Fiat Chrysler in Settlement Talks Over Diesel Emissions

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will take part in settlement talks with lawyers representing vehicle owners suing the automaker over excess diesel emissions in Washington on Oct. 12, a court-appointed settlement adviser said Wednesday.

In May, the U.S. Justice Department sued Fiat Chrysler, accusing the company of illegally using software that led to excess emissions in nearly 104,000 U.S. diesel vehicles sold since 2014. It also faces numerous lawsuits from owners of those vehicles.

German auto supplier Robert Bosch GmbH, which develops diesel vehicle systems, has also been sued by U.S. vehicle owners and will be part of the settlement talks next month, settlement master Ken Feinberg said in court.

In July, Fiat Chrysler won approval from federal and California regulators to sell 2017 diesel vehicles after it came under scrutiny for alleged excess emissions in older diesel models.

Fiat Chrysler lawyer Robert Giuffra said in court the company remains confident it can use updated emissions software in the 2017 vehicles as the basis of a fix to address agencies’ concerns over 2014-16 diesel vehicles.

Regulators have said Fiat Chrysler diesel vehicles had undisclosed emissions controls that allowed vehicles to emit excess pollution during normal driving. The company has denied wrongdoing, saying there was never an attempt to create software to cheat emissions rules. Fiat Chrysler’s emissions case came after Volkswagen’s diesel emissions violations prompted increased industry scrutiny.

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 8 Convertibles You Can Buy for Less II

Twisting and turning down a tree-lined, back road with the sun on your face, and the wind in your hair. We’re talking about convertibles, of course. “I can’t afford one,” you say. We respectfully disagree. I asked Jody Victor® to tell us why.

Jody Victor®: Thanks to our recent economic downturn and ever-rising gas prices, the number of relatively affordable convertibles is down. But a number of models are still available for less than $30,000. Here’s the second half of the article by James Tate of

Jeep Wrangler

Didn’t expect to see this one, did you? What can we say — it’s a convertible, after all, and at $22,045 it’s less than $30 grand. Besides, you can’t have a list of just seven cars. Despite having grown significantly in girth in its 2007 redesign, this old icon continues to be no less appealing. Its 3.6-liter 285-horsepower V6 engine is years ahead of the previous engine, and the interior can even be called livable now. Naturally, the Wrangler comes standard with 4-wheel drive, which can make your convertible adventures considerably more interesting. As you might expect, the gas mileage is horrible, at just 17 mpg city/21 mpg highway.

Chrysler 200 Convertible

This is the where our list starts to get a little questionable. When eight cars in total meet the criteria, the rundown is less a list of “best,” and more one of “in existence.” A disclaimer having duly been dropped, let’s meet the $26,775 Chrysler 200 Convertible. Its double-overhead-cam 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, which makes 173 horsepower and returns 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway, is a bit weak. There is a more powerful 6-cylinder option, but it costs five grand more. The premium, in our opinion, isn’t worth it.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder

The Eclipse Spyder seats four, looks like a flattened jelly bean and, at $27,999, sports a 2.4-liter inline-4 engine with 162 horsepower. (A V6 option is available, but it costs $32,828, so that’s out of the running.) The inline-4 comes with a 4-speed automatic transmission (those are apparently still made) and manages 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway. On the plus side, you get heated leather seats as standard and a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo that’s pretty rockin’. Also a plus: The power top is down in just 19 seconds.

smart passion cabriolet

Sorry for this recommendation, but for $17,690, you get a very, very small car that has a top speed of 90 mph, goes from zero to 60 mph in 12.8 seconds, and has a 1.0-liter 70-horsepower engine and a 5-speed automated manual transmission that will make you wish you were walking. Now, once you’ve stopped worrying about being run over in traffic, there are a couple of pluses. Because it’s just 98.4 inches long, you can park it practically anywhere. You’ll also get 34 mpg city/38 mpg highway.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check these vehicles out!!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 12 Cars We Can’t Wait to Drive III

The annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit can induce serious sensory overload. For a true car nut, it’s like being a kid in a candy store – drooling over all that tasty sheet metal. I asked Jody Victor  to tell us about 12 of them (in 3 instalments) from an article by Kirk Bell of MSN Autos, and

Jody Victor: Hey Joe, can’t wait to see and drive some of these fantastic vehicles. Here’s the third batch.

