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Jeep Cherokee: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

Motortrend Magazine News - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 4:00am

WE LIKE Swank interior design and materials, Selec-Terrain system

WE DON’T LIKE Less adventurous restyle, underpowered air conditioning

Jeeps are emotional purchases made by fun-loving, outdoorsy, right-brain folks who can’t be bothered deciphering those tedious black and red Consumer Reports dots. The Cherokee’s abundant emotional appeal intensifies this year with the addition of a 2.0-liter turbo poached from its equally fervid cousins, the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio.

Our most fun-loving editors praised the engine’s broad torque curve, burly exhaust note, and improved pairing with the oft-maligned nine-speed automatic transmission. Scott Evans felt the extra power made the Jeep “an absolute riot in the sand.” Alisa Priddle looped the sand pit repeatedly, laughing maniacally. Miguel Cortina thought the engine’s exuberant soundtrack made the acceleration feel quicker than its middling 7.5-second 0–60 time suggests.

Our left-brain perfectionists carped about engine vibrations felt at idle, a noisy cooling fan (which Mark Rechtin likened to an air-raid siren), and some residual shift sluggishness from the transmission. They noted that despite the high-tech powertrain, mass added for off-roading purposes means fuel economy trails the pack. Rattles and secondary vibrations felt on the tortuous Belgian blocks surface belie the advancing age of the underlying chassis. And nothing in this refresh alters the Cherokee’s basic flaw—a package that is biggish on the outside but smallish in the rear seat and cargo area for this class. Jeep could learn from Honda on this one.

We unanimously agreed A) that Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment interface is among the industry’s finest; B) that even in its fully chrome-bedazzled, on-road Limited drag, the Cherokee is king of the compact CUV class for off-road capability; and C) that A plus B plus an abundance of emotional appeal still doesn’t add up to an SUV of the Year.

READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4 Base Price/As tested $35,490/$41,465 Power (SAE net) 270 hp @ 5,250 rpm Torque (SAE net) 295 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm Accel, 0-60 mph 7.5 sec Quarter-mile 15.8 sec @ 87.1 mph Braking, 60-0 mph 131 ft Lateral Acceleration 0.77 g (avg) MT Figure Eight 27.9 sec @ 0.64 g (avg) EPA City/Hwy/Comb 21/29/24 mpg Vehicle Layout Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Engine/Transmission 2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 /9-speed automatic Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 4,094 lb (57/43%) Wheelbase 106.6 in Length x Width x Height 183.1 x 73.2 x 66.2 in Energy Cons, City/Hwy 160/116 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.81 lb/mile

The post Jeep Cherokee: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender appeared first on Motor Trend.

Lexus RX L: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

Motortrend Magazine News - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 4:00am

WE LIKE Smooth ride, interior fit and finish

WE DON’T LIKE Third-row seating, infotainment interface

You only hurt the ones you love, so we’ll just come out to Lexus about its RX L: “The one reason it exists—its third row—isn’t even useful. Why would Lexus risk the equity it has in the RX nameplate with this model?”

This plaintive appeal from Christian Seabaugh was echoed by all. The RX L’s third row is cramped at best and contortionate to access, and it robs valuable cargo room even when folded down. The powered third-row seats take forever to fold. If he lived in a rainy climate, Zach Gale said he’d rather have the not-luxurious-but-pragmatic option of folding and hoisting the third row manually than getting soaked waiting for motorized mice.

Adding 4 inches of wheelbase to make room for the added seats also affected handling; Frank Markus called the RX L a “wiener dog,” due to its penchant for understeer then sudden lurchy tail-swinging.

Once past the third-row issues, you’ll see why this vehicle has been a standard-bearer for midsize luxury crossovers. Angus MacKenzie recalled the original being our first-ever SUV of the Year but noted that the RX L “doesn’t live up to the legacy.”

When you look at the blocking and tackling—the smooth and quiet ride, consistent steering and brake feel, elegant materials, superb fit and finish, crisp stereo—the RX L is pretty fabulous. And although the infotainment system still has a maddening user interface, a new split-screen setup helps a bit. Second-row seating space is good, until you have to slide forward to make room for origamied folks behind you.

Which leads to the main point: When a vehicle’s reason to exist is also the reason it fails, therein lies a problem.

READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

2018 Lexus RX 350L (AWD Luxury) Base Price/As tested $55,210/$62,815 Power (SAE net) 290 hp @ 6,300 rpm Torque (SAE net) 263 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm Accel, 0-60 mph 7.6 sec Quarter-mile 15.8 sec @ 89.3 mph Braking, 60-0 mph 133 ft Lateral Acceleration 0.75 g (avg) MT Figure Eight 28.2 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) EPA City/Hwy/Comb 18/25/21 mpg Vehicle Layout
Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV Engine/Transmission 3.5L DOHC 24-valve V-6 /8-speed automatic Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 4,673 lb (55/45%) Wheelbase 109.8 in Length x Width x Height 196.9 x 74.6 x 67.3 in Energy Cons, CITY/HWY 187/135 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.94 lb/mile

The post Lexus RX L: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender appeared first on Motor Trend.

Celebrity Drive: Lou Gramm, Foreigner’s Original Lead Singer

Motortrend Magazine News - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 4:00am

Quick Stats: Lou Gramm, original lead singer of Foreigner
Daily Driver: 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 (Lou’s rating: 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Lake Ontario Beach Parkway
Car he learned to drive in: 1963 Buick LeSabre
First car bought: 1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass F-85

Cars and music are the closest things we have to time machines. And something miraculous happened last year for Foreigner fans: Lou Gramm reunited with three other original band members to make the magic only they could together to send them back in time, if only for a night. It became four nights.

But for Gramm, it’s his GM muscle car collection—lovingly restored and kept in as close to original condition as possible—that transports him back in time. All the rock star has to do is get behind the wheel and he’s back in the mid-1960s.

Years before belting out iconic power ballads like “I Want to Know What Love Is” at the height of Foreigner’s fame, Gramm was lusting after cars as a kid in Rochester, New York.

“I’m an American muscle car guy,” Gramm tells MotorTrend. “I used to sit in the back of my dad’s car and tell him the year, make, and model of every car that was going by us. Mind you, there were a lot fewer cars than there were now.”

Becoming the frontman of a major rock band afforded Gramm the luxury of buying some of the muscle cars he saw around him when he was younger. “I’ve always been a GM guy from the time I was old enough to know the difference between GM, Ford, and Chrysler,” he says. “And I’m a muscle car fanatic—I have five muscle cars, and they’re all GM. I have an affinity for mid- and late-’60s Chevelles, 442s, GTOs, and Gran Sports. That’s just my thing.”

Gramm found his cars by looking through ads, years ago. “I don’t buy them all spiffed up. There’s a couple of my cars that I bought from little old ladies who were getting too old to drive and the car was in good shape but needed a good going through, a rubout, and a new carburetor, a new exhaust, and things like that,” he says.

In Rochester, Gramm has a music studio that houses both of his passions. “I record  and write songs there, and I also keep my cars,” he says. “[Rochester has] a lot of cruise nights. I go to as many of them as I can in our short summers here.”

1965 Pontiac GTO

Rating: 9.5

One beloved muscle car that Gramm is happy to have back in his possession is his 1965 Pontiac GTO, which he originally bought in Arizona from a man in his 70s, who used to race the car at the Pomona dragstrip with a friend.

Gramm went to Arizona to see the car and immediately fell in love with it. “Silver blue with black interior, no rust, no dings, it’s just a beautiful, beautiful car, and I bought it for $12,500. Very, very cheap,” he says. “I had about nine cars eight years ago and I thought I had to thin out the collection because I was having trouble storing them all. I sold four of the cars, and one of them was the GTO.”

After he sold it at a Mecum auction, he immediately had pangs of regret that lingered throughout the years. “I kept thinking about it and kicking myself for selling it,” he says. “This one was gone for almost seven years and my wife happened to be online, and the guy who owned the car was reaching out to me to see if I wanted to buy the car back.”

By then the car was with its new owner in El Paso, where Gramm flew to make sure it was in the same shape as when he left it. After seeing how beautiful the car still was, he bought it and had it shipped back.

1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Rating: 10

When Gramm got this Camaro, it had 17,000 original miles on it and was seemingly frozen in time, to his delight. He saw an ad in the paper from someone in Syracuse asking $17,000 for it.

“There’s no stripes or patches—it’s just very plain and very beautiful,” he says. “I’ve always liked them. I drove down there and [the owner] pointed to the corner of the barn where the car sat with a white sheet over it, and I pulled the sheet off and was just stunned that the car was in beautiful shape.”

