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Archive for the ‘Detroit Auto Show’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Ford F-150

Ford has reworked the F-150 for 2018 with cosmetic updates, new active safety systems, and some healthy powertrain upgrades. A new front fascia and modifications to the taillights and tailgate constitute the exterior changes, along with new wheel choices. Adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keep assist are now present, too. But the biggest changes happen under the hood.

Ford has upgraded nearly every engine option. The base 3.5-liter V-6 has been replaced with a new 3.3-liter V-6 with more power and better efficiency. Both the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8 have been improved with more power. Ford’s 10-speed automatic now comes standard on all but the base V-6. Best of all, an all-new 3.0-liter Power Stroke V-6 turbodiesel joins the lineup. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 carries over unchanged, though it received a huge update for the 2017 model year. The same is true for the 2017 F-150 Raptor’s High-Output 3.5-liter EcoBoost. The F-150 is Ford’s biggest seller and highest profit-maker, so it’s completely understandable why Ford pays it so much attention. The current F-150 debuted for the 2015 model year, so it’s not really old. In fact, it still remains the newest full-size, half-ton pickup among the Big Three – beating the Chevy Silverado by a year and the Ram 1500 by six. Only the 2017 Nissan Titan is newer.

Update 08/09/2017: EPA estimates for the 2018 F-150’s fuel economy have been released. Efficiency improves for the base V-6, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost, and the V-8. Towing and Payload stats are also announced.

Continue reading for details on the 2018 Ford F-150.

PostHeaderIcon Next-Generation Ram 1500 Debuting At The 2018 Detroit Auto Show

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has confirmed the next-generation Ram 1500 is on-schedule for its debut and production in January 2018. The unveiling festivities will take place at the Detroit Auto Show between January 14 and 16, while production begins that same month at the Ram’s new Sterling Heights assembly plant. And despite its early production, the new Ram will be a 2019 model. The next-generation Ram 2500 and 3500 are expected to debut the following year with similar design and engineering updates.

The 2019 Ram – codenamed DT – is expected to be lighter thanks to an expanded use of aluminum, though its cargo bed will remain steel for durability. Spy shots of a longer Crew Cab version suggest a Mega Cab option for the 1500, as well, setting the Ram apart in its highly competitive segment. A rumored split-tailgate design is also a possibility. Ram’s prior patent drawings detail a tailgate that acts like the Honda Ridgeline’s, but with a vertical split in the middle allowing for added versatility. A new rear bench seat with “Stow-n-Go”-like folding abilities might offer a completely flat load floor, too, as reported by Allpar. Drivetrain options will include a new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with direct fuel injection and horsepower levels hovering between 310 and 320. An all-new turbocharged inline six-cylinder is expected for 2020, which might replace the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. Rumors of an improved (and EPA-certified) EcoDiesel V-6 with a higher tow rating and a turbocharged four-cylinder have also been rumbling around the Internet. None of this has been confirmed, of course, as Ram has a tight hold on its upcoming pickup. Thankfully, the nitty-gritty details are coming in January.

Continue reading for more information.

PostHeaderIcon Chevrolet Traverse

The venerable and humble Chevrolet Traverse is borrowing upscale design cues from its Tahoe and Suburban big brothers. The change happens for the 2018 model year as the Traverse moves into its second generation with little more than an engine option and the name carrying over. This unibody, three-row crossover is new from the lug nuts up. It rides on an elongated C1XX platform shared with the Cadillac XT5 and new-for-2017 GMC Acadia. Chevy expects the Traverse to lead the segment in interior volume and third-row legroom, making it a decent alternative to a minivan. It might still be a crossover, but its humility has gone missing.

The Traverse has been around since 2009 and has been Chevy’s version of the Lambda-based GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave.
With GM’s movement away from the aging Lambda platform, these vehicles migrated (save yet for the Enclave) to the new CX11 chassis. The 2017 Acadia was first out of the gate, but the Traverse now follows. However, the two are not badge-engineered twin anymore. The Traverse has a longer wheelbase that brings more interior volume and a more stately side profile appearance.

