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Archive for the ‘new cars’ Category

PostHeaderIcon This Is How Much You'll Need To Save To Buy The Honda Civic Type R

The long wait is over. Yes, you read that right. The long wait is finally over. The Honda Civic Type R, arguably one of the most anticipated U.S.-bound performance models in a long time is set to make its arrival this summer. The hot hatch is scheduled to go on sale sometime in June or July 2017 – Honda’s press release did say “late spring” – and will carry a price tag that will be “in the mid-30k range.”

Okay so the timetable and price of the Civic Type R are not yet official, but that’s really an academic point, especially for those who have waited years for the hot hatch to make its way in U.S. soil. See, for those who aren’t familiar with the Type R’s history, the model has actually been around since 1997, spanning five different generations, including the one that was unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. In all that time, the four previous-generation Civic Type Rs never made their way to the U.S. Sure, they were sold at one point or another in places like South Africa, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, but the U.S. had always been shut out of the hot hatch despite the fact that the country remains one of Honda’s biggest markets.

None of that matters now though because the 20-year wait is finally coming to an end. The Honda Civic Type R, with its luscious 306-horsepower and 295-pound-feet of torque capabilities will be roaming American streets. It’s worth noting though that the U.S.-spec Civic Type R will carry slightly less power than the international-spec cars, which will have 315 horsepower at its disposal.

The disparity in output probably won’t matter in the long run given how long U.S. customers have waited to get their hands on the car. So while all of us wait for “late spring” to arrive, we can at least look forward to the car making an appearance at the 2017 New York Auto Show where it will be on hand together with the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid and Honda Clarity Electric models, both of which will be making their global debuts at the event.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription – Driven

Volvo has been making the XC90 since 2002, and with great success. The first generation SUV sold well all over the globe. Even in the U.S., the XC90 sold roughly 35,000 examples annually before the crash of 2009. Updates late in the first-generation XC90’s life kept it kicking, though with only modest sales in America. That’s all changing with the second-generation XC90, which debuted for the 2015 model year. A highbrow design, an opulent interior, sophisticated powertrain options, and a matured sense of luxury all bring the XC90 into the modern times. Even with the 2017 model already two years old, the Volvo SUV continues to look like a futuristic concept.

To get a better feel for the Swede, I spent a week driving a 2017 XC90 fitted with the T6 AWD powertrain and decked out with the high-end Inscription trim line.

For those unfamiliar, the XC90 (and most Volvos, for that matter) come standard in the Momentum trim. The XC90 is also available in the R-Design, the Inscription, and the range-topping Excellence trim. While the limo-like Excellence trim is absolutely stunning thanks to its reclining second row bucket seats and full-length center console, the Inscription trim provides all the luxury anyone without a chauffer could desire. Skipping the Excellence trim also keeps the XC90’s third-row seats.

So what’s it like to live with the 2017 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading for more information.

PostHeaderIcon Porsche Finally Gives Us A Panamera Wagon With The New Sport Turismo

Hot on the heels of the release of the outrageously powerful Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, Porsche is giving us another new Panamera to pick over. This one’s called the Sport Turismo, and it adds to the lineup with a fresh wagon body style (believe it or not, the old Panamera is called a “sedan”). The Sport Turismo will be offered in four trim levels, including the 4, 4S, 4 E-Hybrid, and the Turbo, with the top-spec model laying down 550 horsepower. Not only that, but up to five passengers and an impressive amount of stuff can go along for the ride.

Inside, you’ll find lots of luxury, with leather upholstery and wood trim throughout. There’s also lots of technology, including features like the Porsche Advanced Cockpit, Porsche InnoDrive, Porsche Communication Management, and adaptive cruise control.

Meanwhile, to help it turn, the wagon gets stuff like Rear Axle Steering, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport, and electronic roll stabilization. Adaptive air suspension is standard, while wheel sizing is up to 21 inches in diameter.

