Lexus unveils details for its subscription plan

The Car Connection News Feed - Sat, 02/09/2019 - 13:04
Lexus on Tuesday jumped into the new-car subscription foray. Lexus calls its program the "Complete Lease" program, although it mirrors rivals' subscription programs in many ways. One difference, however, is that Complete Lease does not allow swapping into other cars throughout the subscription. CHECK OUT: 2019 Lexus UX first drive review...
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Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 23:00

Ford’s heavy-duty truck gets a thorough update for 2020. Not only does it receive two new engines, but it also gets a 10-speed automatic transmission and chassis upgrades. Plus, Ford is boosting towing and payload capability to keep up with the competition. We know that design ranks pretty far down the list of important characteristics for a heavy-duty truck, but after the criticism Chevrolet received on the styling of its new Silverado HD, it’s clear people care about how these trucks look. With that, let’s examine how the 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty has changed in terms of design.

Much of the new design has to do with functionality. Up front, the different grilles have been updated to improve powertrain cooling. A new bumper also helps keep temperatures at bay. Meanwhile, Ford promises better performance from the redesigned headlamps. Certain models feature a lighting border around the headlamps. This element has changed from the signature on the previous model as it doesn’t surround the entire housing. While the old headlamps took on a sharp square shape, the new headlamps are slightly more curved. On some variants, a C-shaped element separates the grille from the headlamps now.

From the side, the Super Duty is business as usual. There is still a model badge just ahead of the front door. The side windows keep their familiar shape, dipping at the driver’s door next to the side mirrors.

In the rear, Ford employed a new tailgate design and rear bumper. The changes are quite evident on these two F-Series Limited trucks, the newer of which has more sculpted brightwork in the rear. It also has a smaller Super Duty logo just below the Limited badge. The Ford Blue Oval badge is placed lower on the rear. You’ll also notice Ford redesigned the taillights to take on more of a C shape.

Inside the cabin, Ford made subtle visual updates to a number of trims. Some of the biggest changes come to the Limited trim, which gets an updated color palette. Overall, the layout of the cabin and controls haven’t changed much. The central screen is still flanked by two large air vents, and below those are an array of buttons. But on the new model, the rearview camera comes with Pro Trailer Backup Assist that helps guide drivers into a parking spot. The new model also benefits from the addition of wireless charging and USB-C ports.

Is the 2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty refreshing or revolting? Let us know in the comments on Facebook.

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Amazon Invests in Autonomous Startup Aurora

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 22:30

Amazon has just invested into self-driving startup Aurora, according to a news report from Bloomberg. The $530 million cash infusion, which came from an investor group led by Sequoia Capital, also includes T. Rowe Price Group and has increased Aurora’s value to over $2.5 billion. Led by Chris Urmson, Sterling Anderson, and Drew Bagnell, who came from Google, Tesla, and Uber, respectively, Aurora has created partnerships with a number of automakers including Volkswagen Group and Hyundai Motor Group. The company, however, remains an independent entity and designs its hardware and data services to accommodate multiple manufacturers.

Sequoia Capital’s investment and the backing of Amazon and T. Rowe Price is considered a big vote of confidence for the self-driving startup. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve met with more than 15 of the top autonomous vehicle companies from around the world,” said Carl Eschenbach of Sequoia Capital who describes Aurora’s founders as the dream team with the best shot of disrupting the auto industry. As part of the investment, Eschenbach will also join Aurora’s board.


In an interview, Chris Urmson said that Aurora’s mission is to accelerate the viability of self-driving technology in a safe manner. “We’ve been incredibly fortunate that there is a lot of interest in Aurora, and we have been able to pick who is the most strategic for us,” he added. California is currently the center for autonomous vehicle development with Waymo, Cruise automation (backed by General Motors), Aurora, Zoox, and Argo AI (backed by Ford) being the big players. Amazon’s investment comes on the heels of reports that Apple had cut 200 employees from its self-driving car tech division, dubbed “Project Titan.”

