Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Jeep Wrangler

For more than 25 years, the Jeep Wrangler has remained America’s iconic off-road SUV. It’s a vehicle that manages to capture both the attentions of thrill-seeking enthusiasts, as well as the eye of many casual drivers – a feat many others cars, if not all of them, have failed to do. No single factor highlights where the success of Jeep Wranglers originated, but a large part of it may be due to the rich origins as the only SUV that could “go anywhere” and “do anything.”

During the events leading up to World War II, the United States Army was seeking a light cross-country reconnaissance vehicle.  By the time the war was under way, the U.S. Army gave manufacturers (those that chose to participate) 49 days to submit their first prototype and 75 days to complete the production of 70 test vehicles. Bantam Car Company enlisted outside help in the form of Detroit engineer, Karl Probst. Probst managed to lay out the basic design for what would become the CJ in the span of two days. All of this ultimately resulted in the birth of the “Blitz Buggy” (Old Number One) – the Wrangler’s predecessor over 35 years in the making.

No one is quite sure where the official Jeep name came from. Some have presumed it caught on by the slurring of the acronym G.P. for General Purpose vehicle, a designation given by the Army at the time. The first civilian Jeep, the CJ-2A (Civilian Jeep), debuted in 1945 and garnered a massive following. Over the next 40 years, production of the vehicle would be handed over to American Motors Corporation and, finally, the Chrysler Corporation on August 5, 1987, only a year after the introduction of the first true Wrangler.
In 1986, the YJ replaced the much-loved but slower-selling Jeep CJ model. Though their appearances were similar, the YJ contained few common parts with its famous predecessor and was more in line with the Cherokee. Perhaps most interesting about this rendition is that it came with the much disputed rectangular headlights.

After taking a year long hiatus, Jeep unveiled the TJ model in 1997. This time around, the Wrangler boasted a quadra-coil suspension, replacing the coil-spring rendition and thus providing a greatly improved on-road experience. The classic CJ round headlamps also made a return in this model, but the TJ would become the last production vehicle to use AMC-related parts. After the 2002 model, the AMC straight-four engine was retired.
The year 2007 brought with it a completely redesigned Jeep Wrangler; and for the first time, a four door model. 

Other key changes included a stiffer structure, more insulation for a quieter ride, a more powerful engine, and more modern transmissions.
Three levels were offered, and still are: the bare bones Sport, Midlevel Sahara, and serious off-road-oriented Rubicon. Despite the rugged image Wranglers possess, there are a number of luxury and convenience items available: heated leather seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, navigation, and Infinity sound system.

Note: As for the recognition and awards the Wrangler has received over the years? There are simply too many to count; however, we will say that it has consistently won “Model to Best Hold its Value Recognition” from Kelley Blue Book. So there you have it, a quick rundown on the tried-and-true history of a quintessential niche SUV. Carla Marie chose one after all, so they must be good!  If you have any questions or are interested in making your next car a Wrangler, call a representative at Sansone Automall

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mazda MX-5 25th Anniversary Editon

There’s a reason the Mazda Miata has evolved into the phenomenon that it is over the past 25 years.  As the production of iconic two-seat roadsters waned, with the last remaining vestiges of the car fading from existence in the 1980s, a hole in the market formed. In 1990, Mazda answered that call with the MX-5, a technologically modern care inspired by the British and Italian roadster of the 1960s. Fast forward to today; Mazda is celebrating the Miata’s anniversary with the release of 100 special edition MX-5s. So what better time to delve into the rich history of the car than today?

There’s a common notion that in 1976, Bob Hall, a journalist at Motor Trend magazine met with Kenichi Yamamoto and Gai Arai, head of Research and Development at Mazda. When asked what kind of car Mazda should build in the future, Hall answered, an “inexpensive, small open two-seater roadster.”  While the validity of the conversation has been left up to debate, it is undeniable that Bob Hall did go on to work for Mazda just two years later in California where he was the product planner on the Miata development team.

In 1983, concept development for what would become the MX-5 was turned into a competition between the Mazda design teams based in Tokyo and California. The California team ended up winning with a full-scale clay model dubbed the Duo 101. The project received final approval in 1986 and was put on the market two years later with a price tag of $14,000 ($25,400 in 2011 adjusted for inflation). Popularity surrounding the car was so large that initial demand outstripped production. Mazda had successfully revived the dormant passion for roadsters all across the world and its roads.

Not wanting to mess with success, Mazda made minor changes to the 1991 rendition; however, that same year marked the inception of what has become a Miata trademark: the Special edition.  The first Miata Special Edition sported a British Racing Green coat, tan leather upholstery, air conditioning (something left out of the base trims to achieve perfect balance), and many more features only available to those who purchased one of the 4,000 cars.    

MX-5’s second generation (NB) began with the 1999 model.  For the most part, it was still the same vehicle drivers had come to respect and adore, the only notable changes were the headlamps; the first generation’s retractable ones no longer passed pedestrian safety tests and were replaced by fixed headlamps.

In 2005, production of the third generation (NC) started. According to Mazda, the new Miata shared no components with past models as it was now longer, wider, heavier, and roomier inside.

