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SUVs and Crossovers That Tow at Least 7,500 Pounds

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 4:00am

If you regularly tow heavy items such as ATVs, jet skis, RVs, or boats and prefer the fully enclosed cargo area of an SUV instead of the bed of a pickup truck, you’ve come to the right place. Large SUVs and crossovers offer plenty of room for passengers and cargo, and some can tow as much as trucks when properly equipped. Below is a list of the top 15 towing SUVs and crossovers, arranged by ascending towing capacity, from 7,500 pounds to almost 5 tons. To give you some reference, a fully loaded Honda CR-V weighs about 3,500 pounds. So uncover that big motorboat, and get your gear ready for the water.

Read our Big SUV comparison right here!

Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class: 7,500 Pounds

Mercedes’ largest SUV is rated to tow up to 7,500 pounds with any engine option, including the standard 362-hp twin-turbo V-6, the optional 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8, or the 577-hp 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 found in the high-performance AMG GLS 63—the GLS 63 can hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. A Class IV trailer hitch is optional.

Audi Q7: 7,700 Pounds

The 7,700-pound towing capacity is basically the same as the Q7’s platform partner, the Bentley Bentayga. However, the Q7 meets this capacity using a much smaller engine, a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 that produces 333 hp and 325 lb-ft.

Porsche Cayenne: 7,716 Pounds

The Cayenne is powered by one of four engines: a 335-hp turbocharged V-6, a 434-hp twin-turbo V-6, a 541-hp twin-turbo V-8, or a 455-hp hybrid powertrain. Regardless of the engine, the Cayenne’s towing capacity sits at 7,716 pounds.

Land Rover Range Rover: 7,716 Pounds

It doesn’t matter if it’s the 254-hp turbodiesel V-6, the 340 to 380-hp supercharged V-6, or the 518- to 557-hp supercharged V-8, Land Rover claims the maximum towing capacity for the Range Rover is 7,716 pounds. A towing hitch is included, but an available towing package includes a hitch receiver and a towing assist feature.

Bentley Bentayga: 7,716 Pounds

One of the most expensive SUVs on the market has a maximum towing capacity of 7,716 pounds. The exclusive SUV is powered by a W-12 engine that creates 600 hp and 664 lb-ft—read about the new 542-hp V-8 model here. In some markets, the Bentayga offers an electronically retracting tow bar, and a plug-in turbo-six-powered hybrid is on the way.

Toyota Land Cruiser: 8,100 Pounds

Toyota’s luxurious off-roader maxes out at 8,100 pounds with its full-time four-wheel-drive system. The Land Cruiser’s 5.7-liter V-8 cranks out 381 hp and 401 lb-ft, and a towing hitch is standard.

Land Rover Discovery: 8,201 Pounds

You might assume that the Discovery’s turbodiesel V-6 would be the top engine for towing, but it’s actually the gasoline engine. The 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 produces 340 hp and 332 lb-ft and can tow an impressive 8,201 pounds. When equipped with the 3.0-liter turbodiesel, maximum towing drops to 7,716 pounds. A towing hitch is included.

Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV: 8,300 Pounds

Cadillac’s Escalade comes with a maximum towing rating of 8,300 pounds (8,100 with four-wheel drive) thanks in part to the 6.2-liter V-8 that makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. The longer ESV model is rated at 8,100 pounds (7,900 with four-wheel drive).

Nissan Armada: 8,500 Pounds

With an 8,500-pound towing capacity, the full-size body-on-frame Armada comes in just ahead of the Escalade. A 5.6-liter V-8 that churns out 390 hp and 394 lb-ft does the pulling, and that rating applies to rear- and four-wheel-drive models. A Class IV trailer hitch is included.

Infiniti QX80: 8,500 Pounds

Rated at 400 hp and 413 lb-ft from the same 5.6-liter V-8 as the Armada, the Infiniti QX80 has the same 8,500-pound maximum rating. Like the Armada, the QX80 comes with a Class IV trailer hitch.

GMC Yukon/Yukon XL: 8,500 Pounds

The lighter Yukon edges out the heavier Yukon XL: 8,500 pounds over the XL’s 8,300-pound towing capacity. To get the maximum rating, you’ll need the 355-hp, 383-lb-ft 5.3-liter V-8 with rear-wheel drive and the Trailering package. If you opt for the Yukon Denali and its 420-hp, 460-lb-ft 6.2-liter V-8, maximum towing decreases slightly to 8,400 pounds.

Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban: 8,600 Pounds

Although the Tahoe and Suburban are mechanically related to the Yukon and Yukon XL, the Tahoe carries a maximum towing rating 100 pounds higher than the Yukon. The Suburban is even with the Yukon XL model’s 8,300-pound capacity. Both Chevrolets use the same 5.3-liter V-8 found in the GMCs; with the optional 6.2-liter V-8, the Tahoe and Suburban can tow up to 8,400 and 8,100 pounds, respectively.

Dodge Durango: 8,700 Pounds

The surprise bronze finisher can tow up to an impressive 8,700 pounds, but that’s only with the top SRT model, which packs a 6.4-liter V-8 producing 475 hp and 470 lb-ft—the SRT can also hit 60 mph in a quick 4.6 seconds. The available 5.7-liter V-8 can tow 7,200 pounds, and the standard 3.6-liter V-6 has a maximum rating of 6,200 pounds. The Trailer Tow package is required.

Lincoln Navigator/Navigator L: 8,700 Pounds

The Expedition’s premium stablemate, the Navigator, takes the second spot with a maximum towing capacity of 8,700 pounds. The longer L model has a max capacity of 8,400 pounds. The Lincoln uses a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 tuned to produce 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. The Heavy Duty Trailer Tow package and rear-wheel drive are required for the highest rating.

Ford Expedition/Expedition Max: 9,300 Pounds

With a maximum towing capacity of 9,300 pounds, Ford’s new Expedition is the towing champ of SUVs and crossovers. The 375-hp, 470-lb-ft 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 powerplant backed by a 10-speed automatic provides the pulling power, and that can be increased to 400 hp and 480 lb-ft in the Platinum trim. The longer-wheelbase Max model is rated at 9,000 pounds. Like the Navigator, the Heavy Duty Trailer Tow package and two-wheel drive are required for maximum capacity.

The post SUVs and Crossovers That Tow at Least 7,500 Pounds appeared first on Motor Trend.

Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 6:00pm

It’s hard to reinvent a vehicle as iconic as the G-Wagen. But after nearly four decades, Mercedes tried to do exactly that. The result? An SUV that’s more comfortable, drives better, and is at least as capable an off-roader as its predecessor. With that in mind, how does the G-Wagen’s new look compare to the outgoing model?