Out on top of that newly restyled rear end is an extendable, adaptive spoiler, offering three settings for variable levels of rear downforce, making up to 110 pounds to push on the rear axle.

Straight-line performance is similar to the sedan, with the top-spec Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo laying down a 3.4-second 0-to-60 mph time thanks to its 550-horsepower twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8.

And since wagons are known for offering a decent amount of cargo space, I should also point out that the Sport Turismo gets up to 18.4 cubic feet of rear storage with the rear seats up, and 49 cubic feet with the seats folded down.

The 2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo will make its worldwide debut at the Geneva International Motor Show next week, with U.S. deliveries expected by the end of the year. Pricing starts at $96,200 for the base-model 4, and tops out at $154,000 for the Turbo.

Personally, I think it definitely looks like an improvement compared to the old model. What do you guys think? Does the wagon style work for you as well? Let us know in the comments.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes Reveals New E-Class Cab With Bigger Dimensions And Jet-Like Taillights

Mercedes-Benz just revealed its new E-Class Cabriolet ahead of an official world debut in Switzerland, completing the line with a little blue-sky opulence. The updated soft-top grows substantially on the outside, while packing all the usual goodies in the interior and rocking boosted six-cylinder motivation under the hood.

First and foremost, the updated E-Class Cab is larger than before, with a full 5 inches added to the overall length, 4.4 inches added to the wheelbase, almost 3 inches added to the width, and an extra 1.4 inches in height.

The fabric top offers the same profile as the E-Class coupe when raised, and can be had in dark brown, dark blue, red, or black. Opening and closing it takes just 20 seconds, and it can be operated while traveling at speeds up to 30 mph.

LEDs are equipped in the headlights and taillights. By the way, Mercedes says the taillights “exude a glow reminiscent of that given off by a jet engine,” which is hilarious. What’s more, if you get the optional LED Intelligent Light System, you’ll get “a special light show” whenever you walk away or towards the car.

Inside, there’s unlimited-headroom luxury seating for up to four passengers. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, while wireless phone charging is optional. The Aircap and Airscarf systems are also offered to help keep you comfortable and warm when traveling in colder climates with the top down.

A 12.3-inch digital instrument display is optional, while a 12.3-inch infotainment screen is standard. Vehicle features are operated through either the multi-function steering wheel, handwriting touchpad, or voice control.

Leather upholstery is available in one of four individual colors. You can also get Nappa leather in one of three different colors, plus there are seven individual trim options.

Making the go is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, which is mated to a standard nine-speed automatic transmission. RWD is standard, while 4Matic AWD is available for the first time.

The suspension was lowered 0.6 inches compared to the hard-top sedan, and can be had with adjustable damping and an available multi-chamber air set-up. Standard spec includes 18-inch wheels.

Debuting alongside the regular E-Class Cabriolet is a 25th Anniversary special edition model, which gets 19-inch wheels, the Cabriolet Comfort package, upgraded wood trim, and more.

Look for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet in the metal at the Geneva International Motor Show next week. U.S. dealers are expected to get it before the end of the year. Exact pricing will be announced closer to launch.

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE Is Here To Rip Your Face Off

Chevy just revealed the new Camaro ZL1 1LE, calling it the most track-capable model to ever wear the nameplate thanks to high-tech suspension, new aerodynamic enhancements, and exclusive uber-grippy Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3R performance rubber. Hell yeah.

Let’s take a closer look at the specs. First, the suspension – keeping it shiny side up is Multimatic Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers in all four corners. These race-bred bits offer a good deal of adjustability, and come complemented by an adjustable sway bar and camber plates.

Next, the aero. In back is a sizable spoiler made from carbon fiber, while up front are canards and a splitter for more grip and improved turn in.

Making the most of the extra stick are forged aluminum wheels, now offering a full inch in extra width compared to the regular ZL1, complete with that gummy Goodyear compound already mentioned. Put it on the skidpad, and Chevy says it’ll post 1.1 g.

Better suspension, more wing, and grippy rubber – check, check, and check. The final piece of the puzzle is reduced weight, with about 60 pounds cut from the curb weight of the ZL1 Coupe.

