19 Dealerships, 1 Goal: 100% Customer Satisfaction
2016 Toyota Prius Unveiled
Toyota has finally pulled the sheet off its all-new 2016 Prius out in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here's everything you need to know about this highly anticipated hybrid.
1. Hybrid Heritage
For starters, this is the fourth generation of the car, which has been on the market for nearly two decades. Over that time, the company has sold some 3.5 million copies, saving countless gallons of gasoline and sparing untold tons of CO2 emissions.
2. New From the Ground Up
As you might expect, the 2016 Prius is built on a freshly engineered platform, Toyota's New Global Architecture, TNGA for short. Surprisingly this is the first international product to ride atop said structure.
3. Bigger and Better
As is the norm these days, this car has grown in a couple key dimensions, increasing in length by 2.4 inches and width by six-tenths of an inch, changes that should increase interior space for both passengers and cargo. However, this car's overall height is down 0.8 inches.
4. Wishbones Aren't Just For Thanksgiving
Enhancing its on-road dynamics, the 2016 Prius features an exotic-sounding double-wishbone rear suspension. Along with its more rigid structure, this chassis configuration should provide more feedback and ultimately higher levels of driver enjoyment, all without sacrificing ride comfort.
5. ICE, ICE Baby
Along with a fresh architecture and suspension, the 2016 Prius also sports a brand-new hybrid drivetrain. Details about these mission-critical components are scarce right now, but the car should sport a four-cylinder internal-combustion engine with a thermal-efficiency score of more than 40 percent!
6. Hella-Efficient Hybrid
The rest of its hybrid system will be lighter and more compact than the one found in today's Prius. Additionally, the car will also benefit from a more energy-dense battery pack, which should increase its all-electric driving range and fuel economy.
7. Best-in-Class Efficiency
The result of these powertrain enhancements should be pretty impressive. According to Toyota representatives, the car will be at least 10 percent more efficient than today's Prius, which already averages 50 miles per gallon, according to the U.S. EPA. This should translate into best-in-class economy and the highest MPG of any non-plug-in vehicle.
8. Eco FTW
But if that's not enough, Toyota engineers are also developing an Eco version of the 2016 Prius. This variant promises to deliver even greater fuel efficiency, though there are no other details to share about this model right now.
9. Color Us Surprised
Seven exterior colors will be offered on the new Prius. This palette includes a fresh hue called "Hypersonic Red."
10. The 2016 Prius Won't LED You Astray
Lighting the way, LED headlamps are standard on every model, as is more aggressive exterior styling and a more modern cabin.
11. Safety for All
Improving safety and easing drivers' burdens, the new Prius will be one of the first vehicles to feature Toyota Safety Sense, a suite of advanced driver-assistance technologies. This includes things like pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control. This system should be offered across the company's lineup by the end of 2017.
12. On Sale Soon
Toyota is a leader in hybrid technology. To date, the company has sold more than 8 million vehicles equipped with these fuel-saving drivetrains. The 2016 Prius promises to continue this trend. The car is scheduled to start arriving at dealerships early next year.
Lexus Tops Customer Satisfaction StudyInline
Lexus has claimed top honors on a recent U.S. customer service satisfaction study, while the industry overall saw a decline in customer satisfaction scores.
Across the industry, customer satisfaction dropped by 3.7 percent to 79 on a 100-point scale according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index's (ASCI) Automobiles Report for this year. That is the lowest score for the entire industry since 2004 according to ACSI.
Lexus managed to push Mercedes-Benz out of the top spot with a score of 84, while the German automaker saw its score fall by 3 percent to sit at 83. There were only two nameplates that managed to improve their score this year, Acura and BMW, which are up 8 percent and 3 percent respectively.
Out of the 27 different brands that were involved in the study, 15 had declining scores this year while 10 brands remains unchanged over last year. Customer satisfaction levels were high among import brands, which make up 77 percent of the above-average brands in the U.S.
Ford sits on top of the domestic brands with a score of 81 while GM is close behind with 79. FCA is the worst of Detroit 3, scoring 75.
Massive recalls and rising vehicle prices are two of the main factors cited for the recent drop in customer satisfaction. Among its respondents, ACSI saw a 40 percent increase in recalls compared with the second quarter of 2014.
First Look at the Redesigned 2016 Honda Civic
The 2016 Honda Civic sedan has made an early appearance undisguised in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The 10th-generation Honda Civic will make its official debut next week, but fortunately a forum member over at CivicX caught the sedan in all its glory ahead of time.
Some styling characteristics have been carried over from the concept that debuted at the 2015 New York Auto Show, but unsurprisingly, the production Civic has been toned down significantly compared to the concept. The rear end is quite interesting, giving a bit of a liftback appearance with a coupe-like bodyline, while the "boomerang" tail lights did make their way to the production model, even though they don't span the entire back end of the car like in the concept.
Acura Shows Off NSX in Blue and BlackInline
The 2016 Acura NSX is being shown off once again, this time in new colors.
As part of the 2015 Monterey Car Week, Acura has brought a trio of NSX sports cars to The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, two of which are being shown for the first time. The 2016 Acura NSX will be the brand's first build-to-order model, which means there will be plenty of options to choose from for buyers. Along with the Valencia Red Pearl model we've seen testing numerous times now, Acura rolled out an NSX finished in Nouvelle Blue Pearl and one in Berlina Black.
Both vehicles have had their aesthetics accented by a carbon fiber exterior package that includes a front spoiler, side skirts, rear diffuser and exhaust finisher - all in carbon. Up top is a carbon roof while the engine bay on both cars now features carbon covers on the front, side and rear of the engine. To differentiate the two slightly, the Nouvelle Blue Pearl NSX sports silver brake calipers while the Berlina Black model has them finished in black.
Ford Working on Two New Crossovers to Arrive by 2019
Ford is reportedly working on a pair of new compact crossover models, one based on the Fiesta and the other on the Focus.
The American automaker is looking to capitalize on the increasing growth of the crossover segment and is launching five all-new or redesigned SUV and crossover vehicles across Europe in the next three years. After making that announcement, it was speculated that Ford is developing two new crossover models based on the Fiesta and Focus compacts, meaning it will offer at least two compact crossovers within the next three years in hopes of capturing more market share.
Toyota Investing $50m to Help Reduce Highway Fatalities and Injuries
Toyota has announced a collaboration with Stanford and MIT in hopes of making the roads safer.
The Japanese automaker will be investing $50 million over the next five years to establish joint research centers at each university that will focus on the research and development of intelligent vehicle and mobility technologies. Toyota believes that there are opportunities to improve everyday living through artificial intelligence and believes there is significant breakthrough potential for the development of life-saving intelligent vehicles and life-improving robots.
Research at MIT will be led by Professor Daniela Rus, Andrew and Erna Viterbi, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Institute's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). The Stanford-based research center will be led by Professor Fei-Fei Li, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL).
"We're here today to mark the beginning of an unprecedented commitment," said Kiyotaka Ise, TMC senior managing officer and chief officer, R&D Group. "We will initially focus on the acceleration of intelligent vehicle technology, with the immediate goal of helping eliminate traffic casualties and the ultimate goal of helping improve quality of life through enhanced mobility and robotics. This partnership, led by Dr. Pratt, is a great opportunity to work with two leading research teams from two top universities. I am very excited about what this new venture means for Toyota, and I look forward to more announcements in the future."
Mazda Dealerships of the Future to Evolve
Mazda has announced a new design for its dealerships.
Mazda is calling its all-new dealership design "Retail Evolution," which will feature an open concept floorplan packed with natural materials resulting in a more upscale atmosphere. The Japanese automaker hopes that the wide open dealership will offer a new level of business transparency and the first dealership to be built from the ground up with the standard is Mazda of Everett in Seattle, Washington.
To help provide dealers with strong curb appeal, the dealerships will feature premium black, clean white and chrome Mazda signage. Inside the showroom is a focus on warm, raw-material tones of wood and metal while there will be a liberal use of glass, giving customers a transparent view into the dealership's operations. There will also be a recharged Mazda Lounge that has multiple-device charging stations and access to free WiFi.
The new design for the dealerships will have three different tiers and the company will work with each individual dealership to determine which tier is ideal for them.
"After working closely with Jerry McCann, the general manager and dealer principal of Mazda of Everett, we are thrilled to finally reveal this new Retail Evolution experience," said Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO for Mazda North American Operations. "I'm confident it will be well received by Jerry's staff working in the store every day, as well as customers looking to purchase or lease a new or used Mazda."
Ford Ranger May Be Coming Back to America
The Ford Ranger could make a comeback in North America by 2018 if the auto giant and the United Auto Workers can come to an agreement about the popular truck as they try to hammer out a new contract.
The midsize pickup, which was once popular in the United States, could be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, which has almost 4,500 workers, reported the Detroit News.
Five vehicles are currently made in the hulking plant - the Ford Focus, Focus Electric, Focus ST, C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi - but the company announced it was pulling those vehicles from the facility in 2018.
"We actively are pursuing future vehicle alternatives to produce at Michigan Assembly and will discuss this issue with UAW leadership as part of the upcoming negotiations," said Kristina Adamski, a Ford spokeswoman.
Automotive News reported that Ford could add a new Ford Bronco SUV to the Michigan Assembly floor. The company filed a trademark application for the Bronco name in February.
Ford discontinued the Bronco in 1996, two years after the O.J. Simpson's brand-damaging low-speed police chase through Los Angeles with a white Bronco.
The Ford Ranger, while discontinued in the United States in 2011, has lived on overseas. Rangers are sold in 180 foreign markets currently and is built in South Africa, Argentina, Thailand and Nigeria, noted the Detroit News.
Ford has not imported any of those vehicles to the United States because it would be hit with a 25-percent tariff.
Since the Rangers departure, the smaller pickup truck market has witnessed resurgence, according to the Detroit Free Press. General Motors and Toyota has taken advantage of the newfound interest with the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma.
"It's hard to believe the world's largest truck maker would leave an entire truck category to its competitors in the U.S.," said Karl Brauer, an automotive analyst with Kelley Blue Book.
"Despite Ford's initial doubts about GM introducing a lower-profit midsize truck to compete against its full size trucks, we know Ford is watching sales of the Canyon and Colorado very closely. Unless those GM trucks were rejected by the market, everyone knew Ford would follow suit. They weren't, and Ford is," said Brauer.
A Fuel-Cell Lexus LS Slated to be Released by 2020
Japan-based publication Best Car is reporting that Toyota will launch a product blitz of at least eight vehicles tied to the games, including a taxi and a hydrogen fuel-cell Toyota Crown as well.
Expect the hydrogen fuel-cell variants to feature the same powertrain found in the new Toyota Mirai, though the Japanese automaker also plans to deploy fuel-cell drivetrains beyond the Mirai. Zero-emission vehicles are favored by The Olympic Games as the ideal vehicles for accompanying events such as the marathon, helping reduce concerns over the quality of the air that athletes are breathing.
It is believed the Lexus LS fuel-cell variant will debut by 2018 and the Crown will arrive the following year. Expect both vehicles to get different styling to differentiate themselves from their standard gasoline or even hybrid counterparts. Another fuel-cell powertrain may arrive in the next-generation Estima minivan.
As a main sponsor of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, expect to see Toyota vehicles front and center at the event, ferrying athletes, VIPS, officials and spectators to and from events. The deal also means national and global Olympic activities will use Toyota's vehicles exclusively.
First Toyota Mirai Arrives at Toyota of Orange
The Mirai runs on hydrogen, which is stored in carbon fiber tanks in the vehicle; both the hydrogen and the outside air that comes through the intake grill make their way to the fuel cell stack, where they react together to create energy. This makes the vehicle totally emissions-free, and creates water as its only byproduct. This vehicle can travel about 300 miles per fill, and when the time finally comes to refill it, refueling only takes about 5 minutes. It sounds too good to be true, but we assure you this vehicle is as great as promised.
This incredible eco-friendliness doesn't stop the Mirai from providing the comforts and excitement that you want from a vehicle. It has a sleek, sporty, aerodynamic style and produces 153 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque, so you can enjoy a fun drive while you enjoy the comfortable interior. This vehicle is equipped with heated seats and steering wheel, along with comforts like Intelligent Tough controls and the Entune App Suite. When you choose this vehicle, the only thing you're giving up is fossil fuel.
Toyota Begins Taking Orders For Mirai
Toyota is now taking orders for its new hydrogen fuel car.
You can now start the process to order a 2016 Toyota Mirai by heading over to a new website and filling out a questionnaire, that is, if you live in California. Since production of the Toyota Mirai will be limited, vehicles will be placed with select eligible customers when they start arriving at dealerships in October.
The 2016 Toyota Mirai will be priced from $58,325 including destination and the first customers will be part of a "Trailblazer" program that includes options for the following: zero-percent APR for 60 months plus $7,500; Trailblazer Purchase Support of $7,500 or Trailblazer Lease of $499 per month for 36 months with $3,649 due at signing.
Each 2016 Toyota Mirai will come with three years' worth of complimentary fuel, three years complimentary Safety Connect and Entune, including hydrogen station finder app, three years of 24/7 customer call support, Mirai Complimentary Rental Experience for seven days per year for three years, ToyotaCare, and an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on key fuel cell vehicle components.
The Mirai received an EPA-estimated driving range of 312 miles and gets an estimated 67 mpge city/highway/combined.
Toyota of Orange is currently taking orders for the Mirai.
Next-Gen Lexus LS Rumored to Debut Later This Year
The fifth-generation Lexus LS is rumored to debut at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.
The Japanese automaker is looking to celebrate 25 years of sales with a new-generation flagship to better rival the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Rumor has it that the standard LS will come with a V8 engine sporting around 465 hp while a hybrid model will have a combined system output of about 535 hp.
The original Lexus LS400 launched in 1989 as a flagship sedan for the brand, which is currently in its fourth generation.
Speaking to Autocar, Lexus European boss Alain Uyttenhoven said that the new model will be "more emotional" adding that it "will remain the pinnacle of the range and have the highest price point." Uyttenhoven also denied rumors that the LS would get a Panamera-style liftback design, meaning it'll maintain a traditional sedan style.
Recently, Lexus hinted that another flagship model is currently under development that would sit alongside the LS in the automaker's lineup. That model will likely not be a sedan as Lexus seeks a halo sports car now that the LFA is no longer in production.
Honda S600 Under Consideration For US Market
The Honda S660 could be heading to the U.S.
Smaller than the Mazda MX-5 Miata by two feet, the S660 convertible is a subcompact sports car that is under consideration for the U.S. market. Since the S2000, Honda hasn't offered a convertible two-seater in North America and although the S660 is a far cry from the performance the S2000 offered, it's still exciting to hear that it could arrive on U.S. soil. Rumor has it that Honda would swap out the 0.66-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 63 hp for a more powerful 1.0-liter engine to accommodate American buyers. For comparison's sake, the new Miata sports a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine with 155 hp.
In a recent interview with Edmunds, executive vice president of American Honda, John Mendel, confirmed that Honda is "looking at it intently for North America," speaking about the S660. He added that the automaker wants "some spice in the lineup" and depending on how much performance it could eke from the 1.0 liter, the S660 could fit the bill. Of course the car has all the traditional hurdles of having to be commercially viable in the U.S. while making sure it does something for the Honda brand before it gets greenlit for export.
2016 Acura NSX Spied Testing
The brand new Acura NSX is finally on the way and our spy photographers have caught it testing in production form, meaning it's completely camo-free.
This mid-engined Japanese sports car has a twin turbo V6, a hybrid gas-electric powertrain, and is expected to make more than 500 hp. You can see that high-tech heart through the rear window. All that power will hit the road through a new super-handling all-wheel drive system, which is paired to a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The NSX uses a number of high-tech and advanced materials to keep weight down including aluminum and carbon fiber.
These spy photos show off the bright red paint finish of the new NSX and a number of cool carbon fiber trim pieces. You can spot it on the front and rear bumpers, spoiler and some trim bits on the wheels.
This has to be the final look at the car before the production version finally hits showrooms, so take it in and get ready to see the real deal soon. The NSX will be manufactured in Marysville, Ohio.
Ford F-150 Gains Sport Mode From Mustang
Ford has added a sport mode to its F-150 pickup truck.
Now standard on the Ford F-150 equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission, sport mode will operate in two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive automatic and four-wheel drive high settings. The sport mode system is borrowed from the 2015 Ford Mustang and can be activated by pushing the tow/haul mode button twice. An amber "S" will illuminate on the lower-right portion of the tachometer, indicating that sport mode is active.
Engaging sport mode on the Ford F-150 will change the frequency of gearshifts, allowing the truck to stay in its sweet spot of the powerband, resulting in a more spirited driving experience. According to Ford, there's "less shifting on engaging drives, such as twisty roads with rolling hills. Instead of shifting gears up and down for peak efficiency, the transmission holds a specific gear longer to make driving more responsive and spirited."
Both the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang and F-150 were developed on a similar time line, so the American automaker is able to share certain automatic transmission technologies. In addition to sport mode, the F-150's automatic transmission also has the ability to match engine rpm as it downshifts.
"Our team realized how well the new F-150 handled and responded to acceleration due to its reduced weight," said Karl Jungbluth, Ford transmission calibration engineer. "So we decided we could adapt the sport mode capabilities of the six-speed automatic transmission from Mustang to F-150 to enhance the overall driving experience for truck customers."
Mazda Replaces First Wrecked 2016 MX-5 Miata
Mazda is taking the high road and replacing the first wrecked 2016 MX-5 Miata.
After taking delivery of a brand new MX-5, the owner and his wife were less than a mile away from the dealership when they got rear-ended by a Ford F-150 pickup. The accident pushed the brand new Miata into the car in front of it, resulting in damage to both the front and rear end of the roadster. Thankfully, both passengers in the Miata didn't suffer any serious injuries, although the owner's wife did take a trip to the hospital with the EMTs while the owner went to the Care Spot facility a day later to get checked out.
A few days later, the dealership that sold the Mazda, Tom Bush Mazda, contacted the owner saying that if a few things came together, things would hopefully be made right. That's when the Japanese automaker itself stepped in, saying that it'll be sending a brand new replacement, something it's obviously not obligated to do. Hopefully, this one fares a lot better than the first one!
Volkswagen Adding Driver-Assistance Features For 2016 Model Year
Volkswagen is adding numerous driver-assistance features, new connectivity options, and a refreshed infotainment system across its lineup for the 2016 model year.
The host of driver-assistance features were previously only available on the Volkswagen Touareg SUV and will now be available on the Beetle, CC, e-Golf, Golf, Golf GTI, Golf R, Golf SportWagen and Jetta models starting the 2016 model year. The optional driver-assistance features include: Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist that can parallel park and perpendicular park) and an active Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist) system. In addition, the Beetle, Beetle convertible and Jetta models will receive Automatic Post-Collision Braking System as standard.
With the change up for the 2016 model year, the German automaker also announced that over 85 percent of its lineup will come with standard rearview cameras.
2016 Lexus IS Details Unveiled
Lexus has revealed all the details on the 2016 IS that will be coming to the U.S.
The car will now have three powertrain options, the newest of which is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission which sends power exclusively to the rear wheels. This powertrain replaces the old 2.5-liter V6, marking the discontinuation of the Lexus IS 250 in favor of the new IS 200t.
If you're after all-wheel drive, Lexus has the IS 300, which is available exclusively with power going to all four wheels. It uses a 3.5-liter V6 to send 255 hp and 236 lb-ft torque to the wheels through a six-speed automatic tranmission.
At the top of the pack is the IS 350, available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. It also uses a 3.5-liter V6, though in this car it makes 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. This car also now gets standard 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels.
The IS packs plenty of high-tech luxury car options, including selectable drive modes, a display audio system complete with a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, Siri eyes free, dual-zone climate control, remote touch interface and a premium sound system with 835-watts. New for 2016, a heated steering wheel is available as a standalone options, while the Premium Plus package adds a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers.
All models can be had with the F Sport package, which brings along 18-inch wheels, special suspension tuning and unique looks thanks to new interior and exterior trim. On V6-equipped models, the exhaust note is also made more aggressive.
Safety is delivered thanks to numerous systems, including a pre-emptive pre-collision setup, which incorporates radar-based cruise control, blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert and an auto-location tire pressure warning system.
Honda's Baby NSX Could Debut as Early as November
Rumor has it that we could see the Honda baby NSX as early as this year.
Although the Japanese automaker won't explicitly admit that a baby NSX is in development, recent patent drawings and interviews suggest something is brewing. With similar proportions to the NSX, the smaller model could reportedly bow at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show in November or at the Detroit Auto Show early next year. Motoring reports that the vehicle's design is "for all intents and purposes, completed" lining up with rumors of the model being approved in mid-2014.
The push for the baby NSX project stems from North American Honda dealers, which won't have access to the new Acura NSX when it goes on sale in the U.S. Not surprisingly, U.S. dealerships are pining for a halo sports car to sell.
As for what will power the baby NSX, all that is pure speculation at the moment. Signs point to the Japanese automaker using a 2.0-liter hybrid powertrain combined with the company's electronic Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system.
2016 Ford Focus RS Price Leaked
Pricing for the 2016 Ford Focus RS has leaked online.
The new Ford hot hatch is listed on a configurator which appears to still be in the testing phases, with a starting price of $35,730.
Despite most of the images not working, the configurator did offer a number of options for the RS, including a sunroof, navigation, 19-inch forged alloy wheels and sticky Michelin Cup tires, which alone cost $1,990. With all of the available options added, the price of the RS grows to $42,275.
In comparison, the Subaru WRX STI starts at $35,290 while the Volkswagen Golf R begins at $37,415, putting the Focus RS right in line with its biggest competition. If you compare the specs of these cars, the Focus RS comes out on top, making 345 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque from its 2.3-liter turbocharged engine. Torque can also be momentarily boosted to 347 lb-ft for up to fifteen seconds at a time.
The Focus RS is expected in dealers by Spring of 2016.
2016 Lexus ES350, ES300h Facelift Revealed
The 2016 Lexus ES350 and ES300h have been refreshed for the U.S. market.
The updated sedan actually made its debut earlier this year at the Shanghai Motor Show, but only now has the Japanese luxury automaker shared details on the U.S. models.
The 2016 Lexus ES350 and ES300h get new standard LED headlights along with a redesigned front fascia, which includes the brand's spindle grille, with fog lights at the corners. In the rear, Lexus carried over some design elements from its flagship LS, incorporating a new fascia with chrome-tipped rectangular exhaust ports.
For the interior, new features and finishes include Linear Dark Mocha wood, Illustrious Piano Black wood and Bamboo with a matte finish, which replaces the gloss finish. There is also the addition of Flaxen interior as an option.
The Mark Levinson Premium Sound and Panoramic Roof options are now available with any package, while new vehicle connectivity has been added with Lexus Enform Remote. Lastly, there is also a new Lexus Safety System+ that combines Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
Pricing for the 2016 Lexus ES350 and ES300h models have not yet been announced.
2016 Toyota Mirai Orders to Start July 20 in California
Toyota of Orange will be one of just eight dealerships in California selling the Mirai to start.
Drivers in the state interested in the 2016 Toyota Mirai will be able to request a vehicle online starting July 20, with eligible customers choosing from one of the eight authorized dealerships for Mirai delivery. After placing a request online, potential Mirai drivers will be contacted by a Toyota representative to make sure owning the Japanese automaker's hydrogen fuel cell vehicle fits into their lifestyle and is a viable option.
The 2016 Toyota Mirai will come with three years' worth of complimentary fuel, three years of 24/7 customer call support, an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on key fuel cell vehicle components and much more. As a fuel cell electric vehicle, the 2016 Toyota Mirai uses no gasoline and emits nothing but water vapor, and was recently announced to get an EPA-estimated 312-mile range and a 67 mpg equivalent rating.
Pricing on the 2016 Toyota Mirai will start from $58,325 including destination, but before any incentives and/or rebates. Leases for the Toyota Mirai will also be available for $499 a month for 36 months. The electric motor on the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle provides 153 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque and U.S. deliveries are expected to begin in October. Expect U.S. delivery to be limited to about 3,000 units through 2017.
Production Begins on Honda Civic Type R
The first all-new Civic Type R rolled off the assembly line at the brand's plant in Swindon, U.K. For now, the hot hatch will exclusively be sold in Europe, though North America will get the Type R in the next two to three years.
Power for the new hot Civic comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 306 hp, with a redline topping out at 7,000 rpm. Top speed for the car is rated at 167 mph, which helped a prototype version of the car lay down an impressive 7:50 lap time at the Nurburgring.
Is This the New Toyota Prius?
Sketches that reportedly show the next-generation Prius were posted by Taiwanese website mobile.autonet.com.tw, along with plenty of info on the new car. The illustrations claim to show both the plug-in hybrid and standard Prius, each with its own unique design. The plug-in model is wearing a blue paint job while the standard Prius liftback is finished in aquamarine.
The site alleges that the new Prius will be roughly eight percent more efficient than today's model, bringing fuel economy to around 54 mpg in the U.S. Power output is said to sit between 145 and 150 hp thanks to engine tweaks that also resulted in increased efficiency.
2016 Acura NSX Spotted in the Wild
It appears that Acura is benchmarking the new NSX against some of the world's finest sports cars.
Photos of the 2016 Acura NSX out in the wild were posted onto the internet, showing the Japanese automaker's hybrid sports car driving with a Porsche 911 and sitting beside an Audi R8. While the NSX has already been seen at auto shows and even racing up Pikes Peak, this is the first sighting of these production-spec cars on the streets.
Revealed in production form earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, the 2016 Acura NSX features a hybrid powertrain that will make at least 550 hp, although exact final specifications have not yet been revealed. It is powered by a twin-turbo, V6 engine and will feature the company's Super Handling AWD technology.
Expect more information on the 2016 Acura NSX to surface as it gets closer to going on sale later this year.
2017 F-150 Raptor Hits the Sand for Testing
Ford has released images showing the new 2017 F-150 Raptor in its natural habitat.
Ford has finished 1,000 miles of testing in Southwestern California with the new 2017 Raptor, racing it over a 66-mile course designed to parallel the Baja 1000. Typical desert terrain including sandy washes, deep-rutted silt beds, steep climbs and slow crawls were all inflicted on the new truck, which managed to lap the course about 25 percent faster than the current truck.
The 2017 Raptor will get its power from the brand's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, that will make more than 411 hp, with one report suggesting it will produce 450 ponies. A 10-speed automatic transmission will help get power to the ground, while a new terrain select system will tailor the Raptor's characteristics to specific driving situations.
Topping speeds of 100 mph in some places, the new Raptor faced a tabletop jump that sent it up two feet at the end of each lap. These early build prototypes were made up of a mix of 2015 and 2017 Raptor components.
The new 2017 F-150 Raptor goes on sales in the fall of 2016.
Mazda Launches Remote Start App
Mazda has released a new app which can operate a number of systems on the brand's vehicles.
Called Mazda Mobile Start, the app will allow you to start your vehicle remotely, check your door lock status and find your vehicle via GPS.
The remote start function works from virtually anywhere according to Mazda and will let you idle your car for up to 30 minutes. A timer will begin when you start the car, so you can track how long it has been running.
The door lock status feature will let you check your door locks, and lock or unlock them remotely if necessary. The panic alarm can also be activated through the app.
Finally, a vehicle finder will help owners locate their car in a large, open parking area.
Mazda Mobile Start is available for $500 and can be purchased and installed by a local Mazda dealer. The app is thrown in as a bonus for the first year, but will cost an annual $65 fee after that.
Currently, only the 2016 Mazda6 and 2016 CX-5 are compatible with the app, though Mazda expects to sync more models with the app this year.
VW Golf TDI Hits 48 States on Less than $300 in Diesel
Volkswagen has set a new Guinness World Record for low fuel consumption.
Using a 2015 Golf TDI diesel, a pair of drivers hit all 48 contiguous States in 16 days on just 101.43 gallons, or $294.98 worth of fuel. The trip totalled 8,233.5 miles and the car averaged a stellar 81.12 mpg, good enough to claim a new record for "lowest fuel consumption—48 U.S. contiguous States for a non-hybrid car."
The Golf beat the previous record by more than 3 mpg, while it also beat the current hybrid vehicle record by a full 6 mpg. The drivers were automotive journalist and hypermiling expert Wayne Gerdes along with Bob Winger, an electronics engineer.
The 2015 Golf TDI is rated at 45 mpg on the highway when equipped with a manual transmission. For the record setting run, the car used Shell diesel along with Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tires.
Toyota Prius SUV in Development
Toyota may be looking to expand its Prius family even more.
