BMW unleashes new 3-Series Gran Turismo on an unsuspecting public

When BMW created the first five-door Gran Turismo (GT) model based on the 5-Series, the car was atypical BMW fare being rather ungainly. Not totally ugly, but a long way from pretty. The cars sold well in varying parts of the world (China especially). Then the 3-Series GT was born and was much more successfully styled. Now, we have round two of the 3-Series Gran Turismo saga with an almost attractive new body. The car is almost svelte and appears to be more upscale than your average 3-Series. The 3-Series GT is available with eighteen different engine and transmission variations in most of the world, but in the US, expect an engine line-up similar to the regular 3-Series sedan mated to the eight-speed automatic. Expect 320, 328, and 335 numbers on the trunk (tailgate) with SportLine, LuxuryLine, and M Sport (not a true M car) fitments. BMW's iDrive Professional is available for the first time in a 3-Series model. As with all BMWs, you can equip your 3-Series GT as you like and your budget will allow which might add up to lots of cash. If you need or want a five-door BMW 3-Series, the new GT should be considered. It is certainly much better looking than before. My only question is, now that there is the X4, do we need the 3-Series Gran Turismo? I think that's up to you... For more, check out the interesting press release after the jump.

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

Quick Look: 2017 Honda Ridgeline mid-size truck - w/videos

The previous Honda Ridgeline took a page from the Chevy Avalanche school of design with flying buttresses and other not-your-typical-truck features. While the Avalanche featured the typical body-on-frame truck production model, the Ridgeline shared it's platform with the Pilot crossover and the Odyssey minivan although with considerable stiffening for truck duty. For 2017, the all-new Ridgeline still uses a heavily modified crossover platform. but ditches the "Avalanche look" for a more popular regular truck profile. The pick-up bed and cockpit body line was even expanded to more closely approximate a "regular body-on-frame" truck. The Ridgeline is an attractive mid-size truck that will meet the needs of most mid-size truck buyers. If you need more capacity or towing capability, get a regular (probably) full-size truck. A V6 is standard as are a six-speed automatic. The i-VTM4™ torque-vectoring AWD system is available as an option. Special features include the in-bed trunk (below), dual-action tailgate, an in-bed audio system, infotainment with 8-inch display and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and much more. There are even special Honda Accessories available through your dealer (see second press release). The '17 Ridgeline has entered production in Alabama and should be at your local dealer;s showroom soon. For more info, check out the press releases (3), pics, and 3 videos after the jump. Enjoy.

Source: Honda - Press releases (3), pics, and videos after the "read more" jump.

Volkswagen Beetle Coupe and Cabriolet get updates

While the press release doesn't state it, the pics do...this is the 2017 Beetle. For the new year, the Beetle compact gets updates and upgrades not to mention numerous "special edition" models. The '17 Beetle will see the Dune edition (in silver above), the Denim "special," the R-Line interior and exterior packages, and the UK AllStar and Exclusive models. No word on US versions. '17 Beetles will come in Basic, Design and R-Line flavors as a CoupĂ© or Cabriolet not to mention the special edition models. New paint finish options include "Bottle Green Metallic (below)" and "White Silver Metallic." Bumpers have been modified for a more sporty appearance and tinted LED Taillights and new wheel designs are on hand. My local dealer has a Denim Beetle on his showroom floor and I like the interior, but might prefer the white car with the denim interior. The Dune model should appear soon and the silver car (above and after the jump) is very nice as is the golden hue. I guess you could say that VW is trying to keep the Beetle interesting to a diffuse group of buyers. I think they've succeeded. For more, check out the release after the jump.

