2018 Subaru WRX
The Subaru WRX is one of those sporty sedan rally cars that every enthusiast should drive at least once in their life. It went through a generational shift for the 2015 model year that made it even better, bringing new exterior looks, a longer A-Pillar, LED exterior lighting, a roomier interior, better outward visibility, and a new 2.0-liter four-banger that was 0.5-liters smaller than the outgoing unit but offered three extra ponies and 14 extra pound-feet which really helped to offset the 50+ pound weight gain than came with the new-gen model. It’s only been a couple of years since the new-gen model hit showrooms, and Subie has been busy putting together some minor revisions for the 2018 model year. There’s no power gain to speak of, unfortunately, but there is some minor exterior styling updates, improved suspension setup, updated manual transmission, and a new optional Performance pack – the latter of which you really want to know about if you’re hoping to ride off into the sunset with a new WRX.
So, while there isn’t a lot of big news in the aesthetics department, the mechanical bits under the metal got some serious reworking, and it’s exactly what the doctor ordered. Plus there are upgraded interior materials, a new rear-seat armrest (with cup holders,) and a few updates to help cut down on unwanted noise bleed through from the road For those of you into technology, the infotainment display has grown up a bit as well, with the screen size in base trims growing by 1.5 inches while the screen in the Premium trim grows by 0.8 inches.
For a mid-cycle update, there’s actually quite a bit to talk about when it comes to the WRX. Oh, and before I forget, the WRX STI also got some significant updates, so if you’re looking to get your hands on one of those, our man Jonathan Lopez has all of the details in his full review of that 300-horsepower beast here. Anyway, let’s scroll down and see what the 2018 Subaru WRX has to offer!
Update: 4/20/2017: Subaru has announced pricing for the 2018 Subaru WRX. Check out the prices section below to learn just how much it’ll cost you to roll out in a brand-new Subie!
Continue reading to learn more about the Subaru WRX.
2017 Honda Civic Hatchback – Driven
The Honda Civic has long been a go-to car for practicality and honest transportation. Sure, there have been several hyped models with plenty of horsepower and fun, but the vast majority of Civics are built to handle the daily grind. Say what you will, but there’s merit in that endeavor. Well, Honda knew its customers needed something outstandingly practical, but mixed with some flare and excitement – sort of a witch’s brew of pragmatic and provocative. Enter the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback.
The Hatchback joins the Civic lineup for 2017, two years after the tenth generation debuted for 2015. It shares the spotlight with the popular Civic Sedan and fun-loving Civic Coupe. The trio now gives customers a choice in body style, while still delivering that Civic personality. All three ride on the same platform and share powertrain options.
Since the Civic Hatchback is new, Honda sent an example to test for a week for evaluations. Our tester was the EX-L Navi trim and came equipped with Honda Sensing. Otherwise, the car had no options, giving a full taste of the Civic Hatch’s second-most expensive trim. Even still, the as-tested price only rang up $27,175. That’s not bad for a vehicle with crossover-like interior room, leather seats, tons of in-dash tech, all the latest active safety features, and a turbocharged engine that averages 42 mpg on the highway. Color us impressed.
So how did the 2017 Civic Hatchback do? Keep reading to find out.
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2018 Hyundai Kona
It would appear as though Hyundai has decided to take on the popular Nissan Juke with a stylish sub-compact crossover all its own. The unnamed future model was recently spied by the carparazzi undergoing road tests in Germany in full camouflage, leading to speculation over what lies beneath the covers. If rumors are to be believed, the upcoming Juke fighter from Hyundai will pull from the i20 and i30 parts bins, boast a good deal of youth-oriented exterior styling, and most likely come equipped with the latest interior gadgets.
Backing the rumors are statements made in August of 2014 by Hyundai’s American CEO Dave Zuchowski, who suggested in an interview with Edmunds that the South Korean brand might be interested in a sub-compact SUV that would slot under the Tucson. Such a vehicle “would be really designed for Gen Y, for new first-time buyers,” Zuchowski said, later adding, “Think of maybe something that looks like a Juke or something that has edgy, dramatic styling.”
It’s not a lot to go on, but we’ve done more with less. Read on for our speculative review.
Updated 04/07/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Hyundai Kona out for a new testing session. According to Hyundai, the name "Kona" is derived from the Kona district on the Big Island of Hawaii, reflecting the island’s energetic image and unique lifestyle
Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming Hyundai Kona.
