Sep 142017
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Volkswagen) is recalling certain 2017-2018 Audi A3 Cabriolet and A3 Sedan vehicles. The Engine Control Unit (ECU) software may misinterpret the flywheel rotation on engine start-up as a “knocking” condition, and the adjusted air/fuel mixture may result in an engine stall. An engine stall can increase the risk of a crash.

2017 A3 Cabriolet

Audi will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the ECU software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin September 29, 2017. Owners may contact Audi customer service at 1-800-253-2834. Volkswagen’s number for this recall is 24DF.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Sep 082017
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that the communications team at Hyundai Motor America has added Hyundai veteran Brandon Ramirez as the senior group manager of Product Communications. In this role, Brandon is responsible for communicating the attributes of Hyundai’s entire product lineup to traditional and digital media. This includes auto show strategy, new vehicle launches and ongoing content creation for Hyundai vehicles. Brandon reports to Jim Trainor, director of Hyundai’s communications efforts in the United States.

Brandon is transitioning to the communications team from Hyundai’s product planning division, where he worked for the past thirteen years leading product development, market launches and lifecycle management for Hyundai’s lineup of cars, CUVs and alternative-powered vehicles.

BRANDON RAMIREZ

His expertise also includes target audience research, analyzing market trends, and serving as company spokesperson to media and other third parties. Brandon also has extensive multicultural experience serving as the chair of Hyundai’s internal “Amigos Unidos” employee group, which is tasked with community engagement and raising culture awareness at Hyundai.

“Brandon is the perfect fit in this role with his in-depth product and industry knowledge, experience as a media spokesperson and the relationships he has throughout the entire organization,” said Trainor. “The addition of Brandon completes the recent reorganization of the PR team that better aligns Hyundai communications with the evolving automotive business, media and digital landscape. We’ve built the communications team of the future that will be able to quickly adapt to changing consumer preferences and media habits, and can help us stay ahead of our competition.”

Prior to Hyundai, Brandon spent several years in product strategy at Mitsubishi Motors North America and was an acquisition analyst at Fairfield Investments. Brandon graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of San Diego.

Sep 062017
 

On an off-road course, like Moab, UT or California’s Rubicon Trail, Jeep’s reign supreme. Every Jeep offered has the ability to climb rocks, but some are more suited to city driving, like the Compass.

Redesigned for 2017, the small SUV brings more convenience features and an improved on-road experience as well. I recently test drove the 2017 Compass Sport FWD for Latino Traffic Report, and while it didn’t climb any rocks, it did get me through at least one on-road challenge.

The Compass Sport I drove was practically a base model, with a few optional packages. One option I would have passed up, and the most expensive one at $1500, was the six-speed automatic transmission. I would have preferred the standard six-speed manual transmission on the Compact Sport. Jeep also offers a nine-speed automatic for some 4×4 models.

While these transmissions could be matched to a choice of five engines worldwide, in North America, the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder powers the Compass. The test model had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. I averaged 25.9 mpg during the weeklong test drive. To stretch fuel efficiency further, the engine cuts off at idle but it also tends to weaken the air conditioning.

The front-wheel-drive test model did not offer Compass’s best-in-class 4×4 off-road ability, but it did have some of the new features for 2017, like a 3.5-inch LED driver information display (DID) instrument cluster, Uconnect 5.0—one of four new Uconnect infotainment systems—displayed on a rather diminutive touch screen, a capless fuel filler, push button start, ParkView Backup camera, and Remote Keyless Entry.

Of the more than 70 available safety features on the new Compass, like electronic stability control, roll mitigation, and traction control, it was the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and tire service kit that really impressed me.

While driving around town, the TPMS warning light appeared. Some TPMS systems just show the alert icon, forcing the driver to guess which tire is low, but the  DID on the Compass displayed PSI levels for all four tires so that I was able to monitor the leak. Upon returning home, I could hear the sound of air hissing from the left rear tire and by the next day, Sunday, it was flat. With plans to fly out of Austin on Monday, I had to find a quick fix.

