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S. Lexus Execs Aim to Bring Lexus UX Concept to Market

S. Lexus Execs Aim to Bring Lexus UX Concept to Market

If it goes according to plan, the UX would be Lexus’ entry-level model in the US

Like most automakers, Lexus is making money hand-over-fist in the U.S. with its crossover and SUV offerings. Lexus General Manager Jeff Bracken even admitted that the crossovers and SUVs account for 60 percent of the company’s sales volume in the US. It’s no surprise then that when the discussion turned to a possible replacement for the departing CT200h, the Japanese automaker already has one model in mind: a production version of the UX subcompact crossover concept.

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GMC Yukon Denali Gets More Premium Features with Ultimate Black Edition Pack

GMC Yukon Denali Gets More Premium Features with Ultimate Black Edition Pack

Available in any color as long as it’s black

Introduced in 2014, the fourth-generation GMC Yukon Denali received favorable reviews so far, being praised for its spacious cabin, luxury features, and cutting-edge technology. The new Denali model also took a big bite into Cadillac sales, which speaks volumes about how close modern GMC’s are to Caddys in terms of premium features. But you can never have too much exclusivity, so GMC just rolled out a new limited-edition version of the Yukon Denali. Dubbed Ultimate Black Edition, it can be had with a black exterior only and with a few add-ons that enhance its premium looks.

More specifically, Onyx Black is the only exterior color available. Yup, it’s the old Ford Model T routine with any color as long as it’s black. The custom 22-inch wheels are also finished in black but also have chrome inserts. More chrome can be seen on the mirror caps and the polished exhaust pipe. Needless to say, the chrome features are a nice contrast to the glossy black paint. Inside the cabin, the only extra features are the premium, carpeted floor mats.

The Ultima Black Edition also includes the Open Road Package as standard. The bundle adds a nine-month trial of Sirius XM and NavTraffic, power sunroof, and rear-seat entertainment. It also includes the Power-Retractable Assist Steps, the Enhanced Security Package including door and liftgate lock shields, glass breakage sensors, interior motion detectors, and self-powered horn and vertical movement sensors. Finally, the limited-edition comes with Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Automatic Braking.

The 6.2-liter V-8 engine delivers the same 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque as in the regular model and mates to the 10-speed automatic that GMC introduced for the 2018 model year.

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2018 Lexus RX L Offers Gas-Only or Hybrid Drivetrain; Updated Chassis

2018 Lexus RX L Offers Gas-Only or Hybrid Drivetrain; Updated Chassis

Two powertrains – one long Lexus

The new 2018 Lexus RX L is 4.3 inches longer than the standard RX and offers two additional seats in the new power-folding third row. Aside from that and a slightly less slopped roofline, the long-wheelbase RX is basically unchanged over the 2016-2017 version. Even the powertrains carry over, which isn’t a bad thing. Lexus has done a great job at building two smooth, efficient, and relatively peppy choices.

The standard mill found in the 2018 RX 350 and RX 350L is the 3.5-liter V-6. The all-aluminum engine features dual overhead cams with variable timing, duration, and lift for maximum manipulation of the combustion process. Even the combustion cycle can change, switching from the Otto cycle during acceleration to the Atkinson cycle during lighter operations. Horsepower is rated at 290 and torque comes in at 263 pound-feet. An eight-speed automatic transmission keeps revs low while the front tires spin. An AWD system is available.

The optional powertrain is the hybridized version of the same 3.5-liter V-6. Found in the RX 450h and now the RX 450hL, the system adds a high-torque electric motor and 37-kW battery. The system not only adds better fuel efficiency but also more power. The total system output is rated at 308 horsepower. As with most Toyota/Lexus hybrid vehicles, a continuously variable transmission is used. The RX 450hL comes standard with a unique AWD system that uses elector motors to turn the rear wheels rather than a mechanical connection to the engine and transmission.