2020 Volkswagen Van
Aside from the Type 1 Beetle, the Type 2 Bus is Volkswagen’s undisputed most widely recognized vehicle. Some might say it’s one of the most recognizable vehicles of all time. Much credit can be given to the Type 2’s social influences during the 1960s and 1970s in American pop culture thanks to the hippie movement. But sadly, Volkswagen has left the Bus and its classic styling to the pages of history.
Interestingly enough, the last Type 2 Bus, otherwise known as the T2 Kombi, rolled off the production line on December 31, 2013 in Sao Paulo. The Brazil-only model died at the hands of safety legislation mandating ABS and dual front airbags – changes Volkswagen was unwilling to make on a 63-year-old model. Other versions of the Bus existed, of course, changing names with each generation. The Type 2 Bus, or Microbus, Transporter, Kombi, or camper, depending on whom you ask, transformed into the Type 3, Type 4, and Type 5 in other parts of the world.
Starting in 2015, Volkswagen has been building the Type 6, known as the Transporter, in Germany. However, this van is modern in every sense of the word, with no cues hinting at its storied past. Rather, it’s just a forgettable van built to haul passengers or cargo that blends into the rolling European countryside.
American automakers, on the other hand, are busy building modern cars with retro cues, recalling glory days of moments forever past. That begs the question: what if Volkswagen did the same? What if Volkswagen built a special version of its Transporter that harked back to 1969 when shirts were tie-dyed, hair was long, love was free, war was bad, and Woodstock was the place to be?
We send those thoughts to our in-house rendering specialist to be constructed into form. It had to be modern – including all the safety technology of today – yet still capture the feel of the original Type 2. This is what he came up with.
Continue reading for the full review.
Chevy Brings the Heat with Performance-Minded Tahoe
Chevrolet is finally adding the Corvette-derived 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V-8 to the Tahoe. For the 2018 model year, Tahoe customers will be able to order the 420-horsepower V-8, paired with several performance parts as Chevy’s new Rally Sport Truck Package, or RST. Included is GM’s new 10-speed automatic transmission co-developed with Ford and found in the Camaro ZL1 and F-150 Raptor. Larger brakes, a free-flowing Borla exhaust, 22-inch wheels, and a monochromatic appearance package round out the RST option. The Chevy Suburban is also getting the RST, but sadly without the larger V-8.
This is a big deal for several reasons.
First and most obvious, this marks the first time the Tahoe is available with the 6.2-liter. Second, this is the first street-performance package ever offered on the large SUV. And unlike most other “special edition” packages offered by Chevy, this one actually improves performance.
Beyond the powertrain upgrades, the Tahoe RST gets Magnetic Ride Control with a performance calibration; larger, 16.1-inch Duralife front brake rotors squeezed by six-piston Brembo performance brakes; and a Borla dual exhaust system Chevy says adds 10 horsepower at the wheels thanks to a 28-percent improvement in flow. These speed parts, along with the powertrain upgrades, are part of the RST’s optional Performance Package. The Tahoe RST is rated to tow 8,400 pounds and is expected to hit 60 mph in less than six seconds.
Sadly, Chevy is not offering the 6.2-liter, 10-speed auto, or Magnetic Ride on the Suburban. RST-equipped Suburbans will only receive the monochromatic cosmetic upgrades and have the option of upgrading the brakes and exhaust.
The Tahoe and Suburban RST will arrive in Chevy showrooms beginning this fall. Pricing has not been announced, but we’ll speculate on that down below. Be sure to click below to continue this story, along with leaving your comments.
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2020 Kia Stinger Coupe
Kia shocked a lot of people when it pulled the sheet off the Kia Stinger earlier this year, and things only got better once folks got a chance to sit down in the most comfortable vehicle Kia has ever built. Offered here in the U.S. with a 255-horsepower four-cylinder or a 365-horsepower V-6, the newest four-door on the block is set to compete against models like the BMW 4 Series, the Audi A5 Sportback, and even models like the Lexus GS or Infiniti Q50. But, what if Kia didn’t stop there? What if it wanted to take on the two-door segment too? Well, there’s no reason at all that it shouldn’t, and we decided to give Kia a head start by designing our own take on what a Kia Stinger Coupe would look like.
When the Stinger we all know and lust for (that’s weird to say about anything with a Kia badge, right?) has four doors, our coupe has an extended front door and a large chunk of rear quarter glass that hints toward the best passenger room of any two-door currently on the market. Plus, it retains that rear hatch and sharp roofline that makes the four-door model so attractive. With that said, let’s take a closer look at this rendering and discuss some of the finer details before Kia decides to steal our idea and run with it.
Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming Kia Stinger Coupe.
The 2017 Lexus IS Interior’s Big Annoyance: Form over Function
Form and function are two concepts often competing for the same space. Form, the beauty and style of an object, can prove hard to retain when adding functionality, the ingrained usability of an object. The 2017 Lexus IS sedan is a perfect example of an automotive battleground where these two concepts duke it out. And in the Lexus’ case, form is winning.
Let’s back up a bit. I’m driving the revised 2017 Lexus IS 200t F Sport sedan this week – the 2.0-liter turbo-four-powered, RWD sports sedan from Toyota’s luxury brand. This compact 3 Series competitor offers a taught suspension with summer performance tires, sexy bodylines, and a beautifully designed interior, all powered by 241 horsepower. There are negatives about the IS, but they relatively few and far between. The biggest complaint, however, is the lack of functionality within its center console.
Lexus designers did an amazing job sketching out the dashboard, steering wheel, and center console. Sadly, they seemed to forget how Americans use their cars. There is simply a lack of handy storage space and usable cup holders.
The two cup holders are placed too far rearward, making it hard to reach for drinks. Even worse, the presence of cups renders the passenger’s left arm an orphan, consuming all the armrest space afforded to the shotgun rider. The cup holders are also too small for larger drink containers. Secondly, there is no space for cell phones, wallets, or other odds and ends people tend to store in a console cubby hole. Yes, there’s the under-armrest storage compartment, but it’s not the handiest place for such items.
The remedy for this form over function layout is simple – though it doesn’t change anything: think of the IS as a driver’s car. Sure, the vast majority of American IS buyers use the car as daily transportation, but the designers apparently thought coin trays, storage bins, and convenient cup holders weren’t necessary to the task of driving. And while they’re right in the purest sense of a sports car, the lack of everyday usability is unwelcomely compromised.
The faux pas doesn’t diminish my appreciation for the IS sedan, but would make ownership a bit more challenging. Let’s hope Lexus finds a way to inject functionality into the cockpit of the next generation.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas
As far as SUVs and crossovers go, every manufacturer seems to have an offering that fits exactly what you need in an overgrown people hauler. Some manufacturers have three, while others like Chevy have five, but there’s one mainstream automaker that hasn’t brought their A-game to the SUV market yet, and that automaker is Volkswagen. The brand has its fair share of hatchbacks, but it only has two SUVs – the compact Volkswagen Tiguan and the much larger Volkswagen Touareg. The Volkswagen Atlas was originally expected to slot between the two, however, VW pulled on over on us and actually made the Atlas larger than the Touareg. Finally unveiled on the Santa Monica Pier, the Atlas comes correct with lots of DNA from the CrossBlue Concept, The choice of a four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine, lots of safety features, and seating for seven full-sized Americans.
Up until now, we were unsure if this new SUV would be called the Atlas, as VW has also trademarked the name “Teramont” – one that would go along with VW’s “T” naming structure. Now, we’re thinking it’s likely that the Teramont name will be used in other markets, or could – potentially – be reserved for a model that will slot between the Tiguan. Until then, we’ve got a lot to talk about, as the Atlas has a lot of stiff competition. Models like the Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada, GMC Yukon, Chevy Suburban, and Ford Expedition all pose some pretty stiff competition. Needless to say, the Atlas really has its work cut out for it over the next few years.
So, can the Atlas stand up against long-standing models that are well established in the full-sized SUV market and help VW overcome the corporate disaster that was Dieselgate? Well, let’s dive on in and find out what it has to offer.
Update 4/4/2017: Volkswagen has announced pricing for the new Atlas, slotting it between the Tiguan and Touareg. Check out the prices section below to learn all about it.
2018 Acura TLX
The Acura TLX hit showrooms for the 2015 model year as a replacement for the TL and TSX sedans. After just a couple of years on the market, Acura is introducing a facelifted model for 2018 that will keep the first generation alive until at least 2021. The big new here is that the TLX is getting a new pentagonal grille that not only replaces the beak found on most Acura vehicles but is also pentagonal in shape just like the grille found on the Precision concept and the updated MDX crossover. It’s scheduled to make its debut at the 2017 New York Auto Show, but Acura has seen fit to release a teaser that shows off that new grille, along with new headlight units, and what appears to be a new fascia as well. Little else is known at this time, but Acura says we can expect “new premium features technology.”