Checking the trunk for a spare tire, I found the tire service kit that included sealant and a pump. With a little help from a friend, we injected the tire with the sealant and while the leak persisted it did slow down. The electronic air pump helped assure me that I could refill the tire upon my return. After a few days, it had lost some air but the pump, which plugs into one of two 12-volt auxiliary ports, was quick and easy to use.

The test model also included the Technology Group ($495) with the Park Sense rear park assist system and Sport Appearance Group ($595) with 16-inch wheels and tinted glass. It did not, however, come with a blind spot monitor or forward collision warning technology, nor are these technologies available on this trim level.

Pricing for the Jeep Compass starts at $22,090. The as-tested price came to $24,680.

: The 2017 Jeep Compass offers segment-leading off-road capability, a manual transmission on the base model, and improved fuel economy.

No: The as-tested Compass Sport FWD lacked the ability to add important safety technology like a blind spot monitor, plus the engine stop-start technology weakened the air conditioning.

Aug 282017
 

Honda and Hispanic Scholarship Fund Honor Outstanding Latino Students with Scholarships and Internship Opportunities.

Latino Traffic Report offers congratulations to sixteen outstanding Latino undergraduate students from around the country were recently honored for academic excellence by Honda North America, Inc. and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) at the annual Scholar Awards Breakfast in Columbus, Ohio.

Each student is eligible to receive a scholarship up to $5,000 to help pay for tuition, books and living expenses, pending verification of fall enrollment. Recipients also had the opportunity to interview for Honda’s summer internship program.
“We are very excited to be able to maintain our relationship with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and these incredibly talented students,” said Yvette Hunsicker, assistant vice president of the Honda Office of Inclusion and Diversity. “Honda believes in the next generation of leaders and with the proper support, their ability to achieve a college education. My hope is that they will all be working here at Honda someday.”

The students, who qualified for the program by earning at least a 3.0 grade point average, also traveled to Marysville, Ohio, for an inside look at Honda’s manufacturing, research and development operations. This trip included a tour of the Honda Heritage Center Museum, which tells the story of Honda’s North American history through an array of historic and current products.

“HSF is proud of our partnership with Honda,” said Fidel A. Vargas, President & CEO, HSF. “When a company with Honda’s global reach invests in young scholars in this exemplary way, the whole world can see that Honda is deeply committed to higher education, the Hispanic American community, and the future of our country.”

2017 Students Selected for Scholarship:

Ana Cervantes, Arizona State University, Chemical Engineering major

Ava Mauser, University of New Mexico, Chemical Engineering major

Bryce Gutierrez, Texas A&M University, Engineering, Chemical Engineering major

Christopher Casares, Brown University, Electrical Engineering major

Eglen Galindo, Stanford University, Industrial Engineering, Management major

Gabriel Rojas, Oregon State University, Mechanical Engineering major

Gerardo Valdes Bustamante, Colorado School of Mines, Mechanical Engineering major

Gustavo Salazar, University of California, Riverside, Economics, Chemical Engineering major

Isabel Perna, University of Miami, Industrial Engineering major

Joanna Rivero, University of Pittsburgh, Mechanical Engineering major

Junnior Rodriguez, Cypress College, Mechanical Engineering major

Manuel Lopez, University of Texas at Austin, Electrical Engineering major

Mario Macedo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering major

Paige Esguerra, North Carolina State University, Engineering, Chemical Engineering major

Paulo Montoya, Texas A&M University, Industrial Engineering major

Robin Franklin, University of Texas at Austin, Electrical Engineering major

Aug 202017
 

XC60 Eclipse Viewer

(ROCKLEIGH, N.J.) Is this cool or what? Latino Traffic Report has just learned that Volvo Car USA has designed and developed a custom eclipse viewer for the standard panoramic moonroof in the all-new 2018 XC60. The viewers will be shipped to select Volvo retailers along the eclipse’s path, allowing individuals to view the August 21, 2017 event safely and comfortably in the all-new XC60.

