2019 BMW i8 Roadster
The world got its first official look at the production-ready BMW i8 hybrid sports car back in 2013 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Critics and enthusiasts alike went gaga over its sci-fi good looks while reveling in its promises of speed and efficiency, and consumers responded by buying over 10,000 examples of the i8 as of November of 2016, making it the best-selling plug-in hybrid sports car in the world. Impressive stuff, no doubt, but now there’s a new model out, and this time, it’s got a bit off the top. This roofless iteration of the Bavarian’s hybrid sports car made its debut at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, and brings with it a few small tweaks to the exterior styling, updated tech in the cabin, and a little extra oomph in the electrified powertrain department as well.
Overall, the updates are pretty minor, refining what’s already there without changing much. And considering the widespread acclaim levied at the i8 in the few short years it’s been on the market, it makes sense to keep things more or less unchanged, right? That said, the hybrid and EV market have seen some mighty impressive advances over the course of that time period, which begs the question – can unlimited headroom keep the i8 feeling fresh for the 2019 model year?
Updated 01/24/2018: We’ve updated this review with all the latest official info straight from BMW!
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2020 Project Redspace
The Earth is teeming with humanity. In 2011, the world population hit a head-spinning 7 billion people, and it’s only getting more crowded – at an accelerating rate, too. Most folks live in and around staggeringly dense urban centers called “megacities,” called as such thanks to population figures that eclipse the 10-million mark. With such incredible numbers of people to serve, transportation systems are at their limit. So what’s the solution? Something like Project Redspace might very well be it. Produced by a Chinese firm and aimed primarily at the Chinese market, the Project Redspace (Redspace as in “Revolutionary Electric Dream Space”) is an all-electric commuter with a unique twist. The driving philosophy behind its creation was to leverage space wherever possible, finding an ideal amalgamation between form and function through inherent adaptability and customization, all while leaving the door open for the integration of forthcoming autonomous systems. Introduced in concept form at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, this very well could be the transportation solution for future U.S. city dwellers.
While the Project Redspace certainly doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen before, that’s kind of the point, or at least half of it. Spearheading the project is Chris Bangle, a noted American car designer with a resume that includes a stint at BMW and Fiat. Backed by Chinese partners from CHTC Motors (China Hi-Tech New Energy Automobile Co., Ltd), Bangle says that he managed to design “a space that decided to become a car,” and he’s deadest on meeting the needs of the traveling public of the future. While this might be a prototype model, a production iteration is reportedly just years away. Read on for the details.
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2018 Nissan Kicks - U.S. Spec
Without a doubt, the SUV and crossover market is still running strong, prompting every automaker under the sun to fill their lineups to capacity with fresh tall-riding hatches in a bid to satisfy the public’s seemingly never-ending demand. Nissan is no different, offering U.S buyers no less than six different models in the segment, including the Juke, Rogue, Rogue Sport, Murano, Pathfinder, and Armada. Unfortunately, lovers of the funky and fun Juke won’t see the compact on the roster for much longer, as rumor has it Nissan is showing it the door in 2018. However, in its stead, Nissan will offer something fresh – enter the Kicks. The Kicks is Nissan’s very first new nameplate in 8 years, arriving as a new entry-level model in the Japanese automaker’s lineup with more room and a lower price tag than the Juke. It’s also got some nice technology, both for entertainment and for safety purposes.
The Kicks is already on sale in South America, but arrives stateside more or less unchanged in the hopes of enticing urban consumers, or as Nissan puts it, “singles or couples looking for unique styling, roominess, personal technology, smart functionality and advanced safety features at an affordable price.” So – how does it stack up?
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2018 Aria FXE
If you’ve never heard of ‘em, don’t feel bad. Aria is best known as the pen behind projects like the Tesla Model S Concept from 2009, the bespoke carbon fiber body panels that adorn the Singer 911s, and the Ford Shelby GR-1, as well as the SpaceX Dragon capsule and the Warthog from Halo 4. Just 100 employees make up the entire firm. Now, this small, yet talented group is offering up a glimpse at its very first production passenger car, and long story short, it’s a whopper. Recently unveiled at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, Aria calls it the FXE, as it’s an evolved iteration of the FE concept shown in LA last year. The FXE looks like a spaceship, and based on Aria’s claim regarding the onboard hybrid V-8 powertrain, it should go like one too. Taking inspiration from track cars, the FXE is made for the road and aims to topple the best of the best from Europe, including the Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1.
