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2018 Toyota Land Cruiser

2018 Toyota Land Cruiser

An old favorite gets some modern updates

The Toyota Land Cruiser is about as iconic as vehicles come, so it’s a big deal when something changes. For 2018 in global markets, the Land Cruiser is getting a few appearance upgrades and a redesigned dashboard – both in an effort to keep this go-anywhere, three-row SUV flying off showroom floors. Toyota debuted its updated Land Cruiser at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show ahead of its on-sale date later this year.

The Land Cruiser’s reputation is rooted in reliability and its rugged dependability in off-road situations, often far from civilization. It makes sense, then, that Toyota boasts about the SUV being “easy to maintain and repair” right in its press materials. You won’t find that in a Land Rover’s press kit. While easy trail repairs isn’t the Land Cruiser’s best selling point in North America where customers view it as a status symbol, many of the 190 countries place an extreme value on making a round trip when leaving the house. Of course, the 2018 Land Cruiser is more than just reliable transportation. It offers plenty of luxury and creature comforts, too. Let’s check out what changes Toyota has made for 2018. Perhaps some of these will even make it to the U.S.-spec Land Cruiser, as well.

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2017 Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY

2017 Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY

It’s all ready for the new one-model Formula E series

Jaguar’s “Pace” lineup has grown quite quickly, with the F-Pace winning the hearts of many, and the E-Pace – the baby of the lineup – coming to life for the 2018 model year. Both of these models, however, make use of gasoline or diesel engines for motivation. Recently, however, Jaguar debuted the I-Pace Concept, a vehicle that, once put into production, will sit at the top of the lineup with its sedan-like proportions and two electric motors – the same ones that delivered 394 horsepower and 516 pound-feet in the concept. It seems that we’re actually getting a look at a high-performance version of the I-Pace long before we actually see the production car, all thanks to Formula E and a race series that will feature as many as 20 examples of the I-Pace eTrophy. Details about Jag’s newest race car are still predominantly under wraps until at least 2018, but we do know that it will be built by Jaguar SVO in the U.K.

With that said, the initial debuting of this new race car stands as an increased effort being put forth by Land Rover and Jaguar to electrify its entire lineup of new cars starting in 2020. And, with the Brits planning to ban ICE cars by 2040 altogether, the I-Pace and I-Pace eTrophy set Jaguar up nicely to be prepared for that inevitable moment 23 years from now. The I-Pace eTrophy also comes along as the basis for the world’s first production battery electric vehicle racing series – the first step in what will eventually redefine racing as we know it. But, we’re getting a little too far ahead of ourselves, so let’s take the time to take a look at the new I-Pace eTrophy race car and talk about what we can expect from Jaguars latest pet project.

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The Elaine Concept Puts Audi's Autonomous Ambitions On Display

The Elaine Concept Puts Audi’s Autonomous Ambitions On Display

The latest technology study from the Four Rings

As the race to full autonomy continues to heat up, Audi has been making moves. Between a variety of futuristic self-driving concepts and real-life demonstrations, the Four Ring brand has been busy in the push for robo car tech. Audi’s latest bid in this space is the Elaine concept vehicle, which recently debuted at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show promising a host of interesting features. As you might expect, the Elaine looks beyond the standard list of autonomous features present in the current crop of production luxury vehicles and imagines what’s possible in the future. As such, the Elaine promises not only uninterrupted self-driving capabilities, but also fully autonomous parking, AI-assisted navigation and comfort settings, self-directed car washing, and even driver health recommendations. What’s more, Audi says all these features could very well find their way onto its production vehicles in the years to come.

Inevitably, there will be many of you out there who feel a bit of anxiety over the prospect of a self-driving Audi. Fear not, because this thing still comes with a steering wheel and pedals, and the autonomous features will only kick in when you want them to – that is, during boring stuff like commuting and traffic jams. The rest of it looks like a helpful way to enjoy your ride, and Audi even contends that “drivers should be more relaxed when they get out of the car than when they got in.” Intrigued? Read on for the details.