Those upgrades make it quite a bit quicker. To put it in perspective, Chevy says the ZL1 1LE is a whole 3 seconds faster around its 2.9-mile Milford test track than the regular ZL1 Coupe.

Making the go is 650 horses from a blown LT4 6.2-liter V-8, the same lump you get in the regular ZL1.

Official pricing has yet to be announced, but look for the ZL1 1LE in dealers later in the year.

PostHeaderIcon 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Unveiled

Porsche just unveiled the new head honcho of the Panamera stable, and it just so happens to be a hybrid, marking the very first time an electrified model has lead a Porsche line.

It’s called the Turbo S E-Hybrid, and it uses hybrid technology for moar power. As such, the new Panamera Hybrid replaces the old Panamera hybrid’s six-cylinder with the same boosted V-8 as the Panamera Turbo, yielding 4.0-liters of displacement, plus an electric motor. That means 550 horsepower from the dino juice, plus an extra 136 horsepower from the electric motor. And that means when you put your foot down you’ll enjoy a whopping 680 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque, figures only bested by the mighty 918 Spyder when it comes to production vehicles with a Porsche badge.

Not only that, but it also can go a full 50 km (31.1 miles) on battery power alone. Porsche adds that EPA estimates on fuel returns will be posted closer to market launch. But who cares?

Routing the output towards the blacktop is an eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission, as well as a high-performance AWD system. Performance figures include a 0-to-60 mph time of 3.2 seconds, while top speed is rated at 192 mph. Standard spec includes ceramic brakes, dynamic chassis control, 21-inch wheels, and the Sport Chrono Package.

Inside is a 12.3-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay support, and the latest iteration of the Porsche Communication Management system, plus there’s an app that’ll let you remotely control the battery charging and set the cabin temperature settings. There’s also a long-wheelbase Executive iteration planned, if you’re feeling saucy.

The 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid will debut in the metal at the Geneva International Motor Show next month. Pricing starts at $184,400 for the standard model, while the Executive will start at $194,800.

PostHeaderIcon Land Rover Teases New Velar SUV; Fresh Tech Incoming?

Land Rover just dropped an above-and-behind teaser image of its new Velar SUV, saying it will fill the gap between the smaller Range Rover Evoque and larger Range Rover Sport. The Velar supposedly uses the same platform as the Jaguar F-Pace, and is expected to take on rivals like the BMW X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe, and Porsche Macan, with four-cylinder, six-cylinder, and possibly even hybrid powerplants offered under the hood.

Land Rover has yet to divulge many details, but did say the Velar will offer “elegant simplicity, a visually reductive approach and all-new consumer technologies,” so we’re guessing a coupe-like, streamlined, and somewhat minimalist exterior, a good dose of interior opulence, and a suite of semi-autonomous driving tech.

Studying the provided press pic, we can also see a large moonroof and a decently sized touchscreen in the dash. Land Rover added that it used “sustainable materials” in the vehicle’s construction.

“We call the Velar the avant-garde Range Rover,” says Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s Chief Design Officer, in the attached press release. “It brings a new dimension of glamour, modernity and elegance to the brand. The Range Rover Velar changes everything.”

While likely not much more than PR bluster, we’re excited to see if the Velar can truly bring something new and exciting to the segment. The name, after all, harkens back to the first Range Rover prototype from 1969, so maybe there’s something up Land Rover’s sleeve.

Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long to find out the truth. The Range Rover Velar is slated to see a full reveal on March 1st, with an in-the-metal debut in the U.S. at this year’s New York International Auto Show in April.

PostHeaderIcon BMW M4 Convertible

When BMW rolled out the M4 at the 2014 New York Auto Show, it represented the culmination of the 3 Series splitting into two distinct models. The four-door sedan version and all of its derivatives still carried the 3 Series name, but the sportier two-door variant was renamed the the 4 Series. The latter then gave birth to the M4 performance coupe, and three years after the first M4 burst into the scene and into our welcoming arms, BMW has finally announced an update to the coupe that has turned into one BMW’s most popular models.