Of course, that’s a rather tall order for any carmaker, let alone a tiny boutique design house looking to make their first production vehicle. So the question is this – can Aria pull it off?
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2018 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography
The Land Rover Range Rover’s ultimate trim level, the SVAutobiography, is getting a healthy update for 2018. Of course, many of these same updates are found on the standard 2018 Range Rover, too, having undergone a welcomed refresh. The 2018 SVAutobiography is available on the long-wheelbase Range Rover. It comes with ultra-premium levels of luxury fittings and first-class accommodations for rear passengers. Airline-style reclining seats with massaging, folding aluminum tray tables, power-operated doors, twin 10.2-inch entertainment monitors, and a refrigerated compartment are just some of the highlights.
As part of the Range Rover’s 2018 update, the dashboard now features the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with two 10-inch touchscreens in the center stack and another 10-inch screen for the fully digital gauge cluster. Other tech features include 4G Wi-Fi hotspot for eight devices, plenty of USB and 12-volt ports, a household power plug. Land Rover’s Connect Pro brings smartphone connection and remote controlling of the vehicle’s systems. The app allows for operating door locks, setting climate control temperatures, and remotely starting the engine. And for those times when having keys for a phone on your person isn’t feasible, the available Activity Key wristband doubles as the key fob.
Of course, that’s just scratching the surface, so let’s dive into what’s new.
Continue reading for more on the updated 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography.
2018 Model Sondors
The world of all-electric vehicles seems to be in a constant state of flux as of late, evolving from quirky, eco-friendly transportation alternatives, to top-shelf luxury cars, to high-performance speed machines, and now, it looks like we’re coming full circle. Unveiled in a small corner booth at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, this is the Model Sondors, the first offering from the Sondors Electric Car Company. Sondors is best known for its popular line of electric bicycles, and currently enjoys a position as the largest electric bike manufacturer and distributor in the U.S. Now, it’s aiming at expanding into the electric car game, starting with this slick-looking three-wheeling three-seater. Simplicity is the name of the game, from the powertrain to the interior. Even the way its built and sold will be streamlined, all in the name of driving down costs to bring electric motivation to the masses.
“I believe affordable, clean transportation should be the norm, not the exception. You shouldn’t have to choose between a car you can afford and a car that’s electric. We can do better,” says the founder of Sondors Electric Car Company, Storm Sondors. So far, so good. The prototype you see here was built in just seven months, an outright blitz by industry standards, and we think it looks quite good at this early stage. But is it really?
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2019 Lincoln Nautilus
Introduced in 2006 as a replacement for the Aviator, the Lincoln MKX soldiered on for almost a decade until it was redesigned in 2015. After only two years on the market, the second-generation MKX received its mid-cycle facelift. Launched at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, the midsize crossover was renamed the Nautilus, as part of the company’s new strategy that involves dropping alphanumeric badges. Alongside the new name, the crossover also gained an updated front fascia, now inline with most Lincoln vehicles, new technology, and a new engine under the hood.
Lincoln’s decision to rename the MKX isn’t surprising. The midsize is the firm’s best-selling SUV and a vehicle that attracts most new customers from other brands, with nearly 40 percent reportedly crossing over from Cadillac and Lexus. The Nautilus is supposed to build on the momentum of the MKX, which is on track to deliver its best sales year since 2007. But does it have what it takes to give the Cadillac XT5 a run for its money? Find out in the review below.
