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Autoblog Podcast #406 goes LIVE at 10PM Eastern!

Autoblog - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 02:35

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We're almost ready to record Episode #406 of the Autoblog Podcast! You can check out the topics below, add your own to the Q&A and join us live via UStream, as well. Keep reading for our embedded UStream player, and thanks for listening!

Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #406

Continue reading Autoblog Podcast #406 goes LIVE at 10PM Eastern!

Autoblog Podcast #406 goes LIVE at 10PM Eastern! originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 21:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Jay Leno goes offroading with the legendary Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart

Autoblog - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 01:01

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Jay Leno takes a step outside of his cavernous garage for this latest video for a jaunt into the desert to get a little dirty. He meets up with off-road racing legend Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart, who has multiple Baja 500 and 1000 wins in his motorsports career, to play with a Toyota Tundra in the sand.

Unfortunately, Leno doesn't get to interview Stewart too deeply about his long history in racing, but Ironman does talk a little bit about reading the trail while speeding through the desert. In lieu of a great conversation, there is a ton of high-quality footage of the Toyota bounding through the desert.

This clip feels more like a marketing effort than the usual output from Jay Leno's Garage, but it's still great to see Stewart behind the wheel sliding a truck, just like old times. The two of them even take the truck on a somewhat humorous journey at the end of the video.

Continue reading Jay Leno goes offroading with the legendary Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart

Jay Leno goes offroading with the legendary Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 20:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2016 Toyota Mirai starts at $57,500, lease for $499/month with free hydrogen fuel

Autoblog - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 01:00

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The Toyota Mirai is coming to California next year and it will arrive bearing a $57,500 MSRP. Toyota says that with state and federal incentives worth a total of $13,000, interested customers will be able to buy a Mirai for under $45,000. If you're more into leasing, then you can get the Mirai for $499 a month for 36 months (with $3,649 due at signing). Both options come with free hydrogen fuel for "up to three years."

The 2016 Mirai will be available in California in the fall of 2015 in a very limited supply - less than 200 vehicles in the fourth quarter - but as availability expands to the Northeast (read: Boston and New York), Toyota says it expects more than 3,000 to be on the road by the end of 2017.

But there might be a catch. The $8,000 federal tax credit isn't scheduled to last much longer. In fact, it could expire well before the Mirai is released. The current regulations say that, "The purchaser may claim a credit for the certified amount for a fuel cell vehicle if it is placed in service by the taxpayer after Dec. 31, 2005, and is purchased on or before Dec. 31, 2014." That's just a month and a half from now, while the car is almost a year away. Will the tax credit be extended? No one knows for sure, and all that Toyota's group vice president of strategic planning, Chris Hostetter, would say is that, "It's always hard to know what the government is going to do, but we're optimistic that hopefully that will get extended to next year."

Continue reading 2016 Toyota Mirai starts at $57,500, lease for $499/month with free hydrogen fuel

2016 Toyota Mirai starts at $57,500, lease for $499/month with free hydrogen fuel originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Los Angeles: Honda HR-V gets early reveal

Autoblog - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 00:33

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If the Honda HR-V feels awfully familiar to you by now, you're not alone. We've seen it debut in Japanese form (dubbed "Vezel"), caught a prototype in Paris, and Honda first showed us the US-spec version in press-photo form all the way back at the New York Auto Show in April. We're finally going to get all the details on Honda's new subcompact crossover this week as part of the Los Angeles Auto Show, but first, we're getting an early look at the CUV today.

We met the Honda HR-V for a cup of coffee this morning at Randy's Donuts just outside of Los Angeles, and got our first look at the new CUV in the metal. It's a handsome little thing, offering a higher-riding, more butch alternative to the Fit hatchback on which it's based. We particularly like how the rear door handles are integrated into the pillars, for an almost three-door look from some angles.

Technical details are still scarce as of this writing, though we expect those to be revealed during Honda's press conference on Wednesday. For now, we just know that the HR-V should be an incredibly practical little thing, using the Magic Seat system that has made the Fit such a versatile and capacious subcompact. Stay tuned for more, and see the HR-V from all angles in our live gallery, above.

