Mercedes-Benz to offer GLA compact SUV Edition 1 limited-edition model at intro

Let's admit it. Mercedes-Benz is on a roll. The new CLA and the all-new S-Class sedans bring new levels of content, features, and striking design to their respective classes and the new GLA compact SUV looks to be another winner. In honor of this new vehicle, Mercedes will offer Edition 1 GLAs during the first full year of production. The GLA Edition 1 is based on the Urban line trim level and will come with many special features like the 19-inch gloss black AMG wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, dark-tinted glass, black and chrome accents, and Edition 1 badging. The Edition 1 GLAs will be available in cirrus white, orient brown metallic, mountain grey metallic, and designo magno mountain grey (from autumn 2014) with the Desert Dust interior. Other interior features include nut brown leather and Alvorada fabric with contrasting stitching, a 3-spoke multifunction sports steering wheel in leather, sports pedals, aluminum trim, cord floor mats, a black roof liner, and the Light and Sight package (single-tone ambient lighting; illuminated make-up mirror for driver and front passenger, illuminated front door sill panels with Mercedes lettering, front and rear foot-well lighting, rear lighting with integral reading lamps and locator lighting, windscreen wipers with rain sensor, and more). The latest generation of 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive will be available, with either the 1.6-liter gas engine (156 hp) in the GLA 200 or the 2.0-liter gas engine (211 hp) in the GLA 250. The two diesel engine models will be available in markets outside of the US, the GLA 200 CDI (136 hp, 2.2 litres) and the GLA 220 CDI that also has a displacement of 2.2 litres but develops 170 hp. If we get a diesel GLA in the US we should expect the larger engined 220 CDI. No word on US consumers getting access to the Edition 1 model, but nothing seems like it would prevent a US version. I hope we do, cuz the GLA Edition1 is a very good-looking compact 'ute. European consumers can order their own GLA Edition 1 in the next couple of weeks throughout the first year of production. For more, check out the release and pics after the jump.
Source: Mercedes-Benz - Press release and pics (4) after the "read more" jump.

Nissan announces 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid specifications and pricing - w/video

Nissan is expanding the new Pathfinder line-up with the addition of the 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid. The full-size crossover/SUV seats seven in three rows but with 25% better fuel efficiency than the standard V6-powered Pathfinder. The lithium-ion battery pack is below the third row to minimize battery-pack intrusion on the interior. Overall power is comparable to the V6 (260 hp, 240 lb-ft. of torque) with a total  combined power rating from the 2.5-liter gasoline engine and the15kW electric motor of 250 hp and 243 lb.-ft. of torque. The Pathfinder's new Hybrid powertrain option is available in three trim levels – SV, SL, and Platinum. Fuel economy ratings are 26 mpg combined (an increase of almost 25 percent over the standard Pathfinder) with city fuel economy of 25 mpg, while highway mileage is estimated at 28 mpg (27 mpg 4WD). With the Pathfinder Hybrid's large 19.5-gallon fuel tan, Pathfinder Hybrid driver's can get more than 525 miles on a single tank.Pathfinder Hybrid prices start at $35,110 (plus taxes, license, fees, options, and $860 destination) for the SV 2WD Hybrid model which is $3,000 more than a comparably equipped SV 2WD 3.5-liter V6 model. The top of-the-line Pathfinder Hybrid Platinum starts at $42, 750 (plus) and all-wheel drive can be added to any trim level for $1,600. For lots of information, check out the two press releases and video after the jump.

Source: Nissan - Press releases (2), pics, and video after the "read more" jump.

Audi announces 2015 A3 Sedan pricing and equipment- w/video

Audi has released the first info regarding the US version of the all-new 2015 A3 sedan (Euro A3 Sedan pics shown). The various A3 models (A3 Sedan, A3 diesel, A3 Cabriolet, S3, A3 Hatchback, e-tron and hybrid) will roll out over the next eighteen months starting with the well-equipped A3 Sedan. The all-new Sedan will start at $29,900 (plus taxes, license, fees, options, and destination) and will include normally optional equipment like a panoramic glass sunroof, leather seating surfaces, and bi-xenon headlights. “The Audi A3 sedan raises the bar in this premium compact segment” said Scott Keogh, President, Audi of America. “It will add to our momentum in the U.S. marketplace by bringing a new level of technology, craftsmanship and performance to the market." The A3 also marks the first time that a vehicle in this segment will offer MMI® technology, Audi drive select, 4G LTE connectivity, quattro all-wheel drive, and Bang & Olufsen® audio.The A3 TDI clean diesel mated to the standard 6-speed S tronic® transmission will hit Audi showrooms next year. Check with your local dealer regarding availability. Check out the brief press release and the latest video after the jump.

Source: Audi - Press release, pics, and video after the "read more" jump. Previous A3 Sedan post.