Continue reading for details specs of the RX powertrain.

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Maserati Debuts Nerissimo Package for Three Cars in Los Angeles

Maserati Debuts Nerissimo Package for Three Cars in Los Angeles

All-black exteriors for Ghibli, Quattroporte, and Levante

With just four vehicles in its lineup, one of which is already extremely old by modern standards, it’s not surprising that Maserati doesn’t have much to brag about at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. However, the Italian firm used the event to introduce the Nerissimo Package for the Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans, and the Levante SUV. Meaning "extremely black" in Italian, the Nerissimo package isn’t exactly new. Maserati actually launched it this spring with the Ghibli Nerissimo Edition, a limited-edition model with a blacked-out exterior and a bespoke interior. So this new release is pretty much about turning it into a regular package for the Ghibli and adding it to the Quattroporte and Levante crossover.

Much like the special edition introduced earlier in 2017, the Nerissimo package turns the exterior almost pitch black. The Nero paint is combined with black chrome trim just about anywhere on the body, including the front grille and the window frames. The trunk lid trim, side air vents, Trident logo, C-pillars badges, and engine and vehicle designation. The exterior is rounded off by black exhaust tips. However, unlike the Nerrisimo Edition, this package comes with two additional paint options, Nero Ribelle and Grigio Maratea. The former is also black, while the latter is a dark grey metallic color.

There’s no word on what changes inside the cabin, but if the first Ghibli limited-edition model is any indication, all cars should get black leather, Dark Mirror trim, red stitching, and red gearshift paddles.

Alongside the new Nerissimo Package, Maserati also showcased 2018-model-year upgrades. The Ghibli and Quattroporte now feature Adaptive full LED headlights with glare-free high-beam, as well as an uprated 3.0-liter V-6 that generates 424 horsepower instead of 404. The mill also features the new, performance-enhancing Integrated Vehicle Control system (IVC) developed by Bosch.

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The Porsche 718 Twins Come to L.A. with Extra Horsepower and GTS Badges

The Porsche 718 Twins Come to L.A. with Extra Horsepower and GTS Badges

The 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster are more potent than ever before

There are plenty of reasons to love the Porsche 718 Cayman and the 718 Boxster. Their “S” variants pack 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, good enough to get them to run at speeds that approach 180 mph. But in the event that those performance numbers aren’t enough to satisfy your thirst for speed, Porsche has a solution in the new 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster GTS models. The two units made their debuts at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, and they come packing more power to go along with the three-letter nomenclature that has come to define many Porsche models in the past.

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Fast Breakdown of 2018 Jeep Wrangler Transmisison and Driveline

Fast Breakdown of 2018 Jeep Wrangler Transmisison and Driveline

The all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL comes loaded with big updates – the most important of which happen under the steel and aluminum skin. The familiar 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 returns mostly unchanged, but with an auto stop/start system. The big news, however, is the new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the new eight-speed automatic, and the availability of the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 in 2019. There’s also a new Auto4WD system available and strong Dana axles.

Staring with the 2.0-liter, it makes an impressive 270 horsepower and out-grunts the V-6 by 35 pound-feet of torque with a whopping 295 pound-feet. Some of that low-end twist comes via the new belt-starter-generator that helps turn the crankshaft at lower revs. Sadly, Jeep won’t let you pair the engine with the manual transmission. You can read our more detailed breakdown of the engine here.

As for the V-6, its specs remain unchanged at 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It can be mated to either the new six-speed manual or the new ZF eight-speed automatic. For the 2019 model year, the well-loved 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 will finally make its appearance in the Wrangler, though only in the four-door model and with the eight-speed auto. Power is improved, too, at 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. Expect this to be the fuel economy leader.

