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The New York Times kills off Autos section

Posted Oct 30th 2014 10:02AM

Earns New York Times

New Yorkers, newspaper readers, new car buyers and automotive enthusiasts around the world will be saddened as we are to learn today that The New York Times is shutting down its automotive section. The supplement came as part of the newspaper's Sunday edition for some 20 years, but will run no longer as the Times works to trim overhead and streamline operations in an effort to keep from going under completely.

The Autos section of NYTimes.com will reportedly continue to operate, although it's unclear what the cutback will mean for the employment of longtime automotive editor Jim Cobb, his deputy Norman Mayersohn (for whom this writer had the privilege of working years ago) and the rest of the staff and roster of stringers, but we wish them each all the best, wherever they land.

The news comes a year after the publication shut down its Wheels blog in a previous round of budget cuts, and over six years after the LA Times similarly shut down its automotive section. The shuttering of these and other automotive supplements comes amidst hard times for traditional newspapers, many of which are facing declining advertising revenues, plummeting subscription levels and competition from free online news outlets.

News Source: Capital New York

Image Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP

SRX-replacing Cadillac XT5 spied for the very first time

Posted Oct 30th 2014 9:28AM

2016 Cadillac XT5

Cadillac has got big plans in place to revitalize its lineup, with new sedans, coupes and crossovers. And it all starts with this, the replacement for the SRX.

Expected to be called XT5 in line with the brand's new naming scheme, the crossover will be based on a scalable new platform called C1XX – or Chi, for short. In its shorter form, Chi is anticipated to underpin the XT5 as well as a new Chevy crossover and the next-gen GMC Acadia. In long-wheelbase form, the platform is slated to give us a larger Cadillac crossover as well as a new Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse.

Power in the XT5 will be provided by a choice of turbo four or atmospheric six, potentially to be transmitted through GM's new nine-speed automatic.

Although it's hard to discern much from the shots of this heavily camouflaged prototype, our snappers on the ground point out that it's got a grille similar to that one the new ATS Coupe, and that a boxy appendage is actually hiding a sloping rear window. Multiple radar sensors can also be seen, along with the mirrors moved from the windows to the doors and dual chrome exhaust pipes popping out the back.

Look for the Cadillac XT5 to debut late in 2015 or early 2016 as a 2016 or 2017 model, with production to shift from Mexico to Spring Hill, TN.

Image Credit: Chris Doane Automotive

Chinese protesting VW recall fix nationwide

Posted Oct 30th 2014 8:44AM

Wen Jiabao Visits Volkswagen Factory

This is unquestionably the year of the recall in the United States with an estimated 544 campaigns so far (and counting) that cover around 52 million cars. The repairs are almost starting to seem normal at this point, but apparently the same can't be said for China. That country's buyers are protesting Volkswagen for its handling of one recent safety action.

The issue concerns VW's 1.1-million-vehicle recall in China and North America to fix the rear suspensions on some models of the Beetle, Jetta and the Sagitar. If the rear suspension is damaged in an accident, some parts could subsequently shatter while driving. To rectify the problem, the company is adding a part that makes a sound signaling if an inspection is required. Chinese buyers also get a 10-year warranty on rear-suspension repairs related to the campaign, according to Bloomberg.

The recall affects around 581,000 vehicles in China, which seems moderate by current US standards, but consumers are very displeased with how the campaign is going. They believe that VW is downplaying the severity of the problem. According to Bloomberg, there were recently protests at dealers in Shanghai and Shenzhen with people holding up banners and handing out leaflets against the brand.

The protesters have urged even more demonstrations around the country in the coming weeks, and some have requested that VW either replace the entire rear suspension or refund buyers. According to Bloomberg, at least 340 Sagitar owners have employed a Beijing law firm to sue the automaker. They claim that some vehicles have had rear suspension problems without being involved in an accident and that the company's handling of the campaign has been unsatisfactory.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Photo by Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Bicyclist deaths spike on US roads

Posted Oct 30th 2014 8:00AM

Superstorm Sandy

While the roads might be getting just a little safer for motorcycle riders, their two-wheeled compatriots on bicycles appear not to be so lucky. A recent study sponsored by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that annual cycle deaths in the US were up 16 percent from 621 in 2010 to 722 in 2012. In the same period, fatalities for motorists increased only one percent.

