Central Maine Automotive News

Ram 1500 Tops Depth Chart for Patriots Tailgating
Pickup Leads Kelley Blue Book's List of 10 Best Tailgating Cars of 2012

 WATERVILLE, Maine, Aug. 31, 2012 -- As the New England Patriots faithful gear up for another season of trekking to Foxborough, Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com has posted its 10 Best Tailgating Cars of 2012. The vehicle-information provider selected the 2012 Ram 1500 as its top choice for fans seeking a football-friendly ride, citing the pickup's versatile storage areas and premium entertainment features.

Beating out the Ford F-150 and Honda Ridgeline to top the kbb.com list, the Ram 1500 uses a playbook full of party-ready features, including an optional RamBox Cargo Management system that can keep 240 cans frosty in two lockable, waterproof tailgate compartments. Inside the cabin, available in-floor bins are removable and drainable, meaning grilling goods and other perishable snacks can be kept fresh with ice. Guests can also be easily entertained as they eat and drink in the stadium parking lot, thanks to the tunes pumping from the Ram 1500's optional 506-watt Alpine premium sound system.

"Maine Patriots fans that make the long trip down to Gillette Stadium don't mess around when it comes to tailgating, and the Ram 1500 has a built-in game plan," said Scott Pinnette, general manager of Central Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, a Waterville, Maine Ram dealer. "Instead of hovering around a small hibachi behind a sedan, the Ram 1500 lets you bring all the BBQ essentials, whether it's a full-size grill, a caravan canopy or enough beverages for an entire football team." 

Ram 1500 buyers will soon be able to get to the gridiron using less gas, as an all-new 2013 model will be going on sale in October with best-in-class fuel economy. Slated to receive the award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine and a new TorqueFlite 8 eight-speed automatic transmission, the standard 2013 Ram 1500 will return 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, topping the standard models of competitors by at least two miles per gallon in both rating categories. 

While the new Ram 1500 received an impressive boost in fuel efficiency, the pickup's power gains are just as noteworthy. With increases of 90 horsepower and 34 pound-feet of torque compared to the outgoing 3.7-liter V6, the new Pentastar V6 will churn out 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. That lively performance enables best-in-class towing of 6,500 pounds, even with the new all-wheel-drive option for V6 models that eases snowy winter commutes. 

The Ram 1500's reputation as a mobile hub for sporting events should grow even more with the debut of Uconnect Access for the 2013 model year. The next-gen infotainment system can turn the 2013 Ram 1500 into a Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing tailgaters to quickly check their fantasy football scores on smartphones or tablets. Uconnect Access can also link with drivers' smartphones to start, lock and unlock the Ram 1500 remotely, meaning the truck can be pre-heated as fans file out of chilly, late-season games. 

"The existing Ram 1500 has already gained nearly two percent of market share among pickups this year, and the changes for the 2013 model year are only going to accelerate that momentum," added Pinnette. "Ram's next-generation truck has a mix of capability, efficiency and technology that won't be matched for quite some time, and that combination could very well shake up the old guard in its segment."

Central Maine Toyota Earns Eighth-Consecutive Toyota President's Award
Toyota Dealer's Focus on Customer Service Pays Dividends

WATERVILLE, Maine, July 31, 2012 -- Central Maine Toyota, a Waterville, ME Toyota dealer, has once again proven the commitment of its sales and service staff by winning its eighth-consecutive President's Award from Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. Inc. Out of the 72 Toyota dealers in the Boston region, just 27 earned the prestigious annual award, which the automaker has been giving out since 1986.

Toyota has stringent requirements for its President's Award, taking into consideration everything from vehicle and part sales to service and customer satisfaction. Central Maine Toyota has now won the award a total of 11 times, showing the dealership's dedication to providing a high-quality experience in every facet of its operations.

"Winning a Toyota President's Award is a great honor for us, and it is a reflection of our efforts to ensure that each customer leaves our dealership satisfied," said General Sales Manager Jeff Leclerc. "Toyota continues to push the envelope with innovative new vehicles like the expanded Prius family, and we continue to back those models up with our helpful sales and service staff.

