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Uber Shuts Down Autonomous Vehicle Program in Arizona

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 23:30

In the wake of a crash that killed an Arizona woman in March, Uber has announced it is shutting down its autonomous vehicle testing operations in the Grand Canyon State. The company will continue work on self-driving tech at other locations, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and two California cities—possibly San Francisco and Sacramento, where it is seeking permits.

As we previously reported, one of Uber’s autonomous Volvo XC90 test vehicles struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was walking her bicycle across the road. A video of the March 18 accident seemed to show the car did not react to the pedestrian, and the safety operator behind the wheel was looking down just before the crash. Uber halted all autonomous testing immediately following the accident, and not long after that Arizona governor Doug Ducey suspended Uber’s license to test self-driving cars in the state indefinitely.

Uber had moved its autonomous testing operations to Arizona after the California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked its vehicle registrations in late 2016. That came in response to Uber conducting tests in San Francisco without the proper permits. At the time the move was announced, governor Ducey welcomed Uber with open arms.

Now, likely sensing it has worn out its welcome, Uber is packing up its Volvos and leaving town. Former employees of the self-driving program will be offered help in finding new jobs, according to an Uber spokeswoman. But the company is adamant that its work on autonomous vehicle tech will continue.

“We’re committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into the accident is still in progress, and Uber is waiting for a preliminary report from the agency before it continues testing autonomous cars on the road. Reuters says that report is expected within the next couple of weeks.

Source: Reuters


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Categories: Property

2019 Mercedes-Benz E 450 Makes 362 HP

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 21:15

We learned yesterday that Mercedes was replacing the E 43 sedan with the more powerful E 53 sedan. Under the hood, it packs an inline-six with 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, up from 396 hp and 384 lb-ft, and supplemented with a new mild hybrid system. Now, Mercedes has announced upgrades for the model that slots just below that AMG variant.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz E 450 replaces the E 400 from last year. It receives an upgraded twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine making 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. That’s up 33 hp and 15 lb-ft from the old E 400 model. This new engine will appear on the sedan, wagon, coupe, and cabriolet variants of the E-Class.

The base E 300 will keep its same output for the new model year. Once again, it features a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine, good for 241 hp and 273 lb-ft.

New features coming to the E-Class lineup include a three-spoke Nappa leather steering wheel with controls for all of the car’s safety assistant systems, two additional trim options with matching center consoles, and a 19-inch AMG wheel available with Night Package.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz E 450 and E450 4MATIC arrive in dealerships this fall here in the U.S. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

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Watch the BMW X5 Go Extreme Weather Testing Around the World

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 20:00

BMW will debut the X5 sometime later this year. But right now, the automaker is testing the midsize SUV in extreme climates and situations, as we can see in the video below.

The fourth-generation BMW X5 has been traveling through snow in Arjeplog, Sweden; on gravel roads in South Africa; and across dunes in the U.S. In these places, BMW is testing out the X5’s new suspension and chassis systems, which the automaker says are available for the first time in an X model. The next-gen vehicle receives the Adaptive M Suspension Professional and a new rear wheel steering system that BMW calls Integral Active Steering. At one point, the video shows an X5 with blue brake calipers playing in the snow—likely an M Sport variant rather than a full M model.

Judging from past prototypes we’ve seen, the X5 won’t look radically different from the current model. However, it will likely wear a larger grille in addition to updated headlights and taillights. In the photos, the interior has also changed with a smaller gear stalk and new arrangement of central buttons. We’ve also spotted a prototype for the X5 M with big blue brake calipers and quad-tip tailpipes.

Watch the X5 endure extreme testing in different climates and terrains in this video.

Source: BMW

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The Ferrari SP38 is a One-of-a-Kind 488 GTB-Based Supercar

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 19:15

Earlier this year, Ferrari officially revealed its latest special edition, the 488 Pista. With 710 horsepower, less weight, and a track-tuned suspension, the prototype we drove proved to be extremely quick. As rare and special as the 488 Pista will be, it can’t match the rarity of the SP38. Why? Because Ferrari only built one of them.

Like the Pista, the SP38 is based on the 488 GTB. But it was commisioned as a one-off for “one of Ferrari’s most dedicated customers.” Starting with the chassis and running gear from the 488, the Ferrari Design Centre created a completely new body for “a client with a deep passion for racing.” Ferrari says designers channeled the F40 and the 308 GTB, giving the mid-engine supercar less of a cab-forward appearance.

We see some Lamborghini in the design, as well as a little bit of Ford GT, but overall, it’s a great looking car. Rearward visibility, however, appears to be nonexistent. Ferrari says the cabin has also been fully customized, but only exterior images have been released. To get a look at the interior, we’ll have to wait until Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este begins on Saturday, May 26. Hopefully, Ferrari reveals more information on specs then, as well.

There also isn’t any word on price, but it’s probably safe to assume commissioning a one-off Ferrari is expensive. Very expensive. For example, the custom 458 Italia that Eric Clapton commissioned was rumored to cost more than $4 million. Odds are, the price of the SP38 was in the same ballpark.

Then again, if you have a few million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, we can think of a long list of worse things to spend it on than a custom Ferrari.

Source: Ferrari

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Categories: Property

One Hundredth Bugatti Chiron Leaves the Factory

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 18:45

Bugatti is officially one fifth of the way through the planned 500-car production run of the 1,479-hp festival of automotive excess that is the Chiron. The France-based, Volkswagen-owned purveyor of ultra-high-performance unobtainium announced today that it delivered the 100th Chiron to its happy new owner, who hails from—where else—the Middle East.

As a refresher, that 1,479 hp comes from an 8.0-liter quad-turbo W-16 that also makes 1,180 lb-ft of torque, which comes on at just 2,000 rpm. Shifting duties for the two-seat Chiron are handled by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and power is sent to all four wheels.

The automaker says that the exterior of the car consists entirely of a matte-finished dark blue carbon fiber save for the “Italian red” accents. The wheels are a hue called “mink black,” while the interior is a well-matched red-on-black. According to Bugatti, this specific example separated its Middle Eastern patron from 2.85 million Euros—$3.33 million at today’s exchange rates.

Chiron production began in late 2016 and Bugatti builds 70 cars per year. At that rate, another five and a half years or so will pass before the final Chiron rolls off the line, giving it a roughly seven-year lifespan. That’s comparable to most mass-market automobiles and considerably shorter than the ten years it took Bugatti to finish the 450-car production run of the Veyron.

Source: Bugatti

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Categories: Property

2019 Nissan Altima Edition One Gets Cosmetic Upgrades

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 17:30

The 2019 Nissan Altima debuted at the New York auto show earlier this year with a host of upgrades, including a new VC-Turbo engine that replaces the old V-6. Now, Nissan has announced it will offer a limited Edition One model based on the Altima VC-Turbo, complete with cosmetic tweaks and a free concierge service.

The Edition One sports 19-inch dark gray alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, external ground lighting, illuminated kick plates, and unique badges. For the first three years of ownership, buyers have access to the Edition One Nissan Concierge without charge. This service provides an assistant that can help with dinner reservations or event ticket purchases inside the vehicle or via smartphone.

The limited-edition model receives the same equipment as the top-of-the-line Altima Platinum VC-Turbo. This means buyers will receive leather-appointed seats, a Bose premium sound system, and a moonroof in addition to the four-cylinder variable compression turbo engine that makes 248 hp. It also comes with ProPilot, a feature that helps drivers navigate stop-and-go traffic on the highway.

Nissan will start taking reservations for the entire 2019 Altima lineup starting on June 15. Those who register for an Edition One can pick one of the following gifts: a Series 3 Apple Watch, Amazon Echo Show plus Amazon Prime membership, or Bose Soundlink Revolve+ with an Amazon Echo Dot and Amazon Prime membership. For regular pre-ordered Altimas, buyers have the choice between an Amazon Echo Spot, Bose Soundlink Revolve plus Amazon Echo Dot, or wireless Apple AirPod headphones.

The 2019 Nissan Altima arrives this fall at dealerships nationwide.

Source: Nissan

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Fuel-Efficient Crossovers and SUVs with All-Wheel Drive

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 09:00

With crossovers gaining in popularity, they’ve also improved efficiency to expand their appeal to consumers who might otherwise try a more efficient sedan. Below are some of the most efficient crossovers and SUVs available that also offer all-wheel drive. Whether you’re after something luxurious, versatile, or affordable, there’s an efficient crossover for your needs.