Through its joint collaboration with Mazda, Toyota is reportedly developing a Prius SUV model, which will likely be a production version of the C-HR concept shown at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.
The two automakers have agreed to exchange powertrain technologies that will power all-new models. This now reportedly includes a new compact crossover for Toyota and Mazda's first EV. It is being reported that Toyota is eyeing Mazda's 1.5-liter SkyActiv diesel engine for its hybrid models, potentially powering the Prius SUV with a diesel-hybrid powertrain that will offer plenty of torque and great fuel economy.
There is also a possibility that Toyota could implement just the diesel engine into the new crossover model without the electric powertrain, as well as the rest of its lineup to help gain an edge in the European market. Mazda has already confirmed that it will use its relationship with Toyota to manufacture its first electric vehicle in order to meet strict Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulations in the state of California.
Considering the growth of the crossover and SUV segment and how Toyota has expanded its Prius lineup with the compact Prius c and the larger Prius v, a Prius SUV isn't entirely out of the question and would help solidify the family as a contender in numerous segments.
Lexus to Revive "SC" Nameplate in 2017
The Lexus SC will make a return as a 2017 model.
A production version of the LF-LC is coming and it will wear the SC badge according to Automobile. Essentially serving as a third-generation Lexus SC, the production LF-LC will be a luxury sports coupe based on the next-generation LS flagship.
Automobile reports that three powertrains will be offered in the SC's revival, a 5.0-liter V8 currently found in the RC F with 467 hp, a hybrid powertrain making around 500 hp and a range-topping SC F model with a twin-turbo V8 churning out 600 hp.
Unlike the previous-generation Lexus SC which was a luxury convertible, the Japanese automaker hopes the new SC will remind enthusiasts of the first generation coupe from the 1990s. Expect pricing to be in the six-digit range, or at least close. It's a model that will help round out the company's offerings as Lexus aims to be more competitive in the luxury sales race against its German competitors.
Expect the revived Lexus SC to compete with the Mercedes SL and BMW 6 Series.
Toyota Trademarks New Automobile Title, S-FR
Toyota has trademarked a new automobile title, hinting at a name for a future sports car.
Toyota S-FR has now been protected with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and will be used for "automobiles and structural parts thereof."
Following the naming structure introduced for FR-S, which stands for front-engine, rear-wheel drive sports car, the new name may stand for sports front-engined rear-wheel drive. We're hoping that the 'S' stands for 'super,' which would make it a super front-engined rear-wheel drive car.
Toyota wants to have a three sports car lineup, consisting of one car that would sit above the FR-S and one that will sit below. The name could be used for either, though the larger of the two new cars is expected to arrive much sooner.
The high-end sports car will be a spiritual successor to the Supra and will take its styling cues from the Toyota FT-1 concept. It is currently being developed in cooperation with BMW.
The Toyota S-FR trademark application was filed on May 28, 2015.
First Image of 2016 Lexus LX Leaked
What we appear to have here is our first glimpse at the updated 2016 Lexus LX 570.
The luxury counterpart to the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Lexus LX first arrived in 1996. It entered its current third generation in 2007 and underwent a facelift in 2012. That would make it prime for replacement, but if this leaked image is anything to go by, Lexus has apparently opted to give it another refresh to keep it relevant for a little while longer.
Reportedly leaked by Japanese magazine Best Car (and coming to us in the YouTube video below through Arabic publication Almuraba), the image shows what looks to be an updated version of the existing LX. The shape looks largely the same, but with a pronounced take on the brand's signature spindle grille dominating an even more aggressive face, flanked by sharper headlights and boomerang-shaped DLRs.
The inset image ostensibly shows a revised version of the existing model's interior, with what appears to be a slightly larger infotainment display in the center of the dashboard.
Given the subtle visual enhancements, it does not appear likely that Lexus has changed much under the hood, where the current model (in North America at least) packs a 5.7-liter V8, driving 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. That giant engine could probably benefit from some fuel-saving measures, but we'll have to wait for the full reveal to find out one way or another.
Ford Sync 3 to Arrive This Summer in 2016 Fiesta and Escape
Ford will begin offering its new Sync 3 infotainment system this year.
The updated electronics will become available in the 2016 Escape and Fiesta starting this summer. With all-new hardware and software for Sync 3, Ford is looking to rid its infotainment units of a bad reputation built by its previous system, MyFord Touch, which was consistently lashed for being slow and glitch-ridden.
Ford says that Sync 3 is optimized for hands free use thanks to voice commands which can be used to control many of the cars functions including those found on a compatible smartphone. Thanks to Applink, drivers can access their smartphone apps, such as Pandora, Glympse and iHeart Auto, using Sync 3's voice commands or touchscreen. Apple iPhone users can also use Siri eyes-free by pressing and holding down the vehicle's push-to-talk button.
Sync 3 users get subscription-free emergency service 911 Assist, which will automatically use the customer's Bluetooth-connected phone to dial 911 if a significant accident is detected. The car also sends some specific information, such as whether or not the airbags deployed, which side the crash took place on and even the number of seat belts that were in use.
Over-the-air updates via Wi-fi are also now available with Sync 3, which means that Ford can update the infotainment unit without the customer needing to take it to a dealership.
Honda Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars to Arrive by 2020
Honda plans on mass producing hydrogen fuel cell cars by 2020.
The Japanese automaker recently debuted the latest version of its FCV concept, which is being described as "relatively close to the production car," according to Thomas Brachmann, head of powertrain development at Honda. The company has been investing and developing hydrogen fuel cell cars for years now, starting with the FCX in early 2007.
The latest FCV concept is powered by a single hydrogen fuel cell stack, is capable of driving 300 miles on a single tank and can be refueled in about five minutes. Compared to the FCX, the FCV concept's fuel cell stack has a power output of 3.1kW/L, a 60 percent increase even though the stack has been physically reduced in size by 30 percent.
Although the company isn't ready to release production figures for the FCV, Brachmann did share that Honda has no intentions of selling the car in low volumes. The company does admit that infrastructure will be a major hurdle with hydrogen fuel cell cars, with Brachmann estimating that it will be 10 to 15 years before the technology is widely accepted.
Mazda Launches New Slogan: Driving Matters
The Japanese automaker has announced "Driving Matters," an evolution of the "Game Changers" campaign.
The new campaign will showcase various aspects of what makes the driving experience so important and will focus on the importance of vehicle safety, good-looks, fuel efficiency and the fun-to-drive personality of Mazda cars.
The company will launch the campaign with "A Driver's Life," which chronicles the major moments and stages in a driver's life, such as obtaining a license and buying your first car. The ad will feature numerous 2016 Mazda models and will launch Friday, May 22 at movie theaters and on television with a mix of 30- and 60-second ads.
With the new campaign, don't expect Mazda to get rid of its Zoom-Zoom mantra. The catchy phrase that has been around since 2000 will continue to be part of the company's DNA.
"Through the Driving Matters campaign, consumers will get a glimpse at why driving matters so much to Mazda and why we obsess over every detail in designing our cars," said Russell Wager, vice president of marketing for Mazda North America. "Whether it's for safety purposes or for maintaining our 'fun to drive' nature, it all comes down to the fact that driving matters to our customers and it matters to us."
Lexus Renames Certified Pre-Owned Program to L/Certified
Savvy luxury car shoppers have been wise to the advantages of buying a certified pre-owned model for quite some time. The lower cost of entry into luxury, the satisfaction of ownership of premium product with factory backed warranty, and the feeling of money in the bank are all motivations to help drive such a purchase. Since, there's no reason to wait when the indulgent purchase is a Lexus vehicle. L/Certified by Lexus gives luxury buyers the opportunity to get into luxury sooner than they think.
The program, previously known as the highly successful Lexus Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, offers customers a vast inventory of pre-owned Lexus vehicles that have been certified through a comprehensive inspection to meet exacting factory standards and retain warranty conditions. What continues to sets L/Certified by Lexus apart from other luxury certified pre-owned programs is Lexus' legendary customer service. All Lexus owners get to enjoy a remarkable customer experience as dealership staff treat customers like a guest in their own home. The luxury market's growth in Certified Pre-Owned activity has compelled Lexus to examine its program and begin a more aggressive repositioning in the CPO segment that begins with the L/Certified renaming.
Nationally, certified pre-owned vehicle sales have shown a 13% increase industry-wide since April of 2014 according to Lexus' proprietary research. Meanwhile, the Lexus brand has enjoyed a 10% increase in certified pre-owned vehicle sales since the start of the 2015 calendar year which supports a steady growth trend the brand has seen since 2009. While Lexus' CPO intenders/buyers are driven by the same motivations as new luxury car buyers who value luxury status as symbol of their success, the CPO realm of the business provides an ideal tool to help attract a different luxury buyer.
2017 Scion FR-S to Get More Power, Updated Styling
Enthusiasts wanted an affordable rear-wheel drive sports car, so Toyota delivered the Scion FR-S. It seems like the Japanese automaker is listening to its fans again for the mid-cycle refresh of its tail-happy coupe and will inject it with more performance.
A report from Motoring suggests that the car will have a life cycle of about 8 years, with the mid-cycle refresh coming with the 2017 model year. Part of the refresh will include a slight bump to power and torque, an increase of about five percent. That means you can expect somewhere around 208-hp compared to 200. This boost comes from a new intake manifold and improved engine internals that will reduce friction and help the coupe improve fuel efficiency by about seven percent.
But as they say in infomercials, "that's not all!" The upcoming coupe will also get updated suspension that will enhance ride comfort while still delivering the sharp handling that the FR-S is known for. A reinforced rear suspension subframe will also help to retain stability.
Toyota is processing the feedback from its in-house racing arm Gazoo, who have been tuning and modifying the FR-S for racing applications. The Gazoo racing Toyota 86 won its class at the Nurburgring in the past. Expect them to have some big ideas for the chassis of the car.
Finally, the report suggests that the car will get an updated look, starting with a more aggressive front bumper, new headlights and hood, while the rear end will get a new diffuser and exhaust outlets.
Expect the Subaru BRZ to get similar power upgrades, but aesthetic updates that are unique to the brand's design language. Look for the 2017 Scion FR-S to debut next year.
2016 Toyota Prius Spied in Thailand
The 2016 Toyota Prius has been spied testing in Thailand.
The next-generation Toyota Prius was expected to debut by now, but the Japanese automaker pushed its unveiling in order to revamp its styling. The 2016 Toyota Prius spied here closely resembles the current model with just a lot of black tape, hinting that Toyota won't drastically change its styling for the next iteration, although we can't see the front end. The bigger changes to the 2016 Toyota Prius will be its platform with the new model riding on the Toyota New Global Architecture that will help the popular hybrid shed 20 percent of its weight.
Reports say that the 2016 Toyota Prius will have a thermal efficiency of 40 percent, compared to the current model's 38.5 percent. The previous generation Toyota Prius had a thermal efficiency of 37 percent. If the next-generation Prius turns out to be rated at 40 percent, it could possibly have the highest thermal efficiency rating out of all mass-produced passenger vehicles. It is also expected that the 2016 Toyota Prius will be available with either nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion batteries, with the latter being more expensive but offering a better all-electric driving range.
The 2016 Toyota Prius will make its debut later this year and the plug-in hybrid model will follow in mid-2016.
2016 VW Jetta GLI Revealed
Volkswagen just revealed its updated 2016 Jetta GLI, the sedan counterpart to their Golf GTI hatchback. This sporty four-door has been refined, gaining new looks and advanced features.
For starters this car is dressed up with a new, more aggressive front fascia, which includes a honeycomb grille. At the opposite end of the vehicle, its rear bumper has been redesigned and incorporates a diffuser. The dual exhaust tips are slathered in chrome.
All 2016 VW Jetta GLIs ride on 18-inch Mallory aluminum wheels. They're wrapped in standard all-season tires, though true enthusiasts can get optional summer tread for maximum fair-weather traction. The car also features a special, sport-tuned chassis.
Under the hood GLIs feature a frighteningly familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It provides a stable of 210 Germanic horses, though that figure is likely underrated … by A LOT. Today's GLI features either a six-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch automatic with just as many gears; the 2016 model should stand pat in this area.
Inside the driver and passengers are treated to features like a new infotainment system, push-button start, dual-zone climate control and a premium Fender audio system. Higher trim versions of the Volkswagen GLI can even be outfitted with safety features like blind-spot detection and rear-traffic alert.
Toyota Remains Most Valuable Automotive Brand
Quality, reliability, fuel efficiency: These are three terms that can be used to describe Toyota, which has a long history of building top-notch vehicles.
Thanks to this track record, the Japanese automaker has retained its title as the most valuable car brand in 2015. This assertion comes from BrandZ, an equity database that keeps track of the performance of more than 60,000 brands in some 200 different categories.
The Big T's No. 1 finish is all the more impressive because of the Takata airbag-recall debacle that dented its overall worth. Their value fell 2 percent this year to just shy of $29 billion, though that's still a heady figure to be certain.
Following closely in Toyota's tire tracks is BMW, another storied brand, though one with a reputation for sport and luxury, not necessarily quality and sensibility. Their overall value grew by 2 percent to $26.4 billion. Mercedes-Benz came in third place and is valued at just shy of $22 billion.
Like Toyota, Honda's value also dropped, a side effect of the airbag-recall hangover. It finished in fourth place with a value of more than $13 billion.
Toyota Mirai Launching in US This October
The small-volume 2016 Toyota Mirai is coming to California in October. That's the news from the announcement of the eight Toyota dealerships in and around Los Angeles and San Francisco that will be the first to sell the hydrogen car in the US. Previously, all that Toyota said was that the first 200 units would be available in the fall of 2015. Toyota expects to sell a total of 3,000 Mirai hydrogen cars by the end of 2017.
The eight dealerships are: San Francisco Toyota, Roseville Toyota, Stevens Creek Toyota, Toyota of Sunnyvale, Longo Toyota, Toyota Santa Monica, Toyota of Orange, and Tustin Toyota. If you're interested in buying a Mirai, you can sign up for more info here.
The Mirai starts at $57,500. Toyota is still talking about state and federal incentives that can bring the car to under $45,000, but the federal tax incentive for hydrogen vehicles expired in December. Toyota is asking the government to bring the incentive back. The Mirai will also be available to lease for $499 a month for 36 months (with $3,649 due at signing). Both options come with free hydrogen fuel for "up to three years."
Scion to Announce 3rd New Vehicle This Fall
Scion is gearing up for a rebound with two new vehicles, the iA sedan and iM hatchback, both shown last month at the New York Auto Show.
But sources say a third new vehicle on Scion's docket is scheduled to be announced this fall, possibly in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Indications are that the next new Scion will be some form of compact utility vehicle, either a small crossover to take on the Honda HR-V or perhaps a funky SUV-like hatchback to compete with the Nissan Juke.
Scion officials aren't commenting, but one candidate is a four-door version of the C-HR concept shown last fall at the Paris auto show.
Refreshed Lexus ES Debuts
Lexus best-selling sedan is refreshed for the 2016 model year.
The Japanese automaker debuted the 2016 ES at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show sporting a new front end and an upgraded interior. Bringing the design more in line with the rest of Lexus' recent models, the ES receives the latest version of the Lexus spindle grille and gets a pair of newly-designed headlights with LED projector technology. In addition, the iconic "L"-shaped arrowhead Daytime Running Lights now extend outside the headlight element for a distinct look that is found in other Lexus models, like the IS.
Changes to the rear are more subtle, with an improved tail light design, re-stylized chrome license plate garnish and new chrome-tipped rectangular exhaust tips. The company has also given the ES a pair of new 17-inch wheel designs along with four new colors: Amber, Nightfall Mica, Caviar and Eminent White.
The interior is upgraded with more color combinations and trim accents. Giving the interior a more upscale feel are trim enhancements to the cabin-facing door surfaces and the center console, while the new sporty steering wheel offers better driving engagement. The infotainment system gets an upgraded 4.2-inch TFT display with new "Enter" buttons added to the interface controller.
While it appears that Lexus merely gave the ES a facelift for the 2016 model year, it did improve the driving experience by adding structural reinforcements to make the body stiffer. According to the company, the technology is adapted from the IS and the company also added a sound-reducing layer behind the dash. Since it made its debut in China, the automaker is also showing off a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but that won't be offered int the U.S.
"Our development concept was 'Take the ES to the next level of elegance and progressive luxury,'" said Toshio Asahi, ES Chief Engineer. "The Lexus ES is renowned for its innovative exterior and interior design. We wanted to build on that and make it more elegant, and tailor the car with the latest technology Lexus has to offer. We're confident that the new Lexus ES will be a leader in its class and attract a lot of attention."
2016 Honda HR-V Price Announced
The 2016 Honda HR-V price point puts it in a position to take over the segment starting at $19,995 including delivery.
For that price, customers get a front-wheel drive LX model with a six-speed manual transmission. That price includes a standard equipment list that includes 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth audio, a rear-view camera and LED tail and more. The CVT-equipped base trim costs and extra $800.
The EX trim with a CVT costs $22,845 and adds a seven-inch touchscreen, an upgraded stereo, Honda's LaneWatch side-view camera, automatic headlights, heated front seats and a push-button ignition. It also gets heated side-view mirrors, fog lights, a second USB port, a moonroof and more.
Finally, the EX-L Navi trim adds native navigation to the touchscreen, leather seat upholstery, an automatic rear-view mirror and roof rails for $26,720. That price means Honda is undercutting the starting MSRP of the Chevrolet Trax by $1,000.
The 2016 Honda HR-V price also means that you will be able to buy a crossover from the brand for about $1,000 more than the base price of a Civic while enjoying the ground clearance, interior space and visibility that comes part and parcel with the segment.
Acura NSX Type R Rumored to Make 600 HP
With all the hype surrounding the Civic Type R, don't be surprised if Honda unleashes an Acura NSX Type R too.
The production 2016 NSX made its debut at this year's Detroit Auto Show and Acura confirmed it will have over 550 hp, though exact specifications haven't been revealed.
Now, rumor has it that the company is working on a hotter NSX Type R that will have at least 600 hp and will arrive showrooms by 2018. The new NSX is powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 and incorporates a unique hybrid system and a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission. An electric motor is located at the rear of the vehicle, while two independently-operating electric motors are positioned at each side in the front.
Along with extra performance from its engine, expect the NSX Type R to go on a diet thanks to carbon fiber aero parts, helping bring the total weight down to around 3,415 lbs. Combined with its suspension and brake upgrades, the NSX Type R will compete with some of the world's finest exotics from the Audi R8 to the Ferrari 488 GTB.
2016 Mustang Updated with Retro Style
Ford dug up a few features from the Mustang's past to update the car for the 2016 model year.
The 2016 Mustang GT now features hood vent-integrated turn signals as standard equipment, a feature made popular by the 1967 Mustang. Fresh style and new packages have also been added to the 2016 car, while performance remains the same. As a quick reminder, you can still get a naturally aspirated V6 that makes 300 hp, a turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder that makes 310 hp and a 5.0-liter V8 that puts down 435 hp.
Racing stripes in either black or silver are available once again straight from the factory, while a painted black roof option, a throwback to the Boss 302, can be had with the EcoBoost or V8-powered Mustang. Available exclusively on the EcoBoost Premium, Ford has revived the Pony Package, which now includes 19-inch polished aluminum wheels, tri-bar pony logo on the grille, side stripe and chrome window surround.
Those who pickup a Mustang GT will now be able to order the Black Accent Package, which brings along 19-inch black-painted alloy wheels, black decklid spoiler, dark taillamp trim, and blacked out 5.0 and pony badges.
Another throwback to the past, Ford is offering the California Special Package on the Mustang GT Premium. It includes 19-inch ebony-painted wheels, Ebony leather seats with suede inserts, aluminum dashboard finish, hood and side strips, a faux gas cap, strut tower braces with California Special badges, dark accented taillights, black mirrors and hood vents, a performance front splitter and finally a unique grille with the tri-bar pony logo.
Mustang buyers can also now order the Performance Package on the 2016 Mustang GT Convertible.
The 2016 Mustang arrives in dealerships in the third quarter of 2015.
New Mazdaspeed3 to Arrive Next Year
Rumor has it that the new Mazdaspeed3 will debut in concept form later this year.
According to a new report, the Japanese automaker will debut the Mazdaspeed3 concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show and the hot hatch will likely arrive in mid-2016 as a 2017 model year. Expect the Mazdaspeed3 to be powered by a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is currently offered with an output of around 300 hp. Previous rumors also suggest that the new Mazdaspeed3 could get all-wheel drive and that is looking more likely.
The report also says that Mazda will debut a new CX-9 at the Los Angeles Auto Show towards the end of the year, ahead of reviving the CX-7 nameplate for 2016. The good news is, if Mazda is willing to invest into the Mazdaspeed lineup, don't be surprised to see a new Mazdaspeed MX-5 model in the near future, something that will appeal to sports car enthusiasts hungering for more performance.
VW GTI Clubsport Concept to Debut
Called the GTI Clubsport concept, it will make its debut at Lake Wörthersee , celebrating the Golf nameplate's 40th anniversary. Based on the three-door GTI, the Clubsport concept will feature a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 261 hp, about 40 hp more than the standard GTI with the optional Performance Package. While the German automaker is keeping most of its technical specifications under wraps, expect the hatch to receive larger brakes, wheels, tires and more aggressive styling - as seen in the teaser images.
Up front, the GTI Clubsport concept has a much more aggressive profile thanks to a front splitter and a pair of larger air ducts while the rear gets a roof-mounted spoiler and a dual-exhaust system. Whether Volkswagen is looking to gauge interest for another model to slot between the standard GTI and the Golf R remains to be unseen, but Wörthersee is often a place for Volkswagen and Audi to celebrate some crazy designs.
Toyota RAV4 Rally Car Revealed
The Toyota RAV4 rally car was revealed at the Monster Energy Supercross Championship finale this weekend in Las Vegas and announced that Ryan Millen will pilot it at various rally races including some of the 2015 Rally America 2WD-Open Class season. Millen, who won the 2014 Baja 1000 in a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, is the son of off-road legend Rod Millen and has been involved in Toyota Racing since childhood. While seeing a Toyota RAV4 compete in any form of motorsport is rare, this specific rally version is even more unique since is a unibody vehicle competing with Rally America's modified street cars.
Starting with a 2015 Toyota RAV4 LE, the company has modified it by dumping over 500 lbs of weight, adding a roll cage, TEIN suspension and BFGoodrich all-terrain DOT tires. The RAV4 will retain its stock 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque as well as its stock transmission.
Honda Wants Crash-Free Cars by 2040
Honda is eyeing a future with crash-free cars.
At the SAE World Congress, Honda R&D Americas president Frank Paluch gave a preview into Honda's vision for the next 25 years. By 2040, Honda believes its vehicles will be able to communicate with each other, talk to infrastructure, ease congestion and never crash. Unfortunately, 25 years is a long time to wait, but Honda plans on rolling out the technology in phases, of which the first will arrive in the next five years. By the turn of the new decade, Paluch suggests that vehicle-to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication will be readily available. That technology alone will help reduce accidents involving Honda vehicles by 50 percent, Paluch said.
Ten years later, Honda believes that all road users will be connected, which includes bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists. The goal for Honda is to have all its connected vehicles accident-free by 2040 and to bring about a whole new world of automotive transportation. "With the advancement of learning, sensing, and communication, in both cars and infrastructure, we will move into a new realm, a cooperative car society, in which the highly automated vehicle becomes a platform for the transformed mobility experience," said Paluch.
Lexus Reveals Redesigned 2016 RX
Lexus revealed the 2016 RX crossover today at the New York Auto Show heralding a new generation for its most important product.
For perspective, the RX has generated 30 percent of Lexus total volume since its inception as a brand in 1989. Roughly 2.1 million of them found homes since the first model entered production at the end of 1997. Now the RX is entering its fourth generation looking almost nothing like the original car that did so much for the brand that created it.
The body styling takes on a sharper look for 2016 than it had even following the integration of Lexus' signature spindle grille. The front bumper is more aggressive looking this time as are the optionally available triple L shaped LED headlights. In fact the entire body is bristling with sharper angles including new wrap-around LED tail lights meant to make the RX looks wider. Completing the exterior ensemble, Lexus now offers 20-inch alloy wheels instead of the previous generation's 19s, although 18-inch wheels are part of the base equipment line.
Inside it's much the same story. Lexus revised the cabin to make it more ergonomic by moving the gear shift selector and adding its latest in infotainment through a 12.3-inch display. Rear seat legroom is also supposedly improved over the previous generation, although Lexus didn't divulge how many inches of new knee space you'll actually get. The second row is also available with headed outboard seats that fold at the touch of a button and should seem more spacious thanks to a new panoramic sunroof as well.
Of course the new RX is based on the recently enhanced Toyota Highlander so that means it also has a quieter ride than before along with a stiffer chassis that should enhance handling. If that's not enough, there's also an available adaptive suspension as well as the F Sport package for all-wheel drive models. If you opt for the F Sport, you get a revised color scheme with new wheels and an active stabilizer bar for sportier handling.
The RX still uses a 3.5-liter V6, but now it makes 300 hp courtesy of direct injection and a new eight-speed automatic. The RX450h also makes 300 hp this time through a hybrid powertrain and a 3.5-liter V6 running on the Atkinson cycle.In both cases, the new RX should offer improved fuel efficiency, although the company didn't offer exact figures during the debut.
2016 Honda Civic Concept Unveiled at New York Auto Show
For the first time ever, U.S. customers will be offered a turbocharged engine in the Civic. While a naturally aspirated unit will likely be available on lower cost models, the Japanese automaker will offer a 1.5-liter direct injection, turbocharged four cylinder engine. Also expect a 2.0-liter turbocharged powerplant to find its way into sportier models of the Civic.
Honda promises that the new Civic will include a five-door model that will square off against the likes of Scion's newly announced iM and the usual suspects like the Ford Focus hatchback and Subaru Impreza wagon.
The 10th generation Civic sedan will be available as early as this fall. Following that, you'll see the sporty looking Civic coupe, which was teased in concept form this week. After the coupe bows, Honda will let the five-door loose on the American market followed by the Si. Finally, Honda hinted during its press conference that there will be a U.S. market Civic Type R.
For the first time in the Civic's history it will be designed and developed by Honda North America. Styling work was led by the team in the company's design studio in LA, while R&D was centered in the company's Raymond, Ohio, vehicle development center.
Furthermore, the North American version of the Civic sedan will be produced in Greensburg, Indiana. But sedans, coupes and Si models will be sourced from the firm's plant in Alliston, Canada. The VTEC turbo engine will be produced in Anna, Ohio with engines also assembled in Canada. The CVT will be produced in Russells Point, Ohio. The only Civic that won't be made in North America will be the five-door model, which will be produced in the U.K.
The Civic Coupe Concept features quite a few interesting design changes from past models. Honda says that it boasts a longer hood, shorter deck, shorter front overhang and a more set-back greenhouse, which gives this mean, green two-door a more athletic appearance. Adding to that is the car's fender arches and LED accents, which will give it a recognizable look in the daylight and at night.
2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Unveiled
The RAV4 has always been popular, but Toyota is kicking things up with a number of enhancements and changes for 2016 that will help keep the car a top seller in its segment.
Without a doubt, the most eye catching addition to the 2016 RAV4 is the new hybrid model. Available in XLE or Limited trim levels, the RAV4 Hybrid marks the eighth hybrid in Toyota's lineup. The electrified crossover will use a 2.5-liter four cylinder engine and will only come in all-wheel drive form. The company didn't announce any power or fuel efficiency numbers but both should be an increase over the regular all-wheel drive RAV4.
Toyota is taking the positive feedback it received with the Camry SE and bringing that sporty trim level to the RAV4. That means it gets aggressive styling in the form of 18-inch alloy wheels, a unique front bumper design, LED headlights and taillights, a unique interior with black headliner and gunmetal trim in addition to paddle shifters.
This new birds eye view camera, which is similar to the surround-view camera that some of its competitors offer, is a first for Toyota. The car has four cameras that give the driver a panoramic view of their surroundings, in order to help with parking. While the sounds very familiar, the RAV4 will also come with something called Perimeter Scan, which gives the driver a live rotating 360 degree view of what is around the vehicle, helping them see objects that could be in the way.
One of the biggest complaints we had with the last RAV4 was how some of its interior panels felt cheap. Toyota is addressing this with more soft-touch materials on the upper door panel and lower dash and by changing the bezel around the gear selector and window switches. Toyota has also updated the usability of its interior, with a new cup holder design that can accommodate bigger travel mugs with handles. There's also a new sunglasses holder and additional USB slots added to front and a 12-volt power outlet added in the rear.