The 2018 Traverse now has two available engines – a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and the reworked 3.6-liter V-6. Both come mated to a new nine-speed automatic transmission. The Traverse retains its transverse engine mounting and standard front-wheel drive configuration. GM’s new part-time AWD system is optional.

Inside, the Traverse can hold eight people in a 2+3+3 configuration. A seven-seater configuration can be had thanks to optional second-row captain’s chairs. New folding mechanisms in the second row allow for easier folding and third-row entry. With both rows stored flat, the Traverse can swallow 98.5 cubic feet of cargo – nearly four cubic-feet more than the Chevy Tahoe.

Update 07/27/2017: Chevy has announced pricing for the 2018 Traverse. The base L trim starts at $30,875, while the range-topping High Country starts at $52,995. Full details are in the Pricing section below.

Of course, there is more to the 2018 Traverse, so keep reading for the full run-down.

PostHeaderIcon Lexus LC 500

The Lexus LF-LC originally debuted at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and since then, Lexus debuted the LF-LC Concept 2. Later in 2015, we got our hands on some spy photos of the LF-LC testing under camo in production form. It has been few years of constant teasing, but Lexus has finally unveiled the Lexus LC500 – the production variant of the LF-LC that we’ve been waiting for.

As you can see from a quick look, the LC500 isn’t all that different from the previous LF-LC concepts that we’ve seen. It is still the same low-sitting, dramatically styled coupe that will probably prove to be the best thing to come out of Lexus in a long time. With its unveiling, we’ve learned a lot about the 2+2 coupe that promises to be the future of Lexus, and to be honest, I can’t wait to see it on the street.

Akio Toyoda, a Master Driver and Chief Brand Officer for Lexus, said, “The LC 500 has been an important product for Lexus and me personally. A few years ago, we decided to guide the future of the brand with products that had more passion and distinction in the luxury market. This flagship luxury coupe’s proportions, stunning design and performance make a strong statement about our brand’s emotional direction and will grow the Lexus luxury appeal globally.”

Of course, it’s not like you’ll see one at every corner. We’re not aware of pricing yet, but given the dramatic design and the details at hand, the car is sure to be reserved for those of the wealthier population. With that said, let’s take a look at Lexus’ new flagship luxury coupe and all the greatness that is Lexus LC500.

Update 3/20/2017: Lexus has announced pricing for the Lexus LC 500 and LC 500H. Check out our prices section below for all of the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Lexus LF-LC.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ

Caught red handed cheating on emissions tests, Volkswagen is still struggling to obtain settlements in the “Dieselgate” scandal. However, the German firm is also looking to create a more sustainable future for itself by embracing electrification. Having announced a plan to launch several EVs over the next few years, Volkswagen is unveiling an increasing number of concept cars that feature electric motors instead of standard gasoline or diesel mills. One such vehicle is the I.D. BUZZ, which made its official debut at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show as an electric, multi-purpose vehicle based on the I.D. Concept hatchback.

Described as a next-generation vehicle that “forges links between the origins of the Volkswagen brand and its electrifying future,” the I.D. BUZZ is based on the company’s new Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) platform and pays homage to the original Volkswagen Type 2, commonly known as the Microbus in the U.S. According to Volkswagen, the “BUZZ” name is a phonetic word play on “bus” and refers to the silent buzzing of the electric drivetrain.

“The Volkswagen brand’s big electric offensive begins in the year 2020 with a completely new vehicle architecture. That is when we will be launching an entirely new generation of fully connected, all-electric vehicles to the market. By 2025 we want to be selling one million of these vehicles annually. We are making electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagen,” said dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen brand.

There’s no word whether the I.D. BUZZ will become a production model anytime soon, but given that the Frank Welsch, who’s in charge of development of future models, referred to it as a “next-generation vehicle,” it’s safe to assume that the Microbus will return sooner or later, albeit in all-electric form.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen I.D. Concept Van.

