suv

suv

  A Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) is a type of passenger vehicle which combines the load-hauling and passenger-carrying capacity of a large station wagon or minivan with features designed for off-road driving. They have been the hot car to own for the past 10 years, but lately they are regarded as gas guzzler and substantially dangerous because of high potential to roll over.

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Land Rover is taking fuel economy concerns with a stiff upper lip and a cup of tea, relaxed as it starts taking UK orders for its 45 mpg 2015 Range Rover SDV6 Hybrid flagship starting in September 2013. The first customer deliveries are expected in early 2014, wearing far fewer off-road accessories and prepared for a life of luxury.

This pair of test prototypes is enduring the opposite of luxury: a 10,000-mile durability journey from Land Rover headquarters in England to Tata Group ’s home base in Mumbai. Called the Silk Trail 2013 experience, the plucky Brits seem to have forgotten their own maritime excellence, and the blue part of the map that has long been the best passage to India.

Calling it the Silk Trail is more accurate than its other description, the Silk Road. Mud up to the door mirrors cannot stop the Range Rover Hybrid’s mission.

Going over land is a bold undertaking, and also highlights the production 2015 Range Rover Hybrid’s fuel economy and off-road credentials along the way. Arriving in Mumbai around 55 days later, taking a brand new Range Rover into dozens of foreign countries along the way is certainly a vote of confidence in its reliability - long a sore spot for this advanced machine.

A 3.0-liter diesel engine is paired with a jumbo 35kWh Li-ion battery pack, which is fully production-ready and will also be rolled out on the seven-seat 2015 Range Rover Sport SDV6 Hybrid as well.

The diesel-electric power is not exactly peachy news for U.S. Range Rover devotees, but the technology package should work well with Land Rover ’s new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 as well.

Updated 09/13/2013: When Land Rover launched the first details on the Range Rover Hybrid everyone believed it will be an European-only model. However, in a recent interview Andy Goss, the current CEO of Jaguar Land Rover USA confirmed that a North American version of the Range Rover hybrid "It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when.’" (LeftLaneNews)

Click past the jump for all the high-res images of this jungle-prepped ’Silk Road 2013’ test of the forthcoming 2015 Range Rover SDV6 Hybrid.

Japan has become the apple of Mercedes ’ eye recently with numerous special edition and anniversary models hitting Japanese dealers.

Now, it’s the turn of the Mercedes ML-Class . In celebrating the first anniversary of the Mercedes SUV in Japan, the German automaker decided to unveil a unique ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC 1st Anniversary Edition. It’s an exclusive model for the Japanese market, which goes to show how much love and attention Mercedes has for that country.

Distinguishing the ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC 1st Anniversary Edition from the rest of its brethren are a number of aesthetic and aerodynamic modifications. For starters, the 100-unit model is available in either an Obsidian Black or Diamond White Metallic finish. In addition, the SUV is equipped with an AMG Styling package that includes a bevy of new components, including modified bumpers, revised side skirts, and a set of 20-inch alloy wheels. Stainless-steel running boards and privacy glass were also added to the special edition model, justifying its label as a unique SUV for the fine folks of Japan.

Interior mods were kept at a minimum, although you can still enjoy the addition of AMG sports seats, an AMG steering wheel, special floor mats, stainless-steel pedals and a brushed aluminum trim.

Power still comes in the form of a 3.0-liter V-6 engine that produces 258 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque while mated to a 7G-TRONIC PLUS transmission and a 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system.

The ML350 BlueTEC 4MATIC 1st Anniversary Edition will be limited to just 100 units with pricing set at ¥8.6 million, which is about $88,065 based on current exchange rates.

Click past the jump to read about the Mercedes ML-Class

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Kahn Design is at it again with a blacked-out 2013 Range Rover Vogue available as a complete model in the U.K. for the equivalent of about $115,000. It takes a bold vision to strip away the Range Rover ’s iconic hood letters in favor of your own design firm, so how does Kahn Design add value to what is already the Rolls-Royce Phantom of SUVs?

This is a look-good design pack consisting of gorgeous alloy wheels, liquid gold-painted brake calipers and satin-matte-black exterior accents all around. Inside, things are much more conservative, with perforated leather in thatched bulges over piano black trim.

Compared with the hideous previous monochrome packages that celebs have driven over the years, this version is pretty conservative and quite stylish. The Kahn Design plan is far more popular on off-roaders versus the other celeb and ’footballer’ ride of choice: the Bentley Continental GT.