While the numbers are on the rise in those years, they represent an improvement over decades ago. According to the study, the highest bicycle death toll since data has been recorded came in 1975 with 1,003 fatalities. The '80s registered an average of 889 annual victims, 792 in the '90s and 696 from 2000 to 2012.

The data also sheds some light on who is at risk riding a bike these days and where. Adults older than 20 represent 84 percent of fatalities in 2012, compared to 21 percent in 1975. Unsurprisingly, urban cyclists who have to deal with lots of traffic and other distractions are the ones who are most in danger. According to the study, 69 percent of fatalities happen in these busy areas, versus 50 percent in 1975.

With deaths on an upswing in recent years, the GHSA is advocating for wider acceptance of safety equipment, and it wants to reduce riding while drunk. The study indicates that only 17 percent of those killed on bikes were wearing a helmet, despite such headgear being proven to lower fatalities. Also, 28 percent of cyclists who die are legally intoxicated.

In addition to those changes for bicyclists, the GHSA suggests that cities with high death tolls need to consider giving riders their own lanes and possibly even separate traffic lights to make cycling safer. Scroll down for the announcement of the study's results.

News Source: Governors Highway Safety Association

Image Credit: Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

This Porsche 356 family keeps it outlaw

Posted Oct 29th 2014 8:00PM



Rod Emory was the founder of Emory Motorsports in Burbank, CA, and the scion to a family tradition of building "outlaw" Porsches that are almost as cool as the cars themselves. The lovingly modified Porsche 356s are lovely artifacts, and their story, along with the story of their builders, is pitch-perfect for the Petrolicious oeuvre of beloved classics.

Tune in for the history lesson, and then stick around for the car candy.

News Source: Petrolicious via YouTube

What you missed on 10.29.14

Posted Oct 29th 2014 7:32PM

uturn

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

What's black, white and red all over? Not sure? Okay, what's black, white and red all over, boasts a stonkin' 707-horsepower supercharged V8 underhood, four doors with plenty of room for a party of five and a trunk big enough for all their stuff? That's right: It's the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, and we just drove the one you see to your right. Read all about it and let us know what you think.





Here's how Mercedes CLA wagon will lookMercedes CLA wagon rendering

Our spy shooters caught the boffins at Mercedes-Benz out and about while testing the automaker's upcoming CLA Shooting Brake on the German Authbahn. We're pleased as pie with the way it looks, though we're not sure that those of us living in the States will ever see it on US roads. In any case, expect powertrain options to mimic those of the CLA sedan, up to and including the AMG-spec 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 355 horsepower and all-wheel drive.





Ferrari to be spun off from Fiat Chrysler Ferrari / Fiat / Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne

Fiat Chrysler has just announced that it will effectively spin off the Ferrari brand as a separate entity. While still technically under the Fiat family umbrella, the Italian automaker will then be free to list itself on various stock markets around the world, including the United States. How much is 10 percent of Ferrari worth? Probably a whole heck of a lot, and that money will help FCA as it continues to push for more growth.




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BMW unveils 2016 X5 M and X6 M super CUVs

Posted Oct 29th 2014 7:00PM

2016 BMW X5 M

2016 BMW X6 MThe second-generation BMW X5 M and X6 M have officially made their arrival for the speed-obsessed, crossover-loving masses that aren't willing to turn to Mercedes-AMG or Land Rover Special Operations.

While the new models retain their 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8s, power has increased from 555 horsepower to 567 ponies. Torque is up more significantly, climbing from 500 pound-feet to 553 pound-feet. The extra twist is slightly less accessible, with peak grunt arriving between 2,200 and 5,000 rpm, rather than the earlier model's 1,500 to 5,650. Still, we'll take the ten percent increase in torque as a net win.

The big powertrain switch sees the old X5/6 M's six-speed automatic replaced with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission from BMW M. This new gearbox feeds power to an xDrive all-wheel-drive system that can variably shuffle up to 100 percent of power to either axle. In conjunction with the force-induced thumper under the hood, this powertrain arrangement allows both M models to hit 60 miles per hour in just four seconds. That's a mightily impressive stat in a 5,000-plus-pound vehicle.