Honda HR-V gets early reveal originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 19:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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U-Turn: What you missed on 11.17.14

Autoblog - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 00:31

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Return of the Shelby GT350

The Shelby GT350 nameplate has quite a bit of history. Not only does it carry a legendary name on its hind quarters, it also holds the distinction of being one of the most track-capable Mustang models in Ford's history. In other words, this new Shelby GT350 you see to the right has a lot to live up to. Here's hoping its new flat-plane-crank 5.2-liter V8 proves to be as exciting as it sounds.




We drove the 2016 Audi S6

More power, more technology and more aggressive looks. That pretty much sums up the changes made to the Audi S6 for 2016, which sounds mighty fine to us. We liked the Audi S6 already, but more, assuming it's done well, is always welcome. Read all about our experience with the S6 here.






Lincoln adds Black Label to MKZ and MKC

Lincoln will take a step into further luxury waters starting in December with the launch of its new Black Label. For an additional $5,995 on top of the car's purchase price, buyers of new MKZ and MKC models can sign up for the new Black Label program, which brings with it new interior trimmings, free car washes and lots more. Read all about it here.




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What you missed on 11.17.14 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 19:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Texas Armoring chief literally stands behind his product

Autoblog - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 00:01

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There are ways to test armor plating. You test the components under laboratory conditions, install them on a vehicle, test them some more, maybe put in some dummies to make sure occupants would be safe from harm under real-world conditions. But the Texas Armoring Corporation and its CEO take a different approach.

A few years ago, we brought you footage of Trent Kimball, chief executive of the armoring firm founded by his father, taking a position behind one of the company's reinforced windshields while one of his trusted employees opened fire with an AK-47. It was a pretty impressive (if arguably foolish) way to demonstrate the integrity of the company's work, but if that wasn't enough, this time Kimball isn't just demonstrating a component... he's putting his life on the line to showcase just how impenetrable his company's finished products really are (in this case, he's sitting in a reinforced Mercedes GL). And he's not crouching behind a thick steel panel, either: he's sitting there calmly while an AK-47 fires directly at his head, with nothing but a bulletproof windshield to keep him safe.

Continue reading Texas Armoring chief literally stands behind his product

Texas Armoring chief literally stands behind his product originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Porsche stalls on Ferrari 458 rival

Autoblog - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 23:40

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A few years ago, reports surfaced that Porsche was planning a new supercar. But the latest intel suggests that the plan has been put indefinitely on the back burner.

The project alternately referred to as 960 or 988 was put forth by CEO Matthias Müller shortly after he assumed control of the German automaker. It called for a mid-engined V8 supercar to slot in between the 911 and the 918 Spyder to take on the likes of the Ferrari 458 Italia, McLaren 650S and sister-company Lamborghini's Gallardo and subsequent Huracán.

Now three years since the idea was first mooted, the vehicle has yet to materialize. According to Autocar, Porsche is putting a greater emphasis on refreshing its existing lineup. Which is probably just as well, because the mid-engined supercar would have a heck of a challenge on its hands to differentiate itself in terms of performance from the 911 GT3 and 911 Turbo, which already give the 458 and company a run for their money.

Porsche stalls on Ferrari 458 rival originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Refreshed A1 packs Audi's first three-cylinder gas engine [w/video]

Autoblog - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 23:20

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Back in 2010, Audi debuted the diminutive A1, and it's sold over half a million of them since. Now, more than four years later, the German automaker has given its smallest and most accessible model a facelift and some updated equipment.

The latest version of the A1 benefits from a range of updates, including a sharpened take on the company's familiar styling with a reshaped single-frame grille, new bumpers front and rear as well as new wheel and color choices. But the biggest news is the introduction of Audi's first three-cylinder gasoline engine.

The turbocharged, direct-injected 1.0-liter three-pot churns out just 94 horsepower, but that's still six more than the previous base 1.2-liter four offered, all the while returning better fuel economy and emissions figures. Of course, that turbo three is not the only engine on offer, joining the 1.4-liter turbo four in 123- and 148-hp states of tune and the 113-hp 1.6-liter TDI. And of course there's still the 228-hp S1 performance model. Depending on specification, the engines are mated to a five- or six-speed manual, but can all be optioned with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission as well.

