Friday, October 31, 2008

Subaru to Unveil High-Performance Forester XTI Concept

Subaru Forester XTI Concept
  • 315-Horsepower Crossover with WRX STI Engine, 6-Speed Transmission
  • DCCD All-Wheel Drive and Brembo Brakes from WRX STI
  • Adjustable Coil-Over Suspension
  • Custom Bodywork and Paint
CHERRY HILL, NJ : October 31, 2008 - Subaru of America today revealed the Forester XTI Concept. It will be unveiled to the public at the 2008 Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Show, which runs at the Las Vegas Convention Center Nov. 4-7. The Forester XTI Concept combines the versatility of the all-new Forester 2.5XT with the all-out street performance of the rally-bred Impreza(R) WRX STI.

All new for 2009, the Forester was named MOTOR TREND magazine's SUV of the Year. The magazine applauded the new Forester's combination of performance, utility, comfort, safety technology and value in giving it the award. MOTOR TREND editor Angus MacKenzie, citing the judges' unanimous decision, said, "The Subaru Forester is the SUV for our times." The new Forester XTI Concept is an SUV for 0-60 times, estimated to hit the mark in less than 5 seconds.

Practically Wicked
Can a vehicle be both wicked and practical? The Subaru Forester XTI answers with a roomy interior and a lot of turbo boost. The Forester XTI ultra-performance CUV inherits the full STI treatment, with parts developed by Subaru Tecnica International (STI), the high-performance and motorsports subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.

The "Wicked" portion starts with the styling, which is set off by a custom Atmospheric "Re-Entry" paint scheme. The front lower spoiler and Sport Mesh Grille are from the Subaru Genuine Accessory catalog and are joined by a JDM body kit, including side skirts, a rear skirt and a gate spoiler.

Designed and built by Subaru of America technicians, the crew installed the engine and entire drivetrain from the Impreza WRX STI. In the Forester XTI, a custom stainless steel cat-back exhaust system from the Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT) catalog helps to raise output of the 2.5-liter intercooled turbo engine to 315 hp (from 305 stock) and 300 lb.-ft. of torque (from 290 lb.-ft. stock). As in the WRX STI, power flows through a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission and the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) version of Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. The DCCD system offers three selectable automatic performance modes in addition to six manual center differential-locking settings.

The 18 x 8-in. S204 forged alloy wheels are by STI and are wrapped in Yokohama Advan Neova 255/40R18 performance tires. The Forester XTI also features an adjustable coil-over suspension by STI. The powerful Brembo brakes come right from the stock WRX STI, with 4-piston front calipers, 2-piston rear calipers, Super Sport ABS and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Inside, the Forester XTI features leather and Alcantara sport seats, a special instrument cluster, front dash and center console and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

[Source : SUBARU]

Subaru Creates Ultimate Off-Road Forester With SEMA Mountain Rescue Vehicle

Subaru Ultimate Off-Road Forester
CHERRY HILL, NJ : October 30, 2008 - Subaru of America, Inc. today revealed the Mountain Rescue Forester® Vehicle, built for the National Ski Patrol (NSP). It will debut at the 2008 Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Show that runs at the Las Vegas Convention Center Nov. 4-7. Working with Subaru of America, Detroit-based Specialized Vehicles built the Mountain Rescue Forester Concept as the ultimate first responder vehicle, bolstering its trail-driving capability and equipping it with essential Ski Patrol rescue gear.

Based on the 2009 MOTOR TREND SUV of the Year Subaru Forester 2.5XT turbo crossover utility vehicle, the Forester Mountain Rescue Vehicle is designed to help Ski Patrol crews conduct rescues in difficult terrain and weather conditions. The men and women of Ski Patrol risk their lives in the mountains, fighting avalanches, performing daring rescues and keeping unruly skiers and snowboarders from endangering others on the slopes.

Ready for Rescue Missions
Subaru and skiing have gone together since 1974, when skiers first discovered the all-weather traction of Subaru models with 4-wheel drive. In stock form, the 2009 Forester 2.5XT combines Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive with 8.9 inches of ground clearance, more than other crossover SUVs, which are typically in the 6.5-7 in. range. The Forester Mountain Rescue Concept delivers more than 14 in. of ground clearance through an Air Lift custom adjustable ride height air suspension system. Added off-road and snow traction is provided by Yokohama Geolandar MTS 30 x 9.5-in. tires on special 15-in. Subaru custom-reversed near-zero offset steel wheels.

