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What you missed on 9.12.14

Posted Sep 12th 2014 7:32PM

Daily U-Turn

OprahLooking back at Oprah's free-car giveaway

"You get a car! You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!" 10 years ago this week, Oprah Winfrey shouted those words as members of her studio audience screamed in delight, all of them just having won brand new Pontiac G6s. Greg Migliore looks back on this historic giveaway, and speaks to a couple of people who were in the audience that fateful day.

Car ComputerAutomotive cyber-threat risks increasing

Our cars are getting smarter, and more technologically advanced – that's hardly news. But as Pete Bigelow explains in this feature story, the risk of automotive cyber-threats could increase as our cars are more and more reliant on computer systems to operate. It's an interesting subject, as we move into The Future. Read all about it, here.

Mercedes-AMG GTMercedes-AMG GT vs. Porsche 911

We've always known Mercedes' new AMG GT would be a direct competitor for the iconic Porsche 911. And now that we have all of the official specs and details about Benz's new super coupe, it's time to start lining it up against Porsche's baby to see how the two stack up. We put the cars side by side on paper, here.

Top Stories

Toyota Tundra ditches V6 for 2015

Posted Sep 12th 2014 7:15PM

Toyota Tundra

The Toyota Tundra debuted in new-ish form for the 2014 model year, but as we head into 2015, the truck boasts a couple of small updates. Most notably, the base V6 engine has been discontinued. On top of that, there's the new TRD Pro model on offer for 2015, which we've told you about before.

Why kill the V6? Simple – it was very low-volume. "The Tundra V6 take rate was significantly less than five percent," a Toyota spokesperson confirmed via email to Autoblog. So for 2015, the two V8 engine options remain – a 4.6-liter unit with 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque, or the more powerful 5.7-liter powerplant with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive is standard. Four-wheel drive, of course, is available with either engine.

The only other noteworthy changes for 2015 include an optional integrated trailer brake for the 5.7-liter models, a new rear under-seat tray storage system for Double Cab trucks, and a spray-in bed-liner. Scroll down for the official press blast.
Related Gallery2015 Toyota Tundra
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News Source: Toyota

No carbon fiber was harmed in the making of new 2015 GMC Sierra Carbon Edition

Posted Sep 12th 2014 6:29PM

2015 GMC Sierra Carbon Edition

Carbon fiber is known for its properties of combining amazing strength with extremely low weight, and its frequent use in high performance vehicles gives the material a somewhat aggressive air. GMC is hoping to play on some of that mean reputation with its upcoming trio of Sierra Carbon Editions. However, despite their name, there's no actual carbon making its way onto these trucks (at least in the form of CF). Instead, the special edition is a graphics package with some extra equipment thrown in.

All three specials are based on the 2015 Sierra 1500 and can be ordered in two- or four-wheel drive configuration and with the standard 4.3-liter V6 or optional 5.3-liter V8. Things kick off with the standard Sierra Carbon Edition for $33,075, including destination, available only on the double cab body. Buyers get a black grille, carbon fiber decals on the hood and tailgate and body color trim for the door handles and mirror caps. The edition also adds keyless entry, a 110-volt outlet and LED cargo box lighting.

Buyers wanting just a touch more style can opt for the Carbon 20 Edition on the SLE double cab that gets the same exterior tweaks, plus 20-inch aluminum wheels, and retails for $38,275. Finally, there is the Carbon 22 Edition starting at $42,270 on the SLE in double- or crew cab models. It adds further black 22-inch wheels, tubular side steps, fog lights, keyless start, a universal home remote, dual-zone climate control and 110-volt outlet.

If you feel like the faux carbon fiber look is worth it, the double cab models are available for order now, and crew cab variants can be reserved in early October. Deliveries of both are expected later this fall. Scroll down for the full announcement.

News Source: GMC

130,000 Toyota Tundra pickups recalled over airbag issue

Posted Sep 12th 2014 5:45PM

2014 Toyota Tundra

Toyota is announcing a recall for about 130,000 examples of the 2014 Tundra Tundra pickup in Crew-Max Cab and Double Cab configurations.

According to the company, the "garnish on the center pillars" inside the trucks might not have been installed correctly. If the vehicle were in an accident, the side curtain airbags could deploy in the wrong shape. Toyota says that it's not aware of any crashes, injuries or fatalities related to this potential problem.

