Buick brings the 2017 Envision compact CUV to the US


Buick is jumping into the premium compact crossover market with its Envision that has been so popular in China (Yes, China...Buick's largest market). The new CUV will slot above the sub-compact Encore and below the Enclave. Designed in Michigan, the Envision is an attractive entry that should do well against others like the Audi Q5, Acura RDX, and Lincoln MKC. The interior appears nicely finished with leather everywhere and with equipment that's expected in this class. The exterior carries Buick themes like the Regal sculpting on the flanks and the previous Buick grille (The new LaCrosse debuts the "new" grille look). Standard equipment includes the 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo four (252 hp, 260 lb./ft. of torque), six-speed automatic, Active Twin Clutch all-wheel-drive system, IntelliLink with 8-inch color touch screen, Safety Alert Seat, Lane Keep Assist, tri-zone climate control with rear-seat controls, 19-inch aluminum wheels, Bose premium sound system, and much more. Options include OnStar with 4G LTE and built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, panoramic moonroof, and more available in groups or individually. Prices have not been announced but the Envision should be competitive not to mention a big seller for Buick. All Envision CUVs will be imported from China until the sales numbers warrant a local build. The Buick Envision will arrive at your local Buick dealer in 2016. More to come...

Source: Buick - Press release and spec charts after the "read more" jump.


Quick Look: 2017 Audi Q7


Audi's 2017 Q7 is all-new. While the design is less svelte than the previous Q7, the new SUV has a similar look with improved interior room especially in the second and third rows. Yep, third row, cuz the Q7 is a full-size luxury ute of the highest order. Somehow it seems even bigger than before. Since everything is new, lets hit the highlights. The Q7 is powered by Audi's 3.0-liter V6 (333 hp, 325 lb./ft. of torque) that is mated to an eight-speed automatic pushing the power to all four wheels using Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Standard features include a power tailgate, Audi Drive Select (includes Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Offroad and Individual settings), two-panel panoramic sunroof, three-zone automatic climate control, xenon plus headlights and LED taillights (include arrow-look LED running light elements), MMI infotainment, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, and lots more for your Premium model's base price of $54,800. Step up to the Premium Plus model for $58,800 while the Prestige model starts at $64,300. Available options include an air suspension, Bose premium audio, Audi Virtual Cockpit, full-color head-up display, Luxury package, four-zone climate control, Connect Care and Connect Prime infotainment, 4G LTE connectivity, a Bang & Olufsen® 3D Advanced Sound System (23 speakers including two retractable acoustic lenses all powered by a 23-channel amplifier with an output of 1,920 watts), and well, as much more as your wallet and budget can take. Since the government hasn't accepted Audi's diesel engine fix, the V6 diesel isn't available which is a shame since diesel engines are a good match to large sport utes. Maybe later. For more info, check out the press releases, spec charts, and video after the jump.

Source: Audi - Press releases and video after the "read more" jump.

Mercedes Benz SL Grand Tourer gets updates and a nose job for 2017 - w/videos


If you do it right the first time, constant updates aren't required and Mercedes' SL roadsters were definitely done right. The SL series has had few sweeping redesigns in its more than five-decade-long run. When you see an SL. you know what it is top up or down (down is best, right?). For 2016/17 (the press release doesn't denote the model year), the SL gets a few updates and carries over the good stuff like the Vario-roof hardtop that is available with the unique Magic Sky Control which when closed, the panoramic vario-roof automatically changes from dark to transparent or vice-versa within just a few seconds as needed. Mercedes' infotainment and safety suites are also on hand that includes features like Distance Pilot Distronic, Active Brake Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, Active Blind Spot and Lane-Keeping Assist, Online Assist, Apple Car-Play, Harman Kardon® Logic 7® surround sound system (10-channel DSP amplifier with a total output of 600 watts and 11 high-performance speakers including Frontbass), a Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG system, and much, much more as standard or optional equipment.  One of my favorites is the Airscarf system that blows warm air on your neck when the top's down and it's chilly out. See the detailed press release after the jump for more info and videos. Available in SL400 (supercharged V6, 367 hp, 500 Nm of torque), SL500 (V8, 455 hp, 700 Nm of torque), SL63 AMG (Hi-performance V8, 585 hp, 900 Nm of torque) and the SL65 AMG (V12, 630 hp, 1000 NM of torque) that are mated to either a nine-speed or seven-speed AMG automatic transmission. In other words, you can get the performance you can afford with top SLs breaking the six-figure price point. Also on tap for the new model year are a restyled front clip, a lighter bodyshell, and Intelligent LED lighting at the rear. If I had the bucks, a black SL400 with a saddle brown Nappa leather interior and all the goodies, would be my choice. You?