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Skoda Kodiaq Scout And Sportline Arrive in Frankfurt

Skoda Kodiaq Scout And Sportline Arrive in Frankfurt

Two new trims bring variety to Skoda’s new SUV

The Skoda Kodiaq launched for 2016 and so far has been a runaway success. Based on the second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan platform (VW’s MQB architecture), the Kodiaq offers room for five in the two-row model and seven with the third-row seats ordered. Now for 2017, the value-themed crossover gets more variety thanks to two new trims Skoda brought to the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show – the Sportline and Scout.

Hinted by the names, the Sportline trim gives the Kodiaq a more street-wise appearance, while the Scout offers a more rugged, off-road theme. Both come with plenty of additional features, making them more than just an appearance package. In fact, the Scout comes with a raised ride height and underbody skid plates and the Sportline gets a sport-tuned suspension, a G-meter, and lap timer. Both models have adaptive dampers, too. Skoda isn’t changing the Kodiaq’s drivetrain options, however. Both the Sportline and Scout are available with choices of gasoline and diesel engine options. These include a 1.4-liter gasoline four-cylinder with 150 horsepower and range to a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder with 295 pound-feet of torque. Both models come standard with AWD.

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Hybrid All The Things

Hybrid All The Things

Electrification is looking better and better

In case you didn’t hear, Mercedes-Benz just released the world’s very first hybrid hydrogen car. Dubbed the GLC F-Cell, the technology involved is mighty impressive indeed – in addition to a traditional fuel cell power source, which converts hydrogen into electricity and water vapor, the GLC F-Cell comes equipped with a large plug-in lithium-ion battery pack that adds another 30 miles of all-electric range when fully charged. Working in concert, the two power sources aim to complement one another by offering both the quick-fill convenience of hydrogen with the long-range capabilities of a hybrid system. It makes a lot of sense, even if H2 power is still a longs ways off from widespread adoption, and given the industry-wide tendency towards ever-greater numbers of hybrid offerings, it got us thinking – is there anything that wouldn’t benefit from hybridization?

Naturally, given the association hybrids enjoy with green sensibilities, sports cars might seem like an odd segment for the application of hybrid technology – at least until you read up on the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder, and Ferrari LaFerrari. The Mercedes-AMG Project One is another, more-recent example of hybrid power used in the name of speed.

Indeed, hybrid systems seem to do just about everything better – they go farther, go faster, and go more efficiently, all good stuff. However, no technology is perfect, and these systems still have their disadvantages. For starters, they add weight, and a lot of it. Those batteries and electric motors aren’t exactly trivial when it comes to extra mass. Secondly, they add a good deal of complication as well, which means more stuff to break or go wrong, which can be a problem when shooting for affordability.

However, in terms of power performance and efficiency and greenness, hybrids are just better. And with more automakers throwing their hat into the hybrid ring, we can bet there will be significant advances in terms of weight reduction and simplification. Indeed, like early production turbocharged engines, hybrids are looking more and more like a panacea for many of the industry’s ills.

What do you think?

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Lamborghini's New Teaser Of The Urus SUV Is Getting Us All Pumped Up

Lamborghini’s New Teaser Of The Urus SUV Is Getting Us All Pumped Up

It’s finally coming in less than three months!

Excuse me for a second for taking a break from the whirlwind that is the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. Given all the head-spinning induced by all these debuts, I think it’s time for a little breather. Let me divert your collective attentions for a quick minute and tell you about a car that’s making headlines, not because it showed up in Frankfurt, but because it’s debuting three months from now in December 2017. That car, ladies and gentlemen, is the Lamborghini Urus, and just as the Italian automaker is grabbing people’s attention in Frankfurt with the Aventador Roadster S, the Italian supercar company has its sight sets on its next big thing.

Truth be told, far too much has been said about the Urus SUV over the years. From skepticism to excitement, doubt to giddiness, Lambo has put us through an emotional roller-coaster with regards to the Urus. And now that it’s three months away from finally making its world debut, the Raging Bull is continuing to build up the hype by releasing a minute-long trailer revolving around the message that Lamborghini is a pioneer above all else. Even the trailer’s title – #SinceWeMadeItPossible – touches on that message, as does the content itself, which pretty much describes Lamborghini as an innovator, rule-breaker, and challenger to the status quo. Regardless of what most of us think of these boasts, it’s hard to argue against any of them when the evidence of the company’s innovation is the very reason why we’re circling December 4 in our calendars. The Urus SUV is finally arriving, folks. Best to save the date this early.

