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2014 Kia Forte Koup SX

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    2014 Kia Forte Koup SX
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    Buick Envision CUV launches in China, is America next?
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    2015 Volvo XC90
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2015 Cadillac Escalade

Flying High In Caddy's First-Class SUV

Posted Aug 29th 2014 12:00PM

2015 Cadillac Escalade

I have never liked traveling to Monterey, CA. The picturesque coastal city is about 300 miles from my home in Los Angeles, which means cramped and uncomfortable regional aircraft are part of the equation when the turnaround is only one night. Over the years, I have cursed the LA Basin's bumper-to-bumper traffic en route to the airport, argued with TSA personnel over carry-on baggage and waited countless hours for the fog to lift just for the anguish of being packed into a small regional jet for the flight. Of course, the process repeats on the trip home with equal misery.

Yet this time I am not suffering.

Cadillac has dropped its all-new 2015 Escalade in my driveway. Instead of battling city congestion, attempting to reason with misinformed government agents, snacking on a too-small bag of pretzels and physically rubbing shoulders with a dubious stranger for 90-plus minutes within the confines of a bumpy aircraft, I have chosen to forgo air travel and drive myself door-to-door in a fullsize luxury sport utility vehicle.

The trip should be less expensive, less stressful and it may even be quicker. Most importantly, if what Cadillac is saying about its all-new Escalade holds true, my drive will be more comfortable and unquestionably more enjoyable.

Vital Stats

Engine:
6.2L V8
Power:
420 HP / 460 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Base Price:
$78,295
As-Tested Price:
$79,290

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Kia confirms $1B factory in Mexico to be completed in 2016

Posted Aug 29th 2014 11:29AM

Kia signs deal for factory in Mexico

Kia is the latest in a string of automakers to announce plans to build new or expanded factories in Mexico. The Korean company has signed a $1 billion deal to establish a plant in Monterrey in the state of Nuevo León, with construction starting in late September. If everything proceeds on schedule, the facility should be complete in the first half of 2016 and be able to produce 300,000 vehicles a year.

The $1-billion investment will create a "new, highly automated manufacturing plant," according to Kia's announcement, a facility covering 1,235 acres of land. Confirming earlier rumors, Kia will produce compact models there, but the company won't reveal specific model names, just yet. When complete, the factory in Mexico will boost the automaker's annual capacity to 3.37 million vehicles a year with 1.69 million of those in Korea and 1.68 million abroad. It will also join Kia's plant in Georgia (where the Optima and Sorento are made) as the business' other North American location.

Kia hasn't kept plans for the Mexican factory a very close secret and openly admitted it was "being considered as a possible location" to Autoblog. The country was chosen partially because of its free-trade agreements (read: NAFTA), that make it less costly to move models elsewhere, not to mention its easy access to the North, Central and South American markets. The new plant should also alleviate some of the tight supply issues Kia has had in the US.

Mexico has become a hotbed of auto manufacturing as of late. Just this year, Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti announced a joint-venture plant there, and BMW revealed its own plans for a $1-billion factory. Scroll down to read Kia's full announcement of its $1-billion investment south of the border.

News Source: Kia

2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro priced from $41,285*

Posted Aug 29th 2014 10:59AM

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Just a few weeks after announcing pricing for the first two members of its TRD Pro Series, Toyota has finally dropped the final pricing details on its new Tundra TRD Pro. Like the Tacoma TRD Pro, the Tundra will be available in two different body styles, with a more affordable Double Cab and a roomier Crew Cab.

Prices start at $41,285 for the former and $43,900 for the latter – not counting a hefty $1,100 destination charge – effectively slotting Toyota's off-road-ready model between the $41,730, Double Cab Limited and $46,465, Crew Cab-only 1794 Edition trucks.

As we've covered previously, the TRD Pro models come with a raft of off-road gear that should help combat just about any terrain a driver may stumble across. TRD-tuned Bilstein shocks and TRD-tuned front springs add two inches to the big truck's ride height while the black, 18-inch TRD wheels and available Inferno Orange paint add a bit of visual sass. A new TRD dual exhaust system is also standard, which can confirm sounds great (review coming soon!).