Source: Mercedes Benz - Extensive press release and videos after the "read more" jump.

Chevy debuts new 2016 Trax Midnight Edition


Compact and sub-compact crossovers are all the rage right now and Chevy's Trax sub-compact just got more interesting. The itty-bitty, mini SUV (sorta) gets Chevy's Midnight Edition treatment for 2016. In other words, picture almost everything black like the paint, wheels, interior, trim and moldings. Okay, only the top pic is of the "Midnight Edition", but I provided the others for context and imagining. On the inside picture black everywhere with gray piping on the seats and mats. Outside only the badges and scuff plates lack the requisite black coloring. The Trax Midnight Edition is based on the top-end LTZ model so you'll get a lot of stuff for your bucks when the Trax ME goes on sale in February (2016). Prices start at $26,125 (includes destination) for the Trax LTZ and the Midnight Edition package will add another $500 buckaroos. And don't forget to add taxes, license, fees, and additional options to your total. With average new car prices rising above $30k, the Trax Midnight Edition could get you a fairly well-equipped vehicle for little money. Check out the press release after the jump or click on the previous post link (below) for general Trax info and specs.

Source: Chevrolet - Press release after the "read more" jump. Previous post.


Quick Look: 2016 VW Beetle Denim Convertible


Yeah, I've always liked Volkswagen's Beetle and the new ones are pretty cool in a retro sort of way. They won't come close to the simplicity of the original (I worked on my own VW Van for goodness sake, and that's saying something), but they become interesting looking cars with modern mechanicals. Kinda like a brand new Bug restomod. Volkswagen has paid homage to the Jeans/Levis lifestyle of the 60s and 70s with special edition models in the past (Beetle Jeans) and are once again giving you a unique throwback car with the 2016 Beetle Denim. The new Beetles Denim is a "value" convertible that will come fairly well equipped with special paint (Pure White or Stonewashed Blue), a denim-look convertible top, 17-inch Heritage wheels, 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® engine (170 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft of torque) with a six-speed automatic transmission, and Volkswagen’s new MIB II Composition Color infotainment system which includes a 5.0-inch resistive touchscreen display, AUX-in and SD card slots, a USB multimedia interface with iPhone® and iPod® device connectivity, reverse camera display, and Bluetooth® technology for compatible devices. The interior gets a special light-blue-and-silver dashpad and jeans-inspired seat pockets with small Beetle tabs in red, and light blue denim-color cloth seating surfaces with white piping and dark blue leatherette accents. Easier to sit on in the hot months don'tcha know. I'm sure you will be able to add some options to the list, but the Beetle Denim is fairly complete and pricing should be very competitive (ie: affordable). Only 2,000 Beetle Denim Convertibles will be made evenly split between the two colors. The Beetle Denim Convertible will be available in early 2016. If this looks like your next car, contact your local dealer. Check out the brief press release after the jump.

