One of my early triumphs while playing the sparkling new Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One came after what I could conservatively call a "non-traditional" motorsports experience. In a point-to-point street race across a lovingly rendered, sun-dappled corner of Europe, I transitioned from a winding two-lane road to a narrow dirt , with one extended foray - at well over 120 miles per hour - through a vineyard. I did all of this in a Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge Stradale.
Oh, and most impressive? I won that race.
Let's all agree to be perfectly honest about what Horizon 2 - next-gen-console follow-up to Turn 10 Studios' Forza Horizon game for Xbox 360 in 2012 - is and is not. This is not a racing simulation. And, despite millimeter-perfect car renderings and a completely lush, believable and truly open world to drive around in, a significant suspension of disbelief is required before one can sink into this gamescape.
Do all of that, and you'll find that Horizon 2 is not only a stealthy and entertaining hybrid of simulation-console-racer and arcade-style, super-speedy-smash-'em-up, but also one of the best driving titles we've seen for the newest generation of gaming hardware.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Being a valet on the Italian Riviera seems like a pretty sweet gig for a young guy. Not only do you get to watch beautiful people coming and going all day and night, but there's the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a plethora of exotic sports cars. Of course, being responsible for those expensive vehicles has to be pretty nerve wracking to get used to on the first day.
In a new commercial, Volvo pranks a new valet at the San Remo Casino to see how he would handle a surprise showing up on the red carpet. If the look on his face in the screenshot above doesn't show it, he's pretty shocked by what he sees. We don't want to spoil the reveal, so just watch the ad to find out. Afterward, if you're interested in the details behind how Volvo made it happen, you can check out a short, making-of documentary, here.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Truck Test 1: 2015 Chevy Colorado
General Motors' midsize truck twins are finally here, and senior editor Seyth Miersma had the chance to put both to the test at home on GM's Milford Proving Grounds, as well as the sun-drenched roads of San Diego, CA. First up is the Chevy Colorado, tested here in relatively base, four-cylinder spec. How's it drive? Read this review to find out.
Truck Test 2: 2015 GMC Canyon
Here's the other half of our truck test duo: the 2015 GMC Canyon. Of course, this is the more gussied-up version of GM's new midsize truck, and Seyth Miersma tests a relatively loaded, V6 spec of the (arguably) prettier of the two pickups. How is GMC differentiating its Canyon from the more pedestrian Colorado? All that and more is answered, here.
2015 Ford Mustang GT, now on video
In other exciting new American car news, the hot new Ford Mustang is here, and in our first drive, we absolutely loved it. Following that first stint, Jonathon Ramsey had a chance to take a Mustang GT out for a followup spin on some of his favorite roads, and offers more impressions of the 'Stang from behind the wheel. We captured it all on video - check it out, here.
- 2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 packs up to 503 hp, arrives in March
- Audi bringing new TT Roadster to Paris
- Autoblog Podcast #398 - 2015 Ford Mustang, 2015 Toyota Camry, NHTSA Under Congressional Fire
Whether you love or hate its chiseled, angular lines and spindle grille, the Lexus NX is a big step for the brand as it jumps into the sea of luxury compact crossovers. We've already checked out the new CUV, and to promote its European launch, along with a different nose, Lexus has teamed up with producer and musician Will.I.Am for a commercial titled Striking Angles.
As the name suggests, the ad imagines a futuristic world where practically everything shares the NX's sharp-angled design aesthetic, including the wildlife. Over a thumping remix of his Dreamin' About the Future, the luxury CUV rolls through the misty city streets for Will.I.Am to check out.
That's not the end of Lexus' promotional efforts for its newest addition, though. The brand is also displaying a one-off NX styled by Will.I.Am during Paris Fashion Week. Read the automaker's entire release about its marketing plan for the CUV, below.
Will.I.Am stars in new Lexus NX commercial, designs a version for Paris originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Sep 2014 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Between the Taurus-based Police Interceptor, the Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility and the F-150 and Expedition special service vehicles, Ford has no lack of offerings for law enforcement. And now it has one more in the form of the new Transit PTV.