PostHeaderIcon Lexus LS 500

The LS full-size luxury sedan is an extremely important model for Lexus. First introduced for the 1990 model year, the LS is essentially the torchbearer for Lexus’ values, offering the greatest possible comfort, style, and technology that the brand can muster. In case you were unaware, the LS nameplate stands for “luxury sedan,” and as the company’s flagship, it basically helped usher in the Lexus brand nearly three decades ago. Now, with a debut at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, there’s a next-gen model on deck for the 2018 model year, and it’s got a coupe-like exterior design, a roomy four-door interior, a new platform under the skin, a new twin-turbo V-6 and 10-speed automatic, and optional cutting-edge safety technology.

It’s called the LS 500, and it promises the “greatest-ever LS agility and comfort.” Lexus is also touting the new LS as the embodiment of traditional Japanese philosophies of hospitality and craftsmanship.

Lexus will begin selling the new LS late this year as a 2018 model, bringing it globally to 90 different markets. The most important market will be the U.S., but there’s no shortage of competition in this segment, so rest assured the brand won’t be pulling any punches.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Lexus LS.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe

The Mercedes-AMG GT has been on the market for less than two and a half years as of January 2017, but it has already spawned six different versions, not including cars built specifically for the race track. The latest to join the family is the AMG GT C Coupe, which was unveiled at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, where Mercedes-Benz also announced various updates to the standard AMG GT models.

Essentially a coupe version of the AMG GT C Roadster that debuted at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, the GT C Coupe bridges the gap between the GT S, which is the second most powerful model in the lineup, and the hardcore GT R. Features that set it apart from the entry level versions include sportier elements front and rear and a revised hood among other minor revisions on the outside.

Drivetrain-wise, the AMG GT C is significantly more powerful than the GT S and not too far from what the track-prepped GT R can deliver. All told, the GT C Coupe expands the AMG GT lineup even further, in what appears to be an attempt to match the extremely varied 911 offerings available from Porsche. It remains to be seen whether Merc will make it in this tight and difficult niche, but the AMG GT C is a good start.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe.

PostHeaderIcon New BMW 5 Series Has a Sweet Navigation System

I’m a big fan of BMW, so when they finally rolled the new 5 Series onto their show floor in Detroit this week, I was super stoked to check it out. Of course, I had to stay behind the velvet rope until after their press conference and all of that, but once that was done, Bimmer lifted the ropes and let your boy in to check out all of the finer details of its new 5 Series Sedan. While the cabin was spacious and the tablets for rear seat passengers were cool, what really interested me was the navigation system up front.

Most stock navigation systems are pretty much the same these days, and maybe other models have the same functions, but BMW’s was insanely fast and responsive and was actually able to work under the metal roof and beams of the Cobo Center in Detroit. The initial display is pretty basic – it’s your normal birds-eye view of the area with a little blip showing your exact location, but zooming in gives you a mildly 3D representation of the area around you. Zooming in even further gives you a street-level view of sorts that shows all of the buildings in their exact locations and with relative height.

Naturally, I didn’t get to see the navigation in action outside of viewing my location and playing with the view, but if the responsiveness and quickness of the system are any indication, this system should make navigating unfamiliar territory a breeze. And, for the record, the rest of the system was fast and responsive as well, including phone pairing, XM radio station selection, onboard music storage loading and browsing, and navigating the various menus and settings as a whole. Maybe the systems from brands like Mercedes and Audi as just as good, but I was pretty impressed with what BMW brought to the table with the system in the 5 Series. It beats the standard google navigation system I’ve been so accustomed to for so long; that’s for sure.

PostHeaderIcon The Mercedes-AMG GT C Can Accommodate People of the Plump Variety

I’m a bigger guy, so one of the hardest parts about covering auto shows in a professional capacity is getting in and out of smaller cars. Smaller sedans are the hardest, but small coupes aren’t exactly a breeze either. So, when I finally made it to the Mercedes show floor, I was excited to see some of the new cars in the metal, but also a little anxious about trying to get into some of them. Let’s be honest, when you’re five-foot, 10 inches and pushing 300 pounds, it’s not exactly easy to crawl into a Mercedes GLA-class, let alone a two-seater like the Mercedes-AMG GT C. But, as a member of the media, I had a responsibility to try. And try I did.

