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Archive for the ‘sedan’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Maserati Ghibli Nerissimo Edition

The current Maserati Ghibli was introduced in 2013, reviving a nameplate that was produced between 1967 and 1998. Unlike its predecessors, which were offered as two-door coupes and convertibles only, the new Ghibli is a four-door sedan. Sharing underpinnings with the larger Quattroporte and the recently launched Levante SUV, the Ghibli is the first Maserati to use a diesel engine. The oil burner is offered alongside two versions of the twin-turbo, 3.0-liter, V-6 gas-drinker that was co-developed with Ferrari. At the New York Auto Show, the Italian firm launched the Ghibli Nerissimo, a limited-edition model with bespoke features inside and out.

The name Nerissimo is based on the Italian expression for “extremely black,” and there’s a good reason why Maserati selected it for this car. Although it’s identical to the standard model as far as design goes, the Nerissimo is an all-black take on the midsize sedan. It’s essentially Maserati’s very own version of the Chevrolet Midnight Edition, but in a more elegant package and with a more expensive sticker. The Nerissimo Edition is limited to only 450 units, which explains the rather hefty premium you have to pay for an appearance package.

On the other hand, the Ghibli is quite gorgeous in this black suit and adds a bit of style to an otherwise aggressive-looking sedan.

Continue reading to learn more about the Maserati Ghibli Nerissimo Edition.


PostHeaderIcon Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice

At this point, I think it’s safe to classify the Hyundai Sonata as a rock solid standby in the affordable mid-size commuter sedan segment. The nameplate has been in use since 1985, with its current seventh-generation first introduced in 2014. To keep it going strong, Hyundai just announced a newly refreshed iteration for the 2018 model year at this year’s New York International Auto Show, and it’s bringing revised styling, new features, better technology, and updated hardware. All in all, it’s a rather standard mid-cycle facelift for the seventh-gen, but still quite significant in its impact.

In fact, that’s what Hyundai was aiming for all along, especially when it came to the exterior styling. The fresh look incorporates what the automaker calls a cascading grille design up front, plus a “more assertive profile,” and a redesigned rear end outfitted with a new, svelte taillight design.

We think it looks pretty good, moving the aesthetic ahead in a refined, attractive way. Not only does it look nice, but Hyundai also managed to dig under the skin to make it handle better, not to mention make it a little quicker and a bit more efficient as well.

Looking for details? Read on.

Continue reading to learn more about the new Hyundai Sonata.


PostHeaderIcon Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice

At this point, I think it’s safe to classify the Hyundai Sonata as a rock solid standby in the affordable mid-size commuter sedan segment. The nameplate has been in use since 1985, with its current seventh-generation first introduced in 2014. To keep it going strong, Hyundai just announced a newly refreshed iteration for the 2018 model year at this year’s New York International Auto Show, and it’s bringing revised styling, new features, better technology, and updated hardware. All in all, it’s a rather standard mid-cycle facelift for the seventh-gen, but still quite significant in its impact.

In fact, that’s what Hyundai was aiming for all along, especially when it came to the exterior styling. The fresh look incorporates what the automaker calls a cascading grille design up front, plus a “more assertive profile,” and a redesigned rear end outfitted with a new, svelte taillight design.

We think it looks pretty good, moving the aesthetic ahead in a refined, attractive way. Not only does it look nice, but Hyundai also managed to dig under the skin to make it handle better, not to mention make it a little quicker and a bit more efficient as well.

Looking for details? Read on.

Continue reading to learn more about the new Hyundai Sonata.


PostHeaderIcon Making A Better Penalty Box – 2018 Hyundai Sonata Actually Looks Pretty Nice

At this point, I think it’s safe to classify the Hyundai Sonata as a rock solid standby in the affordable mid-size commuter sedan segment. The nameplate has been in use since 1985, with its current seventh-generation first introduced in 2014. To keep it going strong, Hyundai just announced a newly refreshed iteration for the 2018 model year at this year’s New York International Auto Show, and it’s bringing revised styling, new features, better technology, and updated hardware. All in all, it’s a rather standard mid-cycle facelift for the seventh-gen, but still quite significant in its impact.

