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Motortrend News Feed: Toyota’s Latest Autonomous Test Car is a Lexus LS 500h Called the TRI-P4

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 19:00

Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has unveiled the TRI-P4 automated driving test vehicle, and despite having a name more fitting for a Star Wars droid, it’s based on the Lexus LS 500h. The P4 sedan is slated to join TRI’s Guardian and Chauffeur test fleets this spring and features Lexus’ latest chassis and steering control technology, which is said to allow for more responsive and smoother maneuvers during automated driving.

The Chauffeur development project is focused on researching full autonomy, while Guardian is more about driver assistance. Compared to prior test vehicles, the Lexus LS 500h sports additional cameras on each side and two new imaging sensors—one facing forward and one pointed to the rear—specifically designed for self-driving machines. The new car also features an updated radar and LIDAR array that will be able to incorporate more angles at close range into the vehicle’s information picture.

Toyota says the self-driving Lexus is much smarter than its predecessor thanks to more computing power from the hardware tucked away in the trunk, which can process more parallel algorithms at once and read sensor inputs and react to them more quickly. Power for the gear is provided by the hybrid battery, and the box holding the automated driving brains folds up to provide room for cargo.

Toyota’s Calty Design Research studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will build the vehicles from stock Lexus LS 500h models starting in the spring.

Source: Toyota

The post Toyota’s Latest Autonomous Test Car is a Lexus LS 500h Called the TRI-P4 appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Mark Reuss Appointed GM President

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 18:32

Mark Reuss is the new president of General Motors, succeeding Dan Ammann who now leads GM’s Cruise autonomous tech division.

Prior to his new appointment, Reuss served as the head of GM’s global product portfolio. Since last year, he has also been in charge of Cadillac, which is experiencing a host of changes. The brand decided to move its headquarters from New York back to Detroit, and it’s launching a new vehicle every six months through 2021.

Reuss has bolstered GM’s lineup with new crossovers, including the Chevrolet Traverse and Cadillac XT4. In recent years, he has also been busy redesigning the automaker’s full-size trucks and preparing to release the mid-engine Corvette. While the company says it remains committed to cars, it’s slashing a number of models including the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac CT6, and Cadillac XTS.

In his new role as president, Reuss will take charge of the company’s Quality organization. He will also double resources for electric and autonomous cars in the next two years. By 2023, the automaker will offer at least 20 all-electric vehicles.

With a background in engineering, Reuss has spent his entire career at GM. He joined the team as a student intern in 1983, eventually working his way up to chief engineer of GM’s large luxury vehicles and leader for GM’s racing vehicles, among other roles. For a brief period, he was GM’s vice president of global engineering. From 2009 to 2013, he served as president of GM’s North American division. Reuss’ father also served as GM president from 1990-1992, according to Automotive News.

“Mark’s global operational experience, deep product knowledge and strong leadership will serve us well as we continue to strengthen our current business, take advantage of growth opportunities and further define the future of personal mobility,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra in a release. “Mark has played a critical role in leading the development of the company’s award-winning vehicles while transitioning his team to prepare for growing electrification and autonomous technologies.”

Reuss’ appointment takes effect immediately.

Source: GM, Automotive News (Subscription required)

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Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Southwark Council buys Columbia Threadneedle’s Courage Yard

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 09:31
Southwark Council has bought London Southbank development Courage Yard from Columbia Threadneedle.
Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 2019 Kia Sorento SXL First Test: Korean Pilot

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 09:00

After redesigning the Sorento for 2016, Kia revealed the refreshed version of its popular midsize crossover late last year. Following three years on the market, that was probably a smart decision. But unless you park both versions next to each other, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference. The question is, though, does the new Sorento drive any differently than it did before? We brought in a 2019 Kia Sorento SXL with a V-6 and all-wheel drive to find out.

Granted, the Sorento was already a solid midsize crossover. With the 2016 original, we appreciated the extra 3 inches of length the engineers added, as well as its more attractive design and comfortable ride. The long features list, slick infotainment system, and a nicely designed cabin were added bonuses. It could possibly have used more room in the third row, but that will become less of an issue next year when the larger Telluride launches.