"The 2018 TLX will receive new styling elements that ratchet up its emotion and reflect Acura’s focus on Precision Crafted Performance," said Jon Ikeda, Acura’s vice president and general manager. "Acura customers embraced the MDX when we raised its game with bold, new styling, and we’re pumped to show how we’re elevating the TLX experience."
With that said, let’s take a good look at this teaser and speculate a little about what else we’ll see when the sheet is pulled off the refreshed TLX in just a couple of weeks.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Acura TLX.
2017 Toyota Corolla iM – Driven
Ah Scion, Toyota’s youth-market sub brand. Now in 2017, we can only reminisce about bygone days when new Scion hatchbacks, coupes, and toasters sat in showrooms waiting for eager high-school teens to arrive with daddy’s money or senior citizens to stroll in looking for something more economical than their worn-out Mercury Grand Marquis. Those days are gone though, thanks to Toyota shuttering Scion and consolidating a few of its models into the Toyota fleet. One such example is the Scion iM.
The iM was all-new for the U.S. market in 2015, launched beside the Mazda-derived Scion iA sedan. The iM was basically a Toyota Corolla Hatchback, though you’d never hear a Scion salesman pointing that to potential buyers. The car featured the same, 1.8-liter four-cylinder as the Corolla, as well as the six-speed manual or optional Continuously Variable Transmission. But, sadly, the iM and iA couldn’t save the Scion brand. Toyota ended the brand’s 13-year run in August of 2016. Fast-forward to today, and Toyota has rebadged the iA, iM, and FR-S as the Yaris iA, Corolla iM, and the 86, respectively.
I recently got to sample the Corolla iM for a week – living with it during the daily grind. My tester came equipped with the six-speed manual transmission and zero options. It’s rare to have press fleet cars come so equipped. But rather than being a buzzkill from the usual whiz-bang gadgetry and overly complicated nature of many modern cars, the iM’s basic nature proved a welcomed reprieve and rather enjoyable. Heck, my tester didn’t even have floor mats. (I’ve heard Toyota is stingy with their floor mats.)
Of course, the most noticeable feature of this iM is its color – that big, bright, green color. Oh boy. Toyota calls it “Spring Green Metallic.” I call it ugly. Yet the color helped add a particular flare to car it wouldn’t have otherwise had. It also attracted everyone’s attention. I lovingly named my tester Snot Rocket.
Continue reading for the full driven review.
2017 Hyundai Santa Fe – Driven
Midsize crossovers are plentiful. They’re among the most popular vehicles on our roads today. As such, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe has its work cut out for it. After all, this is the segment of such titans as the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander.
Those who pay attention to the vehicles around them on the road every day probably see a lot of midsize crossovers. It’s a super-popular class. Right-sized and relatively budget-friendly, these are the station wagons of our day.
With so much competition, it would be easy to get lost in the crowd. Ask Mazda’s CX-9 – the slowest-selling in this class in the 2016 calendar year, not counting the oddball, high-priced Volkswagen Touareg. With that in mind, Korean automaker Hyundai has its act together, and sales bear this out: The company moved 131,257 Santa Fes in 2016, an 11.1-percent increase over the year prior.
Continue reading for the full story.
2018 Volkswagen Arteon
Back in 2007, Volkswagen thought it would be a good idea to develop a large coupe with a heavily sloped roof. Some of you from way back then know it as the Passat CC, while more recently it has dropped the “Passat” name. Volkswagen had big ambitions for the CC, calling it a “sports sedan” and projecting sales of at least 300,000 over the first seven years of production. But, the CC is often overlooked and has performed very poorly. Fast forward to 2017 and VW has decided to usher in a successor to the last-gen CC and it comes complete with a name change. Now going by the name Arteon, the car now rides on VW’s MQB platform and will be offered with a number of standard features that includes LED lights outside, a progressive steering system, 18-inch wheels, and a handful of engines that offer a power output that ranges from 148 horsepower all the way up to 276 horsepower. You can have AWD with some drivetrain options, or only front-wheel drive in others.
Tobias Suhlmann, the man responsible for the Arteon’s design, said, “The athletic lines of the Arteon embody a highly functional overall concept. Form and function find common ground here in a progressive way. Thanks to its long wheelbase, stretched roofline, coupe-style fastback design and large rear hatch, this Gran Turismo provides more space and flexibility than conventional sedans."
