Category: News Blog

By on June 26, 2017

2017 Jaguar XF, Image: Jaguar Land Rover

The engineers at Jaguar have crafted a new engine for the automaker, essentially filling in the last power gap in the brand’s lineup. Carrying the Ingenium name and a 30t badge, the automaker’s latest in-house mill is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder designed to fill the space between the automaker’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel and 3.0-liter supercharged V6.

What kind of power, speed and fuel economy will this bring to the 2018 XE, XF and F-Pace, you asl? Jaguar has provided us with the answers. Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

2016 Lotus Evora 400

Iconic British sportscar manufacturer Lotus may find a portion of its future production shifted to China under the ownership of its new parent company, Geely. Chinese billionaire and Geely chairman Li Shufu confirmed the possibility of some assembly taking place outside the United Kingdom during a press conference following the signing of the deal.

While this could stir outrage in some traditionalists, the Chinese company hasn’t mucked up things with Volvo yet and appears willing to apply a similar hands-off approach to the management of Lotus Cars.  Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

2017 Chrysler 300C - Image: FCA

Sure, there’s no vinyl bench seats and standard Slant Six engine, but this isn’t 1981 and Chrysler Corporation isn’t trying to boost sales by stripping down a LeBaron and calling it Special. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is, however, trying to make three models more appealing to the buying masses, meaning trim changes are afoot for 2018.

What models, you ask? Two very old sedans and a crossover. According to ordering documents sent to dealers, FCA plans to ratchet down the entry-level price of the 2018 Chrysler 300 and Jeep Cherokee, while also shaking up the bottom end of the Dodge Charger.  Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

2018 Subaru WRX STI, Image: Subaru

When Subaru launched the fifth-generation Impreza with a CVT, a collective sigh of relief was heard after enthusiasts learned it would still provide a standard five-speed manual transmission. However, it didn’t guarantee that the next incarnation of the WRX wouldn’t abandon the clutch pedal to maximize sales and minimize zero to 60 times.

After all, most people don’t purchase manual transmission vehicles anymore and the WRX already comes with a CVT. It would be easy for the automaker adopt a dual-clutch as a pricier option on sporting Subarus and leave the variable tranny in the base trim. Nobody was so worried about it that they lost sleep on the matter, but there was just enough doubt to have us all occasionally wringing our hands. Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

Airbags

The impending bankruptcy of Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has been teased at and speculated upon for months. It was never a question of whether the parts supplier would go belly-up after causing the largest automotive recall in history, but how and when.

After furnishing dozens of automakers with airbag inflators what were, in essence, improvised grenades, the multi-million unit recall has left Takata with little recourse. The company has filed for bankruptcy protection in both Japan and the United States, announcing it will sell off the majority of its remaining assets to Key Safety Systems. One of the missing assets will be the equipment relating to the company’s nefarious ammonium nitrate airbag inflators.

The devices, subject to exploding with far too much force and spraying vehicle interiors with metal shrapnel, are responsible for a minimum of 16 deaths, hundreds of injuries, and the ruination of the company.  Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (left) and Chrysler Pacifica (right) - Image: FCA

Despite being lauded for its high level of content, smooth ride, and all-electric range, Chrysler’s plug-in hybrid minivan has hit a large roadblock. After voluntarily recalling all Pacifica Hybrids due to a safety defect that could see the minivan go dark at inopportune times, it seems the assembly line has ground to a halt in Windsor, Ontario.

A recall earlier this month saw Fiat Chrysler Automobiles call back 1,368 vehicles in the U.S. and 309 in Canada following complaints of loss of propulsion. The issue reportedly stems from defective inverter diodes. While the wonky electrified powertrain hasn’t resulted in any crashes or injuries, electrified cars that suddenly stop sending current to the motor aren’t something customers or the automaker can tolerate.

It’s a serious stumble for FCA’s green halo car. Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

2015-Ford-Focus-06

Ford has plans to halt production of the compact Focus — a one-time juggernaut of a model — for an entire year. But wouldn’t you rather talk about the upcoming Ranger and Bronco?

Of course you would. You’d rather buy one, too, if only the resurrected nameplates were already on lots. Back in 2002, when Limp Bizkit was still on the charts and frosted tips hadn’t entirely disappeared from the hair scene, Ford unloaded 243,199 Focus cars to U.S. buyers. Compare that to the first five months of 2017, where 67,146 Foci left dealer lots in a marketplace where passenger car sales are falling like Brent crude prices in 2014.

It’s against this backdrop that Ford plans to temporarily pull the plug on the Focus. While there’s good reason for the shutdown, the automaker doesn’t seem all that concerned about it. Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

google prototype-early

Earlier this month, Apple and Google both announced plans to kill off their self-driving car projects in favor of focusing on developing the underlying technology. We reported it here. But it’s a little weird that one announcement came so close on the heels of the other. Apple’s Project Titan, formerly a self-driving car project, will presumably continue to compete with Google’s Waymo, which is a subsidiary for Google’s efforts thus far in the field. It’s a race, even if neither company has acknowledged it as such.

Last we knew, Project Titan was testing self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs around Silicon Valley, which were first spotted in late April. Waymo was arguably more successful, since they’d actually succeeded in building a fleet of the Firefly self-driving car pod.

Apple and Google are both being vague about this change in plans, as usual, but we already know a fair amount about how these companies interact with auto manufacturers. We just need to look at Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Some automakers eschew these systems entirely, in favor of their own native smartphone integration and infotainment interfaces. A handful of manufacturers have chosen to support just one or the other.

Many car brands, though, have decided to offer both interfaces to appeal to the most broad range of customers. In this way, Apple and Google both exert considerable influence on automakers based simply on the fact that they sell smartphones.

