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2016 Ford Explorer configurator reveals $30,700* base price, Platinum starts at $52,600*

Posted Nov 26th 2014 11:00AM

The configurator for the 2016 Ford Explorer.

The à la carte menu for the 2016 Ford Explorer is ready for your... umm... exploring. The first page of the refreshed model's configurator reveals the lineup, including the new Platinum trim, and price increases for three of the carryover models. The base Explorer doesn't change by one red cent: it can still be had for $30,700. The XLT needs $33,400 (a $400 price bump), the Limited goes for $41,300 (a not insignificant $2,900 price increase), and the Sport requires $43,300 (a $200 increase). That new Platinum model goes where no Explorer MSRP has gone before, beginning at $52,600 (*all prices are subject to an $895 destination charge). However, since Ford has put almost everything in it, you can't jack the price up too much further unless you lose your mind in the accessories catalog.

You can quickly head that way lower down the order, though. The Limited's price jump appears to be due to the voice-activated navigation system, which comes standard; it was formerly part of a $2,600 option package. The Limited goes up by just $995 when specced with the new 2.3-liter EcoBoost, which raises the power over the 2.0-liter EcoBoost it replaces to 270 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, but doesn't incur any fuel economy penalty. All-wheel drive tacks on another $2,000, safety features like active park assist and lane departure warning come as part of $3,000 Equipment Group A, and you'll still have another three pages of options to get through.

On the other hand, if you just want to get your family bundle into an Explorer without spending a bundle, the base model doesn't offer any packages and only has one option over $200. Let the research begin.

News Source: Ford

Traffic lights could be next big cyber attack threat [w/videos]

Former Defense Department Official: Stricter Safeguards Needed

Posted Nov 26th 2014 10:15AM

Cyber Crime Center

A teenage computer whiz hacked into software that controlled traffic lights in a southwestern US city. Once inside the program, the 16-year-old boy accessed systems that could wreak havoc. An investigator said the boy could have turned all the lights to a blinking-red default that would snarl traffic. Or worse, turned them all green.

That was 25 years ago.

The case opened the eyes of Jim Christy (pictured above), one of the arresting officers. He would go on to become the head of the cyber crime center within the US Department of Defense. Now Christy is warning automakers and transportation officials that not much has changed in the past quarter-century.

While the auto industry has begun addressing cyber-security holes in critical systems that run vehicles, Christy said during an appearance at the Los Angeles Auto Show the greater threats to motorists could lie in the sprawling infrastructures that communicate with cars or govern their movement.

Whether it's traffic lights, GPS or the digital short-range communications that will handle the upcoming autonomous car era, these systems may be more attractive targets for hackers or terrorists because they hold the potential to cause greater harm and because they're cheaper entry points.

News Source: IO Active via YouTube

Image Credit: Chris Carlson / AP, Cliff Owen / AP

Alfa Romeo's midsize sedan due in June, and we'll get it

Posted Nov 26th 2014 9:30AM

Alfa Romeo 159, front three-quarter view.

As the calendar shifts, so do Alfa Romeo's plans. At the LA Auto Show, Harald Wester, head of Alfa Romeo, said the brand would unveil its second US model – after the 4C – next June, but he wouldn't identify the type of car. A report in Automotive News Europe, quoting sources, says that it will be a midsize sedan in the mold of the erstwhile 159 (pictured) that was supposed to become the Giulia but now has a new brief and perhaps a new name.

"Giulia" should be familiar because we've been hearing about it for more than three years – in fact it was 2011 when it was thrown back on the drawing board for a complete redesign. Last year the plan – or the anonymously-sourced bits of the plan that we kept getting – were for the platform to go rear-wheel drive and do duty for both a BMW 3 Series and 5 Series competitor. ANE's latest intel is that the coming midsize sedan will be come in between the 3 Series and 5 Series – a strategy used by the original Cadillac CTS – slotting in beneath a "flagship sedan" that would fit between the 5 Series and 7 Series. That would appear to contradict a direct challenge to the entry-level segment's standard-bearer, and perhaps the M3, too.

