Volkswagen, as usual before the Frankfurt Auto Show, will be showing all its wares live, Apple-style, the night before press days.
We will keep track of the reveals after the jump.
2015 Mercedes GLA 250 4Matic
2.0-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged, CVVT (208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 258 lbs-ft @ 1,250 rpm)
7-speed “7G-DCT” dual-clutch automatic
24 city/32 highway/27 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
26.5 (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: 4Matic AWD, Driver Assistance package, Active Parking, Blind Spot Assist, Wood Trim, HID Lamps
* Prices include $925 destination charge.
Every luxury manufacturer is in a relentless pursuit downmarket. There are a few reasons for this but the most important are increasing volume, amortizing common development costs and snagging life-long brand loyalists as early as possible. The Mercedes GLA is the latest entry in a growing segment: small luxury crossovers.
Small luxury branded vehicles are nothing new to our European friends, but until recently BMW and Mercedes kept anything small and front-wheel drive far away from American hands. Until now. In 2014, Mercedes took their A-Class FWD hatch and made a sedan out of it. Calling it a “CLA”, the Civic-sized sedan was a runaway success starting at $31,000. Since crossovers are the hot segment to be in these days, it didn’t take Mercedes long to jack the CLA up and add a rear hatch to create the GLA.
Does the GLA have enough luxury to convince Ford Escape shoppers to jump up to a Mercedes? And perhaps more importantly: is it a real Mercedes?
2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited
2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT, hybrid (Gas engine: 154 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 140 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm, Electric motor: 51 horsepower @ 1,770-2,000; 151 lb-ft @ 0-1,770 rpm)
Lithium polymer battery
40 city/44 highway/42 combined (Hybrid SE, EPA Rating, MPG)
39 city/43 highway/41 combined (Hybrid Limited, EPA Rating, MPG)
40.8 mpg (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Limited trim, Ultimate Package
* Prices include $825 destination charge.
Hyundai hit the styling ball out of the park with the last generation Sonata. The 2009 model was as dramatic and exciting as the previous models were drab and boring. Although the 2009 didn’t alter Hyundai’s value proposition, nor did it really break any new ground in the family car segment, the sexy curves were responsible for nearly doubling the Sonata’s sales from a middling 120,000 a year to well over 200,000. The design is widely credited for putting Hyundai firmly in the top 5 for midsized sedans and #8 on the car sales chart in general.
With the new seventh generation Sonata, Hyundai is working to prove that they are more than a one-hit wonder. The 2015 model launched their latest school of design and a new turbocharged “Eco” model that uses a 1.6L engine and a 7-speed dual clutch transmission to net 32 combined MPGs. Just one thing was missing in 2015: a hybrid model to compete with the big hitters from Ford, Honda and Toyota.
That’s where the 2016 Sonata Hybrid and the 2016 Sonata Plug-In come in.
The UAW is disseminating a message of hope on its YouTube channel, letting the members know the negotiations are going to be rosey, everyone is getting a pony, and you absolutely totally shouldn’t question their ability to negotiate better contracts.
(Also, the UAW has a YouTube channel. I guess it’s a lot cheaper than inviting members out to a golf course to let them know what’s going on.)
The video uses some incredibly strong, forceful language to let the members know that the negotiators mean business.
2016 Audi Q3 Prestige
2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT (200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm; 207 lbs-ft @ 1,700-5,000 rpm)
6-speed Tiptronic automatic
20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
20.2 mpg (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Prestige Trim, Quattro AWD, Sport Package
* Prices include $925 destination charge.
Audi’s Q3 isn’t a new vehicle by any stretch. It was first launched in 2011 but didn’t make it to America until the 2015 model year. That’s because the Q3 plays in a segment that’s new to us — the even-smaller compact luxury crossover. This form factor isn’t new to the rest of the world, but until Land Rover brought the Range Rover Evoque to America and BMW followed up with the X1, there wasn’t a real focus on small luxury soft-roaders.
With crossovers being the latest craze and every luxury brand looking to move down-market to capture fresh young buyers, it was only a matter of time till Mercedes and Audi joined the party with the GLA and the Q3. With a “low” $33,700 starting MSRP, the baby Audi is the more practical counterpart to Audi’s sharp-looking A3 sedan. Although CamCord shoppers have to give up a great deal of room to upgrade to the A3, the Q3 has the potential to be a more sensible option.
Ford is out at Sebring testing their newest toy — the Ford GT LM GTE — in preparation for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship. Thankfully, someone was on location and captured a few laps on video.
I’d like to personally thank this intrepid track video reporter. The car sounds like a four-wheeled warzone, completely with six turbocharged AK-47-esque cylinders.
2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium
5.0-liter, DOHC V-8, CVVT (435 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 400 lbs-ft @ 4,240 rpm)
6-speed Getrag MT82 manual
15 city/25 highway/19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
18.2 mpg (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: GT Premium Trim, Ruby Red Paint, 401A Package, Performance Package, Adaptive Cruise Control, Navigation, Recaro Seats
* All prices include $900 destination charge.
Ford’s Mustang is as American as the hot dog and KFC Double Down, but for 2015 it received an internationally-focused makeover. Since 1964, the Mustang has been the place to find a large V8, a manual transmission and a solid rear axle. That solid axle has been a point of contention for foreign auto journalists who frequently compared the Ford’s handling to a pickup truck, and decried the GT as a one-trick pony: the car that was excellent in a straight line at a drag strip — and that was about it. That’s a problem when Ford’s new mission is greater harmony in their lineup worldwide.
