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Autoblog's ultimate holiday rides

Our Editors Choose Their Favorite Sleds For The Season

Posted Dec 16th 2014 2:57PM

Ferrari FF

Over the hills and through the woods, it's the time of year when many of us visit family and friends for the holidays. But getting there can be a chore. It's cold and snowy across much of the United States, and even if the climate is favorable, the drive to grandmother's house often is not.

Think back to holiday road trips of yore: They probably included crying babies, antsy children, hungover adults and frequent bathrooms stops all around. Now, we're all at different life stages here at Autoblog, and the perfect car for one staffer might be as useful as a team of Budweiser Clydesdales to another. Some of us bounce from family event to family event with children and a labrador in tow, while others prefer a quieter, simpler holiday. But whatever the endeavor, we all need wheels. With that in mind, here is the unofficial Autoblog list of the ultimate cars in which to tackle the holiday season.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 / AOL / Ferrari

Raminator sets world record for fastest monster truck [w/video]

Posted Dec 16th 2014 2:31PM

Raminator at Circuit of the Americas

Monster trucks are made for a lot of things: crushing jalopies, jumping over jalopies, wowing spectators while crushing and jumping over jalopies, and so on. But powerful as they tend to be, monster trucks are not built for outright speed. Still, one has to be faster than another, and as it turns out, Raminator is the fastest of them all.

Alongside Rammunition and the new Mopar Muscle, Raminator is one of three Ram-based monster trucks run by the Hall Brothers Racing Team with support from Chrysler. It's been named Truck of the Year by the Monster Truck Racing Association a record eight times, its driver Mark Hall has been named the association's Driver of the Year nine times and its crew chief Tim Hall its Mechanic of the Year five times. And now Raminator and the Hall Brothers have claimed the Guinness World Record for the fastest monster truck, recording a top speed of 99.10 miles per hour to break the previous record of 96.8 mph.

The record was set at the Circuit of the Americas, the 3.4-mile track built on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, to host the United States Grand Prix. Aside from Formula One, the track has hosted endurance racing, touring cars and motorbikes, and while Raminator may not be the fastest vehicle ever to lap the circuit, it's surely one of the biggest. Scope out the video from the record run below.
Related GalleryRaminator speed record
Raminator speed recordRaminator speed recordRaminator speed record

News Source: Ram

Hyundai reveals new Sonata Hybrid in Seoul

Posted Dec 16th 2014 1:58PM

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai Sonata HybridThe wraps are off Hyundai's next-generation Sonata Hybrid after an unveiling in Seoul, South Korea, and the latest model brings an improved powertrain and slight styling tweaks.

In the Korean domestic market, the Sonata Hybrid relies upon a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gas engine producing 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque with a 51-hp electric motor providing the rest of the thrust. Hyundai isn't revealing net system output at the moment, and it isn't saying whether we will get this powertrain in the US yet. Company spokesperson Jim Trainor tells Autoblog that those details will likely be announced at the model's North American debut at Detroit Auto Show in January. Sales are expected to begin in the spring.

In addition to the upgraded engine, there's an improved six-speed automatic that houses most of the hybrid components and uses a new clutch to reduce drag. The switch to an electric oil pump also removes some inefficiencies, and the battery pack underneath the trunk has been enlarged to 1.62 kilowatt hours, up from 1.43 kWh. Despite the capacity increase, Hyundai claims there's 10.5 percent more cargo room back there.

The Sonata's design gets a slight rethink to improve fuel economy, too. Up front, the redone nose features a new mesh grille in a more rectilinear frame, and out back, there's a set of unique taillamps, a lip spoiler and a unique rear diffuser to go along with the full underbody cover that only the pavement sees.

If anything, the new hybrid model looks more traditional to our eyes than the standard gas-powered Sonata, which comes as something of a surprise, especially as the previous-generation Sonata Hybrid was markedly more futuristic and divisive in its appearance. In any case, we expect the looks to remain largely the same for the US version, which will likely arrive wearing a 2016 model-year designation.

All of the upgrades, boost fuel economy to 18.2 kilometers per liter on the Korean cycle, the equivalent of about 42.8 miles per gallon. Comparatively, the current Sonata Hybrid in Korea is rated at 16.8 km/l (39.5 mpg).

Hyundai will also make a big expansion to its electrified slate next year. In addition to the standard Sonata Hybrid, a plug-in version will come later in 2015 – the automaker's first. More details will arrive about the model in Detroit. The company's first dedicated hybrid bodystyle will be coming in the second half of 2015, as well – it's possible that the latter will be the same Prius-fighting model that our spy shooters caught testing during the summer. Scroll down to read the full scoop on Hyundai's future hybrids.

