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2016 Kia Sorento

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    2016 Kia Sorento
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    A car writer's year in new vehicles [w/video]
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    2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe
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    Acura NSX coming to Detroit, the wait is almost over [w/video]
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A car writer's year in new vehicles [w/video]

Just Your Typical $73,000, 328-Horsepower, Stick-Shift Automobile

Posted Dec 18th 2014 12:45PM

I figured it would be interesting to parse the figures and quantify my year in cars in a way I'd never done before.

Christmas is only a week away. The New Year is just around the corner. As 2014 draws to a close, I'm not the only one taking stock of the year that's we're almost shut of.

Depending on who you are or what you do, the end of the year can bring to mind tax bills, school semesters or scheduling dental appointments. For me, for the last eight or nine years, at least a small part of this transitory time is occupied with recalling the cars I've driven over the preceding 12 months.

Since I started writing about and reviewing cars in 2006, I've done an uneven job of tracking every vehicle I've been in, each year. Last year I made a resolution to be better about it, and the result is a spreadsheet with model names, dates, notes and some basic facts and figures.

Armed with this basic data and a yen for year-end stories, I figured it would be interesting to parse the figures and quantify my year in cars in a way I'd never done before. The results are, well, they're a little bizarre, honestly. And I think they'll affect how I approach this gig in 2015.
Related GalleryMy Year In Cars: 2014
My Year In Cars: 2014My Year In Cars: 2014My Year In Cars: 2014My Year In Cars: 2014My Year In Cars: 2014My Year In Cars: 2014My Year In Cars: 2014My Year In Cars: 2014

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

2016 Kia Sorento

A Little Turbo Spice, A Lot More Nice

Posted Dec 18th 2014 11:57AM

2016 Kia Sorento

Teenagers are awkward, predictably provocative and generally horrible to be around – at least unless you, yourself are one. There's just something about those angst-ridden years spent trying on identities, none fitting quite right. Luckily for Kia, the automaker has just celebrated its 20th birthday in America, and fresh out of the driver's seat of its 2016 Sorento – dare we say it – we sense a touch of self-assured maturity. Don't worry; we expect the automaker's antics – including super-freak athletes jumping over an Optima at the NBA All-Star game and the employment of urban hamsters – to continue. Thankfully, offering unremarkable vehicles in pretty competitive segments seems officially a thing of Kia's history e-book.

To be fair, we've seen a pleasing Korean Renaissance for a few years now, and we're not just talking hot pots and bulgogi – 2015 Hyundai Genesis, anyone? Kia Optima SX? Soul? So where exactly does this third-gen 2016 Sorento fit in? Actually, we're not sure Kia knows that either; its product planners tell us that this miraculous crossover competes with variously sized vehicles including the compact Jeep Cherokee, markedly larger Grand Cherokee, and even the family-hauling three-row Toyota Highlander. But Kia is also not completely off its rocker, because the Sorento suffers (benefits?) from severe bipolar disorder in terms of pricing. While you can get a base L model for $25,795 after delivery – there are five trim levels including L, LX, EX, SX, and top-of-the-line SXL – the fancy SXL 2.0T with all-wheel drive we tested was priced at $45,305. That's a difference of almost $20k, with the latter model reaches a completely different, almost premium demographic.

And there's more. Sometimes the Sorento seats five, other times it can party hard with seven. There are three very different engine flavors to choose from: a carryover 2.4-liter four-cylinder will greet entry-level buyers with 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. A meatier V6 – good for 290 hp and 252 lb-ft – will come on three-row models only, while the new 2.0-liter turbocharged four option, good for 240 horses and 260 lb-ft comes on two-row models exclusively.

Vital Stats

Turbo 2.0L I4
240 HP / 260 LB-FT
6-Speed Auto
10 Years / 100,000 Miles
Base Price:
As-Tested Price:

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Matthew Askari / AOL

Spyker officially declares bankruptcy

Posted Dec 18th 2014 11:31AM

Spyker C8 Aileron exhaust

Earlier this month, Spyker confirmed that it had entered bankruptcy protection proceedings in the hope of restructuring its finances and getting back on its feet. But now it seems those efforts have failed and those hopes have been dashed as the Dutch automaker has officially been declared bankrupt.

