The Mercedes-Benz M-Class Guard: SUV for High-Level Protection

Mercedes Benz M Class Guard The Mercedes Benz M Class Guard: SUV for High Level Protection

Those looking for a special-protection SUV will have a hard time looking for options that can outdo the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class Guard. This fresh variant offers a high level of protection, with all-new systems, top-of-the-line bodyshell, and other protective measures that will keep people and cargo safe and sound at all times.

Integrated special protection is the goal of the M-Guard. What that means is that the different protective components have all been integrated into the shell of the vehicle from the ground up, allowing for the utmost care in the whole production process. The armor coating goes from the bodyshell all the way to otherwise-unprotected components like locks, door gaps, exterior mirror mounts, and roof frame struts. This guarantees top protection from all manner of ballistic attacks.

The windows come with a special laminated glaze as well as a layer of polycarbonate inside, which protects passengers from potential shards. Special steel is used for non-transparent sections, like in the pillars, the firewall, and the roof, thus allowing for more reinforcement and structural integrity. Aside from that, all the different components meet or even exceed ballistic specifications and requirements.

Based on testing guidelines for special-protection bullet-resistant vehicles, the M-Guard passes level VR4 standards. This includes passing tests for fire coming from various angles and even protection from hand grenade blasts.

The M-Class Guard variants include the  ML350 BlueTEC Guard and the ML 500 Guard.

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Lexus Drivers Are Happiest With Their Dealers

For the fifth year in a row, Lexus led the closely-watched J.D. Power Customer Service Index, a measure of how well dealers are meeting owners’ expectations for performance at their repair shops. Detroit-based GMC, meanwhile, jumped into the lead among mass-market brands, according to the market research firm.

The annual index found that customers are more satisfied by dealer service in general, especially with the service from factory-approved retailers as compared with independent facilities.

“Manufacturers have made large investments in their retail programs, and dealers have made significant investments in key customer touch-points—people, improved processes and customer waiting areas—which are having a profoundly positive impact on their customers,” said Chris Sutton, the JDPA senior director in charge of the 2013 survey.

The index focuses on what happens when vehicle owners visit a service department for either maintenance and repair work asking about five specific areas: service quality, service initiation, service advisor, service facility and vehicle pick-up.

While dealer service departments and independent repair outlets may be a traditional source of suspicion and complaints, the results of the latest survey indicate marked improvement in recent years. The average score was 797, on a 1,000-point scale, up from 787 last year, and a 29-point gain from 2011.

Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus maintained its winning streak in the 2013 index with a score of 862. Cadillac was a close second, at 858 points, followed by Jaguar, Acura and Infiniti. Notably, were Hyundai to sell its Equus models as an independent brand – which it once considered – the model would have outscored Lexus.

Three of the 11 luxury brands improved their scores by at least 20 points. So did five of the mainstream marques.

Among mass market brands, GMC landed a score of 819, followed by Mini, Buick, Chevrolet and Volkswagen.

Significantly, owners said they were generally more satisfied with the service they got from facilities affiliated with one of the major automakers rather than from independent service facilities.

On average, the owners who participated in the consumer index study visited a dealer service department an average 2.6 times a year, usually for maintenance rather than for repairs.

Overall satisfaction was particularly high among those motorists getting routine maintenance. That suggests the auto industry is making inroads as it shifts focus from traditional repair business. With today’s cars boasting better quality and reliability than ever before, more dealers are emphasizing such things as oil changes or tire rotation to keep their mechanics busy and the cash registers ringing.

Perhaps reflecting some belt-tightening as the economy continues to struggle, the 2013 index found that customers spent less out-of-pocket during visits to the repair shop, an average $118 compared to $125 the prior year. That could also reflect the fact that many makers have been adding routine maintenance to their traditional warranty coverage.

Satisfying customers has a number of advantages. It not only generates more revenue but increases customer loyalty, according to JDPA Director Sutton. Among index survey participants, in general, 38 percent said they “definitely will” buy a vehicle from the same brand when it’s time to trade in. That jumped to 59 percent among customers who said they were “delighted” by the service delivered by their dealers.

“The service experience has a profound impact on vehicle owners, not just where they take their vehicle the next time they need maintenance or repairs, but also on their next vehicle purchase,” Sutton said. “Dealers know this, and most are taking the appropriate steps to ensure their customers have the best experience possible on both the sales and service sides of the store.”

The study includes responses from 91,000 owners of 2008 through 2012 model-year vehicles.

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2013 Honda Civic Sedan and Coupe are First Compact Cars to Earn IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Award

IIHS-TSP-2013-Honda-Civic-Sedan-Side-Crash-Tested

Everyone likes a good comeback story. When the 2013 Honda Civic emerged redesigned after just one year on the market, most of us were expecting some nicer interior materials and some sound deadening. Honda didn’t just settle for on-the-surface improvements, however, and it shows.

With new structural bracing that was added for the refresh, the 2013 Honda Civic sedan and coupe have earned the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Pick+” designation, becoming the first compact car to do so.

The IIHS has designated “Top Safety Picks” for years, with each automaker successively improving designs until the award became fairly ubiquitous. In its offset crash testing procedures, it tested for a 40-percent front overlap, which centered most of a simulated impact on the bumper of a car. In August, the  IIHS started testing for small-front overlap crashes, in which only 25 percent of a car’s front is hit, putting the same impact on a much smaller area. This weeded cars out from one another.

Honda first got word of the new IIHS testing in 2009 when most of its engineering had already been finished on the 2012 Civic as well as the larger Accord. But with the quick refresh on the Civic, it gave Honda some time to improve the structural design of the 2013 Civic and make it stronger.

“There’s very little chance of a life-threatening injury to the head or chest,” says Honda’s Chuck Thomas, Chief Engineer of Automotive Safety for Honda R&D Americas, Inc. in Raymond, Ohio, responsible for continuous safety improvements.

Honda has created a novel structure called ACE II–Advanced Compatibility Engineering–that’s designed to be “compatible” with safely crashing both larger and smaller vehicles into one another without the hazards typically associated with the size differentials. In the ACE II designed for the 2013 Honda Civic and larger Accord, the crash structure is set up relatively high within the body; Honda lowers its impact absorption point in larger vehicles like trucks, crossovers, and minivans.

Honda first got word of the new IIHS testing in 2009 when most of its engineering had already been finished on the 2012 Civic as well as the larger Accord. But with the quick refresh on the Civic, it gave Honda some time to improve the structural design of the 2013 Civic and make it stronger.

“There’s very little chance of a life-threatening injury to the head or chest,” says Honda’s Chuck Thomas, Chief Engineer of Automotive Safety for Honda R&D Americas, Inc. in Raymond, Ohio, responsible for continuous safety improvements.

Honda has created a novel structure called ACE II–Advanced Compatibility Engineering–that’s designed to be “compatible” with safely crashing both larger and smaller vehicles into one another without the hazards typically associated with the size differentials. In the ACE II designed for the 2013 Honda Civic and larger Accord, the crash structure is set up relatively high within the body; Honda lowers its impact absorption point in larger vehicles like trucks, crossovers, and minivans.

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