Scroll down for the full press blast from Toyota.

Aston Martin Lagonda supersaloon gets official with first delivery

Posted Aug 29th 2014 10:15AM

Aston Martin Lagonda sedan in Oman

Over the past 67 years since Aston Martin acquired the Lagonda marque, the name has come and gone, but now it's back again. After an aborted attempt at reviving the brand with a much-criticized SUV concept at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, Aston is building a new high-end sedan exclusively for the Middle Eastern market, and this is our best look at it yet.

We first caught glimpse of the upcoming new Lagonda a few months ago when it was spotted undergoing testing, and Aston released preliminary details and a couple of teaser images just last month. But now it's shipping the first example for testing to the Sultanate of Oman on the Persian Gulf coast, and it has evidently allowed Oman Air and the Aston Martin Oman dealership to release a handful of photos.

What we can see is a pretty handsome sedan that borrows stylistically from the original Aston Martin Zagato sedan that shocked the world in the mid-'70s, not to mention cues from the Zagato Centennial concepts revealed last year. It's possible this is Aston's new design direction, a bid to finally take it away from the gorgeous but overfamiliar styling of its current crop. The fresh look is more squared off, with narrower head- and taillights. It's also possible, of course, that this new look will remain specific to future Zagato-branded vehicles. Look close enough and you'll notice that the handsome sedan is wearing the Lagonda badge, not those of Aston Martin.

News Source: Oman Air via World Car Fans

Buick Envision CUV launches in China, is America next?

Posted Aug 29th 2014 9:28AM

Buick Envision

Buick Envision rear three-quarter view Buick is launching its new midsize Envision crossover in China at the Chengdu Motor Show, where it will slot between the subcompact Encore and larger Enclave. While it might be hard to muster too much excitement about a Chinese-market crossover, don't completely ignore this one. There's a very good chance it could be on sale in North America to fill the same hole in the brand's lineup over here, possibly as a 2016 model.

We recently spied the Envision completely undisguised as it was arriving at the Chengdu show for its debut. The CUV still looks like a stretched Encore from some front angles, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's got a similar oversized grille, hood vents (presumably faux) and large greenhouse as its little brother. Where the midsize CUV differs is its prominent crease running down the side and the different rear treatment, with wing-shaped trim cutting into the taillights.

The interior looks like a pretty nice place to spend time, too, with a predictable mix of leather, wood and metal, and it should be quiet in there with its active noise cancelation system. Infotainment is provided by an eight-inch touchscreen with a touchpad and voice controls.

In China, this CUV is propelled by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 256 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque with standard stop/start and a six-speed automatic. That setup lets it run to 62 miles per hour in a claimed 8.4 seconds. The Envision also gets a standard all-wheel drive system that can send 100-percent of the engine's power to the front or rear wheels as necessary and route power side-to-side at the back, too.

We tried to pin down Buick spokesperson Nick Richards about the Envision's chances here, but all we would tell us was, "Our current focus is on continuing the Encore launch and the successful sales growth of these models." We'd be shocked if it didn't come to the States, but for now, it looks like we just need to wait and see for official word. Scroll down to read all of he details about the new middle child in Buick's Chinese crossover family.
Related GalleryBuick Envision
Buick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick EnvisionBuick Envision

News Source: Buick

Cadillac SRX production moving to TN, next-gen Equinox going to Mexico

Posted Aug 29th 2014 8:45AM

General Motors Spring Hill Factory

It's a good week for the town of Spring Hill, TN, as General Motors has announced that its factory in the city of 31,000 will receive a $185 million contract to produce engines. On top of that, the next-generation Cadillac SRX crossover will be built at the factory (NA models are presently built in Ramos, Arizpe Mexico), which was once famous for being the home of GM's now-defunct Saturn brand.