Finally, you'll be able to identify the 2016 RAV4 from its past iterations thanks to a revised design. A new front fascia now gives the RAV4 a face that's very similar to the Camry. There are available LED lights for the front and rear of the crossover, which provide an additional premium touch. Finally, there's a new silver skid plate design that gives the RAV4 a rugged look.
2015 F-150 Earns 5-Star NHTSA Safety Rating
The first crash test ratings are in the for the new aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the 2015 F-150 Super Crew a five star overall crash rating, the highest a vehicle can score. In both the front and side crash tests, the truck received five stars. The rollover test produced four stars, the highest score a pickup truck can receive in that category.
For comparison, the 2015 Chevy Silverado also has a five-star overall rating with a rollover rating of four stars while the Ram 1500 has a four-star overall rating with a four-star frontal crash rating and either a four- or three-star rollover rating depending on body style.
Crash safety ratings for the other two body styles of F-150, the regular cab and supercab, haven't been released by NHTSA. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has also yet to rate the truck.
Besides scoring high on crash tests, the 2015 F-150 offers a host of active safety features, including lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and inflatable seat belts.
2016 Mazda2 Will Get 37 MPG Combined
The subcompact 2016 Mazda2 will achieve a combined fuel economy rating of 37 mpg with an automatic transmission.
According to the EPA, the 2016 Mazda2 will get a fuel economy rating of 31 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, while the six-speed automatic will return 33 mpg city, 43 mpg highway. Those figures are a significant improvement over the previous Mazda2, which returned a maximum of 29 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
In terms of competing in the subcompact segment, the 2016 Mazda2 will be one of the best performers when it comes to fuel economy. The new Mazda2 is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv engine. Specifications haven't been confirmed, but in the Scion iA, this same powerplant makes 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque.
Scion Unveils Two New Models
Scion pulled the sheets off two all-new models at the New York International Auto Show. The compact 2016 Scion iM hatchback and subcompact 2016 iA sedan are both slated to hit dealerships this fall. In a press release, Scion says that the iA is the brand's first sedan. It is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 106 horsepower, and is available with either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. Scion estimates that the iA will achieve 33/42/37 mpg city/highway/combined. The iA comes standard with push-button start, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, a six-speaker audio system with a 7-inch touch screen and two USB ports, and features like navigation are optional.
Road and Track points out that the iA is based upon the newest version of the Mazda2, which is sold in other markets. Due to Mazda'sreputation among critics for building cars that are fun to drive, they think the iA will follow suit. The 2016 iA competes with other subcompact cars like the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, Chevrolet Sonic and Nissan Versa. Scion says the iA will cost around $16,000 when it goes on sale.
The 2016 Scion iM competes in the compact hatchback class. According to Scion, the iM is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 137 horsepower. The iM comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and is available with a continuously variable transmission. It gets a standard six-speaker audio system with a 7-inch display screen, as well as a standard rearview camera, HD Radio and dual-zone automatic climate control. Navigation is optional in the iM.
The iM goes up against compact hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf and Mazda3, both of which earn reviewer praise for their upscale cabins and fun driving dynamics. Car and Driver doesn't think the iM will unseat either the Mazda3 or Golf in terms of driving fun, but they're impressed with the number of standard features it has and say the cabin is very attractive. Scion says the iM will cost less than $20,000 when it goes on sale.
New Volkswagen Beetle in the Works
Reports that the Volkswagen Beetle may be discontinued have been proven false.
Speaking with Autoblog, Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser, member of the board of management responsible for development at Volkswagen revealed that new Beetle will arrive sometime in the next three years. The car will be built on VW's MQB scalable platform that currently underpins the Golf. Neusser says the move to MQB opens the door for an electrified powertrain of some kind in the Beetle.
The Beetle will shed most of its design as well, opting for VW's new design language that will be "much more dynamic, much more emotional," said Neusser. VW wants the new Beetle to have "more emotional potential," pointing towards a major departure in style compared to the current car.
At the 2015 New York Auto Show, Volkswagen rolled our four different Beetle concepts, each with a unique theme to show just how emotional a Beetle can be.
Honda Civic Type R Confirmed For America
The compact car segment in North America is about to get a lot hotteR.
That's because Honda will bring its new Civic Type R to the U.S. in the near future.
Speaking at the debut of the 2015 Honda Civic Coupe concept at the New York International Auto Show, American Honda Motor Co. Executive Vice President John Mendel asked the gathered media if they thought the new European-market Civic Type R should be sold in North America.
The crowd reacted with applause and Mendel responded that he's in agreement.
Mendel confirmed that the 2016 Civic sedan and coupe will arrive later this year, but did not specify exactly when the Type R would go on sale.
Powered by a turbocharged VTEC 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine the Civic Type R makes 305 hp and can hit 62 mph in just 5.7 seconds. It also boasts a record setting Nururgring lap time of just 7:50.
New Turbocharged Toyota Engine Announced
Toyota announced a small displacement turbocharged engine today that will enter the market powering the compact Auris hatchback.
It will be available as an option on that car, which is soon to be sold in North America under the Scion brand as the iM. Toyota didn't say whether the new engine will be available in the Scion badged version of the car, but it isn't likely to arrive soon because of that brand's single trim, single price sales philosophy.
Toyota said the direct injected engine will offer "world-leading thermal efficiency" by using a single scroll turbocharger and an integrated water-cooled exhaust manifold to offer adaptive intake cooling regardless of the engine's current thermal load. That all boils down to a small engine that makes 114 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque.
Ford CEO Predicts Self-Driving Cars Will Arrive in 15 Years
Self-driving cars are under development, but exactly when they will arrive is still unknown.
I would guess we get to full autonomy in 15 years," said Ford CEO Mark Fields. "Camera technology is moving along very fast. Algorithms are advancing very fast," said Fields, who admitted that he did not expect cars to be able to perform certain autonomous tasks, like parking themselves, just five years ago. "Now the car is becoming the ultimate technology product and we are becoming more of an information company," he said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set out four classification levels for self-driving cars, starting at one, which represents no autonomy at all, to four, which "anticipates that the driver will provide destination or navigation input, but is not expected to be available for control at any time during the trip." Field's prediction refers to level four self-driving cars, though it seems that level three cars are much closer to reality.
Currently, most automotive companies are testing cars that are level three on NHTSA's scale, which means "the driver is expected to be available for occasional control, but with sufficiently comfortable transition time." The Google car is an example of level three automation and the tech giant expects to have its car available to customers by 2017.
Lexus LF-SA Concept Unveiled at Geneva International Motor Show
While the other automakers are comparing horsepower, zero-to-sixty times and top speeds, Lexus is taking a more practical approach to the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, by showcasing its LF-SA city car concept.
To give you some context, the the LF-SA Concept is 135 inches long, making it 9 inches shorter than a Chevy Spark. But it still features seating for up to four passengers. Of course, beyond its small size, the most eye catching thing about the LF-SA is its design. Lexus says the car has a "Time in Design" styling approach where your perceptions of the vehicle will change when viewed from different angles. That is clearly the case with the cars new interpretation of the spindle grille, which on the LF-SA is far more angular than in past iterations of the design element.
Another striking design feature of the LF-SA is its wheel arches - a rare element in subcompact cars. Of course Lexus is still going full bore with an arrow-head motif, as seen in the headlights, daytime running lights and tail lights.
Inside the concept features a sweeping dashboard that helps to emphasize the width of the small car. Despite having four seats, the car is clearly catered to the driver, as the pilots seat isn't adjustable. Instead the steering wheel and pedals adjust to the person in charge. The passenger seat slides to give access to the rear accommodations. This being a concept, it also includes a futuristic infotainment system with a hologram-style digital display and a wide-angle head-up-display.
Honda Civic Type R Unveiled at Geneva International Motor Show
Honda has revealed its next-generation Civic Type R hatchback. The hot-rodded compact greets the public for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show.
Like the two concepts, the production-bound Civic Type R will be powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that will make nearly 300hp. A six-speed manual transmission will send power to the front wheels, and a sport-tuned front suspension with two additional kingpins will help reduce torque steer.
The new Civic Type R will mark the debut of the new '+R' mode. When toggled, +R mode increases engine responsiveness and alters torque-mapping for more aggressive performance. Steering weight is increased and the active suspension's damping force is increased by 30%.
The new Civic Type R is the the product of extensive testing both on the road and on track, including at the Suzuka Formula One circuit, the Nürburgring Nordschleife and at the company's Takasu test facility.
Great effort has been made to optimize the Type R's aerodynamics. A new, almost completely flat underside aids airflow under the vehicle and combines with a rear diffuser to optimise downforce. The rear wing, distinct from the concept, features a redesigned airfoil engineered to optimize downforce without causing a significant increase in drag at higher speeds.
A wide front splitter and deep side skirts also manage airflow and reduce lift, while the front bumper has been shaped specifically to inhibit air turbulence around the front wheels. The wheels themselves are 19", lightweight alloys shod with specially developed 235/35R19 tires.
Enlarged upper and lower grilles in the front bumper help with airflow to prevent heatsoak. The airflow is channeled to outlet vents above the wheels on the front quarter panels and vents at the trailing edges of the widened front wheel arches to provide greater cooling and ventilation for the high-output engine.
Toyota Beats "Detroit 3" in Per-Car Profit
Even though Detroit's automakers are performing strongly these days, Toyota still puts them to shame when it comes to profits.
Based on each company's 2014 earnings before interest and taxes, Toyota made about $2,276 on every car it sold last year, compared to just $994 at Ford. Per car profits are even lower at Chrysler and GM, coming in at $850 and $654 respectively.
Some of this can be contributed to the weak Japanese Yen, which cheapens the price of Japan's exports and allows Toyota to sell its cars for less in the U.S. Some automakers, including Ford, have called out federal regulators for not helping to crack down on alleged currency manipulation. Investment firm Morgan Stanley says that roughly $2,000 per export vehicle goes back to Japan's largest automakers as a result of the low currency rate.
2016 Acura NSX to Offer Customization Program
Acura's low-volume hybrid sports car will eschew its brand's typical simple packaging strategy when it arrives later this year.
Acura typically offers a handful of preset trim and equipment packages that limit the level of customization its customers can specify, but that won't be the case with the NSX. Acura senior vice president and general manager Mike Accavitti told Edmunds.com that Acura plans to offer more factory installed options on the NSX than it has with any car ever before.
Accavitti didn't elaborate on the options that will be available, but said customers will be able to choose between carbon fiber materials and aluminum. Acura plans to launch its car configurator web site to allow customers and curious enthusiasts to virtually customize the NSX along with announcing pricing this summer.
The 2016 NSX uses a longitudinally mounted V6 and three electric motors to make a total of "at least" 550 hp distributed between all four wheels via a hybrid all-wheel drive system. Rather than aiming for all-out performance to compete with top-end exotics, Acura says it engineered the new NSX to be an accessible exotic that its customers will want to drive every day.
Ford Announces 2016 Focus RS Will Be Available in North America
Rejoice America, the third-generation Ford Focus RS will finally be available here.
Billed as the most powerful production Focus ever, power comes from a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that is similar to the one found in the 2015 Mustang Ecoboost. For the Focus, a few parts of been upgraded and output raises slightly to 315 HP.
A six-speed manual will be the only transmission available and for the first time on a Focus RS, power will be sent to all four-wheels. Using two electronically controlled clutch packs at the rear of the vehicle, torque can be split side-to-side for true torque vectoring. Up to 70 percent of total engine power can be diverted to the rear axle while 100 percent can be sent to either rear wheel.
For claims this helps produce controlled drifts at the track, making the Focus RS a hell of a lot of fun. Besides rear torque vectoring, the RS's all-wheel drive system can shift power front to rear while the front wheels can brake individually to further help rotate the car.
Other exclusive RS chassis features include stiffer spring rates and bushings, larger antiroll bars and two-mode switchable dampers. A choice of Michelin tires can be fitted to the Focus RS including the optional Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires - yes, similar to those found on the Corvette Z06 with the Z07 package.
Inside are heavily bolstered partial-leather Recaro seats, a new flat-bottomed steering wheel and an additional bank of gauges.
The Focus RS will be the 30th car to wear the legendary RS badge and it sounds like it will not disappoint its predecessors.
2018 Honda CR-Z Turbo Rumored
The Honda CR-Z might finally become the compact sports car enthusiasts have been waiting for.
Honda fan-boys may still be holding their breath to find out if the new Civic Type R will make its way to the U.S., but even if it doesn't here some news that might keep them happy.
According to a recent report, the Japanese automaker is looking closely at transforming the CR-Z into a performance-oriented sports car when it gets redesigned in time for the 2018 model year. The next CR-Z will reportedly borrow its platform from the next-generation Civic, but the company will shorten it by about four inches from the wheelbase to give it a more compact body.
As a result, it'll be marginally larger than the current CR-Z model but its style will be inspired by the new Civic Type R and NSX. Best of all, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that powers the Type R will be found in the new CR-Z, albeit detuned for less power.
Although it's too early to speculate, a concept or prototype of the next CR-Z making a debut at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show isn't entirely out of the question. If it does bow in two years, expect it to hit dealerships by 2018 and it'll be another sign that Honda is striving to create performance-oriented sports cars once again.
Lexus Still Best at Internet Lead Response
Lexus dealers are the best at responding to internet leads for the second straight year according to the 2015 Pied Piper Internet Lead Effectiveness Benchmarking Study.
The study is conducted by sending inquiries to 13,637 dealerships across the country representing all major brands and gauging the responses. Lexus scored the highest while Porsche, Fiat, Dodge and Infiniti close out the top five. On the bottom end, Scion scored the lowest, with GMC, Hyundai, Volvo and Buick sitting at the bottom of the list.
Infiniti had the greatest increase on the study compared to last year, jumping 8 spots on the list, while Mini and Mitsubishi also saw large improvements.
Each dealership is assigned a letter grade, from A to F, depending on their response. Lexus dealers received an A grade 22 percent of the time, compared to the industry average of just 5 percent. Lexus dealers also responded 99 percent of the time, gave a reason to act quickly 66 percent of the time and gave reasons to buy from their specific dealership 29 percent of the time.
Overall, the industry as a whole improved slightly over 2014, but there are still issues. About every 12th customer (8 percent) got not response at all, while Lexus was the only brand to respond to over 98 percent of customer inquiries. One in ten customers got no response at all from BMW, Cadillac, Honda, Hyundai, Lincoln, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Scion, Subaru and Volvo dealers.
Included in the inquiry was a specific question that could not be answered by an auto response. Hyundai, Jaguar and Mini dealerships did the best in this area, answering the question more than 60 percent of the time. On the other end, Chevy, Ford, GMC, Lincoln and Ram dealerhips answered the question less than 33 percent of the time.
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Production Begins
Production has begun on the latest version of Mazda's lightweight sports car.
The new 2016 MX-5 is being built at the brand's Ujina Plant No.1 in Hiroshima, Japan. The first cars to roll off the line are destined for the Japanese market and will hit showrooms there in June. Rollout of the car to worldwide destinations will begin after that, so expect the new MX-5 to show up in the latter half of 2015 in the United States.
The new MX-5 is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, hooked up to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. In world markets, the car will also offer a smaller 1.5-liter four cylinder.
Scion iM Previewed by 2015 Toyota Auris
Toyota has revealed its new Auris, a vehicle that is on its way to North America with new badges.
Shown at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, the facelifted Auris previews the Scion iM which will make its official debut at the New York Auto Show in early April. Sold internationally, the Auris is offered with three engine options including two diesel variants and a turbocharged 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine. The Auris is also available with a hybrid powertrain. It's unclear if any of those powertrains will make it to the US market.
Design-wise, the Toyota product isn't expected to transform radically when it arrives on our shores as a Scion. The Toyota product sports sharp wing-like headlights, LED accents and daytime running lights and a lower grille that spans the width of the front bumper. Inside the car has a dashboard design that's reminiscent of the Toyota Corolla. Clean and simple, the cabin uses soft touch materials to help deliver a more upscale feel.
One of the more significant upgrades to the 2015 Auris is with the suspension and steering, which are said to improve ride comfort, handling and driver engagement. Toyota also took measures to reduce the amount of sound and vibrations in the cabin.
Volkswagen Reveals Sport Coupe GTE Concept
Volkswagen just revealed its latest concept car ahead of the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, previewing a new design language and more.
The Sport Coupe GTE Concept, as it's called, uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain to generate a total system output of 374 HP via two electric motors and a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. A six-speed dual-clutch transmission connects the gas engine to the front wheels while one of the electric motors offers all-wheel drive capability. It offers a selection of drive modes that, in the most aggressive setting, let the car sprint to 62 MPH in five seconds. If flat-out driving isn't necessary, there are also calmer modes where the car defaults to only powering the front wheels.
Like other GTE models, VW says the concept would be capable of driving up to 32 miles on electricity without burning gasoline and that it can achieve up to 118 MPG. But those aren't the only numbers you should know about. For perspective, the Sport Coupe GTE concept is roughly four inches longer and two inches wider than the current Passat.
2016 Toyota Avalon Debuts at Chicago Auto Show
Toyota revealed the 2016 Avalon in Chicago with refreshed styling and mild mechanical changes.
Most noticeably, the headlights have been replaced by LED units that also have a new shape. It also has a wider and lower front grille, revised turn signals and a chrome accent on the rear bumper. Toyota also tweaked the suspension to offer a choice between a more comfortable or sportier ride.
Power still comes from a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque or a hybrid powertrain with 200 total HP courtesy of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder linked to a hybrid powertrain.
The XLE and XLE Plus trims also come with updated standard equipment lists that include new 17-inch alloy wheels, Toyota's seven-inch Entune infotainment touchscreen, woodgrain in the dashboard and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Meanwhile, the slightly sportier Touring trim gets 18-inch alloys, a revised front fascia meant to make the car look a little meaner and new LED daytime running lights.
Finally, Toyota's top-of-the-line "Limited" trim level gets its own 18-inch wheels for gasoline models or special 17-inch wheels with the hybrid. It also adds convenience features like automatically adjusting high beams, adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system and a pre-collision system.
Toyota didn't announce pricing for the refreshed model, but the company said they will go on sale later this year in the fall.
2016 Honda Pilot Debuts
Honda just took the wrapper off its latest Pilot SUV. This 2016 model is the nameplate's third generation and it's significantly improved, offering more cargo space, greater performance and improved fuel economy.
The first thing most drivers will notice about this crossover is the exterior. Honda is not typically known for its lusty styling and the current Pilot is about as boxy as the crate your refrigerator came in. But no more! The 2016 model is sleek and pleasantly attractive, with a smoothly flowing front end and plenty of tasteful design elements.
Of course that candy coating conceals a lot of wholesomeness within. The vehicle is about three inches longer than today's pilot, something that allowed for more storage space, particularly behind the third-row seat. Engineers also made it easier to get into and out of that rear-most bench.
Remarkably the 2016 Pilot is up to 300 pounds lighter than today's version. Engineers scrutinized and optimized everything they could in a bid to trim unwanted mass and it appears as though they've succeeded. Despite the weight loss it's still expected to be a safety leader. Honda estimates it will ace both NHTSA and IIHS crash tests.
Adding some glitz are optional LED projector headlamps with automatic high beams as well as available 20-inch wheels. Other premium items on the menu include a panoramic roof, heated and ventilated front seats and, in upper-level models, second-row captain's chairs.
Overall the cockpit is much improved. Materials are noticeably more premium and there's a host of new features. Honda has installed a ton of different ports to serve the needs of today's connected families. There are five USB outlets, an auxiliary jack, an HDMI port and more. Also, the vehicle sports a new Android-based infotainment system.
Drivers can also get a whole range of advanced assistance technologies including things like lane-departure warning, collision mitigation braking, blind-spot monitoring and much more — pretty much all of the latest and greatest safety and convenience features.
Power is provided by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that's pumped up with direct fuel injection. Neither horsepower nor torque are available at this time but they will be greater than what's offered in today's Pilot. For reference its port-injected bent-six delivers 250 ponies and 253 lb-ft of peak twist.
Variable Cylinder Management shuts half of the engine's pots down when full power is not required in a bid to goose efficiency. Start/stop technology will also help slash consumption, though official economy figures are not available at this time.
Honda is offering two transmissions in the 2016 Pilot. Mercifully the base unit features six forward gears, replacing the outdated five-speed unit found in today's model. Higher trim variants benefit from an all-new nine-speed gearbox sourced from German supplier ZF. Both of these transmissions will improve fuel economy and performance. Customers can opt for either front- or all-wheel drive.
The 2016 Honda Pilot is scheduled to arrive at dealerships across the country this summer. Not surprisingly pricing information is not available at this time.
Mazda MX-5 Miata Accessories Design Concept Makes First Appearance
Perhaps as a way of teasing its loyal fans, or more likely just to keep itself at the top of everyone's news feeds Mazda unwrapped a special version of its new MX-5 Miata at the Chicago Auto Show.
Called the Accessories Design Concept this roadster is dressed to impress. It wears an aero kit that includes a new front air dam, side-sill extensions and a reworked rear. It's basically the same stuff that was found on the MX-5 Global Cup car that debuted at SEMA.
Brembo brakes with bright-red calipers stand in stark contrast to the body's metallic paint and undoubtedly give drivers fade-free stopping power, time after time after. Wispy-looking forged BBS wheels are slathered in black paint and wrapped in sticky 205/45R17 tires.
The car also features a luggage rack so you can carry more than just a bag of oranges or half a case of bottled water. This accessory is made from carbon fiber, weighs less than two pounds and features an integrated CHMSL, that's shorthand for Center High Mount Stop Lamp.
The new MX-5 is shaping up to be an awesome little car and it's interesting what Mazda has done with this particular concept because. You see, back in 1989 the first-generation Miata actually made its global debut right here in Chicago. The 2016 model is slated to go on sale this summer.
2016 Ford Focus RS Super Hatch Revealed
Making all other hot hatches look just lukewarm, Ford has revealed its incredible new Focus RS super hatch.
Co-developed with rally driver and stunt-man Ken Block, Ford has confirmed the new machine will make use of an exclusive 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with "well over" 320-hp.
Based on the same basic architecture as the 2.3-liter in the new Mustang EcoBoost, Ford has modified the engine with a new cylinder head and head gasket as well as stronger cast iron cylinder liners. It also gains a less restrictive intake and higher-flow exhaust. In addition there's a new twin-scroll turbocharger with a larger compressor, as well as a larger intercooler.
Equipped with all-wheel drive, Ford developed an all-new setup for this new machine that can not only deliver power front to rear, but distribute it side-to-side at each axle. As a result, Ford says the car will be able to send 70% of the maximum torque to the rear wheels with 70% of that to one rear wheel to help the RS rotate. The new AWD arrangement will monitor driving conditions 100 times a second in order to deliver the best possible grip.
Ford group vice president, Global Product Development, Raj Nair said the car will deliver "class leading cornering" and will "virtually eliminate understeer" enabling over 1 g of cornering force.
Better yet, Nair announced a feature that will allow the new Focus RS to achieve "controlled oversteer drifts."
Compared to the Focus ST, the RS gets stiffer spring rates and sway bars, while the car rides on 235/35/19 Michelin Pilot Sport tires, while customers will be able to opt for a more extreme Pilot Sport Cup 2 tire as well.
Part of Ford's new One Ford plan the car will, for the first time, be available not just in Europe, but also in North America and much to the excitement of performance car enthusiasts it will come with a six-speed manual transmission.
The car will be offered in four colors including Nitrous Blue, Stealth Grey, Absolute Black and Frozen White.
Toyota Named World's Top-Selling Automaker for Third Straight Year
Toyota warded off Volkswagen to remain the world's top-selling automaker for a third consecutive year, driven by record U.S. deliveries of its SUVs.
Worldwide sales for Toyota, including its Hino Motors and Daihatsu units, climbed 3 percent to 10.23 million vehicles last year, according to a company statement. Volkswagen last week reported a 4.2 percent gain to 10.14 million vehicles, including its two heavy-truck units. General Motors followed with 9.92 million sales, up 2.1 percent.
Surging demand for sport-utility vehicles including the compact RAV4 and mid-size Highlander paced Toyota's U.S. market share gain last year, spurring plans to boost local production and exports from Japan in 2015. As Volkswagen and GM add factories to bolster their already-dominant position in China, President Akio Toyoda's strategy to forgo building new car plants until at least next year could result in the first shakeup in auto-sales leadership since 2011.
"Their focus is not No. 1," Peggy Furusaka, a Tokyo-based auto-credit analyst at Moody's Investors Service, said by phone. "Toyota is more concerned about keeping profitability than chasing numbers. So for coming years, I wouldn't be surprised to see Toyota selling fewer cars than VW."
Toyota forecasts a 1 percent decline in annual sales to 10.15 million vehicles in 2015, the Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker said in a statement today. Volkswagen and GM haven't announced projections for this year.
Toyota is predicting a decline in sales this year because of an expected slump in demand in Japan, where the consumption tax increase last year had brought forward many purchases, spokeswoman Kayo Doi said.
Last year, Toyota's sales gained in the U.S., Europe, China and Brazil while deliveries in Thailand and Indonesia slumped, according to the company.
Toyoda, 58 and the founder's grandson, has reined in the building of new plants following sudden unintended acceleration recalls in 2009 and 2010 and Japan's tsunami the next year. The factory freeze was a response to those crises early in Toyoda's tenure. Overexpansion before he became president had contributed to the carmaker's first annual loss in almost six decades.
Sales in the U.S. for Toyota climbed 6.2 percent to 2.37 million units last year in the U.S., outpacing growth for GM, the largest U.S. carmaker, according to researcher Autodata Corp. Record SUV deliveries helped Toyota quadruple Volkswagen's sales, which dropped 2.9 percent, Autodata said.
Lexus Rumored to Debut Compact City Car Next Month
Rumor has it Lexus is going to enter the compact luxury car segment.
Despite reports last year that the Japanese automaker had no intentions to create a model smaller than the CT 200h, Australia website Motoring is reporting that Lexus will actually debut an all-new B-segment compact car that will serve as a direct rival to the Audi A1. If the compact model is approved for production it won't be released globally until 2018 after Lexus pushes its second-generation CT to market.
It is also being reported that Lexus will debut the next-generation RX crossover at the New York Auto Show in April, which was originally rumored to bow at the Detroit Auto Show. We would take the rumor of a compact Lexus with a grain of salt, especially considering Mark Templin, General Manager of Lexus, has gone on the record saying Lexus doesn't need to build an A- or B-segment car noting that demand for small cars in the U.S. is really weak.
2016 Acura RDX Revealed at Chicago Auto Show
You could say Acura's RDX is dressed to the nines. Just revealed in Chicago, this compact crossover has been freshened for 2016, gaining things like LED headlamps, new driver-assistance features and even more horsepower.
But that passé phrase might be better used to describe this vehicle's drivetrain. The RDX gains three additional forward ratios thanks to a new nine-speed automatic transmission. That gearbox is paired to an updated 3.5-liter V6 engine that's been goosed for six extra horses and one more lb-ft of torque. These figures total 279 and 252, respectively. Enhancing drivability, its torque curve has been broadened as well.
When you include cylinder deactivation these under-hood changes add up to enhanced fuel economy. Both front- and all-wheel-drive RDXs gains one mile per gallon on their highway scores. The most economical version now stickers at 29 MPG on the interstate.
Of course Acura designers tweaked this vehicle's styling. It features LED projector headlamps, a trait they carried around back. The taillights are also of the light-emitting-diode variety. Front and rear the fascias have been reworked and there are new wheels to choose from.
Various tweaks have been made to the RDX's interior including the addition of new standard features like heated front seats and second-row air vents. The range-topping Advance Package is also new for 2016. This offers front and rear parking sensors, automatic windshield wipers, remote start and AcuraWatch, the brand's suite of driver-assistance technologies. It includes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, a multi-view backup camera and more.
But the folks at Acura don't want to be in reverse. In fact the RDX ended 2014 on a high note; it was the nameplate's best sales year ever with nearly 45,000 delivered in America. This updated 2016 model looks like it's got the stuff to continue that showroom success and you can look for it at dealerships this spring.
Volkswagen Golf GTD Wagon to Make Debut at Geneva Motor Show
Volkswagen has chosen the 2015 Geneva Motor Show to reveal some forbidden fruit.
The Golf GTD Variant as it is called is a performance version of the Golf wagon, or SportWagen as it's known in North America. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbodiesel that makes 181 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque that will get the GTD wagon up to 62 mph in 7.9 seconds. VW says the GTD will return up to 53 mpg, though that is on the European test cycle.
