Archive for August 2012

Nissan Previews Next-Gen Versa Hatchback with Its Foreign-Market Note


 Last summer, a redesigned 2012 Nissan Versa sedan launched on the automaker’s new global V-platform, but the next generation of the Versa hatchback has yet to be introduced. That will likely change during the next year or so, as Nissan recently unveiled the Japan- and Europe-bound Note subcompact, saying that the car has design cues that are also planned for the future Versa hatchback.

Like the 2012 Versa sedan, both the new Nissan Note and Versa hatchback will be built on the lighter, more versatile V-platform. Meanwhile, styling on the new Note that could make its way onto the Versa hatchback includes a swooping side character line called the Squash Line, as well as an instrument panel design that resembles the look of ripples in sand. Though the upcoming Versa hatchback could mirror much of the aerodynamic exterior of the Note, it is expected to get its own unique features designed specifically for the North and South American markets.

“From the look of things, the new Versa hatchback will have modern styling that belies its price tag, as well as a spacious feel that is missing in most subcompacts,” said Jeff Rosen, general manager of Rosen Nissan Milwaukee, a Wisconsin Nissan dealer. “We also expect it to feature intuitive new technology that would usually be reserved for pricier segments.”

Even with a redesign for the Versa hatchback on the way, Nissan continues to upgrade the nameplate’s new sedan model. When it goes on sale this fall, the 2013 Versa sedan will be capable of achieving 40 mpg on the highway, thanks to the availability of a new continuously variable transmission. Buyers will now also be able to opt for a backup camera should they need assistance with tight city parking spots.

Those upcoming changes to the Versa sedan will supplement the existing updates that came as part of the car’s 2012-model-year redesign, updates which included a more spacious and refined interior. With its V-platform using 20-percent fewer parts and cutting 150 pounds from the prior model’s underpinnings, the latest Nissan Versa sedan also produces a much smoother and more fuel-efficient ride.

Through the first half of 2012, the Nissan Versa sedan and hatchback sold more than any other subcompact, moving 60,919 units in the United States. With a share of more than 22 percent in its segment, the Versa easily topped competitors like the Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent and Ford Fiesta.

“The Versa has sold so well because it brings unexpected levels of comfort while still delivering on the things that are expected in a subcompact, like fuel efficiency and practicality,” added Rosen. “Those characteristics are only going to become more pronounced with the new tweaks to the sedan and the next-generation hatchback in the works.”


Hyundai Hope On Wheels Brings New Charity 5K to Chicago


Timed with National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Hyundai Hope On Wheels will be bringing a new charity 5K run/walk to Chicago on Sept. 9. Taking place in tandem with the Chicago Half Marathon in Jackson Park, the Hyundai Hope On Wheels 5K encourages participants to collect pledge donations to benefit the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

The Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5K at the Chicago Half Marathon is part of a new three-race series aimed at raising money for local children’s hospitals, with 5Ks also planned in Miami and Irvine, Calif. for September. As a partnership between Hyundai Motor America and its U.S. dealerships, Hyundai Hope On Wheels will also donate $12 million to children’s hospitals in 2012, including the awarding of Hyundai Hope Grants worth $250,000 each to 36 hospitals nationwide. Each grant will be presented at special ceremonies that invite the children fighting cancer at each institution to place their colorful handprints on a white Hyundai Tucson.

“As participants in the Hope On Wheels program, we’re thrilled for this opportunity to get Chicago-area residents involved in the fight against pediatric cancer,” said Scott Levy, general manager of Rosen Hyundai, a Hyundai dealership near Chicago. “Pairing the Hyundai Hope On Wheels 5K with the Chicago Half Marathon means that even those that don’t participate in the 13-mile race can still enjoy the competitive racing fun at Jackson Park, all while benefiting a local cause at the same time.”

