New York autoshow. The LS 600h L (long wheelbase model - only Japan is expected to get the standard length 600h) is claimed to be the quietest (or very near it) luxury car ever - so much so that they had to extensively redesign accessory drives and switches because you could now hear them so well.

Power is 430hp (more in a minute) and this is the first all-wheel drive LS.

Oh, did I mention that it's a hybrid? Combining a 5.0l V-8 (note, the 'regular' LS makes due with a 4.6l - so this is Lexus' only application of this particular engine) and hybrid drive, routing through a 2-stage CVT (obviously not your typical belt and pulley CVT with this kind of power).

The 600h also debuts Toyota's new branding for all their Lexus 'h' cars - they now will tout their use of Lexus Hybrid Drive (vs. Toyota's Synergy Drive). It looks like Lexus is going to focus more closely on the luxury benefits a hybrid system can offer - quieter driving experience w/ more power while Toyota will wisely focus on pure fuel-economy benefits (the slow sales of the Highlander SUV obviously have been heard - it packs more power but not much in the way of better fuel efficiency, thus confusing the Toyota buyer).

In another technical first - the 600h will be the world's first use of LED headlights (of course, with recent controversy about Toyota's claims to be 'first' with anything will bear this out pretty quickly - I was almost certain there was another car out there already with some form of LED forward lighting - but I'll need to check).

Expect the Lexus LS 600h to debut early in 2007.

Read all about the 600h and it's 460 stable-mate over at CarScoop:

CARSCOOP: 2007 Lexus LS 460 & 2008 LS 600h L

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Autoshow Season - Wrangler Unlimited details and pics

Jeep Wrangler UnlimitedNot much in the way of surprises here since we've been seeing spy photos of a 4-door Wrangler for what seems like forever now. Not to mention a selection of the media photos got out a couple days before the official debut.

Well, here we have the most cargo and passenger friendly Wrangler to-date...the Wrangler Unlimited (which was a stretched wheelbase, 2-door Wrangler before).

From the Jeep press release:

* Even More Passenger Room and Comfort -– Five-passenger seating includes 56.7 inches of rear-seat hip room, 37.2 inches of rear-seat legroom
* Even More Interior Cargo Space -– 46.4 cu. ft. behind second-row seat and 83 cu. ft. with second-row seats folded flat; more cargo space than 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser, 2006 Hummer H3 and 2006 Nissan Xterra
* Even More Open-air Fun -– Only four-door convertible on the market features Jeep's all-new, three-piece Freedom Top and the innovative Sunrider soft top -— open-air driving in less than 30 seconds
* Even More Legendary Off-road Capability -– Best-in-class ground clearance, approach and departure angles; enhanced Dana front and rear solid axles, available next-generation Command-Trac ® and Rock-Trac transfer cases, new electric axle lockers, and electronic-disconnecting front sway bar
* Even More On-road Refinement -– 116-inch wheelbase, 100-percent stiffer frame, advanced shock tuning and new cross-car steering linkage
* Even More Power and Fuel Efficiency - 3.8-liter V-6 engine features 205 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. of torque with improved fuel economy
* Even More Convenience - Standard 60/40-split fold-flat rear seat, available power windows and door locks with remote keyless entry, full-screen navigation system, MP3 capability and SIRIUS Satellite Radio
* Even More Safety - Standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP), electronic roll mitigation and Occupant Classification System (OCS); optional seat-mounted side air bags

The all-new 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited features a 116-inch wheelbase, achieved by adding 20.6 inches to the standard all-new 2007 Wrangler's 95.4-inch wheelbase. The additional length allows for a larger rear seat that features three seating positions, as well as more hip, leg and shoulder room. In addition, Wrangler Unlimited offers nearly triple the rear cargo space.

Offered in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited utilizes the same five-link solid-axle suspension configuration as the standard 2007 Jeep Wrangler. The all-new 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited also retains Wrangler's coveted removable full-framed or half doors, exposed hinges, fold-down windshield and innovative removable and convertible tops.