To my surprise, the GT C’s front seat was able to move far enough to the rear to accommodate someone well over six foot or someone with an extra meaty midsection. Getting inside really wasn’t that difficult either. To door opens up fairly wide as you can see in the photo gallery, and once I crawled inside, I found that the seat was actually wide enough to accommodate my wider frame. I’m shocked at this point, but sure enough, I was sitting in this little, 550-horsepower demon on wheels and I was comfortable. The seat provided more than enough side support for me, the cushion and back were very soft but supportive in the right places, and the seatbelt even fit. Amazing!

One thing of particular note, however, is how low the seat in this thing really is. Because of the low seating position, you get the true “sports car” feel, but I did find myself knocking into the controls on the center console a bit with my arm. Over the years I’ve grown so accustomed to driving with one hand and keeping the other on the shifter, that I’m still not sure what to do with my right arm in a model that doesn’t let me row my own gears. Outside of that, the car was an absolute dream to sit in, even for a bigger guy in a small car. Visibility over the dash was great; the infotainment display isn’t obtrusive to my forward, right view, and the Alcantara on the steering wheel was a nice treat for my hands after hanging onto a hard camera frame all day. My point is that if you were considering the GT C but wasn’t sure it would be comfortable for larger people, go check it out for yourself. You just might be surprised!

PostHeaderIcon Word of Advice: Don't Touch Concept Cars at Auto Shows

When you go to an auto show as a member of the press, you’re there to take as many pictures as you can, but the job also comes with its perks. My favorite perk is that you’re allowed to enter and inspect vehicles that are normally blocked off or locked to the general public. Of course, automakers only keep the cars open for so long after their long-awaited debut, but it’s generally enough time to get whatever you need. Well, this year in Detroit, Audi was packed after its press event that debuted the new Audi S5 Cabriolet, the Audi SQ5 SUV, and the Audi Q8 Concept. Naturally, the Q8 concept got the most attention as it will serve as the basis for a new production model in the near future, so I didn’t get much of a chance to check it out in detail at first. Later in the day, however, I did, but I also got into trouble doing it.

See, once the press event is over, manufacturer representatives linger around to make sure you’re not doing anything you shouldn’t do. And, despite the fact that there was no velvet rope and the doors weren’t locked, Audi wasn’t exactly excited about letting me look inside the Q8 concept after the crowds dispersed. Generally, you’re allowed to walk up, open the doors, and get inside most models so, out of natural instinct, I tried the same with the Q8. It has the shaved door handles and touch panels linked to the automatic door poppers, so I was stoked to see how they worked, but my time was ultimately cut short. I started at the rear hatch to get a shot of the rear cargo area, but once the door was open, I had the chance to snap one picture before the rep came over, shut the hatch, and told me “no.”

“Fair Enough,” I thought, as I proceeded to the side of the Q8 and started to snap a few shots through the glass. I didn’t intend to do so, but I rubbed the little Audi logo on the front door with my arm, and the door opened. Being watched at that point, the rep came over and asked me to leave. Security then walked me out of Audi’s show floor and asked me not to return for the day. If I did, my credentials would be revoked, and I would be escorted out of the show. I returned the second day and got some more pictures, but I made it a point not to open the car again. My point here is that if they are that sensitive with members of the media, it’s probably best for you to avoid trying out those electric door poppers for yourself – you’ll probably find yourself escorted to the front door and unable to return.

And, for the record, I’m not bashing Audi at all – I get it. This is a concept car, there’s only one in existence, and they don’t want anything to happen to it. Believe me, just about everyone wanted to touch those electric door poppers. But, Audi was one of the few manufacturers that didn’t have their concept blocked off completely, so kudos to them. I couldn’t get within 20 feet of the Chrysler Portal or the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz, for example, so the fact that I was able to get that close to the Q8 was actually quite surprising. Either way, it’s probably best to follow the rules, don’t crawl under the ropes, and don’t expect to sit inside any of the concepts.