To differentiate its look, the GTD wagon gets special bumpers, a honeycomb grille, smoked rear taillights and flared sills. To make sure that it's more fun, VW has fit the car with sport suspension that lowers ride height by 15 mm along with progressive steering that allows sharper performance during high-speed driving.
Next-Generation Honda Ridgeline Detailed in Sketch
Honda is giving us a glimpse of its future pickup truck.
Taking center stage for the Japanese automaker at this year's Chicago Auto Show may be the all-new Pilot crossover, but Honda isn't leaving the truck market behind. Considering numerous automakers are readying next-generation trucks, Honda decided to also release a teaser sketch for its next Ridgeline at the Chicago Auto Show.
While the company is remaining quiet on details, it did say that the "all-new truck will take the original's award-winning performance, comfort and utility to new levels with completely new styling that communicates unmistakably that it's a pickup, yet with a uniquely Honda flair."
Honda also didn't share when the new Ridgeline will make its official debut but it does expect to arrive on the market next year.
Toyota Unveils Special Edition 2016 Camry and Corolla
Toyota is rolling into the Chicago Auto Show with new special editions of the Camry and Corolla.
Just 12,000 units of the 2016 Camry Special Edition and 8,000 units of the Corolla Special Edition will be produced in total, with each car offering some upgraded style over the standard versions.
Spicing up the special edition Camry are 18-inch allow wheels with gloss black accents, smoked tail lamps and a blizzard pearl or blue streak metallic paint job. Inside, the car gets a moonroof, blue stitching, a sport meter cluster, Entune infotainment, Qi wireless charging and unique floor mats. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed transmission provides power.
As for its smaller counterpart, the special edition Corolla gets 17-inch alloys with gloss black accents and three different paint options: absolutely red, black sand pearl and super white. Inside, red contrast stitching along with a red accented dash and door trim are fitted along with a push button start. Production for both of these cars will take place between August and December 2015.
VW Golf and Ford F-150 win North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards
The Volkswagen Golf and Ford F-150 were named 2015 North American Car and Truck of the Year today by a panel of automotive journalists.
The Golf (TSI, TDI and GTI) faced the Ford Mustang and the Hyundai Genesis for the car award, while the F-150 was up against the Lincoln MKC and the Chevy Colorado in the truck/utility finals.
The six finalists were selected from short lists of 10 cars and 12 truck and utility vehicles by an independent jury of 57 automotive journalists. To be eligible, a vehicle must have been redesigned or substantially changed and introduced in 2014.
"Volkswagen is thrilled to start 2015 with the Golf and Golf GTI taking home the incredible North American Car of the Year title," Michael Horn, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said in a statement.
"This award highlights our achievements and hard work in the past year, and we are confident that the Golf family will continue to pave the way for the brand in the year ahead."
The other cars on the short list were the Acura TLX, Audi A3, Chrysler 200, Honda Fit, Hyundai Sonata, Mercedes-Benz C class and Toyota Camry.
Other trucks on the short list were the Audi Q3, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Canyon, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLA class, Nissan Murano, Porsche Macan, Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander.
"Ford is honored to be named the best among such a strong field of competitors," Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas, said in a statement. "Ford employees and customers have a lot to be proud of with the innovative and award-winning F-150."
2016 Acura NSX Finally Revealed
After years of anticipation Acura has finally revealed its new NSX supercar at the Detroit Auto Show with plenty of details.
Unfortunately those details don't include the one particular statistic fans are most desperate for: horsepower.
True, a car is far more than just a three digit number. The original NSX proved that, challenging Ferraris of its era with just 270 hp. Still, engine output is plenty important.
What is known is that the NSX is confirmed to have a mid-mounted twin-turbo V6 engine mated to the brand's new sport hybrid Super Handling AWD. That hybrid system includes three electric motors with a rear-drive motor located between the engine and transmission while the front axle gets twin electric motors that allow for left-to-right torque vectoring.
UPDATE: Acura has said the car will make more than 550-hp!
The transmission is a new nine-speed dual-clutch automatic that Acura claims will offer "synapse-quick" gear changes with rev-matching downshifts.
Acura is insistent that the driver will take precedent in its new "human-centered supercar," with the car responding to the will of the will of the driver.
"Our commitment was to create an all-new NSX that is true to the heritage of NSX; a supercar that delivers a new driving experience, one where every part of the vehicle is respectful of the smartest part of the car, the driver," said Acura senior VP Mike Accavitti. "The soul of a car is the emotional connection it makes with the driver. With the NSX, that connection will be intense and immediate."
Ford Surprises with Unveiling of GT
Ford is making a glorious return to the supercar segment with the GT, a twin-turbo V6-powered exotic aimed squarely at the best from Italy.
The EcoBoost V6 cranks out more than 600 HP in this application and an undisclosed amount of torque, cementing it as the most powerful EcoBoost engine from Ford to date. That engine also uses a combination of port and direct injection, which should help to negate carbon buildup, a common problem on early direct injection engines that requires expensive and time consuming cleaning. The potent six-pot is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle.
The car uses both carbon fiber and aluminum to save weight. The specific curb weight wasn't announced today, but the company said it will boast "one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any production car." Its cell is made of carbon fiber while the front and rear sub-frames are crafted from aluminum.
That structure sits on top of a racing-style torsion bar and pushrod suspension that offer variable ride height. Ford is using Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires made of a compound designed specifically for the car. Of course there are carbon ceramic brakes sitting behind the 20-inch wheels.
The debut is part of Ford's overall announcement that it plans to launch 12 new performance cars by 2020 including the Focus RS, F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R.
Active aerodynamics - including an adjustable rear spoiler - will play a major role in how the new GT performs, although once again Ford came in light on further details about the car. Of course, it will also come with the latest in Ford's connected driving technology: Sync 3.
"The GT is the ultimate execution of an enthusiast supercar," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. "GT includes innovations and technologies that can be applied broadly across Ford's future product portfolio - another proof point that Ford continues raising the performance bar while ultimately improving vehicles for all of our customers."
Seats in the GT are integrated directly into the carbon fiber passenger cell to save weight in a design trait Ford's newest ultra performer shares with the LaFerrari. Like that car, the steering wheel and pedal box are adjustable to fit different drivers.
Ferrari also like to use steering wheels that are directly inspired by what you would find in an F1 race car and that's exactly what Ford is using for the GT. In fact, the wheel is rich enough in controls to eliminate the need for stalks on the steering column.
There are still plenty of details left for Ford to release, but the company did confirm the most essential piece of information: this isn't a concept and it will enter production in late 2016.
2016 Lexus GS F Powers Into Detroit
The letter F stands for a lot of things, but at Lexus it should stand for fast. It's the designation used on the brands sportiest models and this year that lineup expands to include the GS F.
At the forefront of the GS's transformation is a change under the hood. Gone is the 3.5-liter V6, replaced by a 5.0-liter V8 making 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque. It will be paired exclusively to an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels.
Although this isn't the first time a V8 has been offered in a GS model, it's the first time one is being offered in this latest generation and it's by far the most powerful engine ever offered in the GS range.
To help get power to the ground, the GS f will use Lexus' Torque Vectoring Differential that first appeared on the RC F coupe. The car's structure has been reinforced and the suspension setup is exclusive to the F model. To further enhance performance, the GS F comes with driver selectable modes such as slalom and track.
The 4,000-lb. sedan will wear 19-inch wheels at all four corners with wide 275 mm tires in the rear.
Although the GS F isn't quite ready to take on the likes of the BMW M5 or the Cadillac CTS-V, it is a significant step-up in performance over the regular GS 350 and gives you more choice, which is always a good thing.
Honda Continues Hydrogen Trend With FCV Concept Preview
For years Honda has been experimenting with hydrogen-powered vehicles and now the company is committed to developing a production fuel cell vehicle.
It's being previewed by the FCV Concept on display at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell stack, the FCV is said to be able to drive 300 miles on a single tank. Best of all, unlike an EV, refueling the FCV only takes 5 minutes, similar to that of a conventional gasoline powered car.
The updated fuel-cell stack now has a power output of 3.1kW/L, representing a 60 percent increase in power over Honda's previous fuel-cell vehicle, the FCX, even though the stack has been physically shrunk by 30 percent.
The FCV is designed to seat five passengers as the fuel-cell stack now fits entirely under the hood, unlike the company's previous fuel-cell car that stored fuel in a tunnel running the length of the car.
A production version of the FCV is expected to launch in Japan by March of 2016, followed by the U.S. and Europe at a later date.
2016 Tacoma Shows Off Redesign In Detroit
Toyota is notorious for unveiling "new" vehicles that use the same engines as their predecessor. Luckily for perspective Tacoma buyers, that isn't the case this time.
Revealed at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the new 2016 Tacoma will be available with an all-new 3.5-liter V6 Atkinson cycle engine that uses Toyota's D-4S technology, featuring both direct and port fuel injection. Based on the 3.5-liter V6 in other Toyota applications, the engine is expected to produce roughly 300 HP and 280 lb-ft of torque.
There will be a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine available with the truck as well. Power from both engines will be sent through a new six-speed automatic transmission while the V6 can be paired to a new six-speed manual.
Five trim levels will be available on the Tacoma, all of which can be had in two- or four-wheel drive. From bottom to top they are: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited. All of the trucks receive new suspension tuning and the increased use of high-strength steel in the frame, through the TRD Off-Road get the most enhancements. Those include an automatic limited slip and locking rear differential, hill start assist, crawl control and multi-terrain select system which allows drivers to to choose loose rock mode, sand mode or mud mode.
And to make sure you capture all of the fun, every Tacoma now has a standard GoPro mount located near the rear-view mirror.
Styling on the new midsize truck is mostly borrowed from the Tundra, with available wheel sizes ranging from 16 to 18 inches. Out back, a new locking tailgate has been fitted that features 'Tacoma' stamped directly into its sheet metal, another trick from the Tundra's playbook. A new tri-fold tonneau cover is also now available.
The insides of the truck get an overhaul as well, with the list of new features including wireless device charging, a push-button ignition, leather seat upholstery, a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a new touchscreen audio unit and blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert. Toyota also says the truck is quieter on the inside thanks to the use of enhanced seals, a multi-layer acoustic windshield, sound-absorbing headliner and a floor silencer pad.
Volkswagen Reveals Cross Coupe GTE Concept
Volkswagen is getting ready to go on the offensive in the SUV market and the brand has just revealed the Cross Coupe GTE Concept on the eve of the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.
This concept foreshadows the new seven-seat SUV that will begin production near the end of 2016 and is the third crossover concept to come from the brand. Based on Volkswagen's MQB modular architecture, the Cross Coupe GTE is yet another example of the type of vehicle that can be fitted to the versatile platform.
Power comes from a 276-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine mated to plug-in hybrid setup that uses two electric motors for a total output of 355 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to E-Mode, the GTE can travel 20 miles on electric power alone while the 0 to 60 mph time sits at 6 seconds flat. Four other drive modes are available: GTE, Hybrid, Off-road and Battery Hold/Battery Charge. Thanks to a clutch, the GTE can disengage its gasoline engine from the powertrain to reduce drag on the system when operating in E-mode.
Although the powertrain options that will come to production are unknown, VW says that thanks to the MQB platform, it can fit gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrid, natural gas, all electric or fuel cell powertrain to its upcoming crossovers and SUVs.
Inside, an all-new 10.1-inch info screen is fitted in the center console that featured VW's gesture control setup which allows the features of the system to be manipulated using mid-air hand motions. There is also a new 12.3-inch instrumentation screen that delivers vital stats to the driver.
Ford Premieres 2017 F-150 Raptor at Detroit Auto Show
The Ford Raptor is back.
Ford just revealed the new Raptor, packing a revised version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine mated to an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission. The company didn't announce specific output, but it said the engine will pack more than the 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque that was available in the previous truck. Thanks to the new aluminum alloy body, the truck has lost about 500 lbs compared to the current Raptor.
Designed for tackling the elements, the Raptor has a new terrain select system that has specially designed drive modes for different types of ground ranging such as mud, snow and sand. Like before, a set of Fox shocks will grant the Raptor more than 11.2-inches of travel at the front and 12-inches at the rear. Getting the power to ground will be 17-inch wheels with new BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires.
Also new with the Raptor is a torque-on-demand transfer case which manages power distribution between the front and rear wheels. A torsen front differential has also been fitted to the new truck.
The 2017 Raptor will hit the market in late 2016 and will be built at the Dearborn Truck Plant.
Mazda Posts Best Sales Year Since 1994
In 2014, Mazda North America topped 300,000 vehicle sales for the first time since 1994.
The brand moved a combined total (fleet and retail) of 305,801 vehicles in 2014, an increase of 7.7 percent over 2013. Sales of the new Mazda3, 6 and CX-5 all contributed heavily to the overall number.
Mazda says that vehicles fit with its SkyActiv suite of fuel saving technologies accounted for 84 percent of its total 2014 sales. The brand's best-selling model was the Mazda3, which sold 104,985 units, followed closely by the CX-5 at 99,122 units.
New Vehicles Sales Expected to Hit 17 Million in 2015
Several experts in the industry including TrueCar and AutoNation predict that auto sales will top the 17-million mark next year with the possibility of even passing the record of 17.4 million set in 2000. Numerous automakers this year have set new record highs with a month to go on the calendar and with the economy continuing to improve as well as gas prices dropping, next year could be generous to all automakers.
Sales are predicted to reach over 55.7-million units worldwide in 2015 with the luxury, pickup and utility segments seeing even bigger gains than it did in 2014. Worldwide sales are estimated to reach 54 million this year. Experts are also predicting that the luxury segment will see a 9.8-percent increase next year rising to about $116.7 billion compared to $106.3 billion in 2014. Utility vehicles will likely see a 5-percent growth to $192.1 billion while pickups will see a 4.5-percent increase to about $95.7 billion.
Ford Focus RS Officially Confirmed for US
Ford's RS forthcoming hot hatch will finally be sold in North America.
"We're announcing a new Focus RS will be coming to the market and it will be coming globally," Ford CEO Mark Fields said in Dearborn during a press conference today.
Previous rumors suggest the Focus RS, which will sit above the ST in the product line, will arrive for the 2016 model year with Ford's turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. Details on the new Focus are still light, but the same engine makes 310 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque in the 2015 Mustang. Rumors suggest Ford will actually tweak the engine for slightly more power in this application because the lighter car will allow a more aggressive state of tune without throwing fuel economy entirely out the window. Apart from being significantly more powerful than the ST, the Focus RS will also come with all-wheel drive to be a direct competitor with the upcoming Volkswagen Golf R.
Fields confirmed today that the Focus RS will be sold globally under the company's "One Ford" product strategy. The previous generation RS model was based on the European Focus that skipped this market. The U.S. Focus is built at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant, but the RS model will likely be built in Europe and exported to the U.S. and other markets, which could mean a limited supply.
Next Generation Lexus LS to be a Fuel Cell Vehicle?
Although it's still a couple years off, some details are beginning to emerge regarding the next generation Lexus LS. The current flagship of Toyota's luxury division isn't exactly exciting, but it does have a certain appeal for those looking for a big, premium, reliable daily driver. Its German-built competitors, such as the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class have typically been more cutting-edge technology wise, but that may soon change. According to Lexus Enthusiast, who picked up the information from a Japanese source, the next Lexus LS will be a Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) powered partly by hydrogen. Basically, the recently introduced Toyota Mirai FCV is just the start of a new era of powertrain technology for the Japanese automaker. The next LS would be the ideal technological follow-up to the unexciting Mirai. It's definitely intriguing and Toyota, unlike its German rivals, has invested heavily in hydrogen fuel cell technology. What better way to show this off than on a flagship luxury sedan.
2016 Toyota Tacoma Set for Detroit Debut
The latest version of Toyota's small pickup truck is headed for a debut at the upcoming 2015 Detroit Auto Show.
Toyota believes that the small pickup truck market is due for a come back. "With the new entries coming in, the market should expand," Bill Fay, general manager of the Toyota division said. Those new entries are the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, both of which hit the market this year, representing the first new vehicles to hit the segment in quite some time.
Toyota is so confident in the new Tacoma that is calling for an increase in production at its Baja, California assembly plant. The Tacoma still dominates the segment in sales, although overall sales of small pickups have dropped by 2.7 percent this year while full-size truck are up 6.6 percent.
At the moment, nothing is known about the new Tacoma, although its probably safe to assume that the company has redesigned the entire truck including its powertrains.
VW Crossover Concept to Debut in Detroit
Volkswagen plans to give the 2015 Detroit Auto Show a preview of its upcoming three-row crossover.
The German automaker will unveil a five-seat version of its upcoming seven-seater crossover that it will build starting in 2016 at its Chattanooga, Tenn. plant. Automotive News reports that the concept vehicle will head to production in a couple of years as Volkswagen looks to capture some of the growing crossover segment in the U.S. The new model is said to complement the existing Tiguan concept and Touareg midsize crossover, with the Tiguan getting a major overhaul next year with new variants such as a coupe-style version and a long-wheelbase model.
VW believes having more crossover and SUV models are essential to helping build sales in the U.S. and even sounds like it's considering a pickup truck to help boost vehicle sales. Through the first 11 months of the year, VW sales are down 11 percent compared to 2013 with the company selling 332,911 vehicles in the U.S.
Ford F-150 Hybrid, Diesel Under Consideration
The Ford F-150 family might gain some new powertrain variants in the near future.
Despite fuel costs dropping nationwide, the American automaker is currently developing a hybrid powertrain for its popular F-150 pickup truck and even a diesel powerplant isn't entirely out of the question. The hybrid version of the F-150 is priority at the moment, but Ford admits that if the demand is there, it won't hesitate to add a diesel to the lineup.
Unfortunately according to Ford global product development chief Raj Nair, the hybrid system is still in its early stages of development so there's little details to share at the moment.
It's worth noting that even though gas prices are falling, automakers will still have to meet stricter emissions requirements in the coming years, which makes development of hybrid powertrains for pickups all the more important.
2016 Honda HR-V Debuts at LA Auto Show
Honda is the latest automaker to jump into the subcompact crossover segment with its new HR-V, unveiled at the 2014 LA Auto Show.
Based on the small Honda Fit, the HR-V will be powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 138 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque, mated to a CVT. There will also be a six-speed manual gearbox, but it's only available on the front-wheel drive models.
The HR-V will offer the same 'Magic Seat' arrangement as found in the Fit which allows the bottoms of the rear seats to be folded up along with 58.8 cubic feet of cargo volume with the second-row seats down.
Lexus Files Trademarks for LC 500, LC 500h
Two new trademarked names from Lexus have given us a pretty clear hint as to the name of the brand's upcoming range-topping sports coupe.
The production version of the LF-LC was rumored to resurrect the SC badge when it is finally released, but now it looks like the car will retains its LC moniker. Lexus wants the new LC to act as a halo car for the brand, taking on the role that the LFA left behind when production was discontinued.
These new names also give us a clear hint at what kind of engines the car will use. The LC 500 will likely use the same 5.0-liter V8 found in the new Lexus RC F, which puts out 467 hp. This is pretty obvious, as the number in the badge denotes engine size, so the 500 represents a 5.0-liter engine.
The LC 500h will definitely be a hybrid, but the engine found under the hood isn't immediately clear. In other Lexus hybrids, like the GS 450h, the hybrid system adds one liter to the number in the badge, so the GS 450h uses a 3.5-liter engine. If that convention stays, that would mean that the car uses a 4.0-liter engine, which would likely be all new. The 5.0-liter V8 hybrid setup found in the LS 600h is another option that could work for this car.
Production of the new car is expected to begin in 2016.
2016 Mazda CX-3 Makes Debut at LA Auto Show
Mazda is jumping into the subcompact crossover market with the new 2016 CX-3, revealed at the 2014 LA Auto Show.
The CX-3 is based on the same platform as the small Mazda2 subcompact, though it is equipped with the 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine found in the larger Mazda3. Power numbers haven't been released yet, but in the 3 this motor makes 155 hp.
All-wheel drive will also be an option on the new CX-3, which is the fifth model in the Japanese automaker's lineup to benefit from its Skyactiv suite of fuel-saving features.
Four Honda Vehicles Named Kelley Blue Book's 'Best Buys of 2015'
Honda dominated Kelley Blue Book's Best Buys of 2015 Awards! Of the 12 vehicles chosen, 4 of them were Hondas including the Honda Accord, Honda CR-V, Honda Civic and Honda Odyssey.
Small Car: 2015 Honda Civic
Famous reliability has been the Civic's calling card for decades, but the secrets to its success are many. And even if they're not exactly secrets, no other automaker has been able to duplicate the Civic's well-rounded recipe.
Mid-Size Car: 2015 Honda Accord
The Accord's bulletproof reputation was a key factor in its big win over some stiff competition. The Accord also stood out as supremely satisfying to drive, confidently stylish and refined to the core.
Small SUV/Crossover: 2015 Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V's effortless driving manners, roomy interior, stellar efficiency and reputation for reliability have made it a best-seller in a segment that is far more crowded today than when the original version debuted nearly two decades ago. Further enhanced for 2015, the CR-V remains the benchmark for small SUVs.
Minivan: 2015 Honda Odyssey
Even with the competition heating up, the 2015 Honda Odyssey prevails thanks to its excellent family friendliness and amazing flexibility. Ranging from comfortable to luxurious, there's a Honda Odyssey for every budget and family.
Acura ILX Debuts at LA Auto Show
Acura is looking to spice up its entry level luxury offering by launching the 2016 ILX with more features, high tech options and sensible packaging in terms of engines and transmissions.
With the debut of the new ILX, Acura announced that the car will come standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 201 HP and 180 lb-ft of torque. That engine is paired to an eight-speed dual clutch transmission. Similar to the Acura TLX the transmission also features a torque converter in order to deliver smoother launches off the line.
That alone is a pretty significant upgrade to the ILX, but Acura is also upping the amount of trim levels to six, compared to the previous three. Standard equipment includes the signature JewelEye LED headlights and interior enhancements like contrasting stitched leather and a high-intensity silver trim for the passenger-side instrument panel.
There's also an A-SPEC package that can be combined with Premium and Technology packages to enhance the value offering of the ILX. A-SPEC trimmed cars feature sportier styling inside and out including side sill garnishes, a trunk spoiler, front fog lights and new 18-inch alloy wheels with gloss black inserts. A-SPEC models also get a sportier looking interior with black headliner, perforated black Lux Suede seat inserts, red instrument illumination, exclusive gray interior stitching and aluminum pedals.
Also available is a premium package that gets power seats, homelink remote and a two-screen infotainment system. There's also an available AcuraLink navigation system that utilizes your smartphone's data connection to provide mapping information. Tech Plus packages add an embedded navigation system, as well as an enhanced sound system. Finally, buyers can choose to get the AcuraWatch safety suite of options, which adds adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, a rear camera, lane departure mitigation and a collision mitigation system.
Finally when it comes to the chassis, Acura has applied additional sound-deadening to keep the cabin quiet. Additionally, the car gets a retuned suspension and steering setup in order to enhance handling feel.
When Acura said the car was getting a significant update, they weren't kidding. The new transmission and engine is good enough to make the Acura ILX worth considering in its segment, but the additional luxury and tech features are just icing on the cake. Look for it to hit dealers early next year.
First 2015 Ford F-150 Rolls Off Production Line
The new aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150 begins rolling out of Ford's Dearborn truck plant today.
Ford is venturing into new territory with the aluminum body that is meant to offer improved fuel economy by dropping as much as 750 lbs from the curb weight compared to the outgoing model. The Dearborn automaker shut its truck plant down for almost two months to install 500 robots necessary for "state-of-the-art joining technology" required to build the trucks out of aluminum rather than steel.
The company said in a press release today that it also added 85o workers to build the trucks spread across its Dearborn Truck, Diversified and Stamping facilities. While the plant was idled, the company also updated its paint shop and added new press lines to accommodate four new types of high-strength aluminum alloys that it says will reduce cab and cargo box weight while improving truck durability.
Scion iM Revealed as a Sporty 5-Door Hatchback
After the success of the FR-S, Scion appears to be keeping its focus on sporty models with the reveal of a new concept car targeted at younger buyers.
Called the iM, the brand's new five-door hatchbach gets dramatic styling mixed with the functionality that a hatch can offer.
Scion says the car's design is inspired by European touring cars with a low-slung body, big air intakes, geometric grille inserts and big 19-inch wheels. Also shown on the car are huge 19-inch wheels with performance tires, vented front brake rotors with 4-piston calipers and a height-adjustable racing suspension.
It's also painted in a custom "Incrediblue" shade.
No details have been released on the powertrain, though this isn't likely to be a hot hatch. Instead look for a more modest engine, like the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder from the Corolla, under the hood.
The iM is technically a concept car, but is expected to see production soon with its underpinnings likely shared with the European market Toyota Auris. Just don't expect to see many of the more extreme elements of the car at that point.
"The tastes of today's younger buyers have evolved. They want a car that provides excitement and individuality, as well as the comfort, technology and reliability that Scion offers," said Scion Vice President Doug Murtha. "The iM Concept combines sleek styling with the versatility of a modern hatchback to catch the eye of Scion customers. Stay tuned for more on how we will bring this vision to the road."
Scion will officially reveal the car at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday, November 19th.
Lexus LF-C2 Concept Set for LA Auto Show Debut
Lexus will drop the top on its latest concept at this year's LA Auto Show.
The Japanese automaker has released a teaser of what appears to be a convertible variant of its new RC coupe though Lexus is simply calling it a new "open-air concept." While most of the details of the LF-C2 concept are still a secret, we do see its silhouette featuring double humps in the rear to give it a sloping, stylish design. It will be interesting to see if Lexus outfits its RC convertible with a fabric soft-top or utilize a metal hard-top like the Lexus IS convertible
2016 Acura ILX Front End Leaks Ahead of LA Auto Show Debut
This photo, shared on Instagram, looks to be another glimpse of the refreshed Acura ILX that will be making its official debut later this month at the 2014 LA Auto Show.
Although the image is fairly dark, it shows us Acura's new front end-design and the addition of jewel-eye headlights on the ILX. One noteworthy change is with the grille, which seems to have a much different design than the old shield that was found on the ILX. The new bumper design looks more aggressive thanks to larger air intakes.
In previous announcements, Acura has promised substantial changes to the ILX, including an updated interior design and mechanical changes as well. The brand is rumored to be adding an all-wheel drive option to the ILX as well.
The 2016 ILX will debut on November 20th, then go on sale next spring.
The First 2015 Lexus RC 350 F-Sports are Delivered to Lexus Dealers
After much anticipation and hype the 2015 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport is finally rolling off the truck and into our Lexus dealers!
2016 Honda HR-V Makes Early Appearance Ahead of its LA Auto Show Debut
Honda has rolled out its new HR-V small crossover in front of the iconic Randy's Donuts in Los Angeles, just two days before it makes its official debut at the LA Auto Show.
Honda released photos of the HR-V previously but this is the first time we've had an opportunity to see the new crossover up close and personal. Set to be positioned below the CR-V in the Japanese automaker's lineup, the 2016 HR-V is based on the same compact platform as the new 2015 Honda Fit and could even be powered by the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine found in the compact hatch.
Honda remains tight-lipped on specifications for the 2016 HR-V, but promises that details will be released at this year's LA Auto Show.
Mazda CX-3 To Debut at LA Auto Show
Mazda might be planning to reveal its new crossover based on the sub-compact Mazda2 during the L.A. Auto Show.
A new report from Australian Motoring.com.au citing an unnamed source suggests that the company is planning to debut the CX-3 in L.A. before a global launch next year. The new crossover is supposedly going to be revealed along with a refreshed version of the CX-5 compact crossover that first went on sale in 2012.
Mazda announced last week that production of the new Mazda2 is underway at its Santa Fe, Mexico assembly plant although it isn't clear if the company has plans to assemble the new small crossover there as well. Once it arrives, the CX-3 will compete with products like the Nissan Juke and soon-to-arrive Honda HR-V, which is based on the Fit.
2015 Auto Sales in the U.S. Expected to Set New Record Highs
It looks like auto sales in the United States are on track for a record-setting year in 2015.
According to a new report from J.D. Power and Associates, the U.S. auto industry is on track to move 13.83 million cars in 2015, just barely besting the 13.8-million unit record which was set in 2004.
The overall improvement in the economy along with consumer demand for newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles outfitted with the latest infotainment technology has been driving demand in the industry according to the report.
