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2015 Lexus LS gets tiny tweaks to try to keep up in LA

Posted Nov 20th 2014 5:40PM

2015 Lexus LS460

The 2015 model-year updates for the LS are certainly minor, but at least Lexus isn't letting its flagship sedan languish completely.

The biggest change for the revised model is an improved infotainment system with an updated navigation and dynamic guidelines for the backup camera. Lexus' Enform App Suite also allows owners to remotely control some of the vehicle's functions, including the door locks, ignition and climate control settings.

Among the litany of incredibly small tweaks, the dome lights now use LEDs, and the F Sport model that includes features like a sport-tuned air suspension and 19-inch forged wheels gets an added badge at the rear. The changes have increased the turning circle by 3.9 inches for models with the standard suspension and 18-inch wheels.

All of the changes are definitely minor, but hopefully they'll sustain the posh motor until its next iteration is ready.
Related Gallery2015 Lexus LS460: LA 2014
2015 Lexus LS460: LA 20142015 Lexus LS460: LA 20142015 Lexus LS460: LA 20142015 Lexus LS460: LA 20142015 Lexus LS460: LA 20142015 Lexus LS460: LA 20142015 Lexus LS460: LA 20142015 Lexus LS460: LA 2014

News Source: Lexus

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

2015 Nissan Murano and Juke priced, Color Studio to breed bad ideas

Posted Nov 20th 2014 5:19PM

2015 Nissan Juke Color Studio

Nissan has released basic pricing information on its upcoming Murano, as well as detailed pricing on the refreshed Juke crossover at the 2014 LA Auto Show. The Japanese company also announced a new "color studio" for the Juke, which just reeks of bad ideas.

First, let's talk money. The flashy, redesigned Murano crossover will kick off at $29,650, not including an $885 destination charge. While the new CUV will begin arriving in dealers on December 5, Nissan opted out of providing more detailed pricing data, including information about trim levels and other optional extras.

It did no such thing with the Juke, though. The freshened 2015 model starts at $20,250 for a base Juke S, and climbs from there. The SV trim adds $1,050 to the price while the SL starts at $25,240. All-wheel drive adds $1,850 to the S and SV models and $1,700 to SL. If you're the sporting sort, the Juke Nismo starts at $24,830 while the Nismo RS rings up at $28,020. Adding an Xtronic continuously variable transmission and all-wheel-drive to the Nismo models increases the price by $2,400 and $2,000, respectively.

And now, the Nissan Color Studio. We'll admit, there are some among the Autoblog staff that question this new feature, which gives customers an extreme degree of control when it comes to the styling of their Juke. For a price, Nissan will allow customers to choose individual colors for ten different parts of the Juke, including the rear spoiler, mirror caps, headlight surrounds, door sills and the wheels. While a fashionable mind might be able to create something rather cool, the potential for abuse here is extremely high. Check out the inset image to see what we mean.

Scroll down for Nissan's announcement on Juke and Murano pricing, as well as details on the color studio.

News Source: Nissan, Nissan Color Studio

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

Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro packs plug-in hydrogen powertrain

The Name Is Almost As Complicated As The Technology

Posted Nov 20th 2014 4:59PM

Audi A7 H-Tron

If you think a plug-in diesel hybrid is an expensive proposition, just wait until you hear details about the just-revealed Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro. The "H" in H-Tron, as you might guess, stands for hydrogen, so say hello to a new concept that combines a plug-in battery system with a hydrogen fuel cell. Yeah, exactly.

Let's start with the numbers. On the plug-in side, the new H-Tron has an 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery that can power the car for up to 31 miles on battery power. With electric motors on both axles – it's a Quattro, after all, but a through-the-road hybrid with electronic torque distribution management – the A7 H-Tron uses a hydrogen fuel cell and four (!) H2 tanks to offer about 62 miles per gallon equivalent. Audi says the overall fuel cell stack efficiency is "as high as 60 percent" while the electric motors operate at 95 percent efficiency.

Efficiently turning all of that electricity into movement means the A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro has a total power output of 398.3 pound-feet of torque. The 4,299-pound concept can allegedly go from 0-62 miles per hour in 7.9 seconds and has a top speed of 112 mph. The car's total range is 311 miles.