BMW reveals the new Two...2 Series Coupe that is - w/video

Well, BMW's new naming strategy is almost complete with the introduction of the new 2 Series Coupe (and later, convertible). All of BMW's coupes, convertibles, and four-door coupes now have even numbers, while the "regular" sedans, GT sedan/crossovers, and estates all have odd numbers. What you see here is one of the first 2 Series models, the M235i (not a true M model, but an M-Sport offering) that features the 3.0-liter turbo six (322 hp, 322 lb.-ft. of torque, EPA-estimated 22 city/32 highway/25 combined mpg) mated to the standard eight-speed automatic (a six-speed manual is a no-cost option) with M Sport fitments like the body kit, special alloy wheels, rear deck spoiler, and more. In the US, we will also receive the 228i with the same eight-speed automatic bolted to the 2.0-liter turbo four (240 hp, 258 lb.-ft.of torque) that has a preliminary EPA mpg-rating of 23 city/35 highway/27 combined (for the 8-speed sport automatic). Manual transmission cars get slightly lower EPA numbers. The new 2 Series is a more upscale car when compared to the out-going 1 Series. Styling has been brought more inline with BMW's most recent designs and premium equipment is now standard or optional that was not available to 1 Series consumers. For example, Harmon Kardon premium audio is now available. I like the look and it appears less jumbled together and much smoother, especially the roofline. Prices have increased slightly to reflect the upgraded equipment (the 1 Series interior was NOT premium) with prices starting at $32,025 (includes $925 destination, plus taxes, license, fees, and options) for the 228i jumping to $44,025 (including destination, +) for the M235i. As with any BMW, you can spend what your budget will allow, but when you exceed $40k, you're in 4 Series territory. In Europe, a 220d diesel-powered model is available (see the blue car after the jump), but there is no word on US availability. With more diesel cars sold each year in the US (and with BMW's increased US diesel offerings), a 220d is a possibility. The new US-market 3 Series diesel gets excellent mileage, so why not a sporty, 2 Series diesel for these shores? Let's hope. The 2 Series is scheduled for US intro at the Detroit Auto Show in January with sales beginning in the Spring (subject to change). The extensive press release (after the jump) contains lots of info, and the video is six minutes long, but fun. More to come...if you'd like to see a 2 Series diesel, let BMW know.

Source: BMW - Extensive press release, pics (4), and video after the "read more" jump.

Honda previews Tokyo Motor Show concepts (S660, NSX) and updated production models (N-WGN)

I'll admit it. Whenever there is a press post about a potential new open top model, I'm interested and Honda is hinting. What really piques my interest is the S660 Concept (shown here) for several reasons. Firstly, the S660 wears Honda's recent design cues such as the grille and, like many Honda concepts, this one looks ready to go. You could see this one on the road as is, right? The 660 part of the name is probably a reference to the engine size (taxation rates in Japan are based on engine size and are responsible for the numerous minicars in the country). With the S660 Concept, you can expect fuel efficiency and quick mixed in with your sporty, open-roof experience. The good news is that Honda is thinking about convertibles, roadsters, and open top sportsters again. Add in a larger engine, and this one could sell anywhere, even the US (Del Sol anyone?). Other models teased are the latest version of the NSX and the N-WGN (pics after the jump). For more info and pics, check out the press release after the jump that discusses the Honda Tokyo exhibit. Enjoy! More to come...

Source: Honda - Press release after the "read more" jump.

2014 Jeep Wrangler Polar Edition coming to the US

Jeep unveiled the Polar Edition special at the Frankfurt Motor Show and many wondered, "Would the blue beauty come to the US?" Well now we have the answer, "Yes." Starting in November, the new 2014 Jeep Polar Edition will be available to US customers in either two-door or four-door Unlimited guises. The eye-catching Hydro Blue paint is available and the Polar Edition may also be outfitted in either Billet Silver Metallic or Bright White with the same gloss black accents (18-inch alloy wheels, grille, trim, fuel filler door), black leather interior, and tri-color hood decal as the Euro Wrangler PE. In Europe, the Polar Edition Wrangler comes fitted with Jeep's popular turbo-diesel engine, while US models will be fitted with the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 (285 hp and 260 ft.-lbs. of torque) and mated to either the six-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmissions. Cold weather all-wheel drive is also on hand with special equipment to insure the Wrangler PE's capabilities. The Wrangler PE is based on the Sahara model with the addition of climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated controls, heated front seats, height-adjustable driver seat, Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC), cruise control, and the package goodies. For more information and pics (3) of the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Polar Edition, check out the press release after the jump. Click on the pics for a closer look. Want one? Now might be a good time to head to your local Jeep dealer to be the first on your block to put one of these limited-edition Jeeps in you driveway.

