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Archive for the ‘First Look’ Category

Pass the Bubbly? Rolls-Royce Cullinan Promises a Luxury Ride Even on the Roughest Trails

British marque officially introduces its first off-roader since the days of Lawrence of Arabia.

by on May.10, 2018

The slogan for the new Rolls-Royce Cullinan hints at its capabilities: "Effortless, Everywhere."

Don’t call it an SUV. Rolls-Royce prefers to refer to its all-new Cullinan as “an all-terrain, high-bodied car that makes the idea of authentic, luxury off-road travel a reality for the first time.”

Whether you stick with SUV, borrow “Sport Activity Vehicle from Rolls’ parent BMW, or find some other, more elegant term, the Cullinan really does appear to live up to its promise of delivering go-anywhere drivability, even as the folks luxuriating in the back can sip on champagne chilled to the perfect temperature by a built-in refrigerator.

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“Our customers expect to go everywhere in luxury, effortlessly and without compromise,” said Torsten Muller-Otvos, the CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “The super-luxury lifestyle is evolving (and) luxury is no longer an urban concept. More and more it is about embracing and experiencing the wider world.”

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Production Version of Kia Niro EV Breaks Cover

Timing of U.S. launch unclear.

by on May.04, 2018

The long-range version of the Kia Niro EV will get 236 miles out of a 64 kWh battery pack.

We got a first look at the concept version of Kia’s all-electric Niro model during the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. The Korean carmaker has now pulled the wraps off the production model during the Fifth International Electric Vehicle Expo in Seoul.

A quick glance suggests the version that will be rolling into showrooms is a bit more conservative than the CES show car, with relatively conventional lights and bumpers. Perhaps the biggest difference between the Niro EV and earlier versions of the crossover can be seen in the textured, albeit solid, grille – which actually bears more than a passing likeness to the snout on the all-electric Hyundai Kona that debuted at the New York International Auto Show barely a month ago.

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Kia is being sparse when it comes to offering details about the Niro EV, though it did indicate the battery-electric vehicle will be offered with a choice of two different batteries – at least in some markets – the more powerful, 64 kWh pack will provide enough energy to travel an estimated 236 miles between charges, the 39.2 kWh pack reducing range to around 149 miles.

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Jeep Grand Commander: Bigger is Better, at Least in Beijing

Three-row SUV borrows heavily from Grand Cherokee.

by on Apr.27, 2018

The new Jeep Grand Commander made its debut at the Beijing Motor Show.

We’ve been hearing rumors for as long as we can remember that Jeep will finally catch up to the competition by adding a third-row SUV to its growing line-up.

It’s finally happened – sort of – with the debut of the Jeep Grand Commander at this week’s Beijing Motor Show. The question is whether that seven-seater is what we can expect in the U.S. or if there is another model under development for the States that would revive the old Wagoneer nameplate.

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That could certainly hit a welcome target for Jeep considering the strong U.S. demand for three-row SUVs and crossover-utility vehicles. The Fiat Chrysler brand is one of the few key players in the ute market that doesn’t offer a three-row model these days. Even Lexus has gotten into the game with the recent unveiling of a stretched version of its long-popular RX model. (more…)

Tesla Model 3: How Can Such a Good Car Be So Bad

Teardown of battery-electric vehicle reveals many surprises.

by on Apr.25, 2018

"You can see the gaps from the moon" on the body of a Tesla Model 3, according to Sandy Munro.

With apologies to Charles Dickens, think of it as two tales of a car, suggests Sandy Munro, head of the suburban Detroit competitive analysis firm, Munro and Associates. How can such a breakthrough vehicle also have so many problems, he asks, during a lengthy look at what’s under the skin of the Tesla Model 3.

Over the years, Munro’s firm has vivisected hundreds of automobiles, including a number of new battery-electric vehicles, such as the BMW i3 and Chevrolet Bolt EV. But few teardowns, he suggested, have been more eye-opening than Tesla’s first mainstream offering. In terms of its battery-based drivetrain technology, the Model 3 readily sets a benchmark, but it’s another matter entirely with many of the things an owner more readily sees, including a body with massive quality and fit-and-finish problems.

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“It’s the best of (cars) and the worst of (cars),” Munro said, during a special meeting of the Detroit Automotive Press Association held at his Auburn Hills facility. “Some stuff gets a six, on a scale of one to five, others a one.”

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Lexus Betting Big on All-New ES

Gen-7 sedan expected to remain key model in luxury line-up.

by on Apr.25, 2018

The seventh-generation 2019 Lexus ES.

For those who haven’t been watching, the 2019 Lexus line-up won’t have much in common with the model mix of just five years ago. Where sedans once dominated the brand’s product portfolio, crossovers like the new UX and NX, as well as the long-popular RX, have overwhelmed traditional Lexus sedans such as the LS and GS.

So, it might come as a surprise to see the big deal Lexus is making over the launch of the all-new 2019 ES sedan, going so far as to stage simultaneous previews in both Los Angeles and the Beijing Motor Show.