The A7 H-Tron is not the first plug-in hydrogen vehicle concept. That title goes to the Ford HySeries Edge. Mazda also considered putting a hydrogen range extender in the Mazda5 plug-in van.
Related GalleryAudi A7 H-Tron: LA 2014
Audi A7 H-Tron: LA 2014Audi A7 H-Tron: LA 2014Audi A7 H-Tron: LA 2014Audi A7 H-Tron: LA 2014Audi A7 H-Tron: LA 2014Audi A7 H-Tron: LA 2014Audi A7 H-Tron: LA 2014Audi A7 H-Tron: LA 2014

News Source: Audi

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Ford, GM still doing new business with Takata amidst airbag crisis

Posted Nov 20th 2014 4:41PM

Germany Japan Automotive Supplier

Lengthy vehicle development times make it difficult for automakers to cut and run from the supplier.

You might expect automakers to be fleeing any connection with beleaguered supplier Takata in the wake of the company's exploding airbag inflator crisis. After all, with a Senate hearing, pending lawsuit, plummeting stock value and demand for a national recall, the tier-one supplier isn't at its strongest right now. However, years of cooperation mean that automakers are standing by Takata, and necessity may be playing a role, as well.

About 39 percent of Takata's business comes from airbags, and seatbelts make up another significant chunk of the operation too, says Bloomberg. The long-term relationships and lengthy vehicle development times make it difficult for automakers to cut and run from the supplier. "Takata has so much product breadth that I don't really see that they could just disappear," said AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan to Bloomberg.

For example, Takata helped develop the unique front center airbag with General Motors in models like the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave. Outside of safety tech, it is also a partner with Ford on the adaptive steering system available on the upcoming 2015 Edge.

These long-lasting partnerships make change difficult now that there's a problem. According to Reuters, automakers claim it would take a year or longer to set up with a different supplier for replacement airbag inflators. Switching to a completely different part for the repairs might not be a viable option either, because of the engineering time needed.

BMW is taking action, though. According to Reuters, the Bavarian brand is working with the supplier to move inflator production from Monclova, Mexico, to a Takata factory in Freiburg, Germany. The Mexican plant may be the source of some of the faulty parts.

News Source: Bloomberg, Reuters

Image Credit: Jens Meyer / AP Photo

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 concept suggests a diesel off-road future

Posted Nov 20th 2014 4:20PM

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Concept

"It takes the Colorado to a whole new place." – Mark Reuss

The Chevrolet Colorado looks set to gain a more capable off-road version, with the company previewing a potential design direction with a ruggedized concept Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Called the Colorado ZR2, the concept brings back the name used on off-road-tuned S-10 and Blazer models in the 1990s and 2000s. The ZR2 has a track that's four inches wider than the Colorado Z71, which is currently the line's most capable off-roader. The ZR2 is fitted with a new grille, power-dome hood, custom wheel flares and off-road-style fascia that reduces overhang and has flip-out aluminum tow hooks. It's all slathered in an outdoorsy hue dubbed Cyprus Green.

The are electronic locking front and rear differentials, skid plates and mono-tube coilover shock absorbers. It all rolls (or crawls) on 275/65R18 off-road tires wrapped around custom 18-inch aluminum wheels. There's also a spare tire assembly mounted in the bed, which has a spray-in liner and 48-inch lift jack should things go afoul on the trail.

"It takes the Colorado to a whole new place," Mark Reuss, General Motors executive vice president of global product development, said at the reveal.

Power comes from the 2.8-liter Duramax diesel engine making 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. This engine will arrive later in the year in the production Colorado.

While the ZR2 remains only a concept, it suggests a new path for the Colorado – one we hope Chevy decides to take.

Galpin Auto Sports and Fisker turn the Mustang into a Rocket in LA [w/video]

Posted Nov 20th 2014 4:00PM

Galpin-Fisker Rocket

Galpin Fisker Rocket - rear fascia closeupGalpin Auto Sport and Henrik Fisker made big promises about the Rocket before its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show today, calling it the "ultimate American muscle car." Now that this 725-horsepower carbon-fiber Ford Mustang has officially been revealed, we've now got a chance to see if their vision backs up all the bluster.