Three transfer cases are available: the standard Command-Trac, the Rubicon’s Rock-Trac, and the new Selec-Trac offered, which is optional on the Sahara trim. Unlike the other two, the Selec-Trac can operate as a full-time 4WD system. Just select “Auto4WD” and the T-case will automatically send power to the front wheels when traction out back becomes an issue. The Rubicon’s Rock-Trac T-case has its crawl ratio bumped from 73:1 to 84:1, making it even better at low-speed crawling.

Lastly, the new Dana axles are stronger than before despite their same names. The Sport and Sahara trims come with a new Dana 30 front and Dana 35 rear axle. Final drive ratios include 3.45 and the optional 3.73. The Rubicon get the new Dana 44 both front and rear and comes only with the beefy 4.10 ratio. The suspension remains familiar, though improvements were made. Both use multi-link arms and coil springs, though the rear axle’s shock absorbers are now mounted outboard of the fully boxed frame rails for better roll control in corners. The wheelbase is also lengthened slightly for better on-road comfort and off-road stability.

Continue reading for detailed drivetrain specs.

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Toyota FT-AC Concept Previews Hybrid SUV in Los Angeles

Toyota FT-AC Concept Previews Hybrid SUV in Los Angeles

Promises to take outdoor fun to a new level

The cool thing about Toyota is that it produces a wide range of crossovers and SUVs that are affordable, reliable, and off-road-capable at the same time. Granted, some might be a bit boring to look at, but this could change in the near future. At least that’s what the new FT-AC concept suggests. Unveiled at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, the FT-AC, which comes from Future Toyota Adventure Concept, promises to make weekend getaways a more fun and exciting experience.

About the size of a current RAV4, the FT-AC sports a very rugged look with massive wheel arch extensions, a beefy underbelly plate, and front bumper assembly, and a concept roof rack. Up front, the off-road-specific features are combined with aggressive-looking, swept-back headlamps, and a grille that’s actually similar to a few production models. The rear is a combination of angular features, with the taillights’ sharp edges extending well into the bumpers. The bumper features a big protective plate at the bottom, while a special rack holds a mountain bike. More protection can be seen on the side skirts, while the off-road tires complete the off-road-capable look.

The concept comes with a few cool convenience features too. For starters, the roof rack’s LED lights can be controlled via a mobile device, while the capable geolocation system ensures you won’t get lost no matter the trail you tackle. The side mirrors include infrared cameras that can record trail runs, but they can also be removed and mounted off-vehicle. An integrated Wi-Fi hotspot uploads footage to cloud-based storage for instant access via mobile devices

Finally, Toyota says that the production version of the FT-AC could be a hybrid and use a drivetrain that’s both capable and fuel-efficient. The Japanese firm also talks about an advanced torque-vectoring AWD system, variable terrain-response settings, and four-wheel lock functionality, but doesn’t give additional details. All told, the FT-AC could become a very interesting production SUV, even if Toyota decided to tone its design down a bit.

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Will the 2018 Nissan Kicks Replace the Nissan Juke?

Will the 2018 Nissan Kicks Replace the Nissan Juke?

There’s no word from Nissan yet, but don’t be surprised if this is the direction it takes

The Nissan Kicks finally made its debut at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. The crossover’s arrival likely means that the Juke crossover is on its last legs. Nissan has given no indication regarding the status of the Juke, but all signs seem to point in that direction. That’s not necessarily a bad thing given how polarizing the Juke has been in the seven years that it’s been around. It’s about time Nissan’s quirky crossover is put to pasture. It makes sense for Nissan to do it now that the Kicks is here with a package that’s admittedly more appealing to customers.

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Opinionated Rant: Automakers Think We're Dumb

Opinionated Rant: Automakers Think We’re Dumb

Yes; I’m talking about you BMW, Mitsubishi, and Nissan…

Every Auto Show season I get the glory of attending various auto shows, and I always end up with my boxers in a bunch over lazy facelifts, stupid special editions, or retarded concepts. Earlier this year, I had more than I could complain about at the Chicago Auto Show alone thanks to the Chevy Redline Editions and the Nissan Midnight Editions alone. Now, come the end of the year, and both BMW and Nissan have managed stir up some aggressive feelings. First off, I want to talk about the “new” BMW i8 Coupe….