The all-new 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited will be offered in three models: Wrangler Unlimited X, Sahara and Rubicon, and will feature hundreds of different top, door and windshield combinations. In addition, nine exterior colors and available 16-, 17-, or 18-inch wheels will be offered.


Kind of makes you wonder what will happen to the next Jeep Liberty to keep it in the line (maybe a soft-roader big-brother to the Compass?)

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited interior

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited interior

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited interior

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited interior

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Now this is just weird - VW to rename Golf

In a completely unsuspected move, VW has decided to rename the new Golf for the North American market. The name they have decided to use? Rabbit.

As you may remember, the Rabbit name is what was used on VW's hatchback back in the day before it was changed _to_ Golf.

The explanation is that the name is less pretentious and will help foster the kind of relationship folks had with their VW's back when they were Rabbits, Foxes, Things, Beetles, etc.

This could be the beginning of the resurrection of many classic VW nameplates in coming years.

Autoshow Season - Saturn Sky Red Line

Saturn Sky Red LineLet's not even attempt to pretend to be objective here...I want one of these so bad I can taste it. I wanted one before they officially announced it and the question of a high-po Sky was one of turbo or supercharger and projections of power were anything from 210 up to 300hp.

Now its official and all I need to do is wait to put in my order.

That said, let's take a look at what Saturn hath wrought in the land of high-performance sports cars (who'd have thunk even 2 years ago that we'd be talking about this type of car from SATURN?).

Basically, the Sky Red Line is packing the same 2.0l direct-injection 4-cylinder that was announced as part of the Solstice GXP earlier this year with power numbers like these:

260hp @ 5300 rpm
260lb*ft @ 2500 - 5300 rpm (tasty!)

Saturn Sky Red LineOddly enough, fuel economy for the manual is 1 mpg better in the city and 2 mpg better on the highway than the 2.4l normally aspirated (3 worse in the city, 1 better highway with the automatic). This is sure to not be the case if you even think of dipping your toes into the turbo power, however.

Gearing is identical to the regular Sky.

Spring rates are unique to the RL on all corners, with a 33.3mm (replacing the standard 27.2) stabilizer bar up front and a 25.4mm (instead of 24.2) at the rear. Electronic stability control is standard issue.

Brakes and wheels are identical (with a polished finish replacing the painted finish of the standard car) though tires are upgraded from Goodyear Eagle RS-A all-seasons to Eagle F1 performance rubber.

With 83 extra horsepower carting around a mere 57 extra pounds, the RL's straight-line performance is obviously up. GM projects 0-60 times to drop from the standard car's 7.2 seconds to a blistering 5.5. Quarter mile times and trap speeds improve from 15.7 and 89 mph to 13.9 and an even 100 mph.

Now, if they'll just announce prices so I can figure how many of my pennies I need to save.

More pictures below:

Saturn Sky Red Line

Saturn Sky Red Line

Saturn Sky Red Line

Saturn Sky Red Line

Saturn Sky Red Line

Saturn Sky Red Line

Autoshow Season - Saturn PreVUE concept

Saturn PreVUE conceptWhen is an Opel concept no longer an Opel? Well, in this crazy, mixed-up world of Saturn - it looks like it happens quite a lot.

First we have the Sky Redline previewed as the new Opel GT, and now we have the Opel Antera GTC concept re-grilled with a Saturn badge and introduced as the Saturn Prevue (a corny joke since this is a preview of the next Saturn VUE due as a 2008).