For extra protection on the trails, the Forester Mountain Rescue Concept is equipped with custom front and rear skid plates by DeeZee and custom Trail Armor by Bushwacker, including fender flares, lower door cladding, a rear gate guard and tail light guards. Skiers won’t have trouble seeing the Forester Mountain Rescue Vehicle coming: an emergency light package, augmented by Subaru Genuine Accessory Baja Sport Activity Lights, ensures visibility from a distance and in all types of weather.

To illuminate a rescue site, the vehicle is equipped with roof mounted Visi Light LED spotlights – five in front and two in the rear – by Hamsar Diversco. Topping off the concept vehicle’s distinctive styling, a DeeZee custom grille guard helps protect the Sport Mesh Grille from Subaru Genuine Accessories.

Once on the rescue site, the Ski Patrol crew can use an Ultimate Performance 9.5i Thermometric 9,500-lb. winch by WARN. Remote rear door openers and external quick-access utility compartments play a vital role when time is of the essence. Extra wide round crossbars help secure the Subaru Yakima ski carriers, which on this vehicle hold Nordica snow skis. A rescue toboggan from Cascade rounds out the rescue equipment.

Subaru is proud to be the official vehicle of the NSP, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado and dedicated to serving the public and the ski industry by providing education on emergency care and safety. Subaru has been the Official Vehicle of the NSP for many years and for good reason – Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, robust construction and durability make any Subaru ideally suited to tough winter conditions.

[Source : SUBARU - Image courtesy of Newscom]

Mazda To Exhibit MX-5 at 'Japan Car' Exhibitions in Paris and London

Mazda MX-5 Facelifted

HIROSHIMA : October 31, 2008 - Mazda Motor Corporation will display the Mazda MX-5 (known as the Mazda Roadster in Japan) at the “Japan Car” exhibitions to be held in London and Paris during November 2008.

Intended to showcase Japanese culture and innovative Japanese design and technology to Europe, the exhibitions will focus on Japanese car design. Seven automobile manufacturers and several famous artists will contribute to the display, which will include 14 vehicles. The exhibitions will explore the concept of the vehicle in terms of “size,” “the environment” and its role as a “mobile urban cell.”

First launched in 1989, the Mazda MX-5 design features elements with a sense of harmonious beauty that has universal appeal. This was achieved on the first generation MX-5 by incorporating a traditional Japanese sense of beauty through a Noh mask design motif. This design has helped to boost the MX-5’s popularity all over the world; it currently holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s highest production two-seat open top sports car, with over 800,000 units built. From the first to the current third generation model, 854,554 units have been produced as of September 2008, demonstrating the global popularity of this iconic sports car.

The Mazda MX-5 is a lightweight modern sports car that offers maximum driving pleasure with eco-friendly features and the latest in safety technologies, developed under Mazda’s technology vision, Sustainable Zoom-Zoom.

Opening first in Paris at the “Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie,” the exhibition will run from November 1 through November 9, 2008, at which time it will move to the Science Museum in London for the period November 29, 2008 to April 19, 2009.

[Source : MAZDA]

Breaking News : Toyota to Export U.S.-made SUVs and Pickups

Shipments to Mideast, S. America Part of Optimizing Global Supply System

TOKYO : October 31, 2008 - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today that it plans to export the "Sequoia" SUV made at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc. to the Middle East and South America, and the "Tundra" pickup truck made at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. to South America.

The planned exports, scheduled to start in December 2008 and to be conducted through Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A, Inc., are part of an ongoing TMC effort to optimize global production and supply structures to allow TMC to better respond to changes in market demand; they also reflect increasing demand for full-size SUVs in the Middle East and South America and for full-size pickup trucks in South America.

Annually, TMC will export to the Middle East approximately 15,000 units of the Sequoia, and to South America, approximately 150 units of the Sequoia and approximately 1,000 units of the Tundra.