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

GMC debuts first mid-size premium truck: the 2017 Canyon Denali - w/video and update


Besides being the highest peak (pinnacle?) in North America, Denali is the name of the top-of-the-line model of each of GMC's vehicle lines. It started with the Yukon Denali in 1999 and has spread like the proverbial wild fire from there. Each model utilizes the signature Denali accents like the unique chrome grille and unique wheels (20-inch ultra-bright-machined aluminum wheels with painted accents) in this case. Other Exterior cues include chrome fog lamp bezels, five-inch-diameter rectangular chrome assist steps, a polished exhaust tips and a standard spray-in bed liner for the trucks. The Canyon Denali is available on Crew Cab models in either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Engines include GM's new 3.6-liter V6 or the Duramax Turbo-Diesel both mated to a standard six-speed automatic. Other standard features include Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, IntelliLink with Navigation, OnStar, automatic climate control, 4G LTE connectivity with WiFi, Jet Black Mulan Leather seats, special trim, and much more. Prices were not announced, but expect them to be above anything available in Today's Canyon. For more info, check out the press release and video after the jump. The 2017 GMC Canyon Denali will be available in 2016. More to come... Update: In person, the Canyon Denali is a little too blingtastic for my taste and looks overdone. Darken the special Denali grille and...

Source: GMC - Press release and video after the "read more" jump.

Buick rolls out "leaner, sleeker" all-new 2017 LaCrosse - w/videos


Chinese business folk are going to be very happy. Buick just introduced the 2017 LaCrosse with its new Subaru-esque grille (the new "face" of Buick) and more curvaceous flanks. Remember, Buick sells more Buicks in China than they do in the US to all of those newly minted millionaires (who purchase the cars as mini limos - driver required). That's why extended wheelbase versions of "standard" sedans are so popular there. And the new LaCrosse isn't hard on the eyes either. The interior is a huge update with sweeping fitments slathered in wood, aluminum, and leather. Under the hood is GM's new 3.6-liter V6 engine (305 hp, 268 lb./ft. of torque) paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission that is fitted with stop/start technology to improve fuel efficiency. The fact that the new LaCrosse is also 300 lbs. lighter doesn't hurt either. The '17 LaCrosse gets most of GM's tech and safety hard- (and soft-) ware either as standard or available in packages or as stand-alone options. A nice, good-looking car with all of the good stuff but without Cadillac's atmospheric pricing. I can't wait to see the "that's not a Buick" advertising for the new LaCrosse. In many respects, the 2017 LaCrosse is what Buicks should always have been...entry luxury cars that do most things well in a pretty package. For lots more info, check out the informative press release and two videos after the jump.

Source: Buick - Press release and videos after the "read more" jump.

All-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra revealed - w/video


You have to give Hyundai a lot of credit. Their compact cars are as attractive as their larger siblings (many automakers smaller offerings look chunky when the family "look" is applied). Of course the all-new 2017 Elantra gets the corporate styling cues from its larger brethren, but it also gets a little more mass as well. In fact, the '17 Elantra is classified as a mid-size car according to the EPA's interior volume regs. The new Elantra also gets new powerplants for 2017. First up is the 2.0-liter Nu MPI Atkinson four-cylinder engine producing 147 horsepower and 132 lb. ft. of torque that gets mated to either a six-speed manual (SE only) or a six-speed automatic (anticipated 29 city / 38 highway / 33 combined mpg internal estimate for 6-A/T). The second powertrain is an all-new 1.4-liter Kappa turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine (on the Elantra Eco trim - available in Spring 2016) that produces 128 horsepower and 156 lb-ft. of torque that will be mated to an EcoShift seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The interior is updated and Hyundai's extensive safety and infotainment suites are available. In fact, Hyundai's emergency braking system that can brake for pedestrians is available on the Elantra (usually reserved for luxury autos). Hyundai should sell quite a few of these. Prices have not been announced, but the 2017 Elantra will be at your local Hyundai dealer in January. For more info, check out the extensive press release and b-roll video after the jump.