Gas- and Diesel-Powered Crossovers and SUVs Infiniti QX50

24/31 mpg city/highway (FWD), 24/30 mpg city/highway (AWD)

Sporting a new variable-compression 2.0-liter turbo-four with 268 hp and 280 lb-ft, the 2019 Infiniti QX50 gives you efficiency when you need it and a 0–60 time of 6.4 seconds. The QX50’s interior is distinctively styled and looks appropriately posh.

Mazda CX-5

25/31 mpg city/highway (FWD), 24/30 mpg city/highway (AWD)

Need your crossover to be fun to drive and reasonably efficient? The Mazda CX-5 should be right up your alley. Responsive and agile, the CX-5 proves that a compact crossover doesn’t have to be dull to drive. Add its rev-happy 187-hp 2.5-liter I-4 to the mix, and you get a crossover that’s driver-focused yet still efficient and reasonably priced.

Subaru Crosstrek

27/33 mpg city/highway

Opting for all-wheel drive usually comes with a hit in fuel economy, but in the case of the Subaru Crosstrek, it doesn’t. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance and a massive (for the class) 16.6-gallon fuel tank, the Crosstrek has the capability and range to get you to the wilderness and back without issue. A plug-in hybrid variant will also arrive soon for those looking for an electrified small crossover.

Nissan Rogue

26/33 mpg city/highway (FWD), 25/32 mpg city/highway (AWD)

Nissan’s popular Rogue offers great fuel efficiency to go with its versatility. Powered by a 170-hp 2.5-liter I-4 paired to a CVT, the Rogue isn’t the most powerful entry in its class (and didn’t rank very high in a Big Test comparison as a 2016 model), but it does now offer an interesting semi-autonomous driver-assistance system called ProPilot Assist. The new tech helps you maintain a set speed and distance to the vehicle in front of you, even in heavy traffic.

Honda CR-V 1.5T

28/34 mpg city/highway (FWD), 27/33 mpg city/highway (AWD)

The CR-V is the benchmark in the compact crossover segment, especially with its optional 190-hp 1.5-liter turbo-four. The crossover doesn’t sacrifice power in the name of fuel economy, and it earned Motor Trend‘s 2018 SUV of the Year.

GMC Terrain Diesel

28/39 mpg city/highway (FWD), 28/38 mpg city/highway (AWD)

The more polarizing platform-mate of the Chevrolet Equinox, the GMC Terrain is also available with the same diesel engine. Although it’s slightly more expensive, the Terrain gets you a more elegant interior, more sound insulation, and comfortable seating for five. Sadly, the diesel Terrain is only available on the SLE and SLT grades, so you can’t have it in the more posh Denali trim that’s pictured here.

Chevrolet Equinox TD

28/39 mpg city/highway (FWD), 28/38 mpg city/highway (AWD)

One of two compact crossovers available with a diesel engine, the Chevrolet Equinox TD is also one of the most efficient. Even with all-wheel drive, the diesel-powered Equinox loses only 1 mpg on the highway in its EPA estimates. With only 137 hp, the Equinox’s 1.6-liter turbodiesel I-4 isn’t very powerful, but its 240 lb-ft of torque helps provide adequate passing power.

Hybrids, Plug-In Hybrids, and Electric Crossovers and SUVs Nissan Rogue Hybrid

33/35 mpg city/highway (FWD), 31/34 mpg city/highway (AWD)

The Nissan Rogue Hybrid sees a significant improvement in fuel economy over its gas-only sibling. With 176 hp combined from a 2.0-liter I-4 and an electric motor, the Rogue Hybrid is also slightly more powerful. On the range-topping SL trim, the Rogue Hybrid comes standard with nearly every option except for the panoramic sunroof and Nissan’s ProPilot Assist system, the latter of which is only available on the gasoline Rogue.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

34/30 mpg city/highway

Despite the current Toyota RAV4’s age, its hybrid variant remains one of the most efficient compact crossovers available, and it comes with 194 hp combined, so you don’t lose out on power. A new generation of RAV4 will arrive later this year with a more powerful hybrid system that also offers improved efficiency.

Read about the new 2019 Toyota RAV4 here.

Lexus NX 300h

33/30 mpg city/highway

Recently refreshed, the Lexus NX is still one of the most polarizing luxury compact crossovers available. In NX 300h guise, it’s also one of the most efficient thanks to a hybrid system shared with the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Lexus Safety System+, a suite of active driver-assistance features, also comes standard.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

30/28 mpg city/highway (LE Plus), 29/27 mpg city/highway (all other trims)

Currently the only non-luxury-branded electrified three-row midsize crossover, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid proves you can have power and efficiency even in a big vehicle that can seat up to eight passengers. With 306 hp combined, the Highlander Hybrid is more powerful than its gas-only sibling and provides superior fuel economy.

Lexus RX 450h

31/28 mpg city/highway (RX 450h), 29/28 mpg city/highway (RX 450h L)

Lexus’ best-selling RX crossover, which is now available in a three-row variant with seating for up to seven, offers power, luxury, and fuel economy in a single family-friendly package. Despite having a total output of 308 hp, the RX 450h and RX 450h L are the most efficient models in the lineup. As with other Lexus models, the Lexus Safety System+ suite comes standard along with a cabin that’s solidly put together.

Acura MDX Hybrid

26/27 mpg city/highway

The newest member of the MDX family offers efficiency and a combined output of 321 hp and 289 lb-ft from a 3.0-liter V-6 and three electric motors. The crossover’s slick all-wheel-drive system can use the rear electric motor for torque vectoring and to improve the MDX’s on-road dynamics, especially on twisty roads.

BMW X5 xDrive40e

23/25 mpg city/highway
14 miles EV-only range
521 miles total range or 24 mpg combined

Despite having 14 miles of EV-only range, the BMW X5 xDrive40e makes up for it with its 521-mile estimated total range with a full charge and a full tank. Using a 2.0-liter turbo-four and an electric motor, the plug-in X5 has a total system output of 308 hp, giving you power without sacrificing fuel efficiency and space.

Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid

21/24 mpg city/highway
14 miles EV-only range
490 miles total driving range or 22 mpg combined

The Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid is proof that even with electrification, you can have a crossover that handles well without sacrificing power and efficiency. With a total range of 490 miles and 14 miles EV-only range, this luxurious plug-in hybrid can manage road trips and give you the ability to drive without gas in the city.

Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

20/23 mpg city/highway
10 miles EV-only range or 43 mpg-e
460 miles total driving range or 21 mpg combined

The Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e is able to travel only 10 miles in its EV mode, but with an EPA-estimated range of 460 miles, it can still go the distance. With 436 hp and 479 lb-ft, there’s no penalty when it comes to acceleration, and with four drive modes to choose from, you can do everything from save the battery’s charge to charge it with the gas engine while you’re on the go.

Volvo XC90 T8

26/30 mpg city/highway
19 miles EV-only range or 62 mpg-e
363 miles total driving range or 27 mpg combined

Volvo was one of the first automakers to offer a plug-in hybrid crossover. With 400 hp and 472 lb-ft combined between the electric motor and the 2.0-liter super- and turbocharged I-4, the XC90 T8 gives you power and seating for seven. The placement of the battery under the passenger compartment means you don’t lose any cargo capacity compared to the gas-only XC90 T5 and T6.

Volvo XC60 T8

26/28 mpg city/highway
18 miles EV-only range or 59 mpg-e
350 miles total driving range 26 mpg combined

Think of the Volvo XC60 T8 as a leaner, more compact take on the XC90 T8 formula; it features the same powertrain as its larger sibling. Sure, the XC60 has less total range and EV-only range than the XC90, but that’s a welcome sacrifice for something more city-friendly and easier to maneuver. Unfortunately, you can’t get the XC60 T8 in the super-posh Excellence trim, which is exclusive to the XC90.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

25/26 mpg city/highway
22 miles EV-only range or 74 mpg-e
288 miles total driving range or 25 mpg combined

If you’re looking for a mainstream plug-in hybrid crossover with seating for five, the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in is the only game in town. With 22 miles of EV-only range, this crossover can get you through a short round trip commute without using a drop of gas.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e

24/27 mpg city/highway
10 miles EV-only range or 74 mpg-e
336 miles total driving range or 25 mpg combined

The Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e is ideal for those looking for a posh yet compact utility vehicle that’s capable of doing zero-emissions short-distance city driving. Using a 2.0-liter turbo-four and an electric motor, the GLC 350e has a combined output of 320 hp and 413 lb-ft.

