10/26/2014 - wrote:

2015 BMW 4 Series
2015 BMW 4 Series
A new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe body style joins the BMW 4 Series for 2015, which comprises a beautiful lineup of two-door coupes and convertibles.

The BMW 4 Series was introduced for the 2014 model year as the successor to the 3 Series coupe, part of a move to use even numbers for two-door models and odd numbers for four-door models. However, the logic of the new nomenclature goes out the window with the 2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, a four-door hatchback. The 4 Series Gran Coupe offers easy rear-seat access and increased cargo space, with the coupe's more tailored silhouette.

The 4 Series two-door coupe and convertible models continue for 2015, with only a few minor changes to features, packaging and options. Notably, Bluetooth streaming audio capability is now standard on all models.

Built on the same architecture as the 3 Series, the 4 Series models ride on the same 110-6-inch wheelbase as the 3 Series sedans, but are slightly wider. Gran Coupe models are about an inch-and-a-half lower, while coupes and convertibles are nearly two inches lower.

Two engine choices are available in all 4 Series body styles: The BMW 428i uses BMW's turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. The more powerful BMW 435i coupe and BMW 435i Gran Coupe use a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 good for 300 hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. The 4 Series models can also be fitted with BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive.

We like the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and find it superbly capable in most driving environments, both in BMW 428i coupe and BMW 428i Gran Coupe variants. It's efficient, and is just as content when commuting as a long road trip. The limits of four-cylinder engine become apparent only in the most demanding situations, such as passing while traveling up a steep grade at high speeds. Only then will it become apparent that the powertrain is working hard, with the accompanying whine to prove it. But with admirable EPA fuel economy ratings of 23/35 mpg City/Highway for the BMW 428i with the automatic transmission, this car makes the most sense for the majority of drivers.

Still, the turbocharged inline-6 used in the BMW 435i coupe, BMW 435i convertible, and BMW 435i Gran Coupe is by far the most fun, with plenty of power for dashing around mountain roads. Power delivery is smooth and linear, even at higher elevations (where older turbocharged engines can sometimes gasp for breath in the thin air). Fuel economy for the rear-wheel-drive BMW 435i Coupe with the automatic transmission is 22/32 mpg City/Highway. The 8-speed automatic transmission is more efficient in all variants, and achieves better fuel economy than the optional 6-speed manual. Interior materials in the 2015 BMW 4 Series are similar to those found on the 3 Series, though the 4 Series cabin design is clearly more driver-oriented. The center stack is slightly canted to the left, and the narrow, tapered center console sits high, cordoning off the driver in her own little cocoon. The iDrive controller and a color screen are standard. For the most part, interior materials are rich and interesting, although certain trims and color combinations can tend to look mismatched.

Back-seat space is fine but not cavernous, with slightly less rear legroom in the convertible. Because of its extra set of doors, Gran Coupe models are a better choice for those who will regularly carry passengers. Cargo space in two-door coupes is good, and even better in Gran Coupe models. The convertible, not surprisingly, offers the least amount of space, especially when the retractable hardtop is down.

The BMW 4 Series coupe is a leader in a class that includes competitors such as the Audi A5, Cadillac ATS Coupe, Infiniti Q60 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe. BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe models are unique choice for those who want the coupe's sleek silhouette but with the easy access of four doors and more trunk space.
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10/26/2014 - wrote:

2014 Hyundai Veloster
2014 Hyundai Veloster
Hyundai Veloster is a sporty, three-door compact car with unique looks, fun driving dynamics and good fuel economy. It launched as a 2012 model with a naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter engine that made 138 horsepower and an admirable EPA estimate of 40 mpg Highway with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. The engine used all the right high-tech stuff to get these numbers, such as Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) and Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT).

Late in 2012, however, Hyundai was compelled to reduce the fuel-economy estimates of several models, including the Veloster, because of testing errors.

For 2013, the Veloster Turbo joined the lineup. The Turbo holds a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine for a peppy 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, along with bigger brakes and tires.

Like the base Veloster, the Turbo gets a standard 6-speed manual gearbox. A traditional 6-speed automatic with Shiftronic is optional. The naturally aspirated Veloster, meanwhile, has a dual-clutch automatic as the optional transmission. With automatic, engine output dips to 132 horsepower.

