This Week in Car Buying: Texas State Fair trucks bonanza; Hurricanes boost incentives and sales; VW introduces new warranty; GM cuts production
If Texas had an official state car, it would be a truck. That’s why manufacturers use the annual Texas State Fair to introduce new versions of pickups ranging from standard half-ton units up through their heavy duty ranges.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Ram division took the wraps off an updated 2018 Laramie Longhorn Southfork model as well as a Heavy Duty Lone Star Silver trim. Slotted at the top of the Laramie range, the Longhorn Southfork features new Nappa full-grain leather seating and leather-wrapped grab handles along with an all-new Walnut trimmed steering wheel and cabin accents. The center stack features a new Uconnect 4C 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation, 4G Wi-Fi and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. The half-ton Longhorn Southfork starts at $51,220 plus $1,395 destination. Heavy duty models start at $55,620. The Ram Lone Star Silver is a model built specifically for Texas and features a distinct grille with a Lone Star badge on the chrome grille, chromed outside rearview mirrors and chrome side steps, 20-inch polished wheels and front tow hooks. This heavy duty model starts at $44,735 plus destination.
Chevrolet announced at the fair that its medium-duty Class 4 and 5 trucks will be named Silverado. The Silverado 4500 and 5500 models will be available in regular and crew cabs in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations. All models will come with Duramax diesel engines mated to Allison automatic transmissions. Pricing and specs will be announced closer to the late 2018 launch.
Ford also weighed in with heavy duty news announcing pricing for its Super Duty Limited models. The Limited package sits above the previous Platinum model as the ultimate in pickup truck luxury. It features two-tone leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, armrests and instrument panel, a special twin bar satin finish grille and a host of safety and trailer towing assists including a 360-degree camera with trailer reverse guidance. Equipped with a 6.7-liter Powerstroke diesel V8, the Super Duty comes in F-250, F-350 and F-450 4x4 models priced respectively at $80,835, $82,010 and $87,100.
Finally, Nissan departed slightly from the playbook, adding a new Platinum Reserve package not on its Titan XD, but rather on its Armada full-size SUV. Added to the standard Platinum package are features like dark chrome exterior trim and 20-inch wheels, two-tone leather seating and Black Quartz and premium wood trim. Available in late October, the Platinum Reserve Armada is priced at $61,690 for rear-drive and $64,590 for 4-wheel drive. Nissan also unveiled its popular Midnight Edition package that features blacked out exterior accents and wheels on its Titan, Titan XD and Frontier pickup trucks.
Hurricanes boost incentives and sales
Manufacturers have expanded their incentive programs to include victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The incentives not only enable customers to get extra help in replacing damaged vehicles, but also will help makers clear out bulging inventories and may lift annual sales back above the 17 million mark. Kelley Blue Book data indicates that August sales may actually grow by 0.7 percent and higher sales are expected through the balance of the year and through early 2018 as the affected areas recover from the storms.
According to AIS Rebates, a sister company of KBB, Alfa Romeo, BMW, FCA, GM, Hyundai, Kia, Lincoln, Mazda Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen are offering incentives ranging from $250 to $1,000 depending on manufacturer and vehicle. Customers are being asked to provide a copy of their insurance claim in order to qualify for the incentives.
VW introduces new warranty
Calling it the People First Warranty, new vehicle warranties for 2018 Volkswagens are being extended to 6-year, 72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper coverage. In addition the warranty can be transferred to subsequent owners as long as it’s in effect.
“Volkswagen has always been ‘the people’s car’, and with the People First Warranty, we’re putting our customers first,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “By bringing the right cars, at the right time and make the offer very competitive, we believe we’re in the position to grow in the U.S. market.”
Introduced on the Atlas and Tiguan, the new coverage is now being extended to the rest of the range of 2018 models. The People First Warranty includes powertrain coverage for engines, transmissions and 4Motion all-wheel drive. The coverage is double the standard 3-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper programs offered by other makes, which also offer 5-year, 60,000-mile standard powertrain coverage. Hyundai and Kia offer 5-year, 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranties, 7-year rust and 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain coverage.
GM cuts production
As anticipated, GM has begun cuts to its production in an effort to whittle down its inventory as it heads into the new model year. The auto maker announced that it would be eliminating the third shift at its Springhill, Tenn., assembly plant. That facility produces the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5. While they compete in the popular crossover SUV segment, both all-new vehicles are off to a slower-than-anticipated start. The layoffs will affect some 680 workers.
The plant is expected to produce another crossover SUV, an all-new Cadillac model sometime next year. Some workers may be recalled when assembly of that model ramps up.
It’s been a decade since Lexus has offered a redesigned version of its flagship LS sedan. We get behind the wheel of the all-new 2018 Lexus LS in this First Review.
Using Fashion Week in Milan, Volvo took the wraps off its all-new 2019 XC40 crossover SUV. It will debut next year starting at $35,200.
With a base price bumped up by $240 to $25,025, the 2018 Nissan Altima adds several standard features including automatic emergency braking and forward collision alert.
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