Tag: New Cars

By on August 17, 2017

Defender90

Details have come to light regarding the return of Land Rover’s long-running Defender model to the North American market. This time around, things will be a little different. After a solid 67-year run (dating back to 1948 as the “Series” models), perhaps some changes were due.

And this time, North America gets to see the new Defender at the same time as the rest of the world.

(Read More…)

By on August 11, 2017

2018 Ram 3500 Cummins towing, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Healthy competition lowers the price of consumer goods, the economists tell us, but it also raises torque ratings. Nowhere is this more apparent than among the Detroit Three automakers, with Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles locking horns, crossing swords (keep it clean…), and firing arrows at each other in a heavy-duty pickup war that’s only heated up in recent years.

It comes down to stump-pulling, gravel-hauling, trailer-towing twist. In 2015, the Ram 3500’s 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six turbodiesel topped the Ford F-350 SuperDuty’s 6.7-liter turbodiesel V8 by 5 lb-ft of torque — 865 to Ford’s 860. This clearly couldn’t stand, so for 2017 Ford upgraded the Power Stroke’s torque rating to 925 lb-ft, kiboshing Ram’s 2016 attempt to stay ahead with a 900 lb-ft rating.

With 2017 came further aggressions. This year saw GM pulling ahead to second place with its 6.6-liter Duramax V8, now upgraded to 910 lb-ft, knocking Ram down to third place.

Well, FCA’s having none of it. Just a day after Ford’s unveiling of a newly powerful second-generation 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 and 5.0-liter V8, Ram fires this salvo: a Cummins with more grunt than any other rival. (Read More…)

By on August 11, 2017

2018 Acura RLX

Acura is changing its flagship sedan for 2018 with a short list of important electronic upgrades and a much-needed makeover. Most evident is the absence of the chrome break the brand tried to make synonymous with its lineup for a decade. The RLX’s new hallmark is a diamond pentagon grille, already seen on the TLX and MDX.

It still looks like a bird of prey, but maybe one better suited for swooping down and plucking Acura’s tanking sales from the water like a fresh salmon — or perhaps a slightly smaller fish. (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

Jeep Trackhawk

Jeep announced pricing for the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk this week and whether it’s a good value or not largely depends on your priorities. At $85,900 with an additional $1,095 destination charge, it’s essentially the same price as the Dodge Demon before dealer markups. That’s roughly $20,000 over Dodge’s four-door Charger SRT Hellcat, which uses the same supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine delivering an identical 707 horsepower.

So, how do you plate the price to make it appear more appetizing? Direct comparisons. Midsize performance SUVs sit in an odd category almost entirely dominated by premium German vehicles and two less-lavish American models using a seven-year-old platform derived with help from Daimler. What sets the Trackhawk apart is it’s the most bonkers of the bunch and manages its madness at a lower price point than the competition.  (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT, Hyundai Elantra GT

Back in late June, Hyundai’s Canadian division bundled myself and a group of fellow journalists into a Quebec hotel, then proceeded to explain how crossovers are eating the compact car’s lunch.

The 2018 Elantra GT, the company’s representatives said, almost didn’t happen because of the unstoppable popularity of high-riding, cavernous utility vehicles. Hyundai’s U.S. crew apparently needed convincing that the next-generation GT was even worth the trouble. Essentially just an overseas-market i30 with a name change, the new GT’s North American salvation came from the fact few buyers opted for an Elantra-badged hatchback in recent years. Far more buyers take home a Ford Focus or Mazda 3 with five doors.

And so, having been assured that a much-improved GT — a hatchback with more cargo room, more available power, greater handling and sporting prowess, and cohesive, flirting-with-premium looks — would boost overall Elantra sales, we’ve come to this. An Elantra GT, now with more GT.

