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2015 VW Jetta gets official just ahead of NYC reveal

Autoblog - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:59

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Volkswagen has offered up the lightest of refreshes on its Jetta for 2015, making subtle styling tweaks to the front, rear and interior while adding a few doses of new equipment. One of the biggest tweaks is the new, 2.0-liter TDI engine, which is now more efficient, returning 45 miles per gallon on the freeway (compared to 42 mpg on the 2014 model) while retaining the previous engine's 236 pound-feet of torque.

Normally, we'd run through visual changes first, but really, the tweaks made are so minor that only the staunchest of VW enthusiast is going to notice them. The new, optional xenon headlights and their 15 LED running lights are the most obvious changes, while the LED taillights of the GLI and Hybrid should stick out a bit. VW's primary focus, it seems, was on the exterior's aerodynamics, rather than aesthetics.

The trunklid is slightly more aerodynamic, as is the front fascia and the rain gutters along the A-pillars. Sill covers, wheel spoilers and an underbody panel on the rear axle are less noticeable aero tweaks. Both the Jetta 1.8T and TDI include an active grille shutter on the radiator, to further reduce drag at speed.

Volkswagen has made some mild tweaks to the interior, with a color multi-function display and some new chrome trim on "mid and high-level trims." The big changes on the interior are the wealth of new driver assistance features. Blind spot monitoring comes to the Jetta, along with cross-traffic alert and frontal collision warning. It's unclear if these will be options or part of a pre-determined package or trim level.

We'll have more on the Jetta and Jetta TDI from the floor of the 2014 New York Auto Show. Take a look below for the full press release.

Continue reading 2015 VW Jetta gets official just ahead of NYC reveal

2015 VW Jetta gets official just ahead of NYC reveal originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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New York Preview: 2015 Nissan Murano

Leftlane - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:48
New Murano aims to deliver 'Wow factor' with futuristic styling based on Resonance concept.






Review: 2014 SRT Viper GTS

Leftlane - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:45
In an era of safe, sanitized supercars, the demanding Viper is like nothing else on the road.






2015 Nissan Murano gets edgier, lighter for NY [w/video]

Autoblog - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:05

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Nissan's Murano stands as one of the originators of the crossover movement - it was perhaps the first such vehicle to throw out the idea that a CUV had to look like a boxy, cladded-up sport utility vehicle in order to be successful. Now poised to enter its third generation, the midsize Nissan is not only getting a new look and a host of new technologies, it's getting a new home: Canton, MS.

With dramatic new styling presaged by the Resonance Concept at last year's Detroit Auto Show, the new Murano debuting at this week's New York Auto Show includes a toned-down "V-Motion" nose and the Japanese automaker's trademark boomerang-shaped light fixtures. Aside from the chunky chrome U-shaped grille element up front, the new Murano's most striking design detail is its cantilevered roof with funky "disconnected" D-pillars, a floating look reinforced by a greenhouse edged in brightwork. Overall, it's a much more bold and expressive piece of design than Nissan's recent second-generation Rogue, fitting, as the Murano has always been on the daring end of CUV design.

Boasting a 0.31 coefficient of drag and a ton of sheetmetal surface development, the Murano's new form is available with LED headlamps and features active grille shutters for improved aerodynamics. The company claims visibility has been improved as well - and not just because of its brilliant available Around View Monitor camera system - Nissan says it has "optimized the angles and thickness of the bottom of the A-pillar," along with fiddling with the size and location of the side mirrors.

Power continues to be delivered by VQ-Series 3.5-liter V6, tuned here to deliver 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, just as it did last year. That power is routed through Nissan's latest Xtronic continually variable transmission, with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. Fuel economy figures have not yet been released, but Nissan says it expects a 20-percent improvement over the outgoing model's middling figures (FWD model: 18 miles per gallon city/24 highway) thanks to a 130-pound weight loss, improved aerodynamics and a more efficient powertrain. This, despite a larger footprint.

The interior is all-new as well, and it needed to be - the newer, less-costly Rogue had grown in size and ambition, crowding the Kyushu-built second-generation Murano's space and besting its cabin quality. The 2015 Murano looks to have successfully separated itself from its upstart sibling, with so-called "Zero Gravity" seats like those found in the Altima, along with available heating and cooling (rear seats are also available heated), a much larger panoramic moonroof and an upsized cargo area. While not the most practical of colors, the leather-lined ivory cabin seen here looks very premium, offset by piano black trim and some unusual white striated "wood" on the center console, doors and dashboard.