"Toyota has been utilizing its renowned hybrid technology beyond just the Prius lineup though, and a new gas-electric model from the automaker will soon appear in the midsize premium sedan market. Due to go on sale later this year, the redesigned 2013 Toyota Avalon will offer the first full-hybrid drivetrain in its segment, creating a more refined ride with equal parts style and fuel efficiency. 

Combining a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a pair of electric motors that draw power from a 244.8-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack, the 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid packs a 200-horsepower punch while returning 40 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. Drivers will be able to tailor performance and efficiency with three different drive modes, including SPORT, ECO and EV, which allows the car to travel for up to a mile at 25 mph or less on electric power alone. The standard, gas-only 2013 Avalon will come with a conventional 3.5-liter V6, which nets 31 mpg on the highway while producing 268 horsepower.

Drivetrains aren't the only factors when it comes to improved fuel efficiency, and Toyota has managed to reduce the new Avalon's weight compared to the 2012 model. The sleek new exterior is smaller in nearly every dimension, while trunk space has actually increased by 1.6 cubic-feet. Inside, the 2013 Avalon caters to all passengers with available features like heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a three-zone climate-control system.

"No other automaker can match Toyota's expertise when it comes to hybrid technology, and the 2013 Avalon Hybrid is another step forward because its brings compact-like fuel economy to a large sedan," noted Leclerc. "The new Avalon proves that you don't have to sacrifice comfort or refinement to save on gas. In fact, it shows that hybrid technology can enhance those qualities."

Chevy Sonic Makes 10 Coolest Cars List with Style, Savings
Kelley Blue Book's Kbb.com Praises Subcompact for Its Fuel-Efficient Fun


WATERVILLE, Maine, July 2, 2012 --While there are plenty of cars on the market with affordable pricing these days, only a select few also come standard with the elusive cool factor. Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com recently placed the 2012 Chevy Sonic among the upper echelon of stylish savers on its 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 list, honoring the subcompact for its affordability, fuel efficiency and exuberant style.

Aside from being priced lower than $18,000 according to Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price, each vehicle on kbb.com's 10 Coolest Cars list also needed to be both fun-to-drive and fun-to-own. The Chevy Sonic earned its spot by impressing editors with its sporty exterior looks, motorcycle-inspired gauges and fuel-efficient yet responsive engines that make sure the Sonic has the bite to back up its bark. 

"The Chevy Sonic proves that you can get a premium car without paying a premium price," said Bo Hendrick, general sales manager of Waterville, ME Chevrolet dealer Central Maine Motors. "You get standout style whether you choose the hatchback or sedan, but at the same time you also can enjoy an engaging ride and up to 40 mpg on the highway with the Sonic's available 1.4-liter turbocharged engine."

According to a report from GM Authority, the Chevy Sonic will be taking its cool factor to a new level as one the first GM vehicles to integrate with Apple's Siri voice-recognition technology. Though a timeframe has yet to be set, the Sonic and Spark are expected to be the first Chevys to feature Apple's newly announced Eyes Free system, which allows drivers to press a button on their steering wheel to connect by voice with Siri on their iPhone or iPad. Users will be able to complete a number of actions through Eyes Free, ranging from hands-free phone calls and text messages to restaurant searches. 

The Chevy Sonic may be making news for its youthful, high-tech appeal, but it is also establishing itself as a top choice for new families. Recently named to the Best Family Cars for 2012 list from Edmunds.com and Parents magazine, the Chevrolet subcompact was not only recognized by editors for its affordability and versatility, but also its safety.

Coming standard with 10 airbags, the 2012 Sonic is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick and has received a 5-Star Safety Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Parents will also take comfort in the car's standard OnStar Automatic Crash Response system, which can detect crashes and connect with an emergency advisor to determine if help should be sent to the Sonic's GPS location. 

"There is a misperception among buyers that larger cars are safer, but the Sonic shows that is not always the case," added Hendrick. "The Sonic is built to protect parents' most precious cargo, all while leaving spare cash for diapers and groceries."

