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By on October 17, 2017

2018 Lexus CT200h - Image: LexusThis is not the Lexus CT200h that was sold in the United States for seven model years.

This is the updated 2018 Lexus CT200h.

Lexus’ U.S. operations no longer wishes to bother with the CT, so 2017 is the end of the line for the hybrid hatch in America. But Lexus’ local discontinuation of the CT comes just in time for Lexus to update the CT200h for other markets. Read More >

By on October 17, 2017

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If you’re new around here, you might not be aware that I’ve been accused of being a Blue Oval homer, or even being “bias.” (Bark’s tip of the day: “bias” is a noun, “biased” is an adjective.) I make no secret of the fact that the last four vehicles I’ve purchased have been straight from the Mind of Dearborn, but I don’t think that necessarily makes me FordPro Bark. In fact, some of my harshest rental reviews of days yonder have been directed toward Ford products.

But there can be no denying that I’m drawn toward Fords on rental row, simply because I have a large degree of familiarity with them. I don’t have to learn new infotainment systems or dash layouts, and everything from the steering wheel to the seats just feels right to me. As such, I found myself throwing my bags into the cargo area of a Ford Edge Titanium last week in Miami. The Edge is a resident of that strangest of vehicle segments, the large two-row CUV, living on the same street as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Murano. The Edge can’t have a third row of seating, because then it would be an Explorer, and it can’t be any smaller, because then it would be an Escape. So it just kinda…exists.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Read More >

By on October 17, 2017

Polestar 1, Image: Polestar

There’s something missing from the efficiently named Polestar 1, the first production vehicle unveiled by the world’s newest car brand: a Volvo badge.

Anyone who’s ever seen Volvo’s 2013 Concept Coupe will surely recognize the similarities between the two vehicles, but the slinky personal luxury coupe seen here is the one you’ll actually see plying a roadway near you, if you’re so lucky. Polestar, once a performance arm of Volvo Cars but now its own standalone subsidiary, plans a range of high-end electrified performance vehicles, of which the Polestar 1 is merely the first.

Packing a 600-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain and a body to die for, the 2+2 grand tourer makes great use of its sister division’s architecture, all paid for by corporate overlord Geely. The obvious similarities to the Volvo S90 isn’t an accident, as a bespoke version of that model’s platform lurks beneath its curvaceous flanks. However, that isn’t to say the Polestar 1 is just a Volvo in disguise. Read More >

By on October 17, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T - Image: HondaWe learned in June that the 10th-generation Honda Accord, launched this fall for the 2018 model year, would lose its optional V6 engine. The impact in the marketplace would scarcely be felt, as the overwhelming majority of buyers didn’t select the V6 engine, which had steadily become an option only at the top end of the range.

Honda also made clear that the conventional Accord lineup would still include manual transmissions, would not include a coupe bodystyle, and would be exclusively linked to turbocharged engines. The basic 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, rated at 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque (at 5,500 rpm and 1,600 rpm, respectively) provided an upgrade from the 2017 Accord’s 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder, which produced 185 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque at significantly higher rpm.

Meanwhile, the 278-horsepower, 252-lb-ft 3.5-liter V6 is replaced by a 2.0T detuned from duty in the Civic Type R. The 2018 Accord loses 26 horsepower (and at 6,500 rpm, needs 300 more revs to hit peak bhp) but adds 21 lb-ft of torque while producing peak twist just off idle at 1,500 rpm, 3,400 rpm sooner than in the old V6. Paired now to a 10-speed automatic and not the six-speed of 2017, and tipping the scales with around 120 fewer pounds in top-spec guise, the 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T is expected to be only marginally more fuel-efficient than the old V6.

But what about acceleration? Read More >

By on October 17, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Jetta - Image: VolkswagenVolkswagen’s 2019 Jetta will be revealed this winter at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. From the get-go, the Jetta will be available with a manual transmission, reports VWVortex. The Jetta GLI that follows one year later will almost certainly be marketed with the manual transmission Volkswagen killed off with the 2018 model year, Motor Authority says.

These and other details are becoming increasingly clear as Volkswagen’s North American CEO Hinrich Woebcken begins to release a great many details about Volkswagen’s next few years of product launches.