Lexus LF-LC Concept – Though the LF-LC is just a concept, the hybrid sports coupe signals a new design direction for Lexus. If the luxury car brand gets positive response here in Detroit, it might be inspired to build the car, which would be super. Ideally, we’d like it to possess the handling prowess of the automaker’s celebrated LF-A, come in a rear-wheel drive platform and have the turbocharged V6 hybrid powertrain pump out between 450 and 500 horsepower. Now that would be a world-class sports car.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL – In Mercedes parlance, SL stands for Super Lightweight. But the SL roadster hasn’t stuck to that philosophy in recent years. The 2013 SL550 gets back to those roots. With a body and structure rendered in almost all aluminum, the new SL is 242 pounds lighter than its predecessor, the equivalent of a good-sized middle linebacker. That should translate into improved handling for this grand tourer, as well as make the new turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine’s 429 horses all that more effective. Add in Mercedes’ responsive Direct Steer variable steering ratio and available active body control, and the new SL should be sportier than ever.

Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTec Hybrid – Hybrids aren’t usually the objects of passion for auto enthusiasts. They are, after all, usually underpowered and bland in the handling department. But we appreciate the compatible technologies involved in the E300 BlueTec Hybrid. Diesel engines offer great highway fuel economy and hybrids do the same for city efficiency, so combining the two is only natural. Mercedes has said the E300 BlueTec Hybrid will be offered only in Europe, at least initially, so U.S. fuel-economy numbers aren’t available, but we expect 50-plus mpg. Hopefully, Mercedes will see fit to bring this efficient car to these shores in the future. It’ll offer Prius-level efficiency in a fun-to-drive luxury package.

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet – The last generation of the Porsche 911 was a model of precision and agility. With its longer wheelbase, wider track and lighter weight, the all-new 911, code name 991, is even better. We’ve driven the coupe and it is more refined, more efficient, more luxurious and even more agile than the outgoing model, which was outstanding. The 2012 Cabriolet, shown here, gets a lighter top thanks to a new design that incorporates magnesium bows. Give us the 400-horsepower 911 Carrera S Cabriolet with the 7-speed manual transmission, a winding road and a clear summer day, and we’ll be in automotive heaven.

Thanks, Jody! We can’t wait to check ’em out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 12 Cars We Can’t Wait to Drive II

The annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit can induce serious sensory overload. For a true car nut, it’s like being a kid in a candy store – drooling over all that tasty sheet metal. I asked Jody Victor  to tell us about 12 of them (in 3 instalments) from an article by Kirk Bell of MSN Autos, and

Jody Victor: Hey Joe, can’t wait to see and drive some of these fantastic vehicles. Here’s the second batch.

2013 Dodge Dart – It’s not too often we look forward to driving a mass-market compact car. They’re usually pretty vanilla. The 2013 Dodge Dart is a clear exception to that rule. With its Alfa Romeo Giulietta roots and extensive use of high-strength steel, the Dart should have a nimble European driving character. We want to see how much Chrysler Group has improved the 2.0- and 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engines, and we are intrigued by the new turbocharged 1.4-liter four sourced from Fiat. Perhaps most impressive, though, is the interior. With extensive use of soft-touch materials, the Dart’s cabin looks worthy of a luxury car.

2013 Ford Fusion m– Midsize sedans are the best-selling cars in America. With the release of the 2013 Fusion, Ford may vault to the top of that important class. The looks are sure to attract buyers. With its sweeping lines and Aston Martin-like grille, it will be one of the prettier cars on the road. The Fusion will also boast class-leading fuel economy for both its turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder base engine and its hybrid model, and it will offer a highly efficient, plug-in hybrid Energi model, too. Ford also promises improved handling, safety technology worthy of a luxury car, and a richer interior environment.

Honda Accord Coupe Concept – Honda has underwhelmed us with dull styling in recent years. But if the Accord Coupe Concept is true to form, the automaker might be back on track. It’s the most aggressively styled and best-looking Accord in years. Though this car is only a concept, Honda promises improved power from its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 engines, as well as class-leading fuel economy and an available plug-in hybrid. A shorter wheelbase may give the car a sportier feel, but Honda says it will lose no space inside. Interior materials are still a matter of speculation, but let’s hope Honda ramps up the quality in light of improved new offerings from Ford and Chevy.