Not only are sales up, the amount people are paying for cars is climbing as well, with the average transaction price paid by consumers sitting at $30,026. "Consumers are able to pay more for the cars and trucks they're buying because auto loan interest rates have been so low," said J.D. Power's Deirdre Borrego. "At the same time lenders are writing loans for longer terms, so monthly payments have stayed relatively flat for car buyers."
About one third of all new car loans are for a term of six years or more, while the percentage of borrowers that are falling behind on loans currently sits below average.
Newport Lexus Giving Away $500 Visa Gift Card or $1,000 Shopping Spree to One Lucky Winner
To show their appreciation, Newport Lexus is giving away a $500 Visa Gift Card OR a $1,000 Shopping Spree in their Newport Lexus Boutique. The lucky winner be selected Thanksgiving Day.
To ENTER on your Mobile Device, click here: http://ow.ly/Evgvz
To ENTER on your Computer, click here: http://on.fb.me/11qr7c3
Right Toyota Hosts One Multisport's EveryONE's Bike and Breakfast Ride Event
Hundreds of cyclists converged on Right Toyota recently to take part in One Multisport's EveryONE's Bike and Breakfast Ride Event. The cyclists enjoyed a great ride and had an awesome breakfast with their friends catered by Right Toyota. The event was held in order to raise donations and support for Smile Train, a foundation that allows children born with a Cleft Lip to receive corrective surgery.
Wilson Group Anticipates To Close Year At Over $2 Billion in Sales
Honda CR-V Arrives at Dealers
TORRANCE, California - The refreshed 2015 Honda CR-V compact SUV starts at $24,150, including an $830 destination charge, reflecting a $200 price increase over the 2014 model.
The midlevel 2015 CR-V EX starts at $26,250, including shipping.
Honda's new top-of-the-line CR-V Touring with front-wheel drive starts at $32,350, including shipping. The 2015 Honda CR-V Touring with all-wheel drive starts at $33,600.
This is the "most significant mid-model cycle refresh" in the CR-V's history, according to Honda. It is designed to position the best-selling CR-V against increasing competition from such vehicles as the Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Jeep Cherokee, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4.
Compact SUVs are the hottest segment in the auto market, according to a new Key Insights report from Edmunds.
The stalwart CR-V built a reputation on value-oriented packaging and cabin usability, as opposed to a flashy exterior design. But Honda deviates from that time-tested formula for the 2015 model year with a CR-V makeover that includes a radical new exterior.
Details include a new front end with narrow headlights and a sportier look.
Other major changes include a new Touring model with new driver-assist technologies. A Collision Mitigation Braking System and Lane Keeping Assist System and the first CR-V use of adaptive cruise control are part of the package. The Touring model also features a power tailgate.
The cabin upgrades across the board include a new configurable center console and rear ventilation ducts.
Beneath the hood, the CR-V has a new 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder direct-injected engine and continuously variable transmission. Torque gets an 11-percent increase to 181 pound-feet.
Fuel economy has improved 4 percent. The 2015 CR-V with front-wheel drive delivers 27 mpg in city driving and 34 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive CR-V delivers 26 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg in city driving, according to Honda.
Toyota Sold More Than 400k Camrys Last Year
The Toyota Camry is this century's brightest car star. More than 400,000 were sold in the U.S. last year, a volume topped only by Ford and Chevrolet pickups. This begs the question: Why would Toyota call for a Camry pit stop only halfway to the seventh-generation car's checkered flag?
The pat answer is because it can. With an R&D budget claimed to be $1 million per hour, the world's largest car company can afford to shower its mid-size family sedan with financial love, following CEO Akio Toyoda's guileless directive to "build better cars." There are six other reasons. Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, and Volkswagen all offer excellent mid-size alternatives to the compulsively introverted Camry. In August, Honda loaded its shotgun with excess inventory and generous incentives to blast out 51,075 Accords, beating Camry sales by 7032 units.
Toyota Wants to Buff . . . It Up
So only three years after the last full redesign, Toyota has substantially fluffed and buffed the Camry to renew the interest of faithful customers and to (hopefully) draw fresh recruits. The 2015 edition we drove on the Big Island of Hawaii lives halfway between a normal midcycle facelift and a clean-sheet overhaul. Every exterior panel is new except the roof. Adding 22 spot welds in the cowl and around the door apertures improves the stiffness of the unibody. The previous base L model is dead, and there are more versions with an "S" in their name to celebrate Toyota's discovery that even Camry buyers may be entertained by more assertive driving dynamics. Cost-conscious interiors have been upgraded with more soft surfaces, nicer detailing, and contemporary electronic gear. Chassis systems - steering, brakes, suspension - receive minor changes aimed at better ride and feel. The one area receiving no attention is powertrains: The Camry's 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 3.5-liter V-6, and hybrid propulsion system - all of which are dependable and proven, if not exciting - carry on without alteration.
California Accounts For 40 Percent of US Plug-In Sales
Thanks to stricter emissions laws than the rest of the country, California alone accounts for nearly half of plug-in vehicle sales in the US.
46rom December of 2010 to last month, 102,440 plug-in hybrid vehicles have been sold in California, while over the same time frame 250,000 plug-ins were sold throughout the country. That makes up roughly 40 percent of the domestic market when it comes to selling plug-in vehicles, which includes battery-only cars like the Tesla Model S or range-extended cars like the Chevy Volt.
California has set a goal of having 1.5 million plug-in cars on the road by 2025, and passing the 100,000 vehicle mark was big milestone according to Gov. Jerry Brown, but the State still has a long way to go.
The Obama administration also has goals set, hoping for 1 million plug-in cars on the road by 2015. That goal seems much less attainable, as by the end of this year there is only likely to be 300,000 of these vehicles on the road.
Lexus GS F Spied Training to Take on BMW M5
Now that the Lexus RC F is heading to dealerships, the Japanese automaker is working on a high-performance version of its GS luxury sedan.
The stylish RC F coupe was built to compete against the BMW M4 and the next addition to the Japanese automaker's F lineup will be the GS F sedan, which will target the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63. The GS F takes styling cues from the RC F with a more pronounced front end, sportier wheels and larger brakes.
In the rear, expect a quad-tip exhaust setup and a subtle lip spoiler on the trunk while power will likely come from the same powerplantas the RC F, a 5.0-liter V8 with around 500 to 550 hp.
Toyota of Orange Sponsors Chapman University 5K Run/Walk
Toyota of Orange proudly sponsors the Chapman University 5K Run/Walk. The course takes you through the Old Towne Orange Historic District, including neighborhoods listed on the National Register of Historic Places, finishing on Chapman University's picturesque campus. The Flattest, Fastest and "Funnest" 5K in the World!
2015 Volkswagen Jetta Earns Top Safety Pick + Award
Thanks to structural changes made on the 2015 model, the Volkswagen Jetta has earned a Top Safety Pick + rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Volkswagen strengthened the Jetta's A-pillars and door sills, which bumped up its score on the small overlap test. For 2015, the Jetta ranked "Good," up from last year's score of "Marginal." In the tests, the IIHS noted that the side airbag deployed and protected the dummy's head from the vehicle and the outside elements, although the head managed to slide off the airbag and move forward. The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta also scored top marks in other areas, including moderate overlap front crashes, side crashes, roof strength tests, and head restraints and seats. The Jetta's optional forward collision warning system allowed the car to earn the "+" designation after the Top Safety Pick label.
To qualify for the IIHS' highest distinction, vehicles must offer some kind of front crash protection and must earn "Good" ratings in all tests except the small overlap test, which they must score at least "Acceptable." The 2015 Volkswagen Golf and GTI models have also earned TSP+ ratings from the IIHS. Some of the Jetta's competitors have also scored the honor, including the 2014 Honda Civic and 2014 Mazda3.
2015 Ford Mustang Production Begins
Production has officially commenced on the sixth-generation 2015 Mustang at the company's Flat Rock, MI factory. As production ramps up, sales should kick off in the coming months.
The production news isn't just a big deal for American fans. With the new Mustang getting a bespoke right-hand-drive variant, the pony car's worldwide availability has swollen to include 120 different countries, including its home nation.
"Mustang is and will continue to be an automotive icon," Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas, said in a statement. "Expanding its availability globally affords our customers around the world the opportunity to have a true firsthand Mustang experience - one unlike any other."
Ford's Flat Rock facility has built the Mustang since the fifth-generation car debuted in 2005. For the 2015 model, the facility was subject to a massive $555-million investment that saw it add a new flexible body shop among other enhancements. Alongside the Mustang, Ford also builds its Fusion sedan.
"What an honor it is for the hardworking and dedicated UAW Local 3000 workers of Flat Rock Assembly Plant to build the next-generation Mustang," Jimmy Settles, a UAW vice president, said. "I don't think there is any place in the world where this vehicle is not known. To build it right here in Michigan is something to be proud of."
Toyota Debuts Its C-HR Concept Hybrid Crossover
Last month, Toyota provided us with some teaser renderings of its C-HR hybrid crossover concept. At the time, although we got a quick look at its outward appearance, it was a little difficult to really get a sense of the thing. Well, now we've had a chance to see it for ourselves at its Paris Motor Show world debut, and can tell you a bit more about it.
The C-HR combines aspects of three of Toyota's other vehicles. According to the company, "The C-HR Concept recaptures the design and packaging ingenuity that spawned the first RAV4, introduces a new version of the sophisticated, full hybrid powertrain technology first realized in the Prius and, inspired by the GT86, targets new levels of dynamism and agility."
For those people who might not immediately recognize the GT86 name, it's essentially the same 2+2 sports car as the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S.
Although inspired by those other vehicles, the C-HR is built around an entirely new platform, designed for what is described as state-of-the-art handling and controllability. It measures 4,350 mm long, 1,850 mm wide, 1,500 mm high, and has a wheelbase of 2,640 mm.
Its new hybrid powertrain is likewise optimized to deliver "a uniquely engaging driving experience matched to 21st century traffic conditions, whilst delivering outstanding efficiency" - although no actual specs have been provided.
The vehicle's lower bodywork is intended to represent the facetted surfaces of a precision-cut gemstone. This includes the shaving off of the corners of the bodyshell, which not only adds to its sculpted look, but also reduces its mass.
Overall, its look is said to be "a further development of Toyota'= s Under Priority and Keen Look design identity." Although there's no word on commercial production of the C-HR, the automaker has at least stated that its styling themes hint at a future design direction for Toyota vehicles.
Villa Ford Teams With LifeStream To Host Blood Drive
General Manager Scott Wade of Villa Ford in Orange, CA was asked why the dealership is partnering with LifeStream to support their blood bank donation program. He pulled out the letter from LifeStream confirming their scheduled date and read the first lines, "Thank you for your continued commitment to savings lives; as a result of our efforts, many patients will see another tomorrow." Wade went on to make a compelling point about the need, "LifeStream must receive at least 500 donations daily in order to support 175,000 transfusions annually - that is a community obligation we are proud to support."
A member of the Wilson Automotive Group, Villa Ford is hosting the Blood Drive on Monday, October 20th, from 11:00am until 4:00pm. LifeStream is an independent, non-profit local blood bank providing blood products and services to more than 50 medical facilities in Southern California. To participate, donors must be over 15 years of age and meet certain criteria set by LifeStream. "The need is pressing," Wade added, "this effort will ultimately meet the need for surgery and trauma patients as well as transplant recipients, burn victims, cancer patients and premature infants."
Another benefit for the local community as well as world-wide is that blood donors will be given the chance to join the Be The Match Registry®. This organization, the largest and most diverse registry in the world, provides a unique opportunity to give life-saving marrow transplants to people in need, including thousands of patients with leukemia.
For more information on the scope of LifeStream and their service to the community, log on to www.LifeStream.org. The October 20th blood drive is at Villa Ford located on 2550 N Tustin Street in Orange County and directions can be found at VillaFord.com.
Lexus NX Nominated For 2015 North American Truck/Utility of the Year.
The Lexus NX has made the short list for the 2015 North American Truck/Utility of the Year, joining 11 other vehicles including the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford F-150, Porsche Macan, and Toyota Highlander.
Next up, the award judges will choose three finalists from the group before naming a winner at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
2015 Honda HR-V To Be Released This Winter
Hello HR-V. Honda Motor Co. confirmed the name of and released the first official images of the newest addition to its vehicle lineup. Its compact sport-utility vehicle will indeed be called the HR-V, which had been rumored, and it will be on sale this winter at a to-be announced price.20=
2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Is Unveiled
The wait is finally over for sports car enthusiasts because the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata just made its debut in Monterey, Calif.
The highly anticipated, next-generation sports car was unveiled at a live event tonight while simultaneous global reveals were also done in Tokyo and Barcelona. Earlier this year, the popular convertible celebrated its 25th anniversary and now the Japanese automaker looks to the future with its new MX-5 Miata, as it continues to strive on as the best-selling two-seat roadster of all time.
During its unveiling, the Japanese automaker described the new MX-5 Miata as a labor of love with its engineers striving to combine the classic roadster with a totally modern design and state-of-the-art technology. Wider and lower than today's Miata, the new sleek body and design is the Miata's biggest jump in terms of styling from generation to generation. Inside, the company wanted to give the Miata a much higher quality feel to the interior while remaining driver focused.
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata adopts both the company's Skyactiv Technology and Kodo design language and will be rolled out to global markets starting in 2015. Overall, the new Miata is the most compact of any generation MX-5 and is over 220 lbs lighter than the current model.
Unfortunately, the Japanese automaker didn't reveal the juiciest of detailsE2=80=93 that is, what's hiding under the hood and the power it makes. For now, you will have to be satisfied with its striking exterior while we all wait for more detailed information.
Right Toyota Sponsors Relay For Life of North Scottsdale's First Annual Casino Night
Right Toyota recently sponsored a Casino Night at Maggiano's of Scottsdale to help raise money for cancer research, programs and services for patients, survivors, and caregivers through North Scottsdale Relay for Life and American Cancer Society Relay For Life. Their efforts helped raise three times more money than the goal they had set.
2016 Honda Civic Type R to Outperform Even the NSX
The 2016 Honda Civic Type R will usher in a new performance era for the brand.
The Japanese automaker has announced that it'll be bringing a new Honda Civic Type R Concept II to this year's Paris Motor Show wearing a bright blue finish while detailing what will be under the hood.
The 2016 Civic Type R will be powered by a 2.0-liter i-VTEC engine from the company's Earth Dreams Technology family and will produce over 275 hp (280 PS) thanks to a turbocharger helping boost low-end power delivery. But more importantly, Honda is calling the Civic Type-R and its powerplant "unrivalled against" all previous Type R models including the Civic, Integra, Accord and NSX.
According to the car's chief engineer Suehiro Hasshi, the model's appeal will be far greater than just a new high-performance engine lurking under the hood. The 2016 Civic Type R boasts numerous engineering innovations and enhancements that will make it a "true driver's car, worthy of wearing the famous red 'H' badge."
The company also revealed that the Civic Type R will feature a +R button, similar to the BMW's M button. Once activated, the +R mode will heighten engine response while torque-mapping will be changed to a more aggressive and performance-focused setting. In addition, steering will become more responsive and along with the Adaptive Damping System, the Civic Type R transforms to offer the ultimate handling experience.
"In default standard mode, the Civic Type R is exceptionally agile, an everyday sports car with an enjoyable and fluid acceleration," said Hasshi. "The '+R' button brings out a more dynamic and athletic car for the driver, to set pulses racing. The difference in character is immense. The '+R' mode is extreme; the car is ideal for track use and will be appreciated by the genuine sports-driving enthusiast."
The all-new Civic Type R has been developed and engineered for European driving tastes and will go on sale in Europe. No word yet if it'll be heading to the U.S.
Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 Hits Dealers
If you're familiar with Scion, you likely know all about the Release Series special editions, and back in April, the automaker showed us the first RS example of its FR-S coupe. At that time, we knew the price would come in somewhere "under $30,000," and while that's technically true, the final number is a whopping ten bucks below that $30k mark. Yep, the yellowest Scion can be yours for $29,990, not including $770 for destination.
Only 1,500 of the FR-S RS 1.0 coupes will be made, all fitted with TRD lowering springs, a quad exhaust system, TRD steering wheel, HID headlamps with LED running lights, a TRD shift knob, pushbutton start, black seats and, of course, that aero kit. The $29,990 price applies to cars that use the six-speed manual transmission. If you want the automatic, be prepared to shell out $31,090.
Mazdaspeed3 Release Date Pushed Up a Year
Ever since the hairy-chested Mazdaspeed 3 left the automaker's lineup after the 2013 model year, we've been pining for its return. Adding to our anticipation is the great platform that underpins the all-around-excellent Mazda 3, a car that landed on our most recent 10Best list and handily swept the fine Ford Focus under the rug in a recent comparo.
On a product tear that began with the CX-5 crossover , Mazda has since dished the wholly redone 3 and 6, we're about to experience the great-looking new B-segment Mazda 2, and, of course, the much-anticipated fourth-generation Miata is nigh.
With so much in the pipe, has Mazda forgotten to warm up the 3 for its high-performance partisans? Not exactly. In our "25 Cars Worth Waiting For" issue, we predicted that the next Mazdaspeed 3 wouldn't see the light of day until the 2018 model year. A new, comprehensive report from Automotive News suggests that the timeline has been pushed up a year.
AN reports that the 3 is due for a late-cycle re-engineering in mid-2016, at which time we'll likely see the return of the Mazdaspeed 3 as a 2017 model. Just a year later, a new 3 is due, which means that this iteration of the Speed 3 could be short-lived, not unlike the second-generation Mazdaspeed Miata, which ran for only two years.
Officially, Mazda will comment on none of this, but the new car will almost certainly be turbocharged, offering output somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 horsepower. All-wheel drive is a possibility. The starting price should be somewhere around $30,000, suggesting Volkswagen Golf R levels of performance for loaded - GTI money. You know how when you really have to make use of the restroom and with every step toward the facilities, the urge to relieve yourself intensifies? Yeah, it's like that. Finding out that the new 3 is even closer just makes our anticipatory pangs that much worse.
Ford to Release the 2015 Mustang with the All-New EcoBoost Engine
The 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost is the answer to a question that was asked during the last oil crisis. Which, if you were born later than 1979, was blessedly over by the time you arrived. In the aftermath, Ford took a whack at the challenge of creating a sporty fuel-sipper with the turbocharged four-cylinder Mustang SVO, which was available from 1984 through 1986. The market yawned. Fuel prices crashed, and anyway, we don't buy pony cars for their efficiency. A four-cylinder, no matter what its output on paper, is nothing short of the downright emasculation of the American dream.
And yet there's not much to complain about this EcoBoost Mustang other than it's more expensive than the base V-6 while offering very similar performance. Also, it drones like, well, like a four-cylinder. Ford has tried to punch up the exhaust note via the stereo system, but it's no use. This turbo four speaks with no more verve than any Audi turbo four. And that's a high compliment, because the engine, as well as the car it's installed in, is quite refined.
Just a few minutes behind the new Mustang's wheel convince you that Ford was aiming high with this car. The cabin isolation, the structural stiffness, the body control, and the finish quality are huge improvements over the last model. Is it all down to the independent rear suspension? Sure, some of it is. Over cracked pavement the car doesn=E2=80= =99t shudder or clomp as hard as it did before. And a midcorner pavement heave isn't going to have you fighting the steering wheel as you once did, because such things are now digested without complaint by the unsprung bits.
Ah, but what about the four's acceleration? On the track, it
lays down numbers almost identical to the last V-6 model
, which was more than 100 pounds lighter than our
Premium-trim automatic-transmission 2015 Mustang EcoBoost. The 60-mph
mark comes in 5.2 seconds, the quarter-mile covered in 13.9 seconds at
98 mph. This is about what pre-Coyote-engine Mustang GTs
As with any turbo, there's some hesitation as the turbo boils up. But this a high-tech aluminum engine , fitted with direct injection and cam phasing (it even takes regular gas!), and it doesn't make you wait long. Nor are its power lumps especially pronounced. The torque flows in a pretty even rush to the transmission, and in most situations you have to be looking for the turbo lag to really notice it. As we said, refined!
Ford tuned the six-speed automatic to be a willing partner, meaning it downshifts quickly and gets the 2.3-liter spinning when you want a rapid departure. No, it's not as neck-bending as the V-8, nor is it quite as instantaneous as the V-6, but when the power comes, it comes big enough to break the rear loose.
The EcoBoost drives similarly to the new GT , in that the basic suspension tune is forgiving and bumpy roads produce not a slamming but only a light rocking in the body. Around corners, this highly optioned car's hefty mass - it weighed 3663 pounds - pulls the body into a noticeable lean, but the car doesn't wallow or flop. It lets the weight set and then cuts a clean path through the corner.
Everything about this Mustang is upgraded, from the dashboard trimmings, which now include the optional full-zoot MyFord Touch system, to the way its stretched sheetmetal and slip of a roofline look modern going down the road. Ford's job was to update its icon, and we'd say the mission was accomplished with aplomb.
2015 Toyota Tundra Goes V8 Only
To stay relevant in a quickly changing segment, Toyota is updating its half-ton pickup truck for 2015.
Buyers will no longer be able to buy a V6 engine in the Tundra, making it a V8-only truck. That means the standard engine becomes a 4.6-liter V8 that pumps out 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque, while the top-dog 5.7-liter V8 with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque remains as the most powerful option.
Playing catch up to every other half-ton, Toyota will now offer an integrated trailer brake controller on trucks equipped with the 5.7-liter V8 and optional tow package. Up until now, Tundra owners had to install an aftermarket unit if they wanted a controller for the trailer brakes, though that remains the norm on any Tundra with the 4.6-liter V8.
To round out the upgrades, buyers can now get a spray-in bedliner straight from the factory and a new under seat storage tray on certain double cab models.
Also new for 2015 is the Tundra TRD Pro, an purpose built off-road truck that is meant for desert running. The TRD Pro gets upgraded suspension and style to set it apart from the lineup.
2015 Ford F-150 Payload, Tow Ratings Announced
Ford announced official towing and payload ratings for the 2015 F-150 pickup truck today, boasting best-in-class status on both counts.
The company said its new half-ton can carry up to 3,300 lbs and is able to tow a maximum 12,200 lbs thanks in large part to weight savings tied directly to weight savings realized through aluminum body panels. In all configurations, the company said its new truck is 700 lbs lighter than the model it replaces, which will also help it to be at least five percent more fuel efficient than the old model and up to 20 percent more efficient.
Models equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6E2=80=93 by far the engine with the greatest market penetrationE2=80=93 comes with a maximum payload rating of 3,180 lbs and is rated to tow the maximum 12,200 lbs that Ford announced today. V8-equipped models can handle the 3,300 max payload rating Ford announced today and come with a lower max tow rating of 11,100 lbs, which is still an improvement of 1,100 lbs over the previous model.
Ford said the trucks will begin arriving at dealers later in the year following a preview event being held with the media this week.
When it arrives in showrooms, Ford will not only be pitching the new pickup as a more efficient and capable competitor in the half-ton class, but as a truck with particularly sophisticated available technology. An optional 360-degree camera will make it easier for drivers to fit the truck into tight spaces in much the same way that Nissan offers its "AroundView" monitoring system on its cars and SUVs. The camera equipment is also designed to make navigating tight sections in off-road courses easier and to simplify connecting the hitch to a trailer.
Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle to be Named 'Mirai'
Toyota has a name for its new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
Citing an unnamed source, a Bloomberg report reports that the new car will be called the Mirai, although the company hasn't made an official announcement confirming that yet. Despite that, Toyota trademarked the name in the U.S. and is expected to make an official announcement about the nameplate closer to when the car goes on sale.
So far, Toyota is only referring to the vehicle as the FCV (concept car picture above) and is expected to begin selling it in fall, 2015 to customers in California. The Mirai will cost roughly $69,000 when it goes on sale and Toyota hopes that the car will woo people who might otherwise consider an electric car. The primary advantage hydrogen-powered vehicles have over EVs is that they are able to refuel in about the same time as a conventional gasoline-burning vehicle.
Trouble is, it's tricky to find a station that sells hydrogen fuel. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are currently only 12 station in the U.S., of which 10 are in California. Toyota and Honda are gearing up to launch new hydrogen-powered vehicles in California and Hyundai began delivering its hydrogen-powered Tucson last month.
More stations are on the way in California and in 2013 Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law that provides $20 million per year toward a targeted 100 hydrogen stations in the state by 2024.
Record Number of Reveals Expected at L.A. Auto Show
Like it or now summer is rapidly winding down. Before long students will be heading back to school and auto-show season will begin once again. Getting ready for the fall, a record number of global vehicles are expected to debut at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show.
Press days for the event run from November 18 to the 20, which is just a couple months away. Twenty-five global premieres are expected from 13 different car companies including Acura, Chrysler, General Motors, Scion and Volvo to name just a handful. Beyond these verified reveals several other manufacturers have yet to confirm their plans.
The models on display promise to span the length and breadth of this industry, from flagship SUVs and high-end sedans to fuel-sipping models and zero-emissions vehicles.
Beyond the auto show proper there's also the Connected Car Expo, which runs in conjunction with press days. This event focuses on the latest trends in mobility and connectivity. Companies including Garmin, Continental and Verizon will participate.
Ford Announces Lifetime Brake Pad Guarantee
Ford has launched a Lifetime Brake Pad Guarantee program.
The American automaker has announced a new point-of-sale program that will be available at Ford andLincoln dealerships as well as Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers that provides Ford owners with no-cost replacement Motorcraft brake pads purchased as of July 1, 2014. According to a release from Ford, Motorcraft brake pads that wear down to less than three millimeters will be replaced for free as long as the customer owns the vehicle.
"This program reflects our commitment to providing customers with an excellent ownership experience regardless of the age of their vehicle," said Ford customer service boss Frederiek Toney. "Plus, when you purchase Motorcraft parts at a Ford or Lincoln dealer, or a Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center, you know you're getting the right parts installed by the right people. Motorcraft parts are the officially recommended parts for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, and these technicians are factory-trained and certified to service our products."
Customers will still have to pay for labor and installation costs for replacing the pads, as well as the cost of other parts needed to return the brake system to originaloperating condition, but the pads themselves will be free. The program applies to Motorcraft brakes replaced on any Ford, Lincoln or Mercurypassenger vehicle and certain commercial vehicles.
Toyota TRD Pro Pricing Announced
The pricing of the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and 4Runner TRD Pro were announced today, with the Tacoma emerging as the most affordable off-road ready Toyota pickup truck you can get.
The starting price of $36,410 (including destination) is for a Access Cab Tacoma with a V6 and six-speed manual transmission. Double Cab models cost $37,320 including destination, while adding a five-speed automatic will cost you $980.
The Tacoma TRD Pro comes with 16-inch black beadlock-style TRD alloy wheels with BFGoodrich LT265/70R16 A/T tires. The Taco also comes with TRD-tuned springs that feature a 1.75-inch lift for the front, and a decreased spring rate. Helping to improve the performance credentials of the Tacoma, it also comes with a TRD Exhaust.
The 4Runner TRD Pro comes in at $41,995 including destination and sports 17-inch matte black TRD alloy wheels with Nitto Terra Grappler P265/70R17 A/T tires.The suspension is also revised with TRD-tuned front springs, which increases the front height by 1-inch. The 4Runner also features quarter-inch thick aluminum front skid plate with "TRD" stamped in large font.
Expect the Tacoma TRD Pro to go on sale in early August, while the 4Runner hits dealerships in September. No pricing has been announced yet for the Tundra, which is expected to go on sale in the fall.
Lexus RC F Spotted in the Wild Once More
The Lexus RC F originally made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year as the brand's latest sports coupe. Powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that will sport over 450 hp according to the Japanese automaker, the RC F is poised to compete with other luxury sports cars such as the BMW M4.
Recently, the company held a contest and asked its fans to help name the new orange paint shade that was added to the RC F's palette, with Solar Flare winning the vote.
Along with at least 450 hp, the RC F is expected to have at least 383 lb-ft of torque and the powerplant will be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The newest Lexus model is expected to arrive dealerships later this year and expect pricing to be announced closer to its launch.
2015 Ford Mustang specs revealed, GT to pack 435 HP
The 2015 Ford Mustang sounds great so far - at least on paper. Ford has just announced specs for the latest version of the iconic pony car in Dearborn, telling Autoblog that it will pump out as much as 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque from its 5.0-liter V8.
Those gaudy figures power the naturally aspirated GT model, and they easily eclipse the "more than" 420 hp and 390 lb-ft that Ford originally estimated.