The Turbo's increased performance predictably takes a toll on gas mileage, achieving an EPA-estimated 24 mpg City and 31 mpg Highway with the manual gearbox and 24/33 mpg with the dual-clutch automatic. That compares to 27/37 mpg with the base engine and manual shift (26/35 with automatic).

For 2014, all Velosters gain a rearview camera, driver's blind-spot mirror and daytime running lights as standard equipment. Turbo models add standard Torque Vectoring Control, along with Active Sound Design in-cabin powertrain sound enhancement. Automatic temperature control is newly standard in the Turbo.

Starting in February 2014, a new Veloster Turbo R-Spec edition will be available, with unique suspension and steering tuning that promises enhanced agility and feel. The 6-speed close-ratio transmission gets a new shift knob, and the short-throw B&M Racing Sport Shifter is said to yield a tighter, high-precision feel. Red exterior accents will be optional. Inside, the R-Spec's sport seats feature red leatherette bolsters with red/black cloth inserts.

The 2014 Hyundai Veloster Turbo distinguishes itself from the naturally-aspirated Veloster with a huge front grille, a body kit, different front and rear bumpers, a rear spoiler and upgraded standard features such as leather upholstery, heated front seats and pushbutton start. All Turbos ride on larger, 18-inch wheels. The Veloster Turbo is even available in a matte gray paint color, must be taken care of meticulously by hand.

Veloster styling gets a lot of looks on the highway, although we think it's a tad overdone. The third door is on the passenger side, hinged at the front like a real door. With other three-door compacts, the third door can be awkwardly hinged; not so with the Veloster. It's easy to climb in and out of the back seat, and total interior volume is best in the sporty compact class.

Much of the Hyundai Veloster was designed and developed in the U.S., most notably the rear suspension that gives Veloster an excellent all-around ride that's dialed-in but still comfortable. Steering is solid, secure, and gives great feedback; cornering is stable. Veloster is front-wheel drive.

Veloster seats four. Interior details include nice support at the right thigh, good feel with the three-spoke leather steering wheel, pleasing uncluttered gauges, and digital information that's easily accessed. There's a blind spot at the C-pillar over the driver's shoulder, and the horizontal structural support in the fastback glass liftgate restricts visibility, but it still offers better views than most other coupes.

Competitors include the Fiat 500, Honda Civic hatchback, Mini Cooper Clubman, Volkswagen Beetle and Volkswagen Golf. The Veloster Turbo goes up against sportier, more powerful versions of these compacts like the Fiat 500 Abarth, Honda Civic Si, Mini Cooper Clubman S, Volkswagen Beetle Turbo and Volkswagen GTI. The Veloster might not have the cachet enjoyed by some of the competition, but it offers excellent value for the money and superior fuel economy.
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10/23/2014 - wrote:

2015 Infiniti Q70
2015 Infiniti Q70
The 2015 Infiniti Q70 includes nine different models of the luxury brand's flagship sedans, including a hybrid, all-wheel-drive variants, and a brand-new Q70L long-wheelbase configuration, with impressively increased rear seating room.

New to all 2015 Q70 models are restyled front and rear fascias and a new grille, giving the Infiniti Q70 a family identity closely harmonized with the recently debuted Q50 sedan. Also new for 2015 are LED headlights, taillights, and turn signals integrated into the side mirrors.

Prior to the 2014 model year, the Q70 was known as the Infiniti M.

The overall appearance of the 2015 Infiniti Q70 has the muscular, expressive styling language of the contemporary Japanese luxury-sedan school, which continues to separate itself from more traditional European luxury sedans. The Q70 has voluptuously modeled flanks, interestingly sinister headlight clusters, a distinctive face typical of this emerging design language, all combining to produce an exceptionally low aerodynamic coefficient of drag of 0.27.

But the Q70's componentry, design character, and performance profile are highly evolutionary, closely related to successful previous Infiniti luxury-sedan offerings. With the expected addition of new contemporary driver aids, such as available predictive forward-collision warning, surround-view rear monitor with moving-object detection, forward emergency braking, and back-up collision intervention, the Q70 maintains its competitive stance on the technology forefront. The list of Q70 driver aids and luxury furnishings is long and lavish.