To fix the issue, the pickups will have their interior center pillars inspected, and if faulty, the pieces will be replaced. Obviously, this will be done at no cost to owners. Scroll down to read the full announcement.
Related Gallery2014 Toyota Tundra
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News Source: Toyota

Mercedes-AMG GT attacks Circuit of the Americas

Posted Sep 12th 2014 4:57PM

Mercedes-Benz is having a banner year with its Formula One team. Through 2014, the constructor has 454 championship points; ahead of its nearest competitor (Red Bull-Renault) by a margin of 182 tally marks. We're sure they can almost taste the champagne.

It's fitting then, and a little big cocky in a good way, that Mercedes has released a video of its newest sports car at an F1 venue. In this case, the car is the lovely Mercedes-AMG GT S, and the racetrack is Austin's Circuit of the Americas.

Having seen the official photo set and scratched the surface of the technical specifications earlier this week, we're excited to finally hear the thing run. As you might guess, the deployment of 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque from the twin-turbo V8 is a motivating experience. Crank up your volume, and hit that play button. (Oh, and Mercedes shot the thing in 4K, too, so those of you with expensive televisions/monitors should take heed to the settings.)

News Source: Mercedes-AMG via YouTube

We go inside BRD Motorcycles for more on the RedShift

Posted Sep 12th 2014 4:30PM

Entrance to EV start up BRD Motorcycles

The Internet address of BRD Motorcycles is, and while the expression also serves the startup as a motto, its would-be customers repeat it like a mantra. You see, they've been waiting for the company's first production bikes to be delivered for some time now – it's been three years since its RedShift supermoto was first unveiled and the original plan was to start shipping in 2012. No doubt they'd like the outfit to speed things up, but should they worry about the company shorting out?

In a world grown cynical from wading through the detritus of smashed electric-vehicle dreams it would be easy to write BRD off.

In a world grown cynical from wading through the detritus of smashed electric-vehicle dreams it would be easy to write BRD off. Despite rave-tastic reviews of its prototype and a seemingly empty market niche in need of filling, it's difficult to forget the failure of other promising efforts in recent times. But, being a naive idealist with an optimistic outlook, I've always been heartened by the occasional email update or blog posting purporting to prove that hope was alive, the lights were still on and a final product would eventually be forthcoming. When the opportunity recently arose to look around the operation and chat with CEO Marc Fenigstein, I was only too happy to bite at the slice of time offered.
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BRD MotorcyclesBRD MotorcyclesBRD MotorcyclesBRD MotorcyclesBRD MotorcyclesBRD MotorcyclesBRD MotorcyclesBRD Motorcycles

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Domenick Yoney / AOL

Aussie Mazda MX-5 Miata specs leak suggests power loss

Posted Sep 12th 2014 3:45PM

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata - studio front three-quarter view

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata engine spy shotMazda's 2016 MX-5 Miata reveal didn't include much in the way of specifications, but the car's debut seems to have blown the lid off of the rumormill, with the latest word out of Australia including fresh claims of curb weight and engine output.

Before delving into the findings from, we're going to take a moment to find a few grains of salt. It's not that we don't trust the Oz publication, it's just that we wouldn't be surprised to learn their car's specifications will vary from that of our eventual North American car.

Of course, we don't expect the footprint of the new ND model to itself to differ much – it will still be the most compact Miata ever – overall length is expected to check in at just over 154 inches – that's about 1.4 inches shorter than the original NA Miata and over 4 inches shorter than today's NC generation, yet it'll ride atop a longer wheelbase and be slightly wider while sitting lower to the ground. sources indicate that a 1.5-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder will nestle low in the ND's engine bay, with a rating of just 96 kW – that's 129 horsepower, a 13-percent drop in power over the Aussie-spec 2.0-liter four in the current Miata. Torque figures were apparently not disclosed by their source, but the publication expects the torque figure to come in above the 144 Nm (106 pound-feet) of the top-spec 1.5-liter four in the forthcoming Mazda2.

Countering that apparent shortfall is the car's hotly anticipated drop in weight. The ADM MX-5 is said to weigh 1,020 kilograms – that's just under 2,250 pounds – meaning Mazda would make good on its claimed 100-kg (220-pound) diet for the car. To put that number in perspective, ponder that a US-spec 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C has a curb weight of 2,465 pounds. True, it's about 3 inches longer, but it's also a car with a carbon-fiber tub, aluminum subframes, fiberglass skin and a deep-discount interior. Credit the Miata's shrinking footprint, an increased use of aluminum and a by-the-gram approach to engineering. Some back-of-the-envelope calculations reveals that's close to a 10-percent weight drop, which should go a long way toward compensating for the loss in power.

