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Spy Shots: 2017 Lincoln MKZ

Modest update to midsize sedan.

by on Oct.19, 2015

The midcycle update will give MKZ the basic new grille seen on the Lincoln Continental concept. Photos: Jim Dunne, CarSpy, unless otherwise noted.

With the unexpected debut of the Lincoln Continental concept at the New York Auto Show last April, Ford’s long-struggling luxury brand appeared to be setting out on a new course intended to make the brand a more serious player in the upscale market.

Even as engineers push the Lincoln Continental towards production, they’re also working up a mid-cycle update of the mid-range Lincoln MKZ– along with its sibling sedan, the Ford MKZ. These spy shots suggest that the bulk of the exterior changes will be seen front and back.

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The Lincoln Continental concept introduced an all-new face for the brand, abandoning the split-wing grille first introduced on the current MKZ. And we can expect that under the camouflage, we’ll be seeing the midsize model sharing that new look.

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Spy Shots: 2016 Ford Fusion

by on May.11, 2015

Ford doesn't plan to tinker too much with the success of its current Fusion design for 2016.

Few cars have scored such a big hit with an all-new design as the 2013 Ford Fusion. With its coupe-like silhouette and Aston-influenced grille, the sedan helped put Ford back on the list of serious midsize contenders. It even forced Toyota, long proud of its plain vanilla designs, to get serious about styling with the 2015 mid-cycle refresh of its Camry model.

Don’t expect to see anything nearly as radical from Ford next year. In the old days, they called what’s coming for Fusion a mid-cycle “refresh,” but this facelift is modest, at most, and really little more than a nose job.

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What you can see, and what you will get is an almost carryover body for the upcoming midsize Ford, including same-same in roof, doors, hood and other major body panels. Changes to the headlights, taillights and rear bumper might be modest enough to be missed by anyone but an owner of the current Fusion model.

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Spy Shots: 2017 Chrysler Town & Country

Down to one.

by on Jan.05, 2015

Chrysler has some big changes in its minivan plans, with a new Town & Country coming for 2017. Photos by Jim Dunne: Autospy.

Chrysler is hard at work preparing an all-new version of the Town & Country van, set for introduction as a 2017 model.

The much-anticipated debut will cap some major changes at Chrysler. At one point, the maker offered a variety of different – though largely badge-engineered – minivans, including not only the T&C but the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager, as well. From 2017, only the one model will remain, the maker developing a very different sort of “people mover” to replace the Dodge offering.

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The big challenge for FCA US LLC – the new name for the merged Fiat-Chrysler – will be to maintain demand for even its one remaining classic minivan. Once controlling more than two-thirds of the market, it has come under withering assault from a handful of foreign competitors, notably the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. At the same time, the minivan market itself has shrunk drastically since its mid-1990s peak.

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Spy Shots: Jeep’s Jeepster

Jeep rocks out with new entry-model.

by on Oct.21, 2013

A Jeepster mule undergoing testing. Photo by: Jim Dunne, CARSPY.

If you’re a rock fan, the name might bring to mind an old song by the British band T. Rex.  Others, might recall the 1998 concept vehicle that introduced the name Jeepster. What sort of tune you’ll sing likely will depend upon your reaction to this spy shot.

The Jeepster name actually has been around for some time, fans of the off-road brand will recall, dating back to the Willys-Overland Jeepster from 1948, a model described as the auto industry’s last true phaeton design.  The name was revived in 1966 on the AMC Jeepster Commando. And, what with the Cherokee badge returning to the Jeep line-up, it appears the maker is ready to dig even deeper into its archives.

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Designed to take the Jeep brand even more down-market than the current Compass model, this concept is, at least for now, being referred to internally as the Jeepster, though it remains to be seen if the name will stick when it goes into production.  But one thing seems certain, the concept suggests that Jeep is continuing a dramatic design shift that comes as part of parent Chrysler’s marriage to the Italian automaker Fiat SpA.

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Spy Shots: 2015 Chrysler 200

Reshaping what’s exported from Detroit.

by on Oct.03, 2013

A camouflaged 2015 Chrysler 200 still reveals a few of its secrets. Photo Credit: Jim Dunne/CAR SPY

Chrysler has had a history of pulling off some magic over the years, in some instances by coming up with truly breakthrough products such as the original Dodge Caravan and Jeep Grand Cherokee, other times by yanking a rabbit out of a well-worn hat, as it did when it tweaked the tired-upon-arrival Chrysler Sebring and transformed it into the so-so Chrysler 200.