Those two Alfa sedans would be part of an eight-model onslaught happening over the next four years, which is a new matrix compared to April of this year when that was reported to be six models over the next five years. ANE says work has started on three of them, a midsize SUV said to be the third. The push is to get Alfa to 400,000 annual sales – 100,000 more than the April target – with the US accounting for 150,000 of that.

100k Mazda6 sedans recalled over tire-monitoring systems

Posted Nov 26th 2014 8:44AM

2014 Mazda6

A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is, as you might have guessed, designed to monitor the air pressure in the tires, and alert the driver if pressure drops. But a problem found in the Mazda6 could keep the system from doing its job.

According to the recall notice issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the TPMS in the Mazda6 might not recognize a loss in tire pressure if all the tires slowly deflate at the same time. Under-inflated tires, it goes without saying, could increase the risk of a crash.

As a result, Mazda is recalling 99,711 examples of the 2014-2015 Mazda6 to have the system's software updated.
Related Gallery2014 Mazda Mazda6
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News Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Image Credit: Mazda

GM Futurliner No. 10 gains National Historic Vehicle Register status, finds home

Posted Nov 26th 2014 7:57AM

GM Futurliner

We couldn't even begin to count all the concept cars that General Motors has made over the years, but what we do know is that few have carried the kind of legend that the Futurliners have. Of the dozen such buses GM made, No. 10 (similar to the one pictured here) has arguably had the most colored history, but now it's finally getting the recognition it so richly deserves.

The tenth Futurliner toured the country as part of GM's Parade of Progress in 1940 before being "retired," but the 12-ton, 33-foot behemoth lived a rich life after its initial tour of duty. It had its engine and some of its bodywork replaced, and in the 1950s went back on tour across 35 states and three Canadian provinces. It subsequently changed hands time and time again, bouncing from the Michigan State Police to a musician, a brewery, a restaurant and a handful of museums, but now it's found what could be its final resting place.

Following an eight-year restoration, it's going on display at the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States in Auburn, Indiana, and has earned its place in the National Historic Vehicle Register, with its documentation and photography to be cataloged with the Library of Congress. Read the full story of the most storied of the Futurliners over at Hemmings Daily.
Related GalleryGM Futurliner
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News Source: Hemmings Daily

What's it like to wakeboard behind a Ferrari F50? Glad you asked

Posted Nov 25th 2014 7:58PM

Ferrari F50 Wakeboarding

Peons. Peasants. Plebians. Ohioans. You think the videos that show you water skiing or wakeboarding behind pickup trucks are cool? They aren't. Wakeboarding behind a Ferrari F50, though, is most assuredly awesome.

Those over-wealthy Einsteins at YouTube channel Tax The Rich have released their latest stunt, which shows a charming yellow F50 towing a wakeboarder down what looks like an irrigation canal. It really is as cool as it sounds.

News Source: Tax The Rich via YouTube

What you missed on 11.25.14

Posted Nov 25th 2014 7:31PM


Smart ForfourWe drive the 2016 Smart Forfour

The redesigned Smart Fortwo is a better offering than ever before, what with its fully reworked, Renault Twingo underpinnings. And while the diminutive two-door will be headed to the US relatively soon, the Forfour isn't currently on the docket for American sales. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Our man Noah Joseph reports in today's Quick Spin.

MechanicCould working on your car violate copyright law?

Working on your car seems harmless enough, right? Well, in the future, it could be significantly more complicated. Pete Bigelow explains how a privacy group is warning mechanics and enthusiasts that working on a car could actually violate copyright laws. Crazy stuff – read it all, here.

Autoblog PodcastAutoblog Podcast #407

On this week's podcast, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, and AutoblogGreen editor-in-chief Sebastian Blanco talk about the Michelin Challenge Bibendum, the odd little Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle, and the recent Car and Driver 10Best list that no longer includes the BMW 3 Series. We also talk about what we're driving this week, mixed in with the usual friendly banter.

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Watch Xcar go Razor Cart Crazy

Posted Nov 25th 2014 6:45PM

XCAR Crazy Cart video

Working at Autoblog is a lot of fun. Working at Xcar, though, seems like it's somehow even better, if this video is any indication.