European buyers will also be able to choose between three-door and five-door Sportback models, but they all come with revised suspension and steering as well as upgraded interior equipment, details of which you can read all about in the press release accompanying the video below.

Continue reading Refreshed A1 packs Audi's first three-cylinder gas engine [w/video]

Refreshed A1 packs Audi's first three-cylinder gas engine [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #406 LIVE!

Autoblog - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 23:10

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We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #406 this evening. Check out the topics below or drop us your questions and comments via the Q&A module. And don't forget to subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so. To take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.

Discussion Topics For Autoblog Podcast Episode #406
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Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #406 LIVE! originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:10:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Car companies may need to start curbing model proliferation

Autoblog - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 22:59

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Looking at the current automotive landscape, especially from German makers, you quickly get the impression that less definitely isn't more. BMW alone offers its 3 Series platform in practically every segment possible, including the regular sedan and 4 Series Gran Coupe, which would seem to be direct competitors. Porsche might be the winner, though, with 20 different variants of the 911 listed for sale on its US website. However, some of this model madness might be reaching an end as companies begin cutting back spending or shifting money to other priorities.

According to Yahoo Finance, the offerings from the German automakers are up 25 percent over the past three years to over 200 models in Europe. The peak is expected to come around 2018 at 230 separate vehicles, according to consulting company PwC.

Amazingly, BMW, which is among the poster children for this model explosion, might be changing its tune. "I'm sure there will be points in the future where we look at certain cars and say, 'Maybe we need to think differently now,'" said head of sales Ian Robertson in an interview, according to Yahoo Finance. The statement certainly sounds shocking coming from a company rumored to have 23 front-wheel-drive vehicles all using a single platform on the way.

The shift in thinking might not be a question of whether automakers can build all of these distinct models, but rather if it's the best way to invest their money. The small footprint of European dealers makes it difficult to show all of these vehicles off. Also, even if platforms and drivetrains are shared, there's still the extra expense in marketing each one. Finally, "every single variant increases development and logistics expenditure," said Porsche spokesperson Achim Schneider to Yahoo Finance.

So what do the German automakers do with the extra funds from not exploiting every possible niche? Volkswagen is reportedly working on cutting costs, and BMW is too. Also, Porsche is trying to grow overall sales. If this actually happens, maybe picking the perfect 911 will be a bit less complicated in just a few years.

Car companies may need to start curbing model proliferation originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Are you the Porsche Pajun?

Autoblog - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 22:30

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The prospect of Porsche building a smaller version of the Panamera has been an on-again, off-again proposition as the German automaker seems to go back and forth on the project. Last we heard, Porsche had pushed back the so-called Pajun (shorthand for Panamera Junior) until 2019 at the earliest, but we could be looking at it right here.

The automaker's everything-but-automotive division Porsche Design is working on a luxury condo complex called (simply enough) Porsche Design Tower. It's been three years in the making and will take at least another year or two to complete, but the gist of it is that the 57-floor building will include 132 apartments, each with its own en-suite garage in which the residents' cars will be parked thanks to giant elevators.

Porsche Design released a series of renderings showing what the property will look like once complete. Most of the renderings feature Porsches, of course - production models you can find in any of the brand's showrooms, like the one just 23 miles away in Coral Gables. But one of the renderings of the giant glass elevators shows something rather unusual.

At first glance, it looks like a Panamera, only it's smaller and rides on a shorter wheelbase with tighter overhangs. Styling features (particularly around the taillights) are similar to what you'd find on the latest Cayman. Interestingly, this vehicle shares the Panamera's awkward-but-space-efficient roofline, a design feature we've heard Porsche is keen to eradicate on the model's next generation.

Could this be the fabled Pajun that Porsche has been working on? Possibly. But that doesn't mean the design has been green lighted, or that this will be the form which the production model - if and when it finally arrives - may necessarily take. Still, it's an interesting glimpse inside the crystal ball at Porsche's design studios, even if it turns out to be just a fantasy.

Scope out a video of the Porsche Design Tower in Miami below, including an animation of the car elevators in action.

Continue reading Are you the Porsche Pajun?