But, while it does have a long wheelbase and it follows suit with a number of other sedans that have that low, sloping roof, the new Arteon isn’t all that different from the CC it replaces. So, let’s take a closer look at it and see if we can make out anything that might make this model more successful than the CC.
Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Arteon.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE
When Mercedes decided to switch up its naming protocols for its model lineup, things got a little confusing, especially for models that received a new model designation as part of a mid-cycle facelift. And that explains why we’re looking at spy shots of the next-gen GLE-Class despite the fact that the model technically made its world debut for 2016. The first GLE models are soon to be forgotten about as Mercedes is busy prepping and testing an all-new generation to go with the new GLE nomenclature.
At this point, the test mule that we believe to be the next-gen GLE is covered pretty heavily in camo and padding. While this makes it hard for us to determine what kind of changes to expect, the sheer amount of coverings in certain areas tells us that there will likely be some significant change – enough change that the GLE will finally become its own model and not just a rebadged ML. We expect to see a number of changes up front and in the rear, but the side profile will likely change very little. Furthermore, Mercedes may throw a couple new or revamped engines into the equation to give things an even fresher taste.
As of the time of this writing, the timetable for the release of the next-gen GLE has yet to be announced, but it will likely make its world debut sometime in early 2017 and could hit showrooms for the 2018 model year. Until that happens, let’s take a look at these spy shots and talk a little more about the next generation.
Update 03/14/2017: The Mercedes GLE was caught testing in the wild once again, this time wearing a more official front fascia and grille. We also get a first look at the revised interior, so check out our special updates in the exterior and interior sections below to learn all about it.
Continue reading to learn more about the next generation Mercedes GLE.
2017 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription – Driven
Volvo has been making the XC90 since 2002, and with great success. The first generation SUV sold well all over the globe. Even in the U.S., the XC90 sold roughly 35,000 examples annually before the crash of 2009. Updates late in the first-generation XC90’s life kept it kicking, though with only modest sales in America. That’s all changing with the second-generation XC90, which debuted for the 2015 model year. A highbrow design, an opulent interior, sophisticated powertrain options, and a matured sense of luxury all bring the XC90 into the modern times. Even with the 2017 model already two years old, the Volvo SUV continues to look like a futuristic concept.
To get a better feel for the Swede, I spent a week driving a 2017 XC90 fitted with the T6 AWD powertrain and decked out with the high-end Inscription trim line.
For those unfamiliar, the XC90 (and most Volvos, for that matter) come standard in the Momentum trim. The XC90 is also available in the R-Design, the Inscription, and the range-topping Excellence trim. While the limo-like Excellence trim is absolutely stunning thanks to its reclining second row bucket seats and full-length center console, the Inscription trim provides all the luxury anyone without a chauffer could desire. Skipping the Excellence trim also keeps the XC90’s third-row seats.
So what’s it like to live with the 2017 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription? Keep reading to find out.
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2017 BMW 1 Series Sedan
The second-generation 1 Series has been around since 2011, when BMW redesigned the compact it first introduced in 2004. Unlike its predecessor, the current 1 Series consists of only three- and five-door hatchbacks since the two-door coupe and convertible was renamed the 2 Series back in 2011. In 2017, a third body style was added to the lineup, in the form of a four-door sedan.
Based on the Concept Compact Sedan that BMW showcased at the Guangzhou Motor Show in 2015, the 1 Series Sedan is a China-exclusive model and it’s manufactured as part of the joint venture between the BMW Group and BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd in Shenyang, alongside the long-wheelbase versions of the larger 3 Series and 5 Series.
The logic behind BMW’s decision to sell the 1 Series Sedan in China is pretty simple. The German firm sold over half a million cars in the country in 2016, which makes China BMW’s biggest market. The need of a smaller sedan based on the 1 Series appeared following customer requests of a more compact, yet premium vehicle for the crowded streets of China’s largest cities. Of course, the 1 Series Sedan is also a response to the popular Audi A3 Sedan and Mercedes-Benz CLA, but BMW won’t be able to compete properly against its German rivals unless it brings the new sedan to Europe and the United States too.
It remains to be seen whether this will change sooner or later, but until it happens, let’s have a closer look at the all-new BMW 1 Series Sedan.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 BMW 1 Series Sedan.
