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The Car Connection News Feed: Study shows 60 percent of recreational marijuana users drive under the influence

The Top Zones - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 10:00
Over half of legal recreational marijuana users who responded to a survey said that they have driven under the influence of the drug. The survey was conducted by insurance comparison website in March The Zebra and its findings released last week may underscore the lack of regulations and guidelines regarding driving under the influence of...
Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Spied! Bright Green 992 Porsche 911 Targa Tests Near the Nurburgring

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 22:43

Late last year, Porsche finally took the wraps off the redesigned 2020 911. As we found when we drove it a few months later, the new 911 Carrera S is “thrillingly fast, telepathically responsive, and wonderfully communicative. It’s all 911, all the time, yet more approachable and trustworthy at the limit than ever before.” Even if we’re not entirely sold on some of the styling changes, a review like that has us anxious to drive other variants. And based on what we can see of the prototype shown here, it won’t be long before Porsche introduces the new 911 Targa.

If you’re only in the market for a drop-top 911, Porsche has already said the 911 Carrera S and 4S convertibles will go on sale this summer. We’ve already seen those, and while we’re sure they’ll be great, the 911 Targa is the open-roof variant we’re most interested in. Is it necessary? Not really. Stowing the power-retractable top is an absurdly complicated process that involves the entire rear section folding backward, flaps in the Targa bar opening, and the cloth roof sliding behind the rear seats. But is it cool? Absolutely.

Odds are good that Porsche will only offer the new 911 Targa with all-wheel drive, just like it did with its predecessor. Specs and driving experience should match the upcoming 911 Cabriolet, which means we expect the Targa 4S to make 443 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque from its twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six. But since Porsche has yet to officially announce the 911 Targa, we don’t know when it plans to reveal the latest generation of its unorthodox drop-top.

With so little camouflage, though, it looks plenty production-ready to us. So can Porsche hurry up? We want to drive it.

Photo source: CarPix

The post Spied! Bright Green 992 Porsche 911 Targa Tests Near the Nurburgring appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Auto Showdown: 2020 Toyota Highlander vs. 2020 Ford Explorer

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 22:28

The two big dogs of the three-row SUV segment have undergone recent redesigns—the Ford Explorer debuting in Detroit in January, and the Toyota Highlander coming out this week in New York. At a quarter-million annual units each, give or take, they are crucial to the bottom lines of these automotive titans. So we crawled in, over, and around the Explorer and Highlander at the 2019 New York auto show to let you know which one is better. As these two vehicles have yet to be released to the media, driving impressions are still to come. But we still got a good sense of these big crossovers.

Exterior Design

The Explorer is chiseled, forceful, and intimidating when it looms in your rearview mirror. It means business as it thunders down the road—if that’s your styling jam. But, oddly, the Ford’s rear hatch sheetmetal is rather plain, and its rear combination lamps surprisingly diminutive. The Highlander changes its styling depending on the angle from which it is viewed. From head-on, its Subaru-esque grille and Chrysler-esque badging is family-friendly and approachable. But its side silhouette, with its shark nose and tapering fastback hatch, is decidedly more sporty, as is the rear fascia and its squinty taillights. But the swooping character line up the rear doors into the rear overfender could be pulled from a minivan. Verdict: Draw.

Interior Fitments

The Ford is filled with cheap, plinky, dated plastics. Seriously, I thought I was looking at a last-generation component set. That said, the Explorer has good center console storage solutions, made possible by the space-saving rotary gear selector. The Highlander loses some space due to the familiar PRND stalk, but it wins points for a center console cover that retracts away rather than flips up. We can’t say enough about Toyota’s high-grain plastics with premium detents and turns. The Toyota also offers a massive 12.3-inch infotainment screen. The whole front display is modern and sharp. Verdict: Toyota—by a lot.

Front Row

The Explorer’s seats are both firm and plush, with excellent lumbar support. Driving position in the Ford (pictured above) is commanding, with good sight lines, whereas Highlander drivers have a tougher view of the front corners of their SUV. The Highlander’s seat cushions are firmer, and its leather seats have a rise in the center that’s startlingly proctological. The side bolstering is sufficient for the occasional hard corner, and the lumbar support is adequate. Verdict: Ford.

Second Row

Both SUVs have captain’s chairs that fold flat, slide, and recline. But the Ford’s second-row seat comfort is equal to that of its front seats. The Highlander seats are roomy but firm, with an available panoramic sunroof overhead. Both have plenty of room for a 6-foot passenger to sit behind a 6-foot driver. Verdict: Draw.

Third Row

In both vehicles, it’s a penalty box that will only fit pre-adolescent kids. In the Explorer, accessing to the third row can really only happen through the split in the captain’s chairs, and the seats themselves are unforgivingly firm. Trying to hurdle the second-row seats from the Explorer’s doorway requires the size and talents of a yogi. At least the Toyota has adequate access over the folded second-row seats if you’re willing to topple yourself into place. Verdict: Toyota.

Cargo

With seats up, both SUVs have about the depth of a good-sized golf bag, although the Toyota’s hatch opening appears wider. Despite being a rear-drive platform, which should mean sacrificing rear cargo area, the Ford dominates in cubic footage with seats up or down—18.2/47.9/87.8 cubic feet for the Ford, 16.1/40.6/73.3 for the Toyota. Underneath the Explorer’s carpeted cargo-area cover, there’s a decently sized wet-stuff storage bin that could fit a wetsuit and swim fins. The Highlander, despite growing its wheelbase by 2.4 inches, offers less cargo room than before—and although it also offers a wet-stuff storage area, it shares space with the tire-change gear. Both third-rows fold flat, if you slide the second-row seats forward. Verdict: Ford—by a lot.

Off-Roading

Both vehicles offer a version of multiple terrain software for different surfaces underfoot. Off-road competency needs to be determined by driving these vehicles. Verdict: Draw

Powertrain

Ford’s base-model 2.3-liter turbo-four generates 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The top-end Explorer Platinum trim gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, good for 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. The Highlander has one non-hybrid engine choice: a 295-hp, 263-lb-ft 3.5-liter V-6 that carries over with the eight-speed automatic transmission. It should get22 mpg combined city/highway. Verdict: Ford.

The Hybrid Option

The Explorer’s 3.3-liter hybrid makes 318 hp and 336 lb-ft but gets an underwhelming 24 mpg. The Highlander Hybrid offers a choice of front- or all-wheel drive, making it a less expensive alternative for those in the sunshine states. It’s also based on a 2.5-liter I-4 paired to an electric motor (with old-school nickel–metal hydride batteries) for a combined 240 hp but a stunning 34 mpg in the combined EPA cycle. Verdict: You’re buying a hybrid for the green reasons, right? Toyota.