The Rocket is based off the latest 2015 Mustang, but the entire exterior design has been substantially reworked by Fisker. "This is a project born out of passion, it's a dream come true, to have the opportunity to 'touch' a Mustang and apply my design ideas to it," he says in the model's announcement.

The biggest changes come up front, where Fisker has added a gaping hexagonal grille with a polished bar running and two nearly hidden driving lights at the top corners. Long nostrils run down each side of the hood, taking their inspiration from the 1968 Shelby GT500. The Rocket's design also emphasizes its scalloped sides, which run back to functional ducts at the rear to cool the Brembo Grand Turismo brakes. When checking out the Rocket from the rear, it's easy to spot the wider fenders that are beautifully blended into the integrated spoiler. The interior has been left mostly alone beyond some eye-grabbing red leather and carbon-fiber trim.

Under the hood, Galpin spokesperson Nathan Hoyt has confirmed to Autoblog that the Rocket employs a 5.0-liter V8 with a Whipple supercharger which can be called to attention with a six-speed manual gearbox.

It took only a few months for the vehicle to go from conception to reality. Fisker showed Galpin President Beau Boeckmann early sketches at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, and the two parties went from there. "When Henrik showed me his ideas, I got chills - it's literally the most beautiful Mustang I have ever seen," says Boeckmann in the company's release.

Production is set to begin in December, with deliveries starting in early 2015. There's no set production total in mind for now, but Hoyt tells Autoblog that the price will be "just over $100,000." Scroll down to read all of the details about Fisker and Galpin's Rocket.

Fisker-Galpin Rocket | 2014 LA Auto Show

News Source: Galpin Auto Sports

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

2016 Jaguar F-Type prowls the floor with new manual and AWD options

Posted Nov 20th 2014 3:40PM

2016 Jaguar F-Type

The Jaguar F-Type has become an instant enthusiast favorite for its alluring design, powerful, sonorous engines and rewarding handling. In short, it's a worthy successor to the iconic mid-century E-Type. But Jaguar hasn't been sitting idly, and it's continuing to refine and enhance the F-Type with subtle yet significant enhancements, including a bunch that are debuting this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The 2016 model year brings with it all-wheel drive, which will be standard on 550-horsepower F-Type R models. AWD will be optional on mid-level F-Type S models, which run the 380-hp V6. The system sends all of the supercharged engine's torque to the rear axle in default mode, but it can also be split with up to 50 percent going to the front axle when needed. Jaguar has even added subtle visual differentiators to the the AWD models, fitting them with body-colored sills and a new hood design. The penalty? the AWD system adds about 176 pounds to the curb weight.

The F-Type also gets an available six-speed manual transmission for 2016 on V6 variants with rear-wheel drive. While obviously adding a more interactive driving character, the close-ratio manual is about 22 pounds lighter than the automatic gearbox. Jaguar has also given all F-Type models electric power steering, using a stiffer steering shaft to maintain the hydraulic setup's connected feel with the road.

The 2016 models will be available in the spring, and pricing will be announced closer to launch.

Arizona suing GM for $3 billion over recalls

Posted Nov 20th 2014 3:20PM

General Motors-Recall

General Motors is facing even more legal trouble after recalling roughly 26.6 million vehicles in the US this year. The latest case comes from the Arizona Attorney General and alleges that GM executives knew about the problems with its models but avoided disclosing them to the public. At its maximum, the suit could force the automaker to pay $3 billion.

"It is difficult to find a brand whose reputation has taken as great a beating as has the New GM brand starting in February 2014 when the first ignition-switch recall occurred," the suit said, according to The New York Times.

The case makes Arizona the first state to file a lawsuit against GM for the recalls, but others are working together to build a case. "We're proceeding with our own suit because it's the best way to protect the citizens of Arizona," said attorney general Thomas C. Horne to The New York Times.

The suit's valuation is based on the state's consumer penalty laws, which put a company on the hook for up to $10,000 per violation. Spread over the estimated 300,000 recalled GM vehicles in the state, and the total could be $3 billion, according to the NYT.

