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Honda Set to Reveal All-New Accord on July 14

Gen-10 sedan getting Civic design cues, Type-R engine.

by on Jun.19, 2017

The new 2018 Accord will clearly borrow key design cues from the Honda Civic.

One of the most important automotive unveilings of the year – at least for Honda fans – will take place next month, the automaker pulling the wraps an all-new version of the midsize Accord sedan on July 14th.

The Japanese automaker offered up a teaser image to substitute for hard details about the new model – though we did get a look at a heavily camouflaged version of the 2018 Honda Accord during a visit to the company’s Japanese proving grounds last month.

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During that visit we got to drive an early prototype complete with the new turbocharged inline-four engine that will replace the familiar Honda V-6 in the tenth-generation Accord. The new model is new from the ground up and is also expected to feature a new suspension system similar to what was offered on a “mule” car we drove during the proving grounds visit.

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Ford Goes Off-Road With New Expedition FX4

A ute for all occasions.

by on Jun.19, 2017

Buyers have already been taking the Expedition off road; Ford adds features to make that easier.

If you’ve thought about the big Ford Expedition as nothing more than a minivan alternative, you might need to think again with the debut of the new FX4 edition.

All versions of the 2018 Ford Expedition migrate to an aluminum-intensive body, sharing the same engineering approach as the full-size F-150 pickup. The people-mover also gets a new powertrain package and updated safety and infotainment technologies.

Product News!

But Ford is taking another tip from the F-150 line-up, where the FX4 package is a perennial buyer favorite. The off-road trim level will now be offered for Expedition buyers, as well.

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83 and Counting, Mercedes Flooding Market with New Models

New small cars, electric vehicles among those heading to market.

by on Jun.16, 2017

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe.

A handful of reporters got the chance to check out the newest addition to the Mercedes-Benz line-up this week, slaloming through the winding mountain roads north of Vancouver, British Columbia in the 2018 E-400 Coupe. But even as the media drive was underway, Mercedes confirmed yet another version of the midsize mainstay was on its way, the completely redesigned E-Class Cabriolet.

By the time both the E-Class coupe and convertible reach showrooms in the coming months, Mercedes will have a whopping 83 different products on sale in the U.S., and there are a number of additional products available for buyers abroad that don’t make it to the States, such as the little A-Class line and the big R-Class people-mover.

The Last Word!

But Mercedes isn’t about to relax. If anything, it is ramping up its product assault with an array of offerings now in various stages of development, including its first pickup and an assortment of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, that will be sold through a new sub-brand, Mercedes-EQ.

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Automakers Want Free Hand to Test Autonomous Vehicles – But GOP Might Cut Out Federal, State Safety Regulators

Industry insists a freer hand will bring self-driving technology to market more quickly.

by on Jun.16, 2017

Waymo recently launched a pilot ride-sharing program in Phoenix using autonomous Chrysler minivans.

As they move closer to bringing autonomous and fully driverless vehicles to market, automakers and tech firms such as General Motors, Ford, Waymo and Tesla are pressing the federal government to loosen up regulations limiting the way they can test their prototypes on public roads.

Even before the Obama Administration concluded its second term, the feds were working up new autonomous guidelines. But now, under the Trump Administration, it appears Congress could give the auto industry even more freedom to move forward while limiting the power of both individual states and even federal safety regulators.

Tech News!

Congress wants to “continue working with all parties in a bipartisan manner as we refine language and move forward towards a consensus package,” said U.S. Representative Bob Latta, chairman of a panel that oversees automotive regulations.

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Faulty Airbags Trigger Major Fiat Chrysler Minivan Recall

Inadvertent deployment injures eight.

by on Jun.15, 2017

FCA will recall 300,000 Dodge Grand Caravans.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has announced the recall of nearly 300,000 Dodge minivans due to faulty front airbags.

The safety devices have unexpectedly deployed on a number of occasions, resulting in at least eight minor injuries, the automaker reported, a problem that could also have resulted in vehicle crashes. The new recall follows a previous airbag service action by FCA that involved over 1 million vehicles.

Watching Out for Your Safety!

“Wiring may chafe against pieces of steering-wheel trim, potentially causing a short-circuit,” Fiat Chrysler said about the case of the latest airbag recall. “This may lead to a second short-circuit that is potentially capable of producing inadvertent deployment of the driver-side front air bag.”

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Slowing Auto Industry Threatening to Drag Down U.S. Economy

Automakers continue to cut production as sales slow.

by on Jun.15, 2017

GM is extending the summer shutdown at some plants, including this one in Fairfax, KS.

The U.S. auto industry was the little engine that could during the country’s recovery from the Great Recession, but it now may be turning into the anchor on an economy once again starting to sputter.