It is not yet clear what this means for the bizarre Murano CrossCabriolet, a two-door convertible model introduced for the 2011 model year. Based on the outgoing second-generation Murano architecture, the writing appears to be on the wall for this slow-selling nichemobile.

The 2015 Murano will become the ninth model built in Nissan's Mississippi plant, and it will hit dealers in the fourth quarter of this year. Feel free to check below to watch an official video and read all the details in the press release.

Continue reading 2015 Nissan Murano gets edgier, lighter for NY [w/video]

2015 Nissan Murano gets edgier, lighter for NY [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Missouri to use military acoustic weapon to warn speeders in construction zones

Leftlane - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 14:49
Designed for use in war zones, LRAD systems capable of causing irreversible damage to hearing.






BMW to follow Honda back into F1?

Autoblog - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 14:30

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The economic downturn wrought devastating effects on motor racing. Formula One alone lost half its engine suppliers when Honda left at the end of the 2008 season, and both BMW and Toyota followed at the end of 2009. But things are looking up again. Cosworth may have dropped out this season, reducing the engine suppliers to three: Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes, the latter of which admits that it may have left had the engine formula not changed. But Mercedes has stayed and is dominating the championship. Honda is coming back next season. And word around the paddock is it may not be the only one.

According to Giancarlo Minardi - founder of the team now known as Scuderia Toro Rosso - BMW engineers have been conspicuously spotted lately at F1 test sessions and grands prix, lending to speculation that the new engine regulations may entice the Bavarian automaker back into the series. According to Minardi, BMW's marketing division is pushing for the automaker's return to F1, with the board slated to make a decision in May. BMW would be more likely to consider an engine-supply deal rather than taking a team over like it had with Sauber, but with which team or teams it might collaborate remains a big question mark at this point.

As if that's not enough, Ford is said to be considering taking over Cosworth's aborted V6 turbo engine program to take both outfits back into the sport as well. Cosworth supplied F1 engines under the Ford banner for years, but returned under its own name for four seasons from 2010 through 2013 before shuttering its program to develop an engine to meet the new regulations adopted this season.

With Honda, BMW and Ford back on the grid, F1 would be back up to six engine suppliers like it had been in the 2008 season that marked the highest level of participation from automakers in decades.

BMW to follow Honda back into F1? originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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NHTSA closes Ford F-150 EcoBoost acceleration probe

Autoblog - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 13:43

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Typically when we report on the findings of an investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it's because the government body has discovered a safety issue and prescribed a recall. In this case, however, NHTSA has closed an investigation into a reported performance deficit without ever getting to the recall stage.

The issue revolves around the Ford F-150 - specifically those equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine - of which some 360,000 were built in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 model years. After receiving an initial 95 complaints, NHTSA opened an investigation last May - almost a year ago - into the reported issue of reduced engine power under hard acceleration. The agency has since received a total of 525 such complaints, and Ford itself reported receiving over 4,000.

Together, NHTSA and Ford determined that the problem resulted from cylinders misfiring, an issue itself stemming from water getting into the charge air cooler (CAC) mated to the turbochargers. In particularly humid or rainy conditions, water was found to get into the CAC, causing some of the cylinders to misfire, which in turn triggered the ECU to disable those cylinders in order to protect the catalytic converter from damage.

Ford conducted its own testing and, rather than issue a recall, published a series of technical service bulletins prompting dealers to install deflect shields onto the CAC in the vehicles in question, solving the problem to 95-percent effectiveness in 2011-12 models and 100 percent in 2013 models. Apparently satisfied that Ford had resolved the issue, NHTSA has closed the file on this particular case.

NHTSA closes Ford F-150 EcoBoost acceleration probe originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:43:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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PSA details recovery plan, announces plans to axe 19 models

Leftlane - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 13:01
PSA is hoping to break even in 2016






Daimler names Bernd Pischetsrieder to supervisory board

Autoblog - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:59

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Some executives in the automotive industry stay with one company for their entire careers, while others bounce from one to the other, often leaving their indelible mark on each automaker at which they serve. Bob Lutz is certainly an example of the latter. So is Lee Iacocca, having presided over Ford and later charing the Chrysler board. Carlos Tavares was chief operating officer of Renault before being nominated as chief executive at PSA Peugeot Citroën. But as far as the Germans go, nobody's jumped from the leadership of one automaker to the next quite like Bernd Pischetsrieder - especially now that he's been named to the supervisory board of Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler.