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Mercedes Launches First Production Hydrogen Hybrid With GLC F-Cell

Mercedes Launches First Production Hydrogen Hybrid With GLC F-Cell

An SUV with zero local CO2 emissions, times two

The latest crop of green alternative passenger vehicles is making the rounds at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and Mercedes is getting in on the action with a brand-new hybrid SUV. It’s called the GLC F-Cell, and it’s touted as the world’s very first production-ready hydrogen hybrid vehicle. Flying the German automaker’s EQ Power banner, also known as the go-to branding for Merc’s various green solutions, the GLC F-Cell is essentially an SUV that combines plug-in all-electric battery power with hydrogen fuel cell power. The marriage of these two alternative power sources hopes to find a synergy whereby benefits are maximized and disadvantages are minimized, combining the quick refill times of hydrogen power and the long-range capability of electrified assistance, all without the traditional explodey dino juice normally associated with “typical” hybrid vehicles.

The new SUV is part of the latest Mercedes product strategy to produce 10 new battery-electric models by the year 2022. The GLC F-Cell is also a modern addition to the Mercedes CASE strategy, an acronym that stands for, Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services, and Electric. And while the SUV has yet to show anything terribly noteworthy in terms of connected, autonomous, or sharing features, the novel hybrid stuff is more than worthy of the attention of anyone interested in powertrain technology development. Read on for the specs and details.

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The 2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo: An SUV with Attitude and Sports Car Performance

The 2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo: An SUV with Attitude and Sports Car Performance

Welcome to the world of crazy performance in a tall package

Porsche introduced the third-gen Cayenne in August of 2017 with a mildly revised exterior, new technology, and a revised engine lineup that’s good for 340 ponies in base form or 440 ponies in S form. At the time I reviewed the new Cayenne, I speculated that Porsche would have to come up with a solution for the Turbo model as it needed to squeeze a considerable amount of extra power from that 2.9-liter V-6 or would have to go with a V-8 as it has in the past. Just a couple of weeks after the third-gen Cayenne debuted, Porsche showed up to the Frankfurt Auto Show with the new Cayenne Turbo, and as it turns out, I’m better than Miss Cleo, as the new Turbo sure does make use of a V-8 that’s good for 550 ponies – an improvement of 30 ponies and there’s some extra torque on tap too. More importantly, however, is the fact that this V-8 is new, and displaces 4.0-liters – about 800cc less than the V-8 in the last-gen model.

Of course, there’s not a lot of difference between the base, S, and Turbo models, but there are a few differences to point out. It does get the same headlights and the same general fascia, however, those side intakes are much larger on the Turbo model, and the grill traverses the full width between the side intakes instead of being split by the fascia on the ends. There are no fog lights to speak of up front, and the radiator grille itself is much more open in comparison. In the rear, the only real differences include the rear diffuser, which is now more defined and the square exhaust outlets. 21-inch wheels that are exclusive to the Turbo model can be found in each corner and match the wide wheel arches quite nicely, I might add. But, there’s more than exterior looks to talk about here, including some nice extras inside and that new V-8 under to hood, so let’s talk more about that.

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Toyota Gives the 2018 Land Cruiser A Modern Flair for Frankfurt

Toyota Gives the 2018 Land Cruiser A Modern Flair for Frankfurt

It’s still the same, old-school SUV underneath

When’s the last time you’ve heard an automaker claim its latest vehicle is “easy to maintain and repair?” That’s exactly what Toyota said about its revised 2018 Land Cruiser, which makes its debut at the 2017 Frankfort Motor Show. It makes sense, after all, since the Land Cruiser is one of the most prolific vehicles in the world today. It’s sold in 190 countries worldwide and has a reputation of reliability and go-anywhere capability. Here in the U.S., the Land Cruiser is more of a status symbol, regulated to a few thousand sales a year with a fat asking price. Elsewhere, the Land Cruiser is viewed as a utilitarian beast that doesn’t mind trekking through foreboding countryside.