The XC60 Panoramic Moonroof Eclipse Viewer is made with an ISO-certified 12312-2 material and features a magnetized frame to attach to the XC60’s roof. The size of the XC60’s panoramic moonroof allows viewing from all five seats in the vehicle. Select Volvo retailers in the eclipse’s path of totality in Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska, Missouri and South Carolina will be prioritized for the limited number of viewers.

XC60 Eclipse Viewer

“The development of the XC60 Panoramic Moonroof Eclipse Viewer gives those in the eclipse’s path a unique way to experience this historic event in both comfort and safety,” said Bob Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing, Product and Brand Communications, Volvo Car USA. “For those not in the path of totality, we will live-stream the the eclipse in virtual reality and 4K high-resolution, 360 degree video.”

Volvo’s “Racing The Sun” campaign will broadcast the 2017 total solar eclipse in 4K high-resolution, 360 degree video and, for the first time, in immersive virtual reality. More on that program can be found at www.racingthesun.com

Aug 172017
 

E-350

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling certain 2014 Ford F-150 and E-350, 2014-2015 Ford Escape, and 2015 Lincoln MKC vehicles. Improperly manufactured bolts may have been used to install certain seats, seatbacks, seatbelt buckles, or seatbelt anchors on these vehicles.

The improperly manufactured bolts may fracture. If a seat, seatback, or seatbelt anchor attaching bolt fractures, the affected component may not be properly secured, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

Lincoln MKC

Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the affected bolts, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin August 28, 2017. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford’s number for this recall is 17S17.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Aug 122017
 

How do you redesign one of your all time best-selling models? Hyundai chose to add new features and technology to the all-new 2017 Elantra while dropping the starting price by $100. Having attended the regional launch last year, I recently drove the Limited or top-of-the-line Elantra trim level in a week-long test, for Latino Traffic Report and was reminded of the value Hyundai continues to reflect in its lineup.

As the word implies, a redesign starts on the outside. Defined by Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille, the new Elantra also has smoother contoured lines that enhance its aerodynamics. The redesign also includes equipment firsts like the available HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Lights, unique vertical LED daytime running lights, the LED door handle approach lights, and LED taillights.

The Elantra comes with two available powertrains, a 1.4-liter turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that’s reserved for the Eco trim level. The Limited and base model SE are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horses and 132 lbs.–ft. of torque. It’s matched to a six-speed automatic Shiftronic transmission with the Active ECO System on the Limited, which also includes Drive Mode Select that allows the driver to choose between a Sport, Eco, or Normal setting to further enhance its performance. I kept it in the Eco mode for most of the drive to conserve fuel. The Limited, with its 17-inch wheels, has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. I averaged 35 mpg during the test drive.

Stepping up to the Limited trim level brings many more advantages, particularly when it comes to safety features. Standard advanced safety features include a rearview camera, Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist. Surprisingly, some premium brands still include a blind spot monitor on an optional package so I’m always happy to find this critical safety feature included as standard equipment. Still, I would like to see it available throughout the lineup but it’s not available on the base SE with a six-speed manual transmission, it comes with a blind spot mirror on the driver’s side instead.

The Limited is the only trim with leather seating throughout, the Blue Link Connected Car system and a three-month trial of Blue Link Connected Care. The Limited trim also includes heated front seats and offers heated rear seats not found among its competitors.

Segment firsts include premium features like s a hands-free Smart Trunk (standard on the Limited)—there’s no need to swipe a foot under the bumper, just approach with keys in your pocket and in a few seconds, the trunk will open.

For added convenience, the rear seat is split 60/40, folding forward for additional cargo volume. Classified as a midsize sedan by the EPA. The Elantra already offers class-above total interior volume with 110.2 cu. ft. Cargo volume in the trunk reaches 14.4 cu. ft.

The test model also added the Tech Package ($2,500) that included navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the Infinity Premium audio system, and the Ultimate Package ($1,900) with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian protection, Lane Keep Assist, and smart cruise control, among other features.

Pricing for the 2017 Elantra Limited starts at $23,185. The as-tested pricing came to $27,710.