Towing

The base Explorer can tow 5,000 pounds, as can the hybrid (wow!). The optional 3.0-liter EcoBoost raises that to 5,600 pounds. The Highlander V-6 also tows 5,000 pounds. Toyota did not give a tow rating for the Highlander Hybrid, but with a carryover powertrain, expect it to be similar to the old model’s 3,500 pounds. Verdict: Ford

Pricing

If you want the base Explorer, it will now run you $33,860 including destination. Upgrade to the Explorer XLT, and it’s $37,750. The Explorer Limited runs $49,225, tacking on $4,150 for the Hybrid option. The Platinum trim rings up at $59,345. Toyota has not announced pricing. Verdict: Undecided.

Verdict

The Explorer wins in many categories, but its plasticky, dated interior really lets it down. You’re living in this vehicle every day, and the Toyota rewards you with its lush interior and smart design. If you’re schlepping kids every day, especially in the third row, the Toyota is the better pick (especially if you make long-haul runs where the Highlander Hybrid’s fuel economy really pays off). But if you go to the lake frequently with your boat, or make frequent Home Depot or Costco runs for a renovation or a big family, the Explorer may be the better option.

The post Auto Showdown: 2020 Toyota Highlander vs. 2020 Ford Explorer appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 2019 NY Auto Show Debuts: MotorTrend’s Best Cars of the Show

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 22:05

Even though most folks in New York City perceive cars in shades of yellow or black, the New York International Auto Show is still a big draw for automakers—and this year was no exception. While there were no standout show-stoppers, there were many solid entries in key segments. In other words, it was more about what customers are going to buy next, rather than the cars of their dreams (well, OK, Porsche 911 Speedster…). Read on to see which vehicles caught the eyes of our editors.

2020 Hyundai Venue

Hyundai sees white space to introduce tiny cars to the American market. Making a small car not feel cheap is a huge challenge, but the Venue manages to look quirky and endearing, but with enough presence that it won’t be intimidated by larger vehicles on the road. On the three-tone model on display, I especially like the way the gunmetal paint contrasts with the the white roof and side mirrors, as well as the pale gray detailing on the lower grille surround and wheel well arches. Power comes from a 1.6-liter naturally aspirated Gamma four-cylinder engine featuring Hyundai’s new dual-port fuel injection and mated to a new CVT, offered in front-drive spec only. It is expected to be a hit with millennials who will appreciate the ease of connectivity with their devices and a price tag that could start below $20,000. Comparison shoppers note: Despite similar appearances, the Venue is 10 inches shorter than the Nissan Kicks.  – Alisa Priddle

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS

The big daddy SUV from Mercedes always had the necessary presence but lacked the high-end materials inside to properly call itself the S-Class of SUVs. It was getting long in the tooth and looked it. Mercedes has addressed this with the 2020 GLS with soft pore wood, perforated leather seats (cream in color, and creamy in feel), a gorgeous, smooth steering wheel, and two large 12.3-inch screens. The GLS 450 has a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine and new 48-volt onboard electrical system with an integrated starter generator. The GLS 580 takes the 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 and adds electrification. Both engines are paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. It also has more luxurious second and third rows with entertainment systems and more room to enjoy them. – Alisa Priddle

Don’t mess with success. This former SUV of the Year winner is exactly what it needs to be: updated. Fresh interior, all the latest gizmos, and a cool new mild-hybrid V-8 for more power and better fuel economy. If it drives anything like the wonderful new GLE-Class, which it should, it’ll be another home run for Mercedes. – Scott Evans

2020 Lincoln Corsair

Lincoln design chief David Woodhouse’s team is on a roll. The Corsair is a wonderfully elegant and sophisticated take on a C-segment SUV that artfully captures the essence of Lincoln’s American-modernist design direction. Scaling down big-picture luxury details into a small vehicle is a difficult design brief; there’s simply less to work with. But the Corsair pulls it off, inside and out. The exterior’s strong horizontal gesture makes the Corsair look longer than it really is, and deep concave surfaces on the doors put muscle around the wheels. The interior looks plush and upscale, with a cleverly cantilevered pod for the HVAC controls, and air vents that stretch across the dash visually opening and widening the cabin. And there are some lovely little design touches, such as the Lincoln-logo puddle light underneath the HVAC pod that also lights the storage area in the center console when needed. Fun fact: Each of the Ls and each of the Ns in the branding across the gently curved back of the Corsair are slightly differently shaped so there’s no distortion in the Lincoln branding when read from behind. – Angus MacKenzie

No one will mistake the Lincoln Corsair for a Ford Escape or even for the MKC it replaces. And while it is the entry-level SUV for the luxury brand, Lincoln did not skimp on the interior and continues to be creative in its use of color.  We love the Beyond Blue leather. The Corsair rides on the same new front-wheel-drive platform as the Escape but has a longer wheelbase (all going into the roomy second row, it seems) and more power. The base engine is the turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 that generates 250 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. Optional is a 2.3-liter that produces 280 hp and 310 lb-ft. Both engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and the Corsair has a piano-key set of buttons for gear selection. All-wheel drive is standard with the larger engine, optional with the base engine. This compact SUV is as fine as the larger Lincoln SUVs that preceded it. – Alisa Priddle

2020 Subaru Outback (and its auto show stand)

Subaru loyalists won’t mind that the new Outback looks similar to the outgoing model, and they’ll love that the Outback is getting a turbo engine with 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. But the presentation on the auto show floor really deserves a mention. The Yosemite-theme stand has more than a dozen faux pine trees, carpet that imitates the national park’s grounds, and even pine tree scent. But it’s more than marketing. The new Outback’s infotainment system gets an app with the maps and info of all of the U.S. national parks—something cool for those who venture out to see stunning landscapes. – Miguel Cortina

Nissan’s Dream Garage

Nissan celebrated 50 years of performance with the display of their Dream Garage. The Nissan booth brought plenty of nostalgia from decades past—chronicling the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. From GT-Rs to Zs, Nissan’s heritage was shown in full force, celebrating the brand’s storied past. Now if we can just get a redesigned, all-new GT-R… – Carol Ngo

Genesis Mint Concept

Yes, this tiny city-car concept seems a tad “off message” for the Hyundai-Kia Group’s young luxe brand, and sure, we can hear the analyst community’s collective fingers drumming the table awaiting Korea’s take on a swanky SUV. God bless Genesis for stalling on that front for yet another New York show in favor of this funky but fetching little lozenge. The proportions are fresh and appealing, the fanciful interior reminds me of a 1950s dream-car fantasy, and I simply love the scarab-wing doors that provide side access to the luggage area. Very 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Shooting Brake or Pontiac Trans Am Kammback (Google ‘em, kids). – Frank Markus

In an era when seemingly every automaker is crossover-crazy, it’s refreshing to see one contemplate a car that’s compact and low-slung, with simple surfaces teased out over big wheels at each corner. The rear-drive, electric-powered Genesis Mint is a sports car for the urban raceway, a futureshock Mini-Cooper-meets-Mazda-Miata. And if Genesis boss Manfred Fitzgerald has his way, it’ll get built. “We’re having the discussion internally on how to bring this into production,” Fitzgerald says. “And I will be fighting to the last minute to have it exactly like it looks. Obviously there are some challenges, but I would say roughly 90 percent of what you see is feasible.” If it goes into production, Mint would be built on Hyundai-Kia’s all-new bespoke BEV platform. – Angus MacKenzie