Performance continues to be exciting, as well. Two conventional powerplants are available, a 330-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, and a large 420-hp 5.6-liter V8. Neither of these engines takes advantage of the current trend toward more fuel-efficient turbocharged small-capacity engines, as featured by some Q70 competitors. While delivering excellent responsiveness, these engines' mileage ratings range from 23-26 mpg on the highway, and 16-18 mpg in the city. The Q70 Hybrid, by contrast, achieves exemplary efficiency of an EPA-estimated 29/34 mpg City/Highway.

Q70L models feature a wheelbase nearly six inches longer wheelbase, adding 5.6 inches of rear-seat legroom, 5.9-inches of rear-seat knee room. These longer versions are available across the board.

As a contemporary performance sedan, the Q70 is a spirited, high-quality over-the-road thoroughbred. Driven vigorously, it is agile, responsive, and well balanced. In more sedate conditions, it is comfortable, smooth, and rewardingly quiet. And because Infiniti has priced the Q70 very carefully in the market in comparison with its main competitors, such as the Lexus GS, it represents very good value in a mid-size luxury performer.
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10/21/2014 - wrote:

2015 BMW X6
2015 BMW X6
Before BMW started filling every possible gap between cars and SUVs, before nearly every model had spinoffs in the form of Gran Coupes and Gran Turismos and Active Tourers, there was the BMW X6. For 2015, the X6 is completely redesigned, marking the second-generation of what BMW calls its first Sports Activity Coupe.

The 2015 BMW X6 looks bolder, sexier and more athletic than the outgoing model, though to many, it's still an odd combination of car-meets-SUV. Highly sculptured lines give it a more aggressive look, and a new face brings it more in line with BMW's other X vehicles, including the smaller X4 and the roomier X5. The X6 grows in size for 2015; though it rides on the same wheelbase as the previous-generation model, the 2015 X6 is two inches longer and about a half-inch taller.

Built on the same bones as the utilitarian X5, the four-passenger BMW X6 challenges traditional notions of utility vehicles with its low, coupe-like roofline and refined driving dynamics, while retaining a high seating position and increased ground clearance of an SUV. But while the X6's sleeker shape certainly makes it more alluring than its more upright counterpart, it also makes it less practical, with reduced rear headroom and cargo space in comparison.

Entry-level models are powered by BMW's 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6, good for 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Choices include the rear-wheel-drive X6 sDrive35i, and the all-wheel-drive X6 xDrive 35i. The best performer is the X6 xDrive50i, powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that makes a hearty 445 hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque. All models utilize an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

With much of its underpinnings shared with the X5, the X6 is a capable performer, considering its hefty weight. Though it can't handle a racetrack like a true sport coupe, the X6 performs better than most SUVs, staying surprisingly composed around demanding turns or down steep, rocky hills.

The BMW X6 is at its best when loaded with pricey options, such as the Dynamic Handling Package, which includes torque vectoring control, a technology that automatically varies the power sent to each wheel for maximum stability and traction. For a cushier ride, the optional air suspension has an automatic self-leveling system in the rear, while the adaptive M Sport suspension keeps the X6 firmly planted around twisty corners. Active steering varies the ratio according to vehicle speed. All of these greatly improve the X6s handling, but can add thousands to the sticker price.

Inside, the 2015 BMW X6 gets vast improvements in interior design and materials, as well as new standard features. Among them: a digital instrument cluster display, Bluetooth audio streaming and an automatic tailgate. Rear seats get increased headroom and two more inches of rear legroom, making the second-generation X6 a more realistic choice for carrying backseat passengers than previously. However, the 2015 X6 loses a substantial amount of cargo space, down to 20.5 cubic feet from the first generation's 25.6 cubic feet with the rear seats in place. Thus, despite its handling capabilities, the X6 remains more about style than utility.

A new suite of optional safety features makes its way to the 2015 BMW X6, including lane departure warning and a pedestrian and collision warning system; the Active Driving Assistant uses active cruise control and a front camera to automatically start and stop the car in slow-moving stop-and-go traffic. BMW's Night Vision can detect people and animals on dark roads and display their outlines on the center display screen.