An engineer by training, Pischetsrieder started his career at BMW in 1973, eventually rising to the office of CEO after twenty years. There he remained until 1999, only to be dismissed after orchestrating BMW's takeover of the Rover Group (of which only the Mini brand remains in the company's portfolio, the other brands having been sold off after his dismissal).

The next year he was named chairman of Volkswagen's Seat brand, and rose to the chairmanship of the entire Volkswagen Group two years later. Despite a largely successful four-year tenure (that gave birth, incidentally, to the Bugatti Veyron), disagreements with supervisory board chairman Ferdinand Piëch saw him leave the helm at VW AG, focusing his attention on the Scania truck division. He's since been touted as a potential chief executive for Opel and for Continental, but neither potential was apparently realized.

Pischetsrieder's appointment to the Daimler board was approved just days ago at the company's annual shareholders' meeting in Berlin. Alongside him, former Bosch chief Bernd Bohr and current Siemens CEO Joseph Kaeser were also elected, all of them serving for a period of five years.

Continue reading Daimler names Bernd Pischetsrieder to supervisory board

Daimler names Bernd Pischetsrieder to supervisory board originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Apr 2014 07:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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GM's Opel to launch EV, VW-rivaling city car

Leftlane - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 10:03
Opel will get a rebadged version of the next Chevrolet Spark.






Beijing-bound Ford Escort leaked

Leftlane - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 08:44
The 21st century Escort will slot above the Focus.






Daihatsu teases convertible kei car

Leftlane - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 07:43
The next Daihatsu Copen will be fully unveiled in June.

NY preview: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta

Leftlane - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 05:01
VW is updating its Jetta compact for 2015.






BMW M5 turns 30, celebrates sideways

Autoblog - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 00:29

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BMW has a secret, and it's not telling. The brand's M Power blog is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the M5 and is taking a look back at previous models of its Autobahn-storming sedan, but it says that it will end "with a surprise." The celebration kicks off with a short video showing the latest M5 making some smoky donuts.

The original M5 debuted in 1985 and was the company's most expensive model at the time. Still, it packed a 3.5-liter six-cylinder generating a claimed 282 horsepower (286 PS), which was rather potent in its day. The company touted it as the world's fastest production four-door sports sedan at the time.

BMW won't reveal the surprise until it has chronicled all five generations of the M5, but it wouldn't be shocking to see an anniversary edition model appear sometime later this year. Scroll down to check out the video of the muscle sedan celebrating its birthday the only way it knows how.

Continue reading BMW M5 turns 30, celebrates sideways

BMW M5 turns 30, celebrates sideways originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 13 Apr 2014 19:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ontario looks to liquidate its holdings in General Motors

Autoblog - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 23:03

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The late-80s and early-90s saw the Canadian government divest itself from some of its largest state-owned businesses (known in Commonwealth countries as Crown Corporations) - particularly when it came to transport and energy companies. In a sweeping implementation of Thatcherism led by Conservative premier Brian Mulroney, Ottawa privatized aerospace companies Canadair and de Havilland in 1986, sold off Air Canada in 1988, liquidated its majority stake in Petro-Canada in 1991 and finished selling off its shares in CN (the Canadian National Railway Company) in 1995. But after General Motors emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, the Canadian federal and Ontario provincial governments (and, when it comes down to it, Queen Elizabeth II) found themselves among the largest shareholders in one of the biggest automakers in the world. And so they remain today, but that's all about to change.

In a public address on Friday, Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced the implementation of a new policy that would see the Ontario provincial government sell off a large portfolio of assets. On the docket are such state-owned assets as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (which has a monopoly over alcohol sale across the country's second-largest and most populous province), utility companies Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation, some valuable pieces of real estate... and the province's shares in GM.

According to Bloomberg, the provincial government is convening a panel to determine how best to sell off the assets, to be chaired by TD bank chief Ed Clark and populated by such notables as former provincial finance minister Janet Ecker and former Canada Pension Plan Investment Board chief David Denison. Funds raised by the sale of these assets will be reinvested in infrastructure and not applied towards the provincial debt that is fast approaching $300 billion (in Canadian dollars).

Back in August we reported that the Canadian federal government was also planning to sell its stake in GM, but today the government-owned Canada Development Investment Corporation remains the company's second-largest shareholder with over 110 million shares, behind the UAW healthcare trust with precisely 140 million shares. The Canadian governments may, however, want to wait for GM's stock prices to recover in the wake of the recall scandal before it begins offloading.