For 2019, Kia focused more on refinement than making major mechanical or design changes. Seating for seven is now standard, as is a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Higher trim levels now come with nicer materials, more driver-assist features, and a premium Harman Kardon sound system. Beyond a few tweaks here and there, the exterior design stays about the same.

But just because powertrain updates weren’t Kia’s top priority doesn’t mean the Sorento didn’t see a few changes under the hood, too. The 2.0-liter turbo-four has been cut, and the two remaining engines get better transmissions. The base four-cylinder gets an upgraded six-speed auto, and the optional V-6 engine now uses the Cadenza’s eight-speed auto. The all-wheel-drive system has also been improved, now offering a locking center differential and better torque vectoring.

Typically, you’d expect a car with a new transmission to be a bit quicker than before. In our testing, however, that wasn’t the case. Our Sorento SXL hit 60 mph in 7.6 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 15.8 seconds at 89.8 mph. Compared to the 2016 V-6 model we last tested, its 0–60 time was 0.4 second slower and its quarter-mile time was almost identical (15.7 seconds at 89.6 mph).

Because the SXL includes more features than the EX model we tested previously, it’s possible the extra weight had something to do with the slower 0–60 time. The 2016 EX weighed 4,153 pounds, and the 2019 SXL came in at a slightly heftier 4,282 pounds. Even if the 129-pound weight difference wasn’t the sole contributor to the Sorento’s slightly slower acceleration, it does serve as a good reminder that extra options add up quickly on the scale.

That 0–60 time wasn’t too far off the 7.2 seconds we recorded last time we tested a Toyota Highlander. Unfortunately for Kia, both the old and the new Sorento are quite a bit slower than the last Honda Pilot that we tested, which hit 60 mph in only 6.2 seconds. Braking, however, improved quite a bit compared to the 2016 Sorento. Instead of needing 126 feet to stop from 60 mph, the new Sorento required only 116 feet—3 feet less than the Pilot and 12 feet less than the Highlander.

The 2019 Sorento showed big improvements in our handling tests, too. We recorded an average of 0.83 g on the skidpad and were able to complete the figure eight in 26.9 seconds at 0.64 g. All three of those figures best the 2016’s performance. The Sorento’s handling also bested both the Highlander and the Pilot. According to testing director Kim Reynolds, it might have even been quicker if stability control had stayed off. Instead, it kept turning itself back on, slowing figure-eight times.

Around town, the Sorento proved itself to also be a more than capable daily driver. Despite being spacious enough to comfortably seat five people, it was easy to drive and park. Even tight spaces weren’t an issue thanks to the surround-view camera system. It was also impressively comfortable on the highway, and while commuting to and from the office, the adaptive cruise control even felt smoother than our Infiniti QX50 long-termer. Unlike the Infiniti, the Kia also had Apple CarPlay.

For a lot of buyers, the Sorento’s improvements probably won’t matter. They’re brand loyalists who only care about the badge, and they’ll always buy another Honda or Toyota. But if you’re looking for a good deal on a crossover that offers a lot of features for your money, be sure to take a look at the 2019 Kia Sorento.

2019 Kia Sorento SXL V6 AWD BASE PRICE $47,480 PRICE AS TESTED $48,785 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 3.3L/290-hp/252-lb-ft turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,282 lb (56/44%) WHEELBASE 109.4 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 189.0 x 74.4 x 66.5 in 0-60 MPH 7.6 sec QUARTER MILE 15.8 sec @ 89.8 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 116 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.83 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.9 sec @ 0.64 g (avg) REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 19.6/29.8/23.2 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/24/21 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/140 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.93 lb/mile

The post 2019 Kia Sorento SXL First Test: Korean Pilot appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: GM EVs, Plug-ins Will Soon be Exempt From the Full Federal Tax Credit

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 01:06

General Motors has known it was coming for a while, but now it’s official. Reuters reports the U.S. automaker has sold more than 200,000 plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles since 2010. On the one hand, that’s a big accomplishment, but on the other, it means customers soon won’t qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit that’s been in place since 2010.

This news doesn’t mean the Bolt EV will immediately be more expensive to buy, though. EV buyers will still qualify for the full credit through the first quarter of 2019. Then, in April, the credit will be cut in half to $3,750. In October, it will drop to $1,875 before being completely phased out in April of 2020.

The Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid

Tesla also crossed the 200,000-vehicle mark in 2018, triggering the same phaseout. To help customers defray the cost, it recently cut prices by $2,000. We’ve reached out to GM to see if it has similar plans, but a spokesperson wasn’t immediately available to respond. Both automakers have also reportedly lobbied Congress to lift the 200,000-vehicle cap or extend the credit.

Whether lawmakers change the tax credit’s rules or not, GM says it plans to expand its electric lineup over the next several years. That includes two new Bolt-based EVs that should be revealed soon, and by 2023, GM promises it will offer at least 20 all-electric vehicles. In November, it also announced that it will double its investment in electric and self-driving car technology, though sadly the now-discontinued Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid won’t be one of the beneficiaries of that investment.

Source: Reuters

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Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Mercedes-AMG A 45 S Will Reportedly Make 416 HP

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 00:00

As we found in our first drive, the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is no joke. It may be the least-expensive car in the lineup, but unlike the CLA, it actually feels like a real Mercedes. We also learned that in addition to the sporty A 35, AMG was also working on an even more powerful A 45. But just how powerful would it actually be? Would it really make more than 400 hp?

That will depend on which version of the A 45 you buy. Even though Mercedes has yet to release specs on the A 45, HUK24, an online insurance company in Germany, already lists power output for both the A 45 and the A 45 S. First reported by Motor1, the insurance company’s listing for the A 45 suggests it will make 382 hp, while the A 45 S will crank out an impressive 416 hp. If HUK24’s website is to be believed, that power will come from a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, giving the A 45 S a specific output of 208 hp per liter. The turbo 2.0-liter in the current Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 and GLA 45 makes 375 hp.

When the A 45 S is officially revealed, most likely at the Geneva motor show in March, expect it to be shown in hatchback form. But don’t assume the fact that the U.S. won’t get the five-door A-Class means AMG-tuned A-Classes are only meant for Europe. Based on a short conversation we had with Tobias Moers, the head of AMG, it sounds like Mercedes plans to sell at least one hot A-Class sedan here. It just has to decide whether to pick one or offer both. But either way, we’d be willing to bet there’s an A 45 sedan in our future.

Let’s just hope it ends up being a little more well-rounded than the CLA45 AMG was.

Source: HUK24

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Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Toyota Corolla GR Hatch Under Consideration, Exec Confirms

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 22:45

The Corolla hatch may be in line to receive the GR treatment from Toyota, according to a new report. Although Toyota remains a bit cagey on its plans, a key executive revealed it’s possible the model will receive a sportier GR version.

Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer of the Toyota 86 and the upcoming Supra, says the company is still finalizing the product strategy for its GR subbrand. “We have lots of requests from different countries, so it’s really, really challenging to decide on the order [of performance models],” Tada told Australian website carsales.com.au.

That said, new competitors such as the Hyundai i30 N have received quite a bit of attention. Tada admits that Hyundai put in the right amount of time and resources to get the hot hatch right. “It’s not just Hyundai. Other car brands are doing this too, so we are researching this and we have to create the [right] brand strategy,” he said.

2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback

In September 2017, Toyota first announced the GR subbrand, which stands for “Gazoo Racing.” Global models include the 86 and Vitz (Yaris), both of which receive suspension, interior, and other updates. Toyota is also offering GR Sport models with lighter sporty touches, as well as top-level GRMN models.

GR models are also coming to the U.S., just under a different banner. Toyota recently introduced TRD versions of the Camry and Avalon that will go on sale in fall 2019. So perhaps we’ll see a sportier Corolla one way or another in our market.

Source: CarSales.com.au

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Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: BMW Reportedly Developing a Hybrid Supercar to Replace the i8

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 21:00

BMW may have updated the i8 coupe and added the i8 Roadster to its lineup, but from what we’ve heard, BMW doesn’t have plans for a second generation of its high-performance hybrid. In fact, both the i3 and i8 are likely on the chopping block. But that doesn’t mean BMW’s getting out of the mid-engine game altogether. It may be readying a true hybrid supercar.

Autocar reports that instead of directly replacing the i8, BMW will likely aim even higher and introduce a true hybrid supercar. And while BMW has yet to publicly comment on its rumored plans to build an Acura NSX competitor, it sounds like at least one executive is already on board. In a recent conversation with AutocarKlaus Frohlich, BMW’s head of product development, spoke openly about the potential for a hybrid supercar.