Founded back in 1880 and operating until 1926, Spyker was revived in 1999 to build the C8 sports car – a task which it focused on, in various iterations, until 2006 when it tried to break in to Formula One. Spyker sold the team the following year, and embarked upon the still more ambitious task of rescuing Saab after General Motors gave up on it in 2010. But the Dutch company ultimately failed at that as well, and despite plans to put the B6 Venator concept into production, it has struggled to get back on its feet ever since.

In the statement below, Spyker revealed that the funding it was banking on "did unfortunately not reach the company in time" for it to recover from the bankruptcy proceedings. The company's founder and chief executive Victor R. Muller added, however, that he will "relentlessly endeavour to resurrect Spyker as soon as practically possible" with the goal of merging with an aircraft concern to develop an electric sports car. We'll have to wait and see if he ever succeeds at making that prospect a reality, but for the time being at least, it looks like Spyker and all its ambitious plans are down for the count.
Related GallerySpyker C8 Aileron
Spyker C8 AileronSpyker C8 AileronSpyker C8 AileronSpyker C8 AileronSpyker C8 AileronSpyker C8 AileronSpyker C8 AileronSpyker C8 Aileron

News Source: Spyker

Ford blows up Takata airbag recall by over 447k vehicles

Posted Dec 18th 2014 10:58AM

Ford GT

Ford is the latest automaker to announce an expansion to its Takata driver-side airbag inflator recall, and the latest increase adds an additional 447,310 vehicles to the nationwide total. The company says that this expansion comes at the request of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The expanded recall campaign covers:
  • The 2005-2008 Ford Mustang built between August 18, 2004, and June 25, 2007, at the at Flat Rock Assembly Plant
  • The 2005-2006 Ford GT built between February 11, 2005, and January 30, 2006, at the at the Wixom Assembly Plant
As of December 18, Ford knows of a total of 502,489 vehicles in need of replacement driver side inflators. Of those, 462,911 are in the US, 27,516 in Canada, 7,578 in Mexico and 4,484 outside of North America. The automaker is aware of one injury that may be related to these exploding parts.

Earlier in December, the automaker issued an expanded recall covering passenger side Takata airbag inflators for the Ranger pickup and Ford GT. When taking this into account, the grand total of Ford products with inflators that need replacement for the driver or passenger side is 538,977 vehicles.

Scroll down to read the company's full announcement of this enlarged safety campaign.
Related GalleryFord GT
Ford GTFord GTFord GTFord GTFord GTFord GTFord GTFord GT

News Source: Ford


Lister founder Brian Lister passes at 88 years old [w/video]

Posted Dec 18th 2014 10:14AM

Brian ListerThe founders of most automakers aren't still with us. Enzo Ferrari, Ettore Bugatti, Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet, Kiichiro Toyoda, Soichiro Honda and so many others have long since left this world. Those who are still with us – like Christian von Koenigsegg, Horacio Pagani and Elon Musk – got into the game much later. Brian Lister hit the scene a long time ago, but until just the other day, he was still with us. But now his time on the racing circuit has come to an end.

The founder of Lister Cars, one of Britain's most legendary racing constructors, was born on July 12, 1926, the scion of a proud family of engineers. After training as an engineer himself, he joined the Royal Air Force just after the end of the Second World War, and soon after started trading up the chain of British sports cars. He built his own chassis powered by an MG engine in 1954 and the legendary Lister Knobbly was born.

Subsequent developments saw Lister upgrade first to Bristol power, then Maserati and most famously Jaguar and (for the North American market) Chevy engines. He remained involved in the industry for many years after, building and setting up numerous racing cars for Le Mans and other sports car races. Sixty years after the debut of the original, Lister came back with the continuation Knobbly, the first example of which Brian Lister inspected himself before he passed on this past Tuesday, December 16, 2014. He was 88 years old, and will undoubtedly be fondly remembered as his work endures.

British television presenter Quentin Willson interviewed Brian Lister just a week before his passing, and we've included the minute-and-a-half-long clip below along with the press release from the reborn Lister Motor Car Company detailing its founder's life.

News Source: Lister

Did Neil Young just spill the beans on a 2016 Lincoln Continental? [w/video]

Posted Dec 18th 2014 9:30AM

Neil Young Memorabilia

Neil Young may be better known as a singer-songwriter and rock n' roll icon than he is for his involvement with cars, but the Canadian-born musician is not without his automotive credentials. His latest book, after all, is titled "Special Deluxe: A Memoir of Life & Cars," and one of his most famous songs, "Long May You Run," was written about his old station wagon. But does that mean he's got an inside line on new cars coming out?