The 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder makes 310 hp and 320 lb-ft, and it's the first turbo Mustang since the 1986 SVO.
The 3.7-liter V6, which has by default become the entry-level model, is rated at 300 hp and 280 lb-ft. Power is down slightly from 2014's output of 305 hp to slot the naturally aspirated six-cylinder below the EcoBoost four banger.
The Mustang will start at $24,425, including destination charges, when it goes on sale later this year.
Ford significantly redesigned the Mustang for 2015. It has a new suspension featuring an independent rear setup, beefier brakes, an upgraded infotainment system with MyFord Touch and more interior space. It's all wrapped in sleeker styling that accentuates its fastback silhouette and improves aerodynamics while still channeling the appearance of the original 1960s pony car.
Meanwhile, fears that the Mustang's new technologies would result in a significant weight gain were overstated. According to a Ford slide shown at the Dearborn presentation, the lightest model is the EcoBoost four-cylinder with an automatic transmission, which checks in with a base curb weight of 3,524 pounds. That's only 28 pounds heavier than last year's lightest model, the V6 with a manual.
The rest of the lineup is similarly trim. The base curb weight of the 2015 V6 fastback with a six-speed manual transmission is 3,526 pounds, a 30-pound increase from the 2014 model. A V6 with an automatic is 3,530 pounds (up just 12 pounds), followed by the EcoBoost with a manual (3,532 pounds).
The GT packed on 87 pounds, and now weighs 3,705, and the GT with an automatic gained 54 pounds to now weigh 3,729 pounds.
Ford product chief Raj Nair said the focus was on the power-to-weight-ratio (11.36 pounds per hp for the lightest EcoBoost, 8.52 pounds per hp for the GT) and called the new generation "the greatest, most advanced performing Mustang we've ever done."
As we've noted, these performance figures are even better than Ford (albeit conservatively) projected. But if they aren't enough to quicken your pulse, sit tight. Ford's Special Vehicles Team is hard at work on something that promises to be still more menacing. Stay tuned.
New Mazda RX-7 May Get Turbo Rotary
Mazda isn't only working on a next-generation rotary engine, but a turbocharged one at that.
According to a recent report from Motoring, the new RX-7 will make its debut in 2017 and the Japanese automaker is currently focusing its development on a twin-scroll turbocharged rotary engine with a rumored output of around 450 hp. The 2017 launch will also coincide with the rotary's 50th anniversary.
An earlier prototype of the next-generation RX-7 was believed to be powered by a naturally-aspirated rotary based on a 16X configuration and with "laser ignition. "The test mule was said to produce around 300 hp. Since then, Mazda has decided that the next-gen sports car needs more power, adding on a turbo and going back to testing.
The first prototype was based on a reinforced variant of the next-generation MX-5 platform, but with more power on the horizon the company has opted to significantly rebuild a former RX-8 platform to test with.
As for the upcoming model's name, it is believed that Mazda is still on the fence whether to call it an RX-7 or RX-9. Both have been registered with Japan's trademark office.
Ford F-150 Pickup Tops List For 'American-Made'
As Americans struggle despite a reviving economy, a tough pickup truck straight out of Detroit was named Monday as the leader on Cars.com's American-Made Index.
Second place may come as a surprise: Toyota Camry. Although it's made by a Japanese company — and the profits are shipped across the Pacific — the car is made at U.S. plants with mostly U.S. parts.
The American-Made Index, in its ninth year, rates cars based on two key pieces of information that can be found on the window stickers of every new car: final assembly point and the vehicle's domestic-parts content. The labels show the percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts. (By congressional mandate, the American Automobile Labeling Act lumps Canada into the same "domestic" pool.) In addition to showing where the car was built, the label will tell you where its engine and transmission were made, as well.
It doesn't hurt that Ford's F-150 and its heavy-duty variants are, together, the nation's top-selling vehicle of any sort. Toyota Camry is the top-selling car in the USA.
After F-150 and Camry come GM's Michigan-built three-row crossover siblings, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia. Dodge Avenger sedan, meanwhile, placed third last year but faces immediate discontinuation without a clear successor and is disqualified.
The 2014 list has four newcomers: the Chevrolet Corvette, Honda Ridgeline, Honda Crosstour and Dodge SRT Viper. This is the first year any of those have made the list.
That's because only these 10 cars were eligible for the index, the fewest in the study's nine-year history. For the 2014 model year, just 13 models assembled in the USA have domestic-parts content of 75% or higher, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Three of those, including the Avenger, were disqualified because they're being discontinued.
In the 2013 model year, 14 cars met that threshold. Twenty cars met the threshold in the 2012 model year, and 30 cars met it a year before that.
Here's the 2014 list by model and where it is manufactured:
1. Ford F-150; Dearborn, Mich., and Claycomo, Mo.
2. Toyota Camry; Georgetown, Ky., and Lafayette, Ind.
3. Honda Odyssey; Lincoln, Ala.
4. Toyota Sienna; Princeton, Ind.
5. Toyota Tundra; San Antonio
6. Toyota Avalon; Georgetown, Ky.
7. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray; Bowling Green, Ky.
8. Honda Ridgeline; Lincoln, Ala.
9. Honda Crosstour; East Liberty, Ohio
10. Dodge SRT Viper; Detroit
New Volkswagen Crossover to be Built in Chattanooga
We know that a new seven-seat crossover is on its way from Volkswagen, and now it seems that the mystery of where it will be built has been solved.
According to Reuters, VW is nearing a decision to choose its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee to build the crossover, rather than the company's new facility in Puebla, Mexico.
Tennessee is offering a lot of incentives to make sure that VW chooses the state, including tax breaks, free land and infrastructure upgrades worth up to $300 million.
An attempt to save falling sales in North America, the new crossover should launch sometime next year as a 2016 model. The brand has already offered us a glimpse of the new crossover with the CrossBlue Concept (picture above), which was motivated by a plug-in hybrid diesel power train.
Volkswagen's U.S. deliveries fell by seven percent in 2013 as a push into the midsize car market didn't pay off. The new crossover, which may be only be sold in North America, is showing VW's commitment to the North American market.
2015 Toyota Sienna Makes Debut
Toyota has improved its Sienna minivan bumper to bumper for the 2015 model year.
The Japanese automaker unveiled the 2015 Sienna online today through the eyes of three social media-savvy parents. Along with minor changes to the Sienna's exterior, Toyota improved the van's handling and added a more upscale interior with better materials and more technology. One of those technologies is the Drive Easy Speak feature, which utilizes the vehicle's built-in microphone to amplify the driver's voice through the rear speakers. That's right, parents will no longer have to shout to the passengers in the back.
The 2015 Toyota Sienna will make its first public appearance at Artscape in Baltimore from July 18 to July 20. Attendees will be able to check out the 2015 Sienna's new features including the optional 4.2-inch, color multi-information display, available LED daytime running lights, capacitive switches on the optional seven-inch touchscreen, the optional pull-down conversation mirror and the available black leather interior with white stitching. While minor, Toyota has also updated the Sienna's gauges in the instrument panel with a modern look.
Remaining one of the safest minivans on the market, the 2015 Toyota Sienna comes standard with eight airbags, the most in its class. A panaromic back-up camera is now standard and has virtual guidelines to help navigate. Lastly, the Japanese automaker noted that it's now easier to securely install children's car seats with four LATCH locations.
"Today's parents are embracing their life stage and those relatable family moments that make us laugh and feel connected," said Jack Hollis, vice president of Toyota Division marketing at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. "The 2015 Toyota Sienna seizes that same spirit of fun, everyday experiences with family and fits into the modern family dynamic. That is why Toyota chose to introduce the newest 'Swagger Wagon' to the world through a creative lens."
Lexus Fans Name New RC F Color 'Solar Flare'
A competition was held on social media to name one of the eye-catching colors that will be available on the new Lexus RC F, and the brand has chosen a winner.
This bright orange will be called "Solar Flare," a name that was submitted by five different commenters on Lexus' Facebook page. The final list was comprised of 10 different choices, which were presented to Lexus UK Director Richard Balshaw, who selected the overall winner.
The RC F will hit dealerships sometime in very late 2014, sporting the most powerful V8 Lexus has ever stuffed in a production car. Exact numbers are still not available, but Lexus says the car will have more than 450 hp.
Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicles to Arrive by End of 2014
Toyota is pushing forward ahead of schedule with its plan to launch a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
The Japanese automaker is expected to enter production by mid-December before arriving in showrooms by year end according to a report by Japan Times. Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are all working quickly to launch new hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Previously, Toyota planned to roll out its hydrogen car in 2015.
Hyundai's hydrogen-powered Tucson crossovers began arriving in California late last month.
Toyota previewed its hydrogen car with the FCV Concept (pictured) during the Tokyo Motor Show last November. Hydrogen-powered vehicles use an electric powertrain that extracts energy from hydrogen. One of the biggest advantages they hold over plug-in electric vehicles is their ability to refuel in roughly the same amount of time as one with an internal combustion engine.
Toyota Announces Best Sales Month In Six Years
Toyota's May tally of 243,236 sales was the automaker's highest monthly result in six years in the U.S. and up 12.6% from year-ago on a daily-selling-rate basis, WardsAutodata shows.
Toyota sold 257,404 vehicles in May 2008, an any-month record.
"May was just one of those months where everything came together for the industry," Bill Fay, group vice president-Toyota Div., tells media today during a conference call, citing the five weekends in the month and rising consumer confidence as motivators.
Not surprisingly, Toyota's highest-volume models drove the automaker's gains. But unique in recent months, cars outsold the brand's light-truck offerings.
The Corolla saw its biggest increase yet since the 11th generation went on sale in September, up 27.0% to 36,611 units, while sales of the non-hybrid Camry rose 22.3%, to 44,385.
Counting Camry Hybrid's 5,199 deliveries, May 2014 was the biggest month for the Toyota midsize car since August 2009, when 54,396 were sold.
25th Anniversary Mazda Mx-5 Miata Sold Out In 10 Minutes
The Mazda MX-5 Miata is not known for its speed, but there is one thing that the new special edition MX-5 did quite quickly: Sell.
The 25th anniversary edition of the car, of which just 100 units were produced, managed to all sell out in just 10 minutes. Mazda had anticipated the order program would stay open from May 20 to May 31 or until 250 customers had signed up, the latter of which happened in just 10 minutes.
Out of the 250 customers, Mazda North America will give top priority to the first 100, who will be contacted directly. Once purchase intent and transmission selection is confirmed, the car will be shipped to the customer's local dealer beginning in late summer.
The car costs $33,000 when equipped with the manual, or bumps up to $33,450 with the automatic.
It only comes coated in Soul Red Metallic paint with black for the A-pillars, window surround, mirrors and Power-Retractable Hard Top (PRHT). Mazda also says that only the best engine components, meeting the highest tolerances were selected for the pistons, connecting rods and flywheel to ensure that the engine revs more freely.
Honda Accord Dethrones Toyota Prius as Best-Selling Car in California
The Honda Accord bested the Toyota Prius as the top selling vehicle in California during the first quarter of 2014. Toyota's hybrid has been the bestselling vehicle in California for two consecutive years, and could still take the top spot when 2014 is over. But for now, the Accord sold 15,611 units during the first quarter while Toyota sold 15,318 Prius hybrids.
The trend continued in third and fourth place, as the Honda Civic sold 14,627 units and the Camry was fourth in California with 14,389 cars sold. Fifth place went to the Toyota Corolla, which had sales of 13,350 units.
As for the fastest-growing brand in California for the first quarter, Chrysler surprised with registration of new Jeep vehicles rising almost 57 percent compared to last year. Ram truck sales were up 49 percent to 5,286 while Fiat was up 78 percent to 3,514.
Honda Rumored to Bring Back the S2000
Honda will reportedly bring to market a spiritual successor to the S2000.
The mid-level sports car is part of a three car plan reports AutoExpress and will sit below the upcoming NSX halo model and an entry-level S660 model. All three models will feature a mid-engine layout.
A coupe, rather than a roadster, the reborn S2000 will supposedly make use of both turbocharging and hybrid technology in order to deliver both fuel economy and real performance.
The engine will be donated from the upcoming Civic Type-R, which will utilize a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and deliver make at least 280 hp. It's believed that engine output could be increased to up to 350 hp for the new S2000.
Reportedly, it will also make use of hybrid technology developed in conjunction with the McLaren F1 team through some sort of all-wheel drive system - though AutoGuide has reported in the past that McLaren doesn't foresee its hybrid technology being used on anything other than the million-dollar P1.
The latest rumor of an S2000 successor, even if this report of a mid-engined, AWD, turbocharged hybrid coupe does prove to be true, it's hard to see how it would have anything in common with the naturally aspirated rear-wheel drive roadster the brand discontinued in 2009.
2015 Acura TLX Unveiled at New York Auto Show
Generally, a concept car is a distant precursor to the production model, but Acura didn't take that tack with the TLX.
You see, the production model, which debuted today at the 2014 New York Auto Show, looks and sounds almost identical to the concept that we saw at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. The Acura 'Beak' design is still present, along with the jewel-eye headlights which have become a staple for the brand.
Acura has discontinued the TL and TSX, so the TLX will replace both cars. Despite being 3.8-inches shorter than the 2014 TL, the car maintains the same wheelbase and front to rear passenger seating distance. All in, the TLX two-wheel drive with the V6 engine is expected to weigh in just under 3,600 pounds.
Two engines are available with the TLX, either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine pumping out 206 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. Each engine is matched exclusively to its own transmission, with the four-banger hooked up to an eight-speed dual clutch with a torque converter while the V6 is mated to a nine-speed automatic.
Fuel economy ratings for the 2.4-liter two-wheel drive model is anticipated to be 24 mpg city, 35 highway and 28 mpg combined. For the two-wheel drive six-cylinder model, Acura expects 21 mpg city, 34 highway and 25 combined. At the top of the line, the all-wheel drive TLX model, which is the only model with stop/start, is rated at 21 mpg city, 31 highway and 25 mpg combined.
Lexus IS Next to Get Turbocharged 4-Cylinder Engine
The IS sports sedan will be the next product in the Lexus lineup to gain a turbocharged engine.
Speaking to AutoGuide today at the New York Auto Show a company representative confirmed that the new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder announced for the NX crossover will soon be offered in the IS.
Currently the base IS250 model makes use of an antiquated 2.5-liter V6 engine. Rated at 204 hp it's not only down on power compared to turbocharged 4-cylinder rivals but it also offers inferior fuel economy.
The company rep who wished to remain anonymous said that the upcoming NX200t model will make 237 hp in production trim, while that number could be increased to closer to 250 for the IS.
The new NX will also debut with a hybrid engine similar to that offered in the ES300h, making roughly 200 hp and delivering approximately 40 MPG combined. While an IS300h model is available overseas, Lexus has not said if it will be offered in North America.
California DMV Announces New Self-Driving Car Rules
Self-driving vehicles are creeping toward public adoption at a not-so-slow pace and the California DMV just announced rules that bring them closer to the mass market.
New regulations governing how manufacturers can test autonomous vehicles on public roads in the state have been announced and will take effect on September 16. Current regulations only deal with testing requirements for manufacturers and not the operation of self-driving vehicles by the public.
The rules that come into place in September deal with manufacturers testing vehicles, but the California DMV said it expects to release regulations for the public to "drive" autonomous cars on public roads by January 1, 2015.
Under the new rules, manufacturers are required to file an application the costs $150. Assuming the application is accepted, manufacturers will be allowed to have up to 10 vehicles on the road with up to 20 people licensed to operate them.
Manufacturers will be required under the new regulations to register the vehicles with the DMV and to use qualified test drivers who must complete a training program. Any accidents or incidents where the autonomous driving function needs to be overridden must be reported to the DMV and a $5 million insurance policy is compulsory. Any manufacturer applying for the public road permit also needs to have completed testing under closed course conditions before venturing onto roads with other drivers.
VW Plug-In Hybrid Golf Wagon Spied in US
It looks like Volkswagen is getting ready to release a wagon version of the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE, and it might even be sold in the U.S.
These photos, snapped near the San Francisco airport, show a VW Golf GTE Wagon completely undisguised. Full specifications on the GTE have already been released, though up until now we have only seen the GTE badge on the shorter Golf hatchback. Hybrid and diesel-powered wagons are usually reserved for Europe, so spotting this vehicle in the US is a surprise.
Automakers regularly bring Europe-only vehicles to the U.S. for testing, so this doesn't mean that the Golf GTE Wagon is coming. Volkswagen is planning to sell both the GTE hatchback and Golf SportWagen here in the States, so it isn't a stretch to think that the brand would offer an electrified wagon.
The GTE offers 201 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque with up to 31 miles of range in all-electric mode. Total driving range is said to be 584 miles. Power comes from a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine combined with an electric motor, and VW says the battery will take on a full charge in about 3.5 hours.
Details regarding this wagon are sparse, as it was posted on a forum with no details. We reached out to Volkswagen USA for an official response and have yet to hear back.
Honda Marks 20 Million Vehicles Made In The USA
Japanese automakers manufacturing in the United States is nothing new. But it was in November of 1982 when the first Honda Accord rolled off the assembly line in Marysville, OH. It was the first Japanese vehicle assembled in the US, and in the nearly 32 years since, Honda has made 10 million Accords here for a total of 20 million cars manufactured in America - enough to span from New York to San Francisco twenty times. It's that double landmark which Honda is now celebrating.
Honda has come a long way in those three decades, keeping that original plant in Marysville on line while expanding to three more - in East Liberty, OH; Lincoln, AL; and Greensburg, IN - with a fifth plant (the Performance Manufacturing Center) opening on the same site in Marysville to build the Acura NSX next year. It also builds engines in Lincoln and in Anna, OH, and automatic transmissions at Russells Point, OH, and Tallapoosa, GA.
Between those seven sites, Honda produces 11 different models, including the Accord, Civic, Crosstour, CR-V, Pilot, Odyssey and Ridgeline as well as the Acura ILX, TL,RDX and MDX. Production keeps on ramping up as Honda produced a record 1.3 million vehicles in the US last year, 95 percent of which are sold in the US.
Toyota Tops Consumer Reports Best, Worst Used Car Values
We often mock Toyota for building boring, soulless cars, but a new study by Consumer Reports suggests that regardless of whether that's true, the company has some of the best used cars on the market. In its report on used cars from 2004-2013, the Japanese automaker had 11 vehicles among its brands on the list - more than any other automaker.
CR breaks the list down by cost and vehicle size, and Toyota has at least one entry at every price point and in nearly every segment. To score a recommendation, a vehicle had to perform well in the magazine's initial tests and score above-average reliability results. It also tried to only suggest cars with electronic stability control. Of the 28 recommended vehicles, Honda/Acura had the second most mentions at six, and Ford Hyundai and Subarumanaged two each.
The Detroit brands also made it to the list, but not in a positive way. Consumer Reportscompiled a list of 22 vehicles it wouldn't recommend because "they have multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability." General Motors had the most unrecommended models on the list at six, but Chrysler and Ford weren't far behind, with five cars each from their brands not making the grade. The full list of recommendations is available on CR's website.
2015 Lexus NX Revealed With Turbo and Hybrid Engines
The newest addition to the Lexus family has been officially revealed.
Say hello to the Lexus NX crossover, the real-world version of the LF-NX concept that debuted at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show. The latest model to join the growing Lexus family of vehicles will make its official debut at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, but AutoGuidehad a chance to get up-close and personal with the NX ahead of time. (Check out the fully gallery of exclusive images below).
SEE ALSO: Lexus RC F GT3 Racecar Revealed
Set to compete with other premium compact crossovers such as the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, the Lexus NX joins a growing segment that is likely to see even more competition in the coming years.
Compared to the LF-NX concept, the production NX has been toned down significantly, which was expected given how wild the LF-NX concept was. It is, however, still aggressive-looking for a crossover sporting the brand's signature spindle grille, IS-inspired headlights and matte silver accents.
The entry into the luxury compact crossover segment will be available with three powertrains: a gasoline turbocharged NX 200t, a naturally aspirated NX 200 and a hybrid NX 300h. In addition, those looking for a sportier crossover can opt for the NX 200t F Sport (pictured).
The North American market will be spared the NX 200, as it's expected that the power output won't satisfy U.S. drivers. Instead, the base model available will be the NX 200t that is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with the choice of front or all-wheel drive. Unfortunately, exact specifications haven't been released yet on the NX 200t, but a Lexus spokesman estimates that power output will be around 220 to 230 hp.
As for the NX 300h, expect it to make use of the same 2.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid as found in the ES 300h, making roughly 200 hp and achieving an average of 40 MPG.
According to the Japanese automaker, the NX was "developed to have more agility than a SUV plus a bold, eye-catching exterior with its low profile and unique roofline." The crossover will come standard with 17-inch wheels, though 18-inch rollers will be available as an option. Subtle luxury details on the exterior include the innovative Lexus-first door handle with a hidden key barrel and integrated lighting.
SEE ALSO: 2015 Lexus RC F First Look Video
What's inside is what counts and the NX's cabin doesn't disappoint. The standard luxury amenities you would expect in a Lexus product are all on point in the NX. This is also the first model from the automaker to feature the brand's Lexus Remote Touch Interface with a touch pad. There is also an available comprehensive Multi-Information Display that includes a Lexus-first G sensor and boost meter, a heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Finally, the NX will even offer a wireless charging tray for your electronic devices.
Positioned below the popular Lexus RX SUV, the NX will be a fierce competitor in the compact crossover segment given the company's prowess in the automotive market. Expect more details on the powertrains as well as pricing and availability closer to the vehicle's launch.
Honda, Mercedes Top KBB Brand Image Awards
Kelley Blue Book has announced the winners of its 2014 Brand Image Awards, which look at brands with "attributes that capture the attention and enthusiasm" of customers in the market for a new car.
The award is divided up into luxury brands and everyone else non-luxury brands, with a number of sub-awards in each group. There's also a single award for truck brands. Taking the crown for the best everyman brand (for the second year in a row) is Honda, while Mercedes-Benz was the king of the luxury brackets. Ford, meanwhile, had the best image among pickup buyers.
Honda was also named the most trusted brand among shoppers, while Kia, GMC, Mini and Chevrolet also snagged awards for value, refinement, performance and styling, respectively. Secondary winners in the luxury ranks include Lexus, Buick, Porsche and Jaguar. Mercedes was also named the most refined luxury brand.
"The classic saying 'perception is reality' falls true with the Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards, as more than 12,000 in-market new-car shoppers have voiced their opinions about today's automakers," said Hwei-Lin Oetken, vice president of market intelligence for KBB. "With strong marketing communications coming from auto manufacturers and dealers, and the increased importance of peer reviews and ratings, consumers today are more influenced than ever to take interest in a brand, ultimately affecting their vehicle purchase decisions."
2015 Ford Focus Heading To NY Auto Show
Ford's worldwide bread-and-butter vehicle will debut in sedan form next week at the New York Auto Show.
This year, New York Auto Show atendees will get their first look at the car with the comapny's new corporate design. Ford already showed the refreshed Focus as a three-door hatchback and five-door wagon during the Geneva Motor Show in March. But the new look isn't the only change U.S. customers can look forward to.
Ford will also begin offering its 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. That's the same powerplant also currently offered in the Fiesta and several other vehicles worldwide including the Mondeo (essentially the Fusion here). Late last year, a Ford spokesman hinted that its global product strategy for the 1.0-liter mill could probably be applied to future plans for the U.S., but declined to elaborate. Fuel economy figures are still unreleased, and the company is understandably being cautious about claiming specific numbers after being ridiculed for its C-Max and Fusion hybrid consumption claims. Still, it "expects the 1.0-liter EcoBoost Focus to raise the bar in fuel efficiency among non-hybrid compact vehicles."
Other key changes for the car include a new "SE" sport package that will offer a revised suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, new body treatments and paddle shifters for models with an automatic transmission. Presumably, the new cladding will include the spoiler pictured.
The company will also begin offering a heated steering wheel and 10 varieties of wheels from the factory. Ford's MyKey system will be offered as standard equipment on all models.
Long before government mandates come into effect, the Focus will enter 2015 with a standard rearview camera. Other available safety systems include blind spot monitoring and a lane-keeping feature that will prevent the car from drifting out of its current lane. Pricing is still unannounced.
New Mazda MX-5 Chassis Heading To New York Auto Show
It's not quite the full car reveal, but Mazda will be bringing something from its new MX-5 Miata to the 2014 New York Auto Show.
The highly anticipated debut of the next-generation MX-5 Miata isn't expected until the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, but New York Auto Show attendees this year will at least get to check out upcoming sports car's chassis. The new vehicle will be built on a shared-platform with Fiat, though the Italian automaker hasn't made it clear whether it'll be a Fiat or Alfa Romeo model. Mazda however, will be in charge of producing both vehicles.
Being displayed alongside the new chassis will be iconic MX-5 models from the past, 15 in total, many of which comes from Mazda's facility in Irvine, California. Since the MX-5 Miata debuted at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, over 900,000 units have been built and sold.
2015 VW Jetta Gets Official Just Ahead Of NYC Reveal
Volkswagen has offered up the lightest of refreshes on its Jetta for 2015, making subtle styling tweaks to the front, rear and interior while adding a few doses of new equipment. One of the biggest tweaks is the new, 2.0-liter TDI engine, which is now more efficient, returning 45 miles per gallon on the freeway (compared to 42 mpg on the 2014 model) while retaining the previous engine's 236 pound-feet of torque.
Normally, we'd run through visual changes first, but really, the tweaks made are so minor that only the staunchest of VW enthusiast is going to notice them. The new, optional xenon headlights and their 15 LED running lights are the most obvious changes, while the LED taillights of the GLI and Hybrid should stick out a bit. VW's primary focus, it seems, was on the exterior's aerodynamics, rather than aesthetics.
The trunklid is slightly more aerodynamic, as is the front fascia and the rain gutters along the A-pillars. Sill covers, wheel spoilers and an underbody panel on the rear axle are less noticeable aero tweaks. Both the Jetta 1.8T and TDI include an active grille shutter on the radiator, to further reduce drag at speed.
Volkswagen has made some mild tweaks to the interior, with a color multi-function display and some new chrome trim on "mid and high-level trims." The big changes on the interior are the wealth of new driver assistance features. Blind spot monitoring comes to the Jetta, along with cross-traffic alert and frontal collision warning. It's unclear if these will be options or part of a pre-determined package or trim level.
2015 Acura TLX Confirmed For NY Auto Show Debut
Acura has announced that the 2014 New York Auto Show will see the arrival of the production TLX - the sedan that will replace both the TL and TSX in the company's lineup. The TLX was already previewed at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show as a near-production concept model, meaning we already have a very solid idea of what the 2015 model will look like.
What we didn't know, was that Acura has finally gotten on board with some advanced powertrains, rather than just plucking stuff from the Honda parts bin. Okay, that's kind of a lie. We've seen both of the TLX's engines in previous Honda products - a 2.4-liter, VTEC four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter VTEC V6 from the Civic Si and Accord, respectively - but the transmissions will be totally new.
First, an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic will be paired with the base four-pot. The V6, meanwhile, will get a nine-speed automatic. Unfortunately, there's no mention of a manual gearbox. Acura's Precision All-Wheel Steer will be standard on the front-drive variants for both engines, while the 3.5-liter V6 will also be available with the brand's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.
While we'll likely have to wait until April 16 for all the details on the TLX to arrive, we'll admit that it sounds like Acura is screwing together a competent sedan, based on the powertrains alone. We'll have much more on the TLX and all the other vehicles debuting in New York, as we get closer to the show.
Lexus USA Dealerships To Get Modern Makeover
Lexus dealerships in the USA will be undergoing a makeover, beginning with a signage color switch from the old gold to a more modern platinum — Edmunds has more:
The appearance change calls on dealers to renovate their dealerships in order to create what Lexus spokeswoman Allison Takahashi called "a new progressive luxury exterior design." Lexus has been using the platinum color logo on its Web site.
Dealers can select one of three templates for the exterior design. By contrast, the Toyota brand uses a cookie-cutter approach, essentially one architectural template for all its dealerships.
Takahashi would not provide a list of changes that are planned for Lexus' dealer body. However, she said the luxury brand's design team is working one-on-one with each dealership.
This move by Lexus USA is part of a larger international push to modernize dealerships with consistent design elements worldwide — Regency Lexus in Vancouver, Canada, was one of the first dealerships to feature the new look:
2015 Toyota Camry Promises To Be A Big Deal
America's best-selling car is getting a makeover set to be seen for the first time at this year's New York Auto Show.