Up front, the boxy fascia is still there, as are the circular headlights and top-mounted turn signals. Look a little closer, though, and the differences between the new and old front ends become a little clearer. The shapes aren’t nearly as sharp or squared-off, and the headlights are surrounded by halo-like running lights. To our American eyes, the redesigned G-Wagen also needs a bull bar to look right.

In profile, it’s a similar story. The new design is immediately identifiable as a G-Wagen and nothing else. Park both cars next to each other, however, and they don’t look nearly as similar as they do at first glance. Thankfully, the door handles carry over, as do the AMG version’s side pipes. Out back, Mercedes kept the rear-mounted spare tire cover and the tailgate’s exposed hinges.

The changes most people will notice are inside the cabin. Not only is it much more spacious and comfortable than before, it finally feels like it has a modern interior. Mercedes kept the passenger grab handle and the center-mounted switches for the locking differentials, but that’s about it. Everything else looks and feels like it was pulled out of a Mercedes luxury sedan. Even the infamous basketball hoop cupholder has disappeared.

Official pricing for the U.S. hasn’t been announced, but that should be revealed before the 2019 G-Class goes on sale later this year. For now, expect the G 550 to cost about $125,000, with the G 63 coming in at about $140,000.

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Elon Musk Gives Rough Timeline for Tesla Model Y Reveal

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 5:15pm

Tesla is still in the throes of launching the Model 3, but it also has a number of other products to prepare in the next few years, including the Semi, Roadster, and Model Y. On Twitter this week, CEO Elon Musk revealed more information on when we can expect to see the Model Y compact crossover.

Musk previously indicated that production of the new model would likely start in 2020. But it looks like the actual debut could come pretty soon. Responding to a question on Twitter about the reveal date, Musk said the model would debut March 15, later admitting that he just “made that up” because “the Ides of March sounded good.” This date is known for the assassination of Julius Caesar.

He clarified things by saying, “We could unveil Model Y anytime from late this year to mid next year, so March 15 is about right.”

But consider it real. We could unveil Model Y anytime from late this year to mid next year, so March 15 is about right.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2018

We don’t know much else about the Model Y at this point. Previously, Musk said demand for the crossover will probably exceed demand for the Model 3, Tesla’s entry-level sedan.

Musk has also been busy on Twitter criticizing the media. Here are some of his latest tweets:

It is strange that big auto companies literally have thousands more factory injuries than Tesla & millions more auto deaths, but somehow get less coverage. We are not perfect, but we’re doing our best to make clean energy real & be a good company.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018

Thought you’d say that. Anytime anyone criticizes the media, the media shrieks “You’re just like Trump!” Why do you think he got elected in the first place? Because no ones believes you any more. You lost your credibility a long time ago.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018

Problem is journos are under constant pressure to get max clicks & earn advertising dollars or get fired. Tricky situation, as Tesla doesn’t advertise, but fossil fuel companies & gas/diesel car companies are among world’s biggest advertisers.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018

 

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Report: Apple to Make Self-Driving Shuttles From VW Vans

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 4:30pm

Apple has scaled back its autonomous car ambitions considerably in recent years, according to reports. It once envisioned creating its own vehicle from the ground up, but those plans soon shifted to asking other automakers to help produce the car. Eventually, Apple settled on the idea of retrofitting vehicles from other automakers with its own sensors and software. Now, according to The New York Times, Apple wants to take Volkswagen T6 Transporter vans and make them into self-driving shuttles for its employees.

Apple has already signed a deal with Volkswagen, three sources familiar with the project told the Times. The tech giant had approached BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, McLaren, and other automakers, but wasn’t able to secure a deal with any of them, the report says. Some of the talks failed because automakers weren’t willing to give Apple control over their data or the customer experience of their vehicles, while other deals fell through because the tech giant was looking for a better partner.

Eventually, Apple found a match with Volkswagen, which according to former Apple employees, jumped at the opportunity after the dieselgate scandal. The Volkswagen vans destined to become Apple shuttles will retain their original frame, chassis, and wheels. However, Apple will install many of its own interior bits, including a new dashboard and seats. Of course, the cars will also come with Apple’s computers and sensors for autonomous driving, as well as a large electric car battery.

The shuttles will transport Apple employees between two of the company’s campuses in Silicon Valley. A driver will sit behind the wheel ready to take control of the vehicle if necessary, and an operator will sit in the passenger seat to record performance metrics.

It’s unclear exactly when we can expect Apple to introduce the shuttle. The tech company is already off target, however, according to one former employee. Originally, the shuttle was expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Source: The New York Times

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A Closer Look at Our Exclusive Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Cover Shot

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 3:26pm

Today, our July issue hits newsstands, giving readers their first uncamouflaged look at the upcoming Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Ford gave us exclusive early access to the image, and we liked it so much that we put it on the cover of our “Future Cars” issue. The GT500 looks great peeling out on our cover, but let’s take a look at the original to see what we can learn about the 700-plus-hp pony car.

The bird’s-eye view gives us a better look at the GT500’s heat extractor vents in the hood, which are likely needed to cool the GT500’s engine. That engine will most likely be a supercharged version of the GT350’s 5.2-liter flat-plane-crank V-8. Speaking of the GT350, the fenders on this car look wide, but not much—if at all—wider than those of the naturally aspirated Shelby. However, we do see some unique aero bits in the form of a large front splitter and fixed wing. Glimpses of both features can also be seen in the teaser video Ford released early this year.

Peeking through the rear window, things look a little weird. The rear seats look flat, almost like they’re a shelf meant to resemble the backseat of a Mustang. Whether this is a dummy piece to disguise the lack of rear seats or just a trick of the camera lens, we can’t say for sure. But given that both the GT350R and Boss 302 were strictly two-seaters, and this GT500 is expected to be more than just fast in a straight line, we wouldn’t be surprised if the new Shelby followed suit. At the very least, we expect Ford will offer a rear seat delete option.

Transmission choices remain unknown, but a recent video captured the sound of a GT500 mule’s lightning-quick shifts. Whether that’s Ford’s 10-speed automatic or the rumored seven-speed dual-clutch swapping gears is anyone’s guess.

Take a closer look at the latest official Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 image in the gallery, and be sure to pick up our Future Cars issue on newsstands now!

The post A Closer Look at Our Exclusive Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Cover Shot appeared first on Motor Trend.

FCA Recalls 4.8 Million Vehicles Over Software Issue

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 2:00pm

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million vehicles in the U.S. because cruise control functionality could be compromised in a certain unlikely situation. The automaker advises drivers of the affected Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram vehicles to avoid using cruise control until they receive a software upgrade.

The Problem: If a certain electrical network happens to short-circuit while the vehicle is accelerating in cruise control mode, drivers may not be able to cancel cruise control. However, FCA says drivers can still brake to override acceleration from the cruise control system. Shifting into neutral and braking accordingly will also stop the vehicle. The vehicle will cancel cruise control once it has been placed in Park.