The factory is one of GM's six facilities around the globe that will screw together the company's new line of three- and four-cylinder Ecotec engines. Spring Hill currently builds the 2.0-liter, turbocharged Ecotec, as well as the naturally aspirated 2.4 and 2.5-liter variants.

Spring Hill's vehicle assembly lines were idled in 2009, but were reactivated in 2011. The SRX is just one of the products meant to benefit from last year's $350-million investment, and should have a positive impact, creating or retaining around 1,800 positions at the factory.

How big that impact will be, though, is open for debate. According to a new report from Reuters, some of the production of Spring Hill's current vehicle, the Chevrolet Equinox, will move to GM's Ramos Arizpe, Mexico factory when that vehicle is redesigned in 2017, Reuters reports. Neither GM nor the UAW offered any comment to Reuters, although an unnamed GM spokesman did add that it's "fair to say" there will be a net increase in jobs at the factory.

Scroll down for the official press release announcing the new engine and SRX production venues from GM.

News Source: General Motors, Reuters

Datsun expands low-cost revival with new Mi-Do in Moscow [w/video]

Posted Aug 29th 2014 8:01AM

Datsun Mi-Do

Those who were disappointed when Datsun changed its name to Nissan over three decades ago may have been pleased to see the marque revived last year, even as a budget brand. Nissan's counterpart to its ally Renault's Dacia budget brand, Datsun has been steadily expanding its lineup of low-cost transportation for developing markets with the debut of the Go hatchback in India, the Go+ minivan in Indonesia and the On-Do sedan in Russia. And now it has returned to Moscow to reveal its fourth model, the Mi-Do.

Based closely on the On-Do sedan (which itself is based on the Lada Granta) the Mi-Do takes on a five-door hatchback bodystyle but with no more frills. It uses the same front-drive chassis with the same wheelbase as the sedan, but its chopped tail makes it a good foot and a half shorter overall. Into that compact shape, Datsun has fitted dual airbags, ABS and... well, that's about it. It's got a 1.6-liter, eight-valve inline-four kicking out a grand total of 87 horsepower to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Bare bones, this is.

While delivery of the first On-Do sedans commences next month (with the first example going to an IT specialist in Omsk), the Mi-Do is set to begin delivery early next year. Scope out the video and press release below from the Mi-Do's reveal at the Moscow Motor Show.
Related GalleryDatsun Mi-Do
Datsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-DoDatsun Mi-Do

News Source: Nissan via YouTube

Batman caught astride Batcycle in Japan

Posted Aug 28th 2014 8:01PM

Batman Batpod in Japan

Holy makeshift Batcycle, Batman. This rider in Japan deserves a round of applause and pat on the back for his dedication to an idea. We've seen people build more authentic looking recreations of the Batpod in the past but never with this much commitment to the whole look.

This Dark Knight reportedly rides around Chiba, Japan, fairly often and always in full Batman regalia. Presumably he's out fighting injustice, but we kind of also like the idea that he's just running errands like this, too.

Regardless of why he's doing it, we have to praise Batman's concentration. He's in broad daylight in full costume but doesn't break focus in this video even for a moment. Though, you would think the Caped Crusader would try to be stealthier.

News Source: jutan1983 via YouTube, Shortlist

What you missed on 8.28.14

Posted Aug 28th 2014 7:32PM

Daily U-Turn

Volkswagen e-UpElectric VW e-Up! tested

The Volkswagen Up! is one of our favorite pieces of pint-sized forbidden fruit. The cute little city car is already one of the best-selling microcars in Europe, and VW aims to broaden its appeal with a new electrified version, the e-Up! Jonathon Ramsey recently took the electric Up! for a quick spin in Germany. Read his full report, here.





Mazda MX-5 Miata muleMazda MX-5 Coupe in the works?

We're just days away from the reveal of the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, and already, the rumormill is swirling about what's in store for the lovely two-seat sports car. New reports suggest that a long-awaited coupe model is indeed in the cards – of course, take that with a huge grain of salt. More details about future plans for the Mazda3 and Mazda6 are detailed here, as well.