Holding a long-term view, TMC plans—by uniting research and development, procurement, production and sales functions to more-flexibly meet changes in demand—to establish a stable global supply system based on strengthened production and supply structures.

[Source : TOYOTA]

VW’s Growing Motorsport Arm Already Has Eye on 2009 Baja 1000

Volkswagen Touareg BAJA 1000 Racer - Illustrated

WOLFSBURG : October 30, 2008 – Volkswagen AG hasn’t raced in its first Baja 1000 yet, but it already is promising to do better the next time around.

Motorsports Director Kris Nissen is realistic about the auto maker’s chances in its first go-around at the Baja 1000 race next month but vows 2009 will be a different story.

VW will unveil its specially built Touareg TDI Baja racer at the Los Angeles auto show Nov. 19 before heading off for the Nov. 20-23 event, which starts and finishes in Ensenada, Mexico.

The racecar is powered by the same 5.5L V-12 turbodiesel used in the Audi R10 Le Mans racecar. It generates 550 hp and 627 lb.-ft. (850 Nm) of torque in the 4,850 -lb. (2,200-kg) Touareg.

“We don’t expect to win the first race,” Nissen says here at a media backgrounder on VW’s expansive racing program. “It’s a new vehicle, with rear-wheel drive; a heavier vehicle.

“We’ll do our best to finish the race, then work hard in the winter – and I promise we’ll be a winner in 2009. Our goal is to go to the 2009 Baja 1000 next November and have a good feeling we can win the race.”

Although it is outspent on racing by sister Audi AG, Nissen says he believes VW has built over the past four decades the auto industry’s most expansive racing program.

In addition to this year’s entry in the Baja 1000, VW races in the Dakar Rally Series, 24-Hours of Nurburgring, the Formula 3 Euro Series and the Formula ADAC Masters.

It also operates its own racing circuits, such as the Polo Cup in Germany and Jetta TDI Cup in the U.S., in eight countries worldwide and is looking to continue expanding into new markets.

“Our goal is to have national cups in as many countries as possible,” Nissen says. “Our goal is to add one new country a year.”

The Cup programs give young drivers a chance to race VW-provided vehicles at relatively low investment costs.

In the U.S., for example, racers pay $35,000 per season, with VW providing the track-prepped Jetta TDI sedans, maintenance and training. Drivers are responsible only for their helmets and travel expenses. The season’s winner gets $100,000, but that is hiked to $150,000 if he is signed to a professional contract within six months of the final race.

Next year’s Jetta TDI Cup already has drawn interest from more than 1,000 potential drivers, and VW has yet to officially solicit applications. The eventual list will be culled to 100 who will be invited to a Sonoma, CA, track to select the circuit’s 30 drivers. These will be judged not only on their driving abilities but also for their media-friendly skills and how well they would handle other off-track duties.

For now, VW is getting ready for the Dakar Rally, which Nissen says is the auto maker’s No.1 racing program. Slated for Jan. 3-18, the 5,600-mile (9,000-km) race starts and ends in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with about 90% of it run over sandy terrain and under the most extreme conditions.

VW is entering the race with the Touareg 2, powered by a 5-cyl. turbodiesel generating 280 hp and 443 lb.-ft. (600 Nm) of torque. It features a 5-speed manual transmission and permanent 4-wheel drive.

Two similar Touaregs competed in VW’s first foray in Baja in 2007, finishing a surprising 11th and 16th overall in the 500-mile (805-km) Baja 500.

Weighing in at 3,942 lbs. (1,788 kg), the Dakar-bound Touareg 2 can hit 62 mph (100 km/h) from a standstill in 6.9 seconds and has a maximum speed of 118 mph (190 km/h).

“This is the hardest race on people and technology,” Nissen says. “It’s absolutely incredible.”

Participating gives VW the chance to prove its mettle in front of some 600 million people who watch the race worldwide, he says.

[Source : Volkswagen via WardsAuto]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Automobili Lamborghini Establishes New Branch In People´s Republic of China

BEIJING : October 30, 2008 - As part of the strategy to further expand its global business activities, Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. will found a branch in China. Following a recent decision by the Board of Management, the Italian luxury sportscar manufacturer will establish Automobili Lamborghini China in the country´s capital city Beijing and will start operations at the beginning of 2009.