FCA is not aware of any injuries or accidents involving the affected vehicles, which include:

The Fix: FCA will start notifying customers as early as next week to schedule service appointments. The Powertrain Control Module inside the cars will be fixed for free. Until the appointment, drivers should not use their vehicle’s cruise control system, FCA warns.

Number of Vehicles Potentially Affected: The recall involves an estimated 4.8 million vehicles in the U.S. FCA is recalling additional vehicles in Canada, Mexico, and markets outside the NAFTA region.

Source: FCA

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Nissan Leaf Loses its Roof in Tokyo

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 12:31pm

We’re suddenly having flashbacks to the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. Today, the Japanese automaker showed off an open air version of the Leaf in Tokyo.

The model is based off the second-generation Leaf that arrived in U.S. dealerships earlier this year. Unlike the drop-top Murano, Nissan says there are currently no plans to produce the open-air Leaf. And that’s a good thing, as we can’t imagine the absence of a roof having a positive effect on aerodynamics. This Leaf has also lost two of its doors, rendering it even less useful.

But introducing a topless Leaf is a good way to draw attention to a recent milestone the car has achieved. Nissan has sold 100,000 copies of the Leaf in Japan since it was first introduced in 2010. The open-air Leaf was unveiled at a small forum in Tokyo attended by government officials and company executives to discuss the creation of a “zero-emission society.”

We don’t know about the open-air version, but the regular second-generation Nissan Leaf feels quicker and more responsive than the original. After driving the new model, we praised the accuracy of its ProPilot system, which helps drivers navigate stop-and-go traffic on the highway. Drivers can travel 150 miles on a charge right now, but soon Nissan will offer a longer-range option that could have 225 miles of range.

Source: Nissan

 

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2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Starts at $20,910

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 8:00am

The 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback marks a big step in the right direction for a nameplate that has been known in recent years for its boring styling and driving dynamics. Now, Toyota has revealed pricing and fuel economy numbers for the Corolla hatch.

The 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback will start at $20,910, including $920 destination charge, for an SE model with the six-speed manual transmission. Meanwhile, the manual-equipped XSE trim level will start at $23,910. The CVT will be an extra $1,100 on either model.

The Corolla hatchback’s starting price is $425 more than that of the Corolla iM it replaces, but it still undercuts much of its C-segment hatchback competition. The Honda Civic hatchback starts at $21,045, while the Mazda3 hatch starts at $21,285, the Chevrolet Cruze hatch starts at $21,320, the Ford Focus hatch starts at $21,415, and the Volkswagen Golf starts at $21,760. The Subaru Impreza five-door is slightly cheaper starting at $19,855, as are both Korean options. The Kia Forte5 and Hyundai Elantra GT start at $19,195 and $20,235, respectively.

Options for the Corolla hatch will be relatively streamlined. All Corolla hatchbacks come standard with the Entune 3.0 infotainment system, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, but the SE Preferred package will get you App Suite and Toyota Connected telematics services and a blind spot monitoring system for $1,400. The XSE Preferred package includes a premium JBL eight-speaker, 800-watt audio system, Toyota Connected services, onboard navigation, and Qi-compatible wireless charging capability for $1,600. Adaptive headlights are a $415 standalone option, and the $395 Blizzard Pearl is the only premium paint color.

Under the hood, the Corolla hatchback gets a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline-four rated at 168 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. That engine can be pretty efficient, but just how efficient depends on the trim level and transmission choice. The Corolla hatch SE with the CVT is the fuel-miser of the lineup, EPA-rated at 32/42/36 mpg city/highway/combined. But that same drivetrain combo in the XSE, which rides on 18-inch wheels rather than 16s, only yields 30/38/33 mpg. The SE manual is rated 28/37/31 mpg, and numbers for the XSE manual are still pending. The base CVT Corolla hatch gets better mpgs than the most efficient Corolla sedan, the Corolla Eco, which is rated at 30/40/34 mpg.

The 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback goes on sale this summer.

Source: Toyota

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2018 Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence: The Rear Seat Review

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 4:00am

The excellent Volvo XC90 is well known in this office—it being a former Motor Trend SUV of the Year and all. Over the past few years, we’ve thoroughly tested its outright performance and reviewed its driving dynamics. Now, though, Volvo has introduced an ultra-premium, chauffeur-driven model. And that requires a different sort of test.

Worldwide, the rich have done pretty well for themselves—and they’re spending some of that wealth on ever-fancier cars—or more specifically, SUVs. Some of those buyers are looking for something more specific, and they generally fall into two camps. The first wants their 5,000-pound brick to accelerate and handle like a sports sedan. The other wants the opposite: To be driven in muted surroundings while sipping Champagne from custom flutes and seated in heated and cooled 10-way power rear seats with a massage program running.

Enter Volvo, the once sensible-luxury brand that has pushed itself firmly into the full-fledged luxury segment with its latest round of vehicles. It’s targeting group two—no surprise given the brand’s Chinese ownership and the popularity in China of being driven over driving oneself. But Volvo is offering the XC90 T8 Excellence in the U.S., too, so here’s our unusually thorough review of just the back seat.

First, some context: At $106,000, it’s the most expensive model Volvo has ever sold. At the same time, though, it’s also the least expensive vehicle you can buy with this kind of executive rear-seat package, and clearly the cheapest to come with custom Champagne flutes. Does it stack up to the more expensive offerings from Mercedes-Maybach, Range Rover, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce? Let’s investigate.

Get Comfortable

Volvo has long been known for exceptionally comfortable front seats that offer a great deal of support—a happy side effect of the brand’s commitment to reducing spinal injuries in a crash. The XC90 Excellence adds this comfort to the second row, with two seats separated by a center console (we’ll get to that in a moment), but which sacrifices almost no functionality. They seats are heated, cooled, and offer a number of massage programs as well as adjustable lumbar support, side bolsters, and thigh support. Naturally, they also recline, though because Volvo doesn’t build a long-wheelbase XC90, they don’t recline nearly as far as those from the other guys. How much that matters depends on how much you plan on napping back there. Removable foot rests are included.

Cocooned

True luxury means being coddled and cut off from the noise and chaos of the outside world (why does the proletariat have to be so loud?). The Excellence delivers with a whisper-quiet cabin and a dark window tint that can be enhanced with manual sun shades hidden in each rear door (Volvo should consider making them power-operated if it really wants to be considered ultra-lux). There’s also a partition between the rear seats and cargo area to keep out the wind and noise, and to maintain the cabin temperature when Jasper opens the rear hatch to load your bags.

