Just For Fun: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 running footage

Maybe Jeep should call their performance Jeep ORT8 (Off-road Racing Track, 8 cylinders) and follow Ford with an extremely capable off-roader like the Raptor F-150 and leave the hi-per wagon duty to a rumored new Dodge Magnum SRT8.

Source: Jeep - Previous post.

Top Ten Posts as of 7-31

As you can see, I've added five additional posts to this week's post countdown. This will allow some new posts to get a little visibility, since the Top Five are pretty much the same as previous weeks.
This week's Top Ten:
  1. 2012 ZL1 reveals Chevy performance Camaro-style,
  2. BMW 328 Hommage recalls early sports car,
  3. Jeep celebrates 70th Anniversary with special editions,
  4. 2012 Honda Civic shown,
  5. Top Five Posts as of 7-24,
  6. ACWWG: Renault Wind Gordini  (above),
  7. Nissan Altima, Ford Transit Connect and Taurus approved for NYC taxi duty,
  8. BMW i3 and i8 Concepts preview production models (above right),
  9. Aveo out, Sonic in at Chevrolet,
  10. ACWWG: 2012 Citroen DS4.
Recent posts at sister site
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Summer fun with the BMW Beach Collection (right),

Toyota announces registration site for potential plug-in Prius buyers,

Audi A1 e-tron wins EV rally,

Th!nk emerges from bankruptcy with new owner and name.

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BMW i3 and i8 Concepts preview production models

BMW's i Group has released "concept" versions of the upcoming i3 (formerly known as the MegaCity vehicle) and the i8 (formerly known as the Vision concept) to an awaiting world. The i3 sedan is an EV or electric vehicle that has an optional range extender option called REx. REx is a combustion engine that is used solely as a generator to provide extended range and to reduce EV anxiety. The i8 is a plug-in hybrid supercar that uses lightweight construction (and materials) and plug-in technology for excellent performance and incredible (for a supercar) mileage. The i8 has a high-output three-cylinder engine that makes over 200 hp that when combined with the hybrid system provides a 0-60 run in under five seconds, yet returns between 50 - 90 mpg on the Imperial cycle. The i-Series cars have unique styling with an emphasis on outward visibility and "layered" interior spaces. We shall see what makes it to the streets when the official production vehicles are unveiled (the BMW i3 in 2013 and the BMW i8 in 2014). Check out the very extensive press release and pics (with interior shots) after the jump as well as the video post.

Source: BMW i Group - Press releases (one over 50 pages) and pics (5) after the jump. Video post.

Just For Fun: Innovative BMW i3 and i8 Concept video

Video of concept versions of BMW's upcoming i3 EV sedan and i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. (Make sure to up the resolution to at least 480p.)

Source: BMW i Group

Aston Martin confirms V12 Zagato limited production

Aston Martin produces some of the most beautiful high-performance cars in the world today and the V12 Zagato joins that list of fine automobiles. Design house Zagato has restyled cars from various manufacturers including several Astons. Zagato's designs and concepts can be controversial, but it helps when they start with something as incredible as the V12 Vantage. The AM V12 Zagato wears the Design houses' signature twin-bubble roof. It will be interesting to see how much the production car will change from the concept (shown). For example, I don't think the front and rear fascia would pass the bumper crash test in the US as is. But the good news is, for those with the appropriate bank account, that the AM V12 Zagato will go into limited-production in 2012. Up to 150 examples will be built for the princely sum of $540,000 in today's dollars (£330,000 GBP) plus taxes, license, fees, etc. For your half a mil, you get the 510-hp 6.0-liter V12, six-speed mid-mounted auto-manual, bonded aluminum body, extensive use of lightweight materials, and one-of-a-kind styling. The Aston Martin V12 Zagato will be built at Aston Martin’s global headquarters at Gaydon, Warwickshire England. Orders are being accepted now.

Source: Aston Martin - Press release, specs, and pics (2) after the jump.

ACWWG: Renault Wind Gordini

The Renault Wind is a unique vehicle, sort of a spiritual successor to the Honda Del Sol. The Wind features a unique drop hardtop that turns the sporty coupe into a roadster (the Del Sol had a similar top that wasn't offered in the US due to litigation concerns, huh?). This model is the top-of-the-Wind line, the performance-oriented Gordini and the model shown is the unique Gordini "French Touch." As the top-of-the-line, the Wind Gordini gets all of the good stuff like automatic climate control,
special audio with CD and MP3 playback, Bluetooth®, black translucent instrument cowl, trip computer, automatic headlight and windscreen wiper activation, cruise control, electronic stability control ESC, heated seats, foglamps, and more. Options include 17’’ blue diamond wheels (shown), metallic paint, wind screen and more. The "French Touch" model adds Metallic Malta Blue bodywork with two white stripes; Glacier White mirror housings, grille trim, and rear power bump; glossy black roof; special “Gordini” badges; special black/blue leather interior with white top-stitching and Gordini accents and yes, more. Unfortunately, this is another one that goes into the Another Car We Won't Get files. The Del Sol did good things for Honda, so why not a Nissan version for the US (remember Renault and Nissan have a corporate alliance). After all, nobody does funky and unique (a good thing) better than Nissan. Prices start in Europe at just under $20,000. Check out the press releases and the top slideshow at the end of the second release.

Source: Renault - Press releases (2), top slideshow, and pics (3) after the jump.

Ford expands Explorer line-up with high mileage EcoBoost option

To say that Ford's redesigned Explorer is a sales success is an understatement. The all-new Explorer has doubled its sales and some dealers can't keep the popular SUV/crossover in stock. This new EcoBoost economy option could make things even worse. While many enthusiasts with families have hoped for the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost (350 hp) and all-wheel drive as a performance option, this ain't it. This is Ford's new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four that makes 240 hp and 270 lb./ft. of torque yet delivers 28 highway mpg. That number beats highway mileage ratings of smaller vehicles like the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander. If the EcoBoost four option is offered in line with Ford's F-150 offerings, the new engine will be at the top of the Explorer line-up. We shall see. More info (like pricing) will be available closer to the new drivetrain's intro. With the move to smaller engines across all models and makes, expect other crossover manufacturers to play catch up with the new Explorer, fast.

Source: Ford - Press release and pics (4) after the jump.

Updated 2012 Cadillac SRX debuts in August

The Cadillac SRX was redesigned for 2010 and the folks at Caddy aren't resting on their laurels. For 2012 the SRX got a drivetrain transplant, the 3.6-liter, 308 hp V6 and six-speed automatic from the Camaro. Even with the bump in horses, the SRX maintains current levels of fuel economy due to the more efficient engine with its driver-selectable ECO mode. Also available for 2012 is Bluetooth connectivity, new paint choices, new 20-inch wheels, and an ebony interior option with contrasting stitching. SRX also features HID headlamps with Adaptive Forward Lighting, Bose 5.1 surround sound with navigation, a full-color LCD Driver Info Center, a rear-view camera system, and much more. GM's OnStar is standard and features myCadillac and OnStar RemoteLink mobile apps, and Stolen Vehicle Assistance. All-wheels drive and other options are available. Cadillac's SRX is one of the best-looking crossovers available today (my current fav) and this new engine (most powerful in its class) should make more folks head to their Caddy dealership. The 2012 SRX will hit dealers in August with a starting price of $35,185 (plus taxes, license, fees, options, and $875 destination).

Source: Press release and pics (2) after the jump.

2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 set to hit the streets running... fast

Some worried that the new 300 had lost its edge when the new 2011 model debuted with its crisp lines intact, but with a touch of elegance thrown in. Not to worry. The 300 is more refined but, especially with the new SRT8, out performs the previous 300 in every way. Let's look at the 300 SRT8's drivetrain stats. Let's start with the new 6.4-liter Hemi V8 that makes 470 hp and 470 lb./ft. of torque that pushes the the 300 SRT8 to 60 from a standstill in the high four-second range to a top speed of 175 mph. This is not Granddad's Chrysler sedan. How about Brembo brakes for stopping power. Add an adjustable adaptive damping suspension for optimal control and 20-inch alloy wheels and the standard features list goes on and on. Inside leather is standard as is the EVIC (Electronic Vehicle information Center), Chrysler's UConnect infotainment system, carbon-fiber accents, 8.4-inch full color display, and heated and cooled SRT seats. Options include a Black Chrome exterior package (including wheels) to further enhance the 300 SRT8's body kit, and unique front and rear fascia. A full leather interior (dash, door panels, console) and a 19-speaker, 900-watt, Harmon Kardon premium audio system with GreenEdge technology are among the interior options. In other words, this is the top 300 in performance, standard features, and available options. Oh yea, and price. With a 300C in the mid 40s with all the options, the SRT8 model should crack $50,000 with ease with a heavy hand on the options checklist. There may be other cars that compete with the 300 SRT8 in terms of price, few have the swagger and abilities of Chrysler's full-size performance sedan.

Source: Chrysler - Extensive press release after the jump. Video post.

New 2012 Honda CR-V breaks cover in concept form

Looking like a miniature Crosstour, Honda unveiled the 2012 CR-V Concept which previews the styling of the new CR-V that will go into production by the end of this year. The CR-V Concept is a looker compared to the current model which is in its fifth year of this model cycle (read getting long in the tooth). Honda has released Concepts of production models before like the CR-Z Concept. Unfortunately, by the time that car reached production the styling was very watered down and less cohesive. Let's hope that doesn't happen to this new CR-V. Right off, lose the big wheels, the darkened glass and headlights, the lower body flare accents (unfortunately) and you should be close to the real deal. Let's hope Honda gives the CR-V updated powertrains with the company's six-speed auto, etc. A hybrid CR-V maybe? They've got the drivetrain in the Civic, which the CR-V shares some components with (or did). After all the Escape could use some competition and when the new Escape debuts later this year (or early next year), there is no word whether the hybrid model will continue. Could be an opening Honda.

Source: Honda - Press release after the jump.

Top Five Posts as of 7-24

Due in part, I think, by the gap in posting, this week's Top Five looks a lot like last week's. As a reminder, the post numbers are collected by page view. In other words you, the reader, hit the read more button to check out the press releases, pics, specs, and other good stuff posted after the page break. That's the only way the numbers can be tabulated. So here we go...

The most popular post of the week is the 2012 ZL1 reveals Chevy performance Camaro-style (above) entry.

The number two spot belongs to the BMW 328 Hommage recalls early sports car posting.

The 2012 Honda Civic shown post is still on the list this week at number 3.

Number four is 2012 Nissan Leaf gets new (standard) features and pricing.

Rounding out the Top Five is the Aveo out, Sonic in at Chevrolet (right) post.

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uautoknow.net GenNews.

Chevrolet confirms diesel-powered Cruze for 2013 .

New Volkswagen Beetle production begins.

2013 Chevy Malibu gets help from Oscar the ergobot (video, pic right).

Ford using Wi-Fi to download Sync into (new) vehicles (2 videos).

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Just For Fun: 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8

Source: Chrysler

Nissan Altima, Ford Transit Connect and Taurus approved for NYC taxi duty

Some of you may remember that the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission held a competition to select the "Taxi of Tomorrow" and Nissan's NV200 (below) was selected. Now comes word that Nissan's Altima sedan (2012 sedan shown right) and Ford's Transit Connect van (above) and Taurus sedan have also been approved for livery duty in the "Big Apple." What gives, you ask? Well the NV200 will hit New York streets in 2013 and be the exclusive taxi choice for ten years. In the interim, the Altima (hybrid and gas-powered), TC, and Taurus may be used to replace the city's dead Crown Vics (since they are no longer in production). This means that by 2013 you'll have bright yellow Crown Victorias, Tauruses, Altimas, Escapes, Transit Connects, NV200s and old Honda Odysseys (are any of these still running?) to dodge when walking NYC streets.

Source: Ford, Nissan - Press releases after the jump.

2012 Mercedes C63 Black Series Coupe in red

After the initial high-performance variant of the C-Class has been delivered to an unsuspecting world, Mercedes' AMG Division often goes one step further with Black Series versions of the aforementioned high-performance, in this case, Coupe. AMG Black Series vehicles are lightened, massaged and taken to the max and the new C63 AMG Black Series Coupe is no different. Lightweight materials are used and the rear seats are removed to delete excess poundage. Carbon Fiber accents abound. Lightweight racing seats adorn the interior. The wheel arches are enhanced to cover the wider track and special AMG alloy wheels. The Coupe gets a special body kit and other aero tweaks which give the good-looking Coupe a certain boy-racer charm. The front and rear fascia are unique. The AMG Aerodynamics package includes "flics," a functionally tuned front splitter and an adjustable carbon-fiber rear aerofoil. The 6.3-liter V8 makes 517 pounding horses and will hit 60 from a standstill in just over 4 seconds. The AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission has four transmission modes, with a double-declutching function and RACE START which in the “Sport plus” and “Manual” transmission modes the gear changes take a just 100 milliseconds. If this sounds good to you, then get thee to your Mercedes Dealer ASAP and bring a big checkbook. AMG models ain't cheap and the special Black Series editions can approach stratospheric. The AMG C63 Black Series Coupe will set you back more than $165,000 plus taxes, license, destination, fees, and options (yes there are options). For more info, check out the detailed press release after the jump.

Source: Mercedes Benz - Extensive press release and pics (3) after the jump.

2012 Scion iQ to hit US dealers this Fall

Toyota is the latest automaker to enter the city-car market with its new Scion (in the US) iQ "premium micro sub-compact." The little four seater (the iQ is actually billed as a 3+1) is just over 10 feet long and 66 inches wide making the car larger than smart's fortwo (the iQ is the basis for Aston Martin's luxury Cygnet city car). The iQ will hit the road with a 1.3-liter four that will comes matched to a CVT (continuously-variable transmission). The CVT should solve many of the problems and complaints consumers have had with the transmission in the smart fortwo. Expect decent performance and good, but probably not class-leading, fuel economy (estimated 37 mpg combined). City cars have been traditionally about size and efficiency versus outright high mpgs although the iQ should post good mpg numbers. The seating is well thought out with comfy seating for three with a +1 "jump seat" to give the car room for four...in a pinch. As with most Scions, the iQ will come well equipped with numerous safety and convenience features such as 11 airbags, HD radio, Bluetooth, Star Safety System, traction control, stability control, a 160-watt Pioneer™ audio system, and much more all for the starting price of $15,265 (plus taxes, license, fees, destination, options). Options include a Pioneer Premium Audio setup with a touchscreen display, alloy wheels, and numerous accessories (from the factory and dealer-installed). The new 2012 Scion iQ seems to be a vehicle that could be a primary car for many Urbanites due to its somewhat larger size and features. Barring any further delays (the earthquake in Japan set the car's intro back many months), the new iQ should be at your dealer in October,

Source: Scion - Press release, pics (4), and product info after the jump. Video Post.

Just For Fun: 2012 Scion iQ video

Source: Scion (Make sure you up the vid resolution to 480 for better viewing)

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2012 Nissan Leaf gets new features and pricing

For the 2012 model year, Nissan is adding new features to the Leaf EV's standard features list. The top SL Leaf model will now include the DC fast charge port as standard equipment. The Fast Charge Port allows the Leaf to reach an 80% charge in just 30 minutes using a special 480v charger. Cold weather features, such as a battery warmer, heated steering wheel, and heated front and rear seats, become standard equipment on all 2012 Leaf trim levels. With the new equipment, the 2012 Nissan LEAF price has been raised to $35,200 for the SV trim level, and $37,250 for the SL model (a $7,500 Federal tax incentive is still available as are some state incentives).

As part of the gradual Leaf roll-out, customers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. may order their EVs starting July 25. In the fall, consumers in Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York can get on the Leaf train and by the end of the year, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island customers will be added as markets where the Nissan Leaf will be available for order. Production of the Leaf is expected to begin in the US in 2012 (current Leaf vehicles are made in Japan). So far, Nissan has sold more than 4,000 Leafs (Leaves?) in the US.

Source: Nissan - Press release after the jump.

2012 BMW 6-Series Coupe officially debuts

What can you say about the all-new BMW 6-Series Coupe that doesn't sound over-the-top? The car is downright beautiful. It's a car you can lust after. And with all things that exist in this stratosphere, they ain't cheap. The 6-Series Convertible came first and now the two-door hard roof edition is rolling into your local dealer's showroom. In the US, we will get the V-8 powered (407 hp) 650i first, followed by the 640i with its turbocharged six (320 hp). In Europe, a 640d is available with a diesel inline-six that make 313 hp, gets twice the mileage of the 650i, and still hits 60 in just over 5 seconds. Can we get this model in the US please? All 6-Series cars come well equipped with leather, iDrive infotainment, climate control, premium audio, alloy wheels, eight-speed automatic,and much more. The options list is quite long (including BMW's x-Drive all-wheel-drive system for the 650i and a model-specific Bang & Olufsen high-end surround sound system), but you wouldn't be embarrassed by the standard edition. The 650i Coupe will be available soon, with the 640i coming a few weeks later. Prices start at $83,000 (plus taxes, license, fees, options, destination) for the 650i Coupe with 640i pricing announced closer to the model's intro. The BMW 650i Coupe configurator is online for your perusal and for additional info. Playing with the "Build Your Own" section of BMW's site will show how you can easily top six figures with this new Bimmer beauty. Enjoy.

Source: BMW -Press release after the jump.

Scion announces 2012 tC Release Series 7.0 Special Edition and tC pricing

Toyota's Scion brand has always been about providing vehicles for the young and young-at-heart. They also provide great value and sporty bang-for-the-buck. The tC coupe was recently totally redone with new styling, features, and numerous upgrades. For 2012, Scion has sweetened the pot a bit more with a new 300-watt Pioneer sound system as standard (numerous details in the press release) along with hands-free Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, and HD radio. A premium 340-watt Pioneer Audio system is optional that includes touch-screen controls. The tC coupe continues with the 2.5-liter four (180 hp), 16-inch wheels, and a six-speed manual transmission all standard (a six-speed automatic is optional). The Scion Service Boost two-year or 25,000-mile complimentary regularly scheduled service and 24-hour roadside assistance is also included.

For 2012, Scion adds to its stable of special editions with the tC Release Series 7.0 (shown) that adds a TRD body kit, dark 18-inch alloy wheels, black mirrors, and High Voltage yellow paint. HV yellow accents are added to the tC’s interior with black and yellow seat fabric, leather wrapped steering wheel with yellow stitching, a numbered badge, and the Smart Key keyless entry system that unlocks the doors with a touch of the door handle. The system also includes a red TRD push-button start.

Pricing for the regular 2012 tC coupe starts at $18,575 (plus taxes, license, fees, options, $720 delivery) when equipped with the six-speed manual and you add a grand to get the automatic. The tC Release Series 7.0 special edition starts at $20,905 (plus taxes, license, fees, options, $720 delivery), and the automatic is still $1,000. The cool thing about the Scion tC is you get a good-looking sporty coupe with good fuel economy in a well-equipped package that won't break the bank. You don't have to load the car down with options, but they've got lots of stuff to add if that's your desire.

Source: Scion - Press release after the jump.

Top Five Posts as of 7-17

After a brief break due to illness and high fever, I'll be getting back to posting regularly. The Top Five Posts by pageview for the week ending July 17 begin with the 2012 ZL1 reveals Chevy performance Camaro-style (right) post.

The number two spot goes to another Chevy post - Aveo out, Sonic in at Chevrolet.

BMW 328 Hommage (below right) recalls early sports car  (below left) comes in at number three.

A golden oldie takes the number four spot, the Jeep celebrates 70th Anniversary with special editions post. Who knows, your dealer may still have one.

Taking the last slot is the 2012 Honda Civic shown post.

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Toyota Prius adds a little Sport Plus

Ya knew it was just a matter of time. Toyota is adding a little sport to the popular Prius Hybrid with the new Prius PLUS Performance Package that was developed by Toyota's TRD (Toyota Racing Development) Group. The PLUS Package adds a ground effects (body) kit, 17-inch Split Five-Spoke alloys wheels with low-profile P215/45R17 All-Season Tire, a suspension lowering kit (1.1 inches in the front and 1.3 inches in the rear), rear sway bar, special floor mats with the PLUS logo and special PLUS exterior badging. Start with a Prius Two through Five and your dealer can add the PLUS package to your new econoride. Package prices start at  $3,699 if you have a Prius Two, Three, or Four and $2,999 for Prius Five models. Not cheap, but it is one way to make your Prius stand out from the hybrid crowd. Fuel economy is unaffected by the package addition. The PLUS Package will be available beginning this month on Prii painted Blizzard Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Black, and Winter Gray Metallic. If this sounds like your kinda thing, check with your dealer today.

Source: Toyota - Press release after the jump.