In an appearance on CNBC's Mad Money with Matt Cramer this week, the Y in CSNY was plugging Pono, a portable music player and service he developed. During the segment, which you can watch in the video clip below, Young mentioned that his company was working on a new in-car audio integration with Harman, which as we know just signed a deal with Lincoln.

Here's where it gets interesting: The Godfather of Grunge mentioned that Pono and Harman were preparing to put the system in the 2016 Lincoln Continental. The thing is, Lincoln hasn't made a Continental for a dozen years now. Does Neil know something we don't, or did he simply misspeak? He is, after all, working on an electric-converted '59 Continental he calls the LincVolt, so it wouldn't be hard to imagine he got mixed up. But maybe, just maybe, it was the first bit of leaked info that Ford's luxury division is planning on shifting away from its MK-based naming scheme and reviving at least one iconic nameplate.

News Source: CNBC via The Detroit News

Image Credit: Jeff Chiu/AP

Volvo planning exit from motor racing

Posted Dec 18th 2014 8:45AM

Volvo Polestar in STCC

Volvo is in the midst of a rebirth of sorts. It's completely revitalizing its product lineup, it's rolling out new powertrain technologies, and as it announced just the other day, it's completely changing directions when it comes to its marketing and sales approach. That will include selling new cars online, pulling out of all but the most essential global auto shows, and ceasing its sponsorship of all activities save for the Volvo Ocean Race. But what about its racing activities on land?

According to the latest word from Down Under, its motorsports efforts could could be getting the axe as well. reports that part of Volvo marketing director Alain Visser's plan for the Swedish automaker is to withdraw from the touring car series in which it participates. In partnership with Polestar, the company current competes in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship and in the V8 Supercars series in Australia. It has also competed in the World Touring Car Championship and was tipped to return to it in the near future, but that prospect – as well as the fate of its existing programs – now looks to be in doubt.

That doesn't necessarily mean Volvo will be speeding off the racing circuit quite so quickly, though. Polestar reportedly has a contract with Volvo to represent it in the STCC through 2015 and in V8 Supercars through 2016 – so we wouldn't be surprised to see Volvo stay on the grid at least until those contracts run out.

Beyond that, however, is anyone's guess. If Gothenburg finds that its racing activities - victorious ones, especially – drive more sales, it could very well opt to keep funneling in the cash. But if it's looking to trim spending and finds its motorsport programs don't adequately drive its safety- and environmentally conscious image, the Swedes could call it quits for the foreseeable future.

News Source:

20 stolen Red Bull Racing trophies recovered from lake

Posted Dec 18th 2014 7:59AM

APTOPIX Korea F1 GP Auto Racing

When is someone happy? When he loses something and finds it again. If that old Yiddish proverb is anything to go by, the guys at Red Bull Racing must be at least a little happy right now, because they've recovered some of the trophies that were stolen from the team's headquarters earlier this month.

For those just joining us, the incident in question involved a band of bandits driving a silver SUV through the front of the Red Bull facility in Milton Keynes, UK, stealing some 60 or so trophies from the display case in the lobby. But now some of those trophies – hard-earned from four Formula 1 World Championships and 50 grand prix victories – have been found.

According to the statement released on the team's website, about 20 of the stolen trophies have been found discarded in a lake – Horseshoe Lake near Sandhurst, to be specific. Apparently, the thieves got rid of the stolen trophies when they found they had no intrinsic value. The rest may still be discovered, but if they've got much silver, gold or other precious metals in them, they could end up melted down for their market value.

The team says it intends to have replicas made of the trophies that aren't recovered. Here's hoping that won't be necessary, though.

News Source: Red Bull Racing

Image Credit: Lee Jin-man/AP

Fiat Abarth Zagato lovechild is a double bubble worth the trouble

Posted Dec 17th 2014 8:00PM

1957 Fiat Abarth Zagato 750 GT Corsa

The Italian automotive industry is filled with legendary names: Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Lamborghini, De Tomaso, Pagani... but the names Fiat, Abarth and Zagato belong up there right beside them – especially when they came together on a vehicle as singular as this one.

