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Archive for March, 2013

Subaru Delivers Surprise with New WRX Concept

Lower, wider, lighter. But engine details are on hold.

by on Mar.28, 2013

Subaru hints at what's to come with the WRX Concept.

For now, Subaru is calling the little sports coupe on display at New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center a “concept,’ but what you see is almost certain to be what you get – with only the most subtle tweaks – once the next-generation Subaru WRX goes into production for 2014.

The WRX is not only the halo car for the Subaru brand but a benchmark for the “rice-burner” market that includes such competitors as the Honda Civic Si and Mitsubishi Evo, so Subaru has a lot riding on the new model.

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The Subaru WRX Concept’s design is meant to emphasize the show car’s turbocharged power and all-wheel-drive grip while adopting a more agile and athletic form.  But some of the biggest changes aren’t immediately visible, Subaru putting an emphasis on reducing the performance coupe’s overall weight and lowering its center of gravity.


Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid Powers into NY

Subaru could be eyeing other hybrid opportunities.

by on Mar.28, 2013

A Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid in testing.

Subaru, the brand that helped popularize all-wheel-drive, is now trying its hand at hybrids.

The Japanese automaker unveiled its first-ever production gas-electric model, the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, at its 2013 New York International Auto Show press preview.

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The official unveiling comes barely a month after the Japanese maker revealed a plug-in hybrid concept, the DIZIV, at the Geneva Motor Show. The two announcements could signal that Subaru sees some serious opportunities going forward in alternative propulsion.


First Look: 2014 Scion tC

Limited-production Scion 10 models to mark brand’s 10th anniversary.

by on Mar.28, 2013

The new 2014 Scion tC marks the 10th anniversary of the brand.

For a youth-oriented brand, Scion is getting up in years. And it plans to celebrate its 10th anniversary with not only the launch of the 2014 Scion tC sports coupe, but also with the limited-production Scion 10 Series models.

Despite the strong demand for the new FR-S sports car, the tC remains Scion’s bread-and-butter model, accounting for a full 40% of its sales, according to Scion vice president Doug Murtha. No wonder the maker is putting such a bright spotlight on the introduction of the 2014 update.

The goal of maintaining that appeal “challenged designers to enhance the 2014 sports coupe in ways that keep it exciting to today’s drivers without losing its core appeal,” he said during the coupe’s New York Auto Show preview.

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The 2014 model has a more assertive look, with distinctive new headlamps, a new hood and a more muscular grille. Lifting a theme its luxury sibling brand, Lexus, Scion adopts new LED accent lighting to set off the new tC’s headlamps. A few of the new design cues are borrowed from the FR-S, including the black-out valance and LED tail lamps. The 2014 Scion tC also gets new dark gray finished wheels.


Ghosn Predicts “Milestone Year” for Nissan Leaf

Nissan/Renault chief also sees strong U.S. recovery but more troubles for Europe.

by on Mar.28, 2013

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn at the 2013 NY Auto Show.

Put on the defensive by the slow ramp-up of the maker’s battery cars, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn put on a confident face during an appearance at the New York Auto Show and promised this will be a “milestone year” for the Leaf electric vehicle.

With the maker’s second battery-car plant now operating in Smyrna, Tennessee, the executive said inventory is up and demand rapidly growing.

Ghosn, meanwhile, offered a mixed assessment of the global automotive market, pronouncing a bright outlook for the U.S. but more troubles ahead for Europe. He also offered a cautiously upbeat outlook for China.

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“This is going to be a milestone year for Leaf,” Ghosn said, maintaining the positive outlook that has positioned him as the most upbeat of the industry’s top executives when it comes to the prospects for vehicle electrification.  He continues to forecast that up to 10% of the vehicles sold by decade’s end will use some sort of battery power.


New Look for 2014 Dodge Durango

Grand Cherokee’s forgotten brother gets some key revisions.

by on Mar.28, 2013

The Dodge Durango update is more substantial than it might first appepar.

This could be a critical week for the Dodge Durango, the three-row sport-ute making its debut at the New York International Auto Show this week.

Though based on the same platform as the wildly popular Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Durango has been the forgotten ute among parent Chrysler’s extensive line-up of SUVs and CUVs, so the 2014 redesign could determine whether the Dodge Durango has much of a future.

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Like the newly updated Grand Cherokee, the Dodge offering gets a number of important updates for 2014, and though it’s not as extensive as the major transformation it went through in 2014, Dodge brand President Reid Bigland insists it is nonetheless, “fundamentally an all-new vehicle.”


Chevrolet Brings Big Surprise to Big Apple with Top-Secret Z28 Reveal

“It blew his mind,” says GM President Reuss.

by on Mar.27, 2013

Chevrolet's new 2014 Camaro Z28 surprised the New York Auto Show crowd today.

