Design

Automotive Design commentary and reviews by The Truth about Cars

QOTD: Would You Live in Automotive-Branded Housing?

I got a press release from Aston Martin today about the opening of a high-rise condo building in Miami that bears the company's branding.

Of course, the 66-story, 391-unit building is opening in time for next week's Miami Grand Prix Forumla 1 race.

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In Memoriam: Marcello Gandini, an Automotive Design Master

The world lost one of its preeminent car designers today, as Marcello Gandini has passed away at the age of 85. Though perhaps best known for the flashy and outrageous Lamborghini Countach, Gandini’s pen was applied to many other Italian, German, French, British, Japanese, and Swedish concepts and production designs. Gandini’s prolific portfolio of work made a permanent mark on automotive design.

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Automakers Sticking with Screens Are Going to Receive Bad Safety Ratings in Europe

Updated European safety certifications may discourage global automakers from leaning so heavily upon touch controls in the future. While not a formal government regulator, the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) is extremely influential in a manner similar to the United States’ Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). These are the entities testing the crash worthiness of modern automobiles, or bench-marking industry safety standards, and Euro NCAP has elected to make distracted driving a major issue moving forward. By 2026, any vehicles sold within the European market will need to include physical controls to be deemed truly safe.

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QOTD: Going Blocky

Yesterday we brought you the details on the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe. The Santa Fe's new duds are quite blocky, just like those of the Land Rover Defender (Hyundai claims this is a coincidence. Other blocky SUVs on the market include the Ford Bronco. Other Land Rover/Range Rover models are squared off, too. Kia, which is a corporate sibling to Hyundai, has been selling the blocky Telluride for a while now.

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Alfa Romeo Displays Carabo Concept, Speculation Abounds

While Milan Design Week is primarily focused on showcasing the latest representations of furniture you couldn’t possibly afford, sometimes a car or two gets thrown into the mix and Alfa Romeo had one hell of an entrant prepared this year. But it wasn’t a new design.

Instead, the Italian automaker rolled out the Carabo concept from the 1968 Paris Motor Show. As one of the first vehicles to pioneer the wedge shape that became synonymous with supercars in later decades, the Alfa holds a massive amount of historical significance. However, there may be more going on than the automaker simply wanting to take a trip down memory lane.

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QOTD: Screens or Knobs?

I wrote yesterday that we need a truce among car people when it comes to interior design -- specifically, knobs vs screens -- and I told you folks that, generally speaking, I prefer a mix of the two.

Now it's your turn.

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Opinion: Let's Come to A Détente About Screens in Cars

Motor 1's John Neff recently wrote a screed defending the proliferation of screens in cars, and as he anticipated in his concluding paragraph, his take went over about as well as a stinky release of flatulence during high tea with the royal family.

Automotive enthusiasts and journalists, as well as consumers, pushed back hard, at least from what I saw on the socials.

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What's Wrong With This Picture: Two Mules, One Market Edition

As we’ve already seen, BMW is building a record number of variants of its next-generation 3 Series, including “GT” hatchback and X4 “Sport Activity Coupe.” But as this photo shows, there is at least one other Dreier bodystyle that we hadn’t heard about yet: the long wheelbase sedan (top). Given the brand’s post-Bangle swing towards extreme styling consistency, the decision between a LWB 3 series and a 5 series seems to have serious head-scratching potential… but it’s not something we’ll have to worry about. The LWB sports sedan will only be sold in China, according to Auto Motor und Sport, where upmarket buyers favor chauffeurs… even in the Ultimate Driving Machine.

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N Day: Hyundai Reveals N Vision 74 And RN22e, Ioniq 5 N Debuts In 2023

The 21st century has been particularly kind to the Hyundai Motor Company, though this was hardly a matter of chance. Originally known in the West for providing bargain automobiles that were surprisingly competent, it wasn’t long before the South Korean brand was giving Japanese mainstays stiff competition. By the early 2000s, Hyundai was working hard to differentiate itself from the recently acquired Kia and opted to make its products more luxurious and saw massive gains in the U.S. market that have more-or-less continued until today.