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How much of that had to do with the powerful “Imported from Detroit” ad campaign that launched with a 2-minute Super Bowl spot featuring rapper Eminem? Well, that’s for another conversation, but that trick likely wouldn’t work again, and Chrysler knows it — which is why the maker is rushing to get an all-new replacement ready for the 2015 model-year.

We’ve been catching glimpses of “mules” running around for months, but these are the first good images our veteran spy photographer Jim Dunne has been able to capture of the 200 in its own skin – albeit heavily camouflaged. Nonetheless, you only have to squint slightly to get a sense of what’s coming.

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Spy Shots: 2015 Lincoln MKC

Luxury version of Ford Escape moves closer to production.

by on Sep.30, 2013

A prototype Lincoln MKC caught while testing. All photos courtesy Jim Dunne /CAR SPY.

In its bid to once again be taken seriously in the luxury market, Ford Motor Co. has outlined a plan to launch four critical new models by mid-decade – with a number of other offerings to follow.

The first of those, the MKZ sedan, got off to a rocky start but is finally gaining traction – just as the spotlight shifts to the next key product in the Lincoln strategy.  We got a first look at the marque’s planned compact crossover during the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Now, TheDetroitBureau.com’s veteran spy, Jim Dunne, has captured images of the small CUV undergoing testing around Detroit.

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Due to reach market for the 2015 model-year – which means an introduction in mid-2014 – the Lincoln MKC will be based upon the same basic platform as the latest-generation Ford Escape.  And, as you might recall, Escape migrated from a traditional body-on-frame to a crossover platform when it was relaunched for the 2013 model-year.

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Spy Shot: 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe

New model full-size SUVs get extensive makeover.

by on May.10, 2013

It appears that major change ares coming for the 2014 Chevy Tahoe. Photo credit: Jim Dunne CAR SPY

If this spy shot of the next generation Chevy Tahoe is any indication, General Motors plans major changes in the design of its 2014 model-year full-size SUV lineup, which includes Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.

Though the camouflage covering the vehicle is extensive, hiding much of the new sheet metal, some differences from the current models can be seen clearly. Multiple horizontal bars fill the familiar grille design, with its shield-like outline, centered “Bow Tie” emblem and heavier center bars.

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Flanking the grille are new headlight composites with over and under headlights and LED running lights. The front fascia will also feature a flatter face on the bumper grille housing rectangular parking lamps.

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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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Will this Be the New Jeep Liberty?

Alfa Romeo Giulietta to provide foundation for Liberty replacement.

by on Dec.21, 2012

A Jeep Liberty "mule" based on a modified Alfa Giulietta is caught during testing.

Chrysler is getting ready to bring out an all-new, radically changed Jeep Liberty that will debut within the next 18 months. Like the Dodge Dart, the new model will be based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, or more precisely on the modified CUSW platform derived from the Fiat subsidiary’s 5-door hatchback.

What we’ve captured here is a mule of the future Liberty prototype show a modified Giulietta hatchback sporting a completely new, covered, front end.

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By switching to the CUSW (or Compact U.S. Wide) platform the future Liberty will be inches wider and longer than its Italian progenitor and carry traditional Jeep styling features such as the more box-like body shape and vertical slotted grille design.

Evidence of the enlargement can be seen in the “stretch marks” seen on this view of a prototype (note the alterations in sheet metal at the roof, trunk and rear door).

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Spy Shots: Ford Caught Testing Independent Rear Suspension for Mustang

Likely to debut on next-gen pony car.

by on Dec.14, 2012

Is that an IRS package we see?

Ford has regained some momentum in the pony car wars, but diehard Mustang fans will have to wait until 2015 for an all-new model to take aim at Chevrolet’s resurrected Camaro.

It’s a long wait but there could be some much – and long-awaited – good news coming with that complete update, including the shift to independent rear suspension.

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Our veteran spy photographer, Jim Dunne appears to have lent credence to those earlier reports with a pair of spy shots he’s nabbed of a Ford Mustang mule that is here seen testing the next-generation pony car’s suspension.

At least that’s the impression you get from this rear view of the Ford Mustang test vehicle.

A closer look at the Mustang's undercarriage.

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