Volkswagen Tarok

Yes it’s bound for production (in Brazil), but it’s not yet bound for our shores—unless the public clamors for it. This is me clamoring. When I was learning to drive, full-size pickups were sized like today’s Colorado or Tacoma and two smaller size classes were available. The smallest included the Euro-Golf-based VW Rabbit Pickup and the Dodge Omni O24-based Rampage. They were light, nimble, economical, had low load floors, and were ideally suited for light urban hauling needs. The four-door Tarok would dwarf a Rabbit pickup just as a Colorado towers over its S-10 predecessor, but it would likely be smaller, lighter, and lower than anything else we have currently—and that’s worth clamoring for. – Frank Markus

2020 Cadillac CT5

On Instagram, my colleague Jonny Lieberman has seriously shredded the C-pillar of Cadillac’s latest sports sedan, so I was interested to see what all the fuss was about, in the metal. Indeed, the kinky curve and blacked-out faux window seem gratuitous and counterproductive, since they are part of the reason for the two unsightly vertical seams in the side glass (the shallow, rear door cut is the main reason, as a longer window would have no place to retract.) So yeah, that pillar area is a hot mess, but the rest of the car? Gorgeous. Especially the face. Cadillac really knows how to mold metals and composites into handsome shapes, and the CT5 is old school, leading-man good-looking—think Cary Grant or Rock Hudson. You know the type: strong chin, wide-set eyes, aquiline nose, rakish profile, and athletic stance—all without trying too hard. CT5 has all that, from the wide-set light bars that tuck and flow, to the darkly glittering grille—like pearly whites, at night. And just look at how the roof falls away from the windshield back. With everyone so focused on every flavor of SUV and CUV, it’s great to see Cadillac sweating some sedan details. – Ed Loh

2020 Hyundai Sonata

While we’re talking sedans, who says the mass-market family sedan is dead? If any design can breathe life into the moribund four-door, it could be the Sonata. From its trick hood lighting to the “lasso” details that link the hood to the greenhouse surround, the Sonata is a crisp reinterpretation of its four-door-coupe style that shocked the world in 2011. Say what you will about the grouper-fish grille, this car’s design is hawt. Plus, this is the launch of Hyundai’s expanded BlueLink interface, which is planned to give smartphone-key access for car-sharing or rental-fleet services. It also could give your kids limited access on nights out (I call dibs on calling it “curfew mode”). Hyundai also revealed the Sonata will get the “N” performance treatment down the line, with a hot engine putting out more than 275 hp. – Mark Rechtin

2020 Toyota Highlander

Sometimes you just want to slip into comfortable loafers. The Highlander will be no styling surprise to loyalists, although if you look closely, the design is actually quite a big step for conservative Toyota. But inside is the big deal, with two-tone (sometimes three-tone) surfacing, elegant-touch surfaces, an optional 12.3-inch screen, and nicely tactile buttons, knobs, and switches that all feel luxuriant. Plus, there’s standard safety tech galore. The Hybrid variant gets an astonishing 34 mpg combined. If this is what a Highlander feels like, imagine the moonshot Lexus must have in store for their next RX. – Mark Rechtin

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster

What more could you possibly want in a driver’s car? GT3 chassis and powertrain, 9,000-rpm, 502-hp flat-six with individual throttle bodies, a fantastic manual transmission, best of Carrera widebody and GT3 styling, lighter than a GT3, and no roof. What really seals the deal is the “streamliner” humps behind the seats; previous 911 Speedsters always looked hunchbacked, but this time, they nailed it. Everything you want, nothing you don’t. – Scott Evans

The post 2019 NY Auto Show Debuts: MotorTrend’s Best Cars of the Show appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Auto Showdown: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS vs. 2019 Lincoln Navigator

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 21:00

Three-row SUVs can be sexy, especially when they come from luxury automakers. The available technology, fancy trims, and smooth leather can enhance the experience without sacrificing utility or space. But Germans and Americans have differing senses of luxury. The Lincoln Navigator has completely changed the game in terms of American luxury and offers bold and brash styling, while the well-tailored GLS comes with a sharp interior and an impressive 12.3-inch touchscreen. How do these two luxury family SUVs compare? Let’s have a look.

Exterior Design

These SUVs offer different approaches in terms of styling. Overall, the Navigator’s boxy style is more eye-catching than the design of the GLS. The American SUV’s big grille and extensive headlights contrast with the GLS’ leaner, crisper front end.

Both have LED daytime running lights, but the GLS uses subtle touches of chrome, unlike the Navigator. And each of the GLS trims comes with its own distinct front-bumper design. Out back, the Navigator’s single broad brake light spans the width of the vehicle, giving it an even wider look, while the GLS goes for a more conventional design with individual brake lights that extend to the license plate housing. The GLS’ optional rocker panel trim that’s made to look like running boards or rock sliders gives it a bit of an off-road look.

Powertrains

We’ve praised the Navigator’s twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque; it has proven to deliver power and move the heavy SUV with urgency. Its smooth 10-speed automatic transmission works precisely, shifting gears at the proper moment. But we’ll have to wait to drive the GLS to give you our opinion of its 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six, which delivers 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Although that output is familiar, the new 2020 GLS adds a 48-volt electrical system with an integrated starter generator, helping to dole out an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque for short periods of time. The new GLS also offers the output-enhancing electrical system in tandem with a turbocharged V-8 engine making 483 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Both propulsion systems are tied to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Interior Space

The Navigator’s second row is quite comfortable, especially in the Black Label trim where it incorporates captain’s chairs with a wood-covered center console. My only critique is that the second-row seats have manual adjustment instead of the electric adjustment we’d expect in an SUV priced around $100,000. The GLS’ second row is also a comfortable space, and the seats can slide forward or backward with the touch of a button. You can fold and unfold the second-row seats from the cargo area, and the long panoramic moonroof provides a sense of spaciousness whether you’re sitting in the second or third row. Speaking of third rows, the GLS’ is just spacious enough for my 6-foot frame, with the biggest compromise being legroom. Headroom—something most three-row SUVs lack—is ample in the Mercedes. The Navigator’s third-row headroom is just enough for someone my size so that he or she doesn’t hit the headliner, while legroom is a little better than in the GLS (pictured below).

Technology

I prefer the GLS’ 12.3-inch touchscreen with the new MBUX interface over the Lincoln’s 10.0-inch touchscreen with Sync 3. Its refined graphics and colorful maps make this a great display. It’s controlled via a touchpad, which is conveniently located in the middle of the center console; in the time that I played with it, it seemed easy to use. The Mercedes also offers two USB Type-C ports on each side of the third row, two in the second row, and two in the front. The Navigator’s floating screen has no buttons, making it look clean and modern. USB ports are located in all three rows. Both SUVs offer a digital gauge display that looks sharp and provides all the information the driver needs to know.