“If you are an engineer, once in your life, you want to make a super-sports car. I think partial electrification will enable that,” Frohlich said. “If we have these very compact and very powerful electric driving units, if we have a carbon-fiber chassis—for example, the i8’s—and if we still have high-performance engines, then, if you do it cleverly, you can combine them into a real performance package.”

Frohlich wasn’t shy about name-checking potential competitors, either. “If you look at the supercars—the McLarens, the Ferraris—beyond 2020, they will be all partially electric,” he said. “And if you look at power plug-in hybrids we are planning for today, an electric motor in our PHEVs has a little bit more than 99 bhp and 184 lb-ft of torque. So if you see this e-motor in a car which can give you in milliseconds the push formerly found in a V-8 engine, then you can have a very sporty feel from this power PHEV—and it fits perfectly to the M brand.”

Of course, more performance will likely cost more, as well. And with the i8 already starting around $150,000, we may be looking at a $200,000 price tag for BMW’s next hybrid supercar. Then again, if it drives like a McLaren or Ferrari, it may absolutely be worth the money.

Source: Autocar

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Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Some Arizona Residents are Attacking Waymo’s Self-Driving Cars

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 19:15

Thanks in part to the Grand Canyon State’s mostly dry climate, Google’s autonomous tech division Waymo does a lot of its testing in Chandler, Arizona. But while Waymo has the city’s permission to use public roads, not everyone is excited about Chandler being chosen to help bring about the driverless future. In fact, some citizens are actively working to run Waymo out of town.

The New York Times reports that in the last two years, there have been about two dozen attacks on Waymo’s test vehicles. That includes throwing rocks at the vans, trying to run them off the road, and slashing their tires. The backup drivers in the vans have also been screamed at and physically threatened. One resident even pulled a gun, which resulted in his arrest and the confiscation of his revolver.

“There are other places they can test,” Erik O’Polka, whose son was reportedly almost hit by a van, told The New York Times. “They said they need real-world examples, but I don’t want to be their real-world mistake.” In November, police issued a warning to O’Polka after receiving several reports that he’d been seen trying to run Waymo’s vans off the road.

But while Waymo says it prefers to avoid pursuing legal action against the people attacking its prototypes, it is concerned about the effect they’re having on the backup drivers. “The behavior is causing the drivers to resume manual mode over the automated mode because of concerns about what the driver of the other vehicle may do,” wrote one officer in his post-attack report. That said, Waymo has no intention of letting people damage its vehicles and threaten its drivers.

“Safety is the core of everything we do, which means that keeping our drivers, our riders, and the public safe is our top priority. Over the past two years, we’ve found Arizonans to be welcoming and excited by the potential of this technology to make our roads safer,” a Waymo spokesperson told The New York Times. “We report incidents we deem to pose a danger and we have provided photos and videos to local law enforcement when reporting these acts of vandalism or assault. We support our drivers and engage in cases where an act of vandalism has been perpetrated against us.”

Source: The New York Times

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Motortrend News Feed: Tesla Slashes Prices by $2,000 in Lieu of Max EV Tax Credit

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 18:26

Tesla sold its 200,000th vehicle in 2018, which means the federal government is starting to phase out its EV tax credits. To soften the blow for customers, Tesla is dropping prices on its vehicles by $2,000.

Now that Tesla has cut prices, the Model 3 starts at $44,000 for the mid-range battery before incentives. The Model S now begins at $76,000, while the Model X can be had for $82,000 before incentives. The price cuts won’t fully compensate for the reduced federal tax credits on offer. Starting January 1, the EV tax credit for Teslas dropped from $7,500 to $3,750.

Tesla reached the 200,000-vehicle threshold last July. It’s the first company to begin the tax credit phase-out, which happens two calendar quarters after an automaker hits the 200,000 mark. The $3,750 tax credit will stay in effect until July 1, when it will decrease again to $1,875. In 2020, customers who take delivery of a Tesla won’t get a federal tax credit.