Like with most updated models, the M4 Convertible remains the same, at least for the most part. The convertible’s design hasn’t changed, specifically in the front and rear fascias. That said, this isn’t the same exact M4 Convertibles either. There are upgrades in place all over the car that help distinguish it from its predecessor. Some are more obvious than others, but the objectives of freshening up the M4 Convertible for a plate of new customers are all there.

So if you’re in the market for a convertible that’s getting some nice new bits and pieces here and there, the updated BMW M4 Convertible makes for a pretty compelling option. Not only does it exude the confidence and outright braggadocio of BMW’s M Division, it’s also turned itself into the face of that same division. Now that same face just got a fresh set of updates. It seems to me at least that the good just got better.

Continue after the jump to read more about the BMW M4 Convertible.

PostHeaderIcon Lamborghini Urus

Rumored for many years, the upcoming Lamborghini Urus, the company’s first-ever SUV, was finally spotted in production form on public roads. Although camouflaged almost entirely, the test vehicle reveals essential details about what Lambo promises to be the world’s fastest and most dynamic SUV.

With Porsche having introduced an SUV in 2003, it was only a matter of time before the other premium sports car and supercar manufacturers joined in the fun. After years of rumors, whispers, and planning, Lamborghini is the next to cross over into the high-performance soccer mom world, a.k.a. the SUV realm, with the oddly named Urus. The name first surfaced in 2008, when Lamborghini trademarked it before the introduction of the Estoque. In 2012, the Urus concept was showcased at the Beijing Auto Show and it didn’t take long before Lamborghini confirmed that a production version is set to follow.

Though the name sounds odd, it is very appropriate for the model. The Urus, also called the Aurochs, is an ancient ancestor of the modern day cow, which went extinct in 1627. These things were massive, ranging from 61 to 71 inches tall at the shoulders and weighing in at 1,500 pounds – phew, that’s a lot of quarter pounders. This makes the urus one of the largest bulls ever recorded, which is appropriate, considering the Lamborghini Urus is almost certainly going to end up being the largest to boast the raging bull emblem.

Now that we have turned off Animal Planet, we can continue with the Lamborghini Urus and not the extinct cow relative. There is some debate as to whether Lamborghini can actually support an SUV, especially after the LM002, the original Lambo SUV, fizzled out in 1993 with only 328 models ever produced.

So, can Lambo actually have a successful SUV this time around, and how does it stack up against the Porsche Cayenne and the Bentley Bentayga? Continue reading to find out more about that.

Continue reading to find out more about Lamborghini Urus.

PostHeaderIcon 2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon Unveiled Because Fast Wagons Are Just Better

Yesterday, I announced the reveal of the BMW 5 Series Touring, lamenting how us ‘Mericans would probably get left out in the cold when it came to handsome, fun-to-drive wagon models. Apparently, Mercedes-AMG was listening, because today it announced the arrival of an outrageous, high-powered AMG-variant of the E-Class five-door. It’s called the E 63 S, taking after the Mercedes four-door of the same name, and it’s got the goods to go with the title. Because when it comes to grabbing a week’s worth of groceries and picking the kids up from soccer practice, more than 600 horsepower just feels right.

Of course, you could use this thing for more than shuttling around the progeny and their juice boxes. After all, it’s got 35 cubic feet of space in back for, well, whatever, plus the second row can be folded down at a 40:20:40 split as you see fit.

So it’s versatile, that much is obvious. Now let’s talk about why it’s fast.

Under the hood is an AMG-tuned 4.0-liter V-8, which is boosted by two twin-scroll turbos for a rip-snortin’ 603 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 627 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. Fed through an AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic gearbox and permanent 4Matic+ AWD system (with drift mode, by the way), it’s enough motivation to send this thing to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited at 180 mph.