Xcar's Alex Goy and Drew Stearne have apparently been wreaking havoc in their UK offices with their avid use of Razor's hoontastic Crazy Cart. An irate HR manager reached out to the two, asking them to move their antics back to the basement and spare the office's walls of further collisions.

Naturally, the best way for the pair to move the single-wheeled carts downstairs was to tear through the office one last time. The results are just as sensational as you might expect.

News Source: Xcar via YouTube

Bentley to call its upcoming crossover Bentayga?

Posted Nov 25th 2014 5:57PM

Bentley SUV prototype

Development of Bentley's forthcoming utility vehicle is almost complete, and the British automaker has painted a vivid picture of what to expect: otherworldly luxurious, a range of powertrains including a twelve-pot and a hybrid, and a price tag that is sure to eclipse any other SUV or crossover on the market. One of the biggest questions still remaining, however, is what Bentley will call the thing, but we might have our answer right here.

According to Autovisie (the car section of Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf), Bentley has registered the name Bentayga – taken from a rock formation on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, that Spanish archipelago off the coast of Morocco.

The concept was originally showcased as the EXP 9 F. Though that handle was never expected to make it to production, the F supposedly stood for Falcon, leading to speculation that the final version would carry that name. But if the trademark application is anything to go by, we could be looking in the end at the Bentley Bentayga.
Related GalleryBentley SUV: Spy Shots
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News Source: Autovisie

Image Credit: CarPix

Autoblog Podcast #407

Michelin Challenge Bibendum, Toyota Mirai, Car and Driver 10Best

Posted Nov 25th 2014 5:45PM

Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #407 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, and Sebastian Blanco talk about the Michelin Challenge Bibendum, the Toyota Mirai, and the BMW 3 Series falling off the Car and Driver 10Best list. We start with what's in the Autoblog Garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!

Autoblog Podcast #407:


In The Autoblog Garage:
Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, Sebastian Blanco
Runtime: 01:07:55

  • Intro and Garage - 00:00
  • Challenge Bibendum - 18:32
  • Toyota Mirai - 28:20
  • C/D 10Best - 44:52
  • Q&A - 53:52

Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly

Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

Review the show in iTunes

Here's why you shouldn't try to drift a Jeep Cherokee

Posted Nov 25th 2014 5:15PM

Jeep Cherokee drifter

There are many reasons why an XJ-generation (or really any other) Jeep Cherokee doesn't make for a good drift machine. It's tall, it's four-wheel-drive... it's a Jeep, okay? But someone apparently forgot to tell that to this guy.

Uploaded to LiveLeak, this video shows some poor schmuck who took his Cherokee to a (mostly) empty parking lot and tried to drift it. Needless to say, things didn't go quite as he planned, but they probably went exactly as you might have expected.

Thankfully, nobody appears to have been hurt. Or at least, we assume so, since the guy apparently survived to put the video up online.

News Source: LikeLeak via Jalopnik

Ferrari 458 Speciale buyers told to spec options to secure orders

Posted Nov 25th 2014 4:31PM

2015 Ferrari 458 Speciale

Want to get your hands on a Ferrari 458 Speciale? You're in good company, because demand for what could be the last naturally aspirated V8 supercar from Maranello is apparently soaring. As a result, some buyers who've already placed their orders are reportedly being "advised" to add on extra options or risk losing their place on the waiting list to someone who will.

The news comes from UK-based Magnitude Finance, whose director Tim Marlow said, "One client ordered the car many months ago but he was subsequently advised to increase the options he selected to guarantee delivery simply because others are prepared to go pay over the odds to get one new." Another Magnitude client was asked by the dealer "on five occasions to say others wanted to buy it if he changed his mind."

Reached for comment, Ferrari spokesperson Krista Florin told Autoblog: "As with any Ferrari, customization is offered as a service to make each car unique. However, there are no requirements in order to secure an order."