Thanks to improved efficiency and aerodynamics, the 2015 BMW X6 achieves better fuel economy over the outgoing model. EPA fuel economy figures for the rear-wheel-drive X6 sDrive35i are 19/23 mpg City Highway. The AWD X6 xDrive35i is rated at 18/27 mpg City/Highway (up from 17/24). X6 xDrive50i models achieve 15/22 mpg City/Highway (up from 14/21).

Until now, competitors to the BMW X6 were virtually nonexistent, but that will soon change as more automakers throw their hats into the coupe-SUV ring. These include the forthcoming Range Rover Sport and the future Mercedes-Benz MLC-Class, which should are scheduled to launch for the 2016 model year.
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10/21/2014 - wrote:

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport
2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport
An all-new compact SUV from Land Rover, the Discovery Sport replaces the outgoing Land Rover LR-2, and is the first in an entire family of vehicles forthcoming with the Discovery name. The Discovery Sport will compete with other compact luxury SUVs such as the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class.

The Land Rover Discovery Sport shares some of its front architecture with the avant-garde Range Rover Evoque, but is more upright and allows for more passenger and cargo space. It's about two inches longer than the GLK-Class, and about three inches shorter than the BMW X3. The Discovery Sport technically seats seven, but seating for five is the most comfortable.

At the heart of the Land Rover Discovery Sport is the same engine used in the Range Rover Evoque, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. In the U.S., it will be paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. As with all Land Rovers, four-wheel drive is standard.

Like all Land Rovers, the Discovery Sport will be highly capable off-road. Land Rover's Terrain Response system comes standard, with different drive settings, including General, Mud and Ruts, Grass/Gravel/Snow, and Sand. The system adjusts steering, gearing, throttle, braking, stability control and the four-wheel drive system to best handle different road surfaces. Gradient Release Control gradually releases the brakes when starting from a stop on an incline. Discovery Sport also gets hill descent control, traction control and stability control.

Much of the underlying structure of the Land Rover Discovery Sport is made of lightweight aluminum and high-strength boron steel. The hood, front fenders and tailgate are aluminum, which shaves weight and helps with efficiency.

Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, partial leather seats with power 8-way front seats, pushbutton start, rearview camera with rear parking sensors, and anchor points in the cargo area.

Second-row seating should be comfortable in the Discovery Sport, with seats that recline and slide rearward up to about 6 inches, providing nearly 40 inches of rear legroom. That's about three inches more than the BMW X3, which is impressive considering the Discovery Sport's shorter overall length.

The optional third row is a tighter fit, and is best left for occasional use. The folding third-row seat stows away when not in use.

The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is expected to be available in the U.S. in early 2015, with an MSRP starting at $37,995.
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10/21/2014 - wrote:

2015 Jeep Renegade
2015 Jeep Renegade
Jeep is introducing a small crossover sport-utility called the Renegade that goes on sale in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2015. While the Renegade name has in the past been used for trim levels of other models, the 2015 Renegade represents a totally new model line.

Renegade is intended to offer better fuel economy and a smoother ride while remaining true to Jeep capability. Based on a car platform, the Jeep Renegade is intended to compete most directly with Kia Soul ($14,700-$20,300) and Nissan Juke $19,770-$25,550). Renegade is expected to achieve up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

A Renegade Trail Hawk model will be available with Jeep's Trail Rated label, meaning it has traversed the Rubicon Trail without suffering body damage. Trail Hawk allows aggressive approach, departure and breakover angles to reduce the chance of scraping the bottom. Renegade's relatively low curb weight enhances its off-road capability. Renegade comes standard with four-wheel drive, though two versions are available: Jeep Active Drive, which is a full-time 4WD system, and Jeep Active Drive Low, which includes a low-range 20:1 crawl ratio, just the thing for clambering over boulders near Moab.