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2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 EV Previewed

In 2020, Hyundai Motor Group unveiled the Prophecy concept EV which everyone immediately noticed had embraced an alternative, almost opposite, design language from the angular 45 concept. The latter model went on to serve as the blueprint for the Ioniq 5, whereas the Prophecy has morphed into the Ioniq 6 you see before you.

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2023 Lexus RZ Coming to U.S. With Steering Yoke

Lexus’ first EV, the RZ 450e, will reportedly be debuting with a yoke-style steering wheel that will be coming to the United States as an optional feature. While we’ve seen yokes on dedicated racing vehicles, their adoption by companies producing mass-market automobiles is fairly novel, and global firms have been generally hesitant to use them inside North America.

Lexus won’t be following suit and has already confirmed that its yoke will be available to RZ shoppers living in the U.S.

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Junkyard Find: 1987 Nissan Pulsar NX XE
A 1987 Nissan Pulsar NX with T-top removable roof panels, photographed in a self-service wrecking yard in Denver, Colorado.
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Hyundai Teases the Ioniq SEVEN Concept

Hyundai Motor Company has revealed teaser images of the Ioniq SEVEN, an all-electric SUV concept scheduled to debut at AutoMobility Los Angeles later this month. The model is supposed to preview the automaker’s future design and technology innovation as it transitions toward electric vehicles, potentially previewing the upcoming sport utility vehicle to be added to the brand’s Ioniq lineup. Though it doesn’t resemble the Ioniq 5 all that much and we were under the impression that was the model foreshadowing the brand’s upcoming EVs.

No matter. Hyundai has a lot of uniquely designed models that share just enough to make it apparent that they’re still part of the larger family and most of what we’re seeing of the SEVEN concept is of its comfy, cozy interior. These teasers really make you want to curl up inside the SEVEN with a Tolstoy novel and a blanket to see how long you can get by uninterrupted.

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Weird Wheels: United Nude's 'Lo-Res Car' Up for Auction

If anybody has a soft spot for wedge designs and the automotive future envisioned during the 1970s, it’s yours truly. While mainstream vehicles being manufactured during the Malaise Era often left a lot to be desired, the concepts were sublime and led to some of the most unique-looking production cars in automotive history. I’m talking about cars like the Lancia Stratos, Lamborghini Countach, Lotus Esprit, BMW M1, De Tomaso Pantera, and DeLorean DMC-12. Toss in the digital dashboards that were gradually appearing in standard passenger cars during the 1980s and you’ve reached the point where I would probably claim automotive styling reached its zenith after a few stiff drinks. But I’ve been told by those who can distinguish fetishization from appreciation that those designs weren’t perfect and kind of look the same when there’s enough squinting is deployed.

Apparently, someone took that premise and used it as a template for a modern prototype intended to help sell shoes. Though the company focused entirely on the basic shape of wedge cars, settling on a vehicle that resembles what a Countach might have looked like in a video game from two decades ago should the assets fail to load. Known as the United Nude Lo-Res Concept Vehicle, it’s probably one of the more-unique automobiles ever built and it’s yours for the taking now that the Petersen Automotive Museum doesn’t want it.

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What Do You Think of the Returning Lamborghini Countach?

Lamborghini introduced the Countach LPI 800-4 over the weekend, undoubtedly hoping to rake in some of the wealth that’s been amassing in the upper echelons of society. Supposedly retailing somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million, the vehicle is effectively an Aventador with some retro-inspired bodywork with the powertrain of the new Sián.

While a 6.5-liter V12 and electric motor providing a combined maximum output of 802 horsepower is nothing to sneeze at, there was some level of expectation that the Countach design might even outdo the truly wild Sián FKP 37 Lamborghini previewed in 2019. But producing something striking is difficult when you’re simultaneously attempting to marry the concept with a 50-year-old design everyone has been fetishizing since before they were old enough to learn what that meant.