Are you the Porsche Pajun? originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mitsubishi considers plug-in Pajero, Mirage sedan for US in 2015

Leftlane - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 22:16
The company is preparing a lineup expansion as it approaches the end of a profitable year in the US market.






Los Angeles: Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang is a lean, mean, Z/28-fighting machine [w/video]

Autoblog - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 22:00

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If there's one thing you can count on, it's that the renewed rivalry between the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro will never, ever cease. For every version of Ford's pony car, there's an equally potent Chevrolet. And so with the debut of the Camaro Z/28 earlier this year, Ford has responded with a track-focused 'Stang of its own, resurrecting the Shelby GT350 name.

It looks to be a fine piece of work, this Mustang, with power coming from a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V8 that will produce "more than 500 horsepower" and "above 400" pound-feet of torque. That grunt runs to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, and a Torsen limited-slip differential keeps everything in line.

But that's hardly the most impressive piece of the GT350 puzzle. Ford has increased the Mustang GT's chassis stiffness for duty here in the Shelby, and the coupe employs MagneRide damping which automatically adjusts based on road conditions and driver inputs. It's a first both for the Blue Oval and for the segment. And speaking of firsts, the GT350 uses a flat-plane crankshaft - something Ford has never included in a production V8 before.

Rather than just bolt on bits to a standard Mustang, Ford has redone much of the car's bodywork, making this one seriously mean-looking 'Stang. In fact, all of the sheetmetal ahead of the windshield is new in an effort to improve aerodynamics.

See the Shelby GT350 for yourself in our live gallery, above. And scroll down below for a video featuring the car's ferocious exhaust note.

Continue reading Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang is a lean, mean, Z/28-fighting machine [w/video]

Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang is a lean, mean, Z/28-fighting machine [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Will Toyota lose up to 70% of its workforce in TX relocation?

Autoblog - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 21:27

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Toyota's decision to move its US headquarters from its longtime home in Torrance, CA, to Plano, TX, was one of the biggest stories in the automotive industry this spring. With several months since the announcement, more details about the plan have leaked out. It seems that pulling up stakes could mean an even larger shakeup in the Toyota workforce than first thought.

According to Automotive News, Toyota intends to hang onto around 50 percent of its workforce in the move to the Lone Star State. However, even that figure might be optimistic. According to an unnamed insider speaking to AN, there is a fear the actual number could be closer to 30 percent. For comparison, Nissan retained about 42 percent of its workers in its move from California to Tennessee.

The actual percentage making the move is a mystery because Toyota is still rewriting its job descriptions under a single set of guidelines. The changes affect benefits, bonuses and the reporting structure, according to Automotive News, and employees' reactions could play a big role in who decides to go. According to an unnamed worker speaking to AN, the wait is hurting morale. Some people are even applying at the nearby Honda headquarters.

Toyota is working hard to convince people to stay with the company. It's offering lump sums for those who make the move, helping them find housing in Texas and also giving bonuses to those who stay until their department is moved. The automaker has even sent employees to Plano on paid trips to check things out.

The new headquarters is set to officially open in late 2017 with workers arriving in phases. The site consolidates the manufacturing, sales, marketing, and financial services divisions into a single location. Not only does it put Toyota closer to its factories in the south, but the company is also receiving an estimated $40 million in incentives from the state, plus another $6.75 million from the city.

Will Toyota lose up to 70% of its workforce in TX relocation? originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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LA preview: Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept

Leftlane - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 21:03
Full-sized luxury concept makes its North American debut.






Report: Jaguar trademarks EV-Type nameplate

Autoblog - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 21:00

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Green may have been a popular color choice for the classic Jaguar E-Type, but even in Lightweight form (pictured above), it was hardly what you'd call environmentally friendly. Not by today's standards, anyway, with six-, eight- and twelve-cylinder engines displacing between 3.8 and 5.3 liters. But Jaguar looks to be preparing to revive the nameplate - or at least one similar - with a new electric vehicle in the works.

According to the latest intel, Jaguar has applied both in the US and in Europe to trademark the name EV-Type. The implication that it's developing an electric vehicle is clear, as is the reference to its iconic sports car of yore. But more than that, we don't know. We could be looking at an electric version of the current F-Type, a project to convert original E-Types to electric power or a different model altogether.