Specs

The Mercedes-Benz GLS has a longer wheelbase than the Navigator, but the Lincoln is bigger when it comes to overall length, width, and height. For a closer look at how they compare, check out these specs:

Mercedes-Benz GLS Lincoln Navigator Wheelbase 123.4 inches 122.5 inches Length 205.0 210.0 Width 84.9 93.8 Height 71.8 76.4

The post Auto Showdown: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS vs. 2019 Lincoln Navigator appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 7 Things to Know About the 2020 Lincoln Corsair

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 20:30

The Navigator helped put the Lincoln brand back in the buyer’s eye a few years ago, and ever since, the automaker has been on a roll introducing new utility vehicles. The follow-up was the three-row Aviator that rides on a new rear-wheel-drive platform and is also a stunner. Next up to bat: the compact Corsair.

What’s in a name?

Lincoln has thankfully abandoned its alphabet soup naming strategy. The MKX became the Nautilus, and the Aviator also continues the wayfaring theme set by Navigator. And the replacement for the MKC becomes the Corsair, taken from the Latin “cursus,” which means journey.

What’s underpinning this thing?

Like the new Ford Escape, the Corsair rides on Ford’s new front-wheel-drive platform that is car-like for all the crossovers that are replacing SUVs across the company. The Corsair has the same wheelbase as the Escape but is longer and wider, and the floating roof sits lower.

Power sets it apart from Escape

Lincoln has put more power under the hood of its vehicles than its Ford counterparts to justify the higher price point. The Corsair has a pair of turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The base engine is the 2.0-liter I-4 that generates 250 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. Optional is a 2.3-liter that produces 280 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Conversely, the Escape has a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder as the base engine, and the 2.0-liter is the optional upgrade.

Both Corsair engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and it has a piano-key set of buttons for gear selection. All-wheel drive is standard with the larger engine, and optional with the base engine that comes standard with front-wheel drive. The intelligent AWD system disconnects to automatically send as much as 100 percent of the power to the rear if needed.

Electric plans?

Lincoln has pledged to electrify its lineup, and the Corsair will get a plug-in hybrid variant. But it likely will not be available in the first model year. The batteries will sit under the floor with the electric motor positioned in back. A full electric version is being considered but no timetable has been given. Electric propulsion fits with Lincoln’s desire to provide a quiet, sanctuary-like experience—kind of what Lexus used to be before it decided to get more aggressive and performance-oriented.

Quiet cabin

Great pains were taken to create a quiet cabin, including a dual-wall dashboard in the engine compartment with an air gap to keep vibrations from entering the cabin, and active noise control to create a sanctuary. Needless to say, Lincoln does not artificially enhance the exhaust notes of the powertrain. Six chimes recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra replace the standard electronic alerts, and audiophiles can opt for the 14-speaker Revel sound system.

Pamper me

Front seats are 24-way adjustable, heated, cooled, and provide massage. Sit back and plug in. A floating center console hangs over a spot to wirelessly charge your phone and a media bin with two USB outlets and a 12-volt outlet. In the rear, there are two more USBs and a 110-volt outlet. Overhead is a large panoramic sunroof. Beyond Blue is an especially cool interior color theme, but buyers can also choose Cashew (tan and black) or Slate (gray).

Ditch the key fob

Lincoln-only tech includes “phone as a key” that puts a virtual key on up to four smartphones. This feature allows these smartphone users to unlock and start the car, open the liftgate, and program up to 80 preferences including seat position, temperature, and music.

The post 7 Things to Know About the 2020 Lincoln Corsair appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Auto Showdown: 2020 Subaru Outback vs. 2019 Honda Passport

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 20:11

In a vehiclescape increasingly dominated by high-riding crossovers that mostly just haul folks around on pavement, it’s fun to zoom in on the few that still pretend to serve the outdoorsy mission the genre was created for in the first place. For 25 years people have been taking Subaru Outbacks out to the back of beyond. Sure, the Outback started life as a mildly hiked up wagon and no, it never featured butch rock-crawling gear like a ladder frame or live axles, but these days it offers 8.7 inches of ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive, a National Parks infotainment app, and an Onyx XT trim grade boasting a front-view camera for spotting the immediate obstacles ahead, a full-size spare, and an exclusive Dual-Mode X-Mode drive program that adds settings for deep-snow and mud or dirt and sand conditions to facilitate family adventuring. Honda’s key competitor in this space, the Passport, once did feature a ladder frame and live rear axle (all of which was designed and built for Honda by Isuzu), but returns to market sporting Subaru’s same essential unibody multi-link formula. Which is the more enticing new entry? We examined both at the 2019 New York auto show to find out.

Straight-line Performance

All Outback Onyx XTs get a 2.4-liter turbo flat-4 good for 260 hp and 277 lb-ft, routing all that twist through a CVT. CVTs by nature are pretty good at optimizing the ratio for any given situational demand for performance or fuel economy.

Passports all get Honda’s 3.5-liter V-6, which trumps the Subie’s power by 20 horses, while ceding 15 lb-ft on the torque side. Comparing the similar Touring trim grade, the Passport weighs about 150 pounds more, giving it a very slight advantage in weight-to-power, and a slight disadvantage in weight-to-torque. Even so, the fact that its nine-speed automatic has a 42-percent broader ratio spread (shorter first- and taller top-gear ratios), we’re calling the drag race in Passport’s favor.

Handling

The aforementioned 150-pound weight advantage and slightly shorter (2.9 inches) wheelbase bodes in Subaru’s favor here, as does its lower overall height (by more than 6 inches).

The Passport counters with a wider track (by 4.9 inches in front, 3.9 inches in back) and considerably fatter, lower-profile tires—265/45R20s versus the Subaru’s 225/60R18s. This one’s too close to call.

Efficiency

The Subaru turbo achieves EPA city/highway/combined ratings of 23/30 mpg city/highway, which suggest an overall range of about 550 miles of range from its 18.5-gallon tank at the highway figure.

The all-wheel-drive Passport’s 19/24 mpg rating and 19.5 gallon tank mean you’ll need to stop 100 miles sooner. Clear advantage: Outback.

Towing

Rated for 3,500 pounds, the Outback isn’t Subaru’s designated tow-er. Its bigger sibling, the three-row Ascent can lug 5,000 pounds.

Honda rates both the Passport and the three-row Pilot capable of towing 5,000 pounds (with AWD and the towing package—front-drivers get a 3,500-pound rating). Advantage Passport.

Off-Roading

The Outback Onyx enjoys a slight (0.6-inch) ground-clearance advantage over the Passport, and by comparison with the Passport’s T165/80D17 donut the Outback’s full-size spare greatly improves the odds of completing or retreating back down whatever trail proves tough enough to pop a tire. The lighter weight is a plus, narrower dimensions minimize brush pinstriping, and that Dual-Mode X-Mode system’s terrain optimization should at least match the capability of the Passport’s four-position off-road mode.