Check out more info over at The Car Connection's TCC Confidential blog:

TCC Confidential � Blog Archive � Saturn PreVues Next Compact Ute

Autoshow Season - Saturn Outlook, key stats

Wow, this is going to be one big mutha from Saturn...here are some key stats for those of you that care:

Length - 202.7"
Wheelbase - 118.9"
Width - 78.2"
Height (w/o roof rails) - 69.9"
Ground Clearance - 7.4"
Curb Weight (2wd) - 4722
Curb Weight (4wd) - 4936

Comparing against the aforementioned Tahoe:

2007 Tahoe Dimensions
Length - 202.0 (Outlook is 0.7" longer)
Wheelbase - 116.0 (Outlook is 2.9" longer)
Width - 79.0 (Outlook is a measly 0.8" narrower)
Height - 77.0 (Here we see the whole body-on-frame vs. unibody difference with Outlook's roof a whole 7.0" closer to the ground)
Ground Clearance - 9.0 (Outlook, having less of a off-road bias, comes in 1.6" closer to terra firma)
Curb Weight (2wd) - 5233 (obviously, the separate frame thing weights a bit - Outlook is lighter by over 500 lbs)
Curb Weight (4wd) - 5537 (ditto - Outlook's advantage is now 600 lbs)

Other key stats for the Outlook:

Standard 18" wheels with 19" optional
Fuel economy of 17 city / 25 highway (2wd) and 16 city / 24 highway (4wd).

Autoshow Season - Saturn Outlook, more pics

Here are the rest of the pictures made available by Saturn of their new Outlook crossover.

Word has it that this bad boy is not that much smaller than a Tahoe (and the Lambda was insurance against a shift to higher mileage requirements by consumers in their large SUVs - the Lambda would have taken customers who couldn't handle the mileage of a GMT900).

More details soon.

Saturn Outlook

Saturn Outlook

Saturn Outlook

Saturn Outlook

Saturn Outlook

Monday, April 10, 2006

Autoshow Season - Saturn Outlook

The Car Connection is showing pictures of the new Saturn Outlook cross-over. Based on GM's brand new Lambda chassis, the Outlook will seat up to seven with a 3.6l VVT with 269hp and 247 lb*ft of torque routed through a new 6-speed automatic in front or all-wheel drive.

More details as they become available.

Read about it here.

4-door Wrangler revealed

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4-doorI'm sure no one at Jeep is pleased that images of the new 4-door Wrangler have surfaced ahead of its official debut at the New York Autoshow later this week...

Going by the name "Wrangler Unlimited" - this appears to be pretty much what you'd expect a 4-door Wrangler to be. Note the decidedly small rear doors and the very Hummer truck (a la H1 and H2 SUT) profile.

More details as they become available.

Read about it at Carscoop

Autoshow Season - Jeep Patriot is for real

2007 Jeep PatriotAs if anyone really thought the Jeep Patriot concept was anything but a real product just waiting for an announcement (but, just look at how fast we went from concept to production - yeah, right)...

Jeep has now officially announced the production trim of the Patriot as these photos - which we have a hard time telling are any different than the *cough* concept shown before.

Details include an interior that is nigh indistinguishable from the Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass. Standard power will be from the 2.4l 172hp 4-cylinder that serves as the top engine in the Dodge.

2007 Jeep PatriotIn a switch from what we were expecting, the Patriot will be available in front-drive in addition to all-wheel drive (more on that in a minute). We would have guessed that the Compass would have been the only front-drive Jeep on this chassis with the Patriot taking the more Jeep-like high-ground with standard all-wheel drive. Unfortunately, the Jeep marketing folks who just had to have a lower-priced model won out - doing some more damage to the Patriot's angle of being a 'true Jeep'.

However, in an effort to salvage some of Jeep's credibility - the Patriot will come with both the Compass' all-wheel drive w/ locking differential (known as Freedom Drive I) as well as a harder-core system that uses the CVT to emulate a low range (Freedom Drive II).

Freedom Drive II (which to our ears sounds like the dorkiest name for an all-wheel drive system ever) also buys you a Patriot with an additional inch of ground clearance, skid plates aplenty, as well as additional body sealing to give this model a 'Trail Rated' badge and 19" water fording capabilities.