U.S. factory output slipped by 0.4% last month, a sharp turnaround from the 1.1% increase in April, the Federal Reserve reported on Thursday morning. While some industries continue to show strength, the weak figures for May coincide with growing production cuts by the U.S. auto industry.

Manufacturing News!

And the auto industry is facing still more jobs cuts in the months to come, industry analysts warn, especially if car sales don’t level out. GM, for one, has announced that it will extend its normal, two-week summer shutdown to as much as five weeks at some plants in the Midwest.

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Going for Maximum Plaid: New Tesla Roadster Could Break the 2-Second Barrier

Reborn two-seater still “some years away.”

by on Jun.14, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, shown with the original battery-powered Roadster.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made no secret about plans to bring back the brand’s original model, the Roadster. He’s also hinted for some time that there’s a performance mode in the works that would go a step beyond the current Ludicrous Mode found on both the Models S and X.

But could Maximum Plaid deliver what, not all that long ago, seemed impossible to achieve without strapping on a pair of rockets? According to at least one report, the highest-performance version of the upcoming Tesla Roadster could hit 60 mph in less than 2 seconds.

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Tesla currently is in a spitting match with Dodge, both claiming bragging rights for the world’s fastest factory-built vehicles: the Model S and the new Dodge Challenger Demon launching from 0 to 60 in about 2.3 seconds. With its high-torque electric motors, the Tesla Roadster could lay down numbers that would be difficult for an internal combustion-powered vehicle ever to beat.

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First Drive: 2017 Honda Civic Type-R

Honda aims to rule the "hot hatch" category.

by on Jun.14, 2017

The 2017 Honda Civic Type-R finally reaches U.S. showrooms after a two-decade wait.

Pity the poor American driver. Sure, they have plenty of options to choose from, but many of the most intriguing alternatives haven’t made it into U.S. showrooms. Until recently, that included some of the most exciting offerings in the hot hatch segment, like the Ford Focus RS and the Honda Civic Type-R.

We’ll have to wait a bit longer to get our hands on the Blue Oval’s entry, but we had the good fortune to spend a long weekend in Montreal, first sitting back to watch the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix and then logging some track time of our own behind the wheel of the Type-R, the first version of the Honda five-door rocket ever to reach the U.S. market.

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The latest and last entry into the largest line-up of Civic alternatives ever, the Type-R is also the most powerful, delivering a blistering 306 horsepower to the front wheels. From first glance, the five-door is also the most audacious, with the sort of aero treatment you’d expect on something specifically designed for the track. But it’s all functional, and despite some concerns about Honda’s decision to stay with a front, rather than all-wheel-drive layout, it all magically comes together. And with a starting price as much as $5,000 less than key competitors, this hot hatch seems destined to become a hot ticket. (more…)

When is a 5 Not a 5? When it’s the new 2018 BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo

Fastback set to debut in U.S. in autumn.

by on Jun.14, 2017

The old BMW 5-Series GT now becomes the 2018 BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo.

A few years back, BMW announced plans to provide more order to its model nomenclature, transforming the 3-Series Coupe, for example, into the new 4-Series. But one of the big changes for 2018 is likely to add more confusion to the line-up.

It’s confusing enough that the Bavarian maker has given us an assortment of four-door coupes, such as the 4-Series Gran Coupe. Now it is adding the new 6-Series Grand Turismo. It’s not quite SUV – er, Sport Activity Vehicle. Nor is it quite wagon or hatchback. It’s a tall sedan with a fastback roof which, to add to the confusion, used to be called the 5-Series GT.

2018 Product News!

Oh, and if this all isn’t enough to require a notepad to keep up with, you might recall that BMW is getting ready to do away with the conventional 6-Series coupe line-up as it prepares to launch the new flagship 8-Series as a more direct challenger to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe.

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Most SUV Headlights Fall Short

Only 2 of 37 rated “good” by IIHS.

by on Jun.13, 2017

Even some high-tech "curving" headlamps performed poorly in the new IIHS lighting tests.

The vast majority of midsize SUVs offer headlights that fail to light up the road effectively, according to a newly released study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that found just two vehicles earned a “good” rating and 11 of 37 models tested fell into the “poor category.”

The list of poor performer includes some of the biggest sellers in the segment, such as the Jeep Wrangler, as well as Ford’s Edge and Explorer models. According to the industry trade group, many SUVs do a poor job of lighting the road while others create significant glare for oncoming traffic.

Your Guiding Light!

“We continue to see headlights that compromise safety because they only provide a short view down the road at night,” said Matt Brumbelow, a senior research engineer at IIHS.

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