Having been on the market in its current form since late 2011, Camry sales are slowing and Toyotaknows that it's high time to give its bread-and-butter sedan a boost if it wants to keep the coveted top spot. That's exactly what the Japanese giant has planned if an ambiguous and unattributed quote cited by Automotive News proves to be true. According to the trade journal, Toyota says the revised Camry "will challenge conventional expectations of a mid-cycle model change" without elaborating further.
Like being a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photographer or professional chocolate sampler, the line of eager replacements is ever-present. The Camry still enjoyed a big lead last year over the runner-up Accord, but sales slowed this year through February. Through the first two months of this year, other mid-size sedans gained ground on the popular beige-mobile, underscoring how sorely it needs an update.
The New York Auto Show press preview kicks off on April 16, so there isn't long until Toyota explains itself.
Auto Dealers Honor Wilson
David Wilson, owner and chief executive of Wilson Automotive Group in Orange,
received the 2014 David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award from the American
International Automobile Dealers Association, Monday during their 44th Annual
Meeting and Luncheon in New Orleans.
"I can think of no one more deserving of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award than David Wilson," Cody Lusk, association's president said in a news release. "Along with building a successful dealership group, he has also invested considerable time and resources to better the lives of his employees and those in Orange County. His commitment to the industry as well as his community is truly an example everyone in our industry can look up to."
Wilson was lauded for building one of the ten largest automotive groups in the country. His company has more than 2,000 employees working at 17 dealerships—seven under the Toyota brand, three Lexus and Honda dealerships each, and one dealership per brand for Acura, Ford, Mazda and Volkswagen.
Wilson has been a board member of Orange County Automobile Dealers Association and the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America's Board of Directors. He currently serves on the Chapman University's Board of Trustees.
Toyota of Orange, one of Wilson's dealerships, is the originating sponsor of the "Round Orange Race," which has raised $250,000 for the Orangewood Children's Foundation, and also fundraises for scholarship for Chapman University students.
Mazda Skyactiv 2 Engines to Bring 30 Percent MPG Boost
Already hailed for their efficiency, Mazda's "Skyactiv" engines are bound for a second and third generation aimed at further improving fuel economy.
The company began rolling its line of high compression ratio gasoline engines out in North America in 2011 before proliferating across much of the Mazda portfolio. But the brand is already looking ahead to increasingly stringent emissions standards for 2020 and 2025 in Europe, the first of which will require 95 grand of carbon dioxide per kilometer before battening that figure down to 65 grams five years later.
Mazda hasn't provided a timeline for introducing the new engines, but powertrain development executive Mitsuo Hitomi said the changing standard slated for 2020 will be "the next step."
Part of the plan for improved fuel economy will include an even higher 18:1 compared to the already high 14:1 ratio used in current "Skyactiv-G" gasoline engines. Engines with higher compression ratios can be more efficient by running on a leaner mixture of fuel.
The engines will use something called homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) to ignite the air-fuel mixture within the combustion chamber without using a spark plug similarly to how diesel engines operate. Mazda isn't the only company working on such a technology, either. Hyundai is also currently working on its own line of HCCI engines as well.
Last month, the U.S. EPA named Mazda the most fuel efficient automaker with a fleetwide adjusted fuel economy of 27.1 mpg for the 2012 model year.
For SkyActiv3, Mazda will look at limiting heat fluctuation in the combustion chamber to reduce losses from exhaust and cooling to make more energy available for powering the wheels. The company is aiming for well-to-wheel carbon emissions on par with electric vehicles.
Honda S660 Concept Pays Tribute to a Classic
Honda has released new photos of its S660 concept side-by-side with its inspiration, the classic Sports 360.
The S660 concept, which made its debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, is a midship rear-wheel-drive model that retains the Sports 360′s original design philosophy while sporting an as-large-as-possible wheelbase and tread. The result is a sports car giving us a glimpse of Honda's new Design Philosophy.
Though Honda has not hinted as to whether the S660 concept will become reality, one thing is for sure: the Japanese automaker is going back to its roots to find inspiration for what will likely be its next sports car.
VW says it has sold over 100,000 TDI diesels in America this year
Volkswagen Group of America has lit oil-burning fireworks to celebrate the sales of more than 100,000 TDI Clean Diesel vehicles in the US between its VW and Audi brands this year. According to VW, that means it is responsible for more than 75 percent of diesel-engined cars and SUVs sold here - perhaps not surprising when the two brands offer a total of 12 diesel models.
What might be surprising is that the number of diesels isn't far off the estimated sales of 90,000 battery electric vehicles and PHEVs, with 15,000 of those accounted for by the Tesla Model S, another 12,000 or so being the Toyota Prius PHEV.
VW's keen to play up the ease of making diesel part of your life, stressing that it doesn't need any change to the refueling infrastructure and that "this is a technology delivering real answers to society's concerns about fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions without compromises."
Are you the 2015 Lexus RC F?
With less than two weeks before the start of the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, we're starting to get a better idea of what some of the hot debuts are for this year's installment of America's premiere auto show.
The latest leaked image to hit the internet is what purports to be the Lexus RC F, the Japanese premium brand's long-awaited return to the coupe market and the latest challenger for the upcoming BMW M4, a model that will also be arriving in Detroit. This image was reportedly originally leaked by a Chinese magazine, and was then picked up by our friends at AutoExpress.
The image fits with the teasers and spy shots we've seen of the car so far, meaning that this could very well be the real deal. As we've previously reported, Lexus is expected to offer the RC F with a 460-horsepower V8, while a lower-power RC 350 with two fewer cylinders will also be available. We'll have the full set of details on the RC F when it hits the stage in Detroit.
Ford Expects to be US Best-Selling Brand in 2013
Ford is calling it a little early, predicting that it will be the best-selling brand in the United States in 2013.
It is a pretty safe assumption considering the American brand is currently ahead of Toyota, the second most popular US brand, by 396,041 vehicles sold through November.
Ford has had a successful year, with brand retail sales up 15 percent year-to-date. The company expects to sell more than 2.4 million vehicles in 2013, spurred by growth in just about every segment that Ford sells in.
The Ford Fiesta has already broken its all-time high sales record for 2013 with Ford predicting that 70,000 of the small cars will be sold this year. The Escape is also set for a banner year, with Ford predicting that over 300,000 units will be sold, making this the most successful year for Escape ever.
Hybrid sales have been blowing up at Ford as well, with 2013 sales expected to exceed 80,000 units, nearly triple the amount of hybrids that Ford sold in 2012.
VW Jetta GLI turns 30, celebrates with special edition model
It was 1984 when the Volkswagen GTI powertrain was combined with a trunk in the form of the Jetta GLI. To mark the 30th anniversary, starting next year Volkswagen will only be offering the GLI Edition 30, distinct from the current 2014 on sale by details like 18-inch "Laguna" wheels, a decklid spoiler and Edition 30 badging outside, red accents on the V-Tex leatherette seats, steering wheel and shifter inside.
Power has moved up a skosh in 30 years, the original model's 90-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine supplanted by a 201-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo unit shifted through six close-ratio gears instead of five. The trim options will drop from three to two, the GLI Edition 30 coming in either standard spec or with navigation.
Lexus Vision Gran Turismo Concept Teased in Sketch
Quite a few automakers are taking part in the "Vision Gran Turismo" project by designing impressive looking concept vehicles and making them available to drive in the Playstation 3 driving simulation game.
Lexus is looking to take part too, teasing us with this sketch of its Vision Gran Turismo vehicle. While it's difficult to make the vehicle out definitively, it does look inspired by the LF-LC concept that Lexus has been showcasing at recent auto shows.
The giveaway features, like the LED headlights and unique shape of the windows help us identify this as a LF-LC, but there are some new features in the sketch that hint at this concept car's customer nature.
2015 Acura TLX to Debut at Detroit Auto Show; Replacing TL, TSX
Acura will complete its lineup refresh with a new model called the TLX, which will debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
While technically a concept, keeping true to Acura tradition, it will very closely resemble the production car that will arrive shortly after. The new TLX will replace not only the TL, but also the TSX, which will officially end production in 2014.
"This all-new Acura TLX is the perfect blend of style and muscle with its elegant, well-proportioned exterior that cloaks the true sport sedan chassis and powertrain beneath," said Mike Accavitti, senior vice president, American Honda Motor, Co., Inc. "The sporty characteristics that customers found appealing in the TSX are even more pronounced in this aggressive new TLX."
AutoGuide.com 2014 Car of the Year Award Winner - 2014 Mazda3
Diversity was the name of the game this year as our five finalists represent five different market segments and hail from three different continents. As a recap, the compact 2014 Mazda3, the mid-size 2014 Mazda6, the full-size 2014 Chevrolet Impala, the luxurious Cadillac CTS and the segment busting Mercedes-Benz CLA all made the cut into the final five. But there can only be one winner.
For days we evaluated the finalists, had heated discussions and finally came to a consensus. The 2014 AutoGuide.com Car of the Year is the 2014 Mazda3.
New Toyota Supra Teased in Gran Turismo 6
The new concept will be available as downloadable content in Gran Turismo 6, the popular auto racing video game. It is part of the "Vision Gran Turismo program," which is giving automakers a chance to show off upcoming design ideas through stunning in-game concept cars.
Without expressly saying that this a concept version of the upcoming Supra successor, Toyota coyly announced on its UK blog that, "this is the only image available at the moment but any talk of Toyota and new sports cars always leads to speculation on the introduction of a spiritual successor to the Supra."
There are no details on the car currently, but it is a popular belief that the new Supra will be the result of a collaboration between BMW and Toyota.
"We never comment on speculation but it's clear that there are familiar proportions in the shape of the silhouette," Toyota finished, all but confirming that this a new Supra concept.
Honda, Acura Lead Industry with Six Top Safety Pick+ Models
The 2014 Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe, Civic Sedan and Odyssey were all named Top Safety Pick+ choices while the Acura MDX and RLX also achieved the highest possible safety rating. The Honda Odyssey is the only minivan to have earned the designation.
Meanwhile, the 2014 Civic Coupe was named a Top Safety Pick along with the Acura TL.
Top Safety Pick+ vehicles not only excelled in crash tests, but are also equipped with technologies to help prevent or mitigate front-to-rear collisions.
"As the industry leader in Top Safety Pick+ ratings for 2013 and now 2014, it's clear that our commitment to offer advanced safety technologies on mainstream products continues to pay dividends to Honda and Acura customers," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of product planning and logistics at American Honda. "Honda and Acura vehicles should be at the top of the shopping list for those who value safety ratings and the engineering prowess required to achieve them."
Mustang Diesel, Hybrid Variants Under Consideration
Considering the 2015 Ford Mustang can be had with a four-liter, turbocharged engine, it shouldn't come as a surprise that hybrid and diesel variants are under consideration.
"We're not looking at diesel at the moment, but given where we need to go with fuel consumption we are looking at all our options," said Ford global powertrain chief Bob Fascetti. "And diesel is one of those options, along with hybrids and electric."
According to Fascetti, the 2015 Mustang could be a platform for Ford to continue seeking ways to maximize fuel efficiency across its fleet. As a way to meet that goal, the new Mustang could see a diesel powerplant under its hood, as well as electrified variants of the popular car.
And considering the 2015 Mustang is now a global product, it's not a surprise that diesel is a consideration thanks to their popularity in Europe. As for the 5.0-liter V8, it's here to stay according to Ford. In fact, the American automaker is able to meet strict emissions requirements with the V8.
Toyota Prius Family May Gain Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model
Toyota is committed to bringing its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to the U.S. market by 2015 and when it does there's a chance that car will be a member of the Prius family.
Speaking to AutoGuide.com during the 2013 LA Auto Show, Toyota marketing executive Bill Fay said the company understands that the Prius name has considerable clout in the world of car buyers, especially when it comes to alternate-fuel vehicles.
"We haven't totally decided on a name, but it'll be interesting to see if we can leverage the Prius name or not," Fay said. "We've been debating that a lot within the company."
He also mentioned that the Prius brand name means a lot to consumers and the fuel-cell vehicle could fit right in.
"People equate Prius to a lot of things, it has a positive name out there regarding technology, innovative products and environmental friendliness," he said. " Fuel Cell is a little different, but we've done some work to see if we can leverage the Prius brand and use it with fuel cell technology, or if the car will have a different name."
Fay also made some connections between the importance of the new fuel cell vehicle and the original Prius hybrid.
"Potentially it really has a lot of positives similar to the Prius. When we launched the Prius over ten years ago, everyone was like 'what is this thing?' and now we've sold five million hybrids."
"We're very positive about the potential of the vehicle, primarily because it has zero emissions, it has outstanding range and takes only a couple of minutes to fill up the hydrogen tank," he added.
The company unveiled its hydrogen powered FCV concept in Tokyo earlier this week and re-iterated its plan to launch the vehicle in 2015. While other automakers may be able to beat them to the market, very few will be able to compete with the marketability of the Prius name.
Honda already working on NSX roadster
Honda doesn't do many convertibles. There was the original Sports 360, the Civic del Sol, the S2000 and the Beat. But so far, that's pretty much it. The previous NSX was offered with a targa-style top, but the latest reports indicate that the Japanese automaker is already working on a proper convertible version of the new NSX, to be sold once again as an Acura in North America and a Honda in other markets.
Although it's not yet known whether the NSX roadster will offer a hard or soft top, sources indicate that it won't be a mere removable roof panel. Whatever form it does take, however, expect it to arrive a good couple of years after the tin-top version launches in 2015 with a similar form to the concept but with different underpinnings and a radical interior.
Volkswagen Golf Goes Electric in Los Angeles
The Volkswagene-Golf has made its North American debut at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.
As Volkswagen's first fully-electric vehicle to be offered in the U.S., the e-Golf will be an attractive choice to shoppers when it goes on sale in select states at the end of 2014. The e-Golf features a 115 hp electric motor while delivering 199 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to accelerate to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds.
Depending on how it's priced, the e-Golf could be the most affordable and reasonable electric vehicle on the market next year. According to the German automaker, the e-Golf will offer between 70 to 80 miles depending on driving conditions while a completely empty battery can be recharged in less than four hours with a 220-volt wallbox. Those that don't want to have a 220-volt wallbox installed at their household can get a standard 110/120-volt full charge in 20 hours.
On the exterior, the e-Golf is set apart with its LED headlights, 16-inch wheels, a C-shaped LED DRL signature in the front bumper and the lack of exhaust pipes.
Shelby GT name returns for 2014 Mustang with up to 624 hp
Earlier in the year, Shelby American unveiled the 1,200-horsepower Shelby 1000 wearing a price tag of $154,995. Now, the Las Vegas-based company is looking to meet the needs of budget-minded performance enthusiasts with the rebirth of the Shelby GT, which made its debut at the LA Auto Show.
"Budget-minded" is obviously very relative here, but the three levels of upgrades available on the 2014 Shelby GT do represent decent bang for the buck. After purchasing a stock 2014 Ford Mustang GT, which retails for $30,900, Shelby has three packages to improve the Mustang's performance and handling, with the all-in base price coming in at around $45,000.
For $14,995, Shelby will tune your Mustang to 430 horsepower (up from 420 hp) while adding a Borla exhaust, Panhard suspension bar and 20-inch wheels. Shelby also adds its own style with a fiberglass hood, billet grille, unique front fascia and "Shelby" badging on the trunk and seat head rests. If more power is what you're looking for, the Shelby GT/SC adds a Whipple supercharger, Wilwood brakes and performance Michelin tires - for the sum of $27,995. The GT/SC offers a considerable jump in horsepower with the choice of either 525 hp or 624 hp, the latter of which is claimed to give the car a 0-60 time of just 3.7 seconds.
2015 Ford Mustang to Make Official Debut on December 5
The wait is almost over. Ford will officially debut its 2015 Mustang on December 5, the American automaker has announced.
The sixth-generation Mustang will make its debut in six cities on four continents with reveal events taking place in Dearborn, Michigan; New York; Los Angeles; Barcelona; Shanghai and Sydney. Leading up to its official unveiling, Ford has released a new teaser image (seen above) of the iconic Mustang emblem and will be teaming up with Facebook and Instagram to showcase what the Mustang has meant to its millions of fans over the last 50 years. In fact, Ford will be using Instagram to release the first official image of the 2015 Mustang.
An earlier leak revealed that the 2015 Ford Mustang will launch with the 3.7-liter V6 (305 hp) and 5.0-liter V8 (420 hp) carried over from the current generation but will add a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to the lineup with 310 hp.
"Mustang has come to be much more than just a car for its legions of fans spanning the globe from New Zealand to Iceland and Shanghai to Berlin," said Jim Farley, executive vice president of Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln. "When you experience Mustang, it ignites a sense of optimism and independence that inspires us all."
Honda S660 Concept Proves Small can be Awesome
Hummer H2 owners may disagree, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with driving a small car. Injecting some excitement into this part of the market Hondaunleashed a sporty open-top mini model here in Tokyo.
Called the S660 Concept this unusually stylish little two-door is pretty appealing, though some golf carts are probably bigger. In Japan vehicles of this size are referred to as kei cars and they have special restrictions on size, engine displacement and output; suffice to say they're absolutely tiny.
2015 Lexus RC 300h is a hardcore hybrid cherry coupe
Lexus is tag-teaming back into the hardcore coupe ring with this, the red rum RC 300h that's jumping off the top rope to "[inject] emotional appeal into the Lexus DNA." It's the hybrid version of the twin, powered by a 2.5-liter V6 aided by a 105-kW electric motor, the pair putting out 217 total horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque through a continuously variable transmission. The RC's other, more conventional half will come with a 3.5-liter V6 with 314 hp and 380 lb-ft shifted with an eight-speed sequential transmission.
The brand doesn't want you to take this RC Coupe for a two-door version of the IS. It's based on the GS platform but its dimensions are unique, being wider, lower and shorter in wheelbase than the IS. Concept-car headlights flank the most extreme version of the spindle grille yet seen on a production car, and the lighting novelty continuing in the cabin with illumination that is aimed up instead of down. The package will ride on either 18- or 19-inch wheels.
The "high contrast," dual-zone cabin is graced with shimamoku wood and Lexus' Remote Touch Interface, and Lexus says the seats have been conceived via an "integrated foaming construction method" like racing seats - we think they look spectacular stitched up in this carmel-colored leather.
It's all about the driving eventually, though, the promise of the RC backed by a body made more rigid through supplemental adhesive in its construction, thicker rocker panels, underbody aerodynamics, double wishbones in front and a multi-link suspension in back. We're told the RC will exhilarate drivers instead of overwhelm. Rear-wheel drive will be standard, all-wheel drive will be offered in select markets.
2014 Lexus CT shows new face
As expected, the most prominent change made to the CT's styling is the addition of Lexus' signature spindle grille. Additional changes include new wheel options and revised front and rear fascias, but our favorite update to the car is to the headlights, where there is no longer a gap in the middle of the LED running lights. The luxury hatchback has also received some changes to the cabin, including an updated instrument gauge cluster, a new fixed nav screen that replaces the previous folding unit and a freshened combination of cabin materials.
No changes have been made to the CT's hybrid powertrain, meaning the model will carry on with a 134-horsepower 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder paired with a drive motor and an electronic continuously variable transmission. Fuel economy ratings likely won't stray too much from the 2013 model's 43 miles per gallon city and 40 mpg highway ratings.
The motivational force may not have change, but Lexus has stiffened up the CT's chassis and fine-tuned its suspension and aerodynamics in the name of reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels. As with the current model, there will still be an F Sport offering, and in addition a more aggressive look, it will also maintain its firmer suspension. There is still no indication as to when the 2014 CT will go on sale or how much it will cost - the current car starts at around $32k -.
2014 Mazda6 earns Popular Mechanics' 'Car of the Year'
Ring one up for Mazda. The Japanese brand's midsize offering, the Mazda6, has been named Popular Mechanics' Car of the Year. The 6 received a comprehensive reworking for the 2014 model year that saw it adopt sleek, sexy sheet metal; a clean, logical interior; and powertrain technologies that allow it to net some of the best fuel economy available in a gas-powered, non-hybrid sedan.
Popular Mechanics praised the 6's Skyactiv 2.5-liter, 184-horsepower engine, as well as its agility and responsiveness during testing. It also remarked on the functional, but well designed cabin, and the degree of available technology.
"The Mazda6 really impressed us with how well it delivers so many things modern car owners want: great mileage, fun road-handling, upscale features and looks - and remarkable value," said Jim Meigs, Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics.
"To be named Car of the Year by a publication as esteemed as Popular Mechanics is as flattering as it is humbling," said Mazda's president and CEO, Jim O'Sullivan.
Toyota, Lexus dominate KBB's Best Resale Value Awards
Toyota and Lexus stormed the 2014 Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Awards, winning a combined 18 categories including best brand and best luxury brand. This marks the third year in a row that both automakers have won the Brand and Luxury Brand resale value awards. In all, Toyota won 11 categories and Lexus won seven.
Honda made a good showing, as well, winning two segments (Accord Plug-In Hybrid and Civic Si) and putting one car on the top-10 Best Resale Value list (CR-V). Chevrolet did even better, winning two segments (with the V6 Camaro and the Corvette) and placing three cars on the top-10-overall list (again, the Camaro and Corvette, plus the Silverado 1500).
The other winners came from Jeep, Dodge, Infiniti, Subaru and Audi. To give you a clearer picture of the Toyota and Lexus domination, their 18 mentions represents more than half of the 34 awards (including the top-10-overall list).
Here's the Top 10 Cars list:
- Chevrolet Camaro
- Jeep Wrangler
- Chevrolet Corvette
- Toyota FJ Cruiser
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500
- Toyota Tacoma
- Dodge Challenger
- Toyota Tundra
- Honda CR-V
- Toyota 4Runner
Toyota Donates $500K of Relief Money for Philippines
Toyota has pledged $500,000 in donations to support relief efforts in the Phillipines.
Residents of the Phillipines have barely begun the recovery process from the devastating typhoon that hit their shores, but relief aid has been pouring in from all around the world. Toyota will donate $250,000 to theAmerican Red Crossto support relief efforts along with a previous donation of 10-million Phillipines pesos.
"On behalf of Toyota, we express our sincere condolences to the families affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and surrounding areas," said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America. "Thanks to the generosity of our associates and team members, Toyota's giving will go even further to help families in need."
Combined, the donation is nearly $500,000 but the Japanese automaker will also be matching employee contributions to the American Red Crossand other non-profits doing relief and recovery work in the region.
2014 Acura MDX and RDX Earn Top NHTSA Crash Scores
While other automakers are struggling to meet standards set by new crash tests, Honda and Acura are putting out winners, at least according to the latest round of NHTSA crash testing.
Acura proudly announced today that its two crossovers scored a 5-star overall vehicle score by NHTSA, thanks to impressive performance in both front and side impact tests. While both impact tests resulted in a five-star rating, the cars also scored an acceptable four-star rating for rollover resistance.
With these top scores from NHTSA, Acura expects its cars to get the top "good" rating from the IIHS in the recently introduced frontal overlap crash test, a score that few automakers are seeing. As a result the brand also believes the MDX will earn the prized "Top Safety Pick+" rating from the IIHS and thinks the RDX is good for a "Top Safety Pick" as well.
This marks a bit of a streak for the Japanese automaker, as its Civic compact and Odyssey minivan both scored top marks recently for crash safety. This recent success should help Honda and Acura win marks with consumers especially after 400,000 vehicles were recalled for faulty air-bag sensors.
Honda flaunts freshened 2014 Civic Coupe at SEMA
Honda took the wraps off its 2014 Civic Coupe (red car pictured above) and 2014 Civic Si (gray car in thegallery below) at SEMA today, revealing a mid-cycle refresh for each model. The standard Civic coupe benefits from several cosmetic enhancements, while the Civic Si gets the bulk of its improvements under the hood - precisely where the enthusiasts want them.
The best-selling Civic Coupe sports a new front fascia that is "fun and sporty," says the automaker. The more aggressive snout is a step in the proper direction, as its new shape and exclusive grille design gives the two-door a distinctive appearance that sets it apart from its sedan sibling. The rear end follows the same design language, as the lower portion of the urethane bumper gains some character - its smooth surface has been resculpted and recontoured. Newly available 18-inch wheels complete the exterior transformation.
The 2014 Civic Si benefits from a larger spoiler and new wheels, but the big news is in the powertrain. Honda has massaged the 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine and opened up the exhaust system. As a result, output climbs to 205 horsepower (up from 201) and torque increases to 174 pound-feet (up from 170). The power gains aren't extraordinary, but they should allow the coupe to hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in about six seconds flat and still return over 30 mpg on the open road. Scroll down for the official release.
Lexus & BMW Working Together on a Hybrid Supercar?
Peter Lyon from Motoring Australia is reporting that BMW & Lexus are working on a next-generation LFA supercar:
It's been nearly two years since Toyota and BMW announced an agreement to co-develop sports cars using state-of-the-art hybrid technologies, and now a source close to the two companies says the pair has decided on its first joint-venture.
In all their wisdom, executives citing the high cost of developing a high-performance sports car with lightweight materials have opted for a $300,000-plus Lexus LFA-style package, but with a hybrid twist.
Lyon speculates that this new supercar would be powered by the BMW M5′s 4.4-liter turbo V8 and the Lexus hybrid system, with the chassis developed using carbon fiber techniques from both the Lexus LFA & the BMW i8 — if correct, this would certainly make for a potent mixture of speed and performance.
This rumor seemed outlandish when it was first mentioned in Best Car magazine last week, as the partnership between the companies was expected to focus on BMW & Toyota — I'm lukewarm on BMW engines in Lexus vehicles, but it's far too early to say what the end result will be. A very interesting turn-of-events, to be sure.
2015 Honda Fit Hybrid Gets 35% Bump in Fuel Economy
Honda has announced that its all-new Fit Hybrid will boast a 35 percent bump in fuel economy compared to its current lineup of 1.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid powertains offered in cars like the CR-Z and Civic Hybrid.
The new Fit, which is the first model to be equipped with the automaker's new Sport Hybrid Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive (i-DCD), will go on sale in Japan this September before heading to the U.S. as a 2015 model. According to a report by Automotive News, the subcompact hatchback won't offer the hybrid system in the US, though a crossover based on the same platform will.
The i-DCD is Honda's lightweight and compact one-motor hybrid system built for small vehicles and is part of its Earth Dreams lineup of next-generation powertrains.
The 2015 Honda Fit Hybrid will be powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine with the Sport Hybrid i-DCD consisting of a seven-speed dual-clutch system. According to the Japanese automaker, the system automatically changes to three driving modes by engaging and disengaging the engine depending on driving situations. The three modes on the Fit Hybrid are the EV Drive Mode for motor-only driving, the Hybrid Drive Mode for both engine and motor driving, and the Engine Drive Mode for engine-only driving. The Fit Hybrid will generate 135 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque and is expected to achieve at least 55 mpg in the U.S.
Honda is also boasting that the 2015 Honda Fit Hybrid will feature the highest fuel economy among all hybrid models in Japan.
In Japan the 2015 Honda Fit will also be available in an RS model with a 1.5-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission, while a 1.3-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder will also be available with 98 horsepower and 88 lb-ft of torque with a new CVT.
It's not clear which versions will be offered in North America, though the the 2015 Fit will be manufactured in North America at the automaker's new plant in Mexico.
2015 Mustang to Kick Off with 1,000 Limited Edition 2014.5 Models
When the next-generation Ford Mustang arrives, it'll be kicked off with a special edition run as a 2014.5 model year, limited to 1,000 units.
The limited 1,000 units will be the first Mustangs based on the new S550 platform and will undoubtedly become an instant collectors' item, with each one sporting a special VIN and build number. As for hoping that it'll be a high-performance variant, prepare to be disappointed. According to reports, the 2014.5 Mustang won't feature any additional upgrades compared to the standard 2015 Mustang, but there's a possibility of some special badging to commemorate the car's 50th anniversary.
The next-generation Mustang is expected to come with several engine choices: a 2.3-liter, EcoBoost four-cylinder with around 350 horsepower, the base-model V6, and a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 with upwards of 450 horsepower. The 2015 Ford Mustang will feature an independent rear and we should be seeing a glimpse of it before the end of the year.
2015 Lexus RC F Caught Testing on the Nürburgring
After being uncovered yesterday, the LexusRC-F coupe is strutting its stuff today, hitting the Nürburgring for some testing, and AutoGuide's spy photographers were on hand to capture it in action.
The Lexus RC will be replacing the IS coupe, and its high-performance RC-F model is essentially a next-generation IS-F in coupe form. As first glance, some would say that its front-end changes reflect a baby LFA model, with its aggressive air intakes on the front corners and wider rear fenders.