2017 Honda CR-V – Driven
Honda has made millions of CR-Vs since its introduction in 1996, selling them all over the world. Even in hard times, the CR-V as remained one of Honda’s most go-to models in terms of sales volumes. And who could blame customers for choosing the functional, fun, fuel efficient, and frugal crossover? It’s combination of Civic-based goodness mixed with a high-riding suspension and relatively voluminous interior make it a great those needing to split the difference between a traditional SUV and wagon.
That recipe carries over for the 2017 model year, though everything else about the CR-V changes. Honda introduces the CR-V’s fifth generation this year, which brings an all-new design language, a new chassis, a new interior, and a new 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The CR-V is a bit larger, too, now slotting more evenly between the small HR-V and the three-row Pilot SUV. Honda says the new CR-V has class-leading second-row legroom, to boot. The CR-V’s Cargo room offers an impressive 75.8 cubic feet of room with the second row bench seat folded flat. That’s far more than the Ford Escape (67.8 cubic feet) and just a touch bigger than the Toyota RAV4’s (73.4 cubic feet). Despite this, the CR-V’s footprint isn’t much bigger than its competition.
Honda undoubtedly needs the CR-V to success. It can’t have a repeat of the 2011 Civic and its sudden redesign for 2012. I wholeheartedly think Honda won’t have that issue, but feel free to leave your thoughts on the new CR-V in the comments below.
Continue reading for the full driven review.
2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The third-generation A-Class has been around for only five years as of 2017, but Mercedes-Benz is already working on a brand-new model. That’s not exactly surprising though, as the Germans are looking to replace each model after a six-year cycle in the future. This means that a new A-Class should arrive for the 2018 model year, and you shouldn’t be surprised that the Stuttgart-based company is already testing the fourth-generation model on public roads.
Spotted stretching its wheels somewhere in Southern Europe, the upcoming compact appears to be in its early testing phase based on the heavy amount of camouflage covering its body. And even though some elements are far from finalized, the prototype provides quite a few hints about the changes Mercedes-Benz made to the hatchback.
The interesting thing about the upcoming A-Class, aside from the usual upgrades involving sportier looks, a refined, roomier interior, and more powerful and efficient engines, is that Mercedes is rumored to be considering two body styles. The five-door hatch could be joined by a four-door sedan, but this information has yet to be confirmed. Word also has it that it could be a China-model only.
We should find out more about that in due time, including specific details about a public debut. The fourth-gen A-Class is expected to break cover at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, but we’ll be back to update this date as soon as we get confirmation. Meanwhile, have a look at my speculative review for more info on the new compact.
Updated 02/17/2017: The upcoming Mercedes A-Class was caught testing once again, this time revealing part of the interior.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
FCA Design Boss Says Fiat Toro Not Coming to U.S.
The Fiat Toro, a mid-size lifestyle pickup sold in Latin America, looks like a promising competitor to the Honda Ridgeline. Only it isn’t coming to the U.S. That news comes directly from FCA’s design boss, Ralph Gilles, and his Twitter feed. Gilles tweeted Wednesday that FCA has no plans on selling the unibody pickup in the U.S.
Gilles’ tweet said, “I must clear something up from this morning #MAMA I meant I love the new 2017 #Fiat Toro sold in Latin America, no plans to sell it in the U.S.”
As he stated, the tweet was meant to clear the air after his speech at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, which led many to believe the Fiat Toro would have a future in North America. “You’re going to be seeing more from fiat on the truck side, especially,” Gilles said at the auto show.
This is disappointing news for the mid-size truck segment. Currently the Honda Ridgeline is the only unibody offering. It competes with several body-on-frame trucks, including the ever-popular Toyota Tacoma. The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon also make up a large portion of market share.
What’s more, the mid-size truck segment isn’t slowing down. Ford recently made headlines with confirmation of the mid-size Ranger pickup’s return for the 2019 model year, along with the Bronco SUV, which will share the Ranger’s underpinnings. Then, of course, Jeep is set to debut its new 2018 Wrangler and its pickup variant.
For whatever reason, FCA doesn’t seem inclined to enter the market. Perhaps FCA bean counters are worried the Fiat Toro would compete too closely against the Jeep Wrangler pickup. Perhaps FCA simply couldn’t meet demand with the U.S. joining the customer base.
Then again, Gilles could have spoken too early about FCA’s plans to debut the Toro for U.S. consumption, having then to cover his tracks with pacifying statements regarding FCA’s lack of plans for a U.S.-sold Toro.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear many are passionate about the Fiat Toro and its potential launch in American dealerships.
Continue reading for more information.