Tesla Model X 100D/ P100D

295 miles per charge (100D), 289 miles (P100D)

Tesla’s oddball Model X crossover is a rolling technological showcase that offers explosive straight-line acceleration, especially in P100D guise. The 100D variant is EPA-rated for 295 miles per charge, giving it the capability to do road trips with proper planning. Opt for the P100D, and range drops to 289 miles, but in exchange for the slight reduction, you get a crossover with acceleration that can rival supercars in a straight line.

The post Fuel-Efficient Crossovers and SUVs with All-Wheel Drive appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

2018 Kia Stinger GT Long-Term Update 2: Getting to Know the Active Safety Features

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 09:00

Shortly after my last update was published, I received several emails regarding the Stinger’s lane keep assist system, which I said didn’t do much at all. The gist of those emails: “You can adjust the level of correction, you idiot!” This idiot checked, and sure enough, you can. My bad.

Within the instrument cluster display, there’s a menu for driver assistance features. Find the option called Lane Safety, and you’ll be able to choose between Active LKA, Standard LKA, and Lane Departure Warning, which sounds an alert but doesn’t intervene. I had it set on the standard setting, which, as advertised, only makes mild corrections when the system detects you’re about to veer out of your lane. Once I switched to Active, the system made a more obvious effort to stay within the center of the lane markers. The warning to keep your hands on the steering wheel is still easily triggered, but I’ve found that if you maintain a good grip with at least one hand, the alert sounds less often.

Since I was taking a closer look at the Stinger’s LKA system, I figured I could dive a bit deeper into the other driver assist features as well. I’ve learned to love the adaptive cruise control with stop and go, especially when I’m crawling along in wonderful SoCal traffic. When set, the system takes care of virtually all accelerating and braking duties, even at slow speeds. If you come to a stop for less than 3 seconds (which happens a lot on the 405), the cruise control will resume automatically when the car in front begins to move. Stops longer than 3 seconds require you to hit the gas to move again. The only issue I’ve had is slowing to a stop (or nearly a stop) from 40 mph or above with the closest following distance selected. At that setting, the system brakes just a little too late for my liking. The car will no doubt stop safely on its own, but it takes some heavy braking to do it, and cars behind you usually aren’t too happy about the more-sudden-than-necessary deceleration. Luckily, it’s an easy fix: There are four distance settings, and every one besides the closest will slow down smoothly and predictably.

The blind spot warning system works well, and with the head-up display that’s standard on the GT2 trim, you can choose to get the warnings in the display. The graphic also illuminates in the side mirrors, but knowing there’s a car in your blind spot before you turn your head to check could save you the hassle.

We’re usually pretty good about playing with features in cars, but sometimes it takes an email (or a half dozen) to push us to dig deeper.

Having a hatch has its perks. Just look at all the baby shower gifts I was able to fit in our Stinger. Don’t try this in your 3 Series, kids. Read more about our long-term 2018 Kia Stinger GT:

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Categories: Property

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Long-Term Verdict: Award Worthiness Confirmed

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 09:00

Thirteen months ago, I plugged-in our long-term 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV for the first time—filling it not only with electrons but expectations.

It had been named our 2017 Car of the Year, I wrote, because it wasn’t just a good EV, or the first affordable EV to eliminate “range anxiety,” but because it was both of those things and (perhaps most importantly) a good car regardless. More than a year and nearly 17,000 miles later, our Bolt has maintained its worthiness of our early praise.

Everyone who drove Chevy’s EV came to a familiar conclusion: The Bolt is a solid hatchback which happens to be battery powered. Whether providing ample room to take my in-laws out to dinner, hauling four half-barrel planters and four bags of potting soil home from the store in one trip, taking me on an 800-mile road trip, or saving me from setting foot in a gas station for the past year, the Bolt made few demands and never let me down.

It wasn’t perfect, though. The big infotainment screen developed a tendency to freeze (or not boot-up at all) if I shifted to reverse too soon after starting the car, but it was cured by a software update. On three occasions, the power steering failed to boot-up, but could be fixed by cycling the car off and on a few times. This, too, was cured by software updates. While the Bolt was at the dealer for that fix, the shifter was replaced under recall. None of these fixes cost us a dime. Total maintenance and repair costs: $0.

Indeed, the Bolt was very inexpensive to run. We charged it 154 times total; 69 times at the office, 47 times at public chargers, and 27 times at home. Altogether, driving 16,730 miles cost us $630.58. Public charging was by far the most expensive at $0.27/kW-hr average ($362.97 total), compared to $0.17/kW-hr ($131.04) at home and $0.07/kW-hr at the office ($136.58). For the sake of comparison the EPA estimates it will cost $550 to drive 15,000 miles in a Bolt (ours had cost us $540.99 at that mark). A Toyota Prius will cost you $800 to go the same distance and a gas-powered Kia Soul of similar size, shape, and mission will cost $1,450-$1,550.

Along the way, we learned a lot about the particulars of EV driving. In collecting an exhaustive amount of data, we learned that despite numerous staffers driving the Bolt in different environments and weather conditions, our behavior behind the wheel was remarkably consistent. The average distance driven between charging stayed right around 95 miles. We typically plugged it in when the battery dipped under 50 percent and generally removed the charger at around 90 percent. The average cost to charge at home, in public, or at the office varied less than $2 each no matter how many times we charged in each location.

Interestingly, the average amount of electricity consumed during charging actually rose by 2 kilowatt-hours, despite the average distance between charges remaining consistent. Possible explanations for this could include the growing sample size and increased variety of charging types (i.e. using more DC Fast chargers), or battery degradation. Similarly, the car’s predicted range before and after charging fell by 10 to 15 miles, which may simply be the car learning our typical driving style and adjusting its predictions.

Like many EV early adopters, we had the option of charging at the office (dirt cheap), at home (pretty cheap), or in public (comparably expensive), so we took advantage of the convenience and cost savings charging at work and at home. With a commute of less than 20 miles roundtrip, I ended up plugging in the car once every five days on average. I could have gone longer if I felt like running the battery below 50 percent. But when charging is as easy as plugging in before I walk into the house or office, why wouldn’t I top-off?

In between the regular commutes, we performed a number of special tests. We found the steering-wheel paddle to engage regenerative braking can seriously reduce braking distance compared to L mode. As a result, we made “one-pedal driving” an everyday habit. We learned summer performance tires make a big difference in handling and stopping, at the cost of about 30 miles of range and worse ride quality and interior noise. We discovered its real-world range is six miles farther than the EPA estimates at 244 miles. And it’s possible to do an 800-mile road trip using public DC Fast chargers, though it’ll take nearly twice as long as doing it with gasoline. We even decided it’s nearly as good as our tested $60,000 Tesla Model 3, while costing $15,000 less. And you can buy a Bolt on Chevy dealer lots, right now. Great deals. No lines.

But we also found a few things we’d change. The front seats are too narrow and can be uncomfortable. The back-up camera is disappointingly low-res, and the electronic shifter is needlessly frustrating to use. A navigation option with public charging locations would be appreciated, as would the ability to secure cargo to the roof rails without having to buy the $549 cross bars.

In making the Bolt our second-ever electric Car of the Year—and the only one so far you can buy for under $40,000—we put a lot on its little shoulders. A few easily resolved teething issues aside, the Bolt proved itself the everyday replacement for a gasoline-powered compact car we predicted it would be. If you’re ready to make the switch to electric, it’s the best EV for the money you can buy today.