And it’s not just a one-trick pony, either. Making it turn is a new AMG air suspension system with tunable adaptive damping, an electronic rear limited-slip differential, AMG speed-sensitive steering, and 15-inch high-performance brakes. Ceramic composite brakes are optional, because of course.

Inside are the usual AMG bits and pieces, with a flat-bottom steering wheel, carbon fiber trim, and two performance-oriented digital gauge readouts, each measured at 12.3 inches in diameter. There are optional performance seats, while Nappa leather was added to the dash and beltlines.

Look for the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon this March at the Geneva Motor Show. Sales will commence this fall. In the U.S.

PostHeaderIcon 2017 BMW 5 Series Touring Unveiled

BMW just revealed the 2017 5 Series Touring model, giving the recently debuted seventh-gen mid-size 5 Series line an extra dose of usability and practicality. The new model gets the same styling outside as the updated 5 Series sedan, plus new interior technology, the latest driver’s assists and safety features, and enhanced infotainment.

Four engine options are on the table at launch, all of which are turbocharged. On the gasoline front, there’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 252 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and posting a 0-to-62 mph time of 6.5 seconds. There’s also a 3.0-liter six-cylinder and eight-speed auto combo, plus AWD, which lays down 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque for a 0-to-62 mph time of 5.1 seconds.

It you prefer oil burners, you can get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel with 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which mates to a six-speed manual transmission as standard (the eight-speed is optional), and gives a 0-to-62 mph time of 8 seconds. Finally, there’s a 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel with 265 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque, offered with either RWD or AWD, plus an eight-speed automatic. All that twist yields a 0-to-62 mph time of around 5.6 seconds with AWD grip added.

BMW says it’ll add further engine and drivetrain options, including both RWD and AWD models, throughout the year.

Additional aluminum was used to reduce overall weight, including in the side members and the tailgate, cutting up to 100 kg (220 pounds) compared to the outgoing model. The suspension incorporates a rear air ride system as standard, while Dynamic Damper Control, an Adaptive Drive system, Integral Active Steering, and M Sport suspension are all optional.

Outside, you’ll find active grille shutters in the nose, plus standard LED headlights.

In the cabin is a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, a color heads-up display, gesture control, voice control, and wireless phone charging. The seats also get eight massage programs, while the rear cargo space is up to 570 – 1,700 liters (20 – 60 cubic feet). Safety features include steering assist, lane keep assist, lane change assist, cross traffic warning, and wrong-way warning.

Look for the new 5 Series Touring in the metal at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show this coming March. Sales will commence in June. No word on whether or not BMW is planning on bringing this thing stateside, but odds are against it. And that’s a shame, because the U.S. could absolutely use more wagon hotness, don’tcha think?

PostHeaderIcon Volvo S90 Inscription – Driven

Volvo has been around for 90 years and made some pretty impressive vehicles. I’d dare to say the S90 Inscription has eclipsed them all. Let me back up. Volvo’s new quest for dominance in the luxury segment has yielded two very impressive results – the second-generation XC90 SUV that debuted for the 2015 model year and the new-for-2017 S90 sedan. They both share a number on components, from the T5 and T6 four-cylinder engines to the chassis architecture. Best of all, they both share a similar design style that exudes a sense of reserved affluence.

I recently spent a week with the 2017 Volvo S90 fitted with the range-topping Inscription package and several high-end options. Though the S90 carries a base price in the mid $40,000 range, my tester felt like it cost double that, though somehow it didn’t. A rich interior is key in this positive deception, with padded leather, open pour wood accents, and aluminum trim pieces covering every inch of touchable space inside the cabin. What little plastic remains is high-quality and coated in a piano black finish.

Technology also abounds in this machine. An impressive infotainment system and digital gauge cluster further perpetuate the feeling of luxury and its merger with technology. The T6 powertrain is a marvel of modern internal-combustion engine design. And of course, a slew of active and passive safety systems continue proving Volvo remains a leader in vehicle safety.