In fact, that’s what Hyundai was aiming for all along, especially when it came to the exterior styling. The fresh look incorporates what the automaker calls a cascading grille design up front, plus a “more assertive profile,” and a redesigned rear end outfitted with a new, svelte taillight design.

We think it looks pretty good, moving the aesthetic ahead in a refined, attractive way. Not only does it look nice, but Hyundai also managed to dig under the skin to make it handle better, not to mention make it a little quicker and a bit more efficient as well.

Looking for details? Read on.

Continue reading to learn more about the new Hyundai Sonata.


PostHeaderIcon Lexus LS 500 F SPORT Makes Debut In New York

Lexus just presented the new LS 500 at the Detroit Auto Show as a 2018 model that’s set to go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2017. It’s only been a few months, but Lexus has moved forward already by announcing the Lexus LS 500h and now, at the New York Auto Show, the Lexus LS 500 F Sport. Lexus will lead you to believe that the new F Sport offers an enhanced driving experience over the standard LS 500, but once you dig through all of that PR talk, you’ll find that the big motivating factor – that 3.5-liter V-6 – offers the same 415 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. There are some chassis upgrades, however, that includes an update to Lexus’ VDIM system, a system that integrates ABS, traction control, stability control, EPS and a few other functions all into one box. Now, the system is able to control all vehicle subsystems including braking, steering, powertrain functions, and the suspension system, all of which is based on vehicle motion, yaw, roll, and pitch.

So, when you think of it that way, perhaps the F Sport does offer an enhanced driving experience, but for now, it’s just words. We’ll have to reserve judgment until we actually get behind the wheel. But, it’s not all about what happens under the metal as there are some interior and exterior changes to speak of as well. Keep reading to learn more about what the F Sport will offer when it hits dealers later this year.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Lexus LS 500 F SPORT Makes Debut In New York

Lexus just presented the new LS 500 at the Detroit Auto Show as a 2018 model that’s set to go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2017. It’s only been a few months, but Lexus has moved forward already by announcing the Lexus LS 500h and now, at the New York Auto Show, the Lexus LS 500 F Sport. Lexus will lead you to believe that the new F Sport offers an enhanced driving experience over the standard LS 500, but once you dig through all of that PR talk, you’ll find that the big motivating factor – that 3.5-liter V-6 – offers the same 415 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. There are some chassis upgrades, however, that includes an update to Lexus’ VDIM system, a system that integrates ABS, traction control, stability control, EPS and a few other functions all into one box. Now, the system is able to control all vehicle subsystems including braking, steering, powertrain functions, and the suspension system, all of which is based on vehicle motion, yaw, roll, and pitch.

So, when you think of it that way, perhaps the F Sport does offer an enhanced driving experience, but for now, it’s just words. We’ll have to reserve judgment until we actually get behind the wheel. But, it’s not all about what happens under the metal as there are some interior and exterior changes to speak of as well. Keep reading to learn more about what the F Sport will offer when it hits dealers later this year.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Lexus LS 500 F SPORT Makes Debut In New York

Lexus just presented the new LS 500 at the Detroit Auto Show as a 2018 model that’s set to go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2017. It’s only been a few months, but Lexus has moved forward already by announcing the Lexus LS 500h and now, at the New York Auto Show, the Lexus LS 500 F Sport. Lexus will lead you to believe that the new F Sport offers an enhanced driving experience over the standard LS 500, but once you dig through all of that PR talk, you’ll find that the big motivating factor – that 3.5-liter V-6 – offers the same 415 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. There are some chassis upgrades, however, that includes an update to Lexus’ VDIM system, a system that integrates ABS, traction control, stability control, EPS and a few other functions all into one box. Now, the system is able to control all vehicle subsystems including braking, steering, powertrain functions, and the suspension system, all of which is based on vehicle motion, yaw, roll, and pitch.