Read more about our 2017 Chevrolet Bolt: Our Car SERVICE LIFE 14 mo / 16,260 mi BASE PRICE* $41,780 OPTIONS DC Fast Charging pkg ($750); Driver Confidence II pkg ($495: forward-collision alert, emergency braking, lane-keep assist, automatic high beams); Infotainment pkg ($485: Bose system, 6-speakers, wireless charging, 2 USB charging ports); Cajun Red metallic paint ($395) PRICE AS TESTED* $43,905 AVG ECON/CO2 121 mpg-e / 0.00 lb/mi (at vehicle) PROBLEM AREAS Intermittent power steering failure, infotainment screen failure MAINTENANCE COST $0 NORMAL-WEAR COST $0 3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE** $21,900 RECALLS None *Before applicable tax rebates **IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD MOTOR TYPE Permanent magnet AC synchronous electric BATTERY TYPE Lithium-ion POWER (SAE NET) 200 hp TORQUE (SAE NET) 266 lb-ft @ 0,000 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 17.8 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 7.05:1/7.05:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; torsion beam, coil springs STEERING RATIO 16.8:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.9 BRAKES, F; R 10.9-in vented disc; 10.4-in disc, ABS WHEELS 6.5 x 17-in cast aluminum TIRES 215/50R17 91H (M+S) Michelin Energy Saver A/S DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 102.4 TRACK, F/R 59.1/59.1 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 164.0 x 69.5 x 62.8 in TURNING CIRCLE 35.4 ft CURB WEIGHT 3,555 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 56/44% SEATING CAPACITY 5 HEADROOM, F/R 39.7/37.9 in LEGROOM, F/R 41.6/36.5 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 54.6/52.8 in CARGO VOLUME BEHIND F/R 56.6/16.9 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 2.6 sec 0-40 3.6 0-50 4.8 0-60 6.3 0-70 8.1 0-80 10.3 0-90 13.0 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.0 QUARTER MILE 14.9 sec @ 92.9 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 128 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.78 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.4 sec @ 0.63 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 5,800 rpm CONSUMER INFO STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 miles BATTERY CAPACITY 60 kWh REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 28.6/26.3/27.8 kW-hrs/100 miles EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 128/110/119 mpg-e ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 26/31 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.00 lb/mile (at vehicle) RECOMMENDED FUEL 110-volt, 220-volt electricity

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Jaguar Hints at Expanded Line of Future Sports Cars

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 20:53

As crossovers take over the market, Jaguar has prepared an appropriate offensive with the F-Pace, E-Pace, and the all-electric I-Pace. But that doesn’t mean it’s forgotten about sports cars. Speaking with Autocar, Jaguar’s product strategy boss suggested the brand is keen on new entries in this category.

“The F-Type has been a huge success,” Hanno Kirner said. “We love sports cars – and I use the plural quite deliberately. Whether that is delivered by a body variant or something else remains to be seen, but for now, let’s just say that the body type is very important for us.”

Considering the F-Type model line debuted for the 2014 model year, it would make sense the car is due for a replacement relatively soon. When it arrives, it’s expected to use a development of the current platform, which was heavily modified from the platform on the old XK. According to Autocar, the F-Type’s revised platform should be flexible enough to use on a 2+2 car. “I love the idea of a flexible architecture that can give us anything,” said Kirner.

Last year, design chief Ian Callum hinted at Jaguar’s future regarding sports cars. “I want a two-seater and a 2+2. We’re working on something now,” he said. “There’s nothing approved, but we instigate in design. That’s what we do.”

Jaguar will offer an electrified powertrain on every model line starting from 2020, and sports cars will be no exception. But Jaguar also seems to be aware that pure electric cars aren’t the answer for everyone. “A lot of people like the sound of an engine,” Kirner said. “That’s a fact, and it is a defining part of a sports car. I absolutely believe that there will be electric sports cars one day, but I also believe there may be a different step of combining the battery and an engine.”

Source: Autocar

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The 2019 Mercedes-AMG E 53 Sedan Packs a 429-HP Inline-Six

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 18:45

For the past few years, the Mercedes-AMG E 43 has been the car you buy when the regular E 300 won’t do and the E 63 S is a little too much. With a twin-turbo V-6 cranking out 396 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, and a quick-shifting nine-speed transmission, the E 43 offered more performance than most people would use, as well as surprisingly agile handling. But soon, the E 43 will be phased out in favor of a new model: the Mercedes-AMG E 53.

Mercedes already showed off the E 53 Coupe and Cabriolet at the Detroit auto show, but now it’s giving the sedan the same AMG-lite treatment. Inside, it’s still your typical E-Class cabin, but Mercedes did update some of the E 53’s exterior styling. The hood, for example, gets two power bulges, and around back, the bumper and diffuser have been restyled.

As the name suggests, the biggest changes are under the hood. Like the CLS 53, the E 53’s 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six is good for 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. A 48-volt mild-hybrid system can supplement the engine’s power thanks to an electric motor that makes 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes also added an electric auxiliary compressor that works with the exhaust-driven turbocharger to minimize turbo lag.

A nine-speed AMG transmission still sends power to all four wheels, and according to Mercedes’ estimates, the E 53 sedan hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. That’s only slightly quicker than the current E 43, although fuel economy should also improve. Mercedes expects the coupe version to hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, with the cabriolet matching the sedan’s time. All three top out at an electronically limited 130 mph. Optional 20-inch lightweight alloy wheels are available, with 14.2-inch brake discs included on all four corners.

Pricing isn’t available at the moment, but Mercedes says the E 53 sedan will go on sale in the U.S. toward the end of this year.

Source: Mercedes

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Report: Ford Mach 1 Crossover to Sit on Focus Platform

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 17:45

By now, you’ve probably heard Ford is axing most of its cars here in the U.S. in favor of SUVs and trucks. Ford will offer a Focus Activ crossover hatchback, but the Mustang is the only true traditional car that will survive. Now the automaker is focused on capitalizing on the Mustang’s brand value by introducing an electric SUV that will borrow styling cues from the pony car. And while Ford hasn’t released many details on this vehicle, Autocar may have unearthed a few nuggets of information about the model’s underpinnings.

According to Autocar, the crossover will sit on Ford’s C2 platform that underpins the new Focus. Because it’s based on the front-wheel-drive C2 platform, it’s likely the new model will be hatchback-like with a slightly raised driving position, the U.K. publication says. Autocar does not cite sources for its info, so take this report with a grain of salt.

It’s unclear exactly what Ford will call this new model, but it teased the name Mach 1 at the Detroit auto show back in January. For now, its codename is CX430 and it is a globally engineered model. The crossover will debut next year, Autocar says. Ford hasn’t announced powertrain specs, but the model is being dubbed a performance SUV. Expect range to exceed 300 miles on a single charge.

The new vehicle is part of Ford’s plan to introduce 16 battery-electric vehicles by 2022. Eventually, Ford will have hybrids or plug-in versions of just about every vehicle in its lineup. By 2021, Ford hopes to be the number one producer of hybrids.

Source: Autocar

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A Glimpse Into the Post-Marchionne FCA Product Plan Coming June 1

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 12:00

We love FCA’s five-year plans. The automaker does not adhere strictly to them, but they provide a detailed snapshot of what the company sees as possible and which brands and vehicles are part of the vision.

CEO Sergio Marchionne will present his third product and business plan on June 1. The first one was back in November of 2009 after he assumed leadership of the new entity known as FCA, a merging of Chrysler and Fiat that was a prerequisite of government loans for Chrysler to emerge from bankruptcy.

The first plan outlined financial targets and a product rollout for each brand for the period from 2010 to 2014. It was followed up by another five-year plan through 2018.

In Balocco, Italy, on June 1, the FCA maestro will oversee his final planning document but Marchionne will not be the one to see it through—he is retiring next year. His successor, who will not be named at the June 1 investor gathering, is part of the current leadership team and has helped craft the new plan he will be expected to execute.

Here are some things we want to know.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara

Just how far can Jeep go?

Jeep has firmly established itself as the SUV brand and received a lot of resources under Marchionne to make it more global and expand the bandwidth of the portfolio. The lineup grew to include the subcompact Renegade at one end but we still await the addition of the Grand Wagoneer at the top end. The premium three-row SUV was originally due in 2018 and has been pushed back to 2020. Also on tap is the Wrangler pickup due in late 2019. It would be nice if the plan did some name dropping so we know what to call it.

There should be further confirmation of timelines for these vehicles and there could be more Jeeps in the pipeline as well as dates for next-generation models. At least one plug-in hybrid is expected after 2020 and we expect many more hybrids to dot the lineup.

2019 Maserati Levante Trofeo

Expanding Alfa Romeo and Maserati

A lot of capital has been invested in the premium Italian brands that have not met expectations. New products were delayed and sales have been disappointing. Marchionne recently singled out the poor launch of the Maserati Levante and replaced brand chief Reid Bigland with Tim Kuniskis, a man who showed his marketing chops at Dodge when he generated huge buzz around the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and Demon. Marchionne needs Kuniskis to ignite the same flames under Alfa and Maserati.