Sí: The Elantra Limited offers great value with impressive standard features like the blind spot warning system.

No: Important safety technology should not be reserved for the top-of-the-line trim but should be available across the lineup.

Aug 072017
 

Believe it or not, the battle of the bulge (the war with the scale not the German counteroffensive in 1944) affects cars too. Dropping pounds can produce certain challenges for vehicles but in the search for better fuel economy, it’s worth it. Chevrolet took 400 pounds off of the all-new 2018 Equinox and Latino Traffic Report recently attended the launch in Asheville, North Carolina to test drive the redesigned compact sport utility vehicle (SUV). Turns out it has more to brag about than just being lean.

“In a word, crossover customers want one thing, everything. From comfort and connectivity to efficient performance and safety, the all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox delivers on all counts,” said Steve Majoros, director of marketing, Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers.

Turbos have been at the heart of Chevy’s approach to fuel economy and it really ramps up with the Equinox, which offers a choice of three—a 1.5-liter, 2.0-liter, and a 1.6-liter turbo diesel (a segment first). This makes the Equinox the first Chevrolet model in North America to use an all-turbocharged, multi-engine powertrain lineup. The 1.5-liter and diesel are matched to a six-speed automatic and the 2.0-liter is matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

GM estimates that the highway fuel economy on front wheel drive (FWD) models equipped with the 1.5-liter will reach 32 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway, 29 mpg with the 2.0-liter, and 40 mpg with the diesel.

For many manufacturers, the compact SUV market is the new sweet spot and Chevrolet is no exception. Equinox sales have reached nearly two million units since its launch and it’s Chevrolet’s top selling SUV and second-best selling vehicle overall, after the Silverado.

An elegant interior complements the new exterior design, particularly on the top trim levels that offer striking color combinations for the leather seating and accents.

Inside, there’s also 3.5 cubic feet of interior volume for a total of up to 63.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, this despite a reduction in overall length of 4.7 inches, making it easier to park and maneuver.

This family vehicle is not without safety innovations. A rearview camera is standard on all trims, as well as Teen Driver that allows parents to set controls and review in order to encourage driving habits, even when they are not in the vehicle. The optional and improved Safety Alert seat buzzes the driver’s left or right upper thigh as a warning and the available Rear Seat Reminder pings when the ignition is turned off to remind drivers to check the back seat for children. These and other safety features like a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert are available although only on higher-end trim levels.

The MyLink infotainment system designed to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, can be matched to a standard seven- or an available eight-inch-diagonal color touchscreen. Other convenience features include cruise control, air conditioning, and keyless start.

Available in L, LS, LT and Premier trim levels, and FWD or all wheel drive combinations, pricing for the next-generation 2018 Equinox will start at $24,525.

 

Aug 042017
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that DS Virgin Racing’s Jose Maria Lopez secured his second podium of the season during the thrilling Formula E season finale in Montreal, with team-mate Sam Bird finishing fourth to secure the team fourth place overall in the constructors’ championship. The result caps off the most successful season for the British team in terms of silverware, with an impressive six podiums and two wins, together with two pole positions and two fastest laps.

“I’m really pleased with the result, especially after what happened in race one, and to finish the season this way,” said Lopez. “I could tell straightaway what a difference the team had made to the car since my last race and it was frustrating our qualifying group meant we were unable to show this. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the race and of course the whole season, as well as working with the DS Virgin Racing team.”

Lopez  showed front-running pace but was drawn in the first qualifying group leaving him with the tougher of the track conditions to contend with, and starting from P11.

As the 37-lap race got underway, Lopez moved quickly up the field to lie sixth. Bird then made contact with the wall at Turn 3, damaging his steering and compromising both his handling and energy consumption during his first stint. Despite this, he was able to keep pushing and remarkably only lost one further place before pitting on lap 17, with Lopez stopping soon after and the two running third and fourth after the pit stop shuffle.