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Eject-O Seat-O: 2019 Lexus LX Drops Third Row and $5,000 Off the Sticker

Eject-O Seat-O: 2019 Lexus LX Drops Third Row and $5,000 Off the Sticker

The LX loses a seat, the RX gains a seat

Remember when Chevrolet announced the 2018 Tahoe Custom a few months ago? It comes without the third-row seats and a $3,750 cheaper price tag. Well, Lexus is running that exact play with its biggest SUV, the LX570. For 2019, Lexus is offering the LX in a two-row version with a whopping $5,000 off the MSRP.

It’s called the Lexus LX570 Two-Row, and it will start at $84,980. The uninspired name aside, the new model is aimed at customers who don’t need seating for seven or who need extra cargo space. A positive side effect of losing the rear seats is an added 5.8 cubic feet of cargo room for a new maximum of 50.5 cubic feet. Lexus also makes the roof rack and rails standard equipment here, too.

The rest of the 2019 Lexus LX 570 remains unchanged. Power comes from the venerable but outdated 5.7-liter V-8 making 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic feeds power to the full-time 4WD system. Towing remains at 7,000 pounds, and fuel economy is stagnate at 13 mpg city, 18 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined. Premium gas is required, but that probably isn’t a concert for shoppers willing to spend $85,000 on a full-size, body-on-frame SUV.

Lexus will continue selling the seven-passenger, three-row LX 570 alongside the new two-row version. Expect to see both 2019 versions in dealerships sometime in mid-2018.

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A Quick Look at how the Mazda6 Has Changed for 2018

A Quick Look at how the Mazda6 Has Changed for 2018

Small tweaks make for a better-looking sedan

Sometimes, in the smallest of updates can make a big difference for a car. The new Mazda6 is proof of that. It still looks like the same attractive sedan, but take a closer look at it, and you’ll notice a few subtle tweaks that give the sedan a more refined appearance. Part of the changes is tied to Mazda’s “Mature Elegance” styling, a design language that the automaker first unveiled in its Vision Coupe concept. The new Mazda6 receives some hints of the new aesthetic architecture. That’s on top of the car also receiving a more powerful turbocharged engine. It’s a new day for the new-and-improved Mazda6.

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2018 Jeep Wrangler Can Tow as Much as 3,500 Pounds

2018 Jeep Wrangler Can Tow as Much as 3,500 Pounds

And that’s true for the 3.6-liter V-6 and 2.0-liter turbo-four

The Jeep Wrangler is basically the embodiment of a sport utility vehicle. After all, it did invent the category way back in 1941. Today, most SUVs are truck-based family haulers that don’t mind big loads on their trailer hitches. Crossovers, on the other hand, are generally limited in their towing capacities, with a few notable exceptions The Wrangler is a different beast altogether. Despite its body-on-frame construction, its off-road-biased suspension and relatively small footprint leave it with a compromised tow rating compared to say a mid-size pickup like the Chevrolet Colorado. Still, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler provides adequate towing capabilities for most active users.

The two-door Wrangler can tow up to 2,000 pounds via its optional two-inch receiver hitch. That’s the case with both the standard 3.6-liter V-6 and the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The longer, four-door Wrangler Unlimited has an increased tow rating of 3,500 pounds thanks to a heavier curb weight and its longer wheelbase. Again, both engines will do the job. The same is true for the manual and automatic transmissions.

Sadly, we don’t expect the 2019 Wrangler Unlimited with its optional 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 to boast any towing increases, either. It all comes down to what the chassis and suspension will handle. Thankfully, the upcoming Jeep Scrambler pickup will have an improved tow rating rumored at 6,500 pounds.

Continue reading for the detailed towing specs.

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