So, when you think of it that way, perhaps the F Sport does offer an enhanced driving experience, but for now, it’s just words. We’ll have to reserve judgment until we actually get behind the wheel. But, it’s not all about what happens under the metal as there are some interior and exterior changes to speak of as well. Keep reading to learn more about what the F Sport will offer when it hits dealers later this year.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV

Between low gas prices, national carbon reduction pledges, and fluctuating regulations, it’s not exactly certain where the market for environmentally friendly transportation will head next. But that’s not bothering Honda, which just announced it will expand its Clarity lineup to include new plug-in hybrid and all-electric variants, essentially providing all avenues of attack when it comes to green options for consumers.

You probably recognize the Clarity nameplate as Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the four-door sedan offered up in December of last year as an answer to the Toyota Mirai. The move to include a hybrid and an EV, in addition to the hydrogen Clarity, coincides with Honda’s stated intentions of reducing carbon emissions over the long term.

“The Honda Clarity is aimed at accelerating the deployment of advanced electrified powertrain technology and bringing electrified vehicles further into the mainstream,” said senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Jeff Conrad.

Honda has previously indicated that it wants 2 out of every 3 vehicles sold to be electrified by the year 2030. That’s a mighty ambitious goal, but an expanded Clarity lineup is a big step towards making it a reality.

Read on for more details, as well as a few of the specs on the newly unveiled Clarity hybrid and EV.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Acura TLX A-Spec Proves You Don't need an M or AMG Badge to Look Good

Acura debuted an updated TLX in New York today that featured a new precision grille, updated fascias, a new hood, and an updated infotainment system. The Technology and Advanced packages also bring even more value with new features. But, alongside that updated TLX, sits an all-new trim and it’s TLX you really want to pay attention to. It doesn’t offer any engine upgrades, but it comes standard with the 24-valve, 3.5-liter, V-6 that delivers 290 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 267 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. It’s not the power delivery that sets the A-Spec apart from the bunch, though. See, the A-Spec can be had in two-wheel drive or with Acura’s SH-AWD system, and it gets its unique look – a look that will make you think twice about considering something with an M or AMG badge on it.

To start things off, the new A-Spec gets an updated front fascia that combines the TLX’s new look with deeply recessed corner vents and a sporty air dam up front. The corner vents, air dam, and that new precision grille are outlined with a gloss-black trim insert that helps assert a strikingly aggressive look that stands out in this segment. Round fog lights tie things together for the front, but as you move to the side, there’s even more. The fender gets its own unique A-spec badge, while the side view mirrors get gloss black arms. Down below, the A-spec has updated and mildly aggressive side skirts. The trim around the windows on the A-spec are also finished in gloss black. The real conversation piece here, however, are the dark-finish, 19-inch wheels that are exclusive to this model only and are wrapped in 245-series rubber.

Around back, a black spoiler graces the rear deck lid, while a new diffuser-like element in gloss-black adds a bit of aggression to the rear. Large, exhaust outlets can be found on each corner, with a slight angle toward the outer corners. There’s some modification under the metal and inside too, so keep reading to learn more about that.


PostHeaderIcon Acura Snarls at Germany with a viciously redesigned TLX

The TLX isn’t even out of the toddler stages yet, but it’s already asserting its dominance in a segment that contains models like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, and even models like the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia. With a segment full of heavy hitters, you have to stay fresh and alert, and when the doors opened at the 2018 New York Auto Show, it’s clear that Acura is doing just that with the TLX. The new front fascia provides distinctive lines with a fresh look down below. The corner inserts get new LED fog lights and chrome surrounding trim. This is the icing on the cake, however, as the new precision grille stands out indefinitely in comparison to the current model. It’s wider, taller, and outlined in a healthy dose of chrome. Tying the whole front end together is a new hood with muscular lines and a pair of updated Jewel Eye headlights.