VolvoVolvo model range details revealed

Tired of all the Volvo news this week? Good. Neither are we. Looking beyond the introduction of the 2015 XC90, or man Noah Joseph managed to get some more details about the future of the company's model range, which happily includes sedans, wagons, and the well-liked Cross Country trims. See what else is in store in his deep dive, here.



Top Stories

Tesla Model S now the least-stolen car in the US

Posted Aug 28th 2014 7:00PM

tesla model s red

When is a Honda Accord more appealing than a Tesla Model S? When you're a thief. The Accord continues to reign as the most-stolen car in the US but the Model S is now claiming a new and interesting title: the least-stolen car in America. Last year, it wasn't even on the list. Of course, sometimes a Model S is stolen and the most famous case ended with tragic results.

Last year there was an eight-way tie for "least-stolen."

For the record, last year there was an eight-way tie for "least-stolen," made up mostly of SUVs and CUVs. The rankings were listed by a value called "claim frequency," which is how many were reported stolen per 1,000 units produced and where lower means it is stolen less. With a 0.4, these were the vehicles least wanted by thieves in 2013: Dodge Journey, Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi A4, Acura RDX, Toyota Matrix, Lexus HS 250 hybrid, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson. This year, the Tesla clocked in with a 0.15. The average vehicle has a claim frequency of 3.51.

Tesla has, of course, worked hard to make the Model S an unlikely target. It can be shut down remotely, it can be tracked and it has a hacker princess and cash prizes working to protect from other attacks. Tesla's Alexis Georgeson told AutoblogGreen that Tesla hasn't been able to verify the "least-stolen" moniker but said that, "We take the security of our cars very seriously and relentlessly continue to improve our vehicles via over-the-air updates, an ability unique to the industry. We will continue to work to stay ahead by providing the most sophisticated tools and technologies in our cars and working closely with security researchers to identify and address potential vulnerabilities."

Value Walk says that another reason for the low theft rate is that there might be very low demand for Model S parts, since the cars are still under warranty and there aren't many on the road. Still, the claim frequency is a fair comparison, and by that metric the Tesla Model S looks just awful to at least one group of people.
Related GalleryTesla Model S
Tesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model S

News Source: Value Walk

Chevy announces new Z71 package for Tahoe and Suburban

Posted Aug 28th 2014 6:28PM

Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

After what we're guessing was an unintentional leak via a press photo, Chevrolet has confirmed that it will be offering its long-lived Z71 trim on both the 2015 Tahoe and Suburban.

The company wouldn't offer any additional details on what the packages would add to the full-size, body-on-frame SUVs, instead indicating that a more formal announcement that would be made in late September.

The Z71 trim is currently offered on the Silverado pickup, and adds, among other things, an uprated, off-road suspension, a locking rear-differential, all-terrain tires and a unique appearance package.

Along with the Z71 pack, 2015 Tahoe and Suburban owners can look forward to a hands-free liftgate and 4G LTE wireless connectivity through Chevrolet's MyLink system.

Scroll down for the brief press release from GM.

Helsinki could make owning your own car a thing of the past

Posted Aug 28th 2014 5:44PM

TRAVEL HELSINKI

Helsinki, Finland is no stranger to transportation alternatives. From EV testing to a solid public transportation system, the northern European city knows that private cars are not the only option to get around. In the future, though, private cars might not be a logical option at anyone living there.

Navigant calls it "the final piece of the puzzle that makes this scheme truly transformative."

According to Navigant Research, Helsinki is working on an integrated system that would let users have one account that pays for carsharing, bikesharing, public transport and more. Navigant says that combining all of the various transportation modes into one payment network is "the final piece of the puzzle that makes this scheme truly transformative." It's certainly bigger and broader than anything we've heard of before to encourage people to give up their private vehicles.