In addition to the price cuts, Tesla also announced its fourth-quarter vehicle production and deliveries today. It made 86,555 vehicles in the quarter, including 61,394 copies of the Model 3. Tesla says this number is in line with its projections, and increased 15 percent from Q3. Following a similar trajectory, Q4 deliveries totaled 90,700 vehicles, including 63,150 Model 3s, up 13 percent from the previous quarter. Still, as CNBC reports, total deliveries fell short of Wall Street estimates forecasting Tesla would move 92,000 vehicles, including 64,900 copies of the Model 3.

For the entire calendar year, Tesla delivered 245,240 vehicles, including 145,846 Model 3s. “To put our growth into perspective, we delivered almost as many vehicles in 2018 as we did in all prior years combined,” Tesla said in a release.

Tesla says it will bring the Model 3 to Europe and China in February. Later in the year, the car will roll out to additional markets, including a right-hand drive variant. Tesla once again mentioned lower-priced variants will help expand Model 3 sales, but so far we have yet to see the elusive $35,000 model Musk promised when the Model 3 debuted.

Source: Tesla, Business Insider, CNBC

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Categories: The Top Zones

The Car Connection News Feed: 2019 Volvo V60 vs. 2019 Volvo XC60: Compare Cars

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 15:35
When it comes to station wagons and crossover SUVs, the 2019 Volvo V60 and XC60 are all about the numbers. We like both and for mostly the same reasons. The V60 looks like an XC60 that was left in the dryer too long, and that’s just fine with us. We rate the 2019 V60 wagon at 7.2 points and the 2019 XC60 crossover SUV at 7.3 points...
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The Car Connection News Feed: 2019 Subaru Ascent vs. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, 2019 BMW X7 preview: What's New @ The Car Connection

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 15:30
2019 Subaru Ascent vs. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe: Compare Cars The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe and 2019 Subaru Ascent are two crossover SUVs with similar missions to be comfortable family haulers. They take two different paths to get there, however. What's New for 2019: Fiat The Fiat 500X crossover SUV offers a new engine option for 2019, a pint-size...
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Motortrend News Feed: 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec Long-Term Arrival: Wallflower Days Are Over

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 09:00

Acura’s new best-seller has become a risk-taker. With a more emotional design and divisive infotainment system, the 2019 RDX will dumbfound those accustomed to the previous model’s forgettable competence. Attracting new buyers to the brand may require just such an approach, and the RDX unapologetically makes a statement. With a bright red 2019 RDX A-Spec long-termer, we’ll have a year to determine whether we like what the Acura has to say.

The RDX’s extraordinary value story makes a good first impression. Even $38,295 base models include LED headlights, a panoramic moonroof, a package of active safety tech, and interior spaciousness you won’t find on some competitors at any price. The rear seats don’t recline, but there’s still room to stretch out. The RDX’s people-space doesn’t require sacrificing stuff-space, and I’m thankful for the crossover’s sizable cargo area and underfloor storage compartments.

The Acura’s most controversial feature is also standard. A touchpad controls the 10.2-inch infotainment screen mounted at the top of every RDX’s dash, perfect for optimal visibility. Users who insist on touchscreens may be frustrated by the touchpad, but we’re looking forward to evaluating how well the system works on a daily basis.

The same goes for the powertrain. Like the first-gen model, the new RDX is turbocharged, but our long-termer boasts twice as many forward gears. A 10-speed automatic pairs to a version of the same 2.0-liter turbo-four offered in the Honda Accord. The RDX’s version puts out 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque and emits a guttural engine note when you step on it.

Our A-Spec model doesn’t add extra power, but it does sport enormous 4.0-inch exhaust tips. Not excited yet? The A-Spec is also the only 2019 RDX to come with dark 20-inch wheels wrapped in wider and lower-profile tires than you’ll find on the other three trims rolling on 19s. Other upgrades, such as the black trim around the grille, side windows, and lights, add more visual pop in person than can be appreciated in photos. Functionally, A-Spec premium features include ventilation for the heated front seats already standard on the base car, suedelike trim on the seats and dash, and a 16-speaker sound system that even has speakers on the ceiling.

For $2,000, we opted for the latest version of Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, which can send 70 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels, with all of that torque shifting to either rear wheel depending on conditions. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring as well as front and rear parking sensors are standard on the Tech, A-Spec, and Advance models, and to top it off, the $400 Performance Red Pearl paint contributes to our well-equipped RDX A-Spec’s $46,895 price. It’s a ton of money for a two-row crossover, but spec out a few RDX competitors with similar equipment, and you’ll start to see that price in a different light.