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2022 BMW 2 Series Coupes Coming Soon

The 2022 BMW 2 Series coupes are on their way. Dynamic testing, drivetrain, and suspension tuning on the two-door compact are nearing conclusion. Production begins in the late summer of 2021.

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Hyundai Xcient Fuel Cell HD Truck On Its Way

The Hyundai Xcient is on its way to becoming the first mass-produced hydrogen-powered, heavy-duty truck. Design and performance improvements have made it more competitive with those expected from Mercedes-Benz, Toyota-Hino, and Nikola.

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2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 Fast Charging CUV Exposed

The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 ultra-fast charging crossover utility vehicle was revealed yesterday, highlighting its Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP).

Ioniq 5’s 300-mile range, and 10-to-80 percent ultra-fast charging in 18 minutes showcases E-GMP technology.

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Tesla Autonomously Rams Deputy's SUV

A Tesla autonomously rammed a Snohomish County, Washington sheriff’s deputy’s Ford Explorer SUV. As reported by Nexstar Media Wire, the incident occurred over the weekend.

The parked SUV sustained heavy damage. There were no injuries to the driver or the deputy. There was no word on the extent of the damages to the Tesla.

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2021 Acura TLX Type S Picks Up the Pace This Weekend

The 2021 Acura TLX Type S will pace the field at the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio in Lexington, Ohio this weekend. The TLX Type S’ debut is one we reported previously, with more details available now than Acura had previously released.

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2022 Acura MDX SUV Insurers' Top Safety Pick

The 2022 Acura MDX SUV’s Top Safety Pick (TSP) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety runs counter to all the racing around done in Acura’s commercials. The MDX is the automaker’s third vehicle to receive the IIHS’s highest safety rating, along with the RDX and TLX.

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2021 Land Rover Defender Corroded

2021 Land Rover Defender owners, are you unhappy with your SUV’s finish? Heritage Customs will give you corroded parts with real rust.

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2013-15 Honda Accords Heading in the Wrong Direction

2013-15 Honda Accords are under investigation by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a steering issue. Allegations of Accords suddenly losing control without warning have led to 107 complaints. According to a Motor1 report, there are as many as 1,120,470 Accords in the US that could be affected.

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BMW Art Cars Exhibited

BMW art cars debuted today, using artificial intelligence (AI) software to generate new works of art. In conjunction with Frieze New York, the fair takes place in Manhattan from May 5 – 9, 2021.

Frieze New York has works of art from over 60 galleries, mainly located in New York. A viewing room with over 160 exhibitors runs through May 14, bringing together galleries worldwide, and audiences who can’t travel.

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Ermenegildo Zegna Teams With Stellantis

Today, the Ermenegildo Zegna Group announced its affiliation with Stellantis. By 2025, the Zegna Group’s entire fleet of 200 will go green. A new green-car policy has gone into effect at the company, well known for its pricy clothing and accessories.

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2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 63S: Ready to Rock

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 63 S SUV is the only V8, biturbo-powered, compact SUV. According to Mercedes, it’ll do 0–60 mph in 3.6 seconds, which makes for a quick dash to the mini-mart.

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2022 Hyundai Kona N Unwrapped

Hyundai rolled out the 2022 Kona N yesterday at its N Day, a digital showcase for the N brand. The latest N brand inclusion, Hyundai’s N and N Line will grow to 18 models through 2022. Hyundai expresses its ambition for the brand with the tagline ‘Never just drive’.

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QOTD: Is the 2021 Rolls-Royce-Based Overdose Actually Overkill?

A Rolls-Royce Black Badge Wraith is already a limited production vehicle. German tuner Novitec, and its Spofec division, are modifying three of these cars for worldwide distribution. The question of the day is whether the Spofec Overdose Wraiths are overkill, or not?