Yet, the new gearbox and amped up engine make for an even more impressive vehicle at the pumps (not that consumers of 560-horsepower, $100,000, 5,000-pound crossovers care about such things). Carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption are down 20 percent on the European cycle.

Prices for the X5 M start at $99,650, while the X6 M rings up at $103,050. Both figures include a $950 destination charge.

Keeping all this technology shiny side up is the job of a double-wishbone front suspension and a standard self-leveling rear air suspension, three-mode dynamic dampers and huge, staggered Michelin Pilot Super Sport UHP tires, with 325/30/21s in back and 285/35/21s in front. For the record, those tires dwarf the rubber on proper supercars like the Ferrari 458 Speciale.

Of course, there's more than just oily stuff to distinguish BMW's M cars. The performance division has given both the X5 and X6 significant aesthetic updates to fit their high-performance role. Flared wheel arches, standard 21-inch M wheels, massive intakes in the front fascia and arguably the coolest wing mirrors we've seen on a production car grant the new M models with seriously eye-catching looks. Typical M features, like quad exhausts and side gills are also present

In the cabin, M's new over-large steering wheel has been fitted, complete with aluminum paddle shifters, while more aggressive sport seats with fixed headrests and an M-spec shifter round out the most visible interior changes.

While BMW is mum on when the new hot shots will arrive in dealers, it has released US pricing, with the X5 M sneaking in just under the century mark, at $99,650. The X6 M, meanwhile, will retail at $103,050. Both figures include a $950 destination charge.

Scroll down for much more in the expansive press release from BMW, and then check out galleries of both the 2016 X5 M and X6 M.
Related Gallery2016 BMW X5 M
2016 BMW X5 M2016 BMW X5 M2016 BMW X5 M2016 BMW X5 M2016 BMW X5 M2016 BMW X5 M2016 BMW X5 M2016 BMW X5 M

News Source: BMW

Volkswagen rolls out sporty Street Up!

Posted Oct 29th 2014 6:31PM

VW Street Up!

When Volkswagen unveiled the production Up! hatchback at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, it showcased a series of concept versions alongside it. At the Geneva Motor Show the following year, it returned with another quartet of whimsical Up! concepts. There were more before and there will be more after. But few of them ever reached production. We have the three- and five-door models, the electric e-Up! and soft-roading Cross Up!, as well as Skoda and Seat versions, but aside from the cool convertible concepts, the one we really wanted was the GT Up!, and that never made the cut. But Wolfsburg seems to be out to at least partially right that wrong with the release of the new Street Up!

This sportier take on the German city car features a sport suspension, 16-inch alloys, racing stripes running up the hood and roof and along the doors and side panels and an interior decked out with contrast stitching, black headliner, unique shift knob and steering wheel. It even comes bundled with premium stereo and climate control. Unfortunately the same engine choices apply, so the most punch available is 75 horsepower. But appearance aside, the sport suspension ought to improve the vehicle's nimble handling around city streets. A mini GTI it may not be, but a sportier hatchback is never a bad thing.
Related GalleryVolkswagen Street Up!
Volkswagen Street Up!Volkswagen Street Up!Volkswagen Street Up!Volkswagen Street Up!

News Source: Volkswagen

2016 Ford Explorer embarks at the LA Auto Show

Posted Oct 29th 2014 5:44PM

2016 Ford Explorer Teaser

Twenty-five years since its debut in 1990, Ford will celebrate a quarter century of Explorer models next year with the debut of a refreshed 2016 model at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19. The Blue Oval is keeping mum on hard details about the updated SUV for now, but the brand promises, "a new look, added capability and additional driver-assist technology," in its announcement.

Company marketing boss Jim Farley elaborated a little more on what to expect. "The new Explorer is still the SUV America fell in love with – a vehicle built for the perfect family adventure," he said in the release that you're welcome to read down below.

An updated Explorer is a pretty big deal for Ford's bottom line. Worldwide, SUVs and crossovers account for about 23 percent of Ford's sales, and the segment is projected to grow to around 29 percent by 2020. Ford further says that SUVs and CUVs are the world's quickest growing segment with demand up 88 percent since 2008.