Ontario looks to liquidate its holdings in General Motors originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 13 Apr 2014 18:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BMW details Concept X5 eDrive ahead of New York debut

Autoblog - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 21:33

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Already weighing more than most other types of vehicles and with the space to accommodate the extra equipment, crossovers and SUVs arguably make for one of the more ideal platforms to transform into a hybrid. And there have been a handful of them - like the Audi Q5, Infiniti QX60/Nissan Pathfinder, Porsche Cayenne/Volkswagen Touareg, Lexus RX450h/Toyota Highlander and Cadillac Escalade/Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon - but by and large the majority of hybrids on the market are sedans and hatchbacks. BMW, however, looks poised to join the minority with the X5.

The Bavarian automaker showcased the X5 eDrive concept at Frankfurt last year, and as promised, has now revealed the followup it will present at the New York Auto Show in just a few days. The new Concept X5 eDrive, as BMW has now revealed, pairs a 2.0-liter turbo four good for 245 horsepower to a 95-hp electric motor to deliver a combined 340 horsepower. Its lithium-ion battery can power it for up to 20 miles and at speeds up to 75 miles per hour before the gasoline engine needs to kick in. All that without sacrificing the vehicle's utility, maintaining an almost perfectly flat loading floor with 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats, and without sacrificing much on performance, either: with a 0-62 time of seven seconds flat, the X5 eDrive concept is quicker off the line than the production X5 with the 2.5-liter turbodiesel and just a tenth off of the 3.0-liter turbodiesel.

With the full technical details now released (you can delve into it all in the press release below), the only question remains when BMW will actually put the X5 eDrive into production. Given its appearance in New York, though, we gather that whenever it does reach showrooms, it'll reach American ones as well.

Continue reading BMW details Concept X5 eDrive ahead of New York debut

BMW details Concept X5 eDrive ahead of New York debut originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 13 Apr 2014 16:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Humans taking jobs from robots at Toyota

Leftlane - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 21:01
The result of a push to teach workers high quality craftsmanship.






Ford Explorer, Expedition next to go aluminum?

Autoblog - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 20:00

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Ford made some serious waves when it unveiled the latest F-150. Instead of making its bodywork out of steel, like just about every other truck on the market, Ford went with aluminum. And you can bet the F-150 won't be the last Ford model to go with the lightweight alloy construction, either.

Our compatriots at Edmunds report that Dearborn is considering replacing two of its most popular SUVs with aluminum versions. One candidate is the Expedition, which would make sense considering that the current model (like the two preceding generations and the fullsize Bronco before it) is based on the F-150's underpinnings. Another is the Explorer, which was traditionally based on the Ranger pickup but went with a car-like unibody chassis in its current iteration. If the Explorer does go the way of aluminum, don't expect it to be a part of its very next update, which is likely due too soon for such major changes.

It would stand to reason that, if the Expedition were to go aluminum, so would the next-generation Lincoln Navigator. Ditto the MKT together with the Explorer. But those aren't likely to be the only models in contention for aluminum construction. Like any other automaker, Ford is under pressure to steadily reduce its carbon emissions and improve its fuel economy figures, prompting it to look at a whole range of measures - including more efficient engines, lower rolling-resistance tires, active aerodynamics and lightweight construction. Expect aluminum to play a big part in that equation moving forward.

Ford Explorer, Expedition next to go aluminum? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 13 Apr 2014 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Chevy Spark gets a new face

Autoblog - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 18:33

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While it may be a tad too small for some buyers, Chevrolet seems to be quite happy with the sales of its Spark microcar. In its first 12 months of sales in the US, the little guy actually posted numbers 35-percent higher than the Bowtie had anticipated. However, the current model was already on sale abroad for a few years before coming to these shores, and it looks like Chevy has a radical change in mind for the next-gen Spark.

These spy shots from Europe indicate that the next Spark is ditching the current model's vertical headlights in favor of a more horizontal design. The egg-like arching shape remains similar, but the slashing arch of the beltline appears to be toned down significantly. While that means rear passengers are getting a better view, that cue is one of the things that sets the Spark's design apart.

Elsewhere, it's hard to spot too many differences. The rear door handles are still hidden in the C-pillar, and any changes to the rear are hard to discern because of the camo. The vertically oriented taillights are staying, though.

These early photos make it seem like the Spark is getting toned down in styling for its new generation, but it's way too early to know for sure. There is no official word on when the new model debuts, but spotting it jives with earlier reports that GM is readying it for the first half of 2015.

Chevy Spark gets a new face originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 13 Apr 2014 13:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Next Mitsubishi with Evo-like performance could be SUV

Leftlane - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 18:01
The message comes straight from MMC President Osamu Masuko.