There’s even a luxury quality to the hybrid drivetrain, though it’s not perfect. Electric motors are nearly silent and can deliver perfectly smooth acceleration, exactly what you want in a limousine. Unfortunately, the integrated regenerative brakes are grabby and the pedal is difficult to modulate smoothly, so your driver will need to relearn his limousine stop technique.

The drivetrain is also connected to big, pretty 21-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile tires, and as good as they look, they’re not good for ride quality. Like many heavy vehicles with big wheels and skinny tires, the Excellence suffers from what I call “heavy wheels,” wherein it feels like each wheel weighs 1,000 pounds every time it goes over a bump or drops into a crack or hole. The best luxury cars, SUVs, and limousines waft down the road.

Drinks, Anyone?

Sure, you can stash a mini fridge in a lot of cars, and the multiple-six-figure vehicle class adds custom glasses, but no one does it like this. Volvo partnered with Swedish crystal company Orrefors to produce exclusive Champagne flutes with pointed bottoms for the Excellence. What on Earth for? To fit in special holders in the armrest where they can’t possibly tip over like traditional flutes. When not in use, they can be stored (and chilled) in the fridge between the seats.

If you’re not using the crystal, it’s a different story. A heated and cooled cupholder is located directly in front of the flute holders, and it’s the only cupholder in the rear-seat area. Water bottles can be stowed in the door pockets.

Workspace

Companies that make vehicles like the Excellence enjoy comparing the rear-seat space to the interiors of private jets, so it’s no surprise these cars often offer tray tables. Volvo’s are beautiful bits of engineering made of polished aluminum and fine leather. They fold out from under the center armrest, and the tabletop extends out over your lap. Elegant as they are, though, they require a specific deployment and stowage procedure. The armrest will hit the tabletop if you don’t extend it first, so every time you deploy the table you must extend it before you close the armrest and do the reverse when you put it away. It’s a minor inconvenience and hopefully one Volvo can engineer around in the future.

In-Flight Entertainment

Naturally, since you’re not driving, you’ll want to be entertained and connected. Volvo addresses this with iPads that are mounted to the backs of the front seats and connected to an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot. With the entirety of the internet at your fingertips, your entertainment options are virtually unlimited.

It does mean, though, that if what you want isn’t available streaming, you’ll need to upload media from your home network via the cloud, rather than just popping in a USB thumb drive or DVD. Make sure to ask your manservant to do it before your journey. You’ll also want to keep the supplied charging cables handy and plug the iPads into the dual charging ports in each docking station periodically (two USB ports and a 110-volt outlet also reside in the center armrest).

Then there’s the matter of controlling the iPads. With no handheld remotes or console-mounted controls, you’ll need to lean forward to tap the iPads directly, which becomes an issue in the passenger’s side rear seat when the front seat is folded forward out of the way. Since the docks don’t adjust, the front-seat passengers will need to adjust their seats in a way that angles the iPads toward you. And because the iPads are completely encased by their mounts with no way to actuate the volume and screen-off buttons (only the home button and headphone jack), you’ll need to use the onscreen control menu (swipe right from the home screen) to change the volume.

Under Control

As you’re the person who paid for the car and employed the driver, vehicles like this are built around the assumption that you’re in command. To this end, the Excellence offers a touchscreen control panel that pops up between the center armrest and the Champagne flute holders. From here, you can control the seat heaters and coolers for both rear seats as well as activate the heated/cooled cup holder. You can also control the slide and recline functions of the passenger’s side front seat, folding it forward out of the way for more legroom or moving it back to bring the iPad closer. This screen also controls the rear seats’ massage functions. To activate them, though (as well as to adjust the lumbar, side bolsters, and thigh support), you must first toggle the rotary controller and buttons on the side of the seat below the door handle.

This is as far as the Excellence goes, and it’s well short of the established elite players. While you can control the dual-zone rear climate control’s temperature and fan speed from a separate touch panel at the leading edge of the center console between the front seats, there’s no other control over vehicle functions. You can’t even control the stereo, much less monitor or make changes to the navigation, make a call through the hands-free system, control the panoramic sunroof, or roll down the window on the other side of the car. Volvo would do well to add this kind of functionality the next time around.

Bargain or Bust?

While we found some weak points in the rear-seat space’s execution, we hope Volvo takes them as constructive feedback for the next model. As a first attempt at this sort of thing, Volvo’s interior team has done an incredible job amplifying a vehicle that was gorgeous and sumptuous to begin with. The XC90 Excellence is plush, comfortable, spacious, and isolating—and we wouldn’t turn down a chauffeured ride in one any day. It’s also worth reiterating the Excellence is more than $40,000 cheaper than the next-most affordable vehicle offering a complete rear-seat package like this, which helps explain why a few bells and whistles might be absent. That we are even comparing a Volvo to a Rolls-Royce or Bentley is a testament to the work done here. We think Volvo has a spectacular foundation to build from, and we look forward to seeing what the Swedes will do with the knowledge they’ve gained from this build. Don’t be surprised if you see a few of these rolling around posh neighborhoods soon.

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2017 Jeep Renegade Sport 4×4 Long-Term Update 6

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 4:00am

I tend to be easily impressed. Coming into the Renegade from my personal aging Ford Explorer, nearly every feature the little Jeep has was better than what I was used to. Unlike others on the staff, my personal measuring stick hadn’t yet been calibrated against everything else the new vehicle market has to offer. But after a year with the entry-level Jeep, that has changed, and I’ve found myself questioning the value of the base Sport model.

Our Renegade Sport 4×4 “starts” at about $21,000, $3,345 less than the Latitude, the next step up the trim ladder, and $6,845 less than the Trailhawk. But those numbers are deceiving: The Sport, it turns out, doesn’t come with A/C unless you pay for it. Every other Renegade trim includes that $1,495 option standard (and it’s a required addition to upgrade the Sport to an automatic transmission, which is also standard on the Trailhawk).

This brings what I consider the “real” base price for each trim level just close enough that I began to wonder if the base model is worth the discount. I quickly came to the conclusion that, at least for me, it is not. For just a little more cash, higher trims provide a lot more of the stuff I need.

This is, of course, nothing new—unless you’re a millennial stepping into a Renegade from a 20-year-old used car and haven’t spent much time exploring trim levels in the past (likely a decent portion of the Renegade market and definitely a big part of the Renegade marketing).

Base models are cheaper for a reason, and paying more gets you more. Often, though, paying less and getting less will still get you a vehicle you’ll be happy with. However, with the Renegade—even adding every option available on the Sport—I know I’d end up regretting not stepping up a trim level or three. Much of what I’d want simply isn’t offered on the base model.