Based on the fullsize Transit van, the Prisoner Transport Vehicle can move as many as 12 prisoners in three separate compartments between detention facilities. Created in collaboration with Pennsylvania-based Havis Prisoner Transport Solutions and with input from Ford's Police Advisory Board, the Transit PTV takes advantage of the Transit's considerable configuration options that include three roof heights, two wheelbases, three lengths and four body-styles - not to mention engine options that include the flex-fuel 3.7-liter V6, 3.5-liter EcoBoost and 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel.
"Transit PTV is the latest example of Ford's deep commitment to helping provide law enforcement agencies with capable vehicles. This concept proves Transit is upfit-ready and designed to Built Ford Tough standards," said Jonathan Honeycutt, Ford police marketing manager. "Many Police Advisory Board members have had the chance to drive this vehicle and they are excited about it. This new vehicle is tough, smart and efficient - ideal for the needs of law enforcement agencies."Permalink | Email this | Comments
Whether you're shopping at the grocery story or on a car lot, everything seems to be getting more expensive these days. However, when all the factors are considered, that might be more an issue of perception than of fact. The American Public Media radio show Marketplace recently tackled the question whether modern vehicles were actually more expensive once you factored in important variables like inflation and cost of ownership. The result was pretty surprising.
For its example, Marketplace chose the Honda Accord, because in August, it was one of the bestselling vehicles in the US, with 51,075 of them sold. Winding back the clock 25 years to 1989, Honda's cheapest Accord cost $11,770, and that money bought you a stripped-out car with 98 horsepower, a manual gearbox, no air conditioning and hand-crank windows.
Fast-forward to present day, and a basic Accord starts at around $22,000 and gives buyers significantly more features, including a 185-hp engine, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, cruise control, more space, refinement and much better safety. By Marketplace's math, when just figuring for inflation, that modern Honda would cost about $11,500 a quarter century ago, despite all of that extra equipment. But that's just one factor. Scroll down to listen to the full report for an explanation of how cost of ownership figures into the mix, and whether it throws all of the calculations off.
Is today's Honda Accord cheaper than it was back in 1989? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Sep 2014 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Remember seeing your buddy's flimsy fake ID in college that said he was 35 and several inches shorter than he really was? Well, Chinese criminals have apparently come up with a potentially terrifying alternative by crafting nearly perfect false driver's licenses and shipping to the US by the hundreds. To the naked eye, they're indistinguishable from the real thing.
According to a report from CBS 2 in Chicago, many of the fakes are coming into O'Hare International Airport hidden in boxes of Chinese tea sets and jewelry, and they can reportedly be purchased online for about $150 each. According to the report, at least one box was destined for a group of 20 college students.
"Instead of a generic hologram, they are imitating our actual holograms. These are some of the best I've seen," said Tyler DuMontelle, one of the investigators into how the fake licenses are made. Thankfully, the IDs aren't entirely perfect. Their holograms aren't good enough to pass the laser and ultra-violet tests, which means that they couldn't be used to easily board a plane.
Obviously, there are security implications here far beyond underage drinkers tipping back some beers a few years early, and the Illinois Secretary of State is looking deeper into the problem. Also, for any curious college students, in many places, trying to pass a fake ID is a crime. Scroll down to watch a video of the whole report.
China 'flooding' US with high-quality fake US driver's licenses [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Sep 2014 17:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Johan de Nysschen has been at his new post as president of Cadillac for not even three months , but he's already seen two of his most notable accomplishments from his two-year tenure as president of Infiniti matched by Cadillac. The brand has announced that it is relocating its headquarters, and is now officially changing its nomenclature.
The brand's new flagship model will abandon the familiar three-letter designation enjoyed by every other model in the range (aside from the Escalade), and adopt an alpha-numeric title. So, rather than the expected title of LTS, Cadillac's top-end car will be called the CT6.
Of course, this won't be limited to just one model. According to Cadillac's press release, "familiar lettering like 'CT' would be used for car models, with the number indicating the relative size and position of the cars in the hierarchy of Cadillac models." And yes, that means what you think it means - Cadillac will use the exact same naming formula, albeit with different letters, as Infiniti.
"As we expand the portfolio, we can assist consumers in placing the cars within a structure, as they compare cars both within our showroom and across the market generally," explained Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac's chief marketing officer.