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“We’re acutely aware there’s a robust SUV market in the U.S., and Lexus is playing a part in that,” said Cooper Ericksen, the brand’s U.S. marketing chief, said during the L.A. ES unveiling. “We understand the importance of SUVs, but we also understand the importance of great sedans.”

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2019 Lexus ES Sedan Breaks Cover in Beijing

Point-counterpoint, as Lexus adds F Sport, as well as hybrid versions.

by on Apr.24, 2018

Lexus aimed to put more "passion" into the design and performance of the 2019 ES.

After a series of fan dance teases, Lexus has finally pulled the wraps off its seventh-generation in a dual presentation at the Beijing Motor Show and near its old U.S. corporate headquarters in Los Angeles.

One of the first models ever introduced by the Japanese automaker, the ES has long been known for its comfort, reliability and value, though it has also helped Lexus earn a reputation for plain vanilla design and performance. The luxury arm of Toyota Motor Corp. is determined not to let that happen again.

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“The ES has always been an elegant luxury sedan,” said Yasuo Kojino, the 2019 model’s chief designer. “For this generation, we have added daring design elements that challenge the traditional expectations of buyers.”

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All-New Lexus ES Bound for Beijing Motor Show

New model meant to "radically transform the concept of comfort for luxury consumers."

by on Apr.11, 2018

Lexus is pushing even further with the "spindle grille" design on the next ES sedan.

We’ve barely gotten past the New York Auto Show but halfway around the world, automakers are getting ready for the season’s next big event. That includes Lexus, which has dropped a partial teaser of what appears to be the next generation ES model.

While many folks think of the ES as a fairly base-level vehicle, Lexus clearly has more upscale ambitions for a model whose name, after all, is short for “Executive Sedan.” And while Toyota’s luxury brand isn’t saying much about what it will be showing in China, it appears buyers have something to look forward to.

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The new ES, Lexus hints, “aims to radically transform the concept of comfort for luxury consumers all over the world.” That may explain why the brand saved the new model for Beijing where luxury buyers have, indeed, become some of the world’s most demanding.

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Ford Offers a First Look of its Next-Generation “Global” Focus

U.S. model remains under wraps.

by on Apr.10, 2018

Ford shows off the European line-up of the next-gen Focus. We'll have to wait to see U.S. versions.

Ford is lifting the kimono to give us a first look at its next-generation “global” Focus line-up – but it says it won’t reveal the U.S.-specific model until shortly before it goes on sale later next year.

The next version of the compact model will be offered in a range of body styles and trim levels, while adding a variety of tech features, including the new Ford CoPilot360 driver assistance suite. Expect roomier and more comfortable interiors, the automaker says, while adding that the next-gen Focus will feature new gas and diesel engines, as well as a new suspension.

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“We’re evolving our successful One Ford strategy to find new ways to create a sporty-looking small car our customers will love,” said Jim Farley, president of Global Markets. “We’ll tailor which cars in the Focus line-up we offer in markets around the world to ensure we best meet customers’ different needs and preferences.”

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Chevy Rolls Out Radical New Face for Camaro SS, New Turbo 1LE Models

Chevrolet adds mix of styling, performance enhancements.

by on Apr.09, 2018

The Camaro Turbo will get the high-performance Chevy 1LE package for the first time for 2019.

In a truck-centric market, it takes some work to keep sedans and coupes fresh, and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to high-performance muscle cars. With that in mind, Chevrolet is introducing a host of significant updates for the sixth-generation Camaro as it preps for the 2019 model-year.

That includes a distinctive front end for the SS model, as well as the first-ever pairing of Camaro’s optional turbo engine with the 1LE performance package. It joins existing V6, SS and ZL1 1LE combinations.

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“The restyled 2019 Camaro reaches even higher with more of the design, technology and choices that customers want,” said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet’s marketing director for Cars and Crossovers. “It’s a performer with few competitors and a pillar of Chevrolet’s energized car lineup.”

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Chevy Bets on Facelifts to Prop Up Three Passenger Cars

Malibu, Cruze and Spark get updates – but nada for slow-selling Sonic.

by on Apr.06, 2018

The 2019 Chevrolet Malibu in Premier and RS trims.

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the slow death of the passenger car. Depending on which source you trust there could be any number of sedans, coupes, hatchbacks and sports cars vanishing over the next couple years as motorists by the millions migrate to SUVs, CUVs and other light trucks.

That includes the Chevrolet Sonic, from some of the latest reports. But GM North America President Alan Batey this week insisted that the automaker isn’t about to get out of the passenger car game and, as if to ensure we take him seriously, Chevrolet has revealed the updates it plans for three key models: the Malibu, Spark and Cruze – though the Sonic is notably absent.

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“We are committed to offering consumers a full lineup of products with fresh designs, new technologies and efficient powertrain options,” said Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet. “The investments we have made in Spark, Cruze and Malibu will help position the brand for success in competitive segments that still make up a significant part of the total industry.”

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