Through the new RDX, Acura hopes you’ll begin to perceive the brand differently, too. The 2019 model seeks to banish the idea that Acura’s compact luxury CUV will stir no more emotion than a well-built, premium toaster. And with our RDX A-Spec long-termer, we’ve got 12 months to see whether passion and rational considerations can coexist peacefully in one car.

2019 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec BASE PRICE $46,895 PRICE AS TESTED $46,895 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 2.0L/272-hp/280-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic WHEELBASE 108.3 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 186.8 x 74.8 x 65.7 in EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 21/27/23 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 160/125 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.83 lb/mile

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Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 2018 Ford F-150 Lariat FX4 Long-Term Update 3: Riders on the Storm

Tue, 01/01/2019 - 09:00

Lately I haven’t had much quality time with our F-150, mostly because I was out of the country for a few weeks attending a friend’s wedding and speaking horrible Spanish in Mexico. I may have been on vacation, but the F-150 was hard at work. Read on to see how our truck performed when features editor Scott Evans used it to rescue stranded relatives during a snow storm on Thanksgiving break. –Erick Ayapana

My wife’s extended family lives in the little mountain town of Quincy, California, roughly an hour and a half northwest of Reno. The main road into town was closed by the horrific Camp Fire down the mountain, leaving the back way from the east or a number of narrow country roads as the only ways in. Coming from Los Angeles, we went the back way as it’s only slightly longer and more reliable. Coming from the Bay Area in a Tesla Model 3, my in-laws decided to roll the dice on the much more direct back roads over the long way around on highways.

Normally, the Model 3 has no trouble with the hills or the distance, but freezing temperatures tanked battery efficiency and turned rain in Quincy to snow on the road over the mountain.

We got the collect call just before 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve. The in-laws were already an hour late getting to my brother-in-law’s house, we assumed due to traffic and rain. It was worse than that. They were calling from a payphone in tiny La Porte, California, 30 miles away with no cell service and a Tesla battery at 22 percent and falling. Adding insult to injury, tire chains and “slippery” mode weren’t enough to overcome the unplowed road on the Model 3’s standard summer tires.

We threw shovels, saws, blankets, food, water, and an old set of chains from Grandpa’s F-250 into the long-term F-150 and mounted a rescue mission. Rain and heavy fog meant slow going on the narrow, winding road with no guardrails. Halfway to La Porte, we found the snow. Speed dropped from 45 mph to as slow as 20 mph, but we got through with the F-150’s 4×4 system switched to four high and its drive mode set to Snow, which greatly helped the throttle and transmission calibration.

With the in-laws and as much luggage as we could fit in the cab, we set back out over the mountain. Snow had begun to fall heavily again, filling my tracks from the way over and reducing visibility to 100 feet or less. We crawled halfway back to Quincy at 15 mph before we got through it. The F-150’s Michelin Primacy XC all-seasons are a far cry from winter tires, but their mud and snow rating proved itself and saved me having to chain up.

We walked in the door just after midnight, over three hours to go less than 70 miles roundtrip, but we made it.

Read more about our 2018 Ford F-150 Lariat:

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Categories: The Top Zones

The Car Connection News Feed: 2019 Subaru Ascent vs. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe: Compare Cars

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 15:35
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe and 2019 Subaru Ascent are two crossover SUVs with similar missions to be comfortable family haulers. They take two surprisingly different paths to get there, however. On our scale, both crossover SUVs will likely rate 6.8 out of 10 points, with the caveat that we’re rounding up the Santa Fe’s score based on...
Categories: The Top Zones

The Car Connection News Feed: Jeep Cherokee vs. Subaru Forester, California carpool sticker expirations: What's New @ The Car Connection

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 15:30
2019 Jeep Cherokee vs. 2019 Subaru Forester: Compare Cars Crossover SUV shoppers looking to tread beyond paved parking lots might whittle their car-shopping lists down to two models: the 2019 Jeep Cherokee and the 2019 Subaru Forester. These right-size, five-seat crossover SUVs deliver on the promise of four-wheeling capability in flashy brochures...
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Property Week News Feed: Urban Exposure secures another £32.8m for KKR joint venture