There will be one big difference between the name changes at the New York City-based automaker and the ones conducted under de Nysschen's leadership at Infiniti, though.
"However, this will be an evolutionary process - we will only change a product's name when the product itself is redesigned or an all-new model is created, as in this instance," Ellinghaus said. Much of the trouble with de Nysschen's name shuffle at Infiniti was that it was done in the middle of the life cycle for a number of vehicles, making for a confusing mess of names. We're glad things are being handled more gradually at Cadillac.
What are your thoughts here? Was there anything wrong with Cadillac's naming structure in the first place? Do you agree with the system of a fixed letter denoting a body style and a number denoting size? Have your say in Comments and then head down and check out the official press release.Permalink | Email this | Comments
"We figured we'd take the best of both worlds." - Ralph Gilles.The international makeup of the 2015 Jeep Renegade will serve as a template for cooperation within the newly formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Senior Vice President of Product Design Ralph Gilles said.
The Renegade is Jeep's first small crossover and the brand's attempt to lure new and younger buyers. It was designed in the United States, but is built in Italy on a Fiat platform shared with the 500L. Unlike the Fiat, though, it has two available four-wheel-drive systems, a familiar seven-slot grille and a pair of available open-air roof features, all characteristics that designers argue make it a legitimate Jeep.
Gilles said the Renegade's development was a test case - that succeeded - in Fiat and Chrysler product teams working together. "We figured we'd take the best of both worlds," he said at MICHauto, a day-long industry summit in Detroit on Tuesday.
The new Jeep's development spurred different ideas about the brand, Gilles said. While Chrysler's American designers and engineers had a traditional, rough-and-tough view for the Renegade, Europeans saw it as an edgier city vehicle. "It's kind of this urban jungle-fighter machine," he recalled.
It also raised some challenges, like packing the many interior conveniences and features Americans demand into the tight layout of a European platform. We had to rethink how we do cars," Gilles said. "We've never had a space problem before."
Fitting for Jeep's international DNA, the Renegade will be sold in more than 100 countries, a wide swath for the brand which is growing handsomely overseas. That mirrors the ambitions of FCA itself - the automaker will have a far-flung footprint, with production, engineering and design largely staying in their traditional locations in Europe and America, while the new headquarters will be in London and the company will be registered in the Netherlands.
Perhaps even more important than its multicultural roots, the Renegade will also serve as the new gateway for Jeep, which wants to capture buyers from the Millennial Generation. Many of the designers who worked on the new ute where in their 20s and 30s, and see the automobile as a "device," Gilles said.
"We put a Millennial crew on it," he said. "They designed it for themselves in a certain way."
Jeep Renegade's development a template for new Fiat Chrysler Auto originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Sep 2014 16:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost represents a huge change for the Blue Oval as the first pony car in decades to be available with a four-cylinder engine. But a recent tweet (below) from Road & Track raised our curiosity about the new vehicle. Editor Jason Cammisa pulled a fuse while driving the latest 'Stang with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, and he found that both the stereo and engine went quiet in the cabin. That indicated the coupe might have some form of artificial engine sound being piped in - a feature not previously heavily reported for the model. Autoblog spoke with Ford engineer Shawn Carney who confirmed that only the turbocharged four-cylinder Mustang comes with this system, called Active Noise Control. September 17, 2014
In fact, Carney is partially responsible for tuning and shaping the EcoBoost's note in the Mustang, and he said the setup serves two distinct functions. First, it cancels out some of the coarse noise as part of the 'Stang's refinement strategy. It also allows Ford to enhance things by "layering in certain sound characteristics on top of what's already there," he said. To determine the right mix, the engine processor monitors torque output and changes things accordingly. "The intent is to be a natural experience," said Carney.
According to Carney, Mustang fans actually helped to shape the enhancement mix. Ford held clinics with clubs dedicated to the model and played different "sound concepts" for them. With that input, the company eventually narrowed it down to a final one.