The side profile gets a new chrome insert along the side skirts while the rear end gets a restyled fascia with a diffuser-like element at the bottom, two rectangular exhaust outlets, and a pair of chrome inserts that match those on the front fascia. These updates definitely make the car more attractive, but also give the TLX a significant advantage over the competition. But, there’s more. All V-6 models can now be equipped with SH-AWD while the Technology Package now offers those chrome side sill garnishing, new seats with contrast piping and stitching, and a thigh extension on the driver’s seat. The Advance Package adds trapezoidal fog lights, surround view camera, wireless charging page, ambient lighting, heated steering wheel and rear outboard seats, rear spoiler, and folding side mirrors.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Audi A8

It was just a month ago that Audi confirmed that a new Audi A8 would grace showrooms for the 2018 model year. Now, the brand with four rings has been caught testing that next-gen A8 at the Nürburgring, and it looks like there is going to be at least one dramatic change. The car itself looks to retain the same size and overall shape of the current model, but the new model will have an emphasis on its look of overall width – especially with the evolution of Audi’s “Singleframe” grille that is now much wider and stretched out compared to anything we’ve seen in Audi’s current lineup. At first, it seems kind of goofy, but after taking a closer look, a wider, more pronounced grille is actually beneficial to the A8.

The new A8 is still sports some pretty heavy camo, so there is only so much we can make out of these spy shots. We do know that the new A8 will ride on the new MLB Evo platform that also underpins the Audi Q7, so there should be a significant drop in weight to go with the potential for alternative powertrains, including a plug-in hybrid model. With that said, I still think Audi has some suspension tuning to do, as the A8 in these pictures seems to be experiencing excessive body roll on the corners as it maneuvers around the Nürburgring.

Now that we’ve talked a little about it, let’s grab the wheel and take a closer look at what the next A8 might bring to the table when it makes its debut later this year.

Updated 04/11/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Audi A8 out for a new testing session and wearing less camouflage than previous times. The new A8 will be making its official debut in July.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming Audi A8.


PostHeaderIcon Hands-Free, Semi-Autonomous Driving from… Cadillac??

Self-driving cars are coming. There’s no way around it, and come 2018, you’ll be able to get a Cadillac that lets you go truly hands-free. This new technology is being called “Super Cruise” and uses lidar map data along with onboard radar sensors, cameras, and GPS to navigate most limited-access highways in the U.S. and Canada. When activated on a road that is determined to be safe for use, drivers of the 2018 Cadillac CT6 Prestige will be able to take their hands off of the wheel, and the car will navigate the highway on its own – just like Tesla does. But, there’s a twist.

See, while Tesla’s AutoPilot system uses steering wheel feedback to determine if the driver is paying attention, GM took another big step towards the big-brother mindset. You won’t need to keep your hands on the wheel because the car will keep tabs on you via a small camera built into the top of the steering wheel. To be more specific, the camera system, which uses infrared light, will monitor the driver’s head position to determine when the driver is looking while the system is activated. This is what makes Super Cruise “more technologically advanced” than other systems currently available.

Should the system determine that the driver isn’t paying attention, it will issue a mild prompt to tell the driver to pay attention. If that doesn’t work, there are other visual alerts (light bar on the steering wheel and instrument cluster) and tactile alerts from the driver’s seat. If that doesn’t get your eyes back on the road, the CT6 will bring the car to a controlled stop and even contact OnStar so that it can alert first responders, if necessary.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Car Find of the Decade: Two Unmolested, Barely Driven, 1987 Grand Nationals Twins

Every now and then we come across some crazy barn find, or some crazy deal on a car that deserves a new life, but this time, I think we’ve stumbled upon something that’s absolutely mind blowing. The cars were living in a garage in Oklahoma and covered in dust, but the seller at the time was asking a cool $200,000 for the pair. William Avila, a member of the GN/Ttype Central group on Facebook, decided to go check them out, and he’s pretty happy that he did. See, these aren’t your everyday Grand Nationals (if there is such a thing.) No, these things are so unmolested that they haven’t even been broken in yet. Yeah, you read that right – they only have 1,399 miles combined. One has just 592 miles while the other has 807. But, that isn’t even the craziest part.

These two Grand Nationals, while obviously filthy from sitting for so long, are practically brand new inside and out. They need a little bit of love after sitting for so long, of course, but mechanically they are pretty much brand new. One was even said to smell new inside – an ’87 Grand National that still has the new car smell. Oh, how I would love to know what it feels like to find something to pure. Anyway, the story gets better. These two cars have sequential VIN numbers, which means they rolled off the line one after the other, and to take things even one step further, they were optioned the same way. They really are Twins in every sense of the word, and have been together from the time manufacturing started until now – they rode on the same transport, and went to the same owner. Pretty crazy, huh?