In the closing stages, race-leader and rival Felix Rosenqvist had dropped to second and into the clutches of Bird but with less usable energy, he was unable to maintain the pressure which allowed Lopez to get ahead. Lopez pushed until the chequered flag but was unable to get the better of Rosenqvist to cross the line third, one place ahead of his team-mate.

Team Principal Alex Tai commented: “My congratulations go to Jose for his superb podium today and his success in his debut season. Our achievements wouldn’t be possible without such a dedicated team, together with our partners, and we’re looking forward to continuing this momentum into season four.”

DS Performance Director Xavier Mestelan Pinon added: “It was great to end DS Performance’s second Formula E season with a podium, and to add to our tally this season. Throughout the season, the team has developed the performance of the DSV-02, which has allowed us to fight at the top regularly and I’d like to thank the whole DS Virgin Racing team, to Total and our partners for this. This season has also been rich in terms of technological breakthroughs for us as well as brand awareness across the globe.”

Jul 302017
 

Despite predictions to the contrary, gasoline-electric hybrids have carved a niche in the automotive industry. According to hybridcars.com, the first to market in the United States in this segment was Honda with the 1999 Insight. Since then, the Insight has come and gone, twice, but Honda continues to bring hybrids to the lineup. I spent three months in the 2017 Accord Hybrid Touring for Latino Traffic Report and the most important thing to know is that this hybrid saves gas, in fact it’s the best in the segment.

Long-term test drives beg for a car to be driven, so I did, more than 5,000 miles over Texas highways, to small towns, like Burnet and Bryan, and big cities, like Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. It’s a comfy ride over the long haul and nimble enough to scoot through traffic.

While its fuel economy is stellar, the hybrid’s styling also deserves a mention. Redesigned for 2016, the Accord took on a more sculpted, angular appearance, Marking the Accord’s fortieth anniversary, Honda introduced its sibling, the hybrid that benefits from the Accord’s new look while adding enhancements under the hood.

At the heart of its fuel saving ability is its two-motor hybrid system combined with an ultra-efficient 2.0-liter i-VTEC Atkinson Cycle engine and matched to an electric continuously variable transmission. It achieves a peak-combined output of 212 horsepower, the highest of any midsize hybrid sedan.

Initially, the test model proved to be more fuel efficient in cities than on highways, which is as is should be according to its EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 49 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 47 mpg on the highway. Over time, however, fuel economy on the highway also improved, especially with cruise control engaged. I averaged about 48.5 mpg in three months—city and highway combined. When it comes to cost, I spent more than $300 on gasoline.

I engaged the Econ button that can be used at all times, as well as an EV button that operates the hybrid on electric power for small distances, to maximize efficiency. For more power, I pushed the Sport mode button that gave the hybrid better acceleration.

Displays in the instrument cluster and center stack, including a seven-inch touchscreen, helped me maintain gas saving driving habits, like coasting and accelerating smoothly from a stop. While I found them to be helpful, they also raised a little anxiety when the fuel economy slipped.

All Accord Hybrids come with Honda Sensing, a suite of safety features with advanced technology like forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control that allows the driver to set a distance behind a vehicle that cruise control maintains, automatically.

I never grew accustomed to Honda’s LaneWatch camera, also standard, that can be engaged with the turn signal to view the blind spot on the right. The picture wasn’t that clear, especially at night, and focusing made it distracting. A blind spot monitor, available on other Honda models, would be preferable.

Creature comforts included Ivory leather seats, with heated seats in the front and back, navigation, dual-zone climate control (Honda seems to have addressed the air conditioning system’s habit of fading at stops in previous hybrids), a moonroof, and a multi-view back-up camera. I got used to the lack of knobs for volume control and put the CD player and the MP3 USB port to good use on several road trips.

Pricing for the Accord starts at $30,480. Pricing for the as-tested 2017 Accord Hybrid was $36,790.

Sí: The Accord Hybrid Touring achieved what’s expected of a hybrid, it saved gas, but it also came in a handsome package with nice creature comforts.

No: Honda LaneWatch just doesn’t have the intuitiveness of a blind spot warning system and the lack of clarity on the screen is distracting.