So what’s it like to live with the S90? Keep reading for the full details.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

PostHeaderIcon Will There be a Wait List for the Kia Stinger?

When Kia came to the U.S. market, it became known as a producer of affordable but reliable cars that were fairly comfortable and looked decent. But, none of the models were really anything to write home about, and certainly couldn’t be compared with models like the BMW 3 Series and 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, or anything else outside of the affordable segment. When the 2014 Detroit Auto Show kicked off, Kia Debuted the GT4 Stinger along with a promise to bring such a model into production and, three years later, Kia kept its promise and debuted the Kia Stinger at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Offered in the U.S. with a 255-horsepower four-banger or a 365-horsepower, twin-turbo, V-6, along with a very comfortable and upscale interior and a sexy exterior shell, the Stinger was a show stopper for the Korean brand as it steps into the luxury performance market. But, now that the world knows about the Stinger, it has raised a pretty interesting question: Will there be a wait list for the Stinger when the books officially open?

There’s really no way of telling quite yet, but outside of small shortages for models like the Kia Sportage, it’s hard to recall of any significant waiting period for any Kia model in the past. But, the new Stinger is a completely different breed of car that comes to offer a significantly cheaper alternative to more expensive luxury and performance models. Should Kia actually lock in even a small portion of those that are really interested in the car, it could find itself unable to keep up with demand. It comes down to a couple of factors that include when production officially starts, when the order books officially open, and that initial demand.

As of the time of this writing, neither its release date or pricing point has been officially announced, but a price tag in the range of $35,000 to $40,000 is expected while the order books should open sometime in the fall or early winter of 2017. That expected price point puts the Stinger at roughly $4,000 cheaper that the entry-level C300 from Mercedes, $6,000 cheaper than the entry-level 4 Series Gran Coupe, and a staggering $9,000 cheaper that the entry-level BMW 3 Series GT. With comparable comfort, luxury, and technology, it should be a no-brainer for those who aren’t overly loyal to the Stinger’s German competitors – as long as their willing to give the brand’s first performance luxury vehicle a chance, that is.

So, with such a low price point in comparison to its competition, the Stinger could see a lot of initial interest that could lead to a sizable waiting list. As such, it’s quite possible that dealers will find themselves in a predicament they aren’t used to: dealing with customers that want to take delivery today but simply can’t. We all saw how that went for Ford with the Focus RS, so hopefully Kia has a plan in place, just in case.

PostHeaderIcon 2018 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works Unveiled

Mini just revealed the new Countryman John Cooper Works, which means the compact crossover now gets more space, more style, and more importantly, more speed. Now in its second generation, the Countryman JCW is the largest and most powerful Mini yet.

In case you were unaware, John Cooper Works is Mini’s performance badge, homage to the famous sports car designer of the same name. Any modern Mini with an inkling of sporting intent carries the JCW designation, and as such, the Countryman JCW gets upgrades to the engine, transmission, AWD system, suspension, aero, and interior design.

Let’s get down to the specifics then, shall we? Mounted behind the grille is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which was turbocharged to 228 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, and 258 pound-feat of torque between 1,450 and 4,500 rpm. And if you’re keeping score, that’s 20 ponies more than the outgoing Countryman.

Features include direct fuel injection, plus variable valve control and variable camshaft control (a.k.a. BMW’s Double Vanos system). Specific to the JCW model are new pistons, a new intercooler, and an additional radiator. There’s also a sport exhaust with a controllable flap and dual chrome tips.

Incredibly, Mini says the turbo pumps out an eye-popping 2.2 bar of boost (31.9 psi), but that’s gotta be a typo – we think 1.2 bar (17.4 psi) is closer to the truth!

Performance figures look like 6.2 seconds to 60 mph, while top speed is capped at 145 mph.

Cog swaps come courtesy of a standard six-speed manual, while an eight-speed Steptronic Sport Automatic is optional. Further JCW touches include a sportier suspension, 18-inch alloy rollers, and a Brembo brake package.