There aren’t many secrets in the auto industry, but Chevrolet pulled off a big one today, delivering the biggest surprise of the 2013 New York Auto Show with the unexpected unveiling of the new Camaro Z28 muscle car.

The highest-performance version of the updated 2014 Chevrolet Camaro was developed in a hush-hush program directly overseen by General Motors’ North American President Mark Reuss – who admits he wasn’t even sure until recently if he could convince his own bosses to give the project, codenamed HP, the go-ahead.

“I was never quite sure” it would pass muster with the folks who held the purse strings that would need to be loosened to get the money to finish developing the Camaro Z28, Reuss said during a one-on-one conversation with To try to make it happen, he laughed, “We built a mule,” a running prototype, and took GM CEO Dan Akerson for a ride. “It blew his mind.” Three GM board members followed and they apparently were equally impressed, as the Wednesday afternoon unveiling revealed.

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A throng of automotive media gathered at the North Hall of New York’s Jacob Javits convention center had already gathered to see Chevy’s update of the base 2014 Camaro. Instead, the Z28 rolled onto the stage.


Hyundai Refines Equus for 2014

From “cheap and cheerful” to posh and luxurious.

by on Mar.27, 2013

Hyundai's 2014 Equus features 30 new and enhanced features to compete against some tough competiton.

If you still think “cheap and cheerful” when someone mentions Hyundai, you obviously haven’t checked out the changes the Korean carmaker has undergone in recent years. And nothing symbolizes that more than the Equus, the maker’s big sedan that takes aim at some pretty formidable competition in the premium-luxury segment.

Less than three years after reaching U.S. shores, the Hyundai Equus is set to undergo some significant updates for the 2014 model-year, which Hyundai revealed this week at the New York Auto Show. That’s probably no surprise considering the tough competition it faces from Europe, Japan and the U.S., notably an all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class the German maker plans to reveal in just a couple months.

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According to Hyundai, there are “30 new and enhanced features,” starting with some immediately obvious tweaks to the exterior and interior. They include new front bumpers and a revised grille, as well as the addition of standard LED fog lamps and new 19-inch “turbine blade” wheels.


Infiniti Gets Third Hybrid with QX60 HEV

Maker also releases pricing for Q50 sports sedan.

by on Mar.27, 2013

Infiniti introduced its new QX60 Hybrid at the New York Auto Show.

Infiniti is adding a third gas-electric model to its line-up with the New York Auto Show introduction of the new QX60 Hybrid.

For those who still haven’t quite gotten a grip on the Nissan luxury brand’s new names, the QX60 is the badge the old JX35 is adopting as Infiniti products migrate to its new, global nomenclature. The single “Q” is reserved for passenger cars, a “QX designates a crossover or SUV.

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The three-row QX60 Hybrid is powered by a supercharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine paired to a 15 kilowatt electric motor, their combined output of an estimated 250 horsepower is routed through a CVT gearbox. Regenerative power is stored in a compact lithium-ion battery pack.


First Look: 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

Maker forecasts 24% mileage boost.

by on Mar.27, 2013

Nissan debuted its Pathfinder Hybrid in New York.

Nissan has already delivered some big surprises with the fourth-generation Pathfinder ute it launched earlier in the 2013 model-year. It revealed another during the opening day of the New York International Auto Show.

Long-averse to gas-electric technology, and preparing to focus on pure battery models like the Leaf, Nissan has shifted gears, so to speak. It will soon launch its first advanced-technology utility vehicle, the Pathfinder Hybrid.

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The new model is expected to yield about 26 mpg in the EPA’s Combined driving cycle, which would position the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid as one of the most fuel-efficient models in its segment, the maker claimed during its preview.


First Look: 2014 Acura MDX

New front-drive model targets Sunbelt markets.

by on Mar.27, 2013

The next-generation Acura MDX now offers front-wheel and all-wheel drive.

Few models have been more important to Acura than its original crossover, the MDX, and the Honda luxury division clearly expects more big things from the three-row CUV it has launched at this year’s New York Auto Show.

Based on an entirely new platform, the next-generation MDX will take aim at a broader audience by adding a front-drive model for the first time, along with the familiar all-wheel-drive version of the crossover. That could expand the appeal of the MDX in Sunbelt markets where it hasn’t been a strong factor until now.

“Building on the award-winning dynamic performance of the previous model, the third-generation MDX adds new levels of luxury comfort, family functionality and fuel efficiency to once again set the luxury SUV benchmark,” declared Jeff Conrad, vice president and general manager of Acura Sales.

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Set to go on sale this coming summer, Acura promises the 2014 MDX will offer a more versatile and luxurious cabin, better fuel economy and what Honda engineers describe as “enhanced dynamic performance,” which means it’s supposed to be easier and more fun to drive.