In GT Sport trim, the vastly reshaped, fourth-generation compact hatch dons the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder from the Elantra Sport, calls dibs on its athletic cousin’s sporty transmissions, and goes to town delivering value-packed driving excitement for the commuter who likes taking the long (and twisty) way home. This tester, however, is no Elantra GT Sport. Nope. It’s the plain ol’ Elantra GT — the Elantra GT you’ll see far more often than the throaty, scrappy Sport, probably while its owner performs the mundane cargo-hauling duties Hyundai so desperately wants its buyers to attempt.

Even in base form, Hyundai hopes the Elantra GT’s sporting abilities and generous cargo volume whispers a siren song would-be subcompact crossover buyers simply can’t ignore. Is it a convincing come-on? (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2015 Nissan Juke, Image: Nissan

Today’s Question of the Day is the inverse of one I posited back in March of this year. At that time, we took your suggestions for current vehicle designs which you thought would stand the test of time.

It’s now time to cover the other side of the ugly coin; the vehicles on sale today which will become dated-looking quicker than all others.

(Read More…)

By on August 3, 2017

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport - Image: FCAThere are a large number of major new vehicle introductions happening in the United States in 2017.

The all-new 2018 Toyota Camry is arriving at dealers as we speak. The all-new 2018 Honda Accord is weeks away. Ford’s 2018 F-150 revamp is a thorough mid-cycle update. The Kia Niro, a unique Toyota Prius alternative, arrived early this year. Mazda brought a new bodystyle to the MX-5 Miata in RF trim. The Subaru Crosstrek, quickly becoming a mainstream compact car option, is new for 2018. The Alfa Romeo rebirth continues with the Giulia, still ramping up, and the arriving-now Stelvio. The all-electric Chevrolet Bolt arrived in late December, as did a new version of America’s historic best-selling utility vehicle, the Honda CR-V. The list goes on: Tesla Model 3, Jeep Compass, Ford Expedition, Land Rover Discovery, Lexus LC, Toyota C-HR, Volkswagen Atlas, Volvo XC60.

And, thank our lucky stars, we can’t forget the early summer arrival of Honda’s fifth-generation Odyssey.

New engines, new transmissions, new wiring harnesses, new technology, new roof-folding mechanisms, new Italians. Is it just too much… new everything? Would you buy any of these vehicles in 2017, or is it best to wait until the second model year? (Read More…)

By on August 2, 2017

CT6 Continental

Today’s Question of the Day isn’t our typical lighthearted, open-ended Choose Your Own Adventure inquiry. It’s serious business, pitting two serious flagship sedans against one another.

At the end of this post, you’ll have to choose: Lincoln Continental, or Cadillac CT6?

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf, Image: TV2.no

The 2018 Nissan Leaf was ready for its close-up, but didn’t count on a Norwegian tourist peering through a hotel window.

Photos have emerged of a completely uncamouflaged next-generation Leaf spotted in Barcelona, Spain, apparently while in the midst of filming a commercial. The photos, sent to Norway’s TV2 television channel (Norway does love its EVs…), show the unclothed Leaf wearing a far more appealing body than that of its predecessor.

Still sporting a hatchback bodystyle, the 2018 Leaf boasts a number of advancements Nissan has slowly and carefully dripped to the media over the past few months. Head office won’t be happy to see these pics. (Read More…)

By on July 29, 2017

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

Perhaps the most anticipated automotive event of the year (Tesla disciples might say millenium) took place in California last night, as electric car guru Elon Musk handed over the first 30 production Tesla Model 3 sedans to customers — most, if not all, of them employees — at a glitzy, livestreamed event.

Eyesight was restored to the blind. Others rose from their wheelchairs, walking for the first time in years. Okay, that’s not true, but the depths to which some Tesla fans deify Musk and his car company cannot be understated. Certainly, after seeing the final production model, learning its specifications, and hearing Tesla’s lofty production plans, even a cynic drowning in a vast ocean of media-driven hype can’t help but feel impressed.

Hailed as the first affordable, long-range, mass-produced electric car — a crown stolen by the Chevrolet Bolt months ago — the Model 3 will retail for $35,000 before federal incentives, but not just yet. The only version available at launch is the $44,000 Long Range model, good for 310 miles of range per charge.