The Sport does not make the 8.4-inch Uconnect system (the only system with onboard navigation) available. Nor can you get heated seats (a personal favorite), automatic headlights (a preventative measure against fiancées prone to draining batteries), or any advanced safety tech or driver aids.

As our executive editor said about his long-term 530i, we typically aim to test vehicles with all the bells and whistles so we can tell you which ones are worth the extra cash. In this case, though, our long-termer omitted quite a bit, and after nearly a year we can say we’d recommend you spring for those extras.

More on our long-term Jeep Renegade here:

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Honda Planning New EV Based on the Fit

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 5:30pm

Honda released the Fit EV here in 2012, but that vehicle wasn’t long for this world. Now, the automaker is partnering with a major battery maker to develop a new electric vehicle based on the Fit.

Honda will work with Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) to create batteries and related technologies for the new vehicle, reports Japanese newspaper The Nikkei. By the first half of 2020, the vehicle will debut in China and other markets, although we don’t know if this includes the U.S. or not. Range should hit 300 km (186 miles), which already puts it behind other electric vehicles including the Chevrolet Bolt.

Honda Fit EV

The Fit-based EV will come with a price tag of slightly more than 2 million yen, or around $18,000. Honda wants to sell more than 100,000 copies a year, which would make it the company’s top-selling electric vehicle. Honda also offers the Clarity EV on a limited scale.

Earlier this year, Honda previewed a new mass-production EV. The crossover will be available exclusively in China, and it will arrive before the end of the year.

China is the world’s biggest market for electric vehicles, and it also has a stronghold on battery technology. The Chinese government subsidizes electric cars with batteries made by local manufacturers, giving CATL and fellow battery tech company BYD an advantage. Chinese automakers and overseas manufacturers are often opting to use Chinese batteries instead of rivals from other countries. CATL is expected to capture the largest share of the global automotive battery market this year by shipments (19 percent) ahead of Panasonic (15.5 percent), according to data from Techno Systems Research.

Source: The Nikkei

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2019 Subaru WRX STI Gets More Power

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 3:30pm

Subaru is expanding its crossover lineup with the Ascent and Crosstrek Hybrid, but it hasn’t forgotten about the traditional cars that make up much of its cachet. To that end, Subaru has updated the WRX and STI for the 2019 model year, and base prices have gone up $225 and $525, respectively.

For enthusiasts, the biggest news is that the WRX STI receives 5 more horsepower, bumping peak output from the tried and true turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four to 310 hp. This improvement comes from a new air intake and high-flow performance exhaust as well as a retuned ECU and more robust pistons. Also, Subaru has revised the third gear ratio of the six-speed manual for quicker acceleration.

The new model year brings updated infotainment systems for the WRX and STI lineup. The WRX’s standard 6.5-inch touchscreen now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On the Premium trim, a new 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard. Higher-trim WRX Limited models and STI models also feature upgraded infotainment systems with smartphone integration. Also new, all regular WRX models equipped with a CVT transmission come standard with EyeSight safety technologies.

Subaru announced it will offer a limited-production version of the WRX and STI. Called the “Series.Gray,” the special models will come with black finished alloy wheels, a Cool Gray Khaki exterior, and Crystal Black Silica badges and folding exterior mirrors. WRX versions are based on the WRX Premium with the Performance Package including Recaro seats and other upgrades. For STI versions, buyers get a Bilstein STI sport-tuned suspension and silver-finish calipers for the Brembo brakes. Available only with the six-speed manual, Subaru will make 750 copies of this special trim for the WRX and 250 for the STI.

Base WRX models go for $28,080 and come with a six-speed manual transmission. On the WRX Premium trim, expect to pay $30,380 with the manual or $32,280 with the CVT. Limited models feature LED steering responsive headlights, 10-way power driver seat, and other upgrades for $32,680 with the manual and $34,580 with the CVT. The STI starts at $37,480, and Limited models go for $42,280. Series.Gray models add $3,100 to the price of the vehicles they are based on. Expect these models to make their way to dealerships this summer.

Source: Subaru

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Honda Debuts Civic Type R Pickup Concept

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 12:45pm

It was only a matter of time before Honda debuted special versions of the Civic Type R, but little did we know the first one would be a pickup. Created at Honda’s U.K. factory in Swindon, this vehicle swaps out the rear seats and cargo area for a truck bed.

To create the vehicle, Honda started with a pre-production Type R and modified it from the B-pillars back. It keeps its signature rear wing, which Honda made movable to allow easy access to the back. The bed looks properly durable to hold all types of equipment. In this picture, we can see Honda’s lawnmower products in the rear.

The truck retains the same suspension, powertrain, and gearbox as the standard Type R. It also features the same driving modes, which include Comfort, Sport, and +R. It probably won’t be as quick as the regular Type R, however, which we’ve tested hitting 60 mph in 5.0 seconds. Honda says the truck can zip to 62 mph in less than 6 seconds and reach a top speed of over 165 mph. With these specs, Honda calls it “potentially one of the fastest pickup trucks on U.K. roads.”

“We have a special projects division at the factory in Swindon and this project was a fantastic opportunity for the team to show just what their creative minds could do,” project lead Alyn James said in a statement. “The passion that our engineers have for Honda is shown in our latest creation and we are even considering taking it to the Nürburgring to see if we can take the record for the fastest front-wheel-drive pickup truck!”

Honda says it has no plans to put the Type R pickup into production. But last year, we heard Honda was considering other Type R variants, including a version that is more powerful than the existing model’s 306 ponies. Speaking with Automotive News, Civic chief engineer Hideki Matsumoto said the company was also looking into a grand tourer and an all-wheel-drive variant.

Source: Honda

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2019 Ford F-150 Raptor Gets Improved Shocks, Recaro Seats

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 8:00am

The idea behind a Raptor is to go fast on uneven terrain. So if you are going to pick one area to upgrade for the 2019 Ford Raptor, smarter shocks with continuous damping control make sense. Additional off-road systems, the Raptor’s first Recaro seats, and the option to order the truck in Ford Performance Blue join the parade for the new model year.

Ford Performance blue—the one on the Raptor concept—is now one of three new colors for 2019 and it is exclusive to Raptor within the F-150 family. The other colors, which are shared with the F-150, are Velocity Blue and Agate Black. The automaker is retiring Lightning Blue, Avalanche (a whitish gray), and Shadow Black.

Also gone is the orange interior. Choices now include standard black or the new Light Speed Blue borrowed from the Ford GT. The shade is used for the Recaro seats with blue Alcantara inserts that are being offered for the first time as part of a package that includes carbon-fiber trim on the doors, dash, and shifter.

Since Raptor is all about performance, especially off-road, Ford continues to use shocks from Fox Racing which has been a supplier since the original 2010 Raptor. For the 2019 model year, the performance desert racing pickup switches to electronically controlled live-valve Fox Racing Shox with infinite compressions for continuous damping.