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

All-new 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia 3-Series fighter steps out

I've held off writing about the new Giulia because it has been delayed several times. Each time though, the folks at Alfa Romeo went back to the proverbial "boards" and updated/upgraded the car in light of consumer feedback. As an example, the first time I saw the interior it was very reminiscent of the Fiat 500 which is fine for a compact, sports econocar but not a premium sports sedan. The current interior is a vast improvement (see pic). When the Giulia rolls into Alfa Romeo Studios, the car will come in Giulia and Giulia Ti models as well as the top-of-the-performance heap, the Quadrifoglio. Giulia models will be fitted with a 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbo engine with eight-speed automatic transmission that delivers 276 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. All-wheel drive will be available. While final specs haven't been listed, the Quadrifoglia engine will produce more than 500 hp...performance indeed (3.8 second 0 to 60). With a 50/50 weight distribution, handling should be exceptional as Alfa Romeo. As long as the Guilia is priced competitively, it should do well in the US market. I pointed out the Giulia to a friend at a recent auto show and his reaction was "nice. but nothing special." Oops. We shall see... More info after the jump.

Source: FCA/Alfa Romeo - Extensive press release after the "read more" jump.

All-new 2016 Mazda CX-9 now available starting at $31,520+ - w/video

Mazda has begun deliveries of their all-new, mid-size, CX-9 three-row crossover. Prices start at $31,529 (plus $900 destination, taxes, license, fees, and options) for the CX-9 Sport model (all-wheel drive is an $1,800 option) and jumps all the way to the top-of-the-line CX-9 Signature (CX-9 Signature adorns its interior with Auburn-colored Nappa leather, rosewood supplied by Japanese guitar-maker Fujigen, LED signature accent grille lighting, LED accent lighting around the automatic shifter, and more) for $44,015 (+) that includes i-Active all-wheel drive. Touring and Grand Touring trim levels fill out the line-up above the "base" Sport model (see pricing chart). The CX-9 arrives almost 200 pounds lighter than the previous model and with the new SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine that produces 250 hp w/premium (227 hp w/regular) and 310 Lb./ft. of torque that is mated to a six-speed automatic with FWD or optional AWD (standard Signature). The new CX-9 gets the full suite of MazdaConnect infotainment and safety equipment (see press releases for specifics). Mazda's crossovers are considered the handlers in their respective classes, which means that the CX-9 should be on your crossover consideration list. The CX-9 FWD models are expected to achieve 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway/25 mpg combined in the EPA test cycle. If you like what you see, the new CX-9 will be at your local Mazda dealer soon. For lots more info, check out the three press releases, pricing chart, EPA (estimated) specs, and b-roll video after the jump.

Source: Mazda - Press releases (3), pricing chart, EPA specs, and video after the "read more" jump.

Ram introduces new limited-edition 2016 Stinger Yellow 1500 Sport truck

Everybody's doin' it, so here is Ram's latest limited-edition special, the Stinger Yellow 1500 Sport and if you're into special edition trucks, this one just might click off all the right boxes for you. Start with a Ram 1500 Crew-Cab pick-up and add in loads of good stuff, like a 395-horsepower HEMI® V-8, an eight-speed automatic, vented sport hood, 22-inch wheels (20-inch on 4X4 models), Sport stripes, a predominantly black cockpit with Light Black Chrome and yellow details (dash pic above is from the Rebel model, but you get the idea), the 8.4AN Uconnect system with navigation and standard rear-view camera system,  Sport embroidery on the seats with accent color Ram's head logo on the headrests, and black leather seats with colored accent sport mesh on the seating inserts. Oh yeah, and it is painted Stinger Yellow. Base price for all this goodness is $43,145 (plus $1,195 destination, taxes, license, fees, and options) and yes you can add even more to your SY 1500 Sport like the 4X4 system. Production will be limited to just 2,250 pick-em-ups. The Ram Stinger Yellow 1500 Sport is heading to dealers now, so if you want one...