It wouldn't be the first time, of course, that we'd see Jaguar toying with the idea of electric propulsion. A couple of years ago, the British automaker demonstrated a plug-in hybrid XJ_e prototype, and showcased both the C-X16 and C-X75 concepts with advanced hybrid powertrains. But it has yet to put any such system into production, relying instead on the small diesels it sells in Europe to keep its carbon footprint small.

Sister company Land Rover has similarly toyed with an array of hybrid and electric powertrains, but to date has only done diesel hybrid versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport that it doesn't offer in the US. The electric powertrain apparently being developed for the EV-Type would likely be shared with a Land Rover model as well.

Jaguar trademarks EV-Type nameplate originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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GM victim fund extends deadline for ignition-switch claims

Leftlane - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 20:49
Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg pushes deadline forward to January 31 to give applicants more time to file.






Motorsports: McLaren gets on track with new Honda F1 engine

Autoblog - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 20:30

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Of all the changes in store for next year's Formula One World Championship, few are as hotly anticipated as Honda's return as an engine supplier to the McLaren team. And with the current season drawing to a close, Honda has tweeted two images of the current car running its new engine.

The MP4-29H pictured here is based closely on the MP4-29 which Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen have been driving all season, starting strong with a double podium finish in Australia but dropping sharply off over the course of the rest of the season since. The main difference (as far as we know, anyway) is that this car has swapped its Mercedes-AMG PU106A hybrid power unit for the new engine which the team will run in the 2015 McLaren-Honda MP4-30 next season.

Although mid-season testing away from officially sanctioned test sessions is strictly verboten, this particular film session undertaken at Silverstone was apparently allowed under publicity regulations that would permit the team to run the car for no more than 100 kilometers (62 miles). The car was wearing demonstration tires and piloted not by Button, Magnussen or official test driver Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium, but by backup driver Oliver Turvey, an up-and-coming driver with GP2 and Le Mans class wins under his belt.

The Woking outfit has yet to make an official announcement as to its driver lineup for next season, with Fernando Alonso all but officially confirmed to be making the switch back to McLaren (for which he briefly drove in 2007). The big question mark hangs over whether the team will retain the experienced Button, the aspiring Magnussen or another driver entirely - like Vandoorne or Turvey - to race alongside the two-time world champion. Rumors have linked Carlos Sainz, Jr. (the recently crowned Formula Renault champion and son of the former rally champion) to the team, most likely in a test-driver role.

This filming session marks the official return of Honda to grand prix racing for the first time since it shut down its works team at the end of 2008. It also rekindles a remarkably successful partnership between McLaren and Honda that saw the pair take six world championships during the Ayrton Senna era in the late 1980s and early '90s.

McLaren gets on track with new Honda F1 engine originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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EPA head downplays effect of gas prices on efficiency guidelines

Leftlane - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 20:11
The agency still views 54.5-mpg average by 2025 to be an achievable goal.






Spy Shots: Mazda CX-3 almost ready for LA Show

Autoblog - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 20:00

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The Mazda CX-3 is just days away from its unveiling at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, but elsewhere in the world, the Japanese brand still has the compact crossover disguised for testing. These spy shots aren't too camouflaged though, and when combined with the previous teaser image, they give a pretty clear idea what the new model will look like.

The grille here is well covered, but the photo from the front reveals the similarities to the design sketch. The rear shows a similar horizontally oriented design as the Mazda2, which the CUV is based on. However, the dipping sides around the B-pillar from the teaser don't appear to be on this tester. Even with all the swirls, the vehicle looks fairly attractive.

Mazda is doing a fantastic job of keeping mechanical details about the CX-3 a secret. It's not yet known whether the model is front-wheel-drive only or if all-wheel drive is also an option. The crossover also likely shares the Mazda2's engine, which isn't revealed for North America, yet. The diminutive CUV will compete with a huge crop of new classmates, including the Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V. Check out the gallery for the latest glimpses of this Japanese CUV just days ahead of its full debut.

Mazda CX-3 almost ready for LA Show originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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