The options list on the 458 Speciale can add up fast. Active headlights add over $2,500 to the price, fitted luggage nearly $11k, leather interior and front lift system a solid $6k each and those NART stripes another $11k. Ordering items like the engine cover ($7.8k), rear diffuser ($9.6k) and outer sill cover ($10k) in carbon fiber can add to the $288k base price as quick as the Speciale can gather pace. That's how our recent tester ended up topping $336k – and that's if we could actually get one.

Part of the demand is surely coming from moneyed enthusiasts keen to take possession of one of the finest mid-engined supercars Ferrari has ever made, but the demand and values are surely being driven up as well by speculators. "Everyone we speak to sees this as the next appreciating model over the long-term like the 360 Challenge Stradale and 430 Scuderia 16M before it," added Marlow, "so demand is really high."

We can only imagine that demand has been even higher for the convertible version, as Ferrari will only make 499 examples of the 458 Speciale A, putting the roadster in an even more rarified class.

News Source: Magnitude Finance

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Lotus Evora update coming, new models still on hold

Posted Nov 25th 2014 3:45PM

Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales

The trials and tribulations at Lotus over the past several years haven't put the company in best financial position, and after the dismissal of Dany Bahar as CEO, the automaker seemed rudderless. Jean-Marc Gales (pictured above) is the new captain at the helm of the British sports car brand, and he seems like the complete opposite of Bahar. Where the former boss was hugely ambitious (perhaps overly), the current CEO has crafted a plan for a gradual turnaround under what he called a "logic-based" recovery in a recent interview with Autocar.

The most logical part of Gales' plan is focusing on what Lotus can actually do. Instead of launching new products, he wants to continue to refine the current lineup. "We won't have the funds to build all-new cars in the next few years," he said to Autocar.

The biggest of these updates includes a heavily revised Evora with more power and less weight to debut at next year's Geneva Motor Show. An even lighter-weight Cup model is planned for later. The Exige will get a revision in 2016. Gales also hints that a future, feather-light model like the 2-Eleven is on the docket, and a crossover is on the drawing board, according to Autocar, though not yet green lit. North America is also a priority.

Lotus is forever linked to founder Colin Chapman's axiom to add lightness to the brand's models, and Gales is continuing that history with the Lightweight Lab. According to Autocar, in this huge room the company's models are completely disassembled with each part labeled. The entire staff is invited to come in and make suggestions on places to reduce weight and lower costs.

"This brand is like a sleeping princess, but I believe she is starting to wake up," Gales said to Autocar, but he's keeping sales projections modest. Gales wants annual numbers to increase from about 2,000 units this year to 3,000 in 2015 with his streamlined workforce but intends to keep figures at that level for a bit, while the company stabilizes.

News Source: Autocar via The Motor Report

Image Credit: Lotus

Will copyright law stop you from working on your car in the near future?

Privacy Group Warns Tinkering Under Hood Could Violate DMCA

Posted Nov 25th 2014 2:59PM


"It gives manufacturers the power to control secondary markets by leveraging the copyright law, if it doesn't include enough of a safety valve." – Kit Walsh

Plan on repairing or modifying a car in the garage this weekend? You might want to first consult a copyright lawyer.

In a development that illustrates just how much cars have become mobile computers on wheels, a privacy group is warning mechanics and car enthusiasts that tinkering with the computers that run dozens of vehicle components, without a manufacturer's approval, may constitute a copyright violation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit watchdog, says the Digital Millennium Copyright Act may prohibit modifying the code that runs these small computers, known as electronic control units (ECU). The organization is asking the US Copyright Office to exempt hobbyists and home mechanics from the law. In the petition, the EFF asks the office to eliminate the legal risks posed to vehicle owners who are "engaged in a decades-old tradition of mechanical curiosity and self-reliance."

Once every three years, the Copyright Office holds hearings to consider whether certain activities should be exempt from the DMCA's Section 1201, which restricts people from circumventing technological measures that control access to "protected works." No dates have yet been set, but a ruling is expected by mid-2015.

"The general principle at stake is that people who own a device are the ones in control of what it does, rather than be constrained to use it only in the way a manufacturer wants," says EFF staff attorney Kit Walsh. "The idea of ownership, in a way, is under threat when the law prevents you from altering a product in any way."

Image Credit: AFP / Getty


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