Source: Jeep - Press release after the "read more" jump. Original Polar post.

Mini expands Countryman and Paceman palette with Frozen Black finish

Mini has developed a new paint process that allows a new matte paint "Frozen Black" finish to be used on a select number of Mini models. The new paint uses a complex manufacturing process exclusive to the BMW Group. This special painting procedure involves new technology and a high level of manual craftsmanship to provide the shimmering, textured finish. This new paint appears to hit the half-way point between flat finishes and today's high-gloss clearcoat shiners. Special cleaners have been developed to maintain this unique sheen, since regular waxes will add a shine to the surface. This is the first matte finish that I like (in the pics) and I can't wait to see it in person.

Source: Mini - Press release after the "read more" jump.

Lamborghini unleashes the Veneno Roadster

Lamborghini turns 50 this year and is celebrating with special cars for its birthday/anniversaary. One of those cars is the amazingly over-the-top model you see here, the Veneno Roadster supercar. The Veneno Roadster uses lightweight construction materials like carbon-fiber for a total weight of just 3,278 pounds. Factor in the 6.5-liter, twelve cylinder engine that produces 750 hp and you get blazing performance numbers, like 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds with a top speed of over 220 mph. The Veneno Roadster is an "extreme design" with angles, creases, vents, and wings that help keep the wheels on the pavement and reduce wind resistance. Add the extremely fast-shifting ISR transmission with five modes, permanent all-wheel drive, and a racing chassis for outstanding speed and handling. Try to keep the smile off of your face. The Veneno Roadster is entering limited by the number of orders received for the almost $5 million machine (plus taxes, license, fees, options, etc.). If you're one of the One Percenters and want a really, really fast car, Lambo has the car for you. The Rosso Veneno paint (shown) is nice, but owners can choose their own paint/interior scheme. For more info and two pics, check out the press release after the jump.

Source: Lamborghini - Press release after the "read more" jump.

Toyota drops prices on 2014 Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Toyota's Prius Plug-in Hybrid is getting close to the end of its product cycle. As a result of this along with the maturation of its hybrid tech, Toyota is dropping prices by about $2,000 on the "base" Prius Plug-in Hybrid model (equivalent to a regular Prius Three) to $29,990 (plus taxes, license, fees, and options) with no drop in content. Step up to the Advanced model and you'll spend $34,905 (plus) which is a price drop of almost $5k. Advanced model equipment upgrades include navigation with Entune and JBL, SofTex-trimmed heated front seats, 8-way adjustable driver's seat, head-up display, and safety connect. The optional Technology Package ($2,610) will add DRCC (Dynamic Radar Cruise Control), PCS (Pre-Collision System), and LED headlights and fog lights. The 2014 Prius Plug-in Hybrid goes into production soon and will be available in November. The Prius Plug-in is available in 15 states: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Hawaii. Price drops apply to 2014 model-year cars only.

Source: Toyota - Press release after the "read more" jump.

Audi introduces special-edition A5 Coupe with DTM trim package

In celebration of recent DTM Racing successes, Audi has released the new DTM trim level for the A5 Coupe. The A5 is proof that if you design a car well, its styling will stand the test of time. The A5 stills garners stares when if glides by. The current A5 has been around for a while (with some updates) and the DTM trim package is sort of like icing on the proverbial cake. The DTM package is available on Misano Red (shown), Daytona Gray, or Glacier White A5s with a host of gas and diesel engines. That fact alone tells you that we probably won't see this package in the US. (Not to mention that DTM is a German racing series.) The package includes special badges, the DTM side stripe (nice), the fixed rear spoiler, and the 5 V-spoke wheels (very nice) for about $2,500 (at current exchange rates). Maybe we can get the wheels...anyway, nice additions to a good-looking sportster. For more, check out the release and two pics after the jump.

Source: Audi - Brief press release and pics (2) after the "read more" jump.

Cadillac announces pricing and arrival date of the all-new 2014 ELR hybrid - w/video

Cadillac's stunning ELR plug-in hybrid will be available in January with a "base" price of $75,995 which includes a $995 destination fee, but does not include options, taxes, license and other fees. Since Cadillac revealed the Converj Concept many moons ago, enthusiasts have been waiting for the production version and here it is. Okay, let's get started. The 2014 (might change to '15) Cadillac ELR is a beautiful vehicle that is based on Volt mechanicals. Cadillac is calling the ELR an electrified vehicle while Chevy has been known to call the Volt an extended-range EV (electric vehicle) which is technically incorrect since the engine can drive the vehicle without an electrical assist. A true extended-range EV, like BMW's new i3, uses an engine to drive a generator that charges the batteries alone and cannot power the vehicle directly. A minor point? Maybe, but I wonder why GM seems intent on changing definitions. Are they embarrassed by their technology? They shouldn't be. Maybe it has to do with government mandates and regulations. That makes more sense and the fact that GM doesn't seem to be close to selling a true EV while their competition is already selling them.

