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Spy Shots: 2014 Jeep Liberty

Mid-line Jeep returns in more stylish, more flexible trim.

by on Feb.15, 2013

The newly reborn Jeep Liberty makes a camouflaged appearance during street testing.

As Chrysler clearly hinted with the roll-out of its refreshed Jeep Grand Cherokee last month, the maker’s SUV brand will be a busy place in the coming months.

Not only will we see the updated flagship model but replacements for the small Compass and Patriot models. But wait, there’s more, as those commercials on late-night TV like to say.  There’s an even smaller model to be built in Italy and rumor of a reborn Grand Wagoneer.

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But one of this year’s most significant introductions – at least now that Grand Cherokee is out of the way – will be the rebirth of the Jeep Liberty.

As these spy shots illustrate, there are a number of major changes slated within a year for the mid-size Jeep line, which will turn into a sort of junior Grand Cherokee.

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Spy Shot: Chevrolet Orlando Caught Canada Bound — and U.S. May Follow

Our spies catch CUV testing North of the Border.

by on Feb.15, 2013

The updated Chevrolet Orlando caught during winter testing. Photo Credit: Jim Dunne, AutoSpy

North of the border, in Canada, they do things differently. Canadian drivers tend to prefer slightly models than American motorists and over the years we’ve seen a growing number of products land in Canada’s fleets that don’t make it here to the States.

Even for Chevrolet, the Canadian vehicle lineup is different than that offered customers in the U.S. This future Chevrolet Orlando is a perfect example. A seven-passenger vehicle – three rows of seats – despite being about the same length of Chevy’s compact Cruz, Orlando has no counterpart in Chevy’s U.S. lineup.

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If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Chevy came an inch away from introducing the crossover here in the United States.  But it was pulled in May 2010, General Motors’ president of North American operations Mark Reuss deciding it just didn’t have the right dimensions and overall fit for the line-up.

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Book Excerpt: Jim Dunne’s Car Spy

This sleuth trades his handgun for a Minox.

by on Dec.29, 2011

Jim Dunne pens a tell-all about the business of car spies.

His name is Dunne.  James Dunne.  And if Ian Fleming had written about the world of automotive espionage, this is the man who might have served as his role model.  But where some spies sleuth for competing car companies, this septuagenarian Grosse Pointer serves a more noble purpose.  Or so he’d prefer to think.  The fact is, you’ve probably seen some of his work over the years in the pages of monthly magazines, in countless newspapers around the world, or on various internet sites, including TheDetroitBureau.comJim Dunne is the undisputed king of automotive spy photographers.

Dunne insists he’s retired – though the spy shot of the 2013 Nissan Altima he provided us with yesterday suggests otherwise.  (Click Here for that story.) It’s a way of life and not something someone easily walks away from…especially if they still keep a camera close at hand. 

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As accomplished a story-teller as he is with the camera, Dunne is finally revealing some of the secrets of his successful career, captured in his new book, “Car Spy,” which you can find via Amazon.com.  (Here’s the link to buy a copy.) We’ve done a little spying of our own, however, and nabbed one of the more interesting chapters, the story of Dunne’s incursion into the top secret GM Design Dome.  Here’s the excerpt:

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Whoops! Lexus LF-Lc Concept Pics Leak Out

High-performance model to make Road & Track cover.

by on Dec.21, 2011

The Lexus LF-Lc concept was supposed to remain cloaked until its debut in Detroit next month.

Lexus has delivered a little holiday present – though it’s probably as much a surprise to the maker as anyone else.

Seems pics of the Lexus LF-Lc concept have leaked out well ahead of the planned unveiling at next month’s North American International Auto Show.  We found them thanks to our friends at Autoblog who, in turn, discovered them showing up as the cover story on the next issue of Road & Track magazine.

Unfortunately, we’ll still have to wait for full details about the concept vehicle Lexus has been teasing in recent days.  But insiders offer hints it could be the concept version of an eventual replacement for the slow-selling Lexus SC430.