The portfolios need to expand. Maserati is expected to add a smaller SUV and future Maseratis will have electric motors. Alfa Romeo is adding a larger three-row crossover on the Giorgio platform as a big brother to the Stelvio and we expect the plan to also include a Giulia coupe. Both are expected to be mild hybrids.

A teaser for the refreshed 2019 Dodge Challenger

Is there a future for the Chrysler and Dodge brands?

Getting out of small cars has had a huge impact on the Chrysler and Dodge brands which lost a chunk of their portfolios. Chrysler has been reduced to the Pacifica minivan, including a plug-in hybrid, and the 300 full-size sedan. A large three-row crossover sharing the Pacifica’s underpinnings will be built on the same assembly line. It has been repeatedly delayed but it is promised in the new plan and could be ready for the 2020 model year. It might dust off the retired Aspen name. The Chrysler Portal electric minivan concept could be under consideration for production.

The future of the 300 is shrouded in uncertainty. One consideration was moving the rear-wheel-drive car’s successor to the front-wheel-drive Pacifica platform. Then there was talk of hanging in until 2021 and migrating to the Alfa Romeo platform used for the Giulia. Now it appears more likely it could share underpinnings with the Maserati Ghibli or it gets discontinued altogether.

Dodge has been reduced to a handful of vehicles. There is the Journey crossover that could move to Alfa’s Giorgio platform for the next generation. There is the legacy Grand Caravan minivan that will be phased out soon. There are the Charger and Challenger muscle cars, including the Hellcat and Demon offspring. Like the Chrysler 300, they ride on old platforms and their only hope of survival is to move to another platform such as Ghibli. None of that bodes well for a Barracuda convertible. But there is talk of bringing back the Viper using an Alfa or even Ferrari platform.

2019 Ram 1500

Ram franchise

The idea of a midsize or compact pickup has been on and off again for years. And if FCA does want to venture back into the segment it abandoned when it stopped making the Dodge Dakota in 2010, will the replacement be body-on-frame again or switch to a car-based lifestyle truck? We suspect there won’t be a small truck in the plan but anything is possible. As for the full-size Rams, dates for next-generation models will prove helpful and we expect a wide assortment of powertrains, including hybrids.

Powertrain flavors

Marchionne was outspoken in the past about his dislike for hybrids and electric vehicles while embracing diesels. But he also changes his mind and his plans frequently, taking advantage of the nimbleness of a smaller company to do so. The future of diesels is dead; he is now all in on electrification and every brand, including Ferrari, will be rife with batteries and electric motors. Mild hybrid 48-volt systems will proliferate and the plug-in hybrid system in the Chrysler Pacifica will expand to more vehicles. Grand Wagoneer is a good candidate. Pure EVs will take longer.

2019 Ferrari 488 Pista prototype

What, no Ferrari?

Ferrari will have its own five-year plan. The high-value brand was spun off from FCA but when Marchionne retires from FCA next year, he will retain his role as CEO of Ferrari. Marchionne has confirmed development of a wagon-like, all-wheel-drive four-door crossover –he flat out calls it an SUV—that will be ready in late 2019 or early 2020. Future Ferraris will include hybrids and the CEO says the brand could make an all-electric performance car but has no plans to do so in the next five years.

Is Marchionne wearing a tie?

The Italian-Canadian is known for wearing the same black sweater for every occasion but he has promised to wear a tie to the June 1 event if he is successful in leaving the company debt-free for his successor. No other event has warranted the wardrobe upgrade, showing how important retiring net debt is to Marchionne’s legacy.

Does he still want to fill his dance card?

Marchionne says he updates his 2015 “Confessions of a Capital Junkie” treatise daily in the belief the high cost of pending technology, including autonomous driving, requires automotive partnerships and mergers to share the cost. Yes, General Motors and others have snubbed his advances, and he has made peace with it, but that does not mean he has a diminished view of its importance.

Stay tuned to Motor Trend on June 1 for the firehose of news the product plan is expected to unleash.

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2018 Ford F-150 XL Diesel Commercial Truck First Test

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:00

The diesel variants of Ford’s F-150 XL and XLT are available only to commercial fleet buyers. Equipped with the 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel engine, these trims will not show up at a Ford dealer unless you have a Fleet Identification Number (FIN). You should also know that the diesel engine carries a $2,400 premium over the price of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, the engine that’s closest to the diesel’s towing numbers. That’s not cheap.

The biggest benefit, however, is in fuel economy. We just ran our Real MPG tests, and our XL 4×2 SuperCab tester got 22.9/34.3/27.0 mpg city/highway/combined. Those are terrific figures when compared to the 3.5-liter gasoline work truck, which delivers 18/25/21 mpg, according to the EPA. But is the benefit worth the extra money?

That’s a question that might require a bit of math. With national average fuel prices at $2.96/gallon for regular fuel and $3.17/gallon for diesel, it will take 188,000 highway miles (at 30 mpg) to pay back the $2,400 premium an XL fleet buyer will pay for a Power Stroke engine over the cost of a base 2WD 3.5L EcoBoost (at 25 mpg on the highway) with the equivalent towing capacity. However, Ford claims that if you tow a 10,000-pound trailer, that mileage is reduced to 37,600.

If you want a diesel XL or XLT but you don’t have a FIN, you should wait until one of these fleet trucks heads to the used market.

On the highway, the XL feels smooth with decent power coming out of the 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel. The 10-speed transmission, however, doesn’t feel as gentle as it does when paired to the gas engines, especially at low speeds. What impressed me is how quiet the diesel engine is—even in the work truck, where the amount of sound-deadening materials is far less than with higher-end trims.

Depending on your needs and mileage traveled, a diesel truck might be better in the long run. However, if you turn over your fleet every three years or so, you might not be able to amortize that premium price. Keep track of fuel-price trends and your timeline before you buy.

Learn more about the 2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke diesel right here 2018 Ford F-150 XL 4×2 Power Stroke (SuperCab) 2018 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 Power Stroke (SuperCrew) BASE PRICE $38,180 $62,305 PRICE AS TESTED $41,730 $66,985 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 6-pass, 4-door truck Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck ENGINE 3.0L/250-hp/440-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.0L/250-hp/440-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,982 lb (58/42%) 5,647 lb (58/42%) WHEELBASE 145.0 in 145.0 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 231.9 x 79.9 x 75.5 in 231.9 x 79.9 x 77.2 in 0-60 MPH 7.1 sec 7.8 sec QUARTER MILE 15.6 sec @ 88.9 mph 16.1 sec @ 84.3 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 124 ft 118 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.73 g (avg) 0.77 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.2 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) 27.9 sec @ 0.61 g (avg) REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 22.9/34.3/27.0 mpg 20.9/28.6/23.8 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 21/30/24 mpg (MT est) 20/29/23 mpg (MT est) ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 180/126 kW-hrs/100 miles (MT est) 189/130 kW-hrs/100 miles (MT est) CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.91 lb/mile (MT est) 0.95 lb/mile (MT est)

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2018 Ford F-150 Diesel First Test: Knowing Your Audience

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:00

I know better. Driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on a Sunday afternoon is a circle of hell unto itself. After three days of touring wide-open interstates and empty state highways in Colorado and Utah, the soul-crushing, back-to-reality traffic leaving Las Vegas was an unwelcome end to a wonderful road trip. Thing is, I wasn’t nearly as frustrated or exasperated with it as I normally would be. The easy-riding F-150 Power Stroke diesel gets a lot of credit for that.

Normally, a pickup wouldn’t be my first choice for a 1,300-mile, five-state road trip. But it makes perfect sense.

Read about the 2018 Ford F-150 XL Power Stroke diesel commercial truck right here

Back in 2014, we set about updating our Truck of the Year competition to better represent what you, the truck buyer, want and expect from your rig. One part of that was collecting market research from multiple sources on buyer priorities and how people actually use their trucks. One of the biggest takeaways: Light-duty truck owners tend to think of their trucks more like big cars than traditional trucks—but they buy more capability than they need, just in case.