PostHeaderIcon Five Cool Design Features That Lexus Introduced with the New LS

As the first model to wear the Lexus badge and the company’s oldest nameplate (introduced in 1989), the LS is arguably the most important vehicle for Toyota’s luxury division. Despite this, it took Lexus quite a few years to replace the fourth-generation model. While the first three iterations were sold for five to six years, the fourth-gen sedan soldiered on for more than a decade. Granted, Lexus introduced updates in 2009 and 2012, but the LS was a bit long in the tooth compared to its competitors. Come 2017 and the fifth-gen LS was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, and I finally understand why it took so long for the new full-size sedan to arrive.

Much like most redesigned cars, the LS boasts a ton of new features inside and out, as well as new underpinnings and a new drivetrain. However, nothing says revolution more than the new design language that Lexus introduced with the fifth-gen four-door. Okay, maybe it’s not all that new given that specific cues can be seen on existing Lexus cars, but there are quite a few new features worth mentioning. And if current design strategies are any indication, these new elements will probably find their way in other Lexus models too.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon If You Plan to Haul More Than One Passenger, Don't Buy the Ford Fiesta

I like to take in all of the little details, so when I was at Cobo in Detroit for the press preview days of the Detroit Auto Show, I made it a point to sit in just about every vehicle I could. Pictures are worth a thousand words, sure, but they can also be a bit deceiving as I found out when it came to the Ford Fiesta. I’ve always been big into hatchbacks, and the Fiesta has intrigued me in recent years, but as soon as I laid eyes on it at the show, I realized just how small this car really is. There’s nothing wrong with a small car as long as there’s enough room inside, but when it comes to the Fiesta, that just isn’t the case.

As a larger guy, I knew the Fiesta wouldn’t be that comfortable to me, but I didn’t realize just how cramped the rear of the cabin would be. To put it simply, there’s next to no foot or legroom back there. This made getting inside of the car through the small doors even more difficult, but still achievable. Once I was there, I found that there wasn’t a single position I could get into and actually be comfortable. At five-feet 10 inches, my feet were forced under the front seat and my knees embedded into the seat back – luckily, this model doesn’t have a plastic frame on the rear, or it would have been sheer hell. Moving the seats all the way forward yielded a little more room, but it still wasn’t comfortable, and it would have definitely put a damper on the comfort of the driver or front passenger.

But, it wasn’t all bad. The seat cushion and seat back in the rear was pretty soft, so that was pleasing to the back and rump, but outside of that, you couldn’t pay me enough to ride back there for any extended period of time unless it was absolutely necessary. And, if you weigh more than 250 pounds, you might want to bring some butter and a shoehorn, because getting out isn’t exactly easy. Up front, however, you’ll find that the seats are more than suitable for full-sized adults or those with a little extra meat on their bones. The seats slide back quite far for a small car; the seat belts had plenty of length, and the front was pretty comfortable to sit in. The doors are pretty small, so entering and exiting the vehicle isn’t exactly a breeze, but it isn’t really difficult either. Either way, if you have older kids, or plan to haul around your friends, do everyone a favor and buy something bigger – maybe the Ford Focus, for example. There’s significantly more room in that baby.

PostHeaderIcon All Eyes Are On Kia And The Stinger Now

By now, everybody seems to be onboard the notion that Kia hit a homerun over the fence with the Stinger. The Korean automaker bet big on a premium performance sedan that could take on BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi and the early returns about the car are very encouraging. Of course, it’s still hard to make any judgments on the Stinger until we get to see what it’s actually like on the road, but given the overwhelmingly positive response surrounding its Detroit Auto Show debut, it wouldn’t be too presumptuous to think of how Kia’s going to build around the Stinger in order for the sedan to reach its full potential.

First of all, here’s what we already know about the Stinger’s status moving forward. the initial version will come with two variants: an entry-level sedan and a performance sedan called the Stinger GT. There’s no definite timetable yet on when the model will go on sale, but all signs seem to point to a launch sometime within the year with the U.S. scheduled to get the Stinger in the last quarter of 2017, maybe even sooner.