The stance of the Jeep Renegade stance splits the difference between the upright windshield of the Wrangler and the faster, sleeker windshield of the Grand Cherokee. The intent is to strike a balance between aerodynamic efficiency and the rugged styling of a Jeep. Instantly recognizable as a Jeep the first time it's seen, Renegade features traditional Jeep styling cues. Among them: a seven-slat grille, trapezoidal wheel arches, and a hoop-style windshield intended to mimic the fold-down variety (though it cannot be folded down). The headlights and mirrors are intentionally a bit too big for the Renegade to give it an endearing growing-puppy look. An X-motif is used in a number of places, including the tail lights and roof panels.

The Renegade Trail Hawk model features less-aerodynamic front and rear fascia (the body work around and below the bumpers) for improved departure angles when traversing rugged terrain. Trail Hawk also has bright-orange tow hooks handy for pulling other vehicle out of the mud, or for pulling out the Trail Hawk when its considerable off-road capabilities are exceeded.

Roof panels on the Renegade can be lifted off and stored in back.

Inside, the Renegade dash echoes the X-motif. The cabin was designed by a young man (in his mid-20s) and its design looks young, active, sporty. The outer vents on the dash resemble goggles, while the tachometer looks like it was splattered by a paintball.

Front-wheel drive is standard, and two types of four-wheel drive are available: Active Drive is fully automatic. Active Drive Low includes a 20:1 crawl ratio.

Two engines are available: The standard 1.4-liter turbocharged diesel develops 160 horsepower and is designed to offer excellent fuel economy while being fun to drive. The optional 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine delivers more power. Trail Hawks come with the 2.4-liter.

Two transmissions are available: a 9-speed automatic and a 6-speed manual. All 2.4-liter engines come with automatics.

Renegade offers an array of electronic aids designed to improve safety: anti-lock brakes, traction control, blindspot detection, cross-traffic alert, voice commands for texting.

Renegade goes on sale in Italy and other European countries November 2014 before becoming available in the U.S. Pricing has not been announced, but Kia Soul ranges from $14,700 to $20,300 while Nissan Juke goes from $19,770 to $25,550. We are guessing Renegade will start below $20,000.
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10/21/2014 - wrote:

2015 Toyota Camry
2015 Toyota Camry
The days of playing it safe are over for the best-selling Toyota Camry midsize sedan. At least, when it comes to looks.

When it goes on sale this fall, a redesigned 2015 Camry will feature a new front fascia with a giant lower grille beset by angular LED fog lights. The gaping maw is a more grown-up version of the recently redesigned Corolla's front end, and evocative of some of Toyota's upscale Lexus models. The new Camry debuted at this year's New York International Auto Show.

The 2015 Toyota Camry is almost two inches longer than the 2014 model, with a track about a half-inch wider. While the updates to the Camry are considered only a refresh and not a complete redesign, Toyota says the only thing that carries over from the previous generation (introduced just three years ago) is the roof.

From the side, the 2015 Camry gets more prominent, angular body creases. In back, there's a sharp, straight trunk lid, new taillights and a redesigned rear bumper. The styling updates give the Camry a sharper, slightly tougher look over its previous, ho-hum appearance.

While the design is by no means revolutionary, it's a bold step for Toyota, considering the Camry has been the top-selling car in the U.S. for more than a decade. Time will tell whether buyers will embrace the new design or if Toyota has tried to fix something that was never broken to begin with.

Inside, the interior gets materials upgrades and a new center stack. A new wireless phone charger allows compatible smartphones to charge simply by sitting in the tray, rather than plugging in. Most standard features stay the same, but there are several new options, including advanced safety features typically found in higher-end vehicles such as cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

Other changes include a reinforced body structure, a new brake booster to improve stopping performance and a retuned suspension, which Toyota claims will improve handling. There's also more sound insulation for a quieter cabin.

Powertrains stay the same as before. The base engine is Toyota's 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. As before, a 3.5-liter V6 available, which makes 286 hp and 248 lb.-ft. of torque. The hybrid model will continue to pair a 156 hp-version of the four-cylinder with an electric motor. All models come with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Trim levels include the base LE and sportier SE, as well as the upscale XLE. A new XSE model gets a sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The 2015 Toyota Camry will go on sale at dealerships in the fall of 2014. Expected pricing should be close to the outgoing Camry model, starting at around $23,000.
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10/21/2014 - wrote:

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Chrysler Group's SRT (Street and Racing Technology) team has engineered high-performance versions of a variety of Chrysler products and not long ago was spun off as its own brand. Now a separate limited liability corporation, SRT's responsibilities have grown to include the reborn Viper sports car. Now married to the Dodge brand, SRT has developed America's mightiest production engine, a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 pumping out an awesome 707 horsepower and 650 pound feet of pavement-wrinkling torque.