This is what we know so far. Read More >

By on October 17, 2017

1994 Dodge Ram, Image: Brian Cantoni/Flickr

There’s a questionable spy photo of the next-generation Ram 1500 floating around. “Questionable,” because since the dawn of time, a Ram pickup, whether prefixed by “Dodge” or not, has retained solid, distinctive, and simple lines.

Unfortunately, the 2019 model seen in the photo appears with an odd mish-mash of Silverado and Tundra styling cues in place of today’s handsome front fenders and traditional crosshair grille. This got the TTAC chatroom talking. After all, the Ram nameplate is well-known for taking a styling direction and running with it for decades. Two styles over 40 years, essentially.

That got us talking about the most memorable Rams, the most quintessential and #iconic Rams, and, eventually, to the most famous Ram of them all. Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

toyota i-series concepts

While we enjoy a concept car that isn’t set so far into the hypothetical future that it’s almost impossible to imagine the world in which it could exist, it’s also fun to see less-than-realistic designs emerge in a vehicle that is pure science fiction. Pursuing the latter mindset, Toyota has decided to expand upon the original Concept-i car with an entire series of “mobility vehicles” — each intended to help deliver a tomorrow where you are no longer required to walk.

Now part of a full lineup of experimental vehicles, Toyota views the Concept i-Ride and Concept i-Walk as supplementary modes of transportation for last January’s original four-seat concept. That vehicle debuted as more of a robotic friend than an traditional automobile. Toyota even went so far as to propose an artificial intelligence system that allowed the i-car to build a relationship with the driver that “feels meaningful and human.” Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

cami-assembly factory circa 2013

General Motors and Unifor representation at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, announced a tentative agreement on Friday. Today, that deal proved amicable to both parties, as union employees voted to approve a new four-year contract with the automaker — ending a month-long strike at a factory producing the incredibly popular Chevrolet Equinox crossover.

While the deal includes a salary increase of four percent over four years and $8,000 in lump sum payments over the lifespan of the proposal, it lacks Unifor’s primary demand of a written assurance that CAMI will remain the lead producer of the Equinox. GM proved unwilling to give way on that issue, which is likely due to the ongoing and uncertain nature of NAFTA renegotiations.

“Despite our every effort, General Motors steadfastly refused to accept our members’ reasonable demand to designate the CAMI plant as General Motors lead producer for the Chevy Equinox,” Unifor president Jerry Dias wrote to local union members prior to the factory vote.  Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

2015 Infiniti QX70 - Image: Infiniti2017 was the 15th and final model year for the Infiniti QX70, formerly known as the Infiniti FX. Sad, sad the day.

But is the QX70/FX, a dramatically curvaceous take on the modern idea of a crossover, dead and gone for good? Perhaps not. “We are now asking ourselves what is the QX70’s role?” Infiniti president Roland Krueger rhetorically asked Automotive News, “And what should it be?”

Maybe these questions come a year or two or 15 too late, but the fact that Krueger even broaches the subject suggests a high degree of willingness to reinsert the vehicle back into Infiniti’s lineup. If Nissan’s upmarket brand could copy the degree of success the FX earned early on in its tenure — more than 30,000 were sold in America in 2004 — then the rebirth can’t come soon enough. Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

2018 Mazda CX-3 GX Red - Image: © Timothy CainDoes it matter that I think it’s a hatchback? In the minds of the consumers Mazda is targeting, the modestly updated 2018 Mazda CX-3 is a crossover, an ess-you-vee, a utility vehicle.

We ought to make some allowance for the designation differences. The Mazda CX-3 offers all-wheel drive. The wheelarches are cladded in black plastic. The loftier ride height creates 6.1 inches of ground clearance, up from 5.5 inches in the Toyota Yaris iA, which is essentially a Toyota-branded sedan version of the latest Mazda 2 (that’s never been sold in the United States) on which the CX-3 is also based.

Let’s give in to Mazda’s marketing for a moment, then. If the CX-3 “may lead to spontaneous excursions,” how will it respond to a harvest season visit into Prince Edward Island’s endless reserve of potato fields?