2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon Unveiled Because Fast Wagons Are Just Better
Yesterday, I announced the reveal of the BMW 5 Series Touring, lamenting how us ‘Mericans would probably get left out in the cold when it came to handsome, fun-to-drive wagon models. Apparently, Mercedes-AMG was listening, because today it announced the arrival of an outrageous, high-powered AMG-variant of the E-Class five-door. It’s called the E 63 S, taking after the Mercedes four-door of the same name, and it’s got the goods to go with the title. Because when it comes to grabbing a week’s worth of groceries and picking the kids up from soccer practice, more than 600 horsepower just feels right.
Of course, you could use this thing for more than shuttling around the progeny and their juice boxes. After all, it’s got 35 cubic feet of space in back for, well, whatever, plus the second row can be folded down at a 40:20:40 split as you see fit.
So it’s versatile, that much is obvious. Now let’s talk about why it’s fast.
Under the hood is an AMG-tuned 4.0-liter V-8, which is boosted by two twin-scroll turbos for a rip-snortin’ 603 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 627 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. Fed through an AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic gearbox and permanent 4Matic+ AWD system (with drift mode, by the way), it’s enough motivation to send this thing to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited at 180 mph.
And it’s not just a one-trick pony, either. Making it turn is a new AMG air suspension system with tunable adaptive damping, an electronic rear limited-slip differential, AMG speed-sensitive steering, and 15-inch high-performance brakes. Ceramic composite brakes are optional, because of course.
Inside are the usual AMG bits and pieces, with a flat-bottom steering wheel, carbon fiber trim, and two performance-oriented digital gauge readouts, each measured at 12.3 inches in diameter. There are optional performance seats, while Nappa leather was added to the dash and beltlines.
Look for the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon this March at the Geneva Motor Show. Sales will commence this fall. In the U.S.
2017 BMW 5 Series Touring Unveiled
BMW just revealed the 2017 5 Series Touring model, giving the recently debuted seventh-gen mid-size 5 Series line an extra dose of usability and practicality. The new model gets the same styling outside as the updated 5 Series sedan, plus new interior technology, the latest driver’s assists and safety features, and enhanced infotainment.
Four engine options are on the table at launch, all of which are turbocharged. On the gasoline front, there’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 252 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and posting a 0-to-62 mph time of 6.5 seconds. There’s also a 3.0-liter six-cylinder and eight-speed auto combo, plus AWD, which lays down 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque for a 0-to-62 mph time of 5.1 seconds.
It you prefer oil burners, you can get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel with 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which mates to a six-speed manual transmission as standard (the eight-speed is optional), and gives a 0-to-62 mph time of 8 seconds. Finally, there’s a 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel with 265 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque, offered with either RWD or AWD, plus an eight-speed automatic. All that twist yields a 0-to-62 mph time of around 5.6 seconds with AWD grip added.
BMW says it’ll add further engine and drivetrain options, including both RWD and AWD models, throughout the year.
Additional aluminum was used to reduce overall weight, including in the side members and the tailgate, cutting up to 100 kg (220 pounds) compared to the outgoing model. The suspension incorporates a rear air ride system as standard, while Dynamic Damper Control, an Adaptive Drive system, Integral Active Steering, and M Sport suspension are all optional.
Outside, you’ll find active grille shutters in the nose, plus standard LED headlights.
In the cabin is a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, a color heads-up display, gesture control, voice control, and wireless phone charging. The seats also get eight massage programs, while the rear cargo space is up to 570 – 1,700 liters (20 – 60 cubic feet). Safety features include steering assist, lane keep assist, lane change assist, cross traffic warning, and wrong-way warning.
Look for the new 5 Series Touring in the metal at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show this coming March. Sales will commence in June. No word on whether or not BMW is planning on bringing this thing stateside, but odds are against it. And that’s a shame, because the U.S. could absolutely use more wagon hotness, don’tcha think?
2017 Volvo S90 Inscription – Driven
Volvo has been around for 90 years and made some pretty impressive vehicles. I’d dare to say the S90 Inscription has eclipsed them all. Let me back up. Volvo’s new quest for dominance in the luxury segment has yielded two very impressive results – the second-generation XC90 SUV that debuted for the 2015 model year and the new-for-2017 S90 sedan. They both share a number on components, from the T5 and T6 four-cylinder engines to the chassis architecture. Best of all, they both share a similar design style that exudes a sense of reserved affluence.