Outside, you’ll find more aerodynamic touches, plus larger intakes up front. The headlights get LEDs as standard. The body also gains 6.7 inches in length, 1.3 inches in width, and an extra 2.9 inches in the wheelbase.

Inside is seating for five, plus JCW-specific sports seats. Pilots can select from multiple driving modes, and should enjoy the 6.5-inch infotainment screen and various Connected features.

The 2018 Mini Countryman JCW will make its worldwide debut this coming April at the 2017 Shanghai Motor Show. Look for it in U.S. dealerships around that time.

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 The Kia Stinger Casts a Big Shadow on the Competition

I spent just over 24 hours at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, and out of all the vehicles I had the pleasure of checking out, the Kia Stinger has stuck in my mind more than any. And, that’s saying a lot after spending some time with models like the Audi S5 Cabriolet, BMW 5 Series, and even the Mercedes GLA, among many others. I was actually quite skeptical when I first walked up to the three Kia Stinger models on display. I mean, after all, it’s a Kia, right? The brand came to the U.S. back in the early 1990s as an affordable brand that offered decent reliability but didn’t quite deliver in terms of performance, luxury, or even comfort in some cases. In recent years, the brand has stepped its game up a lot with models like Kia Optima, Niro, and Cadenza, but there was still a lot of room for improvement if the brand wanted to really step into the premium or luxury segments. Well, after seeing what the Stinger brings to the table, you can color me impressed and even encouraged about the South Korean brand’s future.

Now, the Stinger is set to bring some pretty healthy power into the mix with that 365-horse, 3.3-liter Biturbo and the 255-horsepower four-banger, but once I sat down inside of the new Stinger, it became immediately and exceedingly clear that it’s about a lot more than that. And, that’s saying a lot since I’m big on power output and performance. So what was it that impressed me so much? Well, there’s actually quite a bit, so keep reading to find out more about my experience.

PostHeaderIcon Honda Ridgeline – Driven

The Ridgeline is completely new for 2017 and ushers in the second generation for Honda’s unibody pickup truck. It shares its underpinnings and a number of drivetrain and interior pieces with the Pilot crossover, but it’s designed to offer more functionality than a crossover thanks to its cargo bed with less tradeoffs of a conventional body-on-frame pickup. But how does it work in the real world? Does this compromise between crossover and pickup really translate into a practical vehicle? To find out, I spent a week with the new Ridgeline and racked up nearly 1,600 miles.

In short, yes, the Ridgeline does offer a great truck-like experience for folks who might normally shop the crossover segment, but also for those who might need something to complete their weekend warrior project list. It boasts a maximum payload capacity of 1,588 pounds, so hauling mulch or firewood isn’t an issue. The bed is even wide and flat enough to haul 4×8 sheets of plywood or drywall. Yet at the same time, the Ridgeline drives like a crossover, gets respectable fuel mileage, and has a highly functional interior. But there’s more to this review than stating the obvious. Let’s get down to business.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

PostHeaderIcon Acura MDX – Driven

The Acura MDX has been roaming streets since the turn of the new millennium. It has held fairly strong sales numbers, with 2014 being its best year with 65,603 examples finding homes. That makes since, as the 2014 model year marked the first year of the current generation. But sales have slowly slipped, with Acura only moving 49,252 MDX models in the first 11 months of 2016. However, the three-row crossover has a new hope – a heavily refreshed face for the 2017 model year.

The new MDX looses the unloved “shield” or “beak,” as some called it, trading it in favor of a pentagonal grille with a massive Acura logo affixed front and center. It takes after the Acura Precision Concept. A revised rear fascia and chrome rocker panels further add a level of luxury not present before.

Matching the updated looks are a slew of updated safety systems. AcuraWatch is now standard on every MDX, and includes Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control. Thanks to these new systems, along with the LED headlights that scored an “Acceptable” rating with the IIHS, the MDX made the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ list for 2017.