Amazon’s investment into self-driving vehicles through Aurora is its first high profile move into the space. An Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg that the company sees autonomous technology’s potential for increased productivity. T. Rowe Price, the other new investor in Aurora, is also the second largest Tesla shareholder after Elon Musk.

While 2019 will be the first year for public testing for companies working on self-driving technologies, Aurora’s Urmson pointed out that this isn’t a race. He tells investors that autonomous vehicle development is a long process and will eventually make a big impact by improving mobility and safety.

Source: Bloomberg

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2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Gets Prius-Rivaling Fuel Economy

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 22:00

Prius-rivaling fuel efficiency will now be one of the reasons why consumers might buy a Toyota Corolla. The EPA recently released the fuel economy estimates for the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan, and the hybrid variant tops the lineup at 53/52 mpg city/highway. Powered by the same hybrid system in the Prius, the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid couples an Atkinson cycle 1.8-liter I-4 with two electric motors, an e-CVT, and a nickel-metal-hydride battery.

For those who prefer a more traditional powertrain, fret not because the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan’s s two four-cylinder engine options also yield solid fuel economy figures. The least efficient variants are the SE and XSE models with the six-speed manual and the XLE grade, which are rated at 29/36 mpg and 29/37 mpg, respectively. Lower trims, which are equipped with the smaller 1.8-liter unit are rated at 29/39 mpg with the manual or 30/38 mpg with the optional CVT. Opting for the more powerful 169-hp 2.0-liter mill actually gets you better mileage than the smaller engine at 31/38 mpg for the XSE and 31/40 mpg in other models.

With the new 2.0-liter I-4, the 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan will be one of the most efficient compact sedans available when it goes on sale. The only non-hybrid vehicles that offer better fuel economy are the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze TD, and the Toyota Corolla hatchback in SE trim with the CVT. The Toyota Corolla Hybrid is nearly at the top of its class, beating the Kia Niro, matching the Honda Insight, but slightly trailing the Prius and Hyundai Ioniq.

Source: EPA

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Volkswagen Could Add a Jetta R to the Lineup

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 21:36

The 2019 Chicago Auto Show proved to be a good place to catch up on some Volkswagen product plans and news.

VW used the show to finally show the 2019 Jetta GLI which ups the power considerably from the conventional Jetta. We are talking 80 more horsepower by replacing the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with the 2.0-liter turbo-four from the Golf GTI. The GLI offers 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque with a choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and a limited-slip differential.

For stopping power there are Golf R front brakes in a car described as the most advanced GLI to date. Styling is conservative with touches like a red accent stripe across the grille, body-colored rear spoiler and of course the GLI badging. A strong crisp character line runs through the door handles and it rides on 18-inch wheels.

Built in the Puebla, Mexico, plant, the GLI goes on sale this spring in base and Autobahn trims. Pricing has not been announced.

There will also be a 35th Anniversary Edition—a short run of 2,400 units for the 2019 model year, with a black roof, unique wheels and a black rear spoiler. Appealing to young, affluent male buyers, the special edition should sell out quickly, said Derrick Hatami, vice president of sales and marketing for Volkswagen of America.

Jetta dates back to its 1978 start in the European market and the GLI dates back to 1984 when it was an appearance package, manual transmission, and upgraded wheels and brakes. VW has sold 18 million Jettas to date.

Since VW introduced the current Jetta in May 2018, there have been calls for the GLI. It traditionally only represents about five percent of Jetta sales, said  Hatami, but it is key to VW DNA.

Will there be a Jetta R? “Never say never,” said Hatami, stressing the pains VW has taken to make the Jetta a key member of the performance club that includes the Golf GTI and Golf R. There could be some overlap of GTI and GLI but he sees potential for more volume from the larger Jetta versus the smaller hatchback.

VW remains committed to the sedan market, a segment Hatami said is still 4 million units strong in the U.S.