The suspension architecture is unchanged with the same control arm and bushings, but Ford added front ride height sensors in addition to sensors in the body of the truck and the suspension.

The advancement is in the dampers and Ford developed the controls in-house, said F-150 Raptor vehicle dynamics lead Chris Paiva. There are different algorithms for normal, sport and off-road and they work with the Terrain Management System. The tech reads the terrain and the control unit sends a command every millisecond to adjust the dampers accordingly. It allows the wheels to move freely when warranted and the shocks get stiffer when needed to prevent the truck from bottoming out. Jump mode and Loud Pedal mode recognize more aggressive throttle and the shocks stiffen to brace for impact. All of it is done automatically.

“Not many trucks need sensors to detect when you are midair,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director, Ford  Performance vehicle programs. “Raptor sets the dampers  to full stiffness to help smooth shock performance as the truck lands.”

Suspension travel remains the same at 13 inches in front and 13.9 inches at the rear. Likewise, approach and departure angles are unchanged.

Ford also adds a New Trail Control system for low-speed off-roading that takes over throttle and brake inputs; allowing the driver to concentrate on steering. This off-road cruise control can be activated at speeds up to 20 mph.

Other tweaks: the giant FORD badge across the tailgate is a new applique where the letters are more three-dimensional to stand out.

And buyers have a choice of regular or optional beadlock-capable wheels and can order a ring set for the beadlock wheels from Ford Performance. The wheels are still 17-inch with 35-inch tires.

The second-generation Raptor went on sale for the 2017 model year with a new steel and aluminum body and a high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V-6 replacing the 6.2-liter V-8. It also switched to Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission.

The new model goes on sale late this year. Pricing has not been announced.

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2018 Cadillac XTS V-Sport First Test: Nicer Than You Think, But…

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 4:00am

The XTS is for anyone who’s ever tried to sit in the CTS’ back seat behind a tall driver. Sure, the CTS is an accomplished, comparison-winning sport sedan and our 2014 Car of the Year, but the XTS provides far more space at the same price. And in the 410-hp, all-wheel-drive V-Sport Platinum form, the updated 2018 XTS does its best to earn a $73,840 price tag and eradicate associations you may have of the XTS as chauffeur-driven airport transportation.

Riding on the same platform as the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse, the front- and all-wheel-drive XTS provides a level of interior space you won’t find on some of the Cadillac’s competition. And our Platinum-trimmed tester impressed us with rich interior materials nearly everywhere—well beyond those platform-mates and easily the match of top-tier competition. The V-Sport model elevates performance with its combination of all-wheel drive and a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 making 410 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.

The 2018 XTS V-Sport reached 60 mph in 5.2 seconds at the track, a noticeable 1.7-second improvement over a 304-hp base-engined all-wheel-drive XTS we’ve tested. A 5.2-second 0–60 time is quick for a 200.9-inch car, but others in the XTS V-Sport’s segment can keep up. We tested a rear-drive Genesis G80 with a V-8 engine (then known as a Hyundai Genesis) accelerating to 60 in 5.2 seconds, and the newer rear-drive G80 with a twin-turbo V-6 is just as quick. Despite having about 100 fewer horses than the Cadillac, an all-wheel-drive 2017 Volvo S90 T6 reached 60 in 5.6 seconds, and a 2017 BMW 540i smoked all of them with a 4.9-second time.

None of those competitors have the XTS’ 18-cubic-foot trunk, however, and the midsize BMW isn’t quite as spacious as the Cadillac. Despite the XTS’ size, testing director Kim Reynolds said the car is “much better handling than you’d predict looking at it.” On the figure-eight test, which tracks driving characteristics such as acceleration, braking, cornering, and the transitions between them, the Cadillac turned in a performance of 26.0 seconds at 0.70 g (average). The car exhibited noticeable roll and pitch on the track, but Reynolds commented that its suspension was damped acceptably. The XTS V-Sport’s figure-eight performance compares favorably to both G80 models, is slightly better than the S90 T6, but isn’t as good as the 540i.

Braking from 60 to 0 required 121 feet, behind the two G80s (116 feet), the 540i (117 feet), and the 2017 S90 (108 feet), but it’s worth noting that Volvo stretched that car for the 2018 model year. Road test editor Chris Walton said that for a car riding on all-season tires, the Cadillac’s braking distance is respectable, but he did note the car had a “squishy pedal” and the body exhibited “lots of dive.” Off the track, the XTS’ brake pedal requires too much travel before any actual braking occurs.

In EQUA Real MPG testing, the XTS V-Sport came in at 16.4/24.6 mpg city/highway, which compares well to the car’s 16/23 mpg EPA ratings.

The star of the XTS V-Sport’s dynamics isn’t just the 410 hp under the hood, but the Magnetic Ride Control system, which produces a ride that’s not overly floaty yet still doesn’t pound over every road imperfection. Around town, the six-speed automatic feels like its standard transmission setting is Sport, but after more time with the car, I came to see it more as responsive than touchy. No matter how good the suspension and how responsive the transmission, though, no XTS will ever be as much fun on a winding road as a CTS.

Cadillac made meaningful sheetmetal changes to the XTS for its 2018-model-year update, but the car doesn’t look as premium as a CTS or any other rear-drive-based luxury sedan. Park the front-drive-based XTS near a rear-drive-based G80, and you’ll see a difference in proportions, from the Genesis’ longer hood to its shorter front overhang. At least front visibility in the XTS is improved by the way the short hood drops down, but between the high trunk lid and the extremely thick C-pillars, rear visibility isn’t good.

The XTS has decent safety scores, with a five-star overall rating (out of a possible five stars) from the NHTSA, and four Good crash-test scores from the IIHS. The XTS, which hasn’t been tested in all of the IIHS’ crash-test evaluations, used its automatic emergency braking system to come to a stop in a 12-mph test, avoiding a collision. In a 25-mph test, the car reduced speed by 12 mph, earning a Superior score (the highest rating). That’s good, but the BMW 5 Series and Genesis G80 earn the IIHS’ 2018 Top Safety Pick+ rating.

Where the XTS must apologize for its size and 410-hp V-Sportiness is fuel economy. Among competitors of different sizes, the quicker BMW 540i in all-wheel-drive form is EPA-rated at 20/29 mpg city/highway to the larger XTS V-Sport’s 16/23 mpg. The slightly slower Volvo S90 T6 AWD is rated at 22/31 mpg; the all-wheel-drive Genesis G80 comes in at 17/24 mpg for the 3.3T model and 15/23 mpg for the 5.0 flagship. OK, maybe buyers of large luxury sedans don’t care about fuel economy, but more efficient cars don’t have to refuel as often. On a highway road trip, that translates to about 74 more miles in an all-wheel-drive 540i, 39 miles in an all-wheel-drive G80 3.3T, and 44 miles in the all-wheel-drive S90 T6.

