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Lincoln MKZ offers AWD

Lincoln's 2007 MKZ sedan, which replaces the short-lived Zephyr, will offer an all-wheel-drive model with a base MSRP of $39,899 when it comes to market this fall.

  • Choosing a car at dealership. Thoughtful grey hair man in formalwear leaning at the car and looking away

Lincoln's 2007 MKZ sedan, which replaces the short-lived Zephyr, will offer an all-wheel-drive model with a base MSRP of $39,899 when it comes to market this fall.

A front-wheel-drive version will be priced at $37,899.

The entry-level luxury mid-sizer is powered by Ford's new 3.5-litre V6, rated at 263 hp and paired with a six-speed automatic.

I've driven the 3.5 and can confirm that it represents a significant improvement in performance and feel over the 2006 Zephyr's 3.0-litre V6.

The MKZ arrives at dealerships next month.


VW TOPS GREEN RANKING

Which auto maker's vehicles are the most environmentally friendly?

Given the buzz it has generated for its focus on hybrids, Toyota might be expected to claim that title.

Not so.

The honour goes to Volkswagen, according to J.D. Power and Associates' just-released Alternative Powertrain Study.

With an Automotive Environmental Index of 655, out of a possible 1000, VW edged out Honda (653) and Mazda (646) for the top spot.

A closely bunched second tier included Kia (592), Hyundai (591) and Toyota (590).

Presumably, Toyota's range of trucks and truck-based models offset the positive effect of its many hybrids.

The new study combined U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data with customer feedback to produce the index.

VW boss Wolfgang Bernhard credited the brand's strength in diesels for its high ranking.

"No other manufacturer has sold more diesel cars in (North America) and that upward trend continues," he said.

Land Rover (187) scored the lowest of 37 nameplates in the study, behind Hummer (207) and GMC (257).

Consumers tend to have unrealistic expectations about fuel economy improvements provided by alternative-power vehicles, the study found.

The benefit expected from gas-electric hybrids was three times that typically achieved, the data showed.

For diesels it was 75 per cent above actual improvement.


AUDI Q7 MUSCLES UP

Audi will offer a 6.0-litre V12 TDI (turbo direct injection) diesel in its Q7 crossover.

This will be the first application of a 12-cylinder diesel engine in a production passenger vehicle, the firm says.

The 60-degree, twin-turbo 12 will generate 500 hp and a colossal 738 lb.-ft. of torque.

That should catapult the Q into the echelons of top-class sports cars, allowing the big five-door to sprint from 0-to-100 km/h in just 5.5 seconds.

Power is delivered through a new six-speed Tiptronic gearbox to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.

Audi says the V12 will meet Euro 5 emissions requirements, expected to take effect in 2010.

There are no plans to offer the TDI Q7 in North America.


IS BIG BROTHER WATCHING?

If so, he will have to tell you so, according to a new regulation issued by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — although not until September 2010.

That rule applies to the use of event data recorders, known colloquially as black boxes, which record critical data in the few seconds before and after a crash, just as their airplane counterparts do.

The devices don't capture any data unless there is a collision severe enough to cause airbag deployment.

Transport Canada is studying NHTSA's move for possible adaptation up here.

EDRs have been used for several years by some auto makers, but each firm has determined individually what they record. When the new rule takes effect, that information will be the same for all.

Among the 40-plus data elements recorded will be vehicle speed, deceleration rates, steering angles and brake application, seatbelt usage, details of airbag deployment and more.

NHTSA will require manufacturers to advise owners, in the owner's manual, that their vehicle contains an EDR, but stopped short of mandating the installation of EDRs.

Nonetheless, some 64 per cent of all 2005 U.S. passenger vehicles had the devices, NHTSA says, and that number is expected to grow.

Most or all new light-duty Ford, GM, DaimlerChrysler and Toyota vehicles are said to carry EDRs.

Most makers already disclose, in the owner's manual, the presence of recorders, because California requires them to do so.

Similar regulations calling for EDRs are expected to take effect in Europe a year earlier.

As for Canada, it's highly unlikely that auto makers would decide against the use of the devices here unless they were specifically prohibited, which seems equally unlikely.

Uniform crash information will help investigators recreate accident scenes to determine the causes and lead to better safety regulations, NHTSA says.

The black boxes also will enhance the value of automatic crash notification systems by making it easier for vehicles so equipped to provide fast, accurate information to emergency personnel.

The big issue yet to be broadly addressed is that of access to an EDR's contents.

To date, most jurisdictions have taken the position that the crash data belong to the vehicle owner and can only be accessed with his or her consent — or by court order.


mgmalloy@aol.com

wheels@thestar.ca


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