We've previously heard rumors of the Miata having a Skyactiv engine displacing anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 liters, with the smart money seemingly being on Mazda's 2.0-liter engine seen in its Mazda3 compact. Despite the power drop, this 1.5-liter four could well provide enough motivation even for North American buyers, but we still wouldn't be surprised to see the 2.0 fitted to our cars.

Mazda has confirmed that the 2016 MX-5 Miata will make its auto show debut at the Paris Motor Show early next month... will it also take the opportunity to attach some more specifications to the next generation of its iconic roadster? Here's hoping. In the meantime, we've reached out to Mazda for clarification on these alleged specs and will get back to you if we learn more.
Related Gallery2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
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Leno samples Corvette Z06, steam cars, supercars and the wonders of Pebble Beach

Posted Sep 12th 2014 3:01PM

While Jay Leno's Garage was conceived to highlight the wonders of The Big Chin's eponymous storage facility, Leno does occasionally get out an into the larger world. Pebble Beach and the festivities around Monterey recently provided a great excuse for a road trip, and Leno seemingly had a pretty full dance card.

In an episode aptly dubbed The Ultimate Car Week, our host takes us through a pretty representative selection of great things to see in and around Pebble. Starting with a ride-along in a steam car, Jay manages to check in on the latest McLaren supercar and drive the Alfa Romeo 4C along the way. Oh, and he takes a good look at the all-new Corvette Z06 (next to the original Z06) before hitting the Concourse d'Elegance, too.

Porsche Cayman gets a new face

Posted Sep 12th 2014 2:16PM

Porsche Cayman spy shots

We've already seen photos of the facelifted Porsche Boxster out testing, but we're now seeing these same changes making their way onto the hardtop Cayman coupe. Cosmetically, the next round of Porsche's smallest sports cars isn't vastly different, with redesigned headlamps, LED running lights (like its big brother, the 911), and new taillamps that actually aren't visible on the prototype seen here.

The big news for the updated Boxster/Cayman range is the long-rumored four-cylinder engine. Recent reports suggest we could see four-pots with displacements of 1.6, 2.0, or 2.5 liters, and with output ratings as high as 360 horsepower. Of course, these new four-cylinder mills would be both turbocharged and direct-injected.

It's unclear whether or not the six-cylinder engine range will also be updated when this new Cayman comes to market. In any case, we expect to see it bow in the relatively near future. Stay tuned.
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Image Credit: CarPix

Ford Recalling 70k Escape and Mariner Hybrids for cooling issue

Posted Sep 12th 2014 1:31PM

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid

Ford is recalling about 70,209 examples of the 2005-2008 Ford Escape Hybrid and the 2006-2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid because the cooling pumps for their hybrid systems could fail.

According to the company's defect notice, it's possible for the original "Motor Electronics Coolant (MEC) Pump" to wear out and fail, which would could cause the hybrid system to overheat. If this happens, the vehicle goes into a safety mode that takes away most or all of its power. However, braking and steering still operate normally. After cooling down, the affected models restart normally. The company says that it's not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this problem.

Ford will begin repairing the vehicles in late October, and dealers will be installing improved, brushless pumps on the affected models at no charge to owners. If drivers had their pumps fail before this recall, they can contact Ford for a possible reimbursement. Scroll down to read the recall announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or download the full defect notice as a PDF, here.

News Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [1], [2]

Donkervoort D8 GTO is the meanest Lotus 7 knock-off you've ever heard

Posted Sep 12th 2014 12:45PM

Dutch company Donkervoort may have launched its nutty D8 GTO a few years ago already, but that doesn't mean we find the car any less insane today. With 380 turbocharged horsepower produced by its Audi-sourced 2.5-liter engine, and just about 1,500 pounds to move around (plus driver), the Lotus 7-inspired two-seater is about as maniacal as it gets.

Only, of course, we American's don't get it.

Thankfully, the lucky ducks at British pub Xcar are allowed to play with this Dutch wonder, and have seen fit to film their last go in the carbon-fiber rocketship, too. In fact, the car they get to drive is the D8 GTO prototype, which is pretty rad. Check out one of the weirdest, wildest and most desirable pieces of forbidden fruit Europe has to tease us with, above.

News Source: Xcar via YouTube

Risk of cyber-threats may increase as cars load up on computers, active controls

Posted Sep 12th 2014 12:01PM

Binary Code Technology

"You can have everything super-secure, but one part can compromise everything in the car, including safety." – Walter Buga

Features in many new cars that are widely seen as the first steps toward a self-driving future may also making cars more susceptible to cyber crime, according to a recent study.