Among these ‘super smart’ individuals, value is much more about being unique and of the moment. If buying a brand new car to their exact modified spec is faster but a bit more expensive, Kahn is only savvy to oblige their whims.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Vogue Signature by Kahn Design.

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The Local Motors Rally Fighter is still going strong two years after the first deliveries of this 2000-unit purpose-built off-road racer’s production run. With 50-state compliance on lighting and emissions, the road-legal Rally Fighter runs a 6.2-liter V-8 to the giant rear wheels before reaching a tire-limited top speed of 131 mph.

Available for special orders from anywhere on the globe, the Rally Fighter is one of the most unique and exciting launch models from a new manufacturer. Outside the muddy ruts of the English countryside and the mutant Land Rovers , like the Bowler EXR-S and RallyRaid DW3 , most new supercar ventures are focused on the 6-lane drag strips of central Dubai.

Local Motors takes a totally different path, with its unique engineering and prototype method leveraging the passion and skills of the internet to draw in R&D talent from across the world.

The result is a steel space frame and crash cage that looks Armageddon-proof, and suspension travel and off-road prowess to stop a 2014 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition in its tracks. The final piece of the Rally Fighter puzzle is this: styling so otherworldly that it causes more of a stir in traffic than taking the Gravedigger monster truck to the grocery store.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2013 Local Motors Rally Fighter, including a mega image gallery, links to the new online configurator, and info on how to order your own custom version of this off-road beast.

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The Lexus GX 460 is fresh for 2014 with a far deeper facelift than the LED and spindle grille applied to the Lexus LX 570 last year.

The smaller GX 460 SUV is just as tough and trail ready as its big brother, and now has a striking front grille design and huge rear fender flares like a baja race truck.

Clear LED taillights bring up the rear of the GX, which looks much more familiar in profile than it does from up front with this extreme L-finesse grille treatment. The GX is still not the sleekest SUV out there, and prides itself on its global heritage as the hugely popular Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.

As one of the few remaining off-roaders with real survival skills in harsh and barren climates, the body-on-frame GX V-8 has never been quite as popular among U.S. crossover shoppers as the firms lighter-duty haulers, like the RX. A truck-like demeanor is still evident the moment the GX starts to move, despite layers of Lexus leather and sound-proofing to make this SUV as quiet inside as an ISO tank.

A final treat on this revamped seven-passenger SUV? A price cut of about $5,000 for 2014, despite additional technology and safety equipment included as standard.

Versus the new seven-seat Range Rover Sport and Mercedes-Benz GL , the Lexus certainly still has dozens of advantages when the going gets life-threatening. But in a dwindling market for real off-roaders with $3,000 metallic paint jobs: is all the GX 460’s unstoppable off-road equipment still enough of a selling point?

Click past the just for the full review of the 2014 Lexus GX 460, with high-res images of the new exterior styling and interior features.

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BMW revealed the concept X5 eDrive today ahead of its public debut at next month’s Frankfurt Auto Show . This BMW -developed plug-in hybrid powertrain looks quite promising: it maintains the xDrive AWD system’s torque split ability to all four wheels even when running in hybrid or full electric mode.

Cabin space is said to be only marginally trimmed from the advanced Li-ion battery pack under the rear cargo tray area - but the real headline is a sprint time that is still under 7 seconds and an all-electric cruising range of 19 miles at speeds up to 75 mph.

This BMW eDrive concept is the second time a plug-in hybrid has emerged from Munich — the first being 2012’s Active Tourer — a front-drive MPV heading for launch in a few years.

Of course, BMW’s i brand also has some striking electrified models waiting in the wings with the i8 and i3 - both of which are scheduled for big launch news during the company’s Frankfurt press conferences.

The concept X5 eDrive tests the mood for a future plug-in hybrid luxury SUV, but brings numerous technological advancements so far unseen from the smash-hit Lexus RX450h and supercharged seven-seat 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid . As currently planned, the X5 eDrive will lag behind the main models to market by about a year - for a projected late fall 2014 arrival in American showrooms.

Click past the jump to read the full preview of the 2013 BMW Concept X5 eDrive and check out the image gallery of the full i8 -style makeover of this popular luxury crossover.

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The latest Mercedes-Benz ML Widebody design from German Special Customs dramatically increases the road presence of this midsize SUV. From looking well below the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 in the styling stakes — to flexing its guns and eating Cayenne Turbo s for breakfast.