You could see it right across the data. Although heavy-duty buyers list towing and payload as top priorities, light-duty buyers tend to look for comfort, quietness, technology, maneuverability, fuel economy, power, and sportiness more than outright capability. It’s reflected in how they use their trucks: A solid majority of light-duty buyers never take their truck off-road, and only a small majority tow. Of those who tow, less than half tow once or more a month, and virtually all of them tow less than 8,000 pounds. (People who tow more than 8,000 pounds regularly buy heavy-duties.)

Despite this, towing and hauling regularly figure into the light-duty truck-buying mindset. Trucks are the ultimate “just in case” vehicles, and nothing puts the mind at ease like knowing your truck can safely tow and haul way more than you intend and go farther off-road than you will. On top of that, light-duty truck buyers want to know that when they do load it down, the truck won’t feel overburdened.

This research, which all truck manufacturers routinely conduct, is at the heart of the new Ford F-150 Power Stroke diesel’s performance. After carefully watching the trend-setting Ram EcoDiesel’s performance in the market the past few years, Ford knew which metrics mattered most in the bid to claim class leadership. More horsepower and torque was a given (it’s 10 hp and 20 lb-ft ahead of the last-gen Ram), but so, too, was fuel economy. Ram set a new benchmark for all pickups with an EPA-rated 27 mpg highway across the board, and Ford wasn’t going to let that mark stand. The F-150 diesel gets an EPA-rated 30 mpg highway on a 4×2 truck and 25 mpg highway on a 4×4, an incredible achievement for a class of vehicle whose fuel economy numbers were stuck in the mid-teens less than a decade ago.

That’s no test lab trickery. Over the course of our road trip, an XL-trim 4×2 self-reported 27.7 mpg, and a nearly 700-pound-heavier Platinum 4×4 self-reported 23.7 mpg. To be sure, we hooked both trucks up to our EQUA Real MPG equipment. The XL returned 22.9/34.3/27.0 city/highway/combined mpg and the Platinum 20.9/28.6/23.8 mpg city/highway/combined, all handily beating Ford’s estimates.

On top of that, the F-150 Power Stroke wallops the last-gen Ram EcoDiesel in a straight line. EcoDiesels we tested needed between 8.6 and 8.9 seconds to hit 60 mph with their eight-speed autos, but the Power Strokes and their new 10-speed autos took only 7.1 to 7.8 seconds. A big factor in this is the aluminum F-150’s 450- to 1,000-pound weight advantage. Heck, the F-150 Power Stroke is quicker than the base model F-150’s 3.3-liter V-6 (7.6 seconds) and nearly as quick as the optional 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost (7.0 seconds). Our only performance testing quibble was a Platinum brake pedal that felt long and squishy; the XL’s was nice and firm.

New engine aside, the F-150 is the same great truck we unanimously voted our 2018 Truck of the Year. It won that accolade by correcting all the little deficiencies that had kept the previous iteration out of the winner’s circle. A better transmission, improved steering feel, stronger crash-test scores, a more intuitive information/entertainment system, and an interior worthy of the price tag (especially if you throw in heated and cooled massage seats on the Platinum) add up to a fantastic long-distance cruiser and delightful daily driver.

Unfortunately, in fitting the diesel, Ford also introduced a pair of new deficiencies. I suspect it all comes back to the unintended consequences of market research. The first issue involves a clunkiness in the transmission that’s unique to the diesel models. It’s most noticeable at low speeds and when towing. For example, sitting in traffic in fourth gear turning roughly 1,000 rpm at 20 mph, every time I touched the throttle or took my foot off of it, there was a shunt in the driveline. Gear changes at low speed also tended to be a bit rough for an otherwise smooth transmission.

What’s the cause of all this? Ford has the torque converter locking up at a very low engine speed to help reach that best-in-class fuel economy. Unlocked torque converters are a drag on the engine but also do a better job of absorbing drivetrain lash.

The second issue involves towing at freeway speeds. Around town and getting up to 50 mph, the torquey diesel feels stout with 6,500 pounds on the hitch (less than 60 percent of its 11,400-pound max tow rating). Out on the highway, however, it runs out of breath. Passing with a trailer requires a good, long runup, and going uphill means putting your foot on the floor just to maintain speed. The truck downshifts until the revs come up to 3,000—and that’s where it sits until the road levels out again.

Towing isn’t about speed, of course, but as noted, light-duty truck buyers don’t want their trucks to feel stressed when towing and like to have more capability than they need. If you opt for one of the EcoBoost engines or the V-8 instead, you’ll have top-end power even when towing. Even the slower Ram EcoDiesel pulls harder while towing at freeway speeds.

Could Ford have tuned the F-150 Power Stroke for more power while towing? Sure, but it would hurt its crucial fuel economy score. For what it’s worth, Ford claims the F-150 Power Stroke will get much better fuel economy while towing than a gas-powered truck pulling the same trailer. Thankfully, it’s all weight-dependent anyway and isn’t a problem when you’re hauling rather than towing, as the payload rating is just 2,020 pounds, not enough to stress the engine.

Other top priorities of light-duty truck buyers are price and value for the money. You can only get the Power Stroke on the Lariat trim level or higher—putting its base price at $46,410. (Commercial fleet buyers can get the diesel on any trim level as a $5,000 option.) By contrast, a 2.7-liter EcoBoost is a $995 option on any trim level, and it gets up to 26 mpg highway per the EPA. You’ll need to rack up the miles or frequently use the diesel’s added towing capacity to make up the $3,000 difference. And if you’re going to do that much towing, a base-model F-250 can be had with its massive turbodiesel V-8 for just less than $44,000.

Ford knows its customers. For most F-150 drivers, the new Power Stroke is a torquey, comfortable cruiser that’ll go 700 miles between fuel stops with the smallest tank option. It’s a great truck, as long as you don’t come expecting an F-250 diesel in an F-150 package.

2018 Ford F-150 XL 4×2 Power Stroke (SuperCab) 2018 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 Power Stroke (SuperCrew) BASE PRICE $38,180 $62,305 PRICE AS TESTED $41,730 $66,985 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 6-pass, 4-door truck Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck ENGINE 3.0L/250-hp/440-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.0L/250-hp/440-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic 10-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,982 lb (58/42%) 5,647 lb (58/42%) WHEELBASE 145.0 in 145.0 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 231.9 x 79.9 x 75.5 in 231.9 x 79.9 x 77.2 in 0-60 MPH 7.1 sec 7.8 sec QUARTER MILE 15.6 sec @ 88.9 mph 16.1 sec @ 84.3 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 124 ft 118 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.73 g (avg) 0.77 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.2 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) 27.9 sec @ 0.61 g (avg) REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 22.9/34.3/27.0 mpg 20.9/28.6/23.8 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 21/30/24 mpg (MT est) 20/29/23 mpg (MT est) ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 180/126 kW-hrs/100 miles (MT est) 189/130 kW-hrs/100 miles (MT est) CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.91 lb/mile (MT est) 0.95 lb/mile (MT est)

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Subaru: Sedans, Traditional Cars Are Still Relevant

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 20:00

When Ford announced it was significantly cutting back its lineup of traditional cars in favor of SUVs and trucks, we all wondered whether other automakers would follow suit. So far, they haven’t. And it doesn’t look like Subaru is heading in this direction, either. Subaru’s traditional cars are still important to the lineup, according to Dominick Infante, Subaru’s national manager of product communications.

Sales of the Crosstrek are up 66.6 percent during the first four months of the year, providing an indication of where the market is heading right now. But Infante says don’t count out sedans and traditional cars, especially as gas prices increase. “Gas prices are starting to come up now. So a good hedge for better economy is having a sedan.”

“So we still make the Impreza and the Impreza hatchback,” Infante pointed out as examples. “They do get better gas mileage than say a comparable CUV like the Crosstrek so we do sell those so if the market does change that’ll help sales of sedans.”

In the first four months of 2018, sales of the Impreza were down 16.3 percent while sales of the Legacy dropped 13.9 percent. Meanwhile, the WRX/STI fell 8.2 percent while the BRZ was down 10.1 percent. The Outback managed to increase 2 percent in an industry where sales are starting to cool off. The Forester has fallen 9.7 percent, but a next-generation model is slated to go on sale later this year.

To further capitalize on the growing crossover market, Subaru is getting ready to sell the three-row Ascent. Unlike the old three-row Tribeca, this new SUV is sized properly to compete with the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot.

Subaru says its products attract young buyers, particularly the BRZ and WRX/ STI with customers in their late 20s and early 30s. Other products draw in plenty of empty nesters. Because Subaru was lacking a three-row entry for some time, customers have moved to other brands when they’re in the middle stage of life parenting young kids.