How about that electric Microbus? It is still a few years out, said Hatami. But an electric Beetle is not in the plans right now.

Still in the works is a new compact crossover smaller than the Tiguan—and not on the Tiguan platform. It is due in 2021.

And nothing concrete yet on a VW pickup for the U.S. as talks continue with Ford. Ford will engineer and build the next-generation Amarok on the Ford Ranger platform for markets outside North America. Hatami said any truck for the U.S. must be a true VW, true to the brand, and there is nothing in the cycle plan at this point.

VW has shown the Tanoak unibody pickup concept based on the Atlas and it has moved to the feasibility study phase. It might not be able to overcome the challenge of how to offer a $20,000 pickup version of the $30,000 Atlas.

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Best Cars of the 2019 Chicago Auto Show: MotorTrend Favorites

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 20:48

The Chicago Auto Show, in the massive McCormick Center, was once again the place with the space to show big trucks and commercial vehicles outfitted in every way. It’s also a show where automakers like to introduce special editions, anniversary models, and performance variants. The 2019 show followed suit with heavy-duty trucks from Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, and Ram, all boasting big-time power, towing, and payload numbers.

And there were anniversaries to celebrate: Acura was popping champagne to mark 30 years since the NSX concept (then spelled NS-X) debuted in the Windy City. Over at Mazda the celebration surrounded the 30th anniversary of the MX-5 Miata and introduction of a Racing Orange limited edition to mark the occasion. FCA had the original Plymouth Voyager minivan alongside the Chrysler Pacifica 35th Anniversary Edition.

Here are the vehicles that caught our eye in Chicago.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition

Racing Orange is a first for the popular sports car offered with soft or hardtop, manual or automatic transmission. Mazda is only making 3,000 of these special editions and the 500 allocated for the U.S. were sold out within hours of announcing orders were being taken on the Mazda website. If you got one, the serial number will be on the 30th Anniversary badge. Upgrades include the Club trim’s limited-slip differential, Bilstein shocks with the manual, and Recaro seats of Alcantara and leather. Orange piping and stitching match the trim encircling the air vents as well as the color of the brake calipers. Yum. –Alisa Priddle

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

The Jetta is a conservatively styled sedan, but add the letters GLI and there is a big jump in power with the 2.0-liter turbo-four engine from the Golf GTI, producing 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That is a big jump from the 147-hp, 1.4-liter turbo-four in a regular Jetta. The GLI goes on sale this spring with a choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. In addition to the GTI engine, the hot sedan gets a limited-slip differential, 18-inch wheels, and the requisite red accent stripe across the grille. There will be 2,400 Limited Edition 35th anniversary models with a black roof, black spoiler, and unique wheels. –Alisa Priddle

For the last several years, the Jetta GLI has been seriously overshadowed by the Golf GTI. Unless you desperately wanted a sedan, there was no reason to pick the GLI over the GTI. Now, it looks like that’s changed. I’m still a big hot hatch fan, but sedan fans deserve to have some fun, too. –Collin Woodard

1984 Plymouth Voyager/2019 Chrysler Pacifica 35th Anniversary Edition

Families drove station wagons in 1980 when Chrysler decided to proceed with a funny-looking vehicle it called the “garageable van.” It was a huge gamble on a nameless vehicle by a company on the brink of financial collapse and assembled by a nervous work force staking their livelihoods on its success. Chrysler staked its claim when the first minivan, a blue Plymouth Voyager with wood trim, rolled off the line on October 3, 1983. Within a month, there was a four-month backlog of orders, and the minivan became Chrysler’s first signature vehicle. Compare it to the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica 35th Anniversary Edition and it looks downright tiny, but the wood trim takes us down memory lane. The 2019 anniversary models get appropriate badging, some glossy trim pieces, and other accents to denote their place in life. –Alisa Priddle