Lamborghini´s rise to become one of the most successful and profitable super sportscar manufacturers is the result of a clear dual strategy. First, the creation of an incomparable new, broad and attractive product portfolio. Second and equally important, the ongoing expansion of brand representation to ensure substantial presence in all major markets of the world.

The President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., Stephan Winkelmann, points out the strategic rationale of the move: “China has the strongest dynamics of change to undoubtedly become the leading economy in the world. As one of the symbols of European luxury tradition, our products and our brand promise are irrevocably moving into the focus of a growing number of people. The development of wealth and the developing ‘savoir-vivre’ in China makes it one of the pivotal markets for Lamborghini’s future growth. The decision to establish a branch in China illustrates our dedication to opening the potential of this market for Lamborghini. Our new regional office will ensure the presence of the brand and further the prosperity of the corporation on a global scale.”

In 2008 Automobili Lamborghini expects a growth of car sales in China by 186% ( 28 cars in 2007 toward 80 in 2008). The market for luxury products is characterized by stable and solid growth and by a wide presence in practically all major economic metropolis throughout the country. At the time being, Automobili Lamborghini has three dealers located in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, one in Hong Kong, and another two will be shortly be opened in Chengdu and Qingdao. More are to be established.

Lamborghini is focused on establishing a roughly equal split of worldwide sales between the three major continental regions: Northern America, Europe and Asia.

Stephan Winkelmann has appointed Eginardo Bertoli as Country Manager of Automobili Lamborghini China. Mr Bertoli will report directly to Enrico Maffeo, Director of Sales and Customer Service worldwide, who is based at the Lamborghini headquarters in Italy. Mr. Bertoli has a strong background in the automotive industry, having worked for a range of international companies such as Fiat Powertrain Technologies, Kongsberg Automotive and Interpump Group S.p.A.

Mr Bertoli’s career has included senior positions in Italy, the USA as well as China. During his three years’ assignment for Iveco Motors in Shanghai he gained substantial experience of the Chinese market.

Zhang Xiaodong will be head of customer service China. He will manage all aftersales operations including warranty, parts and service, and will report to Eginardo Bertoli.


Mazda CEO sees no change in relationship with Ford

TOKYO : October 30, 2008 - The head of Mazda said on Thursday he did not expect any change in the Japanese automaker's relationship with Ford Motor, amid reports that the struggling U.S. automaker would sell part of its controlling stake.

"We've had a relationship with Ford since the 1970s," CEO Hisazaku Imaki told a news conference.

"Our ties are so close that you can't tell how much of the company is Mazda and how much of it is Ford. We don't expect that there will be any change in this relationship."

Shares in Mazda have been the worst performer of any Japanese automaker in the past month, punished for the company's vulnerability to a stronger yen since it ships most of its cars sold abroad from Japan. The share price has fallen more than 50 percent in the past month, compared with a 28 percent drop in Tokyo's transport sector subindex.

[Source : Reuters via Automotive News .. Sub. Req.]

Rolling Internet : Volkswagen Group Research tests mobile Internet access in the Tiguan

2008 Volkswagen Tiguan2008 Volkswagen Tiguan

WOLFSBURG : October 30, 2008 - Volkswagen presents its vision of the car of tomorrow with Internet access at the International Suppliers Fair (IZB), which is being held from 29 through 31 October at the Allerpark in Wolfsburg. The centre of attention will be a Tiguan prepared by Volkswagen Group Research and a WLAN network created by the research cooperative "Wireless Wolfsburg". The interaction of the pair provides the driver with selected information pertaining to life in the city directly in the display of the navigation system.

In the research cooperative "Wireless Wolfsburg", Volkswagen, Wolfsburg AG, the AutoUni and WobCom together with a group of partner companies have set up a WLAN network for testing mobile Internet access. The Tiguan with the name "auto@web" is in constant contact with the Internet portal, which provides it with current, pertinent information. This all happens unnoticed by the driver. The city's events calendar and various search machines serve as additional sources of information.

