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Week in Review: Escaping Clouds of Electricity...and a Jeep

By Jacob Brown | July 21, 2012
Usually our week in reviews have some sort of theme, some continuity. This one really doesn't. Nevertheless, there were still plenty of noteworthy happenings that you ought to be aware of. Some have to do with the future of the auto industry and the consumer marketplace; another has to do with a recall of a vehicle that just went on sale. And yet, in a category of its own—because it's hard to classify a 470-horsepower sport utility with much of anything else—there's the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. Because we just like it. Paragraphimage Monday, July 16 Among the strangest pieces of news of the week, Tesla's head designer Franz von Holzhausen said the all-electric automaker is ripe for developing a pickup truck. Owing to its ability to generate maximum torque—pulling power—right from idle, electric motors seem ideally suited for such duties. If Tesla is to develop a vehicle for the country music lovin', hay bale-haulin' truck set, it would likely come after 2015 at the earliest. Already the automaker has its hands full with getting its Model S up to speed on the production line, getting its Model X into production, and launching a smaller third line to more directly compete with the BMW 3 Series. Paragraphimage Tuesday, July 17 There's really no sense in taking one of the more capable SUVs sold today, dropping it to the ground so it can't go off pavement, and shoving a 6.1-liter V-8 engine under its hood worth about 470 horsepower. But who said anything about the SRT division of Chrysler being sensible? This week on the Motor Trend YouTube show "Ignition," host Carlos Lago takes the ground-pounder Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and puts it through its paces. For a vehicle as big and heavy as it is, there's no reason it should perform as well as it does. God bless America, and thank goodness for Jeep. Paragraphimage Wednesday, July 18 Those waiting for the 2013 Honda Accord will now have something else to be excited for other than simply another redesigned car. With the midsizer, the automaker is introducing HondaLink, a cloud-based infotainment system that integrates Aha's music streaming service, voice commands, Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, and all sorts other programs under its infotainment umbrella. "This is the next evolution of the connected car and the connected customer," says Harman, the maker of Aha. Yeah, we're going to have to agree with that assessment. Paragraphimage Thursday, July 19 It hasn't been a good week to be a Ford Escape owner, whether the driver of a 2001 to 2004 model or a brand new 2013 Escape. The former has had throttle cable problems linked to it that allegedly caused one driver to lose control and die in an accident, prompting a federal probe. With the latter, however, there's nothing alleged about its problems. The mid-level EcoBoost 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine has a leaky fuel line problem, which could cause a fire. Owners are advised to park their Escapes until the recall is performed. Owners of base 2.5-liter four-cylinder Escapes or top-range 2.0-liter EcoBoost-equipped models are not included in the recall. Paragraphimage Friday, July 20 Its name sounds like it should be sold alongside Red Bull and Rockstar energy drinks, but the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi will actually be placed alongside a bunch of cars and trucks at a dealership near you. The C-Max Energi is a plug-in hybrid version of the tall wagon set to supplant the Ford Escape Hybrid that departed last year. With a 20-mile range running exclusively on electricity, the C-Max will be able to go 11 miles farther per charge than the Toyota Prius Plug-in. Both pale in comparison to the Chevrolet Volt's 35 to 50 miles, however. Ford says it should still be enough for most drivers' commutes. If it isn't, the C-Max will still be able to take advantage of a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. The wagon will be able to produce 188 horsepower and should be good for a 550-mile range on a single tank of gas.