merry

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  1. While some people are trading in their SUVs or even large cars for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, others are abandoning four wheels for two. Heritage Harley Davidson owner Toby O!
  2. Jim Press, the president of Toyota Motor North America (TMA), has been announced as the recipient of this year's 2007 Automotive Industry Executive of the Year award, which surprisingly marks the first time (though probably not the last) that a Toyota exec has earned the honor. You may remember last year's recipient was Bill Ford, Jr., who technically no longer holds the position as Ford Motor Company's reigning auto exec. Press, however, is at the reigns of Toyota's North American division, which finished up last year with double-digit sales growth. Many analysts are placing their bets that 2007 will be the year that Toyota sells more vehicles in the U.S. world than General Motors, which seems entirely likely considering that GM is scaling back production while Toyota is revving up. 2007 also marks the year that Toyota will go head-to-head with its domestic competitors in the full-size pickup segment with the new Tundra pickup (show above with Press). Press also stands out for being the first non-Japanese president of TMA, and few can argue he's done an outstanding job so far. The question remains whether he can keep his ship intact as Toyota's business in the U.S. market scales ever upward. Clearly the automaker's reputation for quality has begun to crack with recalls and service issues beginning to grow in number. Nevertheless, Press will receive his award in April at a fancy shindig in Detroit attended by other OEM execs and industry leaders. Congrats, Jim!
  3. Lovers of both fuel mileage and torque can finally rest easy; Volkswagen of America is now officially selling its 50-State-approved, clean diesel engine in either the Jetta sedan for $21,990 or Jetta SportWagen wrappers for $23,590. Equipped with the six-speed DSG transmission, both Jetta gets an EPA rating of 29 miles per gallon in the city and 40 on the highway. We expect to see better real-world numbers, though we're a bit wary of VW's advertising its alternate rating of 38/44 -- a number that is impossible to compare with anything else currently available. In any case, the $2,000 premium for the TDI engine will be lessened somewhat by the Fed's $1,300 tax credit which applies to either TDI model. Look for an early test of the oil-burner on these pages shortly.
  4. VW Touareg Drive

    As if pronouncing the name of its SUV wasn't enough of an adventure, VW wants Touareg owners to experience what their cars can do off road. So they're hosting three day sessions of trail rides for Touareg drivers to see what it feels like to head off the paved path and get their tires dirty. The adventures are being held in Moab, Utah, and the itinerary reads like an upper-class off-road getaway should. Cocktails and gourmet meals at Sorrel River Ranch follow three to eight hours of traversing trails "packed with exciting obstacles that test driver and machine," according to the Touareg Adventures Web site. The site also says participants can expect an off-road guide for every two drivers and a "trail toilet" available whenever needed. Is "trail toilet" a fancy way of say "bushes"? If you're interested, it'll cost you $2,000 per person for the three days of fun, but that includes all meals and drinks. A family member can join all the action for $1,500, or just stay at the ranch with food for $500. The first three sessions are sold out, but there are nine more opportunities through the end of October.