The powerplant for the RC-F is being kept under wraps, but it's believed that it'll have around 450 horsepower when it debuts, whether it's in a turbocharged six-cylinder or a more fuel- and emission-efficient V8. The RC-F is expected to make its debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, while the standard RC coupe will be unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.
Third Annual Toyota 100 Cars For Good Program Continues to Impact
TORRANCE, Calif. (July 15, 2013) - For the third year in a row, Toyota's 100 Cars for Goodphilanthropic program will invite the public to select another 100 worthy organizations nationwide that will receive a Toyota vehicle. Beginning July 22, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can apply online at www.100carsforgood.com explaining how a new vehicle would support their work. Based on individuals' votes, Toyota will give away two cars per day for 50 days to selected organizations.
Since 2011, 100 Cars for Good has put 200 cars on the road to benefit organizations and causes that touch real lives - from transporting disabled adults and taking zoo animals to schools, to restoring homes flooded by Superstorm Sandy.
Toyota Saves Trees…by the Billions
How do you save a few billion trees and a billion bucks? Boot the box. Kick the carton. Punt the packaging.
More than a decade ago, Toyota began using returnable containers for shipping parts and accessories. The environmental impact so far: saving 220 million pounds of wood and 145 million pounds of cardboard, the equivalent of 2.7 billion trees. It also adds up to $1 billion in cost savings for the company...and that's no pulp fiction.
Toyota Donates $50,000 to Help Victims and Families Affected by Arizona Fire
NEW YORK (July 10, 2013) - Toyota today announced a $50,000 donation, to be divided between the 100 Club of Arizona and the Yarnell (Ariz.) Community Center, to aid and support families of the 19 firefighters who lost their lives and the families who lost their homes in the recent Arizona fire.
"On behalf of Toyota, we express our sincere condolences to the families that have lost loved ones and homes in this tragic event," said Latondra Newton, group vice president, national philanthropy and the Toyota USA Foundation. "Our thoughts go out to everyone in the community."
Toyota has operations and offices near the affected areas, with the Toyota Arizona Proving Ground (TAPG), Toyota's largest vehicle evaluation investment in the United States, being located in Wittmann and Toyota Financial Services customer and dealer service centers near Phoenix.
Since 2001, Toyota and its North American employees have donated nearly $15 million in charitable funds and vehicles, as well as the skill-based volunteerism of Toyota's employees to support disaster relief efforts across the United States.
Honda, Lexus Top Best CPO Value Awards
Honda, Lexus and GMC are your best bets when shopping for a Certified Pre-Owned car, claiming top spots in their respective classes in the first ever Vincentric Best CPO Value in America Awards.
Top marks went to Honda for the best value passenger car brand while Lexus took home the award for the best luxury brand. GMC was awarded the best CPO value in the truck class.
Awards are determined based on which vehicles have a lower than expected ownership cost based on their market segment and price. Cost of ownership is based on eight criteria: depreciation, fees and taxes, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost and repairs.
"The Vincentric Best CPO Value in America awards recognizes the efforts manufacturers have put into quality improvements," says David Wurster, President of Vincentric. "These improvements, supported by strong CPO warranties, provide value to buyers of certified pre-owned vehicles. When a great vehicle is combined with a great CPO program, more and more consumers will consider a certified pre-owned vehicle."
2014 Mazda3 Sedan Fully Revealed in Leaked Images
The first photos of the 2014 Mazda3 sedan has leaked onto the Internet, ahead of the car's official debut.
Looking very much like the hatchback counterpart that was revealed last month, the 2014 Mazda3 sedan almost looks like a baby Mazda6. A longer roofline streaks down to a cleanly designed rear end with a large trunk.
As expected, the interior of the sedan is identical to the hatchback and powerplant choices are expected to be the same as well in America: a 2.0-liter with 155 hp and an option 2.5-liter with 184 hp.
The 2014 Mazda3 sedan is expected to go on sale towards the end of this year.
Toyota Prius Passes 3 Million Global Sales Mark
Toyota has announced that its Prius vehicle has passed the three million unit mark in global sales.
Originally launched in 1997 as the world's first mass-produced hybrid passenger car, the Prius got a boom when its second-generation model debuted in 2003. But it was the third-generation Prius in 2009 that helped make the model's sales soar, helping spawn the Prius v, Prius c, and Prius plug-in hybrid variants.
Arguably, the Prius paved the way to the market success of hybrid vehicles, and the Japanese automaker will continue investing heavily into its Prius model and hybrid technology. Toyota has announced that it will pour over $7.9 billion into environmental technology development which will include a new research and development facility. The money will also go toward expanding its powertrain Development and production engineering building, as well as its aerodynamics laboratory.
Ford builds USAF Thunderbirds Edition Mustang for charity
Each year since 2008, Ford has created a one-off Mustang to celebrate military aviation, and the cars have been auctioned off at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Gathering of Eagles charity event to raise money to inspire the next generation of aviators. This year's charity car is the 2014 Ford Mustang GT US Air Force Thunderbirds Edition, which also helps celebrate 60 years of Thunderbirds air show excellence.
Of all the EAA charity cars, this Thunderbirds Edition is the most in depth. Painted to match the F-16 Falcon fighter jets used by Thunderbirds, this Mustang also gets a widebody kit and 22-inch Forgiato wheels to go with the cockpit's Recaro bucket seats, rear-seat delete and modified navigation screen and gauge cluster. Even the Mustang's projector puddle lights have been changed to show an aircraft silhouette - rather than the Mustang's galloping horse logo - when the doors are open.
Toyota Motor Sales No. 1 Retail Manufacturer in May 2013
TMS Remains Hybrid Leader with Double-Digit Gains; Lexus Luxury Sedans Up Nearly 30 Percent May 2013 Sales Chart
TORRANCE, Calif. (June 3, 2013) - Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today reported May 2013 sales results of 207,952 units, an increase of 2.5 percent over May 2012 on both a volume and daily selling rate (DSR) basis.
Toyota Division posted May 2013 sales of 185,723 units, up 2.3 percent year-over-year on both a volume and DSR basis.
"New vehicle sales are heating up along with the weather, and solid May results coupled with an excellent Memorial Day weekend provide great momentum as we move into the summer selling season," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. "The five-year high in consumer confidence translated into especially strong retail sales and as the industry leader last month, we're well-positioned to provide the vehicles customers want."
Lexus reported May 2013 sales of 22,229 units, up 3.6 percent on both a volume and DSR basis compared to the same period last year.
"Luxury vehicle sales are benefitting from the rise in consumer confidence," said Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "The ES and LS are two of the hottest models in the luxury industry with sales doubling in May, and we expect this momentum to carry through the summer months."
- TMS retail sales up 7.5 percent
- TMS hybrids increased 16.7 percent
- Toyota Division No. 1 retail brand for third consecutive month
- Camry is best-selling car in America, with sales of 39,216 units
- Prius family records best month in a year, increasing nearly 10 percent
- All-new Avalon increased more than 260 percent, with sales of 7,099 units
- All-new RAV4 posted best-ever May sales of 20,780 units, up 8 percent
- Tacoma continued to lead segment with sales of 14,727 units, up 20 percent
- Tundra recorded sales of 9,950 units, up 13.5 percent
- Scion FR-S led Scion Division with sales of 1,937 units
- Lexus LS increased 117 percent, with sales of 996 units
- Lexus ES reported sales of 5,890 units, up 100.5 percent
*Note: Unless otherwise stated, all figures reflect unadjusted raw sales volume
2014 Acura MDX priced from $42,290*
The fully redesigned 2014 MDX goes on sale in July, and Acura has now confirmed that its largest crossover will be priced at $42,290 (*plus $895 for destination). Unlike previous MDX models, Acura will offer the 2014 model with both front- and all-wheel drive (the automaker's fantastic Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, at that), and this base price is for the standard, two-wheel-drive MDX model. At the base level, this new pricing represents a $990 decrease over the outgoing, AWD-only 2013 model.
Four trim levels will be offered across the range, all of which use Acura's direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include things like push-button start, Acura's fancy new Jewel Eye LED headlights, the next-generation AcuraLink system, an eight-inch multi-function display screen, blind spot monitoring and a premium sound system.
Moving up from there, the Technology package ($46,565) gains 19-inch wheels (18s are standard), forward collision warning, lane departure warning, a color TFT display, rain-sensing wipers and more. The Entertainment Package (bundled into one $48,565 model) adds rear seat entertainment to all of that. At the top end, the MDX Advance model gets unique wheels, remote engine start, 12-speaker ELS premium audio, adaptive cruise control and more. Adding Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive to any of these models results in a $2,000 price jump.
We'll be posting our full First Drive of the MDX later today, so stay tuned for even more details and impressions at that time. In the meantime, click through our massive high-res gallery above to see plenty of pretty new MDX photos.
New Mazda3 Hatchback Revealed in Magazine?
A picture taken from the pages of a Japanese magazine might have prematurely revealed the new Mazda3 hatchback
The new hatchback will run on Mazda's SkyActiv platform with the company's KODO "soul of motion" design language first seen on the CX-5 small crossover. While Mazda hasn't officially announced when it will begin delivering the new compact car, past reports suggest some dealers expect to start receiving them late this year.
Mazda is aiming to increase its sales beyond 300,000 units per year in North America for 2013. Given that the Mazda3 is its top seller, offering it this year could make sense.
Joe Bacal & Lexus LX 570 Win Stock Full Class in Baja 500 Race
Joe Bacal and the JTGrey team have won the Stock Full class with their Lexus LX 570 in this weekend's Baja 500 race. The team finished the race with an (unofficial) time of 20 hours & 15 minutes.
Driver Joe Bacal 'ironmanned' the entire 500 miles, driving without relief. Motocross racer Kalani Inez was the co-driver the first 230 miles, and Lexus International's Paul Williamsen took over for the remaining 270 miles.
Congratulations to Joe & the entire team on the victory!
Volkswagen of San Bernardino
The newest addition to the Wilson Automotive Group family!
April 4 was an exciting day for the Wilson Automotive Group – and for the City of San Bernardino. That was the day we broke ground for our 17th dealership: Volkswagen of San Bernardino.
The Mayor, City Council members, VW executives and Wilson corporate employees took turns with shovels and hard hats to celebrate this exciting addition to the San Bernardino Auto Center. Casey Griffin, of Logan Asset Management, who orchestrated the acquisition and worked with city officials to bring this project to fruition, commented: "The Wilson Group is very excited about opening their first Volkswagen dealership and becoming a part of the community of San Bernardino."
Situated on 3.5 acres in the San Bernardino Auto Center and fronting the 215 Freeway, the dealership will cover about 34,000 square feet and house 17 service bays. Projected sales of 60 new and 40 used vehicles per month will support 50 full-time employees.
Derrick Van Nieulande has been tapped to be the new general manager. Derrick has been with the Wilson Group for 15 years, most recently as the general sales manager of Newport Lexus, and says he is excited about his transition to Volkswagen. "I am proud to represent the quality Volkswagen product; and I know our store and our employees will add a positive synergy to the auto center and the community."
The dealership plans to open for business November 15. For more information, or to apply for employment, go to the corporate website, www.DavidWilsonAutoGroup.com, or Email: email@example.com.
2013 Honda Civic Receives Five-Star Safety Rating
The 2013 Honda Civic sedan has been awarded a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Civic sedan scored four stars on the frontal crash test, five stars on the side impact test, and four stars for rollover protection, giving it a five-star overall rating. The coupe on the other hand, while it had the same scores on each individual test, was awarded a four-star rating since crash dummies received more significant injuries in side-impact crash tests.
The 2013 Honda Civic sedan was also named a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and was the first small, compact car to meet the new standard.
Pricing for the Honda Civic sedan starts at $18,955 including a $790 destination charge.
Lexus LF-LC Production Model in 2016?
Car & Driver is reporting that a production model based on the Lexus LF-LC concept could be released in 2016:
A two-plus-two sports coupe concept from Toyota's California design studio that could be Lexus's answer to the Aston Martin DB9 if, of course, it reaches production. More expensive and more driver-oriented than the defunct SC430 convertible, this “poor man's LFA” (it'll cost about half as much) will squeeze at least 500 horsepower from its hybrid powertrain.
A 2016 release date lines up with previous rumors - the magazine also suggests that the production LF-LC will be powered by a hybrid V8 power train and priced just below $200,000.
Ford Fusion Energi Earns Five-Star Safety Rating
The 2013 FordFusion Energi has been awarded a five-star Overall Vehicle Score in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).
The Energi plug-in hybrid's five-star rating is no real surprise considering the other Fusion models also received five-star safety ratings. NHTSA, however, has chosen to test plug-in vehicles separately since the market share of electrified vehicles continues to grow.
The 2013 Ford Fusion was also named a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is rated at 108 MPGe.
“The Fusion Energi combines the highest possible safety ratings from NHTSA and great fuel economy, two things we know customers are looking for in their vehicles,” said Steve Kenner, Global Director of the Ford Automotive Safety Office. “Our strategy is to provide our customers with a range of powertrain options in our vehicles, while still leading in fuel economy in every segment that we compete.”
BMW-Toyota sports car heading towards Tokyo debut
Earlier this year, BMW and Toyota confirmed a four-part joint venture mostly focusing on increasing improving vehicle efficiency using fuel cells, lightweight materials and better battery technology. Also tucked into the announcement was a "feasibility study" for a shared platform to underpin a future midsize "sports vehicle."
In terms of the latter, it seems that things have stepped up from the feasibility stage to the conceptual stage, as Motor Trend reports we could see a pair of new sports car concepts debut later this year in at the Tokyo Motor Show. There isn't much information about the new program, but the article suggests the sports cars could be all-wheel drive hybrids, with electric motors powering the front wheels and a gas engine powering the rear wheels. While a partnership between Toyota and BMW might not lend itself to a catchy portmanteau like "Toyobaru," here's hoping it will bear fruit that is as exciting as the ones produced by the Toyota/Subaru tie up.
2015 Mazda3 spied for the first time
In terms of exterior appearance, not much has changed from the last time we spotted the next-generation Mazda3 out testing. Oh, sure - we can see plenty of details that clearly show the new Kodo design influence (that front end reminds us a whole lot of the sleek new Mazda6), but these latest round of spy shots don't really show us anything we haven't seen before. Oh, wait, yes they do - the interior.
2015 Mazda3 interiorFeast your eyes on the Mazda3's insides, showing a vastly reworked interior that also takes cues from the automaker's most recently refreshed products. We can see that there's a simple, clean center stack with a slim row of heating and cooling functions, and up top there's a large, presumably touchscreen display, with redundant controls found just aft of the shifter.
We expect that the 2015 Mazda3 will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September, packing both petrol and diesel engines. A sedan variant is also in the works, and should debut shortly after the hatchback.
Lexus Japan Releases Very First 2014 IS Commercial
Lexus Planning to Build Small Two-Seat Roadster?
According to Motor Trend, Lexus may be building a small two-seat roadster as a result of the recent BMW/Toyota partnership - here's a quote from the latest issue of the magazine:
Sources in Japan say Toyota's version (of the joint BMW/Toyota sports car) will actually underpin an all-new Lexus sports car, a suggestion that makes all the sense in the world given Akio Toyoda's ambition to make Lexus a genuine global rival to the German lux-meisters. Whisper is the new Lexus will be positioned to compete with the Mercedes SLK, BMW Z4, and entry-level Porsche Boxster.
If I understand this correctly, this would be an additional vehicle beyond the rumored RC mid-size coupe - if true, this could be a major shift in the way Lexus approaches mass production vehicles, as niche market models have never been a priority with the brand.
The strategy reminds me of this Akio Toyoda quote from Automotive News:
"When we have a design screening, my role is to simply talk with the right side of the brain," Toyoda said. "There are already enough people at Toyota who use the left side of the brain. You need to be able to say, 'Wow! I want that!'"
2015 Acura NSX to be Produced at New Performance Manufacturing Center in OhioAcura has announced that the all-new NSX will be produced at Honda's new Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio.
The production facility will cost the Japanese automaker $70 million and will encompass 184,000 square feet housed inside Honda's former North American Logistics facility. It will also be in the midst of Honda's existing R&D and production engineering operations.
The new production facility will be Honda's third plant in Ohio and is merely a few miles away from Honda R&D Americas, Inc. Ohio Center that is also engineering the supercar for production. Approximately 100 manufacturing associates will be employed at the site while associates from Honda's engine plant in Anna, Ohio will assemble the NSX's powertrain.
The automaker also announced today that Honda R&D chief engineer Ted Klaus is leading the global team developing the new NSX while Clement D'Souza, associate chief engineer at Honda of America, is leading the production team for the NSX.
"We have a very clear understanding of the high customer expectations luxury buyers around the world have for a supercar, and our challenge is to exceed them and create new value for the customer," said Klaus. "This new Performance Manufacturing Center will be key to this challenge."
Toyota Overtakes BMW as Most Valuable Global Car Brand
Automotive News reports that Toyota has overtaken BMW as the most valuable automotive brand, an annual ranking of the world's top brands shows. The value of the Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Hyundai brands improved by double-digit percentages compared with 2012, largely because of strong demand in China and the United States, according to the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study released by market research company Millward Brown on Monday. Toyota's 2013 brand value rose 12 percent to $24.5 billion largely because of its significant inroads in the hybrid market, according to the study. "Toyota is carving out a very big position in hybrids across its range, which is tapping into the consumer need for value by saving fuel cost," Peter Walshe, Millward Brown global brand director, told Automotive News. BMW's brand value dipped by 2 percent to $24 billion, according to the study, because of the German automaker's lack of new product launches compared with past years. "The automotive brands that grew the most were the ones that launched the most models," Walshe said. "BMW remains a very powerful and distinctive brand." Read more about the most valuable global car brands here.
Toyota Donates $1 Million to Support Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts; Reports No Significant Hurricane-Related Impact on its North American Operations
Toyota today announced a $1 million contribution to the American Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations to support relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy in the regions worst-hit by the storm. In addition, Toyota will match employee contributions to the American Red Cross and other non-profits doing relief and recovery work in affected communities.
Commenting on the donation, Shigeki Terashi, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc., said, "On behalf of Toyota, we express our sincere condolences to the families affected by Hurricane Sandy. Since we have operations and many dealerships in the affected regions, we felt a special responsibility to lend a hand. In addition to this contribution, many Toyota employees are already involved in volunteer activities to support those in need. We very much appreciate their support."
Beginning Nov. 1, Toyota Financial Services (TFS) and Lexus Financial Services (LFS) will launch a "Customer Outreach" calling campaign to lease and retail customers who are delinquent, or become delinquent, due to circumstances related to the storm and who reside in the 13 states directly impacted by the hurricane (CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT and WV) and in the District of Columbia. This campaign will determine if these customers may be eligible to take advantage of payment relief options, some of which include:
- extensions and lease deferred payments;
- redirecting billing statements;
- and arranging phone or on-line payments
Toyota Financial customers with questions about their account should call (800) 874-8822. Lexus Financial customers with questions about their account should call (800) 874-7050. Qualified residents residing in FEMA-designated areas (of the above-mentioned states and the District) needing to purchase a vehicle may also take advantage of a 90 Day Deferred First Payment Program designed to assist customers with their transportation needs as they work through the recovery process. This program is for a limited time and only available through participating Toyota and Lexus dealers and TFS/LFS.
Toyota Operations Toyota continues to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to its operations on the East Coast and reports no known injuries to associates, family members and dealer employees. The storm had the biggest impact on company operations and dealerships in the New Jersey area. Some regional/branch offices, as well as Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships, were affected by flooding and power outages. Toyota Logistics Services operations at the Port of Newark (N.J.) sustained water damage to its buildings and a number of vehicles.
Toyota Assembles 25 Millionth Vehicle in North America
Toyota celebrated the 25 millionth vehicle manufactured in North America today at a ceremony at its Georgetown, Ky., plant coinciding with the start of production for the all-new 2013 Avalon. The milestone vehicle - a Classic Silver Hybrid Avalon - represents 26 years of manufacturing, a direct investment of nearly $24 billion in North American operations and 365,000 jobs created in the United States.
Speaking at a line-off ceremony in Georgetown today, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky President Wil James said, "This is a pivotal time in Toyota's history. What better way to cap off 26 years of manufacturing excellence than with the all-new Kentucky-assembled Avalon, a shining example of what our customers have to look forward to in the future."
To learn more, please click on www.toyotanewsroom.com
Toyota Prius is California's Best Selling Car
If you live in California, this won't come as a surprise to you at all. The Toyota Prius is the best-selling car in the state - sort of.
In fact, it's not the traditional Prius model by itself that has tallied more sales than rivals like the Honda Civic, Accord and the Toyota Camry, but rather the Prius family of cars.
Nine months into 2012, Toyota has sold 46,380 Prius models to California drivers according to the California New Cars Dealers Association in its California Auto Outlook report. With gas prices continuing to rise in California, it's no surprise that demand for the fuel-efficient Prius has also risen.
In total, 1.25 million new cars have been sold in California through September this year, which is 11 percent of the total nationwide sales of 10.9 million. The Prius however, has sold 183,340 nationwide, which means California drivers have accounted for 25 percent of the total Prius sales.
To learn more, please click on http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/toyota-prius-is-californias-best-selling-car.html
Honda, Ohio State Co-Develop Driving Simulator
The new Driving Simulator Laboratory will be designed to conduct advanced research into distracted driving and other issues that affect driver behavior and road safety. It will be co-developed by Honda R&D Americas and the Ohio State University Office of Research.
"This new simulator will help us further strengthen our local research capabilities to gain an even deeper understanding of our customers and to advance our ability to create even more safe, smart and intuitive Honda and Acura products," said Frank Paluch, senior vice president of Honda R&D America's Inc.
The main simulator will feature a full cab, mounted to a six-degrees-of-freedom motion platform with a 240-degree wraparound projection screen. High-resolution, edge-blended visuals will display a wide variety of driving situations to simulate real-world scenarios. A second simulator will also be developed to optimize the testing for production vehicles.
To read the article, go to: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/honda-ohio-state-co-develop-driving-simulator.html.
Lexus LF-LC Blue Concept is a 500 HP Hybrid
Following up on the Lexus LF-LC concept that debuted earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, the Japanese automaker just unveiled its LF-LC Blue concept in Australia.
The LF-LC Blue concept uses carbon fiber technology from the brand's LFA supercar and also features the next-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive system with a high-energy battery pack. Finished in a unique Opal Blue that's been inspired by the country's precious stone, the LF-LC Blue concept looks right at home in Australia.
The Advanced Lexus Hybrid Drive system features a powerful and efficient Atkinson cycle combustion engine mated to an advanced high-energy battery pack. Combined, the LF-LC Blue concept has an output of 500 hp, which is the most of any Lexus hybrid.
The LF-LC Blue concept is also packed with state-of-the-art technology, previewing the direction that Lexus is heading with its interior electronics. A pair of 12.3-inch LCD screens provide information and navigation, while inputs come from a touchscreen interface in the center console. The interior is treated with a variety of smooth leather, suede, brushed metal trim and wood accents. To read the article, go to: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/lexus-lf-lc-blue-concept-is-a-500-hp-hybrid.html#more-161241
Toyota Tundra Successfully Tows the Space Shuttle - Video
A stock Toyota Tundra hauled the nearly 300,000 lbs. space shuttle and towing rig a total of 12 miles this past Friday, delivering the ship to its final resting place at the California Science Center.
Toyota and the California science center have had a partnership that spans back 20 years that has helped raise awareness of the space program. "We've partnered with the California Science Center since the early '90s as part of our ongoing commitment to inspiring youth in the fields of engineering, innovation and future technology, and we are honored to lend our support for this historic event," said Michael Rouse, vice president of community affairs and philanthropy for Toyota.
To read the full article click here
Honda Civic Natural Gas Buyers Getting $3,000 Gas Card
Those looking for ways to fight against the recent rise in gas prices might want to consider a 2012 Honda Civic, the Natural Gas model to be more specific. The Japanese automaker has teamed up with Clean Energy to give $3,000 fuel cards to new buyers.
Compressed natural gas is currently $2 cheaper than gasoline, and since the Honda Civic Natural Gas gets a combined EPA fuel economy rating of 31, up to 40 percent can be saved compared to a traditional gasoline car. The 2012 Civic Natural Gas also qualifies for a single-occupant HOV carpool decal in California and other states.
Read the full article at http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/honda-civic-natural-gas-buyers-getting-3000-gas-card.html#more-159994.
Lexus LFA Nurburgring Beats Executive Jet in Race
Unconventional to say the least, Lexus pitted its LFA Nurburgring Edition supercar against an Eclipse 500 jet in a race yesterday.
The event took place in Longmont, Colo. and involved running both vessels down a 4,800-foot runway before pulling a u-turn to cover the same distance. Exciting as the idea of a car racing a jet might be, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the LFA won by two seconds.
It ran like this: the jet crossed the starting line already travelling 150 knots (about 173 mph) at which point Scott Pruett, who drive the LFA, hammered on the gas. Both the car and plane would travel the runway's distance before making the aforementioned u-turn to repeat the same distance.
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Ford Shows Off Composite Tech With Carbon Fiber Hood
Carbon fiber, typically used in race cars and high-end sports cars, is now making its way on conventional vehicles as automakers find a more efficient way in cutting costs on the lightweight material.
Ford showed off its newest carbon fiber technology that could be used to help improve fuel economy on its hybrid and electric vehicles. The prototype carbon fiber hood is the American automaker's first step in manufacturing an affordable version of the material that could help cut the weight of its vehicles by up to 749 lbs by the end of this decade.
The automaker has teamed up with Dow Automotive Systems to develop a more affordable way of manufacturing automotive-grade carbon fiber for high-volume applications.
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Scion FR-S the First of Three Sports Cars Says Chief Engineer
The Toyota GT86 or Scion FR-S as it's known on our shores may just be the best new sports car in a generation, but it certainly won't be the last of its kind. According to chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, the FR-S is just the first of three planned sports cars by the world's largest automaker.
Speaking to Top Gear in the Philippines, Tada not only confirmed that two more cars are coming, but let slip details about where they will fit in in the Toyota lineup.
Surprisingly, as impressive a performance bargain as the FR-S is, it will fill the middle slot in the brand's new sports car lineup.
"The first is more mass-market and cheaper than the 86," Tada said. And the third, well, it's, "more upmarket than the 86."
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Ford Claims Best Fuel Economy at Montreal Green Rally
Vehicles don't try to race around the course as quickly as possible at the Montreal Green Rally.
Part of the FIA Alternative Energies Cup, participants drive their vehicle on a predefined course at normal speeds to determine fuel and energy consumption.
"It was a terrific race and the Ford Focus Electric was a definite asset in terms of getting best energy economy. Ford got it right when they developed this vehicle, the brake regeneration system is incredibly efficient," said Sylvain Juteau, who recently made automotive history by being the first to drive to the top of Mount Washington in his own Ford Focus Electric.
This year, Sylvain Juteau and Bruno Guglielminetti claimed a podium finish for Ford of Canada with a 2012 Ford Focus Electric at the event. The Focus Electric came in first place in the energy consumption standings and second place overall in the all-electric standings at the two-day event.
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Accord Hybrid Might be US-Built in 2015
Anyone interested in buying a hybrid Honda Accord had better not hold their breath - there won't be many making it to the U.S.
That's because the strong yen is forcing Honda's export costs high enough to seriously squeeze profit margins, something the conservative company might soon change by relocating some of its production to the U.S.
Honda chief engineer Chitoshi Yokota told Japanese newspaper Nikkei Sangyo business daily that those changes might be coming soon.
"We won't be able to expand the business unless we come to be able to procure and make the battery and the motor locally, maybe around 2015," he said.
But when that happens, customers can expect to see more Accord hybrids in North American showrooms although it still isn't clear where Honda will move Accord production when that shift takes place.
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Toyota Named Top Auto Brand for 9th Year Running
Toyota has once again claimed the top spot in Interbrand's annual ranking for the world's best automotive brands, while placing 10th overall.
In the just released Best Global Brands report, Toyota is credited for its customer service, it's lineup of green cars (including the Prius) and its growing appeal with younger customers. This marks the 9th straight year Toyota has placed first in the automotive category.
Toyota ranks just ahead of Mercedes in 11th spot and BMW in 12th. Rounding out the top five are Honda in 21st and Volkswagen in 39th. Other automakers to make the Top 100 include Ford, Audi, Porsche, Kia, Ferrari and Hyundai.
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