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2014 Kia Forte Koup SX

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    2014 Kia Forte Koup SX
  • Quick Spin
    2014 Volkswagen e-Up!
  • Deep Dive
    2015 Volvo XC90
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    Which is more fuel efficient, driving with a pickup's tailgate up or down?
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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


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

Saab owners NEVS denied creditor protection by Swedish court

Posted Aug 28th 2014 3:45PM


The story of Saab is practically a Greek tragedy at this point. The quirky Swedish automaker that was once known as a pioneer of affordable turbocharging has been followed by years of news that just seemed to keep getting worse. At this point, maybe the brand name should be allowed to fade away into the ether and be remembered for the good times that it gave us.

Saab's latest predicament is that its parent National Electric Vehicle Sweden (or NEVS) has been denied protection from its creditors by the Swedish courts. According to Reuters, the judges called the business' financing plan "vague and completely undocumented." A company spokesperson told Reuters that it plans to appeal.

Seemingly in reaction to the court's decision, NEVS posted a press release on its website announcing that the company had applied "for a reorganization to create more time for the ongoing negotiations." The automaker continues to claim that it's negotiating with two global automakers to sell a portion of the company, possibly Mahindra, but the process is taking longer than it originally predicted. It seems a distinct possibility that this reorganization attempt is simply a way to buy extra time.

With no protection, the Enforcement Authority in Sweden could force NEVS to sell property to pay creditors, of which it allegedly has over 90. It said in the statement, "loss of such assets could obstruct finalizing a contract," with the automakers it's negotiating with and dash even the scant hopes the business has of being saved. Scroll down to read the beleaguered company's full release.

News Source: Reuters, National Electric Vehicle Sweden

Image Credit: Bjorn Larsson Rosvall / AFP / Getty Images

A man, his motorcycle, and his Macaw

Posted Aug 28th 2014 2:58PM

Macaw flying with owner on scooter

To those of us who weren't blessed with feathers and wings – hey, at least we've got thumbs, right? – the ability to take to the air, travel huge distances from amazing heights, only to land right back where we started from is the stuff of fantasies. In fact, it's probably the most common answer to the age-old "Which super power would you most like to have" question of our youth.

Watching the video above, it's easy to see why flight is such an amazing method of travel. While our protagonists require two wheels, gasoline for their internal combustion engine and a heavy dose of concentration in order not to end up with a terrible case of road rash, their fine feathered friend looks to have a much easier path, the Macaw floating as it does across an invisible cushion of air.

We're jealous. Not just of the Macaw's ability to fly, but also of the man who's bright green best friend accompanies him on these wind-in-the-hair coastal journeys. Watch the video above to see what we mean.

News Source: waterskizone via YouTube

Starbucks to trawl for college students with food trucks

Posted Aug 28th 2014 2:14PM

Starbucks Coffee Truck

The old joke about Starbucks is that there are so many of the coffee shops across America that in some places you can sit in one location sipping a pumpkin spice latte and actually be able see another one of its stores across the street. If you think the brand is everywhere now, it's going to be truly ubiquitous at three universities this fall with a pilot program that has food trucks serving coffee to caffeine-starved students and faculty.

According to BusinessWeek, Starbucks has about 11,500 stores nationwide, but the company wants to increase its presence on college campuses. Therefore, it's launching this pilot program to see how things work by using trucks. They're already following herds of students at Arizona State University and James Madison University in Virginia, and Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina gets its coffee-delivery vehicle on September 18.

The true genius behind this plan is that the trucks aren't just going to sit in one place all day. Instead, they are moving around throughout the day to give students their first fix in the morning and be right there in the afternoon to top off their cups. Starbucks is even promising to adjust the trucks' hours as needed on each campus to suit customers, even staying open later than the dining halls in some cases. The company clearly knows once you get people hooked; they are going to keep coming back for more. Scroll down to read Starbucks' announcement of the pilot program.
Related GalleryStarbucks Coffee Truck
Starbucks Coffee TruckStarbucks Coffee TruckStarbucks Coffee Truck

News Source: BusinessWeek, Starbucks

Mazda MX-5 Miata to spawn coupe, Mazda6 to get quick successive updates

Mazdaspeed3 On Track For 2016, Higher-Performance Mazda2 In The Cards, Too

Posted Aug 28th 2014 1:27PM

Mazda MX-5 Test Car

Despite the PRHT's availability, some are still yearning for a proper fixed-head coupe.

