Cadillac Names New 'V' Model, Gives Two Others the Last Rites

Something needs to carry Cadillac’s performance banner into the future, and, with three of its four sedans slated for execution within the next year, GM’s luxury brand has decided the sole remaining car should be it. Tough decision, that one.

At least it’s not the XT5.

Late Wednesday, Cadillac announced the flagship CT6 V-Sport, bowing for the 2019 model year, will henceforth be known as the CT6-V. In the Cadillac stable, V-Sport models see a significant uptick in power, with the real scorching stuff carrying a -V signifier. Luckily, the CT6 V-Sport stands to gain an engine of considerable output when it arrives in the spring.

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Nerd Alert! Hyundai Debuts Kona 'Iron Man Edition' at Comic-Con

On Thursday, Hyundai unveiled a special edition of its Kona crossover on the opening day of the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con. Revealed at the Marvel booth, the Kona “Iron Man Edition” features a bevy of design elements that either resemble or tip their hat to the famous comic book icon. All told, it’s probably one of the most comprehensive example of cross promotion in recent history.

How desirable it is will be highly dependent on the person you’re asking, however.

I’m going to acknowledge my prejudice against these types of vehicles upfront. While I’m all for wild paint jobs and tasteless accessories, there’s something about this kind of cross-branding that chaps my posterior. It isn’t just that automobiles are supposed to be purchased by adults (we already know that they’re ravenous consumers of things they recognize from their childhood). It’s the half-hearted effort that’s typically placed behind them.

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Edging Up the Price: Ford's Edge ST Starts at $43,350

Ford promised a gutsy middleweight crossover that it hopes will satisfy enthusiasts after the automaker finishes eliminating the majority of its sporting passenger car segment. For 2019, the Edge ST replaces the standard Sport trim — resulting in added performance and a higher price.

However, it seems like the inflated MSRP will be worthwhile. At $43,350, the Edge ST plays host to a specially tuned 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 that generates 335 hp and 380 pound-feet of torque — a not immodest improvement over the Sport. It also gets a new eight-speed transmission, all-wheel drive, performance seats, and implements a specially tuned suspension. Considering all of that comes in at roughly $1,500 more than the trim it’s replacing, we’d say the Edge ST is looking like a bargain.

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Incredibly Small Car Brand Loses Its Head

People make fun of automakers with severely limited vehicle lineups, but Mitsubishi has nothing on the diminutive — in every sense of the word — Smart brand. Note: we’re using a capital “S” here and always will.

Technically, the Daimler AG division sells a single model in the United States, though the powers that be break it up into two: coupe and cabriolet. Well known for being the smallest, lightest mass-produced new car on the domestic market, the Fortwo quickly gained a reputation for having the jerkiest, most unsatisfying transmission in existence. Recently, engine fires sparked (pardon the pun) a recall of 43,000 2008-2009 vehicles in the U.S. and 7,000 in Canada.

Born as a diesel-powered division before changing over to gasoline propulsion, Smart has now evolved into an electric-only brand. And its U.S. sales have never been lower. Maybe the new head of Smart will have some ideas.

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QOTD: Can You Build an Ideal Manufacturer Lineup?

The news lately has been plenty full of speculation and angry comments about Ford’s decision to kill off anything with a trunk (save the Mustang, for now).

Generally, the consensus among the B&B seems to be that Ford is making an ill-advised and short-sighted decision. Well, today’s your chance to build your own lineup of profitable, future-proof vehicles in a game I just invented.

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Mazda's New 'Feel Alive' Campaign Has Us Worried About Brand's Upmarket Push

Mazda’s new “Feel Alive” advertising campaign places consumers as its focal point as the company tries to market itself as an upscale and hip, enthusiast-oriented brand. On Monday, Mazda launched the first commercial — a borderline insulting collection of superficial phrases intended to get you excited about the brand’s new identity.

The spot itself is about as boilerplate new-millennium luxury car commercial as it gets. It opens with a series of attractive actors, all on the cusp of an important moment, as the narrator offers bizarrely simplistic lines of encouragement like “do that thing” and “take that step.” Granted, auto ads became far getting far less chatty about specs during the 1990s. But, over the last decade, too many car spots seem to be copying perfume ads — strange adventures in abstraction that say nothing about the product and cost a fortune to produce.

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Uptown Living: Mazda Dealer Council Boss Says Brand Is a 'Strong Seven or Weak Eight' on the Classy Scale

There’s still a ways to go, but the transition of Mazda’s image into that of a semi-premium automaker is well underway. The latest interiors — and exteriors — emerging from the brand boast extra refinement, better materials, and a subdued elegance you won’t find on, say, a Nissan.

Mazda’s getting there, but in the meantime, sales remain an issue. Between the brand’s recent U.S. sales pinnacle in 2015 and the end of 2017, volume fell 9.3 percent. There’s a plan to turn it around, and it doesn’t all have to do with the automaker’s looming mystery crossover.

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Ahoy: Lexus Now Focusing on Premium Boat Business

Lexus sales slipped in the United States over the last two years. While overall deliveries remain relatively strong, the Japanese luxury brand saw its annual volume surpassed by Mercedes-Benz in 2013. BMW followed suit in 2017 and the gap only looks to be widening this year. So, what does a high-end nameplate do to lure back customers?

The answer is an obvious one: it starts building boats. It might shock you to learn this, but boats have actually been around since prehistoric times and physical examples have been discovered that are at least 10,000 years old. Meanwhile, most cars aren’t even 100 years old. Basic math proves boats to be the more sustainable product and a sounder investment. Cars had a good run, but autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing services are about to convert driving into a passive and homogeneous experience in a totally hypothetical and undetermined amount of time. Boats will be where it’s at very soon and every automaker will eventually become a sloop manufacturer.