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 11:55
Urban Exposure has secured a £32.8m loan-on-loan facility from Aviva Investors for its joint venture with global investor KKR.
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: The Crown Estate chief executive and LandAid president included in New Year Honours

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 11:14
The Crown Estate chief executive Alison Nimmo and LandAid president Mike Slade are among the property industry figures recognised in the New Year Honours list, after they were both awarded OBEs.
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Motortrend News Feed: 10 New Year’s Resolutions We Hope Automakers Are Making

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 09:00

The start of a new year is a great time to set personal goals to improve your health, happiness, outlook on life, or any other area you want to see progress in. We as individuals make New Year’s resolutions, but we wonder: Do automakers, too? If not, then now is the perfect time to start. Here are 10 suggestions from the MotorTrend team on how automakers can improve and innovate in 2019.

Automakers: Bring back CD players

 

Old fogeys like me want CD players to not go away. People can talk about the convenience of streaming audio all they want, but the fidelity of compact discs is supreme. Now that automotive stereo systems are so good, they deserve to get the full awesome power of CDs.—Mark Rechtin

Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis: Shoot for better fuel economy

The three Korean automakers have made extraordinary progress over the years across many segments (congrats, G70!), but fuel economy remains elusive. When your all-wheel-drive compact crossover can’t achieve on the highway what the Honda CR-V gets in the city, something’s gotta change.—Zach Gale

Infiniti: The QX50 needs a new transmission

We love the idea of the variable-compression engine that Infiniti uses in the new QX50. But the execution? Not as much. Swap the continuously variable transmission out for a good old-fashioned automatic, though, and the VC-T would finally be able to shine.—Collin Woodard

Nissan: Update the Z or introduce an affordable, sporty car

I’d love to see Nissan embrace its sports car heritage and prepare a new Z car. Or, to get enthusiasts’ attention, the automaker could build a production version of the IDx concept of 2014, introducing the joys of driving to a new generation—provided the model is priced right.—Stefan Ogbac

Jeep: 4WD or GTFO

I’ll keep this short and sweet. When your key brand value is the ability to go anywhere at any time, the fact that you still have two-wheel-drive Jeeps on the road (and likely stuck every winter) is an affront to the brand’s legacy.—Christian Seabaugh

Automakers: Bring back front bench seats

Car makers continue to adopt electronic shift-by-wire transmission systems, which means traditional shift levers have been replaced by everything from push buttons to knurled knobs to piano keys for gear selection. These new input controls have often been moved to the center stack, freeing up space between the seats for more cubbies and USB ports. But why not a front middle seat? Who wouldn’t want to become the industry’s first nine-seat luxury SUV? While we’re at it, how about bringing back those six-passenger family sedans of yore? And yeah, I’d love a three-seat Supra or five-seat Porsche 911.—Ed Loh

Subaru: More power, please!

Subaru, you give us many reasons to love your vehicles, but power is usually not one of them. Your engines make lots of noise when you get on the gas, but the resulting acceleration (or lack thereof) leaves us wanting. Give your powertrains some torque and stop eating the competition’s dust.—Michael Cantu

FCA: Keep working on that nine-speed

I don’t have too much to complain about in our long-term Chrysler Pacifica yet, but by far my biggest gripe concerns the nine-speed automatic transmission. Thanks to numerous software updates since its launch five years ago, the nine-speed has come a long way from the jerky, gear-hunting ZF-sourced unit we first sampled in the Jeep Cherokee. But the rough shifts are still there, and they happen far too often. I hope FCA can further improve the transmission’s software, but if this is as good as it’s going to get, then I hope the nine-speed’s successor is more refined.—Alex Nishimoto

Automakers: Give us better sun visors

I’ve driven many cars this year with wimpy sun visors. Even some of the most functional vehicles, like the Subaru Forester which I otherwise enjoy, have this issue. On many vehicles, the pull-out extensions don’t reach far enough to cover the whole side window, and they’re so thin they don’t block more than a strip of sunlight from your face. It’s a small but important detail that I hope automakers can pay a bit more attention to in the future.—Kelly Pleskot