AutoPacific: Grand Cherokee Dishes Out Most Satisfaction in Its Segment

Popular Jeep Named Top Premium Mid-Size SUV for Second-Straight Year

WATERVILLE, Maine, June 1, 2012 -- With vehicle quality at an all-time high across the entire auto industry, research firm AutoPacific believes it is customer satisfaction that differentiates a model in today's market. When it came to the Premium Mid-Size SUV category of AutoPacific and Autobytel Inc.'s recently released 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, it was the Jeep Grand Cherokee that left its owners the most satisfied for the second year in a row. 

Teaming with vehicle-information provider Autobytel, AutoPacific surveyed more than 75,000 owners of 2012-model-year vehicles to determine their 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with their current vehicle across 48 attributes ranging from power and acceleration to exterior styling and cargo capacity. After all the survey results were tabulated, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee had earned the highest overall score in its class to be named Top Rated Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle. 

"When all is said and done, it is ultimately the customer's opinion that matters the most, and AutoPacific says that these awards were based on the largest single-model-year customer survey out there," said Scott Pinnette, general manager of Central Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, a Waterville, Maine Jeep dealer. "The Grand Cherokee has earned countless accolades from auto publications and other industry experts, but the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards mean a little more because they represent those that actually had to pay for their vehicles." 

The Jeep Grand Cherokee's increasing popularity among buyers recently led the Chrysler Group to recently announce that the SUV's Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit will skip its usual two-week summer shutdown this year to keep up with demand. Additionally, the company has said it will expedite its plan to add 1,100 jobs for a new third shift at the plant, starting this November instead of next year. 

Automakers will usually shut down their plants around the July 4 holiday to update equipment for the next model year; however, Chrysler says that the changes at Jefferson North can still be made while the factory is running. Employees at the facility are already working overtime to keep pace with this year's rapid sales, with two shifts running on two out of every three Saturdays. 

Since its redesign for the 2011 model year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been offered with a standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine that outputs 290 horsepower and returns 23 mpg on the highway. That mix of power and fuel efficiency has proven popular, with the standard 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee featuring a best-in-class driving range of more than 500 miles and a towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. 

Many vehicles in the Grand Cherokee's class are SUVs in name only because they've been stripped of all their performance for the sake of fuel efficiency," added Pinnette. "Even the base Grand Cherokee has the power to haul your boat or heavy-duty trailer on weekends, and you won't be constantly paying for that capability at the gas pump during your weekly commuting."


Saving in Style: Prius c Tops Kelley Blue Book's Green Car Rankings
Kbb.com Names Most Fuel-Efficient Toyota the Best Green Car of 2012

WATERVILLE, Maine, April 30, 2012 --The new Toyota Prius c is the most fuel-efficient Prius, but fuel economy alone wouldn't have put it atop the 10 Best Green Cars of 2012 list from Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. The auto researcher singled out the subcompact hybrid available at Toyota dealerships as its top green vehicle for delivering impressive gas mileage along with value, style and a surprising amount of space.

The 2012 Toyota Prius c beat out two all-electric cars, the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, to top kbb.com's 10 Best Green Cars list this year. The remainder of the list was populated by a mix of hybrid, gas, natural gas and diesel models coming in a variety of price ranges, though only one luxury vehicle, the Lexus CT 200h hybrid, made the cut. The Prius c's low starting price and fuel economy rating of 53 mpg in the city helped push it to the top of the list.

"The Prius c is perfect for young drivers that had wanted a stylish hybrid, but needed something more affordable than what was previously available," said Jeff Leclerc, general manager of Central Maine Toyota, a Waterville, Maine Toyota dealer. "Even though it's a subcompact, the Prius c is deceptively roomy on the inside. Plenty of drivers who think they need a larger vehicle will find the Prius c offers all the space they require."