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2019 Saleen S1
Established in 1983, Saleen quickly became one of America’s most renowned Ford Mustang tuners. Already a highly praised company in the 1990s, Saleen became a full-fledged automaker by launching the S7 in 2000. One of the first hand-built American supercars, the S7 went on to become a legend and survived for no fewer than nine years on the market. Once it discontinued the S7, Saleen went back to modifying muscle cars, providing upgrades not only for the Mustang but for the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger (and even the Tesla Model S) too. But it seems that Saleen is now ready to launch its second original design. It’s called the S1, and it was introduced at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The small sports car is a surprising appearance. Not only it came out of nowhere, but it also arrived at a time when Saleen barely emerged from years of struggling with financial difficulties. And the California-based firm has big plans with the S1, hoping to sell more than 1,500 units a year in the U.S. alone. The two-door is also built from scratch by the American company, which is a big feat given that Saleen was almost bankrupt a few years ago. But it’s worth mentioning that Saleen isn’t alone in this project. The S1 is actually made by Jiangsu Saleen Automotive Technologies Group, a company based in China that is building a billion-dollar manufacturing facility in the country.
Saleen also revealed that the S1 project began a few years ago when the firm purchased the tooling for the Artega GT, a German sports car designed by Henrik Fisker in the late 2000s. Launched in 2009, the GT was short-lived, being discontinued when Artega went bankrupt in 2012. However, the S1 isn’t based on the GT. Saleen found that an update wasn’t feasible and designed a new coupe from scratch.
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First arriving in North America for the 2003 model year as a replacement for the Mazda 626, the Mazda6 was billed as the Japanese brand’s premium midsize four-door offering. Hailed as Mazda’s flagship sedan model, the nameplate has seen three generations throughout its career, with the most recent getting a debut at the Moscow International Motor Show in August of 2012. Now, it’s time for a refresh, with Mazda dropping details on the 2018 model year at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. The updates this time around are extensive, and include a more upscale interior, improved chassis refinement, and most importantly, the addition of a turbo 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood.
All told, the 2018 Mazda6 gets a rather impressive list of revisions, much more than we’re accustomed to seeing in a simple mid-cycle refresh. And that’s great, especially when you consider how impressed we were with the older model. By all accounts, it looks like Mazda is vying to instill the 6 with a sense of elevated quality and luxury, leveling its crosshairs at more expensive competitors in the segment. At the same time, that requisite Mazda fun gets a boost thanks to forced induction. So then, what’s the end result? Read on to find out.
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2018 Lexus LX 570
First hitting the market in January of 1996, the Lexus LX nameplate has evolved through three separate generations over the years, with the latest J200 iteration arriving in 2007. Based heavily on the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Lexus LX is the premium Japanese brand’s take on full-size luxury SUV transport, comfortably seating up to eight passengers and offering a good deal of capability if road conditions are less than ideal. However, according to Lexus, “some customers indicated they did not use the third row and expressed a preference for more interior cargo space,” and as a result, the 2018 model year gets a bit of switch-up in the cabin. Introduced as the LX 570 at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, the third-row bench was tossed to accommodate more junk in the trunk, all while keeping the same capability and comfort found in the LX’s eight-seater counterparts.
Lexus says the LX 570 is aimed at “smaller families, empty nesters and multiple-vehicle households, [customers who] are more likely to travel with fewer passengers but more carry-on gear. Among the activities they enjoy are skiing, cycling, kayaking, and golf, along with such hobbies as nature photography and antique collecting. Some also wanted more versatility for carrying their dogs.” So – does the LX really work better with fewer seats and more cargo?
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2019 BMW i8
First unveiled in 2013, the BMW i8 was met with critical acclaim for its sharp space-age looks, high-tech hybrid powertrain, and impressive speed potential. First rolling off the production line in 2014, the i8 has remained a hugely desirable hybrid sports car throughout its brief lifetime. However, it’s been several years now since its initial release, which means it’s time for a refresh. As such, BMW introduced a mid-cycle refresh for the i8 Coupe at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, simultaneously dropping the sheets alongside a new open-top Roadster iteration. Overall, the tweaks are minor but do include some new styling options and a slightly beefier battery pack. Power and all-electric range see incremental increases, but is it enough to keep the Bavarian spaceship feeling as cutting edge as it should?
After all, we’ve seen some pretty impressive gains in the sporty hybrid segment, even in the past three years. Which begs the question – how does the 2019 i8 shape up amongst the current crop of segment offerings, and does this refresh lag against the times?