I recently spent a week with the 2017 Volvo S90 fitted with the range-topping Inscription package and several high-end options. Though the S90 carries a base price in the mid $40,000 range, my tester felt like it cost double that, though somehow it didn’t. A rich interior is key in this positive deception, with padded leather, open pour wood accents, and aluminum trim pieces covering every inch of touchable space inside the cabin. What little plastic remains is high-quality and coated in a piano black finish.
Technology also abounds in this machine. An impressive infotainment system and digital gauge cluster further perpetuate the feeling of luxury and its merger with technology. The T6 powertrain is a marvel of modern internal-combustion engine design. And of course, a slew of active and passive safety systems continue proving Volvo remains a leader in vehicle safety.
So what’s it like to live with the S90? Keep reading for the full details.
Continue reading for the full driven review.
Baloney: Ford Bronco, Ranger Getting Solid Front Axle
Word is circulating the rumor mill that both the 2019 Ford Ranger and the 2020 Ford Bronco will have solid front and rear axles, making both the only light-duty contenders outside the Jeep Wrangler to use such a suspension setup. The news comes from Automotive News, which reported famed axle maker Dana confirmed both Ford products will use its “AdvanTEK gear technology.” AN then made the assumption this means solid axles. There’s only on problem…
It’s not true.
What is true is Dana has indeed been selected as Ford’s axle provider for the Ranger and Bronco. What isn’t true is the solid, beam-style design. Dana’s AdvanTEK gear technology is indeed used in solid axles, but is also used in independent suspension systems, as well. See, AdvanTEK is a gear technology, not a particular style of axle. Dana markets the AdvanTEK brand as “delivering more miles per gallon, enhanced vehicle performance, and maximum durability for the complete spectrum of light vehicles.”
Further more, solid axles are good at two things: off-roading and being extremely strong. Conversely, solid axles are not so great at on-road driving. Ever heard of the Jeep “death wobble?” While the Bronco and Ranger would benefit tremendously off-road with a solid front axle, the on-road trade-off is far too great for Ford to okay the idea. What’s more, Ford has confirmed the U.S.-spec ranger will be based off the T6 global Ranger. That pickup uses an independent front suspension design. And since the Bronco will be based off the U.S.-spec Ranger, it too will have an independent front suspension.
Keep reading for the rest of the story.
Technical Spotlight: Volvo’s T6 Four-Cylinder
Volvo might be best known for safety, but its recent advancements in powertrain technology might compete for recognition. The new T6 four-cylinder is a technological marvel that combines both turbocharging and supercharging to provide a powerful yet fuel efficient engine that pulls like a strong V-6 or mild V-8 while still achieving an EPA-estimated 31 mpg on the highway in the 4,037-pound, AWD luxury sedan known as the S90.
The T6 builds off the foundation laid in the turbocharged T5 four-cylinder, but adds the belt-driven, roots-style supercharger. This is no ordinary blower, though. It uses an electromagnetic clutch within the supercharger’s nose cone that automatically and seamlessly disengages the compressor screws from the belt drive when the engine revs beyond 3,500 rpm. The reason being – superchargers deliver power best at lower engine seeds, but loose grunt higher in the power band. That’s why Volvo employs both a styles of forced induction.
Unlike the supercharger that supplies instant boost down low, the turbocharger works best at higher engine speeds and takes a few milliseconds to make boost. Volvo engineers eliminate any turbo lag by allowing the turbo to begin generating boost at the supercharger is taken offline. The transfer of boost is so seamless the 2.0-liter four-cylinder doesn’t even feel like it employs such whiz-bang witchcraft. It just supplies smooth power at nearly every rpm.
Volvo’s technical specifications say the all-aluminum, direct-injected engine generates 316 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 2,200 rpm. Variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust ports further help the cause, while more efficiency is squeezed from the T6 thanks to a variable pressure oil pump and electrically driven water pump. Helping keep temperatures in check is a double water jacket design within the cylinder head, allowing more coolant to flow around the ports.
Volvo calls the T6 a “high-feature” engine, but we’d say that’s a gross understatement. Wards Auto thought so too, awarding the T6 with a 10-Best Engine Award for 2016. Volvo S90 customers should note the T6 does require premium fuel, but in the grand scheme, seems like a fair tradeoff for such smooth power in every inch of its 6,500 rpm range. My experience so far has netted a 26.1 mpg combined average, which is above the 25-mpg estimate from the EPA. My tester is estimated to get 22 mpg in town. Not bad; not bad at all.