We are just days away from the official unveiling of the next-generation 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata on September 3, and it's fair to say that the mouths of enthusiasts are watering in anticipation for the latest version of this iconic roadster. Hard facts about the new droptop aren't easy to find, and in the absence of further disclosure from Mazda officials, the rumormill is in full swing, including word that a long-awaited hardtop coupe model will figure into the new generation's plans.

According to Automotive News, Mazda has a staggering number of updates planned for essentially its entire range in the coming years. The company's strategy often amounts to a one-two punch with some updates coming one year and more following the next. It's an interesting tactic that should keep the brand in the headlines with all of the changes.

In terms of the Miata, that tactic means going on sale sometime next summer as an all-new ragtop model that returns to its roots with a similar size and weight as the original (Autoblog sources indicate that there will be a substantial weight drop versus today's NC Miata, but we don't expect a return to NA or even necessarily NB featheriness). A 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder and six-speed manual should provide a decent jump in performance, too.

The vaguer news arises about a year later,when the publication's sources say Mazda will bring out a MX-5 coupe with a fastback design. This isn't to be confused with a power folding retractable hardtop option (PRHT) – the runaway success of the folding lid on the current generation means we expect a similar unit to be available when the new generation first goes on sale. Despite the PRHT's availability, some buyers are still yearning for a proper fixed-head coupe bodystyle, and apparently Mazda may be listening. With the death of the RX-8, Mazda doesn't have a hard top sports car in its lineup, and this would seem to be an easy way to get one.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: CarPix

These Scots fought the law, but the law didn't win

Posted Aug 28th 2014 12:45PM

Scotland Yard in an unmarked speed trap

"I fought the law and the law won." So goes the song originated by the Bobby Fuller Four and popularized by the Clash. And with good reason, because typically when an average citizen challenges the authority of law enforcement, they end up at the wrong end of its long arm. That's what makes this situation so unusual.

A couple of ordinary citizens in Glasgow, Scotland, happened upon an unmarked police vehicle stationed at the side of the road with a radar gun fixed on passing traffic. The thing is, apparently local laws state that police officers setting up a speed trap need to be doing so in clearly marked vehicles – and those yellow emergency vests probably don't qualify.

Watch the video clip to see what happens when the citizens confront the police on foot, then read more about it in the Daily Mail.

News Source: Daily Mail, Jennifer via YouTube, Visordown

2014 Volkswagen e-Up!

Our Favorite European Supermini Gets Juiced

Posted Aug 28th 2014 11:57AM

2014 Volkswagen e-Up!

Volkswagen sets targets that are entertainingly confident, its stated goal for electric mobility being "market leadership by 2018." The tiny e-Up! is the first round out of the electric cannon, one of 14 EV and hybrid models the company will put on the menu this year as it spreads the electric gospel throughout its range.