Aptly named Hellcat (after the World War II fighter plane), the new engine debuted in an SRT Hellcat version of Dodge's nicely refreshed 2015 Challenger and will become available in an ultra-performance Dodge Charger in early 2015.

Capable of 3.7-second 0-60 mph bursts, 11-second quarter-mile runs (on street tires) and an aero drag-limited top speed of 204 mph, this Charger SRT Hellcat will be the world's only four-door muscle car and probably the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan ever built, at least by a mainstream automaker. It can rocket from rest to 100 mph, then brake back to a full stop in less than13 seconds.

To differentiate it from other Charger models, Dodge and SRT designers have re-sculpted nearly every exterior surface and added unique front and rear fascias, a functional NACA-duct air intake on the hood flanked by heat extractors, and front and rear LED lighting. With its new face more closed above bumper level and opened up to optimize airflow below, it looks in front something like a giant high-performance Dodge Dart.

The 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat's rear wheels are driven through a heavy-duty version of Chrysler's TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission, and (like the Challenger SRT Hellcat) its forward progress is halted by the largest front brakes ever offered in a Chrysler Group vehicle: 15.4-inch six-piston-caliper Brembos with two-piece rotors. It rolls on Pirelli P Zero performance tires on 20 x 9.5-inch forged aluminum wheels on a three-mode adaptive-damping suspension.

Its Uconnect Access infotainment system contains new SRT Performance Pages that can tailor the car's responses by controlling engine output, transmission shift speeds, paddle shifters, traction and suspension settings. The five available drive modes include Default (that activates automatically at start-up), Sport (with increased performance capability), Track (for maximum performance on smooth, dry surfaces), Custom (to personalize performance characteristics) and Eco (for maximum fuel efficiency).

Hellcats come with two key fobs, a black one that limits output for other drivers (valets and teenagers) and a red one that unlocks all 707 horses. You can activate and deactivate a Valet Mode with a four-digit PIN code. Uconnect Access also offers roadside assistance, theft-alarm notification, voice texting, new 3D navigation and Wi-Fi hotspot capability.

Among the 2015 Dodge SRT Hellcat's interior features are heated and ventilated front high-performance seats (and heated rear seats) in Nappa leather and Alcantara suede, an SRT power tilt/telescoping flat-bottom heated steering wheel, an 8.4-inch Uconnect Access touchscreen, a seven-inch reconfigurable digital gauge cluster, 18-speaker Harman Kardon audio, and a choice of four new trim/color combinations with premium materials throughout
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10/21/2014 - wrote:

2015 Acura ILX
2015 Acura ILX
Introduced as a 2013 model, the Acura ILX is a premium compact sedan. For 2014, Acura ILX got more standard features, including upgraded 17-inch alloy wheels, new leather seating surfaces and leatherette door liners. An eight-way power driver's seat became standard, along with heated front seats and a Multi-Angle rear-view camera. Active Noise Cancellation was another new standard feature, promising a quieter cabin.

Apart from one new body-color choice, nothing changed for the 2015 model year. The hybrid gasoline/electric version of the ILX has been discontinued, after a short run in the marketplace, leaving only two powertrain choices. ILX will be further revised for the 2016 model year.

The Acura ILX is reasonably roomy by compact car standards. Two average-size adults can ride comfortably in the rear, with only minimal cooperation from front-seat occupants. Like almost all sedans in this premium compact class, the ILX is rated for five passengers, but that center rear position is only suitable for someone of diminutive stature, or someone you don't like.

Acura ILX shares its basic structure and powertrains with the Honda Civic, though there are as many hardware distinctions as there are similarities: Both the styling and the exterior dimensions are different. No sheetmetal is shared between the Honda and the Acura. The Acura ILX also gets more powerful engines and a more advanced front suspension. So, they are hardly the same.