The spectrum of information is broad: from the cultural programme to interesting destinations in the city of Wolfsburg, the Tiguan receives a constant overview of the subjects "City Life", "Travel" and "Wellness". This selection of information appears neatly in the display of the navigation system.

The auto@web and the "Wireless Wolfsburg" portal have still more innovative features: you can check, for example, whether the car's doors are locked or if the tank is full from your PC at home or your iPod. Furthermore, it is possible to load a map for your walking route from your parking space to your final destination on your mobile device or display the place where your car is currently parked.


Audi Up! coming in 2012

Audi UP - Illustrated

Volkswagen’s miniature Up! seems to be spawning little ones of its own. Audi is planning to unveil a new city car based on the Up! concept in 2012. The Audi will likely compete with top-end versions of the Ford Ka and Fiat 500.

The car will likely feature Audi’s hallmark trapezoidal grille, clear headlamps, and beefier wheelarches than the VW. Under the hood, Audi will place a pair of 600cc two-cylinder turbocharged units – one gas and one diesel. Audi has high hopes for fuel economy and is aiming for an impressive 95 MPG (with CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km.)

Audi is not the only one to borrow from this new micro-car platform. Lower market brands Skoda and SEAT are expected to get versions as well.

[Source : Topspeed]

Restyled 2009 Honda Element Offers New High-tech, Functional Features

2009 Honda Element EX

TORRANCE, CA : October 29, 2008 - The restyled 2009 Honda Element entry-level SUV builds on its spacious and versatile character by adding a more chiseled exterior appearance and a refreshed interior design with an expanded selection of available high-tech and functional features. Manufacturer Suggested Retail Pricing (MSRP1) starts at $20,175 for the 2009 Element 2WD LX, plus a destination and handling charge of $670.

2009 Honda Element SC

For 2009, Honda has enhanced each of the three unique Element styles that range from the rugged and simple Element LX, to the more refined Element EX, to the sporty Element SC. Available new features on the Element EX and SC include the Honda Satellite-linked Navigation System2 with Voice Activation and a rearview camera (automatic transmission-equipped vehicles only); USB digital media connectivity; and improved overhead console storage areas with modular compartments.

Navigation System

Significant exterior styling changes include a new front grille and bumper design, restyled front fenders (now metal, previously composite material), a new hood design, squared wheel arches, and new headlight and taillight configurations.

"The Element's key strength is a spacious, versatile and rugged interior that adapts quickly and conveniently to people and cargo," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "For 2009, the enhancements strengthen the totally unique original concept with more refinement and functionality."

New interior changes include new, brighter color schemes with titanium-look side linings, new fabric patterns, and revised switchgear designs and meter graphics. A restyled low-profile center console is standard on the Element LX.

The Element EX adds a new convertible center console with a removable cooler/storage box while the Element SC retains its exclusive center console. For additional storage, the Element EX and SC are equipped with a modular three-compartment overhead console based on the Railport™ Vehicle Personalization System, expanding the vehicle's hidden storage versatility compared to the previous version. The new overhead console includes two large storage bins that can accommodate CD cases and similar items and a rear storage area for sunglasses.

The 2.4-liter i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine is available with either a standard 5-speed manual transmission or an available 5-speed automatic transmission. Real Time 4WD™, available on the Element LX and EX, enhances all-weather traction. The Element LX and EX continue to be available in two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations, while the sport-tuned Element SC continues to be available exclusively in two-wheel-drive. EPA city/highway fuel economy ratings3 range from 20/25 for two-wheel-drive models with an automatic transmission to 18/23 for manual transmission models with either two-wheel-drive or Real Time 4WD.

Versatile and Accommodating Interior with Available High-tech Features
The interior provides seating for four people along with a cargo area that quickly adapts to large items with its flip-up rear seats that fold flat, fold up and to the side, or can be removed titleogether (64-plus seating arrangements). The Element LX and EX have a water resistant urethane-coated utility floor that quickly wipes down and seat fabric that resists moisture; the Element SC has a carpeted passenger area. Air conditioning with micron air filtration is standard on all models.

