utility vehicle

utility vehicle

We’ve already brought you all the details on Toyota ’s new TRD Pro edition for the 2015 Tacoma and 4Runner , but now it’s time to dive into the 2015 Tundra’s TRD Pro updates.

The first noticeable feature on the truck is its large, TOYOTA grille scripted in silver with a black background. The rear of the bed gets the same type treatment, only it displays TRD Pro and its literally stamped into the sheet metal, much like TUNDRA name on the tailgate. Those two features really set the truck apart from less capable Tundras.

Giving the Tundra its added capability are remote-reservoir Bilstein shocks at all four corners with an added two inches of suspension lift at the front wheels. The two work together to make the Tundra a formidable off-roader in most every situation, especially high-speed desert running. Thick aluminum skid plates protect the important oily bits under the truck and Michelin-spec all-terrain tires provide the grip. Those tires are wrapping unique black wheels with TRD logos embossed on the center cap.

Helping the stock 5.7-liter V-8 breathe is a TRD dual exhaust system. No real word on how much the exhausts system helps, but the 5.7-liter normally makes 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque.

Inside the cabin, Toyota treats the Tundra to a few added cosmetic pieces. A unique red and black seat color is new along with red stitches holding the materials together. A special “instrument panel ornament insert” and TRD Pro floor mats finish off the look.

The Tundra, along with its TRD Pro cousins, the Tacoma and 4Runner , will go on sale this fall. Toyota has yet to release any word on pricing, so we’ll have to wait closer to production time for that information.

Click past the jump for more on the Toyota Tundra

Another edition to Toyota ’s trio of off-road trucks is the 2015 Tacoma TRD Pro. It’s based off the same concept as the 4Runner TRD Pro and features much of the same equipment. However, the Tacoma TRD Pro package isn’t completely new for the Tacoma. Astute Toyota fans will remember the TX Baja package Toyota offered on the Tacoma starting in 2012. The TRD Pro’s remote reservoir Bilstein shocks, blacked-out beadlock-style wheels, and off-road tires were all seen on the Baja package. But that doesn’t make it any less cool.

Starting up front, the Tacoma receives a two-inch suspension lift up front to help level out the truck. Those Bilstein shocks are specially tuned with a decreased spring rate to help tackle the rough stuff off the beaten path. Like the Baja package, the TRD Pro truck gets 16-inch beadlock-style wheels finished in black, all wrapped in BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires sized in LT265/75R16.

Helping the Tacoma’s 4.0-liter V-6 breath is a TRD exhaust package while a nicely polished exhaust tip helps add some flair to the truck’s rear fender. TRD pro badges help accent the exterior of the truck along with a unique front grille that spells out TOYOTA much like that of the classic FJ40 and more recent FJ Cruiser.

Interior additions include TRD Pro floor mats and shift knob, along with red stitching on the front and rear seats, and the center console. Not much else changes for the truck’s interior.

The 2015 Tacoma TRD Pro package, along with the Tundra and 4Runner TRD Pro editions, will become available this fall, though Toyota has yet to announce pricing for any of the three trucks.

Click past the jump for more info on the Toyota Tacoma

The Sportage has been a solid crossover offering in a highly competitive segment in recent years, and for 2014, Kia is giving it a slight makeover in hopes to keep it competitive. Although the Sportage has been around longer than Kia might care to remember (1993-2010), the CUV got a very nice, ground-up redo for 2011 after Hyundai /Kia hired Peter Schreyer from Audi to be their Chief Design Officer in 2006.

Once the Sportage went under the Schreyer knife, the CUV’s popularity skyrocketed with its much more handsome appearance and resemblance to its other Kia cousins. That third generation is still ongoing, though for 2014, the Korean automaker has reshaped its front end ever so slightly and added a few bells and whistles to keep buyers interested.

Sales for the Sportage spiked in 2011 when the third generation came to market, beating the previous year’s 23,873 sales figures by over double at 47,463. Sin Sin ce then, sales have steadily slumped to only 32,965 units sold for 2013. A slightly altered look, swanky new interior features, and a revised engine seem to be what Kia’s hopes for a brighter sales forecast are riding on. The question is, will those new additions be enough?