“[Customers] stay with the brand except for this one area when they have children starting to become 8 years old or so,” said Infante. “[That’s] when they tend to say, OK, my Outback or Forester is too small and they want to transport other kids [and] families so then they leave the brand and they would go to our competitors. So they could buy a Honda Pilot or a Highlander and then come back when their kids are out of high school and buy an Outback. It’s kind of funny, they would come back or they would have their second car which would stay being a Subaru but we would lose them in that one area.”

Infante continued, “Basically it’s an open door where the customers are just walking out. Now we’ve got something to fill that in and keep them in a Subaru.”

Subaru is still a niche player in the auto industry, and Infante said it’s not the company’s goal to become as big as Honda or Toyota. Its market share in the U.S. sits at just under 4 percent, although it has grown from 2004 when it commanded barely 1 percent of the market. Now, Subaru is deciding on the best ways to grow in the future.

“We’re happy being a smaller player but it’s how small. Do we want to be a little bit bigger than we are? Do we want to go up to one more plant or not? That’s going to be our big decision now. It will be coming in the future. We’re not quite there yet but we are getting there. We are getting close to our maximum capacity [in the] next few years or so.”

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Hear the BMW 8 Series Coupe Zip Through the Winding Roads of Wales

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 19:00

BMW will debut the production 8 Series Coupe on June 15 a day before the start of Le Mans. Until then, this video gives us a better indication of what to expect from the new two-door.

Engineers at BMW have been testing the coupe on winding back roads throughout Wales. In this video posted by BMW on YouTube recently, we can hear a little bit of the car’s exhaust note as it roams the country.

“The trick is to offer maximum driving pleasure with a given suitability for everyday use,” Markus Flasch, project leader for the BMW 8 Series, says in the video. Later, we encounter Jos Van As, head of application chassis, who points out the car’s optional active roll stabilization and standard all-wheel steering. Although BMW has the interior mostly covered up, we can see a bit of the car’s digital instrument cluster in these scenes. Finally, BMW introduces us to Christian Billig, head of drivetrain integration, as he talks about the car’s new V-8 engine.

Under the hood, the BMW M850i xDrive coupe packs a 4.4-liter V-8 making 530 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. When we drove a prototype version, we praised its smooth shifting and ample power on demand, although brake feel could use a little bit of improvement. We’ll have to wait to drive the production version to see if BMW has made any changes.

BMW will have at least six models in the 8 Series range. Along with the production 8 Series coupe shown here, we can also expect an 8 Series convertible, an M8 Gran Coupe, and 8 Series Gran Coupe. The Gran Coupe models will be shown in production form next year.

Source: BMW via YouTube

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Tesla Model 3 Performance Variant to Hit 60 MPH in 3.5 Seconds

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 17:00

In a series of tweets over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed specifications for two dual-motor, all-wheel-drive versions of the Model 3. The higher-performing version will hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, but it won’t be cheap.

This performance car will boast a range of 310 miles, which is the same as the current Model 3 with a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive variant with the long-range battery. That model, however, takes 5.1 seconds to reach 60 mph, according to Tesla’s estimates, or 4.8 seconds in our tests. It also has a top speed of 140 mph, in contrast to the new performance variant that can reach 155 mph.

The Model 3’s claim to fame is its $35,000 starting price that makes it accessible to a broad range of consumers. But this performance variant will cost around $78,000, according to Musk—and that’s without Autopilot. Musk also claims it’s quicker than a BMW M3. If so, it’s going to have to outperform the Bimmer’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six rated at a standard 425 hp, or 444 hp with the Competition package.

Cost of all options, wheels, paint, etc is included (apart from Autopilot). Cost is $78k. About same as BMW M3, but 15% quicker & with better handling. Will beat anything in its class on the track.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2018

Tesla dual motor means there is a motor in front & a motor in rear. One is optimized for power & one for range. Car drives fine even if a motor breaks down. Helps ensure you make it to your destination & don’t get stuck on side of road in potentially unsafe conditions.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2018

Performance variants will launch a new black and white interior, Musk revealed. The interior theme will expand its availability in the Model 3 lineup as time goes on.

The non-performance variant of the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Model 3 will cost a lot less. It will be available as a $5,000 option, and buyers will still be able to drive 310 miles on a single charge. Its 0-60 time climbs to 4.5 seconds, however, and top speed is 140 mph.

Cost of normal dual motor AWD option is $5k. Range is also 310 miles. Takes 0-60mph to 4.5 sec & top speed to 140 mph.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2018

Deliveries of the dual-motor Model 3 start in July, Musk said in response to a question on Twitter.

Despite failing to meet its production targets for the Model 3 in the first quarter, Tesla aims to produce 5,000 units by the end of the second quarter. Production is really supposed to ramp up in the third and fourth quarters of the year, when Tesla expects to achieve full GAAP profitability.

2017 Tesla Model 3 pictured 

Source: Elon Musk via Twitter

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2019 Subaru Ascent First Drive

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 14:00

Subaru commands less than 4 percent of the U.S. auto market, making it a relatively small player in the industry. And although it’s not keen on becoming as big as Honda or Toyota, Subaru has known for some time it needs to expand its lineup with a three-row crossover. Unlike the Tribeca, which ran on the small side until it was discontinued years ago, the 2019 Subaru Ascent sits squarely in the three-row midsize SUV segment to properly compete with the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, and other models. It’s longer than the Highlander and Pilot, but shorter than the Explorer.

At the Ascent launch in McMinnville, Oregon, the folks at Subaru said the brand has done a good job attracting younger customers and empty nesters with its products. But they admit many of those in the parenthood stage of life have been forced to leave the brand to find a vehicle that suits their needs. The Ascent aims to hold onto buyers in this middle life stage, offering seats for seven or eight passengers depending on the selected configuration.

The Ascent may be late to the party, but at least it brought a great gift. Many of the qualities and features that we admire on other Subarus—including superior visibility, interior space, and the EyeSight safety system—prove particularly beneficial on this family-oriented model. From our initial impression, this young entry feels capable of living up to the steep competition.

It all starts with the Subaru Global Platform, which debuted on the fifth-gen Impreza and will eventually underpin every model in the lineup. The new architecture boosts the rigidity of the body and chassis, improves the suspension system, and emphasizes a low center of gravity. The result is better handling and stability, reduced noise and vibration, and improved safety in the event of a collision. This was our first time driving the production-ready Ascent, and we immediately felt the work that went into this vehicle. Although you notice road imperfections and bumps, the chassis tackles these obstacles in a controlled manner. Handling is better than you would expect from most three-row crossovers of comparable size. Although the steering feel is light, the Ascent responds appropriately to even subtle movements of the steering wheel. It’s not a chore to make three-point turns, as it can be in many larger vehicles.

You may be tempted to think the Ascent needs a V-6, but its 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer-four proves surprisingly satisfying. The engine sits low to the ground to give the crossover an ideal center of gravity. It delivers a decent 260 hp, but Subaru says it really focused on torque, which at 277 lb-ft, is higher than most key competitors including the Highlander and Pilot. On demand, the Ascent provides enough motivation for merging onto the highway or passing other vehicles, although it’s no speed chaser. Power is routed through a CVT, which didn’t prove troublesome on our drive, although we’d like to test it more when we get an Ascent into our office.

In the meantime, we had the chance to put the Ascent through a brief towing test with an Airstream trailer. The Ascent, which can tow a respectable 5,000 pounds depending on the trim, made small turns around the slalom with ease. We couldn’t glean much more information on the short course, but expectedly, it felt like it took quite a bit longer than usual to brake.

The Ascent may not don the flashiest feathers, but the conservative exterior design may have its benefits. Like other Subarus, it boasts excellent visibility thanks to its upright posture and its low-sitting windshield and side windows. Adding to its practicality, the doors are lightweight and easy to open.

I can’t speak for long-legged passengers, but I can tell you those with my 5-foot-3 frame will likely find the third row adequate. Even with the second row pushed all the way back, providing those passengers maximum legroom, I could sit comfortably without my knees touching the seatbacks. The rear doors open wide at 75 degrees, making it easy to enter and exit the third row, particularly when you opt for the seven-seat configuration that provides an aisle to the rearmost seats. Grab handles on the second-row seats also facilitate exiting from the very back. Headroom wasn’t an issue, either. A lever at the bottom of the second-row seats allows them to collapse, and they slide fore and aft easily. Putting the seatbacks into the upright position again requires a little bit more muscle, though.