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As seen here a few specifics can be deduced from the images: the concept apparently opts for a targa top, rather than the folding hardtop of the awkward SC430.  Both vehicles appear to be roughly the same size and the new model maintains the 2-door design of the current hardtop cabrio.  But it appears to add two rear seats.  Functional?  Well, that remains to be seen.

The angular and aggressive front end clearly lifts on the latest L-Finesse design theme Lexus has adopted, as first seen on the maker’s new GS line.  According to a teaser release sent out in recent days by Lexus, the LF-Lc embraces “the new design direction embraced by Lexus.”

Like the old SC430, it was penned at the Lexus advanced design studios in Southern California.

At least one report has questioned whether the LF-Lc is borrowing the basic mechanicals and chassis of the new Toyota GT86 – which will be sold in the U.S. as the Scion FR-S.  It’s the product of a closely watched joint venture with Subaru, which will offer its version up as the new BRZ.

There appears to be a hybrid badge on the Lexus LF-Lc, though we’ll have to wait for more details there, as well.  But the maker has promised to offer a gas-electric version of virtually everything in its line-up, so that would be no surprise.

Spy Shots: 2011 Infiniti M56

Japanese maker’s new flagship.

by on Sep.17, 2009

We've seen the virtual reality images, but here's the real Infiniti M56.

We've seen the virtual reality images, but here's the real Infiniti M56.

Infiniti may have “revealed” the new M in 3D virtual reality earlier this year, but never mind that, we have the REAL thing!

On my morning run today, I unexpectedly stumbled upon two pre-production testers. No clay models here – these were as real as it gets. Sporting cues from the Essence Concept, nothing is left to the imagination with this test car, as only a few poorly placed pieces of tape cover the badges.

Spy Shots, News, Reviews and More!

Spy Shots, News, Reviews and More!

Launching in spring of 2010, the new M will be powered by a 3.7-liter V6, (the M37), or 5.6-liter V8, (the M56), good for more than 400 horsepower. A high performance V6 diesel also will be available in Europe.

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Spy Shots: 2011 (U.S. spec) Ford Fiesta Sedan

Ford’s new subcompact caught.

by on Aug.31, 2009

A first good look at the U.S. version of the new subcompact, the 2011 Ford Fiesta.

A first good look at the U.S. version of the new subcompact, the 2011 Ford Fiesta.

Ford has recently launched its  new Fiesta Sedan in China, but we caught the U.S. spec version – and – for the first time – a good look at the unique (North American-spec) grille and front fascia. It also appears that the Fiesta sedan will have different front and rear bumpers from those seen on the cars it has shown elsewhere, as well as minor interior changes.

The Fiesta will finally put Ford back into the subcompact market, which company officials have said is a critical step in their switch from a heavy emphasis on light trucks to a more fuel-efficient passenger car model mix.

More pictures can be found at www.LeftLaneNews.com

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Spy Shots: 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

New supercar caught along the coast.

by on Aug.20, 2009

The thin disguise does little to hide the shape and dimensions of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS.

The thin disguise does little to hide the shape and dimensions of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS.

Automakers typically go to great pains to keep their future products concealed from the prying eyes of the press.  But sometimes, a simple bit of serendipity comes into play – as happened today, when Mercedes-Benz engineers just happened to take a break during testing, parking a convoy of cars along the legendary Cannery Row, in Monterey, California.

They just happened to pull over in front of the Clement Hotel, where a number of us in the automotive media just happened to be holed up for a preview of the latest Mazda line-up.  The resultant spy shots, shown here, were snapped before the men from Mercedes could get back behind the wheel and move on.

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Your Spy Shot Source!

What you see is the thinly-disguised 2011 Mercedes SLS AMG, the replacement for the German automaker’s SLR supercar, which never came close to living up to its initial expectations – Mercedes hoped to sell 4,000 SLRs during its lifetime, but has to come up with a variety of variants to come close to meeting that demand, including the 722 and a convertible version.

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Sneak Peek: 2011 Hyundai Tucson

Also known as Hyundai ix35, crossover set for Frankfurt debut.

by on Aug.18, 2009

This is a rendering of the 2011 Hyundai Tucson that the Korean carmaker plans to unveil at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show.