In the Passport’s favor is a much lower first gear for precision crawling (4.1 mph/1,000 rpm versus the Subaru’s 6.2), greater approach and departure angles (21.4 versus 18.6 degrees on approach, 27.6 versus 21.7 degrees on departure). But for the type of off-roading we reckon owners in this class are likely to tackle, we’re calling this one for the Outback.

Accommodating Adventure Gear

Here, the result depends on how many people need to ride along with the gear. If it’s just you and your co-pilot, the difference is minimal, with Subaru’s 75.7 cubic feet trailing the Passport by a barely noticeable 2.0 cubic feet and both offering just over 6 feet of flat load floor length. Another big plus in the Subie column is the roof rack. Those tubular bars you see can pivot across the roof and bolt down to form the cross bars needed to mount all manner of bins or racks for skis, kayaks, bikes, etc. Honda sells the crossbars as an extra-cost accessory that may end up stored in the garage when you want to make an impulse purchase. Both vehicles offer seatback releases in the cargo area (electric on the Honda, mechanical on the Subie), and both permit hands-free hatch opening (by foot under the bumper in the Passport, and by waving an elbow or whatever at the Subaru’s Pleiades emblem on the hatch). Subaru introduces a cargo shade that you can bump with a box or elbow to make it rise up to the top of the hatch opening for ease of loading (this feature is new to Subaru).

With the rear seatbacks up, the Honda’s wider, taller cargo area means it trumps the Subaru’s 32.5 cubic feet by a noticeable 26.8 percent (8.7 cubic feet). And that mini-spare donut leaves room for a 7-inch deep under-floor bin that measures 42 by 11 inches. With each vehicle offering a 12-volt outlet in the way back, along with cargo tie-downs and bag hooks, we’re calling this one a tie, which you can break based on whether seats-up or seats-down space is most important and how eager you are to use the roof rack. 

Passenger Space

The Outback manages to deliver 1.9 inches more front legroom than the Passport, but in every other interior dimension there’s no getting around the fact that the Subaru is 5.6 inches narrower, 6.1 inches lower, and rides on a 2.9-inch shorter wheelbase. The very fact that the headroom is within 0.9 to 1.8 inches and the shoulder and hip width dimensions measure within 2.5-4.5 inches of the Passport’s figures speaks to greater space efficiency in the Outback’s doors, seats, and headliner.

Still, the Passport provides 3.7 cubic feet more front and 5.4 cubic feet more rear passenger space. Truthfully, these differences are all pretty academic except when you’re carrying three adults in the rear seat, at which point they’ll be much happier riding in the Honda. Advantage Passport.

Features and Amenities

The 11.6-inch vertical tablet screen that controls practically everything in the Outback makes quite an impression and gives the Subaru a going-in edge in terms of cool factor, though we look forward to seeing how intuitively it works. Want to play a CD? The Subie’s Harman Kardon system offers such a slot (in the center console), and it appears to just barely trump the Honda’s jams with 576 watts pumped through 12 speakers (relative to the uplevel Honda’s 550 watts and 10 speakers). Concerned about getting wet and muddy before the ride home? Outback Onyx owners need not worry, as their upholstery is a waterproof polyurethane that manages to look upscale, especially in the two-tone gray with bright green stitching.

Meanwhile the Passport bests the Subaru in USB charging power, with its two rear USB A ports rated at 2.5 amps to the Subaru’s 2.1. (Both cars have two front USBs too, one of which is an infotainment connection). The top Passports get a fully electronic gauge cluster that looks fancier than Subaru’s twin analog gauges flanking a driver info display. Top Passports give rear seat passengers their own electronic HVAC controls. Pretty cool, but that screen wins Outback the nod here.

Safety Gear

Subaru makes its EyeSight advance driver assistance system standard on all Outbacks, with adaptive cruise control and lane centering included. A new DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation system warns against drowsy driving. Crash protection is also said to improve with the new body absorbing 40 percent more energy in front/side crashes than the outgoing model, which already achieved a Top Safety Pick + rating from the IIHS and five stars in every NHTSA category except rollover, where it got four.

Meanwhile all Honda Passports get the Honda Sensing suite of driver assist and collision warning/mitigation systems as well, full LED headlights. To date the Passport has not yet been tested by the IIHS, and NHTSA has only tested it for frontal (four stars) and side (five stars) impact. For this reason primarily, the nod here must go to the Outback.

Conclusion

Well, on paper the Subie wins four categories, the Honda three, with two ties. Stay tuned for a proper dynamic comparison as soon as Subarus become available.

The post Auto Showdown: 2020 Subaru Outback vs. 2019 Honda Passport appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Auto Showdown: 2020 Hyundai Sonata vs 2019 Honda Accord

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 19:52

While FCA, Ford, and others have walked away from the midsize sedan segment in favor of crossovers and SUVs, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan still lead the space with stalwarts Camry, Accord, and Altima. Hyundai is keenly aware that the segment is shrinking, but the automaker believes the 2020 Sonata has the chops to take market share with sleek new styling, an all-new powertrain, and tons of high tech features. How does Hyundai’s new hotness stack up against MotorTrend’s favorite in the segment, the Honda Accord? We took a look at the 2020 Hyundai Sonata and 2019 Honda Accord at the 2019 New York auto show to find out.

Dimensions

Hyundai clearly had Accord in its sights when it designed the 2020 Sonata. Ahead of our first look at the 2020 Sonata, the company provided briefing documents that show how the new Sonata lines up against the 2019 Accord. In every major exterior dimension, the difference is less than an inch.

2020 Hyundai Sonata 2019 Honda Accord DIMENSIONS Length 192.9 192.2 Width 73.2 73.3 Height 56.9 57.1 Wheelbase 111.8 111.4 Front Overhang 37.20 36.60 Rear Overhang 43.90 44.10 Exterior Styling

The 10th-generation Honda Accord debuted in 2017 with a fresh coupe-like profile and bold, chrome-bar face. It was deemed handsome and athletic-looking in an evolutionary way, but not an envelope-pusher or boundary-breaker. And why would it be? Accord is foundational to Honda, especially in America, and if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

In contrast, it’s clear that Hyundai is swinging for the fences with the 2020 Sonata. Hyundai wants to get back to the buzz Sonata generated in 2011. That sixth-generation Sonata introduced Hyundai’s Fluidic Sculpture design language and brought a sexy coupe-like profile to what had been a very traditional three-box sedan.

For the eighth-generation 2020 Sonata, Hyundai’s lead designer SangYup Lee fought hard to deliver a sleek coupe profile and rear-drive proportions on a front-drive platform. Coke-bottle curves and crisp character lines give credence to the Hyundai’s new “Sensuous Sportiness” design language, but the real art is in the details. Chrome brightwork surrounds the side windows and runs forward to the headlights; a “dynamic lasso” says Lee. This lasso dissolves into a smooth gradient of light (the daytime running lights) and then a strip of amber when the turn signal or hazards are activated. It’s very slick. So is the Sonata’s full-length steel hood, which terminates at the grille opening with no shut line.