Fiat Group Automobiles and Mazda announced they will be working on Mazda and Alfa Romeo marques based on the MX-5 rear-wheel-drive architecture for the up-and-coming fourth generation (ND).  And here are some fun facts: in 2000, the Guinness Book of World Records declared the MX-5 the best-selling two-seat sports car in history. As of February 2011, more than 900,000 units have been sold.  

If you have any more questions about the history of the Mazda Miata or purchasing the car, give one of our representatives at Sansone Automall a call.  We’re always happy to help!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kia K900

If you watched this year’s Super Bowl, then you’ve probably already seen it, the Kia K900 spotlight featuring Morpheus (The Matrix) imploring drivers to “challenge the luxury you know.”  As expected, Kia’s first foray into the market has turned quite a few heads and brought with it a considerable amount of discussion regarding what constitutes true luxury. With the K900, Kia has brought all the amenities offered by competing sedans and then some, all of which come available at an unheard base price of $59,500 – Mercedes, BMW, and Audi now have a reason to be wary of the competition. This truly begs the question then, are tradition and heritage the only two factors that make up a luxury sedan?  We here at Sansone don’t think so, that’s why we’re covering the K900 in this weekly blog post.

Many other “top tier” brand vehicles are priced anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 above the K900. Not to mention, these are only factoring in the 2014 models! Coupled with extended warranties, some of which double the offers made by competing manufacturers such as Audi, BMW and Lexus, Kia’s K900 offers drivers the best value at a reasonable price without compromising quality.

The K900’s exterior comes equipped with Hydrophobic Glass, aiding in the expulsion of water and dirt. For headlights, the vehicle houses an adaptive front lighting system that adjusts accordingly to any maneuver. Its sleek, aerodynamic design — from the signature tiger-nose grille to the compact but spacious trunk — evokes the elegance many have come to expect in a luxury sedan. Let’s not forgo detailing the internal features of the car though, which elevate this vehicle to top of its class.

Whereas before, many declared the front passenger seat the best spot in a car, the K900’s expansive interior challenges convention by ensuring backseat passengers are just as comfortable as those ahead of them, if not more so. Now, guests will be able to enjoy power reclining back seats fitted with a Nappa Leathered Trim. The driver will also have available to them an extendable seat cushion should they be of the taller variety and in need of more legroom.

Another noteworthy feature is the 17-speaker sound system engineered by Lexicon, a recipient of a Technical GRAMMY® Award for contributions to the art and science of music recording and reproduction. Other luxury sedans only house 14 speakers on average. In the K900, you’ll experience a rich, full sound no matter where you’re seated; and as it comes with a CD disc drive and audio input, through any channel you prefer.

Quite a lot has been said about the Kia K900, but even so, we’ve only just scratched the surface.  If you’re in the market for a new luxury sedan at an unbeatable price, then this may be the car for you.
Visit Sansone Automall for a test drive. We’re always happy to help, but it’s even better when we can send our customers home with a great deal. After all, it’s not the brand that makes a car, but the experience.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

History of Toyota

Two weeks ago at the New York Auto Show, Toyota unveiled quite the list of modifications to their entire 2015 line up, Camry included. Touted as the “big minor change” and not a completely new generation, we thought it’d be fun to turn the clock back and see just how the Toyota Camry has evolved over the years into what it is today.

In 1983, the Camry was introduced as a replacement to Toyota’s Corona.  Their goal: To establish a presence in the market Honda’s Accord was dominating at the time. Motivated by the competition, engineers at Toyota sought to build a bigger and better vehicle than any Honda available at the time. Their work paid off, and they ended up with a car that’s wheelbase was nearly 6 inches longer than that of the Accord, meaning more legroom for back-seat passengers.  Its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine also had a leg up on the Accord’s 1.8-liter unit.  Only, the 83’ Camry wasn’t an ugly car per se, but it wasn’t exactly eye-catching either. 

Four years later, in 1987, the first year of the Camry’s second generation began.  Many improvements were made to the model over the next five years to ensure the car had a place among households across the globe. Another notable event was the opening of the Georgetown, Kentucky Plant that was responsible for producing the first American-made Camrys in 1988. 

By 1991, the International Camry models outside of Japan were set to diverge from the company’s V series (a model made with the narrow roads of Japan in mind).  Toyota opted to cater towards overseas driver’s fondness for larger cars, resulting in the completely redesigned XV series, beginning with the XV10.  The compact nature of older models was now a thing of the past as the XV ushered in a new era for the Camry in America.  Perhaps the biggest adjustment was to the car’s aesthetic design, which was now more aerodynamic, with rounded contours that provided a nice transition from the previous squarer, more rigid-looking models.  

From then on, the XV20-XV40 generations of Camry would each go through five-year life cycles during which adjustments were made to lower emissions, provide more spacious interiors, improve engine performance, and much more. 

The XV50 generation was introduced in August of 2011 and was put on the market only a month later.  Intensive changes were made on the car’s interior while the exterior underwent a more angular styling and received an all-news sheet metal.

This brings us back to the 2015 model.  With an upgraded exterior from the 2014, every body panel, aside from the roof, has been altered on the Camry for a sportier and sleeker appearance.  With a cabin that has been similarly upgraded with higher quality materials and more modern layout, it’s looking like the upcoming Camry will be better than ever. After all, there’s a reason why approximately one out of every fifty families owns one. 

Toyota is planning on releasing EPA mileage figures and pricing at a later date.  Visit our website for more information.