Here’s the question though: is Kia already thinking of adding on to the two variants that have already been announced?

It’s a legitimate question to ask and to Kia’s credit, it’s already indicated as much, telling Autocar that a diesel version is already in the works with a tentative schedule to make its debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show this March. Details are still scarce on how a diesel Stinger is going to be packaged, but a look at the automaker’s engine lineup points to the 197-horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel that the company already uses on some of its models, including the Kia Sorento.

Beyond the growing possibility of seeing a diesel version of the Stinger, there have also been talks of going the electrified route. Granted, an EV Stinger is unlikely to arrive in the foreseeable future, but according to Spencer Cho, Kia’s overseas product marketing boss, the company has the capability to venture down that road in the event that there’s demand for one.

The speculation surrounding Kia’s growth plans for the Stinger is likely going to continue now that the model has made such a positive first impression. It’s a great problem for Kia to solve and one that I’m sure the company is looking forward to solve.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Why Nissan's Invisible Roof Should Become a Thing

The Nissan Vmotion concept gained a significant upgrade for the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, where it showcased a more angular and futuristic take on the company’s current design language and previewed the interior styling we should see in production cars in a few years. The Vmotion 2.0 looks fantastic inside and out and features new “Intelligent Mobility” tech that Nissan has yet to talk about in detail for now. But to me, the concept’s most interesting feature is the “floating” roof.

Built around lines flowing seamlessly from the steeply-raked A-pillars to the trunk lid, the roof design is like a massive piece of glass mounted on a thin structure. The floating C-pillars are carried over from previous Nissan concepts and production models like the Maxima, but there are many details that set this new concept apart. For starters, the line that connects the A-pillars to the trunk lid have a unique carbon-fiber finish with thin silver thread accents. This makes it seem like it’s built under the glass and makes the roof almost invisible. Around back, the Nissan fitted a wrap-around window – something we don’t see on many cars nowadays.

The company’s floating roof is by far the coolest glass roof I’ve seen recently and I think it would make a great feature on production vehicle. The main reason is that I like large moonroofs and the enormous amount of light they bring inside the cabin. If you haven’t experienced that, go test a car with a big moonroof and I bet you’ll never want to go back to a metal top. Another reason is that both the front and rear window remind me of the “bubble top” cars of the 1960s. The 1961 Chevrolet Impala is a cool example and I’d love to see that roof design return into showrooms with a modern spin.

Finally I think that carbon-fiber would be a good solution to strengthen a glass-only roof. Granted, the lightweight material is pretty expensive to use right and wouldn’t make financial sense on non-premium cars, but the technology is bound to become cheaper in the future and more automakers will probably adopt it. Here’s to hoping that the Vmotion 2.0 inspires not only upcoming Nissan vehicles, but other carmakers too!

PostHeaderIcon 2017 Detroit Auto Show – Worst In Show

With our list of the best debuts to show in Detroit now live, it’s time to visit the opposite side of the spectrum with our Worst In Show list. And while it may seem cruel to highlight the following five vehicles as the biggest targets for our automotive ire, we do it out of love. Just try a little harder next time, okay people?

Included in this list is an off-road monstrosity, a brittle EV, a confused crossover, a same-old-story compact, and a no-show sports car.

But there was a ton of debuts in Detroit this year, and we’re sure there are at least a few we didn’t include that rubbed you the wrong way. Or maybe we missed the mark entirely. In either case, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Is Volkswagen Ever Bringing Back The Microbus?

The debut of the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept represented two different things for the company. The first takeaway is that the German automaker is serious about pushing its way into the electric car and autonomous driving conversations. After all, the I.D. Buzz is the second model bearing the I.D. nomenclature, a nod to Volkswagen’s intention to break into these rapidly developing markets and move as quickly as possible past the Dieselgate scandal that rocked the entire auto industry. But we’re not here to talk about any of that. We’re here to ask an equally important question: is Volkswagen ever going to bring back the Microbus?