Honestly, we would have foregone the front-drive model altogether and given both all-wheel drive Patriot models the additional inch of clearance and let the Compass play to the front-drive market...of course, we'd also have put some faux-metal door handles in the Caliber, Compass, and Patriot - rather than the cheesy textured plastic 'things' that the bean-counters have handed down (it's the little things, guys)...of course, they didn't ask us.

Expect the Patriot to show up on Jeep lots 'round September with around a 16k starting price. The real Patriot will likely base much closer to 20k - still a relative bargain for comfortable, economical, and Trail Rated goodness.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Solstice with hardtop

This comes to you via the Solstice Forums, courtesy of Autoblog.

At the NCAA event Pontiac was putting on in Indianapolis, someone noticed this Solstice in what appears to be SCCA trim - with what will likely become (eventually) a dealer installed hardtop.

Read about it at:
Sneak peek: GM's Pontiac Solstice racer? - Autoblog

Thursday, April 06, 2006

New refreshed Durango debuts

Dodge debuted yesterday their mildly restyled Durango which will see its first public outing at next week's New York Autoshow.

2nd generation Dodge DurangoA couple years ago, Dodge introduced the current Durango (shown to the right), based on the new Dakota, yet expanded to a size similar - though a bit smaller than the full-sized SUVs from Ford and GM. Unfortunately, the larger Durango ended up with some unfortunate styling quirks (like oddly shaped front dropped fenders and cross-eyed headlights).

Freshened Dodge DurangoThis freshening takes care of much of this by squaring off the front-end while maintaining a touch of the stepped down fender. This change also helps give the Durango a more elegant style and connects it with the new Nitro and Caliber.

Other changes are focused on smoothing over the environmental impact of such a large SUV. Dodge is keeping the 3.7l V-6 for folks who don't need/want the trade-offs of a V-8 powertrain. The 4.6l V-8, the mid-level engine, is now fully E85 ethanol blend compatible. At the top of the powertrain foodchain is the 5.7l Hemi with Chrysler Group's cylinder deactivation technology (MDS - Multi-Displacement System).

In addition, Dodge has announced that 2008 will see the 5.7l Hemi paired with a 2-mode hybrid drive system co-developed with the BMW group and General Motors. This is expected to provide a 25% economy improvement over the standard MDS equipped Hemi.

We find it odd that Dodge won't be offering this hybrid system with a smaller engine to provide even greater economy (especially the 1-2 punch of offering it with the E85-friendly 4.6l V-8). Of course, since the hybrid system they will be offering places the electric motors in the transmission case and would not require much packaging consideration to expand its offering to the other engines - these changes could come quickly if the market demands.

Improved economy and better looks? That should help Dodge move a few more of their big utes in an increasingly tight market.

Autoshow Season - New Audi TT breaks cover

New Audi TT CoupeGeez...some companies are just _so_ too good for autoshow debuts.

Instead of waiting like every other self-respecting auto company, Audi decided to unveil their new TT coupe to the world in a special event, broadcast on the Internet live from Berlin.

Now, we finally have official pics of a car that spy photos had left little to the imagination of for weeks now.

New Audi TT CoupeNo real surprises in this new TT except maybe that the V-6 Quattro model will finally be available with a standard 6-speed manual in addition to the previous model's DSG...one of many reasons (not the least of which is a lack of funds) that I didn't consider the previous V-6 TT to be a worthy sports car for my shopping list...

The new TT, as you may have already heard is now 5 inches longer and 3 inches wider, as well as slightly less pure of form than the first generation car - of course, it would have been practically impossible for Audi to improve on the artistic wonder that was the original TT coupe, a car that many thought would/could never be produced, so bold were the lines and shapes of the original show car.

New Audi TT Coupe interiorInterior-wise, the new car has many of the same cues, but again with a little less daring and purity (note the triangular 'bracing' that the original TT used, in metal, on either side of the center stack is now rendered in plastic - a mere shadow of its former beauty).