This is a rendering of the 2011 Hyundai Tucson that the Korean carmaker plans to unveil at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show.

There’s little doubt that Hyundai is on a mission to rebuild its image.  Forget “cheap and cheerful,” the South Korean carmaker’s products are moving steadily up-market, even as the brand’s latest offerings show a distinctive design flair that wouldn’t have been imaginable just a few years ago.

Days after confirming that it will enter the premium luxury segment with the Equus sedan, Hyundai has released a pair of renderings giving a clear hint of what it has in store at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show.  What you see here is the 2011 Hyundai Tucson – the vehicle the rest of the world knows as the Hyundai ix35.

News, reviews, spy shots - turn to TheDetroitBureau.com!

News, reviews, spy shots!

Hyundai says the shape is part of its new “fluidic” design language, though a quick glance suggests the influence of such competing Japanese CUVs as the Nissan Murano or Infiniti FX.  The crossover/ute was penned by chief stylist Tomas Buerkle, at Hyundai’s European design center, in Russelsheim, Germany.

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First Look: 2011 Infiniti M

Finding the Essence of the brand.

by on Aug.16, 2009

The 2011 Infiniti M prototype bears the unmistakable imprint of the automaker's well-regarded Essence concept vehicle.

The 2011 Infiniti M prototype bears the unmistakable imprint of the automaker's well-regarded Essence concept vehicle.

It’s often said that the most successful automakers are those who understand the fundamental essence of their brands.  At least, that’s what Infiniti is counting on as it translates its Essence concept vehicle into its flagship sedan, an all-new version of the M sedan.

The curvaceous Essence made its first appearance, earlier this year, at the Geneva Motor Show.  Stuck in a back corner of the sprawling PAL Expo center, it might have been easily overlooked, considering more than 50 other cars, concepts and crossover vehicles were launched during the annual European car show.  But word-of-mouth quickly spread, and by the time the show wrapped up, the Infiniti prototype was generally regarded as one of the event’s most significant debuts.

“It’s not easy translating a concept vehicle into a production car,” cautions Shiro Nakamura, global design director for Nissan Motor Co., Infiniti’s Japanese parent.

Capture the essence of the day's news!

Capture the essence of the day's news!

And there’s no question that some of the exaggerated lines of the prototype coupe have had to be toned down, while the new M gets an extra pair of doors.  In production, the M will be a bit longer, notably wider and, as one executive puts it, “more planted” than the concept.

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Cadillac Reveals XTS4 and ATS

Automaker expanding the product envelope.

by on Aug.11, 2009

Carol Browner (right) director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change listens as General Motors Vice President Global Design Ed Welburn gives her a tour of the Cadillac Converj electric luxury coupe.

Carol Browner (right) director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change listens as GM Vice President Global Design Ed Welburn gives her a tour of the Cadillac Converj electric luxury coupe.

Cadillac officials have confirmed plans to add a pair of new products that will expand the brand at its extremes.

The news came at an unusual background briefing as General Motors officials pulled the wraps off a wide variety of future product programs going out to 2011, including two new Caddy models tentatively dubbed the ATS and the XTS4.  They’re a critical part of what the division’s new general manager, Bryan Nesbitt, described as the “reinvention of Cadillac.”

The XTS4 is the much-needed replacement for two existing products, the slow-selling STS and DTS models.  Vaguely reminiscent of the heralded Cadillac Sixteen concept vehicle, the XTS4 will target top-line premium luxury competitors, such as the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The ATS, on the other hand, will slot in below Cadillac’s current entry model, the CTS, and take aim at models like the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Lexus IS.

“The 3-Series is BMW’s bread-and-butter,” noted Nesbitt, in a conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com, and “We’d like to think” the ATS could become the best-seller for Cadillac, once it hits market.

Cadillac of course has tried to enter this market before with the Chevrolet Cavalier-derived Cimarron, and the Opel Omega derived Catera. Now, presumably it will use a compact Opel platform once again for its latest attempt to stop a decades long decline in sales and reputation.

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