2020 Subaru Legacy

After seeing the photos, I didn’t expect to like the Legacy as much as I do. But in person, it’s a nice update. The interior looks and feels great, and the Subaru Global Platform-based sedan should be fun to drive with the available 260-hp turbo-four. Mostly, though, I’m interested in getting an opportunity to use the new, massive infotainment display. Does it work well? Is it distracting? Does the sun wash it out? There’s only one way to find out. –Collin Woodard

2019 Ram Chassis Cab Limited

I highly doubt I’ll ever personally need a truck like this, but I love the idea. Ram’s killing it with its interiors right now, so why not offer a luxury version of its chassis cab? There are plenty of people who could use a premium place to sit on the way to the race track or the next RV campsite. Something tells me this thing is going to print money for Ram. –Collin Woodard

See even more 2019 Chicago Auto Show photos right here.



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Production BMW iNext Teased During Cold Weather Testing

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 19:35

Development for the production BMW iNext is underway, and BMW has given us a glimpse at its upcoming Tesla fighter. As part of the development process, the German automaker has taken a prototype to its Sweden test facility to subject it to harsh winter conditions, and now the Bavarian automaker is teasing photos of that extreme-weather test.

Testing the vehicle in cold weather allows the automaker to assess its performance in low-traction situations. Another reason for testing in sub-zero temperatures is to see how much the cold affects the electric motor, battery, and energy management system. In most EVs you can currently buy, adverse weather will drop the range, especially when you use the climate control system. BMW’s test facility also allows engineers to test stability control reaction and brake energy regeneration in icy conditions.

Shown in concept form last year, the BMW iNext is Bavaria’s answer to the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace. Based on the teaser shots, the styling has been toned down (we hope), and the crossover appears more conventional. The concept also had a super futuristic interior but it’s unknown if that will make it to production. When it arrives in 2021, the iNext will offer autonomous driving, connectivity, and car sharing services, BMW says. BMW’s all-electric crossover will come standard with all-wheel drive and a suspension setup specific to the iNext.

Production of the BMW iNext will start at the automaker’s Dingolfing facility in 2021.

Source: BMW

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2019 Acura NSX

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 16:45
With the 2019 NSX, Acura doesn’t lighten up on performance. Not like it did in 1990, when the first NSX and its aluminum body muscled into a sports-car arena with delicate looks and inspired handling and a rippling sound—and the cockpit of a 1989 Civic. Today’s NSX has all its supercar bona fides in order, thank you, from the...
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Lee threatens legal action against Shaftesbury after failing to axe senior execs

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 16:31
Hong Kong billionaire Samuel Tak Lee has failed in his attempt to oust Shaftesbury three most senior board members, but is now threatening legal action against the firm.
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Limited Edition 2020 Alfa Rome 4C Spider Italia Makes Rare Sports Car Even More Exclusive

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 16:30

FCA rolled out a limited-build 2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Italia at the Chicago auto show. Each of the beautiful mid-engine two-seaters will be built alongside other 4Cs in Modena, Italy, and the special edition is limited to a run of 15 examples sure to sell out fast. Or not, as that amounts to about a month’s worth of 4C sales these days.

The Italia Spider gets a 4C-exclusive splash of Misano Blue Metallic paint—a color already available on the Giulia and the Stelvio, by the way—with a piano-black front air intake and rear diffuser, as well as Italia stickers on its flanks. The only changes inside are an aluminum dashboard insert with a “4C Spider Italia” logo and a numbered plate on the center console.

As with its non-Italia but equally Italian brethren, the new model packs a turbocharged 1.7-liter inline four with 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and powers the little targa-roofed car from zero to 60 mph in a blistering 4.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 160 mph.

The car also features a rear backup camera, cruise control, and rear park sensors as standard, as well as additional bits optional on other Spiders—the coupe was discontinued in the U.S. after the 2018 model year—including faux-suede-trimmed seats and the center-exit sport exhaust. The 4C Italia costs $73,495, a premium of $5000 above the 4C Spider. The small run won’t do much to bump sales, but it does at least serve as a reminder that the 4C Spider still exists. Plus there’s no doubt it’ll be a blast to drive, so there’s that.