The Element LX has a 4-speaker AM/FM audio system with a CD player. The Element EX and SC feature a 270-watt high-output audio system, an AM/FM tuner, CD player with MP3/WMA™4 capability, auxiliary audio input for MP3 players or other audio devices, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, seven speakers including a dynamic linear phase 6.5-inch subwoofer (located in the bottom center of the instrument panel). XM® Satellite Radio5 is standard on the Element EX and SC.

USB Audio Plug-in

The Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System becomes an available feature for 2009 on the Element EX and SC (automatic transmission models only), and includes a rear backup camera and a USB audio interface6. The navigation system features a 6.5-inch motorized display that opens and closes for access to an internal single-disc CD player and a digital audio card reader that can play MP3 and WMA® files from CompactFlash® cards. The navigation system contains more than 7 million points of interest and can control the audio system. The voice recognition is capable of recognizing and entering numbers, street names and cities.

Numerous storage bins and beverage holders provide places for cell phones, CDs and super-size drinks. Available storage areas include: a large three-bin tray above the glove box (ideal for mobile phones and portable music players); a modular 3-compartment overhead storage bin (EX, SC); seat back storage (EX, SC); six hooks for strapping down bikes or other bulky gear; and door storage pockets on all four doors.

Exclusive Element SC interior appointments include passenger-area carpeting, a center console with storage, piano black trim pieces and unique fabrics and patterns. The center console provides an enclosed storage area in the vehicle and integrates the auxiliary audio input jack and two beverage holders. Meter styling color on all Element SC models is copper-hue, replacing the blue backlit illumination on the other models.

Restyled Exterior with Stronger Character Lines
For 2009, exterior styling changes to the front of the vehicle provide a more substantial and bolder look. Changes to the front fascia and side profile involve a new hood line that follows a continuously horizontal plane extending from the A-pillar to the front of the vehicle. The new design replaces the downward slope that began mid-fender on the previous models and results in a more vertical front appearance. Steel front fenders replace the composite body panels on all models (the rear fenders retain composite construction). The new grille design provides a consistent appearance similar to other Honda truck models. The rear skylight, previously exclusive to Elements equipped with Retitleime 4WD, has been discontinued.

The Element SC provides an exclusive appearance with street custom-inspired styling with a lowered stance and exclusive premium features. The Element SC's exterior styling exhibits a performance-oriented attitude with a monochromatic color scheme and exclusive features that include custom front and rear painted bumpers, large alloy wheels, custom grille, and a lowered stance. The lowered stance is achieved by lowering the ride height and by using uniquely shaped painted side sills and slimmer roof moldings.

Refined Chassis Design
The Element's fully independent suspension uses a front MacPherson strut design and a rear compact double wishbone design for responsive handling and a comfortable ride. A 101.4-inch wheelbase contributes to a compact exterior size and an ultra-tight turning diameter of 34.9-feet (36.9-feet, Element SC) provides maneuverability in tight places.

Chassis safety highlights include Vehicle Stability Assist (also known as Electronic Stability Control) and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. Vehicle Stability Assist helps sense oversteer and understeer, and can adjust brake pressure at each wheel and/or reduce engine power to help restore the driver's intended course. Electronic Brake Distribution helps to balance braking forces depending on dynamic loading. Brake Assist helps apply full braking force in some emergency braking situations. A Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) alerts the driver when tire pressure is significantly under-inflated.

Element LX and EX models are equipped with 16-inch wheels (steel on LX, alloy on EX) with all-season P215/70R16 tires. Additional LX and EX standard features include power rack-and-pinion steering and front and rear stabilizer bars (30.0x4.5 mm tubular front / 21.0 mm solid rear). The Element SC adds 18-inch alloy wheels, P225/55R18 tires, exclusive spring and damper tuning (30 percent firmer), a lowered ride height (approximately 0.7 inches) and increased rear stabilizer bar size (25.0 mm, solid). Compared to Element LX and EX, the solid front stabilizer bar is 25 percent stiffer and the rear stabilizer bar is 30 percent stiffer. The steering rack also provides a 6 percent faster ratio (2.94:1 compared to 3.26:1).