Toyota and Lexus: Redesign your infotainment systems

Toyota and Lexus’ infotainment teams need to go back to the drawing board. The systems of both automakers operate as if they were designed by someone whose personal computer is a typewriter and who still calls friends by picking up the phone and asking the operator to please connect them with Fordham 4141. I highly suggest spending some time with FCA’s UConnect system, or the systems from Hyundai and Kia, when considering a replacement. Sincerely, frustrated millennial.—Christian Seabaugh

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Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 2018 BMW X3 M40i Long-Term Arrival

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 09:00

With a blip, rip, and a snarl of its exhaust note on startup, the BMW X3 M40i has entered our long-term fleet for a year of amassing miles. This tuned and tweaked version of BMW’s mainstream SUV is the performance offering for the third-generation X3. Press the start button, and it’s immediately obvious this is not a standard-issue X3. As soon as the straight-six fires up, the engine goes into a burbly, deep, high-revving idle that most certainly announces your daily departure from the neighborhood to anyone with ears.  More important, though, is that it’s a daily reminder that this X3 means business and craves more than just jaunts to work, Home Depot, and the grocery store.

The 2018 X3 M40i replaces the standard car’s four-cylinder turbo for a turbocharged inline-six that makes 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. This gives the M40i a notable 107 hp over the X3 xDrive30i. But it’s important to note that this is not a full-blown M car like, say, an X5 M. Rather it’s a BMW that’s been massaged by the M division with a slurry of added parts and tuning meant to sharpen all aspects of the driving experience. What this means is that M has enhanced the driving experience here but not as thoroughly as it will when it rolls out the promised X3 M later in 2019. Yet letting the M division shape its magic into the X3 makes a lot of sense because most agree that, unlike some of BMW’s current car and SUV offerings, the X3 has embodied BMW’s core driving dynamics ever since the gen-one vehicle went on sale here in 2004. So yes, take your already well-driving crossover and make it louder, faster, and handle better. And in doing so, become directly competitive with Audi’s SQ5 and Mercedes’ GLC 43.

Included in the M40i’s price is BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control (adjustable ride) and a sport-tuned eight-speed transmission with paddle shifters. Notable M equipment includes better brakes and steering, plus an adaptive suspension. The steering and brakes come standard, but the suspension is a $700 add-on. Default wheel size on the M40i is 19 inches, but this test car has been upgraded to large-and-in-charge 21-inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Alenza 001 RFT tires ($1,900).

Additional standard equipment includes a stitched dash, leather sport seats (with a muscular-looking stitching that looks like Batman’s suit), adaptive LED headlights, and a burly body kit that’s unique to the M40i and gives the vehicle a substantial-looking stance while parked on the curb. Unique puddle lights known as the “welcome light carpet” cast a multi–hockey stick design onto the asphalt below the rocker panels, and the same design is also mimicked in the dome lights and HVAC vents inside the cabin.

Additional options include BMW’s Premium package ($3,300), which includes heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, navigation, and a head-up display. The Executive package ($2,250) includes parking assist, gesture control, an upgraded all-digital instrument panel, and 3-D surround view, which uses onboard cameras to help you avoid rubbing the X3 on any hard, inanimate objects while parking.

Other a la carte items include adaptive cruise control ($1,200), a Harman Kardon stereo system ($875), a wireless charging pad in the center console ($500), front ventilated seats ($350), , Apple CarPlay ($300), and rear-seat window shades ($250). The snazzy blue paint is called Phytonic Blue Metallic and is a $550 upcharge.

All tallied up, this X3 rings in at $68,670. And with that we set off ripping and roaring up and down California’s highways as we pile on the miles and send the X3 to all corners of the state in search of weekend exploration and the path less traveled (and lots of curvy byways). This X3 is unmistakably fast and capable, but we also want to know how it will hold up to the wear and tear of being a performance SUV in the hustle and bustle of the L.A. jungle.

2018 BMW X3 M40i BASE PRICE $55,295 PRICE AS TESTED $68,670 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 3.0L/355-hp/369-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 24-valve I-6 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,282 lb (50/50%) WHEELBASE 112.8 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 186.1 x 74.7 x 66.0 in 0-60 MPH 4.8 sec QUARTER MILE 13.4 sec @ 103.7 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 112 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.85 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.9 sec @ 0.72 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 20/27/23 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 169/125 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.86 lb/mile

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Categories: The Top Zones