The Land Cruiser’s updates are mostly cosmetic. The front clip is new, the rear end is reworked, and the dashboard has been rearranged for better functionality. Toyota kept utility and functionality at the forefront, too, with impressive approach, breakover, and departure angles, along with 8.4-inches of ground clearance. Even the headlights were redesigned to make them more impervious to trail damage. Inside, the 4WD controls are placed on the center stack within easy reach of the driver. The greasy bits carry over unchanged, including the turbodiesel and two gasoline options. Toyota is dropping the gasoline option for Australia, however. Nevertheless, let’s take a dive into what’s new for the 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser. Keep in mind, this isn’t the U.S.-spec version with its 5.7-liter V-8. We expect that to come later in the year with these same visual updates.

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Opel Announces First Hybrid Vehicle at Frankfurt Auto Show

Opel Announces First Hybrid Vehicle at Frankfurt Auto Show

The German firm jumps on the hybrid bandwagon with Grandland X

Recently purchased by the Peugeot-Citroen Group (PSA) from General Motors, German automaker Opel unveiled the new Grandland X crossover at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. Bu,t while adding a third SUV to the lineup is big news for Opel, the Grandland X isn’t exactly breaking news material, as the vehicle was previewed back in April. However, there’s big news in the fact that this SUV will get a hybrid drivetrain. And the important thing here is that the Grandland X will be the company’s very first plug-in hybrid vehicle. Now that’s something to get excited about.

As a refresher, the Grandland X joins Opel’s still somewhat limited crossover lineup, which only includes the Crossland X and the popular Mokka X. Nearly eight inches longer than the Crossland X, the Grandland X is built around PSA’s EMP2 platform, shared with vehicles like the Citroen C5 Aircross, Peugeot 3008, 4008, and 5008. Actually, the Grandland X shares most of its underpinnings with the Peugeot 3008, which was updated from a minivan-like vehicle into a full-fledged crossover in 2016. The only thing we don’t know yet is when the hybrid Grandland X will hit the market.

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Jaguar Gets Racy With The I-Pace eTrophy

Jaguar Gets Racy With The I-Pace eTrophy

Race car look for Jag’s new electric SUV has our curiosities piqued

Imagine for a second what a Jaguar I-Pace will look like if Jaguar decided to turn it into a race car. I suppose it’ll be dripping with active aerodynamics, maybe even get a fancy color with racing stripes and company decals. It’s a good interpretation, except that we won’t have to imagine it because Jaguar actually did it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Frankfurt-bound I-Pace eTrophy, a prototype version of a racy-looking I-Pace that’s looking to devour the competition, a full-blown racer that will compete exclusively in the newly created I-Pace eTrophy series.

Judging by the way it looks - it’s positively menacing - it’s easy to forget that the I-Pace eTrophy is still an electric car at its roots. The quasi-SUV does have adequate power to justify its billing, thanks in large part to a 90 kWh battery and four electric motors (one on each axle) that combine to produce a total output of 400 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. It’s unclear if the I-Pace eTrophy carries the same power and performance credentials, but if it’s able to perform as well as it looks, I expect the new I-Pace eTrophy support racing series for Formula E to be as exciting as it sounds. At the very least, the sight of seeing 20 of them on a racing grid is more than enough to get me interested in the series.

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Jaguar Land Rover's SVO Unit Comes Through On Its Word With The Discovery SVX

Jaguar Land Rover’s SVO Unit Comes Through On Its Word With The Discovery SVX

Off-road features abound with SVO’s latest masterpiece

Back at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show in March, Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations boss John Edwards hinted at the possibility of the Land Rover Discovery getting its own SVO treatment. He didn’t dive into any specifics, opting only to say that if SVO did create one, it would be somewhere in the middle “between Paris Dakar and Camel Trophy,” two famed off-road races. I can’t tell if just-unveiled Discovery SXV is capable of competing in both races, but give credit where it’s due: JLR’s SVO unit came through on its word.

The Land Rover Discovery SVX is the result of what happens when a goal is set and that goal is accomplished. On paper, it’s billed as the most powerful version of the Discovery ever created, and the numbers certainly speak for themselves as the Discovery SVX is capable of producing 525 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque, thanks in large part to the SUV carrying a much bigger 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 engine compared to the smaller 3.0-liter V-6 mill that all other Land Rover Discovery SUVs come in. It’s not just about the engine either. SVO understood that for the Discovery SVX to reach its full off-road potential, it needed significant changes to its mechanical and handling faculties. The division did just that, and a whole lot more. Certainly, the results speak for themselves.

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