You might have noticed that the I.D. Buzz Concept was intentionally designed to look like the Microbus of yesteryear. It’s a smart strategy considering that the van remains an icon amongst icons in its segment. The Volkswagen Microbus, otherwise known as the T2, Kombi, and Transporter, is one of the rare cars that can still tug at the nostalgic heartstrings of bell bottom-wearing, peace sign-making baby boomers while also drawing interest from retro-loving hipsters.

But as much as there appears to still be a healthy market for a modern version of the Volkswagen Microbus, it is a little surprising that the German automaker hasn’t capitalized on that sentimentality. In fact, a quick trip down memory lane reveals that since 2001, Volkswagen has made five different concept vehicles that were all inspired, in one form or another, by the Microbus. The past few years alone has given us two of these five concepts, including the Budd-E Concept and the aforementioned I.D. Buzz Concept. As for the others, the 2001 Microbus Concept was a hit when it was unveiled, as was the Bulli Concept that was unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The closest Volkswagen actually get to bringing back the Microbus was when it introduced the T6 cargo van and used a similar two-color scheme that the Microbus made famous.

Other than that, a lot of us have been left high and dry by Volkswagen and at one point, the frustration and disappointment of getting teased with all these Microbus-inspired concepts will catch up to Volkswagen. One day, we’re not going to care about the Microbus anymore and if Volkswagen ever decides to bring it back then, I’m afraid that it’s going to be a little too late for that var to make an impression.

Hopefully, it doesn’t come down to that because the Microbus really is a quintessential Volkswagen. A modernized version of the van can still be offered in a number of different markets and have some success there. The only question is whether Volkswagen is even willing to see if it can turn that possibility into reality.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon The Nissan Qashqai Coming to the U.S. Shows What's Wrong with the Industry

So Nissan finally brought the Qashqai to the U.S., where it will be sold as the Rogue Sport and slot between the familiar Juke and Rogue models. A very popular crossover in Europe and Nissan’s best-selling nameplate in certain countries, the Rogue Sport comes to strengthen the companies presence on the highly profitable SUV market. It remains to be seen whether it will be successful or not, but a comparison with the Rogue reveals what’s wrong with the whole auto industry today.

A quick look at the numbers shows that the Rogue Sport is only 12.1 inches shorter and a tenth inch narrower than the Rogue. For a vehicle that’s more than four meters long, 12 inches isn’t that much and in this case it doesn’t make a very big difference on the inside since the Rogue Sport’s wheelbase is only 2.3 inches shorter. What’s more, the Qashqai is only 10 inches shorter and more than an inch wider than the first-generation Rogue. Why is that important you ask? Well, like most modern vehicles, Nissan made the second-generation Rogue larger than its predecessor, applying the same “buyers want more room and a more rugged appearance” strategy.

So basically it designed the Rogue with a bigger footprint back in 2012, and some years later it decided that it needs a smaller crossover that’s not as small as the Juke on the U.S. market. It’s pretty much what a lot of automakers have done in recent years.

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PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-AMG's Growing GT Family Is The Competition The Porsche 911 Needs

Is the Mercedes-AMG GT becoming the legitimate threat that the Porsche 911 should be concerned about? I highlighted that and tried to answer it in this comparison piece, but I did leave some space to show some appreciation to Mercedes-AMG for not only going out on a limb with the introduction of the AMG GT back in 2015, but more importantly, for adding on to the AMG GT with follow ups like the AMG GT S, AMG GT R, and most recently, the AMG GT C. The rapid increase in size of the AMG GT family now puts these models on the crosshairs of the Porsche 911. And for what that’s worth, legitimate competition is something that the 911 needs.

Granted, it’s going to be hard for Mercedes to completely topple Porsche out of that lofty perch it has built for itself. Compared to the 911, which has an unlimited supply of name equity, the AMG GTs are still carving out their own identities. The launch of the AMG GT and GT S back in 2015 officially signalled Mercedes-AMG’s plan to bring a dedicated sports car into the mix. The subsequent launches of the AMG GT R, a roadster version of the GT, the GTC C Roadster, and now, the GTC C, built on the foundation laid down by the GT and GT S. Moving forward, the question on everybody’s mind is what Mercedes-AMG has in store for the future with the GT family and its other performance lines.