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2023 Cadillac Lyriq is Almost Here

Today the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq made its production debut. If this is the highlight of a century of innovation, what’s Cadillac been doing the rest of the time? Cadillac’s luxury electric SUV is starting a new era ahead of schedule. You can place your order in September for a 2022 first-half delivery.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz EQB – Electricity Flows

Mercedes-Benz’s 2021 EQB is its third all-electric launch this year, along with the EQA 250 and EQS. The EQB will be produced for the local market in Beijing. The rest of the world will get their EQBs from Kecskemét, Hungary. The EQB will be the first pure EV made in Hungary.

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2021 BMW M3 and M4 Competition XDrives Arrive Soon

BMW’s 2021 M3 and M4 Competition cars, both endowed with xDrive all-wheel-drive, will arrive in August. Four hundred and seventy-nine lb-ft of torque is on tap.

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2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Reveals Itself

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has finally seen the light of day. It was about time, given all the fuzzy photos and hype prior to dropping today. More like a dull thud than a big bang, but here it is.

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2022 Nissan NISMO GT-R Special Edition Flaunts Exclusivity

The 2022 Nissan NISMO GT-R Special Edition was unveiled today in Japan. How much more exclusive can a limited-edition sports car be? It turns out this GT-R is pretty distinctive. It’s not just a badge and some decals that sets it apart.

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Arcimoto FUVs a NASDAQ Addition

Arcimoto, makers of fun, utility vehicles for commuters and fleets, announced NASDAQ’s approval today. The company can now list its shares of common stock on The NASDAQ Global Market, a positive growth sign.

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Hyundai Pony Heritage Becomes Design Studio Centerpiece

While automotive enthusiasts have mixed opinions on the cultural clout of electric vehicles, there’s one aspect of electrification that’s undeniably cool — the resto-mod potential. Despite the historic appeal of driving around in vintage automobiles, they’re often painfully slow with ridiculously long braking distances and a lack of standard features many people living today would deem unacceptable. If you don’t believe me, select a random friend and ask them to parallel park a car without power steering or automatic transmission. Chuck in maintenance costs that are often well above average and it’s little wonder why so many Baby Boomers have been spending their retirement years outfitting the classic-era (or older) cars they grew up with with modern conveniences and components.

But we’ve also started seeing manufacturers (and even some intrepid entrepreneurs) taking the foundational concepts of resto-modding and adding electric propulsion. Some executions even seem to be pushing the boundaries of what we could effectively call automotive restoration, like Hyundai’s Pony Heritage EV.

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Watt EV Coupe – Will It Make It to Production or Not?

The Watt Electric Vehicle Company (WEVC) has unveiled the EV Coupe, a classic shape inspired by the 1955 Porsche 356A. WEVC is not connected with Porsche AG. WEVC does not imply that any of their products are a product of Porsche AG, nor are the Porsche or 356 names used or associated with WEVC products. So why would we think WEVC is on a slippery slope?

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NHTSA Recalls GM Vans for Potential Fire Hazard

A warning was issued today to owners of 2021 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans with 6.6-liter gas engines by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If a battery short circuit were to happen, there may be a low battery voltage warning, the battery might die, or an engine compartment fire could take place.

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Hyundai Santa Cruz Readies to Kick Some Sand

Gearing up for its debut on April 15th, Hyundai has released renderings of the Santa Cruz, its ground-breaking pickup named for a sleepy Northern California beach city.

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Lexus LF-Z is Watts New

Today, Lexus dropped the LF-Z concept car, stepping on the electric-vehicle (EV) accelerator. By 2025, the company expects to have 20 new PHEV, HEV, and BEV models from which to choose.

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BMW X6 by AC Schnitzer – Is It Worth the Effort?

German tuning specialist AC Schnitzer has heralded the introduction of their version the BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe (SAV), itself neither a coupe nor a proper sporting vehicle.

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2022 BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupe a Late Spring Arrival

Alpina is to BMW enthusiasts much like AMG is to Mercedes devotees, both eliciting great excitement and emotion. The former has announced the arrival of the 2022 BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupe in late spring.