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2017 Toyota FT-AC Concept
Toyota’s been hitting it big with its recent concept vehicles. This year alone, we’ve seen the Japanese automaker unveil the Concept-i, the FT-4X, and the GR HV Sports Concept. Now that we’re less than a month away from flipping our calendars to 2018, Toyota introduced one last concept at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. It’s called the Future Toyota Adventure Concept (FT-AC), and in my mind, it’s the best Toyota concept to come out this year.
Yes, I’m picking it over the GR HV Sports Concept, the sexy, taiga-style, two-door concept that we first saw at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show last October. I like the GR HV Sports Concept, but given a choice, I’d probably pick the FT-AC Concept over it. There’s something about this angry-looking SUV prototype that’s hard to ignore. Maybe it’s because of its design. Perhaps it’s because of the assortment of tech and connectivity features it has. It might even be a combination of both. The FT-AC is a concept that screams to my imagination, telling me to tell Toyota to turn it into a production model. I don’t know if I have that kind of cache, but I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to seeing it happen.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Toyota FT-AC Concept
2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS
Introduced in 2003, the Mercedes-Benz CLS created a new vehicle segment that combined the dynamic design of a coupe with the comfort and functionality of a luxury sedan. Come 2017, and the four-door coupe moved into its third-generation with updated styling, a revised interior with brand-new tech, and a completely new engine under the hood. The new-generation CLS replaces the W218 model that’s been in production since 2011. It was launched at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show and will go on sale in 2018.
The new model has pure CLS genes with its arching waistline, flat side window lines, and low greenhouse. It also retains its unique design, despite being based on the same underpinnings as the E-Class sedan. Though not as unique on the inside, the CLS blends the styling cues of the E-Class and S-Class with new features and exclusive technology. Under the hood, it comes with a new six-cylinder engine that uses EQ Boost, an electric motor that increases performance while returning better fuel economy. Let’s find out more about it in the review below.
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2018 Nissan Titan AT-M6 Walker
Stars Wars: The Last Jedi is hitting theaters next week, and like in year’s past, Nissan is hitching its wagon on the monolithic movie franchise. We saw the fruits of that partnership last year with the launch of the Nissan Rogue One Edition. This year, Nissan and LucasFilms are upping the ante by launching a whole fleet of Stars Wars-inspired creations, including the vehicle you see here.
This is a Nissan Titan, or at least it was until it was redesigned to look more like one of those giant AT-M6 Walker bots that the First Order deployed against the Resistance in The Force Awakens. The overall look and the details that went into creating the Titan Star Wars is a feast for the senses. We should give credit to Vehicle Effects for making this transformation. The California-based company is famous in Hollywood circles for building some of the best cars to hit the silver screen, including all the vehicles in The Fast and Furious and Marvel Cinematic Universe franchises. In addition to the Titan, Vehicle Effects also created the Nissan Altima Special Forces TIE Fighter, Nissan Maxima Kylo Ren, Nissan Maxima Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer, Nissan Maxima Captain Phasma, Nissan Rogue Poe Dameron’s X-Wing with BB8, and Nissan Rogue Sport A-Wing.
Continue after the jump to read more about the Nissan Star Wars Edition
2018 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line
Introduced in 2007, the Volkswagen Tiguan became a rather successful compact crossover, selling more than 2.6 million units in 10 years on the market. But its design was starting to feel old, so Volkswagen launched the second-generation model in 2016. Boasting a more angular, sportier design, the Tiguan finally stopped looking like a shrunken Touareg and gained a slightly more upscale appearance. Alongside the new exterior design, VW also added a redesigned interior with new tech and updated gasoline and diesel engines. The second-gen model also revived rumors of a higher-performance model, but the Germans have yet to confirm a GTi-like version. Instead, the U.S. market got an R-Line trim, which was introduced at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Much like R-Line packages for other models, the bundle was designed to give the crossover a more dynamic appearance. The update is pretty much a visual thing, with interior add-ons limited to a handful of features. Likewise, the R-Line doesn’t increase performance, so you still have to wait for that GTi to arrive if you want an angrier Tiguan. You should also know that the R-Line package is based on SEL and SEL Premium trims, so it will cost you more than $30,000. Find out more about it below.
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