Read the 2018 XTS V-Sport Platinum interior review right here

Not a big deal, but worth considering. Just like the placement of the XTS’ touchscreen, which at 8.0 inches, is on the small side for the segment. The screen’s functionality might be improved if it were mounted higher on the center stack for better visibility. Also, even though the volume slider and HVAC capacitive-touch buttons are easy enough to use, nothing beats volume and temperature control knobs. Even so, the polarizing controls look slick when the car is off—before the button labels illuminate—with stylized silver accents on top of piano black trim. Another interior highlight is the digital instrument cluster, which is standard on the Premium Luxury, Platinum, and V-Sport Platinum trims. The system is displayed on a 12.3-inch screen and offers lots of info customization options as well as three distinct display design themes (one is unique to the V-Sport model).

In Cadillac’s sedan lineup, the XTS’s 18-cubic-foot trunk is unmatched by even the CT6, though it’s too bad the XTS doesn’t offer a power-closing trunk. Cargo space should be important if you’re considering this car, which sits between the sportier CTS and the also-spacious CT6. The XTS in Platinum form boasts a rich interior with (mostly) rewarding details and a decent-sized back seat.

What the XTS doesn’t offer at any price is the stance that can distinguish a premium-branded car from less expensive mainstream models. Don’t take my word for it, though. Take an in-person look for yourself at the Genesis G80 as well as the Cadillac XTS and see if you like the proportions of one car over the other (maybe you won’t care). The Genesis’ biggest downside isn’t its odd front grille, but its complete lack of the cachet Cadillac still holds for many buyers. Otherwise, the G80 is a good luxury sedan that, like the XTS, is bigger inside than your neighbors’ 5 Series and E-Class. If you can’t see yourself in the much cheaper Genesis but still dig the XTS Platinum’s rich interior, try the Cadillac’s standard 304-hp engine. It isn’t as entertainingly swift as the 410-hp V-Sport and lacks the Buick LaCrosse’s quick-shifting nine-speed automatic, but you might feel better about your decision after you apply the $6,800 you’ll save toward a European vacation.

The Cadillac brand crest is laser-etched on the side of the taillights. Neat! 2018 Cadillac XTS Platinum V-Sport AWD BASE PRICE $73,490 PRICE AS TESTED $73,840 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan ENGINE 3.6L/410-hp/369-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,482 lb (59/41%) WHEELBASE 111.7 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 200.9 x 72.9 x 59.4 in 0-60 MPH 5.2 sec QUARTER MILE 13.6 sec @ 103.7 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 121 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.84 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.0 sec @ 0.70 g (avg) REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 16.4/24.6/19.3 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 16/23/18 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 211/147 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.05 lb/mile

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2018 Cadillac XTS V-Sport Interior Review: The Details

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 4:00am

Just start touching stuff. Get inside the XTS V-Sport Platinum and touch the padded dash trim near the front passenger, feel the headliner, or run your fingers along the lower ends of the door panels. The Cadillac’s interior, while not perfect, is a good match for luxury sedans from top-tier premium brands. Not many XTS competitors have as much interior space, but there’s more to luxury than just interior space and high-quality materials. We spent some time with a 2018 Cadillac XTS V-Sport—a model only offered in top-of-the-line Platinum trim—to see how much of the car’s $73,840 MSRP is earned inside.

Looking for test numbers on the 410-hp, all-wheel-drive XTS V-Sport? Read our First Test review here.

The Platinum Experience

When you splurge for an XTS Platinum with either V-6 engine, Cadillac upgrades the interior with a microfiber suede headliner, leather on the dash, and semi-aniline leather seats. Most surfaces feel soft and appropriately rich; one minor exception is the back of the interior door pulls. That out-of-sight area—where you’ll grab when you close the door, feels just average in an interior that’s appreciably upgraded elsewhere.

Wheely Good Details

Once you’re situated, look at the steering wheel. Specifically, notice how the silver trim that starts at the bottom of the steering wheel’s bottom spokes wraps around to the outer edge of the buttons and then across the back edge of the airbag cover.

I’m also a fan of the way the wood trim on the center console is mirror matched, with the wood on the left side at a diagonal angle pointing toward the left and the same arrangement on the right side. It’s an upscale detail also seen on Volvos and a few other luxury brands.

What a Cluster

Higher XTS trims include a digital instrument cluster that’s displayed on a 12.3-inch screen. Although it’s not quite as easy to change info displays as it is Audi’s digital instrument cluster, I was impressed by the differentiation among each of the Cadillac’s three design themes. Lots of customization is available within those modes—my favorite is the following distance indicator that measures distance in seconds (it’s also found in other GM cars). Another V-Sport-specific design theme has a stylized tachometer in the center. It looks cool, but don’t kick the gear shift stalk into manual with that cluster display on at night, as the black background switches to a bright white. It would also be great if the map in the center of one of the other display modes allowed you to zoom in and out, but overall, I would appreciate this system as an owner.

Calming Light

What the 2018 XTS’ ambient lighting lacks in customizability, it makes up for in elegance. The simple system appears on the doors and the dash, and is included on most trims.

Style Versus Functionality—What Do You Want?

The Cadillac features capacitive-touch controls, which means your finger will feel feedback as you use some of the buttons. The 8.0-inch touchscreen above the HVAC and volume controls isn’t as big as screens in other cars, and it isn’t mounted as high on the dash for optimal visibility. The tradeoff is that on our XTS Platinum model, leather stitching stretches up the relatively low dash.

With sculpted silver trim pieces against a piano black background, it’s a slick layout. That’s especially true before you turn the car on, when the button labels have yet to illuminate. Even though the volume slider is easy to use—slide your finger on the control from left to right to increase volume—nothing beats a good volume knob. In fact, I wish the car had knobs for the temperature controls as well, but adding such controls would mess with the interior’s current aesthetic.

The Genesis G80 is another quick luxury sedan that’s also large inside. That car’s interior has a more forgettable design, but it’s filled with high-quality materials and plenty of control knobs. If you’re considering the Cadillac, decide how much functionality you’re willing to sacrifice for that cool look and the hidden center-stack compartment.

Get Comfortable Back There

The XTS probably has more rear-seat room than most of the cars you’re considering. It’s spacious, and the Platinum model includes rear-seat controls not only for the heated outboard seats and rear air vents, but for the radio and rear sun shade, too. The two USB outlets aren’t located in a small storage compartment in the central armrest (the perfect location, as in a Mazda CX-5), but under the rear vents and rear HVAC controls. We like the idea of having radio controls in the back seat, but maybe a future XTS can use a bigger and higher-res screen that shows more characters before cutting off.