Source: Hyundai - Press release and video after the "read more" jump.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider debuts with Italian flair and Japanese roots - w/videos


Red. This sports car should be red don'tcha think? Anyway, what you see here is Fiat's new 124 Spider. Nice homage to the original that hit the market fifty years ago. The front clip recalls the previous 124 not to mention the 240Z. Nice. The 124 Spider is the product of Fiat's collaboration with Mazda (Yes Monica, there is an MX-5 platform under the stylish sheet metal) hence the Japanese roots. Everything else is all Fiat like the 1.4-liter Turbo four (160 hp, 184 lb./ft. of torque) that gets matched to either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, adaptive front headlamps, Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, ParkView rear backup camera, FIAT Connect 7.0 system with 7-inch touchscreen display, multimedia control, Bluetooth connectivity, heated seats, Keyless Enter ‘n Go, and more. A Bose premium sound system is also available. “There’s no better way to celebrate 50 years of the Fiat 124 Spider than to bring back this iconic roadster, pairing its Italian styling of the past with all of the modern performance and technology of today,” said Olivier Fran├žois, Head of FIAT Brand, FCA – Global. “The 124 Spider expands the FIAT family, bringing to market yet another head-turning, fun-to-drive vehicle for our customers.” The 124 Spider will come in Classica and Lusso (luxury) flavors, with the first 124 new 124s wearing the Prima Edizione Lusso (limited edition) trim with special Azzurro Italia (Blue) exterior paint with premium leather seats in Saddle (see pics after the jump). Prices haven't been announced, but the 124 Spider looks like a winner for Fiat. The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider will be at your local Fiat Studio this summer just in time for the sun and the wind in your hair. For more info, check out the press release and three videos after the jump. Bella Machina! or something like that...

Source: Fiat - Press Release and videos after the "read more" jump.

Scion C-HR sport crossover concept debuts at the LA Auto Show ahead of production - w/video


Can you believe it? The Scion C-HR (Compact size, High Ride height) is going into production in 2016 on Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA). Said Scion Vice President Andrew Gilleland, “Scion is known for doing things differently...This C-HR Concept embraces that idea and wears it like a badge of honor. We couldn’t be more excited to add the production version to our line-up.” How much of this stellar design makes it to production will be seen next year. Nissan's Juke will now have some competition. The Scion C-HR is targeted at Young Urban Creatives (Yuccies) who find SUVs and CUVs boring. I know a few folks that I could see behind the wheel of this one. Expect four-cylinder power, front- and all-wheel drive, and options galore. Scion, don't price it out of the reach of your target audience. Get them with the numerous options if you must. Can't wait to see the production C-HR. For more info, check out the press release, video, and the previous post (link below) from the Paris Motor Show where the Toyota C-HR was shown in blue. Enjoy! Love the body sculpting, the hidden four doors, the black roof and the...

Source: Scion - Press release after the "read more" jump. Previous post.

Production VW Beetle Dune to be shown in LA


If you're hoping for a Subaru competitor, relax, the Beetle Dune is a trim level for the 2016 Beetle. Nope, no all-wheel drive here. It is a nice package though with raised ride height, a wider track, and more aggressive looking front and rear fascia with fender flares that blend into the bumpers. The Beetle Dune is supposedly an homage to the Baja Bugs (above) from years ago. The Beetle Dune seems to come well equipped with new Lighting and Technology Packages available. The fore-mentioned Technology Package will add Climatronic® dual-zone automatic climate control, Fender® Premium Audio System, KESSY® keyless access with push-button start, and a tilt-and-slide sunroof (coupes). The Beetle Dune will be available as a coupe or convertible with coupes available early next year and the droptops coming about six months later. The 1.8-liter Turbo four is standard (170 hp, 184 lb./ft. of torque) mated to a six-speed automatic. Prices and EPA numbers will be announced closer to production. Beetle Dunes will be available in Sandstorm Yellow (shown), Pure White, or Deep Black Pearl with 18-inch Canyon aluminum-alloy wheels fitted with 235/45 all-season tires (I like the gold ones shown on the convertible). The Beetle Dune provides something different for those that don't want to drive what everyone else does. Hey Volkswagen, how about an optional hybrid all-wheel drive system where the electric motor drives the rear wheels. For more info, check out the press release and a video of the Dune Concept's intro at the '14 Detroit Auto Show. Enjoy.