You could argue the Ascent looks a little dated already, with its button-happy center console, large shifter mechanism, and generic dashboard layout. But Subaru put the focus on functionality, even when it comes to the wide and comfortable seats. The Premium model we tested came standard with stain-resistant cloth upholstery. The new Volkswagen Atlas may offer as many as 17 cupholders, but Subaru is creaming the competition with 19 standard cupholders, five of which are located in the third row. Oh, and buyers can opt for up to eight USB ports, although the base model comes with just four.

The 2019 Subaru Ascent will start at $32,970 when it arrives in dealerships in the coming weeks. Prices for the most expensive models can reach north of $45,000. Subaru will offer the Ascent in four trim levels: base, Premium, Limited, and Touring.

For the first time on any Subaru, EyeSight is standard. This bundle includes pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and lane departure and sway warning. There’s also lead vehicle start alert, which gently beeps to remind you to move up when the vehicle ahead has advanced in traffic. For those of us with little patience for Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard across the board. Subaru expects the Limited to be the most popular trim, starting at just under $40,000. It doles out standard leather-trimmed upholstery, a heated steering wheel, LED steering responsive headlights, second-row retractable sunshades, power rear gate with height memory, and push-button start. Top-level Touring models bring out navigation, three-mode ventilated driver and front passenger seats, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, panoramic power moonroof, and a Smart Rear View Mirror that displays an image of the area behind the vehicle using a camera mounted above the rear gate glass.

Subaru’s decision to use a four-cylinder engine pays off when it comes to fuel economy. According to EPA ratings, it maxes out at 21/27 mpg city/highway, or 20/26 on more heavily contented models. In comparison, the V-6-equipped 2018 Honda Pilot gets up to 19/26 when paired with all-wheel drive as is standard on the Ascent. The 2018 Toyota Highlander AWD with the V-6 tops out at 20/27.

Subaru may be a niche brand, but the Ascent doesn’t feel like it’s built for one specific type of customer, with the considerable exception of its standard all-wheel drive. All things considered, it’s a well-rounded competitor that will put the Explorer and Highlander on watch.

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2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 5.7L First Test Review

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 09:00

Ram has long been the disrupter in the half-ton pickup market. Without the burden of holding on to the sales throne and free of the pressure of toppling the longtime sales king, Ram has been blessed with the opportunity to regularly disrupt the pickup segment. Back in 1994, the then-Dodge Ram 1500 changed the game by ditching the traditional boxy pickup styling in favor of mini-big-rig sheetmetal, which proved immensely popular with buyers. Ford and Chevrolet soon followed suit. In the mid-2000s, it started offering a luxury trim level. Not long after, GM and Ford both had luxury trucks, too. In 2013 and 2014, Ram upped the game again, presenting the first pickup with an automatic with more than six speeds and then delivering a light-duty diesel engine. It took a few years, but Ford and GM copied Ram’s homework there, as well.

This is all a long, roundabout way of saying that despite Ram’s perennial third-place finish in the sales race, it has long led the way. Where Ram goes, the industry follows. Problem is, with the 2019 Ram 1500 Crew Cab Laramie Hemi short-bed I’ve been testing, driving feels far more evolutionary than it does revolutionary.

That’s not to say that the fifth-generation Ram 1500 is missing anything. A quick rundown of the spec sheet shows that the updated 1500 is still the pickup we know and love. Underneath the sharp (still mostly steel) sheetmetal is a strengthened platform that’s both lighter and stronger than before, helping to boost payload and towing capacity to 2,300 and 12,750 pounds, respectively. (It’s worth noting that payload and towing capacity can vary widely based on body style, trim, and equipment levels.) The 2019 1500 is available with a smaller Quad Cab or a larger Crew Cab, with a bed length of 5-foot-7 or 6-foot-4. Our Laramie tester had a Crew Cab and short bed.

Under the hood, the Ram 1500 sports a variety of familiar engines, many now augmented by an electric motor for a little extra low-end power and a fuel efficiency bump (those variants are dubbed eTorque). Our midlevel Laramie tester was powered by one of the few non-mild hybrid powertrains Ram offers on the rehashed 1500, with a carryover Hemi 5.7-liter V-8 good for 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. As in all of the 2019 Ram 1500s, the engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but our truck was equipped with optional four-wheel drive.

Despite the carryover powertrain, the 2019 Ram 1500 steadily improves on the previous generation’s performance at the track. This is likely thanks to the crash diet Ram engineers put the new 1500 on. Weighing 328 pounds less than an identically specced 2013 Ram 1500 Laramie 4×4 we tested a few years back, the newer Ram accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and went through the quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 93.7 mph. That’s a notable improvement over the old Ram, which needed 7.0 seconds to hit 60 mph and 15.5 seconds to cross the quarter-mile marker at 87.7 mph. The 2019 Ram 1500 handles better, too; it lapped the figure eight in 28.6 seconds at an average 0.60 g, besting the 2013 model’s 29.1 seconds at 0.58 g. Just about the only measurable places the new Ram doesn’t improve on are braking and fuel efficiency; the 2019 1500 Laramie ties the 2013 1500 Laramie’s 122-foot 60–0 brake performance and also matches its 15/21/27 mpg city/highway/combined EPA rating.

Arguably Ram’s biggest engineering challenge with the 2019 1500 was simply improving on the old model. The 2018 1500 was so nice to drive on the road that there really wasn’t a ton of room left for improvement—yet Ram managed to pull it off. The single greatest improvement in how the Ram 1500 drives on the road is in the way it rides, which was already comfortable. The 2019 1500 now rides like a big SUV in the best way possible. Even without the optional air suspension, the Ram floats over bumps big and small without any impact harshness or gut jiggle. Only on the biggest bumps do you get secondary body motions, but even those are dispatched fairly quickly.

The 1500’s steering is SUV-like, as well. Despite a touch of wander when driving straight at highway speeds, the Ram’s electric power steering system is low-effort and accurate. This platform will be an excellent jumping-off point for Jeep’s upcoming Wagoneer.

The Hemi V-8 remains powerful and more than capable of handling whatever task you throw at it. At the same time, one is left with the impression that it’d rather just loaf around below 2,000 rpm. I suspect the transmission is the issue. Ram tuned the latest version of its eight-speed automatic to get to eighth gear and stay there. The transmission upshifts quickly and smoothly, but when you kick down the throttle to pass slow traffic, there’s a noticeable hesitation before it responds. The transmission makes this nearly 400-hp pickup feel slower than it is.

The interior is the place where Ram made the biggest improvements. Not only is the cabin bank-vault quiet, but there are also noticeable upgrades to both interior quality and fit and finish. Gone are the hard plastics and janky switchgear; in their place are thick, soft leather and high-quality satin-finished plastics and metal accents. Although our tester wasn’t equipped with the new 12.0-inch infotainment screen, the standard CarPlay-compatible 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment screen features a high-resolution display, an intuitive interface, and snappy response. The cabin itself is quite comfortable, with more than enough space to shuttle four adults—five in a pinch—without issue.

Prices for the base 2019 Ram 1500 start at $33,340. Throw down $42,335 for the 1500 Laramie, and you’ll get leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, and an Alpine stereo system, among other things. Our 1500 Laramie 4×4 tester was well equipped, with 20-inch wheels, the Level 1 Equipment package (which includes driver-assist features like blind-spot monitoring), plus some other options, for an as-tested price of $55,430.

Although the 2019 Ram 1500 may not be the disrupter the previous-generation pickup was, there’s no doubt that it’s a solid step forward for the brand. Besides, with the electrified eTorque engine soon expected to roll off the production line, that disruption we’ve been waiting for could be just around the corner.

2019 Ram 1500 Laramie 4×4 (CrewCab) BASE PRICE $46,890 PRICE AS TESTED $55,430 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck ENGINE 5.7L/395-hp/410-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5,515 lb (58/42%) WHEELBASE 140.5 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 228.9 x 82.1 x 77.7 in 0-60 MPH 6.1 sec QUARTER MILE 14.7 sec @ 93.7 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.74 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.6 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 15/21/17 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 225/160 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.13 lb/mile

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