Well, one thing’s for sure: Volkswagen has a better shot at capturing Christian consumers than Ford does at this point. Millions of Americans celebrated the rise of Jesus Christ from the dead on Sunday, but supporters of the American Family Association definitely were not laying plans to buy a Ford product due to the automaker’s continued “commitment to (a) homosexual agenda,” according to the AFA’s “Boycott Ford” website. But this issue extends beyond Ford’s advertising in gay-themed publications, which was the original source of the AFA’s ire. Now, the Christian fundamentalist group is citing Ford’s support of “diversity,” which it claims is a code word for “homosexuality,” as another of many reasons for the boycott, which is supported by 18 other so-called pro-family groups.
Don’t think that spending extra money guarantees that your shiny new car won’t be recalled. About 7,000 examples of the new Mercedes-Benz R-Class are heading back to dealerships for an electrical problem associated with the starter assembly, and 2,500 R-Class models need to have the rear seatbelt buckle assemblies examined. General Motors is also asking for nearly 13,000 Buick Lucernes and Cadillac DTS’ equipped with a V8 engine to come back to replace a power steering hose that doesn’t meet specifications.
The IIHS also tested a hybrid vehicle for the first time. The Toyota Prius scored a Good rating in the frontal test, and when equipped with optional side-impact airbags received a Good rating for the side test. Without the side-impact airbags, the Prius received the Institute’s lowest rating of Poor – which underscores how important these safety devices are, especially in smaller vehicles. The Prius also got a Marginal rating for its head restraints, which do not do a very good job of protecting against whiplash. Side-impact airbags didn’t help the quartet of General Motors minivans: the Buick Terraza, Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac SV6, and Saturn Relay. Even with the optional side airbags, these minivans received a Marginal rating for the side impact test, due mainly to the fact that the rear seat attachment points broke in two consecutive tests. Without side airbags, these minivans get a Poor rating.
Maybe GM can unload the tooling for these lousy minivans on Russia, which seems to be interested in producing outdated and outclassed American iron under license. Russian automaker OAO GAZ is buying the tooling used to produce the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus sedans, everybody’s reviled rental cars, and will produce as many as 65,000 of them after U.S. production ceases in May.
Photos courtesy of the manufacturers