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

Cadillac replaces the SRX with the all-new XT5 for 2017 - w/video


Cadillac's SRX  was a smashing design success when it was introduced. After many years on the market, the crossover's styling became a little blocky looking and decidedly un-premium when compared to the competition. The new XT5 addresses those issues with a longer wheelbase, additional width, but a shorter overall length (with more interior volume and rear seat legroom) that gives the XT5 a more aggressive presence. The simple chrome accent on the lower doors helps as well and accents the side body sculpting. Add in the Cadillac grille and headlight design and you have a winner. The interior is markedly more premium when compared to the SRX as Cadillac is upgrading the interiors of all of their products giving their vehicles some of the nicest interior designs in the business. Underneath you'll find Cadillac's new 3.6-liter V6 (310 hp, 270 lb./ft. of torque) mated to an eight-speed automatic and FWD or optional all-wheel drive. The XT5 is lighter than the SRX (about 200 lbs.), so fuel economy should improve. The XT5 gets all of Cadillac's kit like the upgraded CUE infotainment system that works with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, optional adjustable suspension, full suite of safety equipment, and more, as standard or as an option including the new Platinum trim. The 2017 Cadillac XT5 will be built in China and Tennesee. For more info, check out the informative press release after the jump. I've also included a short intro video as well. Enjoy.

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

The Rotary Engine is alive in the Mazda RX-Vision Concept


It has been years since the last Wankel Rotary engine rolled down the Mazda production line in the RX-8, but Mazda has continued development of the rotary now called SkyActiv-R. Mazda used this year's Tokyo Motor Show to showcase the current SkyActiv-R in a lovely two-seat performance GT concept, the RX-Vision. The RX-Vision could be the next RX model (RX-9?) and would make a nice addition to Mazda's line-up. Not much info is given, but the car looks production ready with few changes. The interior looks done. The RX-Vision is a further evolution of Mazda's KODO design language and a proper showcase for Mazda's SkyActiv-R engine. Remember that the rotary engine was known for its poor fuel economy, higher emissions, but with excellent power output in relation to the engine's size and smooth running. Maybe Mazda has found some solutions. I always thought that a small Wankel engine would make a good range-extended engine for EVs, but what do I know? Regardless of the performance engine under the hood, the RX-Vision would give Mazda speed fans something to lust after and ultimately buy. How about it Mazda? For more info, check out the releases after the jump.

Source: Mazda - Press releases after the "read More" jump.


Quick Look: 2016 Honda Civic sedan - w/video


The tenth-generation 2016 Honda Civic is everything the previous car wasn't...attractive, lighter, slightly larger and did I mention attractive? Honda's new Civic rides on a new platform and has two new powerplants for good measure, a 2.0-liter I-4 (158 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 138 lb.-ft. of torque, 31/41/35 EPA - standard) that is mated to a six-speed manual or an optional CVT or the 1.5-liter direct-injected, turbo I-4 (174 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 162 lb.-ft. of torque, 31/42/35 EPA - optional, standard on EX-T trim level and higher) with a CVT prepped for the turbo engine. Trim levels include LX, EX, EX-T, EX-L, and the new top-of-the-line Touring trim. Prices start at $18.760 for the LX Civic with the six-speed manual up to the Touring model's $26,500 price of entry (prices plus taxes, license, fees, options). So, for your approximately $20k+ you get a well-built compact, with plenty of room, good fuel efficiency, and did I mention that it looks good? The all-new 2016 Honda Civic sedan should be at your local dealer now. When the sedan was introduced, Honda announced that the various global body styles and performance models would be coming to the US, so we can expect the new coupe (coming to the LA Auto Show), the five-door hatchback, and the Si and Type R. Lots to look forward to. If you are looking for a fuel-efficient, compact sedan that won't hurt your eyes when you look at it, Honda may just have your car. In fact, Honda's new Civic could be the best compact sedan available today. For more info, check out the press release and video after the jump.