Early rumors surrounding the ELR suggested that the car would get an engine upgrade for improved performance. This press release doesn't quote actual numbers, but it seems to intimate that the ELR will be carrying a Volt drivetrain which makes one question the more than $75k price. Even with tax rebates, the car is expensive. It should sell fairly well to wealthy early adopters in the beginning, but the price will be a problem going forward. And with the way things are going in Washington D.C., I wouldn't count on the tax rebates continuing. Am I complaining? You bet. With pricing closer to the original Volt (around $40k), Cadillac would sell lots of ELRs even if they were somewhat decontented. Maybe GM doesn't have the capacity. But it is a shame that this stunning car will be priced out of the reach of most folks. More info to come closer to the ELR's official debut (and arrival at dealers) in January. A lot can happen between now and then...How 'bout an ELR with a 2.0-liter Turbo mated to the hybrid drivetrain for around $50k?

Source: Cadillac - Press release after the "read more" jump.

2015 Cadillac Escalade luxury SUV debuts - w/videos

When the new Escalade was announced, I had hoped that the new "Slade" would evolve into something more inline with Cadillac's latest offerings, at least on the styling front. While the Cadillac look is there, I was hoping for something a little (really a lot) sleeker and less truckish. I mean if you want a truck, buy one, right? With that said, the new 2015 Escalade is arguably the best looking of GM's new full-size 'utes. The grille is still too big and a faster slope to the daytime running lights (like in the new CTS) would have imparted a more upscale feel. The full-length taillamps look nice in pics, but we shall see. The side view is pretty much the same as the other GM full-size SUVs which is a shame. You would think that the extra bucks Cadillac is gonna charge for these would warrant more differentiation from the more plebeian Chevys. Where the new Escalade really shines is inside. The dash is beautiful and the interior room is simply amazing, but then it should be. This is a luxury full-size SUV from Cadillac. The seats are more sculpted and swathed in fine leathers and the new Escalade will get all of GM's technology, infotainment, and safety equipment. If you need something this size (look at the silver 'ute after the jump), you would be hard pressed to find a more luxurious vehicle. Sure a Range Rover or a Porsche SUV might be more capable, but it will also be more expensive. I'd expect Escalade shoppers to be looking at a big Lexus before they buy. And Cadillac will sell these. The V8-only drivetrain might hinder some (6.2L V-8, 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque mated to a six-speed automatic) but if you can afford this (no prices given), you're probably not worrying about gas mileage. Maybe Cadillac can add the new light truck diesel and a new multi-speed automatic (eight-speed? nine?) in the future. Two-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, EXT extended wheelbase models, seating for at least seven, and more, are still on hand. For lots more info, check out the press release, specification charts, and two videos after the jump. The new 2015 Cadillac Escalade is an attractive vehicle that I thought might disappear or morph into a more Euro-style sport 'ute, but this could be the next step on a much longer road. And if bling is your thing...

Source: Cadillac - Press release, spec charts, pics, and videos (2) after the "read more" jump.

Quick Look: 2014 Jeep Wrangler Dragon Edition

To say that I am predisposed to liking this latest Jeep Wrangler special edition is an understatement that is underscored by the ink on my right arm. I was born during the "Year of the Dragon" to Irish parents, so you'd think I'd lean towards Arthurian beasties, but I've always had a "thing" for the mythical Chinese creatures. So if I had a spare $40k hanging around, I'd beat a path to my local Jeep dealer. Now that that disclaimer is made, let's get to the meat and tatters. The Dragon Edition Wrangler debuted at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show and was a big hit. US folk wondered why we wouldn't get the dragonized off-roader and Jeep responded with a hearty "you can!," so witness the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Dragon Edition. Start with a black Jeep Sahara Unlimited and add the icing. Dragon Edition Wranglers feature a special Dragon graphic that starts on the hood and finishes on the driver's door (see pic after the jump). A Dragon graphic also adorns the spare-tire cover. Satin Bronze accents are applied to the grille slats, headlight openings, wheels, and to interior trim pieces including the Napa leather seats. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine (285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque) provides the power through a six-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic. My question, "Where's the diesel and the eight-speed automatic?" To soon maybe...anyway the 2014 Jeep Wrangler Dragon Edition will be priced from $36,095 (+ taxes, license, fees, options, and destination) and will be available in the coming weeks (aka Fall 2013). Check with your local dealer regarding availability and available equipment. Anybody have a spare $40k they don't want? For more info, check out the press release and pics after the jump. Pics are fairly high res, so feel free to click on them for a closer look.

Source: Jeep - Press release and pics (4) after the "read more" jump.