Not surprisingly, the automaker has been coy on that matter, preferring instead to highlight the upcoming debuts of its other lines, most notably that of the equally successful 43 line, which itself is getting new family members this year in the form of the C 43, E 43, GLC 43, SLC 43, and GLE 43. These models, according to Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers, are being introduced to serve as entry-level models of Merc’s performance brand and help create significant differentiation with the 63 line. That’s the primary focus of AMG now that it’s built up the GT line to a family of awe-inspiring sports cars.

Rest assured though, don’t expect Mercedes-AMG to be content with just having four different models under the GT line. No details have been shared on future models, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mercedes continue its assault on the Porsche 911’s throne. It’s already happening whether Porsche admits it or not. An hybrid GT sports car, perhaps? A more hardcore version of the AMG GT R? Those are a few of the possibilities we’re looking at, and for what that’s worth, I’m confident that the Mercedes-AMG GT line is not done growing just yet.

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PostHeaderIcon Looking to Buy a BMW 5 Series? Here's Why You Should Get the New Toyota Camry Instead

Hello BMW fans and welcome to the article most of you will probably spend 10 seconds on average to just scan it before rushing to comments section to give me a piece of your mind. For the blasphemous title above, of course.

How dare I compared a luxurious, powerful Bimmer to a not-so-fast, not-so-good-looking Toyota that only drivers over 45 would buy? Well, have you seen the eighth-generation Camry? If not, have a look at the gallery section to see the photos we just took at the Detroit Auto Show. I’ll be right here…

Good, now that you’ve seen it, you probably agree that the new design is a significant improvement over the previous generation and one of the sportiest midsize sedans built for the U.S. market. If you don’t agree, you’re a BMW fanboy. I’m entitled to my own opinion, right? And no, you cannot compare the Camry to any model with M, AMG, and RS badges.

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PostHeaderIcon The Hummer Is Back! Oh No, Wait…

If I told you that the 2017 North American International Auto Show would play host to one of the most confusing concept offerings of the year, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch, right? Well, I don’t exactly know what VLF Automotive was thinking here, but rest assured, the X-Series Concept has that spot all to itself.

We admittedly didn’t know too much about the concept when we first saw the monstrosity in Detroit, but more details about the X-Series have since come to light and but very little of it still looks and sounds right to us, proving once and for all that just because you have the capacity to build and develop an automotive prototype, that doesn’t mean you should do it if it’s going to end up looking like this.

To be fair, the X-Series does have a few notable qualities about it, even though the use of the word “few” is a stretch in itself. It’s actually based on the Chevrolet Colorado and has the pickup’s stock 3.6-liter V-6 engine that’s good for 306 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. It has a ground clearance of 11.5 inches and departure angles of 44.7 and 48 degrees, respectively. That tells you that the X-Series is a vehicle you’d like to have in case there are natural calamities like floods in your locale. But other than that, the X-Series is a complete waste of time, deserving at least of being named one of the worst debuts in Detroit.

You don’t need to be deeply entrenched in the auto industry to know that the design of the X-Series is largely inspired by the Hummer H2, the gas-guzzling marauder of an SUV that actually gained popularity a decade ago before meeting its demise in 2010 because, well, it just sucked in so many ways. Apparently, the people behind VLF Automotive didn’t get that memo, not to mention the current roadmap of the auto industry that’s embracing the idea of alternative energy sources like never before.

Speaking of which, it comes as a great surprise that the X-Series actually comes from a company backed by Henrik Fisker, the same individual who penned beauties like the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin Vantage and was the driving force behind the Fisker Karma, one of the industry’s first full-fledged premium-plug in range-extended electric luxury sports sedan. For him to go from all of that to the VLF Automotive X-Series is a huge head-scratcher, to say the least.

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