Kbb.com praised the Toyota Prius c for its surprising 17.1 cubic-feet of cargo room, which still allows for 87.4 cubic-feet of passenger space that seats up to five adults. When it comes to value, the Prius c is the most affordable in the Prius family, starting at just under $19,000. Overall, kbb.com declared the Toyota hybrid as the go-to vehicle for those seeking practicality and style in an inexpensive, fuel-efficient package.

Inside the Prius c's cabin, Toyota stocks a number of high-tech features that widen the car's appeal to younger buyers. Bluetooth connectivity comes standard for hands-free phone calls and music streaming, while a standard USB port and aux input offer iPod compatibility. Buyers that upgrade to the automaker's Entune infotainment system will be able to access internet apps like Bing search and Pandora internet radio through a 6.1-inch touchscreen. Meanwhile, steering-wheel-mounted controls keep drivers focused on the road, and an available Smart Key System with Push Button Start make entering and starting the vehicle a simple process.

According to a recent report from auto industry researchers at Polk, Toyota Prius owners are the most likely to be loyal to the hybrid market when it comes time to buy a new car. The research, which examined hybrid segment loyalty between 2008 and 2011, found that hybrid loyalty drops by more than 10 percent if Toyota Prius owners are not factored in. It also discovered that 60 percent of Toyota hybrid owners were brand-loyal, returning to purchase another Toyota when they re-entered the market in 2011.

"It's not necessarily the appeal of owning a hybrid that has Prius owners shopping for their second; it's the unique quality and efficiency that only Toyota can deliver," added Leclerc. "Now that there are three more Prius family members to choose from than there were in 2008, there are three more reasons to come back to the brand."

Chevy Volt Emerges with Best Total Value in Strategic Vision Study

Owners of the Electric Vehicle Say They Get More for Their Money in New Research

WATERVILLE, Maine, March 29, 2012 --While buyers can expect to pay a little bit more for a Chevy Volt upfront, a new study from Strategic Vision indicates that the value they receive more than makes up for it. The consumer-research firm recently declared the Volt the overall leader in its Total Value Index (TVI), thanks to the electric vehicle's winning combination of qualitative and quantitative value after drivers take it home from Chevy dealerships.

The Strategic Vision TVI, drawn from a survey of 68,088 car buyers, is calculated utilizing two different parts. The first asks questions regarding drivers' overall assessment of their vehicles, from how they rate reliability to the dealership experience. The second part of the TVI score is based on the customer's assessment of costs surrounding vehicle ownership, ranging from initial price to warranties and expected trade-in value. 

"Volt drivers are an enthusiastic bunch because they know their vehicle is like nothing else on the market right now," said Bo Hendrick, general sales manager of Waterville, Maine Chevrolet dealer Central Maine Motors. "When you consider that the Volt can run on all-electric power for 35 miles but also has a range of 375 miles with a full tank of gas, it's not surprising that its owners value it so much."

With a score of 836 out of 1,000 possible points, the Chevrolet Volt led the Mid-Size Car category of the TVI in addition to being the top-rated vehicle overall. The electric Chevy is one of four alternative-fuel class-leaders this year, a shift from past TVI studies in which better fuel efficiency did not necessarily translate into higher scores from customers. This year's TVI indicates that acceptance for alternative-fuel models is growing, with drivers believing they will receive more for every dollar spent on one. 

Part of the Volt's high perceived value likely stems from its breadth of technology features. An available rearview camera and front and rear parking assist help Volt owners navigate around obstacles with ease, while Bluetooth connectivity offers hands-free calling. Owners also get three free years of OnStar service for turn-by-turn directions and emergency services, but the Volt's fuel economy ratings of 95 MPGe in the city and 93 MPGe on the highway were likely the biggest reasons for its top value.

"It doesn't take long after a buyer drives off with a Volt for them to realize how quickly the savings add up," added Hendrick. "The Strategic Vision TVI shows that Volt owners have become big advocates for the vehicle, and that passionate group is growing with each month that passes." 

Sales of the 2012 Chevrolet Volt gained momentum in February, with 1,023 units sold, up from the 603 units moved in January.