Starting with the exterior, Kia has given the Sportage a more three dimensional design that seems to convey a higher level of refinement to the CUV. Backing up that perceived refinement is an updated infotainment system that relies heavily on voice commands that help keep the driver’s eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Lastly, a revised base engine adds power the Sportage by bringing direct injection to the table.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Kia Sportage.

Thanks to a few new players in the market, the midsized truck battle looks be reviving. News about GM’s new mid-size trucks getting diesels have also stirred up a frenzy, starting with Nissan .

What you see here is the Frontier Diesel Runner, a “concept” truck built to gauge consumer interest in diesel-powered, midsized trucks. The truck itself is barely changed from the production line, but features a 2.8-liter, I-4 turbodiesel built by renowned engine builder Cummins. The Cummins/Nissan partnership isn’t new, however, as the pair have plans to power the next-generation Nissan Titan with a 5.0-liter V-8 turbodiesel in 2015.

The Frontier ’s diesel engine is expected to produce around 200 horsepower and more than 350 pound-feet of torque — all while increasing fuel efficiency by 35 percent over the standard 4.0-liter, gasoline V-6 engine. It’s backed by a ZF-sourced 8HP70 eight-speed automatic transmission. The new engine-transmission combo is expected to tow and haul roughly the same as the conventional gasoline Frontier.

Nissan and Cummins did have to modify the truck slightly to get the powertrain nestled within the engine bay and transmission tunnel. Saving room and further development, this frontier lacks the optional four-wheel-drive and added complexities the system brings to a driveline.

It’s very unlikely the Frontier will be sold with a diesel option in its current generation. Nissan is hard at work developing the second-generation Titan pickup, and will likely turn its attention it the Frontier once development is competed there. We expect a new Frontier won’t be far behind the new 2015 Titan. If Nissan chooses to include a diesel as a powertrain option, it’s likely to happen then.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins.

Posted on by Simona  
Volvo XC90

We have been following the development of the all-new Volvo XC90 for quite some time. Last year we brought spy shots of the 2015 Volvo XC90 mule, and now we have a true pre-production model.

It may be covered in heavy camouflage but one look at the rear lights and it’s immediately obvious this is a Volvo . This prototype looks to be sized similarly to the previous car, and will include room for seven passengers.

The 2015 XC90 will be built on Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture platform. The SPA platform has been designed to be extremely safe and employs a massive amount of ultra-high-strength steel in the main safety shell of the vehicle. The 2015 XC90 will be the first model to utilize the new platform, but it will become the core of every product Volvo sells from the S60 up.

Thanks to the SPA construction, Volvo expects the 2015 XC90 to be the safest SUV ever sold to the public.

Volvo is expected to drop all the engines in the current-gen XC90 in favor of more fuel-efficient, four-cylinder powertrains. All the engines will be turbocharged, and Volvo is developing both gasoline and diesel engines. No word on if the oil-burner will hit U.S. shores.

We are not entirely sure if American buyers will responsive to a three-row SUV without at least a six-cylinder engine, but only time will tell.

Expect the new Volvo XC90 to be put on sale in early 2015.

The venerable Highlander has been a strong seller for Toyota since its debut back in 2001, when it helped usher in the era of uni-body crossovers. Back then, the Highlander represented a solid alternative to the mundane four-door sedan with its higher ground clearance, upright view of the road and tidy dimensions. Five passengers and a decent amount of cargo could trudge though snow or down wooded paths with more confidence than in a Camry , thanks to the available all-wheel drive. The little CUV That Could embodied the premise of the whole crossover craze; combining the on-road manners of a car with SUV -like capabilities in a smart package.

The Highlander moved into its second generation in 2008, and received a mid-life refresh in 2010. Those changes helped it stay competitive, but the time has come for the next generation. Enter: the all-new 2014 Highlander.

Everything inside and out has a new look. Sharper, crisper lines make the CUV more manly and rugged, while its overall look still labels it as civilized. It rides on the same wheelbase but has grown some three inches, giving more rear passenger legroom.

An eight-passenger configuration is available on mid-level trims, and a powerful 3.5-liter V-6 can send power to all four wheels when the right option boxes are checked. Both the four-cylinder and hybrid models return for 2014, but with improved fuel economy.

I had the chance to drive the Highlander through the “snowpocalypse of 2014” along the icy streets of Charleston, South Carolina, as the town suffered its first snowfall in years.