"We have reviewed the complaint filed by the State of Arizona. It mischaracterizes the facts, the performance of our vehicles and our work to ensure the safety of our customers. We intend to vigorously defend the case," GM spokesperson Alan Adler said to Autoblog via email.

GM is could potentially pay billions of dollars in other lawsuits related to the recalls. A case in New York could cost the company $10 billion for alleged lost resale value on vehicles. If the business' bankruptcy protection fails then it could be hit with another $2 billion, as well. Also, the automaker's compensation fund has paid out for 33 deaths and 39 injuries, and the deadline for claims was recently extended to January 31. Despite all of this controversy, business hasn't suffered. Unit sales were the best 1980 in the second quarter, and GM beat quarterly estimates with a strong showing even in the US.

News Source: The New York Times

Image Credit: David Goldman / AP Photo

Chevrolet Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo could only work in a video game [w/video]

Posted Nov 20th 2014 3:00PM

Chevrolet Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo

There's something wondrous about the Vision Gran Turismo series of concepts that has let companies go wild with completely imaginary concepts for Gran Turismo. For Chevrolet's crack at the idea, it has taken a page out of its performance past with the Chaparral Can-Am racers of the '60s and '70s, with its designers having reinterpreted that period look for the future of motorsports as the Chaparral 2X.

In real life, the 2X looks even better than in earlier photos. The design takes inspiration from someone in a flying suit with head down and arms outstretched, an influence you can really see that in the vehicle's shape. The driver lies facedown inside with the instruments projected onto a visor.

Unfortunately, the powertrain here is a complete flight of fancy and works purely in the video game world. It imagines a laser propelled by lithium-ion batteries and an air-powered generation to make 900 horsepower. The 2X has a theoretical top speed of 240 miles per hour and hits 60 mph in a lightning-quick 1.5 seconds.

Scroll down to see the concept on video with Chevrolet designers describing their inspiration and read the company's full announcement. It's also downloadable in Gran Turismo 6.

News Source: Chevrolet via YouTube

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

2015 Porsche Cayenne GTS proves performance is relative

Posted Nov 20th 2014 2:41PM

2015 Porsche Cayenne GTS

The Turbo may be the most powerful model in the Cayenne range, but the GTS is arguably the enthusiast's choice. (In so far as a 4,500-pound crossover can be considered an "enthusiast's choice," anyway.) And now, after refreshing the rest of the Cayenne lineup, Porsche has revealed the new Cayenne GTS, alongside its new 911 GTS stablemate, here at the LA Auto Show.

Like the new Cayenne S, the new GTS drops the previous version's atmospheric V8 for a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6, but ups the output to 440 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque to propel Zuffenhausen's portliest to 62 in a scant 5.2 seconds. Alongside the power upgrade, the GTS gets a lowered air suspension and sportier exhaust, the beefier brakes from the Cayenne Turbo and an upgraded aero kit to help with the whole barn-door-profile thing.

Just don't expect all that extra kit and the prestige of a Porsche badge on your crossover to come cheap, with prices starting at $95,500 (plus $995 destination).

Volkswagen Golf R Variant ready to haul ass, stuff

Posted Nov 20th 2014 2:20PM

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant

Volkswagen seems to be playing a cruel trick on the American automotive public at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It's displaying its sexy Golf R Variant with no clear intention of actually selling the model here. The hot wagon launches in Europe in the spring, but the automaker makes absolutely no mention of the model's prospects in the US. Hopefully, its appearance in LA at least indicates VW is considering bringing it stateside.

The great thing about this wagon is that it has everything that the regular Golf R offers, but there's even more room to carry stuff. The same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 296 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox and 4Motion all-wheel drive. Performance is very close, too, with the Variant R taking 5.1 seconds to get to 62 miles per hour versus the 4.9 seconds the standard R needs to read 60 mph. The two of them also have the same tech goodies like ESC Sport stability control and multiple damping modes. The real advantage to opting for the estate is its ability to carry up to 57.2 cubic feet of cargo in the back.

This hot rod wagon would seem to be perfect for the family that needs to haul some extra junk in the trunk, but doesn't want to sacrifice performance. Whether the Variant R makes it to the US remains a mystery, though. Scroll down to read the specs and feel a twinge of jealousy.