News Source: Hyundai

11-year-old Arkansas girl pays cabbie $1,300 to drive her to Florida boy

Posted Dec 16th 2014 1:34PM

Rideshare Regulation Seattle

An 11-year-old girl from Arkansas is back at home after stealing $1,300 from her grandmother and taking a long-distance cab ride to meet a boy in Florida. Catching her wasn't too difficult, though. After her parents reported the girl missing, police found calls to the boy and the taxi company in her cell phone records, and they caught up to the vehicle in Georgia.

According to the Associated Press, the girl was attempting to reach the boy who she had met years ago. Police have leveled no charges against the taxi driver and a spokesperson for the cab company told the AP that the girl was wearing a lot of makeup to appear older. The boy she was trying to reach claimed no knowledge of her intentions, and authorities didn't plan to charge him, either.

The girl is also getting away free and clear because her grandmother doesn't intend to press charges for stealing the money. According to the AP, the girl's father has confiscated her cell phone and makeup.

News Source: Associated Press

Image Credit: Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

This McLaren F1 replica was built from scrap by a Top Gear fanatic

Posted Dec 16th 2014 12:42PM

Polish mechanic Jacek Mazur builds himself a McLaren F1 replica out of scrap metal and spare parts.

If Field of Dreams had been made about an automotive enthusiast, its most famous line would need to have been, "If you build it, they will come... and then build their own replicas of yours." More evidence of that comes from Polish amateur mechanic Jack Mazur, who decided to build a copy of his dream car, the McLaren F1.

Mazur spent eight years on it, using scrap metal and parts to fabricate everything from the chassis to the seats, spending 20,000 pounds ($31,297 US) to get it done. Mazur is no novice at such endeavors, either, having worked up a homebrew Porsche 911, a Meyers Manx dune buggy and at least three Lamborghini Countachs, among other creations. It sounds like his McLaren replica, however, is the only one with a special seat just for Top Gear co-host Richard Hammond. This video tells Mazur's story in his own words.

News Source: Barcroft Cars via YouTube

2015 Subaru WRX: Accident, wheels and tires

Body Shop Blues And Wintertime Gold

Posted Dec 16th 2014 11:57AM

Subaru WRX

I'm sure this thing is going to be a total hoot in the snow.

I am not a morning person. At all. Thankfully, the Autoblog team knows this – I rarely get bothered before 8:30 AM unless it's seriously important. So when associate multimedia producer Chris McGraw started blowing up my phone at 6:45 AM on a Thursday, I knew it wasn't going to be good.

"I got rear-ended in the WRX," McGraw informed me, a shaken-up tone emanating from the other end of the line. Poor guy was on his way to the gym, for his pre-office morning workout, and an older gentleman in a Chevrolet S-10 struck the back of the Subie while trudging through a traffic jam on I-696 just northeast of Detroit. Everyone was fine, and McGraw says that the dude's pickup was in significantly worse shape than our dear Subaru. But the WRX was still pretty banged up, and later that day, it was delivered to the body shop for what turned out to be a lengthy repair process.
Related GalleryLong-Term 2015 Subaru WRX
Long-Term 2015 Subaru WRXLong-Term 2015 Subaru WRXLong-Term 2015 Subaru WRXLong-Term 2015 Subaru WRXLong-Term 2015 Subaru WRXLong-Term 2015 Subaru WRXLong-Term 2015 Subaru WRXLong-Term 2015 Subaru WRX

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

James Bond Spectre villain to drive never-was Jaguar C-X75 supercar

Posted Dec 16th 2014 11:30AM

Jaguar C-X75

James Bond is used to being outgunned. Often working alone, 007 has developed a knack for taking out major criminal syndicates and terrorists despite this routine disadvantage. But in his latest film, Spectre, we suspect Mr. Bond will have met his match in at least one regard – the car being driven by his nemesis, Franz Oberhauser, played by Christoph Waltz.

For the 24th Bond flick, Spectre, the chief baddie will reportedly be driving the oft-fancied Jaguar C-X75 Concept car, which will star opposite of the hero's new Aston Martin DB10. As you'll recall, Jaguar flirted with actually producing the C-X75 before calling it off just over two years ago.

According to Autocar, which spoke to people involved in the film's production, Herr Oberhauser's C-X75 will be powered by Jaguar Land Rover's popular 5.0-liter, supercharged V8, rather than its original complex hybrid powertrain (which relied on four electric motors recharged by a pair of diesel-fueled micro gas turbines).

Jaguar would not confirm its role in the upcoming film, although Autocar has pieced together a few powerful signs that the company will be donating the services of its concept to the new flick.

First, supplying the villain's car for the latest Bond film fits in nicely with the company's "Good to be Bad" campaign, despite the fact that the villain, in this instance, is Austrian, rather than British. Moreover, Autocar points to Aston's use of the tagline "It's good to be Bond" since the reveal of the new DB10, as an indication that the Jag will be opposing its former corporate cousin in Spectre.
Related GalleryJaguar C-X75 concept
Jaguar C-X75 conceptJaguar C-X75 conceptJaguar C-X75 conceptJaguar C-X75 conceptJaguar C-X75 conceptJaguar C-X75 conceptJaguar C-X75 conceptJaguar C-X75 concept

News Source: Autocar

Image Credit: Jaguar

Next Cadillac CTS-V confirmed for Detroit

Posted Dec 16th 2014 11:00AM

2014 Cadillac CTS-V

As a car enthusiast, you should be excited for the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Hell, we can barely contain ourselves – it's shaping up to be a great show. And this bit of news only heightens our expectations – Cadillac will be bringing its third-generation CTS-V to January's North American International Auto Show.

That bit of high-performance news has been confirmed to Autoblog by Cadillac officials. In fact, we've received an official invitation to the brand's press conference, and while the latter is light on information, it does say, "it's time for the V-Series to elevate to the next level." Considering our last experience with the CTS-V, we're not sure what there is left to elevate, although we're hopeful that Caddy will come up with something.

What that could be, of course, is very open to speculation. When the last CTS-V debuted in 2009, it arguably outgunned Germanic challengers like the 500-hp BMW M5 and 518-hp Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG for a lot less money, boasting a detuned version of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1's 6.2-liter supercharged V8. Could that trend carry on, with the next CTS-V borrowing the supercharged, 650-hp mill from the new Corvette Z06? If escalation is the name of the game, the Z06 engine would seem to once again allow Caddy battle it out on firm, big-booted footing with BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Of course, all will become clear on the morning of Tuesday, January 13.

Like we said, we can hardly wait.
Related Gallery2014 Cadillac CTS-V
2014 Cadillac CTS-V2014 Cadillac CTS-V2014 Cadillac CTS-V2014 Cadillac CTS-V2014 Cadillac CTS-V2014 Cadillac CTS-V2014 Cadillac CTS-V2014 Cadillac CTS-V

News Source: Cadillac

Image Credit: Cadillac, CarPix

Chrysler officially rebrands as FCA US LLC

Posted Dec 16th 2014 10:14AM

Chrysler Announces Its Changing Name To Fiat Chrysler, And Will Be Headquartered In Holland

Detroit's third-largest automaker has had a lot of names over the years. It was founded as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925, a name it held until 1998 when it was bought by ze Germans in 1998 to form DaimlerChrysler AG, then it went independent in 2007 under the name Chrysler LLC before being retitled once again as Chrysler Group LLC in 2009. And now the automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, MI, is getting yet another new name.

Announced today and effective immediately, the company formerly known as Chrysler will now be called FCA US LLC. That's a lot of letters, but they make a lot of sense, too: FCA stands for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the US telling us this is the company's American division and the LLC tells us it's a limited liability company – a legal classification similar to (but not quite the same as) a corporation. The announcement comes shortly after the company decided to phase out its long-serving Pentastar logo.

The sum total is that the once-independent industrial giant is now formally part of a larger European parent company, owned by Fiat and (for taxation purposes, anyway) based in the Netherlands. What the company formerly known as Chrysler wants to emphasize, however, is that FCA US LLC will remain based in Auburn Hills and retain its "holdings, management team, board [and] brands."

News Source: FCA US LLC

Image Credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty

Tesla China president steps down after fewer than 9 months on the job

Posted Dec 16th 2014 9:31AM

Inside Tesla Motors Inc.'s Flagship Showroom

In July, 2013, before Tesla had delivered its first car to China, CEO Elon Musk called the country a "wild card." A year on, that continues to be the case, with media reports all over the spectrum concerning how Tesla is doing in China. The immediate future won't be any calmer with news that Tesla China president Veronica Wu has resigned from the company, having just taken the job in April. Hers follows the sudden departure of Kingston Chang, the man she replaced; he was hired away from Bentley China in March, 2013 and left in March of this year citing personal reasons.

Observers have put the latest departure down to the difficulties of Tesla's expansion efforts. In spite of widely acknowledged pent-up demand and the Model S being priced below expectations in China, the company has stumbled a few times navigating issues such as customs paperwork, on-time customer deliveries, navigation systems with local mapping and the installation of charging equipment for customers in rural areas. Speculative articles questioning the company's actual sales numbers in China inflate the narrative of a "speed bump" in the way of Tesla's ambitions.

Tesla China's head of charger network development, Tom Zhu, will run the company in the interim.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg / Getty Images

BMW to show car that can park itself in a multi-story garage at CES

Posted Dec 16th 2014 8:45AM

BMW i3 Remote Valet Parking Assistant

Automatic parking systems are something of a novelty, in their present form. Sure, modern parallel parking systems work well enough. And they're great if you lack the special awareness required to complete such a task. But frankly, how often is the average owner of such a system in a position to use it? Perpendicular parking systems, meanwhile, are basically an admission that you don't really deserve a driver's license.