It's a 1957 Fiat Abarth 750 GT Zagato Corsa, and it's a rare little monster indeed. It's based on a Fiat 600, tuned by Abarth and rebodied in classic double-bubble form by Zagato. There were only about five or six hundred of these made, and only 21 of them were Corsas. Its owner, Carl Gustav Magnusson, had one just like it when he lived in Europe, and entered it five times in the Mille Miglia. But after selling it and moving to America, he found another – with matching numbers – scooped it up and has enjoyed it ever since.

Fiat and Zagato took a modern stab at a similar formula a few years ago, and if it had ever reached production, an Abarth version would likely have followed. But alas it never did, so the closest we'll likely ever get is to join the videographic artisans at Petrolicious as they tell the story of this beautiful little classic in the video above.

News Source: Petrolicious via YouTube

What you missed on 12.17.14

Posted Dec 17th 2014 7:33PM


Mercedes S63 AMG Coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe driven

There's a whole lot to love about the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe – it's sexy, powerful, and immensely comfortable. We've already driven the standard S550 with its 4.7-liter, twin-turbo V8, but now, managing editor Jeremy Korzeniewski gets behind the wheel of the far more potent S63 AMG Coupe. Beauty, brains, and a hell of a lot of brawn. Read all about it, here.

Acura NSXProduction Acura NSX confirmed for Detroit

Finally. No, FINALLY. After seeing several conceptual versions of the long-awaited Acura NSX, the production version will officially show itself at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show next month. For now, Acura has released a few teaser images and a short video about its super coupe, and to say we're on the edge of our seats would be a vast understatement. Bring it on.

lexus fLexus teases new Detroit-bound F model

In more Detroit Auto Show hotness, Lexus has given us a glimpse of something fast that'll make its debut next month. Honestly, we aren't totally sure what to expect here – some sources say GS F, while others report IS F. Either way, it's an F-badged something-or-other, and we'll know more once the Detroit show officially kicks off in just a few weeks.

Top Stories

New Toyota Mirai videos continue questionable hydrogen claims

Posted Dec 17th 2014 7:00PM

2016 Toyota Mirai in White

"Toyota engineers were simultaneously working on a brand new technology that met all the driver's needs with an even smaller carbon footprint."

Toyota has released a number of new promotional videos for the hydrogen-powered 2016 Mirai. Most are exactly what you'd expect: pretty, full of promise and vaguely informational. But there was one line in the Product Introduction video that caught out ear.

In the Product Information video about the Mirai, the narrator goes into a short history of Toyota's green car advances. After talking about the Prius and the Prius Plug In, making EVs for urban commuting and the rest of Toyota's advanced fuel programs, we hear this: "Never satisfied though, Toyota engineers were simultaneously working on a brand new technology that met all the driver's needs with an even smaller carbon footprint, one that took its lead from nature itself." You can watch the video (and four others) below.

Plug In America co-founder Paul Scott told AutoblogGreen, "Show us the math! Toyota claims the FCV has a smaller carbon footprint than their EV, but every paper I've read indicates the FCV uses 3-4 times as much energy to travel a given distance as an EV. If they are making this claim, let's call them out to prove it. Show us the math!" There's some math that comes out in favor of EVs here and here.

"BEVs and FCs have a very similar carbon footprint, dependent on fuel source." – Toyota's Jana Hartline

Plug-in vehicle advocate Chelsea Sexton went further. "Assuming appropriate comparisons in energy feedstock, basic science doesn't support the notion that the footprint of an FCV is smaller than that of an EV," she told AutoblogGreen, explaining that "appropriate comparison" would mean using similar energy generation methods for both hydrogen and plug-in vehicles. Not the tendency, she noted, "of H2 fans to compare FCVs based on solar-based electrolysis to EVs running on coal-bases electricity and similar shenanigans." Besides, Sexton said, "focusing purely on efficiencies entirely misses the biggest struggles that FCVs face in the market, namely fuel price, inconvenience, and market fear, even if the vehicles themselves are initially subsidized. An average consumer won't understand the true energy equation, but even if not yet sold on a full EV, he'll grok that a Chevy Volt provides most of the "long range, fast fueling" promise of FCVs today at a fraction of the cost and no compromising."

Toyota says the video does not directly compare EVs to fuel cells. Instead, said environmental communications manager Jana Hartline, "The video outlines our portfolio of technologies that have been developed over the last 20 years (hybrids, PHVs, EV) then references the simultaneous development of fuel cell technology. The commentary is merely noting that 20 years ago we started working on fuel cell vehicles that have a lower carbon footprint than traditional vehicles and even hybrids. BEVs and FCs have a very similar carbon footprint, dependent on fuel source." Watch the video below (again, it's the Product Information one, and the quote above starts at around 1:45) to get your own take on what the comparison is.