2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe – The more the merrier, we always say, especially when it comes to power. The extra ponies are even more welcome when they come under the hood of a rear-wheel drive sports car like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Although we don’t necessarily like the 2013 edition’s styling changes, the modifications made to turbocharged 2.0-liter engine increase the power output by 64 horses without sacrificing fuel economy. Hyundai also gave its already powerful 3.8-liter V6 a boost by increasing its output by 42 ponies to 348 horsepower. Hyundai says the increased power will help the Genesis Coupe 3.8 reach 60 mph in the low five-second range and on to a top speed of 149 mph.

Thanks, Jody! More next time!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor® – Best Bang for the Buck: Horsepower

All sports cars are not the same – they look different, smell different, drive different, oh, yeah, they all cost different, too. I asked Jody Victor  to tell us more from an article by Matthew de Paula of

Jody Victor : According to this article the power of a sports car is not always proportionate to the cost. Here’s the second half.

5. 2012 Chrysler 200 Touring – Price: $23,165 | HP: 283 | $/HP: $81.86 – The Chrysler 200 replaced the Sebring and we’re glad for that; it is a marked improvement in many ways. As twin to the Dodge Avenger, the 200 has the same new Pentastar V6, but in SXT Touring trim it’s more affordable than the most affordable version of the Avenger that comes with the V6. That’s why it ranks higher on this list. Although they’re mechanically the same, the Chrysler and Dodge sedans have different characters. The 200 is more sophisticated, while the Avenger goes for a sporty, younger feel.

4. 2012 Dodge Charger R/T RWD = Price: $29,995 | HP: 370 | $/HP: $81.07 – Dodge drastically improved the Charger R/T for 2011, and the good news for 2012 is that the company is holding the line on pricing. That means you can get a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine for just less than $30,000. No other automaker sells a car like the Charger in the United States at the moment: a large, powerful, rear-wheel-drive sedan at an affordable price. Although 370 horsepower sounds like a lot, the Charger is big and heavy, so it ends up being just enough power for good acceleration. Still, this is a lot of car for the money.

3. 2012 Dodge Challenger R/T – Price: $29,995 | HP: 376 | $/HP: $79.77 – The Dodge Challenger is the Charger’s 2-door sibling. It has six more horsepower under the hood. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference. The reason to get a Challenger over a Charger is styling versus practicality: It’s sleeker but not as handy, with two fewer doors than the Charger. Compared with the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang, this big coupe feels fat and flabby. But it has a comfortable ride and the Hemi makes it entertaining enough. Upgrading to the pricier SRT8 version on either the Challenger or the Charger brings more power, but it isn’t as good a power value.

2. 2012 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe SS – Price: $31,850 | HP: 426 | $/HP: $74.77 – If we were ranking cars based on attitude per dollar, the Chevrolet Camaro would win hands-down. Its aggressive appearance is intimidating. Drivers hustled out of its way when they saw us approaching in the rearview mirror. And both young and old exclaimed how impressive it was when they came across it on the street. The SS version gets a power boost with a 426-horsepower V8. That’s supercar power at a fraction of the cost of a Ferrari or Porsche. The Camaro is a well-rounded performer, even though it doesn’t feel quite as lively and tossable as a Ford Mustang.

1. 2012 Ford Mustang GT Coupe – Price: $29,310 | HP: 412 | $/HP: $71.14 – The Ford Mustang GT offers 14 horsepower less than the Chevy Camaro SS, but it’s less expensive. So it edges out its arch rival in this price-to-power competition. Numbers aside, Ford has fine-tuned this car to near perfection. Its Achilles heel is the interior, which, although much improved over that of past Mustangs, still feels cheap. Dynamically, the Mustang is a joy to drive on both road and track. It’s beautifully balanced, and the V8 engine in the GT version gives awesome acceleration. A slew of improvements are coming for 2013, including more power for the V8 in the GT model, and a 650-horsepower Shelby GT500.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check ’em out.

Joe Victor