Will the new TT sell - of course. With its larger interior, it is sure to capture a few more folks who found the former car too small for their tastes. The extra power and refinement is also sure to attract a few more. It is just a shame that in the interests of change, that the TT has been forced to get bigger - even if its new aluminum/steel space frame have kept weight gain in check and new, more powerful engines have given Audi more impressive performance numbers to sprinkle in their press releases and brochures - and less edgy in its design.

Of course, most current generation Audi's suffer from this stylistic watering-down from the early 21st century highs (the new, giant grills are one example; excess surface detailing is yet another).

We'll reserve final judgment until we start to hear from folks who have driven the new car. But even if it is the best new coupe, dynamically - it just isn't the same.

GM fights back against Tahoe bashing in online commercial contest

By now, you've likely heard that GM has received some less-than-glowing entries in its contest to create your own Tahoe commercial at http://www.chevyapprentice.com

Several commercials slam the big ute specifically and often GM as a whole for even producing such a beast.

Now, in the GM Fastlane blog, Chevy General Manager Ed Peper has fired back with a fairly reasoned response as well as why they don't think 1. that the Tahoe is as bad as these people say and 2. how them not pulling the faux ads isn't a sign of being asleep at the switch.

Really, it is funny to think that some folks are attacking what is arguably the most efficient of the big utes just because the contest made it easy.

Take a look Mr. Peper's open letter to these folks at:

GM FastLane Blog: Now that we've got your attention

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

BLS and GM's reaction to recent reports on their Euro strategy...

2007 Cadillac BLSGM's Fastlane Blog has a post setting the record straight about recent reports on Cadillac's sales targets in Europe for both the Cadillac brand as a whole as well as the new BLS sedan that just launched (finally).

In case you've forgotten, the BLS is a front-drive, sub-CTS Cadillac developed from the Epsilon chassis (the same platform used by the Saab 9-3, Opel Vectra, Pontiac G6, upcoming Saturn Aura, and the Chevy Malibu) It is not currently slated for the North American market - though reports are that a 2nd generation Epsilon-based BLS w/ all-wheel drive may make the trip later this decade.

Cadillac is targetting 20k sales in Europe per year by the end of the decade, 10k of which are expected to be the new BLS.

It appears that some reporters have mistakenly heard the 10k number as a suggestion that Cadillac is backing away from their previous 20k/year goal rather than a clarification of how they were going to get there...read all about it at GM's blog for further info:

http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/archives/2006/04/cadillac_bls_hi_1.html

Autoshow Season: Mazda to show CX-9 at NY

Mazda CX-9 crossoverWell, not long after Mazda spent time making sure the press knew that their new CX-7 crossover was _not_ a twin to the new Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX twins...and is a Mazda3 derivative that can only hold a turbo 4-cylinder (vs the larger vehicle's 3.5l V-6).

Why the duplication of effort for a smaller crossover? Well, it is simply the CX-9 boys and girls.

Mazda CX-7 crossoverCX-9 is similar in styling to the CX-7 - see the picture of the 7 here and compare to the 9 above - (explaining the past year of confusing spy shots identifying a future Mazda crossover as sometimes bigger than the CX-7 turned out to be). CX-9 is actually not only a larger crossover for Mazda but will likely replace the slow-selling MPV minivan. Where CX-7 only seats, at most, 5 - the CX-9 has a third-row seat and can seat 6-7.

Not to mention that the MPV really didn't fit the whole sporty 'zoom zoom' branding Mazda has been aiming for (and is the reason we expect the Tribute and B-series pickups to go bye-bye pretty soon).

Expect the CX-9 with 3.5l V-6 (like its Edge and MKX brothers), in both front and all-wheel drive, and a 6-speed automatic to go on sale later this year.

Wow, consistent styling _and_ coherent brand message? This Mazda thing might work out for Ford after all.