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Jeep Orange Peelz Concept Looks Sweet

Orange Peelz, one of a half-dozen Jeep concepts unveiled at Easter Jeep Safari, is quite possibly the easiest to replicate and drive on a daily basis. A two-door Wrangler, it uses Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) prototype half doors and a custom removable sunroof to let the sunshine in.

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Jeep Farout Concept Rolls at Easter Jeep Safari

Farout, a new Jeep Gladiator concept vehicle for 2021, is an overlander built for four, thanks to the addition of an AT Overland Equipment Habitat truck topper. At 16-feet long and 7.5-feet tall, the pop top fully deployed takes about three minutes to set up.

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2022 Mini Countryman Boardwalk Edition – Past Park Place?

Mini USA today proclaimed the pricing and availability of the 2022 Countryman Boardwalk Edition, a variant for those who don’t mind drawing attention to themselves with its unique, eye-catching coloration.

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Jeep Gladiator Top Dog Takes On Moab

The Jeep Gladiator Top Dog concept vehicle is headed to Moab for the first time. First built in 2020, it sat in limbo for events to open up again, and the 55th Annual Easter Jeep Safari was the opportunity Jeep had been waiting for.

Due to COVID-19, the host group, Red Rock 4-Wheelers, had Easter Jeep Safari canceled, only to have the Grand County Commission in February approve a revision to the group’s special permit, and their event permit. Part of their compliance required cancellation of the vendor portion of the show, although the group has announced they will do a virtual live-streamed giveaway, to be held Friday, April 2nd at 6:30 p.m. Mountain time on their Facebook page.

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2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed – Loaded Like a Freight Train

The Bentley Continental GT Speed is 650 HP and 664 ft.-lb. of torque, with an eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission, and all-wheel drive. It’ll do 0-60 in 3.5-seconds, with a top speed of 208 MPH, the third generation of Speed models, details of which were released today.

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Jeepster Beach Like Deja Vu at 2021 Easter Jeep Safari

Blend a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with a 1968 Jeepster Commando and what do you get? A throwback that epitomizes why you build concept vehicles. I have to imagine it was as much fun for the designers, as it was the fabricators and the PR team that gets to display them this week at Easter Jeep Safari.

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2022 Hyundai Staria People Mover Unveiled

Inching closer to its mid-year debut, the 2022 Hyundai Staria multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) was revealed yesterday, with the premise of next-level mobility.

Minivan though it may be, at no point did Hyundai use this often-maligned vehicle classification. In the world of auto sales, it is the people mover that a family of four or more can hardly live without and that many parents dread for the stigma associated with them.

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2021 Hyundai Elantra Chosen Hispanic Motor Press Car of the Year

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra has been selected Car of the Year during Automobility LA by the Hispanic Motor Press. The 2021 Hispanic Motor Press Awards (HMPA) jury panel included 24 Hispanic automotive journalists, content creators, and industry influencers, who analyzed more than 100 new 2020 and 2021 vehicles.

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8th Gen Mercedes-AMG SL Unveiled

Mercedes-AMG wanted to show you its new SL Roadster, a 2+2 seater, testing its 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system at a private proving ground in Sweden near the Arctic Circle. In typical Mercedes fashion, they said it was as much a test of the Roadster’s convertible top as it was the all-wheel-drive system under these harsh conditions.

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2021 Maybach S 580 Tips the Scales at $184,900

Yesterday, Maybach heralded the arrival of the S 580, with the type of announcement you’d expect if you started at $184,900, or roughly 69 percent of the $269,039 median home price nationwide, according to Zillow.com.

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Airstream 30FB Office Travel Trailer Perfect for Working From Anywhere

Airstream recently released its Flying Cloud 30FB Office floor plan, putting dedicated office space in its most popular product line. Replacing a sleeping area with office space, the idea was formulated due to the growing popularity of working remotely and the idea of digital nomadism.

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2022 Hyundai Kona N Uncovered – Again [Updated]

Hyundai’s New-for 2022 Kona N has been revealed along with the previously-announced Kona, but this time supposedly without masking. A glimpse was provided to tease viewers, and heighten the hype around what they’re calling an addition to their high-performance N division.