In our eyes, Sonata is the clear winner from an exterior design standpoint, but as the challenger brand, this is the battle Hyundai had to win. Sonata had the advantage of time, coming two years after the current Accord—to have any chance at taking market share, Hyundai had to place big bets.

Interior

Inside we see no clear winner. Accord’s execution is open and airy, minimalist, yet very functional. It looks clean and feels high quality. Everything you need is under your fingertips, from the steering wheel controls, to the infotainment system and push-button transmission system that has spread across the Honda and Acura lines.

Sonata, pictured below, borrows the transmission buttons (calling it SBW for shift-by-wire), but at first touch, it feels lighter and less substantial. The execution of the horizontally oriented dash is gorgeous; clearly a lot of time and energy went into designing the large color touchscreens, slim air conditioning vents, and premium-feeling switches and knobs. Sonata is also proudly tech forward, but more on that later.

Drivetrain—Smartstream vs. Earth Dreams

When the 2020 Sonata arrives at dealerships later this year, it will do so with two “Smartstream” branded gasoline direct-injection (GDI) powertrains, both mated to eight-speed automatic transmissions. The newest engine is the 2.5-liter inline-four cylinder Smartstream G2.5 engine, which Hyundai claims will make an estimated 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque.  The Smartstream G1.6 T-GDI engine is an updated version of the 1.6-liter turbo-four Hyundai uses across its lineup, making 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque in this application. At the New York auto show, Hyundai announced that a Sonata hybrid will debut next year, followed by a high-performance N Line variant making more than 275 horsepower, but no other details were released.

Accord has its bases covered via two “Earth Dreams” gasoline-powered, direct-injected and turbo-four engines. The entry-level engine is a 1.5-liter turbo that makes 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, while the step-up 2.0-liter turbo engine makes 252 horsepower and 273-lb-ft of torque. Accord’s hybrid powertrain combines a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle inline four with an AC synchronous permanent-magnet electric motor and has a total system output of 212 horsepower and 232-lb-ft of torque. This two-motor hybrid powertrain works without a traditional automatic transmission, while a CVT, 10-speed automatic, and six-speed manual are available for non-hybrid Accords.

With more power and torque across the line and multiple transmission options—including the exceedingly rare six-speed transmission—Accord wins the powertrain battle in our book, for now. We’ll have a full verdict after we spend more time driving the 2020 Sonata, and when the hybrid and N Line models hit the market.

Fuel Economy

Sonata’s new 2.5-liter engine is expected to earn a combined city/highway EPA estimated fuel economy of 33 mpg, while the mostly carryover 1.6-liter turbo is expected to achieve an EPA estimated 31 mpg combined. This stacks up well against Accord, whose entry level Earth Dreams 1.5-liter turbo returns up to an EPA confirmed 33 mpg combined with the CVT and 30 mpg combined with the six-speed manual. Accord’s higher-output 2.0-liter turbo also delivers 30 mpg combined with the six-speed manual or a high of 27 mpg combined with the 10-speed automatic. How about Accord Hybrid? It’s 48 mpg combined is the challenge that Sonata Hybrid must meet.

Technology

Accord has been a leader the driver assistance space, with one of the most user-friendly adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist systems on the market. With these two “Honda Sensing” systems engaged, the Accord can often feels like it is driving itself (even though it’s nowhere near full autonomy).  Other safety systems—including but not limited to forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring/cross traffic alert—round out a very impressive driver assistance offering, with most of this tech standard on the base model.

Hyundai offers its own version of all of these systems on Sonata under its corporate “SmartSense” moniker, but also adds features like Safe Exit Assist (which lets occupants know if traffic is approaching from behind when the door is opened), Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (which does exactly that),and Remote Smart Parking assist. This clever system allows the driver to advance or reverse the Sonata while outside the vehicle, ideal for tight parking situations. We look forward to testing these new Sonata features work soon.

In addition, these advanced driver assistance systems, Sonata brings a new level of smartphone integration to the midsize segment. With the optional Hyundai “Digital Key,” Sonata owners can enter or lock the car just by touching their app-enabled smartphone to the door handle. Near field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) are the enabling technologies, and also allow the Sonata to be started when the paired smartphone is placed in the special charging tray. What’s more, Hyundai’s Digital Key app allows for levels of vehicle access to be shared with other, authenticated, smartphone users. This means parents can theoretically provide and revoke Sonata driving privileges via the app, and allow delivery of packages and goods to the trunk or passenger compartment. Pretty cool, BUT currently available for only Android-enabled mobile phones.

On paper, the 2020 Sonata clearly seems to beat 2019 Accord in terms of technology offerings, but as with all complicated digital systems, the proof will be in the user experience.

Price

Pricing for the 2020 Hyundai Sonata has not yet been released, but common sense and a look at recent history can give us hints at what it might cost. Newsflash: probably right around what a current Sonata costs.

An entry level 2019 Hyundai Sonata SE equipped with the old 2.4-liter GDI engine has an MSRP of $23,420. MSRPs continue to walk upward through five more trim levels all the way to $33,020 for the 2019 Sonata Limited 2.0T, which comes with the 2.0-liter turbo-four and an eight-speed automatic. As this is written, Hyundai currently has a deal that drops prices across the 2019 Sonata line by up to $3,000 depending on the model, likely as a way to clear the inventory before the 2020 models arrive.

When Hyundai announced the outgoing-generation Sonata, new for the 2015 model year, the base model was $21,960, and the company was proud to announce that price was $300 less than the base model it replaces. So, will history repeat itself? Perhaps, but we think it’s more likely that Hyundai will hold the line with current pricing or push it up a bit—no more than $200-$300.

As you might expect, the 2019 Honda Accord lines up pretty nicely with Sonata (and Camry and Altima). A base model 2019 Accord LX, with the 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder and CVT transmission starts at $24,640. In total, Honda has more than 10 flavors of Accord, covering three engines (1.5T, 2.0T, and hybrid)by way of five different trim levels (LX, Sport, EX, EX with Leather, and Touring). At the top touring end, a 2019 Accord will set you back $36,870 including destination. At the entry level, the 2019 Sonata is $1,220 less than the 2019 Accord, while at the top end, you’ll pay $3,850 more for the 2019 Accord Touring. We think there is enough room in the range for Hyundai to bump prices up a bit on the 2020 Sonata, but we won’t have to wait long to find out.