The 220-mile base sedan, which carries that vaunted lower sticker price, won’t be available until this fall. So, what can the roughly 500,000 reservation holders expect? If they’re on a budget, black had better be their favorite color. (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2017

2017 Volvo V90

Volvo wants you to reconsider your hauling needs.

Sure, crossovers are a hot commodity these days, coveted for their available cargo space and all-weather capability, but Volvo — despite selling a pair of lofty crossovers itself — believes you should ditch the SUV in favor of a car. And that car is the Volvo V90.

What we have here is an attractively styled, stretched five-door Scandinavian hatchback that carries Volvo’s renowned wagon legacy confidently into the future. It’s a car that places emphasis on driving dynamics and safety first, but won’t let you down if you have a family, a few pets, and some gear to haul around over the weekend.

The 2018 Volvo V90 was brought to this world to elbow the crossover in the throat. (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2017

2017 chrysler pacifica

We’ve always been slightly hesitant to share J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Study, especially given how easily analysis can be clouded by customers failing to understand the technology within their own vehicles. However, the market research firm still provides an interesting peek into what consumers seem to covet versus what they actually purchase.

In J.D. Power’s U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, consumers were asked how they “feel” about their vehicles on a more visceral level in order to evaluate the car’s overall appeal — or its APEAL, as it were.

Based on a 1,000-point scale, the 2017 survey showed overall satisfaction increased from a score of 801 points to 810 — the highest in the study’s 22-years of existence. Perched at the top of the most appealing brands list is Porsche, for a 13th consecutive year of glory, but it didn’t record the most marked improvement.

Chrysler did.   (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2017

Image: 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, image © Corey Lewis

Power and performance. Luxury and emotionBalance and elegance. These are the seductive adjectives experts in automotive marketing insist can be found in a company’s newest offering, especially in the premium sports sedan segment.

After spending time on the back roads of Tennessee with the revised-for-2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, is the marketing hype true? Does it really deliver all the desirable adjectives you’d like in your premium sports sedan offering?

In a word, no.

(Read More…)

By on July 20, 2017

air fresheners, Tony Alter/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

China doesn’t possess the same affinity for the iconic “new car smell” that remains popular in North America. The scent itself, a conglomeration of industrial adhesive fumes and the off-gassing of various plastics, is technically toxic air pollution trapped inside the vehicle’s cabin. However, Western drivers have made it synonymous with the pleasantries of owning a new vehicle, while Chinese motorists have not.

This brings up a very important question. Are they bad people?

While it would be very easy to use this single example to conclude that China is a perverse and disturbed nation, Westerners subjected to the volatile compounds of a new car’s interior on a particularly hot day might agree that the smell, in heavy doses, occasionally leaves something to be desired. Ideally, the odor should bring a tear to the eye due to nostalgia or pride, not because it’s trying to flush out the hazardous vapors emitted by baked vinyl.

“Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center, which has been researching the the smell since 2006. “Since [most of] these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives.”

Automakers have been. As a result, the intensity of new car smell has diminished quite a bit since the early 2000s. In North America, it’s largely the result of trying to exclude carcinogenic fumes from substances like polyvinyl chloride. But in China, the practice extends out to nullifying any negative associations shoppers might have with the scent by trying to eliminate it entirely. It’s the number one concern for new car buyers, and automakers and customers go to great lengths to avoid even the slightest whiff.

(Read More…)

By on July 20, 2017

2018 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400

At the 2018 Infiniti Q50 First Drive event in Nashville (expect a full review Friday), I was able to spend a few moments with the top-of-the-line Q60 for 2018 — the Red Sport 400. While I didn’t get enough time behind the wheel to provide you with the sort of detailed and meaningful review you’d like to see, the pictures turned out alright. It’s nice to see a luxury coupe with a (mostly) white interior.

Holy Eldorado!

(Read More…)

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