Some drivers might find some potential downsides to Active Noise Control, though. For buyers that hate the idea of artificial sound in the cabin, the system can't be turned off (except pulling the fuse and killing the radio). If you like the way your 2015 Mustang sounds with ANC on, we hope you like the sound of the original stereo, too. The tech is integrated into the head unit, so if you upgrade your audio system, your car's powertrain isn't going to sound the same.Permalink | Email this | Comments
As discussed earlier today, the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado is a new standout in terms of midsize trucks. But the Colorado wasn't the only pickup the General Motors team brought to San Diego for us to sample. Also along for the ride was a pack of GMC Canyons, the slightly more expensive and polished platform-mate to the Chevy.
There's no question that the Canyon and the Colorado are a lot alike under the skin - almost entirely, in fact - so GMC has worked to first create some daylight between the two trucks by way of sheetmetal. This is most obvious from the front view, where the blocky and blingy GMC grille replaces the more subdued tone and shape seen on the Chevy's nose. Projector headlights with LED running lights come as standard, and, again, with the squared-off look that is typical of the brand. 16-inch aluminum wheels come stock on the GMC, too, with the 17-inchers seen on my photo truck offered as standard equipment on the top-trim SLT.
GMC considers the Canyon to be the only premium truck in the segment (which is clearly true), and the team has spent a ton of time and effort to get the interior correct to prove out that point. "Any trim that looks like metal, is metal," I was told at the product briefing, a certain indication that the company is serious about bringing a new class of buyer to a truck segment that it hopes to redefine.
But it's not all chrome and heated leather seats. GMC has delivered a truck that's pretty swell to spend time in, from soup to nuts.
- The 2.5-liter four-cylinder that was the focus of my First Drive of the Colorado is the standard engine for the Canyon as well, but the truck I drove was equipped with the far punchier (and thirstier at 17 miles per gallon city, 24 highway) 3.6-liter V6. Not only does the six make a healthy 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, but the throttle modulation and automatic transmission programming both work to let you take advantage of the power in short order.
- For the sake of reference, though GMC doesn't offer up any performance specs like 0-60 times, I can say that the Crew Cab, four-wheel-drive Canyon I drove weighs in at roughly 4,420 pounds, which would give it a power-to-weight ratio that's just slightly better than a Honda Civic Si. Tell this pickup to giddy-up, and she'll go.
- Perhaps more pertinently, she'll also tow. GMC asks a reasonable $250 for the trailering package, which adds a two-inch receiver hitch and four- and seven-pin connectors. So equipped, the midsize Canyon can pull a legit 7,000 pounds, or, as I like to call it "more boat than I can afford."
- Unladen, handling offered by the GMC truck is part and parcel to its Chevy contemporary. Steering is stable at speed but not quick nor full of feedback, and pushing the Canyon over, well, canyon roads, doesn't yield particularly stirring results. The ride control is excellent however, when it comes to ironing out uneven surfaces. A cruiser, not a carver.
- As I alluded to above, the interior of this all-boxes-ticked GMC is a pretty excellent place to drive in. Leather and soft-touch surfaces abound here, with nice stitching on the instrument panel, and hide wrappers found on both the steering wheel and the shift lever. Not as cowboyed up as Ram's Longhorn Laramie package, I'll grant you, but slightly more sophisticated than that, too.
- Noise, vibration and harshness levels are all very low for a pickup truck - they're even pretty low when compared with sedans, frankly. I caught a bit of wind rush off of those big, chromed mirrors at highway speeds, but otherwise this is a nice space to cruise and kick the Bose stereo.
- Which brings us to equipment offered. The un-optioned Canyon starts with things like a backup camera, automatic transmission, LED lighting and a chromed rear bumper, but for my money it starts to separate itself meaningfully from the Chevy at the mid-level SLE trim. Stickering for $30,980 you get 17-inch wheels, power side mirrors, foglamps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the far-nicer eight-inch infotainment display and the ability to turn use your truck as a 4G LTE hotspot via OnStar.
- GMC made a big deal about the driveability offered with a midsize footprint, and I can agree that something Canyon-sized feels more graceful around town than does a fullsizer. Still, there'll be a learning curve for any drivers transitioning out of a compact crossover - like a Honda CR-V or Ford Escape - especially with the longer (six-feet, two-inches) bed size. Having that rear camera and good forward visibility should help in parking lots though.