If Project Titan and Waymo both succeed at becoming functional and user-friendly self-driving car systems, car buyers can expect something similar. Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

Davey Allison

Ever since racers figured out they could trade a bit of real estate on their ride for some sorely needed cash, sponsors have been plastering their names on just about every flat surface of a race car.

Sometimes the results look like a person put a bunch of logos in their mouth and sneezed on the car, but other times — either through careful planning or happy coincidence — a team will create something for the ages.

Read More >

By on June 25, 2017

bmw-x3-m40i-2018

BMW wasn’t supposed to issue the global reveal of the new X3 until next week, but it seems its official website in Hong Kong didn’t get the memo. Product details and photos have appeared a few days earlier than expected.

While easily recognizable as an X3, the updated SUV’s more sinister headlamps and gaping air inlets service a more aggressive forward appearance. However, the profile and overall shape has changed very little. With the exception of some gentle buffing of the bodywork, to smooth down the sharper edges and altered taillights, BMW doesn’t appear to have changed much on the exterior.  Read More >

By on June 25, 2017

pfaff-mclaren-mclaren-rally-june-2017-7196

With contributions by Sebastien Bell and Sam McEachern

Mechanics have made their last-minute checks, drivers circulate sur la piste managing tire and brake temperatures, engineers confirm strategies; cars stage on the starting grid, the dissonant cacophony of twenty 1.6-liter V6 hybrid Formula 1 engines spooling reverberates through the grandstands as five red lights illuminate sequentially…

Hosted on Montreal’s Île Notre-Dame since 1978, the Grand Prix Du Canada has always been a special place for the Formula 1 paddock. For decades, drivers have loved the city’s vibrating atmosphere and unbridled passion for the sport, but what they really love is the circuit’s proximity to a devilish downtown core drowning in alcohol and impeccably dressed women.

Why do you think we like it? Read More >

By on June 24, 2017

2016 Tesla Model S, Image: Tesla

One Tesla owner got a big shock yesterday as his accelerator pedal snapped off while driving.

The story comes from user benjiejr on the Tesla Motor Club forum. He was showing off his Model S P85D to a friend and his nephew. After going through the car’s features it was time to show off the massive acceleration of the P85D’s twin electric motors and 503 horsepower.

“I turned around and was going to do another launch, but this time without Launch Mode – just stomp on the pedal – like I do most often. When I punched it, the accelerator pedal broke off.”

Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

cheech-chong high driving

Tragically, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has correlated the legalization of recreational marijuana use with more automobile accidents. Pot smoking in Colorado, Oregon and Washington seems to have resulted in collision frequencies roughly 3 percent higher than what would have been expected without legalization, according to a recent analysis from the Highway Loss Data Institute.

While this certainly isn’t an endorsement for de-legalizing recreational marijuana use, it is a reminder to stay off the roads if you’re having your head changed. Operating a motor vehicle while baked can get you into a sticky-icky situation, and nobody wants you having a green out on the expressway. That said, risks associated with driving under the influence of marijuana are much less cut-and-dried than alcohol.

This is largely due to how difficult it is for researchers to test marijuana. Despite its growing legalization, marijuana is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule 1 drug, and subject to the highest level of restriction. Researchers need approval from their institution and apply for a license from the DEA before conducting a study. The government also has only so much pot to dole out for research purposes and gives the majority of it to the National Institute on Drug Abuse — fair and balanced testing of whether or not getting high while driving is safe is a little lower on NIDA’s list of priorities. In this instance, the same might be suggested of the IIHS.  Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

A Frat Bro in Cadillac Country

“Pshhh, it’s not that fast. Your car is faster,” the young man wearing the Alpha Gamma Delta shirt said to his blonde companion. We were in the parking lot of a stadium in Orange County, under the shade of a white tent with a Cadillac logo, beside a sign reading: “ACCELERATION.” It was unclear which Cadillac he was disparaging, as both the ATS-V and CTS-V were available for full-throttle rips. He may have been trying to goad his girlfriend into driving, but the trash talk indicated this was no press junket.

Welcome to the Southern California edition of Cadillac’s Truth + Dare summer tour across America.

Two weeks earlier, I was wondering how the hell I was targeted on Twitter by a Cadillac ad with an invitation to a ride-and-drive event. For financial reasons, “automotive journalist” doesn’t fit the profile of a typical Cadillac customer. My BMW Z3 recently celebrated its 20th birthday. But they weren’t asking for my tax returns and I’m fascinated by the Cadillac brand, so this seemed like an opportunity to see how they present themselves to the public. All I had to do was drive from Los Angeles to Anaheim on a Friday at 2:00 p.m. Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

self-driving uber advanced tech center autonomous car

It would seem Waymo’s case against Uber is progressing at the latter’s expense. Anthony Levandowski, the former Uber employee at the center of the intellectual property theft, was apparently covered in writing for any legal action taken against for things like… fraud and stealing trade secrets.

The clause, which is literally outlined as “Pre-Signing Bad Acts” in the contract, was part of closed documents U.S. District Judge William Alsup previously assumed would be invaluable in progressing the case. Alphabet, which owns Waymo, accused Uber of being complicit in Levandowski’s alleged theft – suggesting the ride-sharing rival intentionally hired him in the hopes he would bring inside information acquired during his tenure at Google. It was a notion Alsup also seemed more than willing to entertain.

“It remains entirely possible that Uber knowingly left Levandowski free to keep that treasure trove of files as handy as he wished [provided he keep the data on his own personal devices], and that Uber willfully refused to tell Levandowski to return the treasure trove to its rightful owner,” the judge said back in MayRead More >

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