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

Jeep/Mopar Red Rock Concept from SEMA to enter limited production - w/video



Jeep, together with corporate sibling Mopar, make some amazing concepts for SEMA and the annual Easter Jeep Safari that is held in Moab, Utah. These concepts are (often) easily attainable customs that the Jeep faithful can create on their own with aftermarket and Mopar parts and accessories. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Safari, Jeep will make just 50 examples of the Red Rock Concept for the "faithful." Specific specs have not been released, but expect things like the Dana 44 solid front and rear axles, a Rock-Trac® transfer case with a 4.10 axle ratio, a power dome vented hood, new premium off-road rock rails, and front and rear red tow hooks with Wrangler Red Rock Concept-specific features including a commemorative Red Rock badge and Red Rock hood decal, low gloss Jeep badge, low gloss Granite Crystal off-road bumpers, and a body-color grille with low-gloss black grille throats and headlamp accents. Other possible equipment could include a 2-inch lift kit, 17-inch beadlock wheels (in low gloss black; the bead lock rings are low gloss Granite Crystal) wrapped in rugged 35-inch BFG K02 all-terrain tires, LED headlamps and fog lights, and a Jeep-branded CB radio. If this is your "thing," get thee to your nearest Jeep retailer and order yours today before they're all gone. More info, after the jump.

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

New Range Rover Evoque Convertible revealed ahead of LA Auto Show debut - w/videos


Land Rover's Range Rover Evoque is arguably one of the best looking crossover/SUV thingies around and the new Evoque Convertible takes the whole good-looking thing to a new level. Take the Evoque Coupe and lop off the top (and of course brace and strengthen key components) and you've got the latest style statement from LR. The Evoque Convertible has a soft top that almost completely disappears behind the rear seats in seconds even at slow speeds. But the transition from Coupe to Convertible didn't rob the Evoque off any (or much) of its off-road capabilities. I mean you're not going to do the Baja 1000 in a standard Evoque, am I roght? The idea is to create a luxury compact crossover design statement and Land Rover has accomplished this with the proverbial flying colors. Expect all the available good stuff in your SE Dynamic or HSE Dynamic models with the top-drawer HSE getting almost everything including Jaguar/Land Rover's updated infotainment system accessible on the new 10.2 inch dash screen. In the US we can expect the 2.0-liter turbo four matched to a nine-speed automatic and Terrain Response all-wheel drive (even though other engine/transmission options are available in the rest of the world...including diesel power). The Convertible will be heavier than the Coupe, so expect performance and economy numbers to suffer slightly. The Range Rover Evoque will be at your local dealer in early 2016. More info in the press releases and videos after the jump. Enjoy!

Source: Land Rover - Press releases and videos after the "read more" jump.

Toyota adds new hybrid models to the RAV4 line for 2016 - w/videos


Toyota's "compact" crossover, the RAV4, gets a few updates, better interior materials, and two new Hybrid models for 2016. While the press release (after the jump) outlines all the changes, we will focus on the new Hybrids. The '16 RAV4 Hybrid will be available in XLE and Limited trim levels with standard AWD-i all-wheel drive. This system uses a single electric motor in the rear for four-wheel traction and movement, while the 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four gets matched to Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive to power the front wheels. That's a simplification cuz there's lots of electronics in there, but you get the idea. Total system power is 194 hp and 206 lb./ft, of torque making the new Hybrid the most powerful AND fuel efficient of the RAV4 models (EPA- numbers are currently estimated at 34 mpg city / 31 mpg highway / 33 mpg combined). While the changes are small, the nose of the new RAV is more aggressive and kinda bulldog-esque. Inside, better materials are on order and more sound-proofing provides a quieter, more-premium ride. All the safety equipment is now available like Toyota's Star Safety system, optional new Toyota Safety Sense (a multi-feature advanced safety package anchored by automated pre-collision braking), varying levels of Entune infotainment (including the Entune Premium JBL® Audio with Navigation system, 576 watts (maximum), 11 JBL®GreenEdge™ Technology speakers including a subwoofer and JBL amplifier), and much more. In other words, you can spend a whole bunch of bucks if you're not careful with the order form. Prices start at $28,370 for the AWD XLE and $33,610 for the AWD Limited RAV4 Hybrid plus a $900 delivery, processing, and handling fee; license; taxes; and options. For lots of info, check out the informative press release and videos after the jump. The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid should be at your local dealer any day now. I'll bet Ford will kick themselves for abandoning the Escape Hybrid now...

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