News Source: Ford

Toyota pimps out Esquire van for Japanese businessmen [w/video]

Posted Oct 29th 2014 4:57PM

Toyota Esquire

A few months back we reported on a dealership owner in Japan who was petitioning Toyota to make a luxury van. The problem, he reasoned, was that he couldn't take as many friends, colleagues and clients around with him in his Lexus LS, and his Toyota Alphard van wasn't luxurious enough. Well, it seems like he wasn't alone, and Toyota has listened.

The Japanese auto giant has just revealed the Esquire, a new luxury van designed with just such customers in mind. It's significantly smaller than the Sienna we get in America, smaller than the aforementioned Alphard and about the same size as (this writer's favorite) the JDM Noah van (on which we gather it's based). But what sets the Esquire apart is its upscale appearance.

The boxy van is distinguished by its dominant T-shaped chrome grille with a unique emblem that encompasses a shield, sword, "the collar of a gentleman's suit" and the letters Esq. The flank is characterized by a strong beltline with chrome lower window frame and an expansive greenhouse with tinted rear glass. Inside the flexible cabin you'll find accommodation for seven or eight passengers (depending on specification), synthetic leather upholstery and wood and metallic trim. There are even wheelchair-enabled models on offer as well.

Power comes from either a 2.0-liter four driving 150 horsepower and 142 pound-feet of torque through a CVT to the front wheels or all four, or from a hybrid powertrain that pairs a 1.8-liter four (97 hp / 105 lb-ft) to an electric motor (81 hp / 153 lb-ft) for a combined 134 hp. Toyota expects to sell 4,000 units annually through two dealer networks, with prices ranging from 2.6 million yen ($24k) to 3.2 million yen ($30k).

Push comes to hybrid shove, we're not sure this model would have a place in Toyota or Lexus showrooms on this side of the Pacific, but it could be just what Japanese businessmen have called for for a night out in Tokyo. Scope it out in the video below.
Related GalleryToyota Esquire
Toyota EsquireToyota EsquireToyota EsquireToyota EsquireToyota EsquireToyota EsquireToyota EsquireToyota Esquire

News Source: Toyota

Fiat reveals oddball FCC4 in Sao Paulo

Posted Oct 29th 2014 4:30PM

Fiat Concept Car 4

The striking new concept vehicle seen above is called the FCC4, which stands for Fiat Concept Car... with, um, four doors. We're not quite sure what else to call it, because the Fiat Design Center Latam (as in, Latin America) has apparently tried to transcend market segments and traditional bodystyles as much as possible. It's sort of like a four-door coupe, riding high on a jacked-up suspension, with what looks at first like a pickup bed but is actually covered by a sloping glass fastback.

And we thought the Strada was weird.

This Sao Paulo Motor Show showcar is the kind of thing that makes the BMW X6 look positively conventional. Only BMW actually, you know... built theirs and put it on the market. And then it built another. The FCC4 is also longer than an X6, and less than two inches smaller in both width and height. All that weirdness is done up in metallic blue with LED lighting and a face that looks like someone gave the Range Rover Evoque a fat lip.

Since the gradual takeover of and eventual merger with Chrysler, Fiat has become an American automaker as much as it is an Italian one. You might say the inverse is true of Chrysler as well. But long before the courtship between Turin and Auburn Hills kicked off, Fiat was making more vehicles in Brazil than it was anywhere else outside of Italy. That makes the Sao Paulo Motor Show a vital stage for the increasingly global automaker, and it's not missing the opportunity to showcase its wares, from this brave new concept to various versions of the 500, Panda, Punto and Bravo.
Related GalleryFiat Concept Car 4
Fiat Concept Car 4Fiat Concept Car 4Fiat Concept Car 4Fiat Concept Car 4Fiat Concept Car 4Fiat Concept Car 4Fiat Concept Car 4Fiat Concept Car 4

News Source: Fiat

Facelifted Hyundai Veloster to get new 7-speed DCT, Flex Steer

Posted Oct 29th 2014 3:44PM

Hyundai Veloster Spy Shots

No matter how you look at it, the Hyundai Veloster is an odd duck. With the vehicle's weird door configuration and styling that kind of looks like a modernized Honda CRX, the model is certainly unlike anything else on the road today. Since spotting one testing earlier this year (pictured above), we know that a refreshed version is on the way eventually, but that car keeps a lot of its secrets hidden under camouflage. New rumors from The Korean Car Blog suggest that the Veloster might receive a few mechanical changes to go along with the updated skin.