Toyota, through its Lexus arm, had to retract a pro-hydrogen ad earlier this year when it was discovered that the ad made incorrect claims about H2, including that there were "20 states with an 'established infrastructure' for hydrogen."

News Source: Toyota, Plug In America, Chelsea Sexton

Here's how to get your mug on the world's fastest car*

Posted Dec 17th 2014 6:32PM

The Bloodhound SSC, trying to be the first car to go faster than 1,000 mph, front three-quarter view..

Next fall, the Bloodhound SSC will line up on a South African plain and try to go faster than 763 miles per hour, the current land speed record. If it does that, then it will try to break its own record one year later by going 1,000 miles per hour. The team behind the effort is running an Indiegogo campaign to raise 50,000 pounds ($78,251 US), and if you contribute, you can get your name or your sexy selfie on the navy blue flanks of the fastest car on the planet. (*You know, if it breaks the record.)

The money isn't just going to the speed effort; while they work on the car, the Bloodhound crew runs a thorough, hands-on education program that shows schoolkids how math and engineering can be more exciting than graph paper and scientific calculators.

You can donate any amount you wish, with 15 pounds enough to get your name on the tailfin, 50 pounds to get your school's name there, 500 pounds to nominate a business name and 1,000 pounds to have your Snapchatted face travel 1,000 mph. You know the cliche: it's all for a good cause, folks. But this time it's true. Check out the video to see more.

News Source: Bloodhound SSC via Indiegogo

Sacré bleu! PSA mulling moving Paris headquarters to cut costs

Posted Dec 17th 2014 6:00PM


PSA Peugeot Citroën has been based in its current offices, located less than half a mile from the iconic Arc de Triomphe in Paris, for a half century now. But the latest word has it that the French automaker is planning on leaving the historic location as part of its plans to cut costs.

According to Bloomberg, chief executive Carlos Tavares recently presented a plan to the company's supervisory board to abandon 75 Avenue de la Grande Armée for a new location about an hour away from the city. The headquarters would be moved to the company's assembly near Poissy, while around 500 of the 1,500 employees based at the headquarters would be moved elsewhere in the French capital.

The automaker – which produces vehicles under the Peugeot, Citroën and recently emancipated DS brands – is in the midst of a massive restructuring plan. It sold part of its shares to the French government and part to Chinese automaker Dongfeng at the expense of the founding Peugeot family, and named new top executives, including Tavares and board chairman Louis Gallois, formerly of Airbus, pictured above in front of the headquarters building.

The aforementioned restructuring also resulted in PSA sell the building in question back in 2012 for over $300 million – it has been leasing it back for 50 million euros (>$60M) per year. If the move goes ahead, it would be implemented gradually through the end of 2016.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Eric Piermont / AFP / Getty

Mercedes-Benz USA considering moving south

Posted Dec 17th 2014 5:31PM

MBUSA HQ in Montvale, NJ

Mercedes-Benz may be a German automaker first and foremost, but it's a global operation. Among its many offices around the world, the company employs some 800 staffers at its US headquarters in New Jersey. But that office could be moving down South in the near future.

According to reports in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal and Automotive News, Mercedes is looking into relocating its American head office from Montvale, NJ, where it's been based since 1972, to one of several locations under consideration below the Mason-Dixon line.

Among the front-runners is Atlanta, where Porsche bases its North American operations. The presence of a trained workforce, necessary infrastructure, compliant officials and proximity to a major hub for international air traffic could make the Georgian metropolis an attractive proposition for Mercedes. Several locations in North Carolina are also said to be under consideration, as well.

Either way, MBUSA's relocation to the South would put it closer to its assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, AL, and to the Port of Brunswick near Savannah from which it ships out those vehicles made in Alabama to points overseas. The relocation project is reportedly being handled by commercial real-estate firm JLL Inc, which is helping Toyota handle its relocation from southern California and Ohio to Texas.

Sources don't expect, however, for New Jersey to let Mercedes go without a fight. The state's Grow NJ Assistance Program could offer MBUSA an attractive incentives package to stay in Montvale. The company previously planned in 1998 to relocate to Pearl River, NY, but ultimately ended up staying in Jersey.

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