Efficient Powertrain
An all-aluminum, 2.4-liter, DOHC i-VTEC engine produces 166-horsepower at 5800 rpm and 161 lb-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm. The Element's i-VTEC system combines Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC®) and a cam position-adjusting Variable Timing Control (VTC) system to enhance low rpm torque while extending high rpm horsepower. The result is a broad torque curve that starts early at low RPM's while still delivering high-RPM horsepower.

The five-speed manual transmission features a lightweight and rigid aluminum die-cast housing. Multi-cone synchronizers used on first through fourth gears contribute to a smooth, fluid shift feel while reducing throw distances. Inside, the instrument panel- mounted shift lever facilitates quick, direct gear changes. The five-speed automatic transmission (available) delivers exceptional smoothness, economy and intuitive shift points. Grade Logic Control minimizes "gear hunting" on hilly roads.

Available on Element LX and EX, the Real Time 4WD system aids traction in snow, rain and sand. Real Time 4WD sends power to the rear wheels when the front wheels experience traction loss.

The vehicle maintenance schedule is calculated by the Maintenance Minder™7 system. Maintenance Minder automatically indicates when to have standard service performed based on actual driving conditions (tracked by the ECU) and minimizes the guesswork in determining standard or severe use conditions for maintenance interval purposes. The display indicates when to change the oil, air filter, transmission fluid, spark plugs or coolant, as well as when to rotate the tires. The Element requires no scheduled tune-ups for 100K+/- Miles.

Honda Safety
The Element is equipped with dual-stage, dual-threshold supplemental restraint system (SRS) airbags for the driver and front passenger. The airbags are designed to minimize the potential for airbag injury while providing head and chest protection for the occupants in the event of a frontal collision. The front airbag system features front passenger seat weight sensors and a driver seat position sensor designed to further enhance occupant protection.

Seat-mounted front side airbags help safeguard the driver and front passenger from side-impact injury. An innovative Occupant Position Detection System is used to assure that the passenger's side airbag has a clear path for deployment. In the event that a child (or a small-statured adult) leans into the deployment path of the side airbag, a seven-segment "antenna" system built within the seat back signals this condition to an electronic control unit (ECU) and the passenger's side airbag is switched off.

Both rows of occupants are protected by Honda's Side Curtain Airbag with rollover sensor system. The side curtain airbags deploy from modules in the headliner in the event of a sufficient side impact, providing a significant level of head protection in the window area. In the unlikely event of a rollover, a roll rate sensor and multiple G-force sensors determine the rate of roll and deploy the side curtain airbags accordingly.

Both front seat belts have automatic tensioners and load limiters that work together to help protect the driver and front passenger in a collision. A LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child-seat mounting system is standard for the two rear seat positions, allowing two outboard child seats to be installed. For pedestrian injury mitigation, design features in the front of the vehicle can help absorb energy in the event of a collision with a pedestrian to help minimize injury. New for 2009, active front seat head restraints have been designed to help reduce the severity of neck injuries in the event of a rear impact.

The Element is assembled in Ohio at the Honda of America Mfg., Inc., East Liberty Auto Plant using domestic and globally sourced parts.

1 MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, $670.00 destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

2 The Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System is available on Element EX and SC models in the United States, except Alaska. See your Honda dealer for details.

3 Based on 2009 EPA mileage estimates, reflecting new EPA fuel economy methods beginning with 2008 models. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

4 Windows Media® Audio is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

5 Required XM® Radio monthly subscription sold separately after 90 day trial period. Installation costs and other fees and taxes may apply after initial trial period, including a one-time activation fee. Subscription fee is consumer only. All fees and programming subject to change. Subscriptions subject to Customer Agreement available at XM service only available in the 48 contiguous United States. The XM name is a registered trademark of XM Satellite Radio Inc.

6 The USB Audio Interface is used for direct connection to and control of some current digital audio players and other USB devices that contain MP3, WMA or AAC music files. Some USB devices with security software and digital rights-protected files may not work. Please see your dealer for details on compatibility.

7 May vary with driving conditions. Does not apply to fluid and filter changes. Exact mileage is determined by actual driving conditions. Please see your owner's manual for more details.

Images : 2009 Honda Element EX

Images : 2009 Honda Element SC

[Source : HONDA]