While 2015 retains the large V8 engine, manual transmission and rear wheel drive we’ve all come to know and love, it brings the first completely independent suspension to every Mustang in over 50 years. Also big news for 2015 is the resurrection of a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, something we haven’t seen since the Fox body Mustang of the early 1990s. In a nod to our friends in Old Blighty, a factory-made right hand drive model is also in the works. All of these changes are because this Mustang is suddenly thrust into a much bigger pool of competitors.
Can Ford teach this pony some new tricks to compensate?
2016 Honda Pilot Elite AWD
3.5-liter i-VTEC SOHC V-6, direct injection, cylinder deactivation, CVVT (280 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm,
262 lbs-ft @ 4,700 rpm)
9-Speed ZF 9HP automatic
19 city/26 highway/22 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
21.6 mpg (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Elite Trim
* Prices include $880 destination charge.
My sister-in-law announced that she and her husband were having child number four. As a result of this announcement, they decided it was finally time to sell the five-seat sedan and buy another crossover. Since she is constantly flooded with a parade of visiting family members, she asked what sounded like a simple question: What’s the best 8-passenger crossover with a comfortable third row and room for cargo. My answer: Buy a minivan. No, seriously, just buy a minivan. Think you need AWD? Get some winter tires. Really, really need AWD? Get a Sienna.
I’m sure you can guess what she said: “I am not driving a minivan.”
The problem is, aside from minivans, there are few 8-passenger options that aren’t expensive, full size, body-on-frame SUVs. Those options are: the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and GM’s identical triplets — the Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave. That’s it. If you need more room, be prepared to shell out for a Suburban, Escalade, Navigator or a few other spendy options.
Today we look at the freshest entry in this phonebooth-sized segment, the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot.
Subaru’s Legacy is unique in the midsize sedan segment, not just because it is the only entry with standard all-wheel drive, but also because it also comes with a standard continuously variable transmission and the $21,745 price tag is just $405 higher than the least expensive entry, the Passat. The value of that standard CVT and AWD system is around $2,600-$3,000 effectively making the Subaru a much better value than the base Volkswagen that is front-wheel drive with a manual. This value proposition is the key to understanding Subaru in general and the Legacy in particular.
The large two-row crossover is a rare breed. With compact crossovers getting less compact and folks defecting to supersized three rows, Toyota and Honda chose to kill the Venza and Accord Crosstour while Ford pressed on with a redesign of the Edge. You can think of the Edge as a “tweener” crossover slotting between the Escape and the Explorer while at the same time being the spiritual successor (in modern form) to the Bronco and two-row Explorers of yesteryear. Although Ford says the Edge is a complete redesign, you could be forgiven for thinking this is more of a refresh, and that’s not a bad thing since the Edge was already one the most appealing options in this phone-booth-sized segment.
At TTAC, we typically don’t run whatever video is making its way around the Internet during whatever particular day. Today, well, we have a reason to break with that tradition.
The clip above, shot this past weekend, features a stretched Chrysler 300 beached on a railway crossing and unable to move as a train barrels down the tracks in its direction.
Instead of saying “You won’t believe what happens next!!!” like BuzzFeed Autos, I’d like to congratulate the builder of that stretched gangster mobile.
My company, Force Dynamics, builds full-motion driving simulators. They work by tilting you as the simulated vehicle corners or accelerates, so your brain is tricked into feeling lateral or longitudinal accelerations.
Sometimes people who watch our machines in action say, “This is moving way too much!” So when we started racing a Mazda Miata in the ChumpCar World Series, I decided to conduct an experiment.
The last Lexus coupé-only model to grace luxury Japanese dealer lots was the 1991-2000 Lexus SC 300/SC 400. Since then Lexus has tried to satisfy luxury coupé and convertible shoppers simultaneously with the hardtop SC and IS convertibles since 2001.
That is until the folks in Japan decided to change their strategy to compete more directly with BMW, Mercedes and Audi in every segment. The result is the development of the RC.
Perhaps because Lexus decided against a 2-coupé strategy, as utilized by BMW and Mercedes, the RC is mix mash between the compact IS and the mid-sized GS — with a little bit of Lexus IS C tossed in for good measure.
In theory, the new coupé was also to serve as the basis for an all-new convertible. Unfortunately, the dealer network revolted and demanded another change in course, redirecting efforts into a 3-row crossover. As a result, the all-new RC is sold alongside the aging Lexus IS C convertible, a situation that’s unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. Fortunately for enthusiasts, Lexus developed their M4-fighter at the same time as the more pedestrian RC 350, otherwise the very-blue 467-horsepower RC F you see above may have met the same fate as the moribund convertible.
Once upon a time, Volkswagen’s iconic Beetle sold primarily on its low sticker price, durability reputation and ease of maintenance. VW’s new Bug, however, sells on retro style and a healthy dollop of nostalgia.
The Bug before us today is the second generation “New Beetle” first resurrected in Europe as a 1998 model based on VW’s Golf and A3 platform. It was then redesigned for 2012, sharing its bones with the MK5 Golf and Jetta.
Redesigning retro is always tricky. This explains why the original Bug barely changed over the years and why the other retro-flashbacks like the PT Cruiser and Chevy HHR turned into one-hit wonders. If you don’t change enough, shoppers won’t see a reason to trade Herbie in for a new time capsule. Change it too much and you’re left with a caricature. Either way you slice it, retro comes at a cost.
Ahead of its new Fortwo and Forfour models, Smart is releasing an advertisement destined to live only on the Internet.
The ad — titled “Swearing Kids” — is completely self-explanatory and accurate. It is wholly uncensored and mostly funny and full of naughty language that’s definitely Not Smart For Work.