Source: Alfa Romeo

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Tesla reworks model names, slashes Model 3 prices again

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 15:35
Tesla has revamped the naming scheme for its most expensive and luxurious cars, the Model S and Model X, the company announced Wednesday. The electric cars no longer call out their battery sizes as part of their full name. The previous base Model S, for example, was called the 75D to denote its 75-kWh battery capacity and dual motors. Tesla will...
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2019 Chicago Auto Show, Mid-engine Corvette badge leaks, Green New Deal: What's New @ The Car Connection

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 15:30
The 8 most exciting new cars at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show The world's automakers gathered under the bright lights at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show on Thursday to show off some off their latest and greatest new cars, trucks, and SUVs. 2020 Ford Ranger recalled for shifter that could pop out of park The 2020 Ford Ranger only began to reach dealership...
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Mopar Makes the 2019 Ram Heavy Duty Look Even Meaner

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 14:30

Let there be LED off-road lights! Mopar revealed over 170 new products for the all-new 2019 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty at this year’s Chicago auto show. A modified Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Big Horn truck sporting monochromatic Blue Streak paint, black Ram Bar with 5.0-inch LEDs, off-road wheel flares, and spare tire carrier is on display at this year’s show. Around back features a retractable rear Mopar bed step for easy access when the tailgate is up or down.

The powerful pickup packs a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine that produces 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. It is likely mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission—we are hoping it is a manual.

The show truck features several conceptual parks that include a powder-coated off-road rock rails, 17-inch custom-milled concept beadlock wheels shod with Goodyears, and a spare tire carrier that holds up to a 37-inch tire.

Inside the redesigned cabin showcases its Mopar brushed stainless steel door Ram logo sill guards and branded all-weather floor mats to keep things tidy. Aside from the conceptual bits, Ram says all of the Mopar production parts and accessories are available now.

Source: FCA

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House of Fraser secures long-term lease on Belfast store

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 13:25
House of Fraser has agreed terms with landlord Commerz Real to secure a new long-term lease on its existing store in the Victoria Square shopping centre in Belfast.
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Stonegate sells Bracknell Bus Depot scheme to Seven Capital

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 13:21
Stonegate Homes has sold its Bracknell Bus Depot site, which has planning permission for a residential-led scheme, to Seven Capital.
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2019 Chevrolet Malibu

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 13:20
The 2019 Chevrolet Malibu is a mid-size sedan that almost makes up in style what it lacks in advanced active safety tech. Attractive styling, a quiet demeanor, and excellent infotainment software elevate the 2019 Malibu to 6.0 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.) For 2019, the Malibu gained a new transmission for most...
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2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 13:13
The 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV’s long 238-mile range has helped it outrun competitors. That may change soon. For now, we give the all-electric hatchback a 6.8 on our overall scale. Its long range and fun electric powertrain buoy sagging safety and comfort scores. (Read more about how we rate cars.) This year, the 2019 Bolt EV (silently) glides...
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Government planning system ‘not working well’

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 12:48
The government’s planning system is ‘not working well’ and the target of 300,000 homes per year by the mid-2020s will be ‘challenging’ to meet, according to a new report from the National Audit Office (NAO).
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The 8 most exciting new cars at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 12:00
The world's automakers gathered under the bright lights at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show on Thursday to show off some off their latest and greatest new cars, trucks, and SUVs. Though there weren't many major debuts, this year's show is notable in that nearly all of the flashy new cars unwrapped in Chicago will be in dealers by the end of the year...
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Nikal signs Premier Inn at Exchange Square

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 11:13
Developer Nikal has signed a deal with Whitbread to open a 225-bed Premier Inn hotel at Exchange Square in Birmingham.
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