Every 5K participant that raises at least $2,500 will be entered to win a three-night vacation package for two to New York City next spring, including two VIP press tickets to the annual Hope On Wheels kick-off event, accommodations in a premium hotel in Times Square and airfare from anywhere in the continental United States. The winner will also receive two public day tickets to the New York International Auto Show, which holds nearly every car sold in the United States under one roof and is one of the most popular automotive events in the world.

Aside from the potential to win the grand-prize trip to New York City, fundraisers will receive other prizes when they reach predetermined pledge levels, including a Team Hope sweatshirt blanket at $250, a Team Hope sport backpack at $500 and a Sportline heart-rate monitor watch for raising $1,000. All registered runners will get a free T-shirt and access to the Hyundai Hope On Wheels VIP tent on race day, which will include benefits like food and beverages, a photo wall and massages. Lastly, participants will each receive a custom finisher’s medal.

For each new Hyundai vehicle sold in the United States, a portion of the proceeds is directed toward life-saving research through the Hope On Wheels program. Since its inception in 1998, Hyundai Hope On Wheels has donated more than $45 million to pediatric-cancer research, an amount that is expected to rise beyond $57 million by the end of 2012.

“As a Hyundai dealership, it is rewarding to know that every time we sell a car, we are helping to fund research that could save the lives of kids across the country,” added Levy. “Plus, the additional money raised at the Hope On Wheels 5K will go a long way towards making a big difference in the lives of children suffering from cancer.”

Those interested in participating in or supporting the Hope On Wheels 5K can register and donate at


Kia’s Optima and Soul Stand Out as Buyers Seek Smaller Rides


A new J.D. Power and Associates report indicates that today’s car buyers want smaller vehicles that don’t sacrifice substance, and two Kia models, the Optima and the Soul, appear to be fitting that mold. The consumer-research firm’s 2012 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study had the 2012 Kia Optima tied for the lead in the Midsize Car category, while the 2012 Kia Soul led the Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) segment.

Quantifying each vehicle’s ability to please its buyers, the 2012 APEAL Study measured gratification in the areas of design, content, layout and performance. More than 74,000 purchasers and lessees of 2012-model-year vehicles were surveyed for the study, with questions covering more than 80 vehicle attributes after 90 days of ownership.

“The Optima and Soul are not only smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles that don’t skimp on features and functionality, but they also offer attractive styling that is unlike anything else on the market,” said Scott Levy, general manager of Rosen Kia of Elgin, a Chicagoland Kia dealer. “That is a very appealing mix as drivers increasingly are deciding that buying a more compact model is a necessary move in order to save on gas.”

Twenty-seven percent of new-vehicle buyers in the 2012 APEAL study downsized when choosing their next model, while only 13 percent opted for a larger ride, with the remainder staying within the same segment. Mirroring that trend toward smaller vehicles, overall satisfaction with fuel economy showed the greatest year-over-year improvement of any category in the study. Additionally, 47 percent of buyers said that fuel economy was one of the most important factors in selecting a vehicle.

While the Kia Optima offers impressive gas mileage, including up to 40 mpg on the highway in the Optima Hybrid, a new range-topping trim arrived at dealerships last month packed with premium features. The 2013 Kia Optima SX Limited (SXL) treats its passengers to high-grade Nappa leather seats, wood grain accents and an electronic parking brake. Outside, the SXL trim of the Optima sports sleek styling augmented by 18-inch chrome wheels, red brake calipers and LED lighting.

Another practically sized Kia vehicle, the Forte compact sedan, is due for a styling update in the near future. Recently released renderings of the next-generation Kia Forte reveal a more aggressive stance, including flared fenders and a sloping design line that rises toward the rear of the vehicle. Like the current Optima, the Forte will receive Kia’s new tiger nose grille when it is unveiled sometime in the coming months.

“Kia has been seeing unprecedented growth because it continues to develop innovative vehicle designs that come at an affordable price,” added Levy. “The next-generation Forte will be yet another step in the evolution of the brand’s aggressive, modern styling, and the result will be another highly appealing compact option.”