New technologies like park assist, adaptive cruise control and collision prevention are some of the first to hold an active role in driving. But because these features are specifically designed to, at times, exert control over a vehicle, it may be easier for hackers to write codes that carry nefarious intent, a first-of-its-kind study recently found.

"Attacks are likely easier in their presence than in their absence," wrote Chris Valasek and Dr. Charlie Miller, the authors of the report, A Survey Of Remote Automotive Attack Surfaces.

There's been no documented cyber attack on an automobile in the United States. But as automakers have rushed in recent years to add software that essentially turns cars into mobile computers, the industry and federal regulators have paid more attention to the potential consequences of a vehicular security breach. On Tuesday, David Friedman, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, asked automakers to collaborate on ways to thwart cyber threats.

Valasek and Miller, who presented their study last month at a convention of hackers, security analysts and researchers in Las Vegas, NV, offer the first public look at the underpinnings of the network architectures that govern how all these new components are connected.

Their conclusions on 21 individual vehicles are interesting on their own merits; indeed, lists of "most hackable" and "least hackable" cars spawned the initial wave of headlines sparked by the study. What's more notable, in retrospect, is its overall undercurrent. In response to consumer demand for infotainment and advanced safety features alike, automakers are adding software and computer components to cars at a rapid pace. At least for now, much of this technology leaves more questions than answers.

Image Credit: Xtock Images / Getty, Jeep

2015 Chevy Corvette stop-sale issued, recall could be next

Posted Sep 12th 2014 11:31AM

2015 Chevrolet Corvette

It might be difficult to get ahold of a 2015 Chevrolet Corvette for a little while. Not only are the sports cars incredibly quick, but Chevy is issuing two, separate stop-sale orders on the 'Vette that covers about 2,800 of them. According to Automotive News, recalls for the problems are also possible in the future.

The first stop-sale covers approximately 2,000 units of the 2015 Corvette because of a potential problem with the driver's side airbag. It's possible that it might not be attached to the steering wheel properly, and according to Automotive News, the bag could separate from the wheel in a crash.

The other problem covers about 800 Corvettes because only one of the parking brake cables may be fully attached, rather than two of them. That obviously makes the handbrake less effective. The cars need inspected to check for the problem, but Chevy says that most of them are still at dealers in its release.

For the moment, Chevy is only referring to these issues as stop-sales, and no recalls for the problems are officially announced yet. Autoblog has reached out to the automaker for more information. We'll update this story when we hear back. In the meantime, scroll down to read the official statement on the stop-sales.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Detroit found to have most expensive car insurance, Charlotte least

Posted Sep 12th 2014 10:57AM

City Of Detroit Teeters On Bankruptcy As State Audits Its Finances

Insurance prices by metropolitan area studyIt seems like a lot of bad news comes out about Detroit, MI. With the city's massive financial woes now a given, a newly released study commissioned by is bound to add to the negativity. The study finds that people living in the metropolitan area around the Motor City are paying the highest car insurance premiums by a huge amount, compared to the 25 largest cities in the US.

The study based its findings on the estimated rate for a driver with a bachelor's degree that traveled 15,000 miles a year and had "no breaks in coverage, a $500 collision and comprehensive deductible, state minimum liability coverage and full PIP coverage." For people who resided in the Detroit metropolitan area, which includes Warren and Ann Arbor, MI, they would pay 165 percent more in premiums than average. That was far and away the highest in the survey. Areas considered traditionally hard on cars like New York City and Los Angeles were 36 percent and 25 percent above average, respectively. You can check out an interactive map on its website.

According to the study, there are two major factors that make the Detroit area so bad. First, Michigan is the only state where car insurance includes unlimited personal injury protection, which increases the cost of claims. Making things worse, about half of the city's drivers are estimated to have no insurance at all.

If you're hoping to avoid paying high premiums, Charlotte, NC, is the place to be. It has the nation's lowest prices at 43 percent less than average. Although, the second and third cheapest regions are actually rather close to Detroit. The Cleveland/Akron/Canton, OH, area and Pittsburgh, PA, are rated second and third lowest at 31 percent and 24 percent lower average, respectively.

In general, the study claims that population is a major determiner of premiums, but obviously that's not an absolute rule given Detroit's top spot. Things like insurance regulation and the percentage of the population who are insured also play a role. Scroll down to read's press release about the study.

News Source: [1], [2]

Image Credit: J.D. Pooley / Getty Images


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