Alright, I’ll stop being a prick (for now). What Lexus is really attempting to do is gussy up its image, endearing itself to the growing legions of super-rich people by providing contemporary yachts — something Mercedes-Benz has done in the past.

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Volkswagen Chooses An Interesting Name for Its New Chinese Brand

China’s all about electric vehicles and clean, green everything, or so the [s]tankies[/s] granola types claim, and automakers from Detroit to Germany can’t wait to get their hands on a piece of that market. In Volkswagen’s case, China’s thirst for EVs spawned a brand new brand.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with language, the name of VW’s EV-focused brand could mean something very bad, depending on who reads it.

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'That's a Buick?': Starting in 2019, There'll Be One Less Way to Know

Buick had best hope every consumer knows exactly what the tri-shield badge stands for, as the automaker will soon dispense with “Buick” lettering on all of its models.

The dropping of the brand nameplate on Buick vehicles, first confirmed by GM Authority, began with the refreshed-for-2019 Envision crossover. A fluke born of Chinese manufacture? Nope — Buick is going away, in name only.

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The Nineties Return As Honda Revives 'Passport' Name: Report

The name of a long-defunct Honda-badged vehicle that was based on an Isuzu and built at a joint Isuzu-Subaru assembly plant will grace a new crossover, a report claims. Yes, it’s looking like Honda applied for a new Passport.

According to Automotive News, sources with knowledge of Honda’s product plans say the Nineties are indeed poised to return. The name will allegedly grace the brand’s upcoming two-row midsize crossover, slated to fill the space between the wildly popular CR-V and the range-topping Pilot.

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2019 Ford Edge ST: The Unlikely Athlete

With the Focus RS out of production and the Fiesta ST heading off into the sunset, Ford’s attainable performance stable was starting to look a little bare. Maybe it still is, depending on your reaction to the vehicle pictured above.

Regardless of how you feel, it’s happening. For 2019, the Blue Oval is slapping its performance badge onto the midsize Edge crossover, cranking up the power, swapping the transmission, and sending the model to the plastic surgeon for a facelift. It’s 2018, and this is apparently what we want.

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Lincoln's Latest Gambit: Stores for Selling the Brand, Not Cars

If affluent people like one thing, it’s large stores offering heaps of customer service and absolutely nothing to sell. You know the sort of shops I’m referencing. There’s a doorman, a leather couch, and someone who brings you coffee while you browse an inventory consisting of half-a-dozen ludicrously overpriced designer jackets.

A number of premium automotive brands have recently seized on this concept. There are already a handful of luxury brands with physical locations in cities harboring a wealth-intensive populace that offer an ambiance-intensive experience. Not to be outdone, Lincoln has taken that theory the full mile in Newport Beach, California.

While technically a dealership, the Lincoln Experience Center doesn’t sell anything. Instead, it provides patrons with a place to relax and muse about future ownership. There’s a cafe offering complementary coffee, tea, and infused water. Not thirsty? The site also has a “story wall” that provides a rotating collection of artifacts, art, and fashion that somehow relates to the brand. I even found out that they’ll wrap your holiday gifts on December 23rd if you’re in the area. But if you want to buy a car, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

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Americans Aren't Buying More Mercedes-Benz Vehicles, but Mercedes-AMG? That's Another Story

GMC has its Denali sub-brand, and Buick now has its Avenir, but German premium marques aren’t in need of added luxury. Extra horsepower and speed earns that inflated sticker price.

Mercedes-Benz’s AMG sub-brand isn’t the small stable of tuned performance cars it once was. The automaker’s made it painfully clear it wants to AMG all the things, with the brand’s large crop of SUVs (and SUV “coupes”) serving as the latest canvas for AMG’s brushstrokes. A lineup that began the current year with 34 models will likely celebrate New Year’s Eve with 42.

The folks at Mercedes-Benz USA are already reaping the reward.

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Mini Seriously Streamlines Its Badge for 2018

Mini has revealed an ultra-streamlined logo that will begin appearing on the brand’s cars by March of 2018. Abandoning the three-dimensional model as the automaker’s official mark, the new crest isn’t any more exciting but does looks a bit more contemporary.

The new emblem actually made its debut on the Mini EV Concept in late summer. At the time, it wasn’t clear what the purpose of the new logo was. For all we knew it could have been a way of differentiating electrified models from the company’s main lineup, or simply be a way to further streamline the battery-driven concept. Instead, it’s to be the replacement for the old logo and will crop up in all the automotive locales one would expect: the hood, tailgate, steering wheel, and key fob.

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  • MaintenanceCosts At least on the US West Coast, Waze is perfectly happy to send cut-through drivers down residential streets or to disregard peak-hour turn or travel restrictions. I hope if it's going to be standard equipment the company starts taking a more responsible approach.
  • MaintenanceCosts I'm more curious about the effect (if any) on battery lifetime than range. Drawing current faster creates more heat and if that heat is not promptly drawn away it could affect life of the cells.I agree this sort of thing can make sense as a one-time option but is consumer-hostile as a subscription.
  • Ajla "The upgrade is permanent" 🤔Journos really should be calling out the automakers like Mercedes that are attempting to make this sort of thing subscription only because it obviously doesn't need to be."with a one-time price tag of $1,195"This also shows the poor consumer "value" of Mercedes wanting $1200 per year for a 60hp jump on the EQE350.
  • Dukeisduke Will the next owner have to pay up, too, like with Tesla? What's the starting price of the Polestar 2? I saw a clean used one listed locally the other day, and it was under $50k. I wasn't sure if that was a deal or not.
  • Buickman what about EMFs from riding on a giant battery?is there a vax for that?