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2022 400Z HP Revealed?

According to Project Cars 3, a video game from Slightly Mad Studios distributed by Bandai Namco, the new Nissan 400Z is shown in their latest downloadable content (DLC) power pack to possess some very serious horsepower.

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2022 Hyundai Tucson Priced to Fit

Pricing for the all-new 2022 Tucson SUV was announced by Hyundai Motor America today, with 15 variations available to suit a wide range of needs and budgets. Starting at $24,950 MSRP for a base SE model with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, 8-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive, the range tops out at $37,350 for a Limited HEV, which is a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder hybrid with a 6-speed automatic transmission and HTRAC all-wheel drive.

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2021 Honda CB1000R Black Edition – Ride It Like You Stole It

Consider the Honda CB1000R, everything you need and nothing you don’t. Beyond the naked bike school of thought, the CB1000R is unbridled joy, without the race replica look of a sport bike, nor the flash of a cruiser.

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Hyundai Releases Bayon Euro Crossover

Don’t get too excited. Hyundai’s Bayon is at present a European-only crossover SUV that the brand announced today. All-new in the B-segment, Bayon is named after Bayonne, a sought-after vacation destination in the south of France.

The growing popularity of SUVs in Europe was the reason for Hyundai’s introduction, and the forward-motion stance of the Bayon is in keeping with the design characteristics of the segment. Bayon is the seventh new or enhanced model Hyundai has released in the past year.

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Land Rover Defender of the Faith

The Land Rover Defender, absent from the U.S. for a quarter of a century, has made its return in both a 90 and 110 super size. Available from 296 HP mild to 518 HP wild, there’s one available in just about any configuration you’d want.

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Volkswagen Reprises Blue Lagoon GLI for 2021 Show Car

Among water-cooled Volkswagen aficionados, the Mark 5 2004 Jetta GLI in a color called Blue Lagoon has become a unicorn. With this in mind, for 2021 Volkswagen rolled out a Jetta GLI concept car that reprises its sought-after predecessor.

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New Sundancer Boat a BMW Designworks and Sea Ray Collaboration

Designworks, BMW’s California design studio, has announced their first collaboration with Sea Ray, the storied boat builder, on their new Sundancer 370 Outboard. Released to coincide with the 45th anniversary of the Sundancer series, it’s a swoopy-looking departure for the iconic maritime manufacturer.

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  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X As much problems as I had with my '96 Chevy Impala SS.....I would love to try one again. I've seen a Dark Cherry Metallic one today and it looked great.
  • Susan O’Neil There is a good reason to keep the Chevrolet Malibu and other 4 door family sedans! You can transport your parents and other somewhat handicapped people comfortably and safety! If someone can stand and pivot you can put them in your car. An armrest in the back seat is appreciated and a handle above the door! Oh…and leather seats so your passenger can slide across the seat! 😊Plus, you can place a full sized wheelchair or walker in the trunk! The car sits a little lower…so it’s doable! I currently have a Ford Fusion and we have a Honda Accord. Our previous cars were Mercury Sables-excellent for transporting handicapped people and equipment! As the population ages-sedans are a very practical choice! POV from a retired handicapped advocate and daughter! 😊
  • Freddie Remember those ads that say "Call your doctor if you still have...after four hours"?You don't need to call your doctor, just get behind the wheel of a CUV. In fact, just look at one.I'm a car guy with finite resources; I can't afford a practical car during the week plus a fun car on the weekend. My solution is my Honda Civic Si 4 door sedan. Maybe yours is a Dodge Charger (a lot of new Chargers are still on dealer lots).
  • Daniel J Interesting in that we have several weeks where the temperature stays below 45 but all weather tires can't be found in a shop anywhere. I guess all seasons are "good enough".
  • Steve Biro For all the talk about sedans vs CUVs and SUVs, I simply can’t bring myself to buy any modern vehicle. And I know it’s only going to get worse.