After digging around on Facebook a bit, it turns out that Mr. Avila did end up purchasing the two Grand Nationals. The end price is unknown but is said to be lower than the initial asking price of $200,000. And, since they are 1987 models, the 3.8-liter under their hoods delivers a cool 245 horsepower instead of the initial 200 ponies that was available when Buick introduced the Grand National in 1984. All told, Mr. Avila and his buddy, who presumably went in on the purchase with him, plan to keep the two together. After some mild restoration, they’ll be displayed at local car shows and certainly be a prime topic of conversation at each one.


PostHeaderIcon HSV Commodore

When Holden announced that it will cease building vehicles in Australia at the end of 2016, there were all sorts of rumors about what will happen to the iconic brand. Come 2017 and it seems that Holden will continue to live on, just like General Motors predicted, by selling a number of rebadged GM products. This is by no means a new strategy, but unlike previous decades, the Commodore is no longer engineered and built in Australia. Instead, the famous nameplate is now being used for the Australian version of the Opel Insignia.

Redesigned for 2017, the current Insignia was moved up market in terms of design, materials, and technology. Shipped to Australia with almost the same features as the European model, the Insignia will also become the base model for HSV’s successor to its high-performance Commodore. Information is slim as of this writing, but Holden Special Vehicle has already confirmed that it will continue to build cars beyond the Australian-made Commodore’s discontinuation. There’s little doubt that the next HSV Commodore will be based on the German-made Insignia and we should see the beefed-up sedan show up in dealerships by the end of the year.

Interestingly enough, GM just sold the Opel division to PSA, which means that the German marque is now owned by Peugeot and Citroen. This should affect Insignia production given that GM and PSA signed certain agreements about existing models, but it remains to be seen how things will evolve. Meanwhile, let’s have a closer look at what the upcoming HSV Commodore might bring to the table.

Continue reading to learn more about the HSV Commodore.


PostHeaderIcon Jaguar XF

The Jaguar XF was first introduced in 2007 as a replacement for the Jaguar S-Type and has been a fairly successful model, with 202,678 models sold between 2009 and 2016. In 2015, the XF went through a generational shift that didn’t change its overall design too drastically but did bring about the use of aluminum, allowing Jag to shed more than 400 pounds compared to the first-gen model. The second-gen model is offered with a wide variation of engines that include diesel and gasoline models, depending on the market. The 2.0-liter diesel engine gave buyers the option of a six-speed manual transmission, but going with the larger diesel or any of the gasoline drinkers sticks you with an automatic. An AWD system is available with some drivetrain configurations, and power output ranged anywhere between 161 and 375 ponies.

It’s only been two years since the second-gen XF rolled into showrooms, and for 2017, the U.S. model was updated to include a diesel engine for the first time. No other notable changes came with the 2017 model year, but 2018 might be a different story if these spy shots are any indication. The prototype you see here is wearing extensive camo for some reason and, while it’s hard to spot any real changes, there are a few. It’s way too early for Jag to be testing a third-gen model, so it looks like we may see a serious design update in the near future. For now, let’s take a better look at these spy shots and talk a little more about it.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Jaguar XF.


PostHeaderIcon Audi RS3 Sedan

The Audi A3 Sedan was launched in 2013, just one year after the German brand introduced the third-generation A3. Offered for the first time alongside the hatchback and convertible models, the four-door shares almost everything with its siblings. It is identical styling-wise except for the deck lid, while the interior is basically the same save for a few changes in the rear compartment. Built on the same MQB platform shared with the Volkswagen Golf, the A3 Sedan also borrows its engine lineup form the A3 Sportback, including the 1.2- to 2.0-liter gasoline units and both the 1.6- and 2.0-liter diesels. Much like any other Audi model, the A3 also spawned S- and RS-badged performance models.