Click past the jump for our 2014 Toyota Highlander review

For the second time in its run, the Volkswagen Amarok is getting the Canyon special-edition treatment.

This time around, the Amarok Canyon makes its way to the UK market, where it will be sold in very limited quantities.

It’s based on the Amarok’s Trendline trim, which means that the pickup will carry a host of new amenities. After all, you can’t be called a "special edition" without these exclusive digs, can you?

In this particular instance, some of the most noticeable upgrades given to the Amarok Canyon include a choice of three different body colors — Deep Black, Reflex Silver and Copper Orange — as well as an exterior that now has a matte-black roll cover, a load area protective coating and a set of 19-inch Cantera alloy wheels.

Moving inside, the Amarok Canyon’s cabin is a picture of high-class amenities, a surprising move considering that the pickup is more well-suited to get down and grimy. But there it is, a cabin that not only has heated leather seats, but those seats have also been dressed in fine Nappa and Vienna leather. Likewise, the steering wheel also gets the fine-leather treatment with orange stitching, while the rest of the cabin boasts of a 6-inch color touchscreen display, Bluetooth, front and rear parking sensors, and even privacy glass.

The Volkswagen Amarok Canyon takes its power from a 2.0-liter BiTDI engine that produces 180 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Those aren’t staggering numbers by any means, but enough to tow up to 7,054 pounds when the situation calls for it.

Only 350 units of the Amarok Canyon will be made available with 300 units earmarked with automatic transmission and a smaller set of 50 units for the manual transmission models. Expect to see a price tag of £30,720, which is about $51,000 based on current exchange rates.

Click past the jump to read about the 2014 Volkswagen Amarok

Posted on by Simona  

When Nissan unveiled the Murano CrossCabriolet at the 2010 Los Angeles Show, it entered a zone of the market that had never really been explored before, as it was the world’s first all-wheel-drive crossover convertible. Since then, the Murano CrossCabriolet continued nearly no updates to speak of, and much of the same carries into 2014.

So, how did the Murano become a convertible crossover? With a lot of work, of course, and a tiny bit of insanity on from Nissan’s R&D department. In order to obtain this crazy transformation, the front doors were stretched by 7.9 inches, and the B-Pillars and rear doors were eliminated. Nissan’s mad scientists then hacked off the roof and replaced it with a cloth convertible top with a rear skylight.

For the 2014 model year, Murano Crosscabriolet will be offered in one fully equipped model with prices starting at $41,995.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.

Posted on by Simona  

A few days ago, Toyota previewed its "Muppets" commercial that was set for air during this year’s Super Bowl on February 2nd. Today, the company revealed the full commercial, which features the 2014 Toyota Highlander , Terry Crews and the Muppets.

The commercial, called "Joyride," shows Terry Crews — star of the FOX series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and former NFL player — driving his Highlander until his ride is invaded by the little Muppets. Just like most other Muppet capers, it also includes an original song. This time around, Crews joins in with a little dance of his own...

"Our game-day spot shows how Toyota Highlander puts the ’fun’ in function," said Jack Hollis, vice president of Toyota Division Marketing at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. "Toyota vehicles are built to last and can even endure the most boisterous Muppets, a former NFL player as well as a center console full of chickens."

The 2014 Toyota Highlander is on sale at a price of $29,215.

You know chicks dig sports cars , right? We’ve seen it happen time and time again, and yet it never occurred to us that there might be another kind of vehicle that will get the ladies’ attention.

That’s what Chevrolet wants us to believe with this new Super Bowl ad for the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD . It’s a cute concept that features a young cowboy driving a newly bought bull in a trailer. It gets a kinda sentimental for a few seconds before the punchline comes into focus.

Apparently, the cow is quite the bachelor because he arrived in a farm full of heifers and heiferettes — young female cows, for all you non-farmers — in a Silverado HD and all the "ladies," definitely took notice... of the cow, not the driver.

The commercial went in a number of directions that, quite frankly, made it a little hard to keep up with. But in the end, the message was clear, at least in our eyes. The Silverado HD, for all of its hulking and intimidating presence, also has an edgy side to it, the likes of which the ladies can’t get enough of.

Click past the jump to read about the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado


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