News Source: Volkswagen

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

2015 Chrysler 300 swaggers into LA Auto Show [w/video]

Posted Nov 20th 2014 1:59PM

2015 Chrysler 300

The Chrysler 300 has always exuded a certain brashness, but the chip-on-its-shoulder styling seemed to mellow a bit after its 2011 redesign. Now, the bad boy of the premium sedan segment is getting some of its angry attitude back for 2015, and the refreshed model debuted here at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The grille is larger, the fascia is updated and the lights are redesigned. That doesn't seem like much, but when taken collectively, they give the car a more menacing glare. The inside is freshened with a new seven-inch in-cluster display, better-quality materials and an updated suite of available Uconnect features, and there's a bevy of new active safety features available, too.

The engine line continues with the 3.6-liter V6 and the 5.7-liter V8, though they are now both paired with Chrysler's eight-speed automatic. The sedan also received a Sport mode button, which changes the tuning for the steering, engine and transmission, while providing a rear bias for all-wheel drive models. Pricing starts at $31,395, just as it did for the 2014 model.

The lineup also gets a new Platinum model with special wood, chrome and leather finishings, though the company also has said it will discontinue the 300's high-performance SRT variant for in the United States.

News Source: Chrysler via YouTube

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 PHEV offers the best of both worlds it's ready to conquer

Posted Nov 20th 2014 1:41PM

2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 PHEV

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class just keeps growing – both in terms of dimensions and in terms of variants. Nevermind the S-Class Coupe for a moment and focus only on the sedan: in North America alone, you can get the big Benz in S550, S600, S63 and S65 spec, and at the Los Angeles Auto Show this year, Daimler has rolled out the new Maybach version as well. But if it's a more environmentally friendly way to woosh around town in serene luxury that you're after, you'll want to look at the new S550 Plug-In Hybrid.

Joining Daimler's growing range of battery-powered models alongside the E400 Hybrid, B-Class Electric Drive and Smart ED (the latter soon to be replaced by an all-new version), the S550 PHEV is the German automaker's first plug-in hybrid. It was first announced over a year ago and made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year, but now the US-spec car is making its North American debut in LA.

Promising "the performance of a V8 and the fuel consumption of a compact model," the S550 PHEV pairs a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 to an 80-kW electric motor, the S550 PHEV packs a combined 436 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque to reach 62 in just 5.2 seconds, top out at 130 miles per hour or drive up to 20 miles on electric mode alone. On the European combined cycle, it'll return an impressive 84 miles per gallon, all the while never skimping on the luxury.

Scope it out in our gallery of photos from the show floor in LA and delve into the details in the press release below.

Scion iM Concept bows, production version confirmed for US

Posted Nov 20th 2014 1:20PM

Scion iM Concept

Scion has officially pulled the covers off its iM Concept, which is, in reality, a slightly modified version of the Toyota Auris that is already sold outside the United States. It's also a model that is going into production for North America, says Scion, minus, we'd guess, a good bit of the overly aggressive ground effects bits, slammed suspension and oversize wheels.

A production iM has been confirmed for the upcoming New York Auto Show, where Scion is also promising a second new production debut, as well. After a substantial lull in its new product cadence (barring the FR-S), it looks like Scion is once again intent on cementing its position as the entry point into the Toyota brand, promising three new models in the next three years.

Scion tells us that iM's name is derived from the first letters of the words 'individuality' and 'modern.' More important details like price, powertrain and on-sale date should come later in 2015, but Scion has at least say it "anticipates that a price under $20,000 could make this car enticing to youthful customers," all of which makes it sound like the second coming of the Toyota Matrix to us.

Feel free to read more in the press release below and gaze upon the concept in all its Incrediblue glory above.
Related GalleryScion iM Concept: LA 2014
Scion iM Concept: LA 2014Scion iM Concept: LA 2014Scion iM Concept: LA 2014Scion iM Concept: LA 2014Scion iM Concept: LA 2014Scion iM Concept: LA 2014Scion iM Concept: LA 2014Scion iM Concept: LA 2014
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