Driving Notes
  • A 506-pound lithium-ion battery housed under the floor between the axles has an 18.7 kilowatt-hour capacity, juicing an electric motor that provides 54 continuous horsepower and 82 peak hp alongside 155 foot-pounds of torque. That gets the 2,506-pound hatch from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 12.4 seconds, beating the quickest conventional Up! by nearly a second. Its top speed is 81 mph, and when you're not on acceleration runs, it has a range of up to 150 kilometers (93 miles).
  • You can tell it apart from the standard Up! by the curved LED daytime running lamps in the lower front fascia, the model-specific 15-inch alloys, blue highlights on the emblems and the e-Up! logo on the hatch. Inside are light gray seat covers with blue stitching, and it's been stuffed with a bunch of options including a navigation system with e-specific software that includes features like range calculation.
  • Two buttons in the cockpit are also giveaways: one marked "Eco" and "Eco+," the other with a picture of a plug. The plug button is used to tell the car to charge immediately. VW knows that some customers will prefer charging their car at night because that's when some energy suppliers in Europe offer heavy discounts for using electricity. Since charging can also be set using a smartphone, most people will just plug in the car and control things later from their touch screen.
  • The Eco button is one of two different systems that provide eight options in frugality and extended range. The first is the three driving modes, Standard, Eco and Eco+. Eco mode caps maximum power at 67 hp and pull-away torque at 123 lb-ft, retards accelerator response, curbs air conditioning output and reduces top speed to 115 km/h (71 mph). Eco+ reduces max power to 54 hp and pull-away torque to 98 lb-ft, cuts back further on throttle response and shuts down the AC entirely. The top speed in Eco+ is 90 km/h (56 mph).
  • The second system is regenerative braking with optional D1, D2 and D3 modes chosen by tapping the gear lever to the left or right, on top of regular Drive, in which regeneration happens only through rolling resistance. There's also B mode, accessed by pulling the gear lever back. Its regenerative action is strong enough to be used instead of the brake pedal under most circumstances. Each of the optional regen modes will activate the brake lights when in use.
  • There's a dual-mode charge port called Combined Charging System (CCS) behind the filler flap that supports AC and DC charging. Plugged into a standard 2.3-kW European wall socket, a flat battery pack will be topped up in nine hours. Get VW's 3.6-kW charging box and that wait drops to six hours. Hook up to a public charging station with a DC supply of up to 40 kW, and a flat battery will be 80-percent juiced up in 30 minutes. Owners can keep tabs on the state of charge with the VW's Car-Net e-Remote app, which costs 101 euros – $133 USD – for 12 months.
  • We scooted around VW's Wolfsburg home turf in one and found it a terrific little city car, a zippy arrow that adds yet more weight to the case for electric city cars. The Up! is already the best-selling supermini in Europe, and if you're not a long-haul commuter, the e-Up! and its more powerful, quicker and silent powertrain improves it.
  • About the price, though. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said, "To be a resounding success such an electric car must be affordable to a broad customer base as well as uncompromisingly practical in everyday driving." The e-Up! is practical, but its "broad customer base" will be those ready to lavish 26,900 euros on it – that's $35,500, more or less. Before options. Which could make for a rather narrow customer base. Like-for-like, it's around 12,000 euros (nearly $16,000) more than a conventional Up! – that's about $1,200 more than a Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Said another way, if you filled the tank of your gasoline Up! every week in Germany, it would take five years to claw back the difference.
We totally dig the e-Up! and we understand why it exists, but we look forward to the day when such offerings make better financial sense, too.

Vital Stats

374-Volt, 18.7-kWh Battery
82 HP / 155 LB-FT
Single-Speed Auto
Base Price:
26,900 euros

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

Chevy's hardcore Niva concept ready for Moscow adventure

Posted Aug 28th 2014 11:30AM

Chevy Niva Concept

A couple of weeks ago, Chevrolet released a pair of shadowy teaser images previewing a new Niva. And now, with its live reveal at the Moscow Motor Show looming over the next snow-capped mountain, the Bowtie brand has taken the wraps off the new concept.

Though details are scarce at the moment – the press release below (presented in the original Russian and in translated form) deals more with the European debut of the new Tahoe, but it's clear from the 35 images that the new Niva concept is meant more for driving off the road than on it. It's compact but packs all manner of off-road equipment like knobby BF Goodrich tires, a winch, snorkel, underbody cladding, tow hooks, integrated lamp guards, auxiliary lighting and a big roof rack. Underneath and behind all that equipment, however, we're looking at a fairly handsome shape with a familiar Chevy front end and a rear section that seems to borrow heavily from Mercedes-Benz.

Though the Niva (not to be confused with the Chevy Nova) is historically known as a Lada product, General Motors has been building its own version through a joint venture with the Russian parent company since 1998. This concept ostensibly previews its replacement.
Related GalleryChevrolet Niva Concept
Chevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva ConceptChevrolet Niva Concept

News Source: Chevrolet


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