The Platinum models have a standard rear sunshade with manually operated rear side window shades. Also available on the Premium Luxury trim, those features are appreciated, though the rear sunshade doesn’t fully cover the rear windshield.

Oh, That Trunk

One of the XTS’ biggest advantages is its 18.0 cubic foot trunk. It’s bigger than any other Cadillac sedan’s and plenty of other luxury sedans, too. If that’s important to you, definitely consider the XTS. The car’s trunk-open feature conveniently opens the trunk lid all the way up, but without an available power-closing option, closing it with the handle built into the inside of the lid is a little awkward. Skip the interior handle and close it from the top of the trunk. Between the high trunk lid and the thick C-pillars, rear visibility isn’t good, but I appreciate how the rear outboard headrests can fold down when not in use.

So, Go Platinum?

Finished in the Platinum’s available Maple Sugar interior color, the XTS’ interior makes a good first impression. That’s followed up by the mirror-matched wood trim all over the center console and soft trim pieces almost everywhere. The interior controls look great but aren’t as easy to use as in other cars, and that’s where buyers need to determine the importance of style in their new-car purchase—you’ll use these controls every day. The XTS looks good inside but lacks the exterior proportions that you’d expect of a car with a price of around $70,000. If that, the lack of control knobs, the low touchscreen, and the poor rear visibility don’t bother you, an XTS Platinum could make sense if you’re set on a Cadillac or if you want a luxury sedan with a large trunk.

Read our First Test review here.

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Uber Shuts Down Autonomous Vehicle Program in Arizona

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 6:30pm

In the wake of a crash that killed an Arizona woman in March, Uber has announced it is shutting down its autonomous vehicle testing operations in the Grand Canyon State. The company will continue work on self-driving tech at other locations, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and two California cities—possibly San Francisco and Sacramento, where it is seeking permits.

As we previously reported, one of Uber’s autonomous Volvo XC90 test vehicles struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was walking her bicycle across the road. A video of the March 18 accident seemed to show the car did not react to the pedestrian, and the safety operator behind the wheel was looking down just before the crash. Uber halted all autonomous testing immediately following the accident, and not long after that Arizona governor Doug Ducey suspended Uber’s license to test self-driving cars in the state indefinitely.

Uber had moved its autonomous testing operations to Arizona after the California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked its vehicle registrations in late 2016. That came in response to Uber conducting tests in San Francisco without the proper permits. At the time the move was announced, governor Ducey welcomed Uber with open arms.

Now, likely sensing it has worn out its welcome, Uber is packing up its Volvos and leaving town. Former employees of the self-driving program will be offered help in finding new jobs, according to an Uber spokeswoman. But the company is adamant that its work on autonomous vehicle tech will continue.

“We’re committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into the accident is still in progress, and Uber is waiting for a preliminary report from the agency before it continues testing autonomous cars on the road. Reuters says that report is expected within the next couple of weeks.

Source: Reuters

 

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2019 Mercedes-Benz E 450 Makes 362 HP

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 4:15pm

We learned yesterday that Mercedes was replacing the E 43 sedan with the more powerful E 53 sedan. Under the hood, it packs an inline-six with 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, up from 396 hp and 384 lb-ft, and supplemented with a new mild hybrid system. Now, Mercedes has announced upgrades for the model that slots just below that AMG variant.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz E 450 replaces the E 400 from last year. It receives an upgraded twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine making 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. That’s up 33 hp and 15 lb-ft from the old E 400 model. This new engine will appear on the sedan, wagon, coupe, and cabriolet variants of the E-Class.

The base E 300 will keep its same output for the new model year. Once again, it features a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine, good for 241 hp and 273 lb-ft.

New features coming to the E-Class lineup include a three-spoke Nappa leather steering wheel with controls for all of the car’s safety assistant systems, two additional trim options with matching center consoles, and a 19-inch AMG wheel available with Night Package.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz E 450 and E450 4MATIC arrive in dealerships this fall here in the U.S. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

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Watch the BMW X5 Go Extreme Weather Testing Around the World

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 3:00pm

BMW will debut the X5 sometime later this year. But right now, the automaker is testing the midsize SUV in extreme climates and situations, as we can see in the video below.

The fourth-generation BMW X5 has been traveling through snow in Arjeplog, Sweden; on gravel roads in South Africa; and across dunes in the U.S. In these places, BMW is testing out the X5’s new suspension and chassis systems, which the automaker says are available for the first time in an X model. The next-gen vehicle receives the Adaptive M Suspension Professional and a new rear wheel steering system that BMW calls Integral Active Steering. At one point, the video shows an X5 with blue brake calipers playing in the snow—likely an M Sport variant rather than a full M model.

Judging from past prototypes we’ve seen, the X5 won’t look radically different from the current model. However, it will likely wear a larger grille in addition to updated headlights and taillights. In the photos, the interior has also changed with a smaller gear stalk and new arrangement of central buttons. We’ve also spotted a prototype for the X5 M with big blue brake calipers and quad-tip tailpipes.

Watch the X5 endure extreme testing in different climates and terrains in this video.

Source: BMW

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The Ferrari SP38 is a One-of-a-Kind 488 GTB-Based Supercar

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 2:15pm

Earlier this year, Ferrari officially revealed its latest special edition, the 488 Pista. With 710 horsepower, less weight, and a track-tuned suspension, the prototype we drove proved to be extremely quick. As rare and special as the 488 Pista will be, it can’t match the rarity of the SP38. Why? Because Ferrari only built one of them.

Like the Pista, the SP38 is based on the 488 GTB. But it was commisioned as a one-off for “one of Ferrari’s most dedicated customers.” Starting with the chassis and running gear from the 488, the Ferrari Design Centre created a completely new body for “a client with a deep passion for racing.” Ferrari says designers channeled the F40 and the 308 GTB, giving the mid-engine supercar less of a cab-forward appearance.

We see some Lamborghini in the design, as well as a little bit of Ford GT, but overall, it’s a great looking car. Rearward visibility, however, appears to be nonexistent. Ferrari says the cabin has also been fully customized, but only exterior images have been released. To get a look at the interior, we’ll have to wait until Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este begins on Saturday, May 26. Hopefully, Ferrari reveals more information on specs then, as well.

There also isn’t any word on price, but it’s probably safe to assume commissioning a one-off Ferrari is expensive. Very expensive. For example, the custom 458 Italia that Eric Clapton commissioned was rumored to cost more than $4 million. Odds are, the price of the SP38 was in the same ballpark.

Then again, if you have a few million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, we can think of a long list of worse things to spend it on than a custom Ferrari.

Source: Ferrari

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