The post Auto Showdown: 2020 Hyundai Sonata vs 2019 Honda Accord appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: These are the 10 Best Interiors of 2019 According to WardsAuto

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 18:20

Every year, WardsAuto picks 10 vehicles that they believe have the best interiors. And while spending more often means you get nicer materials and more features, that doesn’t mean all of the interiors that make the list belong to expensive luxury cars. In fact, some of them are surprisingly affordable. Considering how many crossovers were on the list last year, it’s refreshing to see sedans and even a wagon represented this time around. Here are the 10 vehicles WardsAuto thought had the best new or significantly updated interiors for 2019:

Bentley Continental GT

The Continental GT V-8 may start close to $200,000, but for your money, you get a truly incredible cabin. From the wood and metal trim pieces to the leather that covers almost every other surface, the Continental GT’s interior is absolutely gorgeous. As we pointed out in our First Drive, sewing it all together requires nearly 2 miles of thread and 310,675 stitches. That’s a lot of stitches.

BMW M850i

Like the Continental GT, the BMW 8 series is a high-performance, two-door grand tourer. It’s also almost half as expensive, making the M850i a relative bargain. And even though the layout and switchgear may look a lot like what you’ll find in less expensive BMWs, the materials are much higher quality. Opinions on the crystal shift knob are split, but it certainly stands out.

Genesis G70

Hyundai’s luxury brand has been off to a bit of a slow start, but Genesis knocked it out of the park with the G70. In fact, we liked it so much, we named the G70 the 2019 MotorTrend Car of the Year. And as you can see here, the interior is more than worthy of praise, especially when you consider how many features you get for your money. The quilted leather seats and door panels add an extra dose of style.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Over the last several years, Hyundai seems to have shifted its strategy from being less expensive than the competition to making sure it offers more features at a similar price. But in addition to offering advanced tech and good value, Hyundai has also given the Santa Fe a stylish design and high-quality interior materials. Top trims continue a trend we’re seeing across the industry of mainstream vehicles blurring the lines between what is and isn’t luxury.

Jeep Gladiator

Unlike most of the other vehicles on this list, the Jeep Gladiator wasn’t designed with luxury in mind. At all. No, Jeep’s pickup truck is all about rugged utility. So while you can definitely order the Gladiator with some welcomed convenience features, the clever storage solutions are what helped put it over the top. When we drove it, we appreciated the Gladiator’s exclusive back seats, which flip up to grant access to lockable storage in the floor and also fold flat to provide a handy shelf. The Gladiator is also one of  just two trucks in its class to offer rear HVAC vents and USB power ports.

Lincoln Nautilus

Lincoln has been struggling to find its identity for years, but with the Navigator last year, that appears to be changing. Like the best-in-segment Navigator, the Lincoln Nautilus packs a lot of luxury into its interior to go along with its recently refreshed exterior. The top-of-the-line Black Label is especially impressive, with wood and leather covering almost every surface.

Mercedes-Benz A220

If you drive the new A-Class back-to-back with the old CLA, it’s hard to understand how both cars can wear the same badge. The A-Class may be front-wheel drive and as affordable as a Mercedes gets, but it actually feels like a quality car. And while the exterior is understated, the interior gets a fantastic design that looks much more expensive than it is.

Nissan Kicks

Starting in the mid-$20,000 range, the Nissan Kicks is far and away the least expensive car on this list. And while the similarly sized Juke stood out for being weird, the Kicks is just a great all-around car. Anyone in the market for an affordable daily driver will be impressed by the amount of style and number of features the Kicks offers for the money.

Toyota RAV4

The Toyota Rav4 may not have won its comparison test against the venerable Honda CR-V, but one look at the new sheetmetal is all you need to see it’s a huge improvement over its predecessor. Toyota took some chances with the design, both inside and out, and it deserves to be recognized for no longer playing it completely safe. The five USB ports are a big plus, too.

Volvo V60

Even though wagons aren’t particularly popular in the U.S., Volvo decided to sell the V60 here anyways. And as with other cars in Volvo’s current lineup, the interior looks just as good as its exterior. The best part, though, has to be the optional plaid upholstery. It’s a bold style choice, but in a Swedish wagon, it works.

The post These are the 10 Best Interiors of 2019 According to WardsAuto appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Jaguar Design Boss Ian Callum Rants About Big Screens in Cars

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 17:45

When people ask Ian Callum, director of design at Jaguar, if he’s going to put a big 12-inch iPad-like screen in his cars, he says, “Not if I can help it.”

The 20-year Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC veteran who transformed the lineup with models such as the XJ and new F-Type was presenting the refreshed XE sports sedan at a newly remodeled dealership on Manhattan’s west side Tuesday night.

He launched into a minor screed against giant touchscreens—the kind Tesla Inc. pioneered in the Model S, which is now popping up across the industry in vehicles including Toyota Motor Corp.’s new Highlander SUV and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Ram pickups.

The 2020 Subaru Outback’s available 11.6-inch touchscreen

“If you’re driving 80-90 miles an hour—and you can in some countries, legally—you don’t want to be flipping around an iPad looking to move your door mirrors or your seat controls,” Callum said. “You need to be able to feel your way through the car without looking at it for more than a millisecond.”

The Jaguar XE has a dual-screen system, with major information at the top and minor things, such as climate control, below. It also has tactile controls, Callum said—to give drivers a sense that they’re part of something mechanical.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Coppola)

The post Jaguar Design Boss Ian Callum Rants About Big Screens in Cars appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

The Car Connection News Feed: Volvo cars can alert each other to road hazards

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 17:00
New Volvos will harness cloud-based communication technology to alert each other about obstacles and road hazards ahead. Initially, the system launches across Europe for the 2020 model year. Volvo told The Car Connection that there are plans to introduce the feature to the U.S., but it was not ready to share timing. The connected-safety technology...
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Muse Developments gets go ahead for Church Wharf scheme in Bolton

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 15:16
Muse Development’s £150m proposal for the transformation of Church Wharf in Bolton has been given the green light.
Categories: The Top Zones

The Car Connection News Feed: Audi expands new-car subscription service options

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 14:35
Audi's trial new-car subscription service now offers shoppers a less-expensive tier called Core Collection, the automaker said Tuesday. The trial program is only offered in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and now includes two tiers priced at $995 and $1,495 per month. Previously, Audi offered just one $1,495 program. CHECK OUT: BMW's new subscription...
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The Car Connection News Feed: NY auto show wrapup, VW pickup truck, 2019 Mazda CX-5 diesel: What's New @ The Car Connection

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 14:30
The 13 most important cars of the 2019 New York auto show From three-row crossover SUVs to shapely mid-size sedans, the 2019 New York International Auto Show had an important new-car introduction for just about every kind of buyer Wednesday. 2020 Subaru Outback unveiled: Crossover SUV laces up with more tech, turbo power The redesigned 2020 Subaru...
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Placefirst gets green light for Sunderland BTR scheme

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:56
Placefirst’s plans to deliver 116 purpose-built rental homes on a former primary school site in Hetton-le-Hole, Sunderland have been approved by the city council.
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Plans for Boots Island approved

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:04
Conygar Investment Company’s plans for a mixed-use scheme on the 40-acre Boots Island site in Nottingham have been approved.
Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 10 Things to Know About Peugeot Coming to America

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:00

Peugeot has accelerated its plans to launch its brand on North American shores, from its original, tentative 2026 timeframe to a more recent announcement that it could be here as soon as three years from now.