The underpinnings continue almost unchanged, however, including the 3.5-liter V-6, nine-speed automatic transmission, and Acura’s available Super Handling AWD system. That’s not a big deal, as the V-6 continues to offer excellent power and efficiency. The i-VTEC and direct-injection 3.5-liter makes 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque while achieving 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined on models equipped with SH-AWD.

To get a feel of the refreshed 2017 MDX, Acura sent me an example to test for a week. I used it as a daily driver – chauffeuring the kid to school, picking up groceries, and making runs across town. Here are my thoughts and impressions.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

PostHeaderIcon BMW M550i xDrive

BMW markets the 5 Series as the world’s most successful business sedan, and considering it’s been around since 1972, there’s some merit to that. For the 2017 model year, the 5 Series entered its seventh generation, bringing a new design inside and out, a mild weight decreases thanks to CFRP technology derived from that of the 7 Series, a drag coefficient of just 0.22 Cd, a new 10.25-inch iDrive display, and an updated HUD that covers 70 percent more “space” than that of the outgoing model. BMW has yet to release official output numbers, but a mild increase in performance across the range is expected. BMW hasn’t even opened the order books yet, but that hasn’t stopped it from announcing the first ever M Performance version of the 5 Series. Dubbed the M550 xDrive, it comes complete with a 4.4-liter V-8 that produces 456 horsepower to go with a rear-wheel biased AWD system and an M Performance Chassis.

So, the ink isn’t even dry on the drawing board, and Bimmer is already growing its lineup of 5 Series models. This M550i will be the first M Performance model to us an M-Performance-modified V-8 and can be equipped with a handful of driver assistant systems. On the competition front, the standard 5 Series competes against models like the Audi A6, Infiniti Q70, and even the Cadillac CTS. But, do any of these competitors have a model that can actually compete with the new M550i? Well, we won’t know for sure until we get to see the M550i in the metal, but we can certainly look at how they all compare on paper. With that said, let’s get to it and see all of what the M550i has to offer.

Continue reading to learn more about the BMW M550i xDrive.

PostHeaderIcon Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Driven

It would be a gross understatement to say Alfa Romeo has traveled a rough road on its way to the United States – a place where it hasn’t been since 1995, and even then with sales slower than snail snot. It appears things are turning around for Alfa, though, as its parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is pushing the Italian brand headlong into the U.S. Alfa Romeo has already seen success with its niche market 4C coupe and Spider, but FCA is aiming for mass-market appeal. Spearheading the movement is the 2017 Giulia Quadrifoglio – a twin-turbocharged supercar killer based on the four-door Giulia.

Alfa Romeo is making its grand entrance with the Giulia Quadrifoglio, otherwise called the Giulia QV. Rather than introducing the high-powered variant after the high-volume sedan, Alfa is putting its best foot forward. The Giulia QV is hitting dealerships early in 2017 while the standard Giulia sedan arrives a bit later. Alfa is currently expanding its nationwide dealership network from roughly 86 in 2014 to more than 200 by early 2017. The stand-alone showrooms and service centers will carry both Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands.

The Giulia QV already has a bold reputation. It posted a Nürburgring lap time of 7:32:00, placing it in the same category as cars like the new 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (7:29:60), the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R (7:32:19), and the outrageous Koenigsegg CCX (7:33:55). The QV also boasts a 0-to-60 mph sprint time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 191 mph. Its extensive use of aluminum and carbon fiber give it an astonishingly light curb weight of roughly 3,600 pounds. An active front spoiler lip helps the big six-piston Brembo brakes slow the car from high speeds.

Best of all, the QV is still a five-seater sedan with a trunk. It runs on the conventional premium fuel found at the corner gas station, runs on common Pirelli P Zero tires, and can be had for $73,500. That’s not a bad deal for an Italian sports car with such a pedigree as this.

Undoubtedly Alfa Romeo wants the Giulia Quadrifoglio to do extremely well in the U.S. – so much so they loaned me an example for a week. I treated it like a daily driver when the wife and kid were riding, and like a go-kart when empty. I am pleased to give you my thoughts below.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

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