Profitable or not though, I can at least report that the Canyon's mixture of good looks, great power, and smooth manners makes for a welcome driving companion. With its brother a Chevy offering a more blue-collar version of the same basic goodness, GM has a one-two midsize punch that could knock the market for a loop.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Tony Stewart will not face criminal charges for the death of racer Kevin Ward, Jr., TMZ Sports is claiming. The official announcement from the grand jury will be made available at 3:00 p.m. today.
Last we heard was that the case was being put before a grand jury, who would decide whether the three-time Sprint Cup champ would stand trial for the death of the 20-year-old racer.
According to TMZ, the grand jury viewed "enhanced video" of the August 9 incident, which saw Ward get out of his car in the middle of a sprint car race to angrily confront Stewart following a crash. As he approached the car, he was struck and thrown towards the track wall. He was attended to by medical personnel, but was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital near the Ontario County, NY track.
We'll update this story once the grand jury's formal announcement is available.
UPDATE: Michael Tantillo, the Ontario County, NY district attorney, has confirmed that Stewart will not be indicted on charges relating to Kevin Ward, Jr.'s, death. Scroll down for the full statement on the grand jury announcement.
UPDATE 2: According to The Los Angeles Times, a toxicology screening confirmed that Kevin Ward Jr., had marijuana in his system at the time of his death. "The levels were enough to impair his judgment," District Attorney Michael Tantillo said. It's not clear what role this had in the grand jury's decision.
Tony Stewart will not be indicted in Kevin Ward Jr death, says TMZ [UPDATE] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
While it's arguably been around the longest, the dominance of the four-door sedan has been under threat for many years. As a further sign of the hurtin' that SUVs and crossovers have put on today's four-doors, a new report from Automotive News points to the increasing use of incentives by brands reliant on cars and light on CUVs and pickups.
Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Kia have all been stung by double-digit increases in their incentives-to-transaction price ratio, according to AN, which cites data from TrueCar. Honda's ratio is up 14 percent, while Toyota, VW and Kia are up 18, 15 and 19 percent, respectively.
"Most of the incentive growth we have seen is in product segments with low demand - midsized or large sedans," TrueCar President John Krafcik told AN. "As this trend goes on, the brands with three-sedan strategies are going to be in worse shape on incentive spending than the crossover brands."
Krafcik backed up his argument with this fun fact: Honda sales were up just two percent in August, compared to Jeep, whose sedan-free fleet saw sales jump 49 percent in the same period.
The move towards CUVs isn't too hard to figure out, with AN pointing out the increasingly fuel-efficient high-riders that are overtaking showrooms. That's bad news for both sedans and the manufacturers that produce them.
UPDATE: A previous version of this story listed John Krafcik as CEO of TrueCar. That is incorrect. The story should list Krafcik as president of TrueCar. The story has been edited to reflect this.
Sales incentive growth clustered around brands with few CUVs, trucks [UPDATE] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
With the debut of the new TT and TTS hardtops in Geneva earlier this year, as well as the more recent debut of the convertible model, Audi has ticked the same body style boxes as the first two generations of TT. Unlike those earlier examples, though, the German luxury manufacturer has provided a slow and steady parade of concepts showing off possible directions for the TT.
First, we had the Allroad Shooting Brake Concept from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. Then, in April, we saw the Offroad Concept, whose biggest differentiation from the Detroit concept was its extra pair of doors, making it appear, at least superficially, quite similar to one of Audi's Sportback models. This clear evolution from shooting brake to neo-Sportback might not have meant much, had the image you see above not leaked.
This is, allegedly, the third member of the larger TT-based concept family, and - surprise, surprise - it has massaged the profile of the Offroad Concept into something that, to our eyes, appears far more grounded in reality. It looks like a natural fit into Audi's line of four-door-coupe models, which are more fleshed out in Europe, thanks to the presence of the A5/S5 Sportback. Slotting in a TT-based model could represent a coup for Audi, as such a small four-door with such obvious sports car roots would be mostly unchallenged.
According to World Car Fans (or Auto Zeitung, if you'd rather read in the original German), it will be on display at next week's Paris Motor Show. Naturally, should it debut, our team on the ground will have plenty to tell you about it. Stay tuned.
Leaked design sketch may preview Audi TT Sportback Concept for Paris originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments