Ford shows new top-of-the-line F-150 Limited

High-end luxury trucks are big. Ford estimates that more than thirty percent of all F-150s sold today are higher-end models like the Platinum, King's Ranch, and Harley-Davidson pick-em-ups. To further fill this market need, Ford is introducing the ultimate F-150, the 2013 F-150 Limited SuperCrew four-door (I think LTD would have been a nice throwback moniker to 60s- and 70s-era Fords). The new Limited gets all the good stuff like Sync, MyFord Touch, 22-inch polished aluminum wheels, HID headlamps, unique front fascia,  badging, 365-hp EcoBoost V6, monochromatic exterior paint and trim (in Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Tuxedo Black Metallic, or White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat), a moonroof, power-deployable running boards, and more. Interior features include special red and black full-grain leather-trimmed seats, front heated and cooled seats, heated rear seat, voice-activated navigation, aluminum and piano-black trim, and well, more. Pricing will be announced closer to the new truck's intro this Fall.

Source: Ford - Press release after the jump.

Mazda introduces new Flairwagon

Okay. The chances of seeing the Japanese-market Mazda Flairwagon in the US are pretty slim, but as they say, "never say never." People said the Cube would never make it to our shores and Nissan sells thousands of Cubes here every year, so... This would make an interesting Mazda1 with Mazda's new three-cylinder engine providing more grunt, especially since US consumers are actually buying smaller cars now. It could also be a fast way for Mazda to get in on the citycar craze quickly (assuming the changes for our market wouldn't be cost prohibitive). Prices start at about $15,220 for the base LS model and go up to about $18,000 for the turbocharged TS model with all-wheel drive (prices in today's dollars and include market-specific tarriffs). While there isn't a direct correlation on pricing (beyond converting using current exchange rates) or features and specs, this could make an interesting mini-mini-minivan that could seat up to 5 and get great mileage. Don't expect a lot in the way of rapid forward movement either (aka speed) as the little engine and brick-like aerodynamics would partially offset the light weight and small size. The Flairwagon's unique features would also make the vanlet attractive for US consumers like the remote-controlled sliding rear door, lots of storage space including a cold-storage upper glove box, dive-deep folding rear seat for a flat cargo area with the seats folded, a CVT transmission for economy, and lots more. Oh yea, did I mention it's small, seats five, gets great mileage, and looks like nothing else in our market. Would be interesting, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Press release and a pic of the Flairwagon IS special edition in Bloom Pink Metallic after the jump.

Source: Mazda - Press release after the jump.

Chevy announces 2013 Malibu pricing

Chevrolet's Malibu mid-size sedan is one of the segment's longest-running nameplates and it gets a major upgrade for 2013. While the base price for a "Base" LS Malibu increases to $23,150 (including destination), the increase is offset by increased standard equipment. Plus you get a good-looking sedan that is a tad larger than the outgoing "Bu." Step up to LT trim levels and prices jump to $24,765 (1LT), $26,000 (2LT), and $27,710 (3LT with Turbo engine). Malibu Eco mild-hybrid models start at $26,095 (1SA) and $27,705 (2SA) and includes the eAssist system that delivers EPA-estimated figures of 25 mpg/city and 37mpg/highway. The top-of-the-Malibu-line LTZ models (shown) start at $28,590 (1LTZ) and top out at $30,925 for the 2LTZ trim and the 2.0-liter Ecotec Turbo four (259 hp, 260 lb-ft of torque). All prices do not include taxes, license, fees or options. While I find Chevy's multiple trim levels confusing (do you need eight separate trim levels?), it does allow you to spend what you can and max out your equipment levels for your hard-earned dollars. The 2013 Malibu will arrive at your local dealer in the next few weeks starting with Eco models. If you've seen the 2013 Malibu, it is certainly a step-up in the looks department and seems ready for competition from the new models expected from Ford, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. The release after the jump explains all the features and options of each trim level. Enjoy.

Source: Chevrolet - Press release and brief video after the jump.

New Aston Martin Vanquish shown

Aston Martins are those vehicles that incite automotive lust in the hearts of gearheads the world over. The new Vanquish is the latest chapter in that lusty novella. While the new Vanquish appears to be an update of the old(ish) DBS, it shares more in common with the One-77 limited-edition supercar including interior and exterior styling elements. The new Vanquish uses Aston's 6.0-liter V12 (and heavy-duty six-speed automatic) that now produces 565 hp pushing the car to 60 in just over 4 seconds. The body/chassis has been redesigned using new light-weight materials like carbon-fiber and hollow aluminum parts to put the power to best advantage. The engine was dropped lower in the chassis to improve handling. The new Vanquish is available as a two-seater or with an optional jump seat for +2 seating. The new Vanquish is a stunning automobile that will stop hearts and people in their tracks around the world starting with Europe late this year with US deliveries expected in early 2013. For more information (and additional pics) than you will probably ever need, check out the releases after the jump. This car makes you want to go for a drive, doesn't it? Prices would start around $240,000 in todays' dollars, so only you and your banker know if the new Vanquish will find a berth in your garage...

Source: Aston Martin - Press releases (5) plus specifications chart after the jump.

All-new Bentley Continental GTC Speed debuts

Bentley is taking the wraps off of its new Continental GTC Speed performance flagship. The new GTC Speed is the fastest production Bentley ever produced featuring the 6.0-liter W12 engine that has been massaged to produce a whopping 616 hp taking the newest "Speed" to 60 in just 4 seconds to a top speed of 205 mph. A new close-ratio ZF 8-speed automatic is utilized to put the power to the road through all four wheels. Special 21-inch wheels (two finishes) and Pirelli P-Zero tires provide the grip for the lowered sport suspension. Since the Continental GTC is a pretty special (and pretty) car to begin with, the new Speed model is like gilding the proverbial lily so to speak. No pricing was announced, but as it is with all ultimate performance cars (and Bentleys in general), if you have to ask... The new Continental GTC Speed makes its official debut next week at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK. If you gotta be the first on your block, get thee to thine Bentley dealer pronto.

Source: Bentley - Press release after the jump.

Hyundai releases Elantra Coupe details and pricing

Hyundai is entering the compact coupe wars with the all-new and stylish Elantra Coupe. The Elantra Coupe will continue Hyundai's high-content/high-value ideology with prices starting at $17,445 (+ taxes, license, fees, destination - $775, options) for a GS Coupe with a six-speed manual tranny and going up to $20,745 (+) for an SE Coupe with the six-speed automatic. The standard engine (and only for now) is a 1.8-liter four that produces 148 horses. The SE Technology Package (requires SE Automatic) adds a navigation system with seven-inch screen, rear-view camera, a 360-watt premium audio system with digital external amplifier, automatic headlamps, dual automatic temperature control, and proximity key entry with push button start for $2,350. So, for around $24k you can get a loaded Elantra Coupe SE and still get 28 mpg/city and 39 mpg/highway ratings (GS models with the manual transmission get 29/city and 40/highway mpg). The Elantra Coupe will be arriving at your local Hyundai dealer in the next few days. For more info, click on through...

Source: Hyundai - Press release and facts charts after the jump.

Audi SQ5 debuts with 313 hp Twin-Turbo Diesel

Audi recently displayed the updated Q5 model and has now unleashed the top-of-the-line Q5-er, the SQ5, that features a 3.0-liter twin-turbo diesel engine. Yes diesel. But this is no ordinary oil-burner. The 3.0-liter diesel makes 313 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque when fitted to the SQ5, hits 60 from a standstill in just over 5 seconds, hits a top speed of 155 mph, and still manages to return over 32 mpg (US). The SQ5 gets all-wheel drive and the eight-speed automatic along with the full S-Line treatment of special badging, revised suspension, wheels, and interior fitments in line with the crossover/ute's exalted status. No word yet if the SQ5 will come to the US, but there is hope since Audi is adding more diesel engines to their US line-up. This beast would prove once and for all that going diesel can mean performance AND fuel efficiency. Get in and hold on! If it does make it to the US, it won't be cheap. but then if you have to ask... More to come...

Source: Audi - Press release after the jump.

All-new Mercedes A-Class goes into production

With the success of luxury compacts like the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Lexus CT200h, and the Mini Cooper(s) in the US market, it was only a matter of time before Mercedes Benz brought its A-Class across the pond (or at least down from Canada). This latest A-Class generation, that just went into production in Germany, is the car that we will see in the US. When? Couldn't tell ya exactly since the new A-Class will hit Europe in September. Which engines? ditto. But if you check out the engine chart in the press release, we should expect at least the 2.0-liter gas engine (211 hp) and possibly the 1.8-liter diesel (138 hp) mated to a seven-speed automatic and maybe the six-speed manual to provide a lower price of entry. Reports have indicated that this latest A-Class will spawn multiple body styles including a four-door sedan and possibly a coupe (remember the the Concept Style Coupe from Beijing?). An A-Class-based crossover/Ute wouldn't be a surprise to match BMW's X1 and Audi's Q3. This new A-Class is a looker and the design is more in line with the competition and much less frumpy looking than the last A-Class. I would expect either the production version or a production-close "concept" at the LA Auto Show in November and no later than the Detroit Show in January with US sales beginning in early 2013, but what do I know? At today's rate of exchange and minus the 20% Euro tax, the new A-Class would start in the mid $20k range. More to come...

Source: Mercedes Benz - Press release and German video (with subtitles) after the jump.

Buick Verano to get Turbo boost

Buick has announced the addition of a new member to the Verano family, the Verano Turbo. The Verano Turbo will feature GM's 2.0-liter Ecotec turbocharged four (250 hp, 260 lb-ft of torque) mated to your choice of a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. Expect to hit 60 in about 6.2 seconds. Since the Verano Turbo won't hit dealers until the third quarter of this year, EPA numbers aren't finalized but are expected to be inline with Buick's other Turbo models (larger Regal Turbo with manual 20/city, 32/Highway). Buick's Verano has been a hit with consumers looking for compact luxury and economy. The Verano Turbo gives a little extra push to go with the car's other features. Pricing will be announced closer to the car's debut. Brief press release after the jump and a general Verano video at the end.

Source: Buick - Press release pics, and video after the jump.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Altitude at your dealer... NOW

If there's one thing Jeep knows, it's that Jeep customers love special editions. This is the latest one, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Altitude. Following on the success of the Call of Duty and Arctic Wranglers, this special edition has loftier ambitions being a sort of "all the good stuff's here for one price" model. Start with a Wrangler Unlimited (you know the four/five-door model) and add special Deep Cherry Red paint (shown or Black, Bright White and Bright Silver Metallic) with a black leather interior (with red stitching), a body-color hardtop, gloss black accents, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 (285 hp), automatic transmission, special 18-inch wheels, black-on-black tone hood graphics, Berber floor mats, a lockable center console, and more for $33,740 (plus taxes, license, fees, options). As with all "specials-editions," there will be a limited number of the Wrangler Altitudes built, in this case 4,500, so if you like what you see, get to your dealer ASAP.

Source: Jeep - Press release after the jump.

2012 Range Rover Evoque - the little Rover that can

Land Rover's Range Rover Evoque (Land Rover is the company name, Range Rover is applied to top models in the range) is an interesting animal. It originally debuted as the LRX Concept in three-door "coupe" form and the production model remained true to the concept's design and added a five-door model for those that need a skoosh more room and easier ingress for rear-seat passengers. To say that the Evoque is stunning is an understatement epecially for those that like rolling automotive metal sculptures. The model shown on this page is the Victoria Beckham Special Edition Evoque (available in October) and I chose it cuz I really like it (other models are shown with the press releases). The Evoque in general is a "right-sized" luxury compact CUV/SUV that features a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four that makes 240 hp and a six-speed automatic with front-wheel or available all-wheel drive. Evoque somes in three flavors: Pure, Prestige, and Dynamic (the red car in the release pics is a Dynamic model). The Evoque can be personalized like no other in this class with numerous paint and interior color schemes, infotainment options, premium audio (one Meridian system features an 825W amp), leathers, luggage, you name it. It would be easy to empty your bank account on one of these pieces of automotive art. These are the basics and I've included press releases that will give you all the information you could want. The releases are for all markets so check with your dealer for availability. It would be nice to have a diesel option in the US Land Rover. Imagine great looks and great (okay better) fuel economy.

Source: Land Rover - Very extensive press releases (3) and pics after the jump. Previous post,

Hyundai Motor America announces official 2013 Veloster Turbo info and pricing

Hyundai has finally released the pricing and official information surrounding the anticipated Veloster Turbo. As you can see from the pics and video (after the jump), the Veloster Turbo has received a few styling tweaks (and badges) to let the masses know that you have the 1.6-liter twin-turbo engine (201 hp) under your hood. While the EPA ratings aren't in for the six-speed automatic, the Veloster Turbo is rated at 26 city and 38 highway with the six-speed manual. The Turbo model gets all the good stuff including the styling tweaks (unique front fascia with projector headlamps, LED running lights, and rear LED lighting), leather seating, "sport-tuned" suspension, heated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, 450-watt premium audio with Pandora internet radio, BlueLink infotainment, and more. What's this going to set you back, you ask? Try $21,950 plus destination ($775.), taxes, license, fees, and options. The automatic will add $1,000 to the price and a special Matte Grey paint will be available at some point. In the beginning these sport coupes will scoot off of dealer lots, so if you want to be one of the first, get thee to your local Hyundai dealer now!

Source: Hyundai - Extensive press releases (2) and video after the jump.

Honda begins deliveries of highly-rated Fit EV

Honda has begun delivering the new Fit EV (Electric Vehicle) to consumers in California and Oregon. East Coast Fit EV customers will get their vehicles in early 2013. Honda's Fit EV has been EPA-rated at 118 mpge (mpg-equivalent) combined mileage (132 mpge city, 105 mpge highway) with an EPA-rated range of over 80 miles. This making the Fit EV one of the highest-rated EVs to date (not including the out-of-production Tesla S Roadster and Fisker's Atlantic  EV). The Fit EV uses a three-node system (right) similar to that used in the CR-Z hybrid to help you corral your kilowatts. A handy charge fob (pic after the jump) and smartphone apps also help you keep track of your EV's remaining level of charge and range. Honda's charger unit of choice comes from Leviton.  If you like Honda's Fit, don't suffer from EV range-anxiety, and you want an eco mode of transport, then the Fit EV may be your ride. For more info, check out the releases and video after the jump or check with you Fit EV-authorized dealer.

Source: Honda - Press releases (2) and video after the jump.

Ford updates F-150 for 2013

Ford is giving the best-selling F-150 a bit of a refresh for the 2013 model year that sees a few exterior tweaks and the addition of Ford's Sync and MyFordTouch infotainment systems. The front end of the more upscale Lariat model (above) sees a three-bar grille with textures similar to the new Explorer and with new HID headlamps that take after the new 2013 Flex. Depending on the model, the taillights are now LED units. The inside of the F-150 has always been a nice place to be and truck consumers will now have numerous infotainment options with Sync standard on the most popular models and the addition of a truck-centric MyFordTouch as an option on most trim levels and standard on the Lariat level and above. Ford's popular engine choices are carried over starting with the 3.7-liter V6 (302 hp), 5.0-liter V8 (360 hp), 6.2-liter V8 (411 hp), and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that features 365 hp, 420 lb-ft of torque and best-in-class fuel economy. Check with your Ford dealer for availability and pricing. For more info, check out the release and video after the jump.

Source: Ford - Press release and video after the jump.

Mercedes Benz AMG SLS adds power, GT option

Mercedes Benz has announced a few changes to the high-performance AMG SLS supercar and created the SLS GT. The new model has all the good-stuff from the "normal" car (really, can you call an AMG SLS normal?) with a few additions. The 6.3-liter V8 engine has been massaged to increase horsepower to 591 and the drivetrain, including the seven-speed, dual-clutch, automanual transmission, have been upgraded to accept the additional power and get it to the road. Expect to get to 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds. The AMG Ride Control Performance (adjustable) Suspension features stiffer springing and damping tuning and dispenses with the "Comfort" setting using just "Sport" and "Sport Plus" options. What's all this performance going to cost you? Well the "basic" AMG SLS GT Coupe will start at about $260,000 in today's dollars with the Roadster (above) starting at about $270,000. The "Designo" leather upgrade will set you back an additional $7,250 and there are other options to whet your performance car appetite and test your checkbook balance. Check with your local Mercedes Benz AMG retailer for availability. For more info check out the release after the jump.

Source: Mercedes Benz - Press release after the jump.