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

2017 Honda Civic five-door Hatchback coming to the US - w/video

Let's start off by stating that the car pictured here is considered a prototype version of the production 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback (dash pic is from a production Civic sedan). In Europe, the five-door Civic hatchback is considered a "core" model so the car's redesign is extremely important. Thankfully, the attractive new Civic Hatchback will come to the US, although all cars will be built in England and shipped here. Maybe if consumers in the US embrace the new five-door, it will be built here. Mazda, Ford, and others sell a lot of five-door hatches in the US market, so... Until then, exchange rates (between the US and the UK) could affect prices. Of course Honda could eat the possible increases for more sales, but my breath I wouldn't hold. So looking at the prototype shown here, the aggressive front and rear bumpers will probably be simplified and the wheels will be smaller, but even those pieces could see production on the upcoming Si or Type R versions (assuming the Hatch gets those trim levels). The Civic Hatch will be fitted with the new 1.5-liter Turbo engine mated to either a six-speed manual or a CVT. The Hatchback will add a new dimension of utility to Honda's very popular Civic. And it looks good too. For more info, check out the press releases and video after the jump. The 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback will be at your local dealer later this year.

Source: Honda - Press releases and video after the "read more" jump. Civic coupe post.

Ford to add V6 Sport model to Fusion line-up for 2017 - w/videos

Ford quietly announced the 2017 Fusion line-up earlier this year with changes, updates, and new models. Joining the Fusion Hybrid, Hybrid Energi (plug-in hybrid), and SE models will be the new Platinum and V6 Sport flavors. The V6 Sport model is an interesting departure for Ford and other mid-size sedan makers in that the Fusion V6 Sport will have some bonafides behind the name. Try more performance (many of the competition's Sport models are purely appearance packages. Ford has one of those as well with the Sport Appearance package on SE models). The V6 Sport's EcoBoost 2.7-liter V6 is expected to produce 325 hp and 350 Lb./ft. of torque (approximately 100 lb.-ft. of additional torque and nearly 50 more horsepower when compared to the Accord and Camry V6s), have an adjustable "pot-hole-fighting" suspension, all-wheel drive, and the appearance tweaks that say this is no regular Fusion (deeper air intakes, a gloss black-finish mesh grille, 19-inch wheels, rear spoiler, and dual twin exhaust outlets). Ford's Sync 3 with Apple Carplay and Android Auto are also new for '17. Ford's Fusion is one of the better-looking mid-size sedans out there and the updates for 2017 improve an already stunning car. With the new line-up, Ford will have a Fusion for almost everyone. Let's hope they don't over-price the V6 Sport model. The 2017 Ford Fusion will be at your dealer this summer, with the V6 Sport model appearing by the Fall. Check out the two-press releases and videos (one posted by Ford so it may disappear at some point) after the jump. Enjoy!

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

ACWWG: Audi announces New SQ7 TDI performance crossover - w/videos

There is nothing like a full-size crossover that gets up and goes while returning class-leading fuel efficiency. Interest piqued? Well this one is probably one for the ACWWG (Another Car We Won't Get) files, the new Audi SQ7 crossover with a V8 performance turbo-diesel. Yup Diesel. Which is another reason we (probably) won't see this one in the US. But this is the diesel that could get folks back into oil burners. Granted, a nearly six-figure performance model with a diesel engine might have few takers, but they would be happy people. Audi's Q7 is a popular people and stuff mover and before the Dieselgate mess, the diesel engine option was popular. But have that diesel make more than 430 hp and 660 lb.-ft. of torque utilizing an eight-speed automatic and Audi's quattro, it is a winning combination. And oh yeah, the SQ7's fuel economy numbers are in the 30s. The new SQ7 has all of the good stuff in Audi's bag of tricks like an electric-powered compressor (EPC) and 48‑volt subsystem, updated MMI infotainment, the all-new 4.0-liter V8 turbo-diesel, networked suspension control, all-wheel steering, standard 20-inch alloy wheels (22-inch optional), Matrix LED headlamps, Virtual Cockpit, and much more. Lots more. And it looks good too. The new Audi SQ7 is going on sale in Europe with a base price of 89,000 Euros in the next couple of weeks. Maybe, just maybe, if Audi parent Volkswagen gets this mess cleaned up soon, we might see some of the automakers more interesting diesels on these shores. Couldn't hurt and might help. For more info, check out the two press releases and videos after the jump. If you like the SQ7, let Audi know.

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