In 2017, the A3 family will grow to include yet another member. Having already launched the S3 Sedan, Audi is now rolling out its most powerful compact sedan yet, the RS3. Caught testing under heavy camouflage as well as on the Nurburgring track since 2015, the beefed-up compact four-door made its global debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. As expected, the RS3 is more menacing version of the S3, sharing styling cues with the larger RS4 and the award-winning, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine with RS versions of the Audi Q3 and TT.

The sedan is reportedly set to cross the pond to the U.S. in August 2017 for the 2018 model year. Until that happens, let’s have a closer look at what Audi’s rival for the Mercedes-AMG CLA45.

Updated 04/06/2017: Audi announced prices for the 2018 RS3 sedan which will make its North American debut at the New York International Auto Show.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Audi RS3 Sedan.


PostHeaderIcon Is the New Civic Si a Tuner's Dream or a Disappointing Miscarriage?

Honda has finally revealed details about the new Civic Si, just a week after its torque output was leaked via e-mail and I criticized Honda for making it a glorified grocery getter. Well, as it turns out the leaked information was accurate, as the new Si – in coupe and sedan form – delivers 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. That makes it the most powerful and the torquiest Si in Civic history, but doesn’t do much to fill the gap between the non-Si Civic in range-topping form and the wicked Type R. To put things into perspective, the ninth-generation Civic Si delivered 201 horsepower and 170 pound-feet from a naturally aspirated, 2.4-liter, four-banger.

That accounts for an increase of four horsepower and 22 pound-feet from a much smaller engine, but there’s more to it than that. Honda hasn’t gone into specifics as to its official curb weight as of yet but has said that it’s “significantly lighter” than its predecessor. This is also the first Civic Si to come from the factory with a turbocharger in tow, which means that maximum horsepower and torque is available much lower in the powerband. It’s also sporting an adaptive power steering system, short-throw six-speed tranny, sport-tuned suspension with active dampers, a limited-slip differential and 18-inch wheels as standard equipment.

Jeff Conrad, the Senior VP of American Honda’s automobile division, said, “The 2017 Honda Civic Si is our first turbocharged Si and sets a new sporty compact benchmark in terms of agility and precise handling while building toward the launch of the Type R as the final chapter in our epic 10th-generation Civic story.”

Keep reading for the rest of the story


PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-Benz CLS

Introduced in 2010, the current Mercedes-Benz CLS is getting a bit long in the tooth. Now that the German firm has already launched the new E-Class on redesigned underpinnings, it’s time for the CLS to get a makeover too. Spotted on public roads several times over the last few months, the third-generation CLS is still under camouflage, but on its way to an official unveiling by the end of year.

Not much is known about the upcoming four-door coupe, but the spy shots suggests that the new CLS will once again be based on the E-Class. The midsize sedan was redesigned last year and received new underpinnings, an S-Class inspired design, and the company’s latest technology. It’s safe to assume that the CLS will get similar features, while the styling appears to blend the appearance of the E-Class with minor touches from the AMG GT sports car.

The third-generation CLS is expected to retain the main features of its predecessors, which pair the strong, emotive stance of a coupe with the comfort and practicality of a four-door sedan. First launched in 2004, the CLS invented a new niche and enjoyed the glory on its own for around five years, until Audi, BMW, and Porsche developed their own offerings. Needless to say, Mercedes-Benz wants to stay on top with the new CLS and these new spy shots suggest that the upcoming coupe is up for the task.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-Benz CLS.


PostHeaderIcon The 2017 Lexus IS Interior's Big Annoyance: Form over Function

Form and function are two concepts often competing for the same space. Form, the beauty and style of an object, can prove hard to retain when adding functionality, the ingrained usability of an object. The 2017 Lexus IS sedan is a perfect example of an automotive battleground where these two concepts duke it out. And in the Lexus’ case, form is winning.

Let’s back up a bit. I’m driving the revised 2017 Lexus IS 200t F Sport sedan this week – the 2.0-liter turbo-four-powered, RWD sports sedan from Toyota’s luxury brand. This compact 3 Series competitor offers a taught suspension with summer performance tires, sexy bodylines, and a beautifully designed interior, all powered by 241 horsepower. There are negatives about IS, but they relatively few and far between. The biggest complaint, however, is the lack of functionality within its center console.