To make matters more interesting, our CX-3 steed lacks Mazda’s optional all-wheel drive as well as Mazda USA’s standard automatic transmission. Count’em: there are three pedals. Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

2017 Cadillac XT5 - Image: GM China

Imagine a traditional luxury car buyer — yes, some still exist — walks into his or her local Cadillac dealer to check out the radically refreshed 2018 XTS. Naturally, the old XTS is hanging out in the parking lot, quietly serving as potential trade-in. After entering the dealer, a salesperson ushers our buyer over to a virtual reality machine to check out the many glories (and options) that await in the new model.

On the way to that machine, the buyer passes zero Cadillacs. There’s not a CTS or CT6 or hot-selling XT5 in sight. An unlikely scenario? Perhaps. A little weird? Certainly to a repeat (read: aged) buyer. It seems small Cadillac dealers definitely felt that way, as low-volume sales locales soundly rejected head office’s plan to do away with traditional showrooms and physical cars.

As a result, Cadillac has given the ominous-sounding Project Pinnacle a makeover. Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

2019-land-rover-discovery-svx-downhill

While still famous for premium-trimmed vehicles with off-road capabilities, Land Rover has taken a hard left onto luxury avenue in recent years. Rumors are stirring that the brand has sacrificed some of its utilitarian edge for creature comforts — especially with the release of the ultra-stylish Range Rover Velar.

With the Defender yet to peak its headlamps over the horizon (and rumored to be electrified), JLR is hoping to get back some of its overlanding chops by affixing the SVX badge onto more models. However, the company’s Special Vehicle Operations unit will only touch Land Rovers — allowing Range Rover to maintain its suburban chicness while not muddying the two brands’ identities.  Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

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I’m normally among the first to roll my eyes when automakers speak about “brand identity” and other such marketing claptrap, but when Land Rover employees speak of how the new Range Rover Velar fits in with the brand, it is hard to deny that they’re being accurate. Whatever it is – or isn’t – the Velar has a certain feel about it that only its stablemates share.

More on that later. First, an introduction. For those that don’t know, the Velar is meant to slot between the Evoque and the Range Rover/Range Rover Sport in the Range Rover lineup. It’s also meant to be a more-stylish alternative to the slightly gawky Land Rover Discovery.

The Velar sits in a weird space in the luxury SUV landscape. Its closest competitor may be the Porsche Macan, but the two don’t line up exactly in terms of performance. Jaguar’s F-Pace, which shares its platform with the Velar, plays the part of both sibling and rival, while the Audi Q5 is also in the conversation. But price, specs, and mission vary among these four – as well as others, such as the BMW X4 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.

Land Rovers and Range Rovers are supposed to offer luxury, off-road capability, some on-road fun, and charming (and not-so-charming) British quirks. They’re also sometimes tarred with a reputation for spending more time in the shop than on the road.

Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

BORGHI,RN, ITALY - AUGUST 12: power music audio system with amplifiers bass and treble speakers in the car trunk, exhibited during the rally "Fashion tuning club" on August 12 2012 in Borghi RN Italy, Image: ermess/Bigstock

Hands up: how many of you guys and girls reading this have a radio in their car? Good, that’s just about everyone. Now, how many have a favorite tune or genre of music they crank to eleven when hitting the road? That’s what I thought.

Rock ‘n’ roll and fast cars have been intertwined since the ‘50s, and if one had to count the number of car references in rap music, well, we’d be here all day. So here’s today’s question: on what do you hit “Play” when it’s time to drive?

Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

Volvo Cars Torslanda assembly plant - Image: Volvo

It’s often hard to remove an ingredient after the cake’s emerged from the oven. Because of this, news of Kobe Steel’s falsified inspection reports no doubt came with a fair bit of nervous collar tugging for executives at several automakers.

The Japanese company, which has subsidiaries in numerous countries, is a go-to supplier for the automotive and aircraft industries, providing steel, copper and aluminum components to companies as diverse as Ford and Boeing. Last week, Kobe admitted to selling substandard (or suspected substandard) materials to 500 companies, among them Ford, Volvo, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and possibly Mazda.

Oh, and Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, General Motors, Hyundai, and Renault.

Maybe you’ve heard of them. Read More >

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