The Mercedes-Benz ML is a relatively unloved member of the range, albeit representing one of the biggest growth segments in the premium car industry. Even the butch square skid plates of the ML63 AMG are a still bit too Jurassic Park 3 for some people.

The German Special Customs upgrade includes a full fender extension kit, revised racing bumpers with deep air vanes and ducts for cooling, and air suspension to lower or raise the ride height on the standard 22-inch wheels.

A new hood brings a massive air duct ahead of the engine block, both venting excess air pressure from the engine compartment and looking very cool up close. The deep scoop looks exotic, almost like the Ford GT in how deep the hood cut-out is.

The exterior modifications are matched inside with Alcantara and embossed leather everywhere you look, but the engine itself is left alone.

Is this cosmetic kit the dream package for ML owners seeking more style from their luxury soft-roader?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2013 German Special Customs Widebody kit for the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class SUV.

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Kahn Design has revealed the styling of their latest Land Rover Defender 90 up-fit, which includes a comprehensive exterior and interior makeover and the Chelsea Wide Track name. The Kahn personalization options list is immense, with near limitless combinations of paints, tweeds and leathers to camouflage this classic off-road machine in urban war paint.

Ever the victim of aggressive personalization, the Defender is still trendy because of how impractical and hilariously uncomfortable it is to drive. The mechanicals for Kahn ’s extreme makeover stay the same as the stock model, aside from some light engine enhancements to the 2.2-liter turbo diesel and of course the giant wheel/tire/spring package.

These vehicles are part of a new co-branding effort between Kahn Design and the Chelsea Truck Company. Forming what must be the most absurdly wordy name in history, the truck is best referred to as the Chelsea Defender. Offered in the 90 or 110-inch body styles, the Chelsea Defender offers some tasteful and some not-so-tasteful ways for customers to part with their cash.

Cynicism about modified Defenders is possible only from afar. Driving a Defender is still a strange treat off road, but its rude manners on pavement mean that owners have little choice: they must try to engineer improvements themselves via the aftermarket.

Kahn’s custom Land Rover will not be joining the official U.S. price lists any time soon. A fun competitor might be the Nissan Murano CrossCarbiolet ] - but sadly, the convertible Defender is not one of the five body styles offered for this legendary truck’s designer up-fit.

Click past the jump to read the full review of the new 2013 Land Rover Defender 90 - Chelsea Wide Track By Kahn Design, with a mega gallery of images of the various personalization options.

With Lincoln’s MKZ Black Label trim getting a lot of the publicity leading up to their public debuts at Pebble Beach, it’s important to remember that another one of the company’s models is getting the Black Label treatment.

In addition to the three MKZs that were given Black Label executions, the MKC also received some luxury interior lovin’, highlighting the lengths Lincoln will go to provide its resident SUV an expressive form of luxury that can set it apart from the rest of the competition.

It’s not surprising that Lincoln would go this route. After all, it’s been widely established that the brand has a certain taste for luxury that is only emboldened and emphasized by the unveiling of the Black Label trim for the MKC.

But the best part of this announcement is the equally important news that the Black Label interior trim won’t be limited to just being showpiece exhibits at Pebble Beach. Lincoln has every intention to release them out to the market, possibly as early as late next year.

That news, on its own, is enough for us to give these interior upgrades, including the one on the MKC Black Label some serious air time.

Click past the jump to read about what makes up the Lincoln MKC Black Label Concept

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Audi Q7

We have known for a quite some time now that Audi has been hard at work on the second-generation Q7 SUV . To date, all we have seen testing were just mules of the next model. However, now an actual Q7 prototype was caught testing somewhere on the roads of Germany.

The next Q7 will move to a new platform that it will share with the next-generation Volkswagen Touareg , Porsche Cayenne and of course the upcoming Bentley SUV . Thanks to this new platform and to the intense use of lightweight materials like aluminum, the next Q7 will be about 880 pounds lighter than the current model. Despite this huge weight loss, rumors point to the next Q7 being larger than both the Touareg and Cayenne.

Under the hood, Audi will work on offering smaller engines, with its focus being on improving fuel economy and on reducing CO2 emissions. A hybrid version was also rumored.

Expect the next Audi Q7 to be unveiled in September 2014 at the Frankfurt Motor Show and to hit the market in late 2014.


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