Lexus designers did an amazing job sketching out the dashboard, steering wheel, and center console. Sadly, they seemed to forget how Americans use their cars. There is simply a lack of handy storage space and usable cup holders.

The two cup holders are placed rearward on the center console, making it hard to reach for drinks. Even worse, the presence of cups renders the passenger’s left arm an orphan, consuming all the armrest space afforded to the shotgun rider. The cup holders are also too small for larger drink containers. Secondly, there is no space for cell phones, wallets, or other odds and ends people tend to store in a console cubby hole. Yes, there’s the under-armrest storage compartment, but it’s not the handiest place for such items.

The remedy for this form over function layout is simple – though it doesn’t change anything: think of the IS as a driver’s car. Sure, the vast majority of Americans IS buyers use the car as daily transportation, but the designers apparently thought coin trays, storage bins, and convenient cup holders weren’t necessary to the task of driving. And while they’re right in the purest sense of a sports car, the everyday usability is unwelcomely compromised.

The faux pas doesn’t diminish my appreciation for the IS sedan, but would make everyday ownership a bit more challenging. Let’s hope Lexus finds a way to inject functionality into the cockpit of the next generation.


PostHeaderIcon Tesla 8.1 Software Update Includes "Turtle Mode" for Drag Racing

Tesla just rolled out the new 8.1 software, which includes updates to Autopilot that supports version 2.0 of the driver assistance system. The upgrade essentially brings newer Model S and Model X vehicles up to date with the first-generation software by increasing the speed limit for Autosteer, among other features. Autospeed speed limit increases from 55 to 80 mph, the Summon feature lets owners call their vehicles from parking spaces without anyone behind the wheel, while the lane change feature allows drivers to have the car initiate a lane change while in Autosteer mode by using the turn signal. Finally, the software update reportedly adds a feature called “Turtle Mode.”

According to sources inside Tesla that requested they remain anonymous, this mode was designed specifically for the drag strip, where the Model S has been making quite a few headlines in recent months by defeating some of the most powerful gasoline-fueled vehicles. But, unlike other race-specific modes that change the car’s settings for increased performance, this one is actually a feature that enables the Model S to win races effortlessly. Specifically, instead of the driver needing to launch as soon as the lights go green, the car launches by itself automatically. Not only that, but it also activates the throttle just in time to win the race at the very last second. Basically the Model S can leave the line later than its competitor, but still cross the finish line in first place.

Sounds a bit sci-fi right? Well, it’s Tesla and Elon Musk we’re talking about here!

The Tesla insider wasn’t very keen to provide specific details, but did say that the racing app is able to calculate how fast the other car is going by adding the make, model and year in the Model S’ computer. In the situation in which the opposition drives a modded vehicle, the system can reportedly monitor acceleration and speed and automatically compensate with throttle modulation. By doing so, the app keeps the Model S on the starting line at the beginning and launches just in time to put the car’s aerodynamic nose just ahead enough to win. Thus it eliminates the need to leave early, which makes drag racing less stressful for the driver.

The silly “Turtle Mode” name is beginning to make more sense now, right? If you still don’t get it, it means you didn’t watching too much Bugs Bunny as a kid and you definitely don’t know who Cecil Turtle is. Just google “Tortoise beats hare”…

The app that makes drag racing effortless — just like almost everything else in a Tesla — only works for quarter-mile tracks. Because it’s still a beta version, the feature can’t be used on longer drag strips, but this should change by the end of the year. “Turtle Mode” is also a hidden feature that requires a specific set of inputs to find, just like “Ludicrous Mode.” Needless to say, this “Turtle” feature sounds pretty ludicrous for a car that wasn’t designed for racing, but it’s probably Tesla’s way of making fun of all those high-revving, gasoline-powered sports cars at the drag strip.

Elon Musk sure seems to have a lot of free time on his hands, but hey, I’ll take anything that would make a Challenger SRT Hellcat driver burst in tears at the end of the quarter-mile run. Hopefully the Model S will be as efficient against the Challenger SRT Demon too.


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