In an urban environment, having simplified access to whatever method of conveyance you need at any given moment is idea. Want to bike the half-mile to the bakery? Get your ride on. Got to go to the hardware store for a load of fertilizer and a shovel? Check out a carsharing vehicle. Want to take the family to the zoo? Streetcar it is. Minimizing the hassle to access all of these options is going to make the day-to-day realities of private car insurance, refueling and repairs seem a lot less appealing. Or, as Navigant puts it: "The concept is the transportation version of other businesses that are moving from selling a product to selling the service or utility the consumer wants from that product. Planned obsolescence no longer makes good business sense, and consumers can benefit from constant improvements in technology." Rear the whole thing here.

News Source: Navigant Research via Green Car Reports

Image Credit: Pekka Sakki / AP

2014 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG goes Unplugged in Detroit

Posted Aug 28th 2014 5:01PM

Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

As a reformed hooligan, there is still nothing more paralyzing to me than flashing red and blue lights matched with the sound of a siren, on a car headed right toward me. But it happens. And it happened while I stood in a cold Detroit parking lot taking the photos of the matte black 2014 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG you see here. On its own, the Merc ("Darth Benz" as my friend Eric aptly named it) looks all sorts of suspicious, with its murdered-out look only broken by chrome accents and the red brake calipers lurking behind those wheels. But I wasn't doing anything wrong. For once.

Two cruisers with four uniformed patrolmen pulled up, inspected the car, questioned me, and after realizing that everything was copacetic, two of 'em left. But the other pair hung out a bit longer, asking to see the engine, look inside, and finally, ask me for a ride down Fort Street. I happily obliged, and joked about it being a shame that I couldn't really open up the AMG G-Wagen for them, having to keep to the posted speed limit, after all. But the cop riding shotgun laughed, and instructed me to "hit it," when pulling away from a stoplight. So I did. And he laughed. Maniacally.

That's why the G63 AMG goes down as one of the best cars I've driven this year. It's not so much a dynamic masterpiece as it is a vehicle that just oozes cool across many levels, and is hysterically, ridiculously fun to drive. Everyone likes it, and it's easy to see why. First up, the twin-turbocharged, 5.5-liter V8 underhood, with 536 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of torque, with a brutal aural tone to match. Next, there's the absolutely unstoppable off-road ability (three locking differentials!). And beyond all of that, there's the style, the shape, the luxury, and the exclusivity that's all baked into the G63 package.

Because of this, I demanded we get Darth Benz on film. So as the final bits of our endlessly long cold season came to a close, I hit the streets of Detroit with our video crew in tow for another installment of Autoblog Unplugged. Again, the G-Wagen isn't really built for tackling curves – instead, it's all about the presence, and the noise. It's one of the coolest vehicles I've ever driven. Check it out in the video above.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

Volvo aligning model range into three families

Product Plan Includes Cross Country Models, But No Coupes

Posted Aug 28th 2014 4:30PM

Volvo XC60 and XC90

Things have been slow in Gothenburg the past few years, but they're picking up speed. The only new model Volvo has released in the past four years since it was taken over by Geely – that being the V40 introduced in 2012 – started its development when the company was still under Ford's umbrella. But now the Swedish automaker is preparing to launch a volley of new models, and the new XC90 is only the starting point.

Volvo has set out to align its product portfolio into three model families – 40, 60 and 90 – each with three body-styles: sedan, wagon and crossover. (Volvo presented a tidy little table, which we've replicated below, to outline what it has in store.) That means a new S40 sedan and XC40 crossover as well as a replacement for the current V40 wagon, all to be based on a new platform shared with Geely. It also means replacements for the current S60, V60 and XC60 to be based on the modular SPA platform that underpins the new XC90, as well as a new S90 sedan to replace the S80 and a new V90 wagon to succeed the V70 and move it up-market above the V60.

All of these models are set to arrive within the next four years as Volvo moves to replace its entire lineup by 2019 and subsequently move to more competitive seven-to-eight-year product life-cycles. But as aggressively as Volvo is pursuing this renewal of its core models, they're not the only things Gothenburg has in store. Keep reading below to learn how Volvo's model line will flesh out over the coming years.

Image Credit: Live images copyright 2014 Noah Joseph, Drew Phillips / AOL

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