That means acceleration of Peugeot’s product planning and homologation, the strengthening of its executive core, lining up ad agencies and dealers, and focusing exactly what Peugeot means in a flattening market where sales are down and incentives are up.

And while its current lineup of cars and SUVs is indeed compelling to a smattering of Europhiles, Peugeot U.S. CEO Larry Dominique said don’t expect any of them to come to America.

“You can’t have region-specific products. But in homologating our next-generation products, all U.S. requirements are all embedded,” Dominique said in an exclusive interview at the J.D. Power Automotive Forum in New York. “You have a single opportunity to do it right. So to bring in an existing portfolio that may have compromises associated with North American needs would be foolish.”

On the plus side, that means we won’t get warmed-over European-market cars that don’t address American consumers’ needs. That sort of stubbornness (combined with shoddy quality) spelled doom for Peugeot the last time they came to our shores.

Here are the 10 highlights of MotorTrend’s wide-ranging interview with Dominique:

Why Peugeot accelerated its plan

“The original push to pass plan, which said 2016 to 2026, were the bookends. Obviously 2016 was the starting gate, and 2026 was kind of the maximum outside expectation. As we’ve developed over the last two and a half years, identifying the brand, looking at our distribution scheme, looking at our after-sales, financing, all the other elements of the business you got to put in place, we developed a roadmap. It’s still not completely locked in stone, because we’re going to launch cars when we’re ready to launch cars.”

 

The cars will be designed with global customers in mind

“We’re making sure that we’re setting the requirements for North America, what we need for the North American consumers. And that’s the other reason why we didn’t jump ahead and try to homologate an existing vehicle. With the acquisition of Opel, we immediately acquired in our engineering base who already homologated vehicles for North America under General Motors. It’s actually allowed us to speed up the process.”

 

It will be a limited product line

“The segments that matter in the U.S., there’s five key segments: Compact sedan, compact SUV, midsize sedan, midsize SUV, and full-size truck – and no, I do not have a full-size truck. Anything beyond that, especially in the first generation of products, would be a distraction. If you try to position a B-segment this, or an A-segment that, or a specialty segment over here, you’d be just distracting yourself from the core business of a core model strategy.”

 

What still needs to happen

“This is not just about turning on the spigot. This is about how are we going to import cars, and where are we going to import cars, how we are going to manage the service and financing side of the equation. It’s really building an OEM from the ground up in the US and Canada. I’m not just thinking about retail, I’m thinking about independent aftermarket. I’m thinking about how I’m going to service and move parts around the United States. Then there’s the digital side of this business: How we set up our platform, the kind of partners we engage, either on the consumer side on the B2C side, or on the B2B operational side, is a key part of what we’re doing right now.”

Peugeot is likely aiming at Millennial shoppers

“The average age of an automotive customer, on average is 55 years old. There are some OEMs where the average age is in the upper 60s. They all talk about millennials. They all talk about Gen Z. But they’re dependent every single day on Baby Boomers. The great news for me is I’m not. I have also a greenfield opportunity so I can focus and go after these future consumers. Being a French brand is actually a very positive thing in most consumers’ minds. And when they look at our products, they love our products. We’ve done dynamic clinics, static clinics, so we’re very confident, and this is one of the things that also gives us optimism.”

 

Peugeot is going to shake up the dealership model

“The digital economy is here so we might as well embrace it, but we can do that in a way that’s still compliant from a legal point of view nationally both in the U.S. and Canada. For the first time in over a decade, the average dealer lost money on a gross profit level in the United States. Yet net profits haven’t really changed because OEMs are subvening that kind of support. So there has to be a change in the dynamic. We as OEMs love to define these big brick and mortar facilities, the colors of the tile, where you buy your furniture, how big your sign has to be. And in today’s economy, digital economy, we don’t believe anymore that that sells more cars. It’s a very costly model that’s struggling to maintain profitability.”

 

Peugeot will sell in a limited number of states

“We’re looking to launch in 15 states and four (Canadian) provinces over about the first five to eight years. We’re not going to launch in 50 states. We’re not going to throw billions of euros of investment to just saturate the market and bring a bunch of retail when the demand doesn’t exist. Brands like Hyundai go from zero to 100,000 in one year, and then they almost went bankrupt a couple times in the United States. How do we build a sustainable business in North America? You do that by being frugal, agile, not overinvesting and by building the brand organically.”

 

Peugeot won’t manufacture their cars here, at least not for a while

“Someday, we’ll look at industrialization when the volume makes sense. Near term, we’re talking about importation from multiple sources, primarily Europe. If you have a fixed cost base in Europe, and North America is incremental volume on that fixed cost base, I have a cost of goods that can benefit from not having to amortize $1 billion or $500 million (U.S. assembly plant) investment.”

 

The expected recession may delay, but not cancel, the North American launch

“We reported a full year financial and return on sales of 7.7 percent as PSA Group. I’m not gonna say we’re ‘recession proof,’ but we’re setting ourselves up to ensure we have the cash, the free cash, that we have the organization structure, that we have the cost structure in place to ride out those kinds of waves. We’re not going to do anything in North America that says we can’t develop the next generation of 3008 in France. The No. 1 reason why businesses fail, especially in a recession, is they’ve over leveraged themselves. They’ve invested too much or have too high of a fixed cost associated with the revenue turnover. We’re going to make sure that never happens.”

 

Peugeot is hiring executives without auto-industry experience in key roles

“If we’re talking about after-sales, the independent aftermarket, it’s a highly automotive kind of expertise. But I have two key hires in the process right now, one is in my digital customer experience director, and one of the key criteria is they cannot have automotive experience. I want people who understand the digital economy. I want people who understand eCommerce. I want people who understand the hospitality and customer satisfaction and have crafted digital journeys before. We as OEMs are not very good at that just in general as an industry. We make great configurators and make great websites, but we don’t have an integrated relationship with our retailing side of the business. The other really important position is our Peugeot Brand Chief for North America. And that one, the criteria is they should have some automotive, but they must also have non-automotive. What have they established in the way of other brands? How have they positioned non-automotive brands? Because we’re focusing on, first and foremost KPI, of everything we’re doing is customer satisfaction.”

 

 

The post 10 Things to Know About Peugeot Coming to America appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

The Car Connection News Feed: The 13 most important cars of the 2019 New York auto show

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:00
From three-row crossover SUVs to shapely mid-size sedans, the 2019 New York International Auto Show had an important new-car introduction for just about every kind of buyer Wednesday. The show opens to the public Friday and highlights eventually headed to showrooms include the 34-mpg 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the shapely 2020 Cadillac CT5...
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Mayor of London snaps up Edmonton site

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 10:15
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has acquired a site at the North Middlesex University Hospital in Edmonton for a new housing scheme.
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Intu seals structured equity deal with Cale Street

The Top Zones - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 08:10
Intu has entered into a joint venture with Cale Street Investments for its intu Derby shopping centre.
Categories: The Top Zones