Inside, the Acura ILX cabin is furnished with high-grade premium materials, with no sign of the interior cost-cutting that diminishes the latest Civics. In addition, the ILX benefits from more sound-deadening measures. Acura also claims higher rigidity for the ILX's unibody, which results in a smoother ride and better handling.

The Acura ILX rides a shorter wheelbase (105.1 inches versus 106.3), and is longer, lower, and wider than the Civic sedan: The ILX measures 179.1 inches overall, 70.6 inches wide, and 55.6 inches tall. Also, the ILX is distinguished by its more sophisticated double-wishbone front suspension.

The entry-level Acura ILX comes with a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, driving a 5-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift and Grade Logic Control. Stepping up a notch, the Acura ILX 2.4L is motivated by a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, paired with a close-ratio 6-speed manual gearbox (no automatic option with the 2.4-liter).

Fuel economy is significantly better with the smaller engine, though both demand Premium gasoline. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the 2015 Acura ILX 2.0-liter at 24/35 mpg City/Highway. With the 2.4-liter engine, EPA-estimated mileage drops to 22/31 mpg City/Highway for the ILX.

Acura ILX competes against the Audi A3, Buick Verano, and Volkswagen CC.
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10/21/2014 - wrote:

2015 Lincoln Navigator
2015 Lincoln Navigator
Lincoln in February pulled the wraps off the 2015 Navigator, the biggest entry in its SUV collection, and also the most traditional.

Naturally, the Lincoln staff calls its big boy new, but refrains from the oft-abused all-new label. Still, while there is carryover at a fundamental level, there is sufficient newness to make a substantial difference in the Navigator's persona and performance, and to make this something more than a standard freshening.

The basic carryover element has a long history. Available in standard and long-wheelbase versions, with seating for either seven or eight, the body-on-frame chassis dates to the original Navigator, introduced as a 1998 model, and will continue to serve at least through the lifespan of this update and perhaps beyond.

Nevertheless, the newness of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator does go beneath the skin. A 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine replaces the 5.4-liter V8 that's propelled all Navigators since the 1998 model, a change that will improve both power and efficiency, according to Lincoln. The V8 was rated for 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, whereas the engineers say they expect at least 370 hp and 430 lb-ft from the twin-turbo V6.

There will be improved fuel economy to go with the power increase, according to Lincoln, although final EPA ratings won't be released until later in the development program. Ratings for the current V8-powered Navigator are 14/20 mpg City/Highway.

A 6-speed automatic transmission will send the turbo V6 power to the rear wheels (four-wheel drive optional), and the increased power will allow the Navigator to tow up to 9,000 pounds. Lincoln expects that capability to be best among big sport-utilities.

The 2015 Navigator will also arrive with a new suspension system, Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD), that monitors road conditions and various vehicle sensors to update shock absorber damping every two milliseconds, according to Lincoln. Similar in effect to Cadillac's magnetic ride system, CCD will offer three driver-select presets: normal, sport, and comfort, and should improve the Navigator's ride and handling traits.

A new electric power steering system will contribute to the handling equation, though just how remains to be seen. And 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels replace the 18-inch wheels of the current Navigator, with 22-inch wheels available as part of a highline trim package.

External newness includes a new interpretation of the Lincoln split wing grille, with horizontal bars; a new hood; HID headlamps with LED accents, a freshened rear fascia spanned by LED taillights; a power rear liftgate, and so-called welcome-mat puddle lamps illuminating the ground beneath both front doors.

Inside, the dashboard and instruments have been redesigned, there's a new steering wheel, leather upholstery extends to all three rows, and second generation versions of the SYNC infotainment and My Lincoln Touch systems, the latter including traditional knobs for radio tuning, rather than the previous touch switches.

Roominess has been a Navigator virtue since the beginning, and even though the external dimensions haven't change, Lincoln anticipates that its big utility will continue to be best in class in terms of interior volume.

Lincoln plans to begin Navigator production in August at the Ford truck plant in Louisville, Kentucky. New Navigators will reach showrooms in early fall. Pricing has not been announced. Current Navigator pricing starts at $56,165.
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