Among the biggest rumored tweaks is that the turbocharged model is receiving a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox as a replacement for its current, conventional six-speed auto. Another potential change for the naturally aspirated version is Hyundai's Flex Steer system that offers selectable weighting for the electric power steering.

Styling obviously isn't being left alone for the update. The mule testing earlier this year appears to show a new grille and altered bumpers underneath its concealment. The latest rumors suggest that's exactly the case with the possibility of a front end closer in design to the current Genesis, along with HID headlights and a modified hood design to remove the faux heat extractors.

Inside, noise levels are rumored to be lower, and buyers might benefit from improved trim, an updated infotainment system and possibly new seats for the Turbo.

Autoblog spoke to Hyundai spokesperson Jim Trainor about the changes for the facelift, and he simply told us, "We don't comment on future products."

It shouldn't be too long before the validity of all of this is proven, though. The refreshed Veloster is rumored to debut at an auto show in the US early next year, perhaps in Detroit or Chicago. Hopefully, Hyundai doesn't do anything to take away the model's bizarre spirit.

News Source: The Korean Car Blog

Image Credit: CarPix

Chevy showcases four concepts at Sao Paul

Posted Oct 29th 2014 3:00PM

Chevy Onix Track Day Concept

Chevrolet has rolled in to Sao Paulo this year with not one, not two, but four new concept cars. Only by concept cars, in this case we mean concept versions of existing production models.

Arguably the most exciting among them is the Onix Track Day concept. It's based on the Onix hatchback which GM offers exclusively in Latin America (not to be confused with the Peugeot Onyx concept). This Onix has been upgraded with a full aero kit, enhanced interior equipment and a 1.8-liter Ecotec engine with optimized ECU and stainless steel exhaust to churn out over 150 horsepower – which may not seem like much, but is far more than the hundred-odd hp offered in stock trim. It's joined by a second version called the Onix Effect that also gets a sporty (if more restrained) look.

Alongside the pair of Onix concepts, Chevy is also showcasing a pickup called the S-10 High Country that applies a similar treatment available on the larger Silverado High Country but to the overseas Colorado (which carries the old S-10 moniker in South America). Finally there's a subtly upgraded version of the Cobalt sedan on show as well, and you can scope out images of all four in the gallery above along with the original and translated press releases below.

News Source: Chevrolet

Mercedes CLA wagon gets spied and a sexy render

Posted Oct 29th 2014 2:15PM

Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake Spy Shots and Rendering

Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake Spy Shots and RenderingGiven its months of testing, the eventual launch of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake is a bit of a foregone conclusion at this point. Until now we haven't actually seen its hatchback rear undisguised, but the latest spy shots have given us a pretty certain idea of the design back there (right).

According to our spies, these practically uncamouflaged photos come from the Shooting Brake's testing on the Autobahn. While there is some masking around the rear, it isn't hiding much. You can clearly see the outline of the hatch's lines, and it looks like quite a svelte, little wagon.

Unfortunately, this tester got away before the spies snapped pictures of the front. C'est la vie. They've seen it so many times that they cobbled together renders of what the production version and AMG variant (above) could look like.

The AMG version has already been spotted testing and looked basically identical to this render, minus the cladding. Mechanically, expect all of the tricks from the high-performance sedan with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder putting down 355 horsepower and routing power to all four wheels.

Unfortunately, it's still not known whether Mercedes is going to sell the wagon on North American shores. Not only could the shooting brake potentially steal sales from the GLA-Class compact crossover, but the automaker is barely keeping up with CLA supply as it is. The company's Kecskemét, Hungary, factory is running three shifts to keep up, and Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche claims Merc could sell twice as many as first expected.

Image Credit: CarPix

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