Novelties these systems may be, but they promise a future where we won't even need to be behind the wheel to park our cars. BMW is going to deliver a vision of that future at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show with the Remote Valet Parking Assistant, a smartwatch-activated system that takes the driver out of the parking equation and replaces them with an advanced collision avoidance system.

Fitted to an i3 for CES, the BMW system relies on four laser scanners to map the surrounding environment and identify obstacles. Combined with a digital site plan for a building, the company claims its car can navigate its way to an open parking spot, moving around even unexpected obstacles like improperly parked cars. The car's owner can step out of the vehicle at the intended destination, and then tap the smartwatch app for vehicle parking and retrieval.

BMW claims this system will allow more precise control than GPS, particularly in something like a multi-story parking deck. While it's an intriguing route with autonomous technology, we wonder how much is required of these digital site plans.

There are more practical uses of this technology, beyond valet parking. According to BMW, the collision-avoidance technology can aid a driver in low-light conditions, automatically braking the car for its driver when an obstruction is detected.

Look for more on BMW's Remote Valet Parking system as the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show approaches. Until then, scroll down for the full press release.

News Source: BMW

Citroen reveals updated C4 hatchback

Posted Dec 16th 2014 7:58AM

2015 Citroen C4

Everyone wants a slice of the pie that's mostly eaten up by the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. That includes Citroën, of course, which competes in the segment with the C4. Based on the same underpinnings as the Peugeot 308, the C4 was introduced back in 2004 to replace the Xsara and was replaced with an all-new model in 2010. But that was almost five years ago, so to keep pace with the competition, the Chevron marque has launched an updated version for 2015.

The changes to the new C4 are limited, but include new headlights with LED running lights, 3D-effect tail lamps and an interior with new upholstery and streamlined dashboard with seven-inch touchscreen display. The sound deadening has also been enhanced, there's a massaging front seat, a panoramic glass sunroof and a host of new technologies including hill-start assist, blind-spot monitoring and an intelligent traction control system. Power comes from a range of engines including a new three-cylinder option with 130 horsepower.
Related Gallery2015 Citroen C4
2015 Citroen C42015 Citroen C42015 Citroen C42015 Citroen C42015 Citroen C42015 Citroen C42015 Citroen C42015 Citroen C4

News Source: Citroën

Jay Leno checks out Ronin RS 211, a Lotus Elise transformed

Posted Dec 15th 2014 8:00PM

Ronin RS 211 Lotus Elise

You know a vehicle is going to be something special when you need a pair of goggles to drive it, and this highly customized Lotus lives up to that promise. The owner refers to his one-off as the Ronin RS 211, but underneath that barely there body are a few parts left from a 2005 Lotus Elise.

Owner Frank Profera totaled his Elise when a Porsche rear-ended it, but he wasn't willing to give the sports car up. With a canvas to build from, Profera took inspiration from the Lotus 2-Eleven and Can-Am cars, and the Ronin resulted. Not content with just a svelte body, the powertrain received just as thorough an upgrade as the looks. The engine still displaces 1.8 liters but features improved internals. The pièce de résistance, though, is the custom turbocharger setup that runs on a mix of pump gas and alcohol to put out a claimed 680 horsepower, which sounds great screaming through the California canyons.

"Ronin" is a Japanese word for a master-less samurai, and with its featherlight weight, just a vestigial windshield and gobs of power, the RS 211 is a fantastic automotive symbol for the type of sword such a warrior might carry. Watch as Jay takes an extra long drive on the latest episode of Jay Leno's Garage.

News Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube

What you missed on 12.15.14

Posted Dec 15th 2014 7:32PM


Porsche 911 GT3 Cup ANDIAL EditionPorsche 911 GT3 Cup ANDIAL track test

We get our hands on a very rare (read: it's the only one), very powerful, and very awesome Porsche 911, and take it for a spin on the track. It's called the 911 GT3 Cup ANDIAL Edition, and it's a far more hardcore version of the already track-ready GT3 Cup car. It's not cheap, but from our experience behind the wheel, it feels like a total racecar bargain.

TranslogicTranslogic: Porsche 918 Spyder

The super hot Porsche 918 Spyder may officially be sold out, but that hasn't stopped us from getting one more crack behind the wheel of the company's hybrid supercar. The team at Translogic takes one out for a proper test, with host Jonathon Buckley explaining why this Porsche is far more interesting than the rest.

Volvo XC90Volvo to sell cars online, skip auto shows

Here's some interesting news. Volvo has announced plans to sell its cars directly to customers over the internet, as part of a new way to reach customers worldwide. Furthermore, Volvo says it will stay away from having a huge presence at major auto shows, focusing instead on three big expos. There's a lot to learn about Volvo's new plans, here.

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