Gramm was with a friend who came along to make sure everything was in good condition. “Everything checked out on it. I had planned on trying to talk the guy down, and my buddy, who knows about these cars, whispered to me, ‘Just pay the man,’” Gramm says, laughing. “The price was about a third of what they were going for.”

That owner bought the Camaro from the original owner, who lost his license after having the car for just six months. “So this guy I bought it from has had the car its whole life and it only had 17,000 miles on it. He said it was a little too much car for him,” Gramm says, with a laugh. “I told him, ‘I’ll take care of that!’”

1965 Oldsmobile 442

Rating: 10

Gramm sees his Oldsmobile as a perfect 10. He found this ride during a trip to Los Angeles in 1991 from yet another ad. The ad read “1965 Olds 442, automatic, $3,500.”

“My friend was taking me to LAX because I was flying home. We had extra time, so we were going to have lunch and hang out a little bit. I see this ad, and I call on it, and a young guy answers the phone and says he’ll meet me at a certain gas station. He pulls up in a ’65 Olds 442, pale yellow, two-door sedan. It’s low to the ground, and I say to my buddy, ‘Don’t tell me this kid made a lowrider out of it.’”

It turned out the guy’s mom bought the car at the end of 1965. “She went into the dealership wanting a Cutlass automatic. The guy sold her the 442 automatic on the column, bench seats, and she drove it almost 30 years,” Gramm says. “She was backing out of the garage and scratched the rear quarter. As soon as she heard the ‘err!’ where it scratched, she put the car in park, turned it off, and wouldn’t drive it anymore.”

Her son didn’t want the car, so she told him to sell it. “The paint was faded in the California sun, and it had a rip in the seat, but everything else about it was completely stock and in beautiful shape aside from the one scratch she put in it before she sold it,” he recalls.

Photo courtesy of Karsten Steiger

Again, Gramm was going to try to get the guy down from $3,500. “But I thought if I try and get him down and I insult him, he’s not going to sell it to me at any price,” Gramm says. “So I said, ‘I’ll take it.’”

The seller let Gramm drive the 442 to his friend’s house in Los Angeles and they returned the plates before he left town. “My friend took me to the airport and I flew back to Rochester, and within 10 days the car was in Rochester,” he says.

When Gramm got the car, it only had 31,000 miles. “I had the whole thing rubbed out—it’s 95 percent original paint. I had the little tear in the seat fixed, the exhaust fixed. It looks like new now. I sanded down the frame. It was beautiful. I spray-painted it Rust-Oleum black. I’ve had it almost 29 years, and it’s got 40,000 miles on it now. So I’ve driven 9,000 miles in 27 years,” he says, with a laugh.

1967 Buick Gran Sport

Rating: 8.5

Gramm found this Buick in a small ad from a used car dealer as he was leafing through Hemmings. “Beautiful, beautiful car. The guy was advertising Buick Rivieras, a TR6, an Austin-Healey, and it said—‘’67 Gran Sport, one owner,’” Gramm recalls. “I called him and he described the car. My brother-in-law and I flew to Kennedy, because he was in Long Island, and we rented a car and went over to see the car.”

Although the car was filthy, they ran a hose over it to reveal yet another hidden gem. “The body was just beautiful, and the interior was beautiful. It was a medium blue with a dark blue interior and a black vinyl top,” Gramm says. “It was a 400 automatic with positraction, AM/FM radio, air. Under the hood, it had the 400 motor and this fiberglass air filter they call the ‘Star Wars’ air cleaner, because it looks like the Stars Wars X-Wing fighter.”

This was a one-owner car, as well. “The guy was an Army lifer who bought the car in Atlanta and was stationed in Florida, so he owned the car all his life. I ended up getting the car for $17,500 and had a friend of mine come down and drive it back,” Gramm says. “It’s got 92,000 miles on it, but the thing’s perfect.”

Photo courtesy of Karsten Steiger

Gramm always likes keeping a car’s original paint. “Unless there was something on it that needed to be touched up, then I had the paint matched because you can match the paint via computer now,” he says.

He likes that the computer also takes into consideration the age and fade factor, so he can touch up the car with a color that has the same fade, matching it perfectly.

“It’s a beauty. And they didn’t make very many of those ’67 Gran Sports,” he says.

Because he bought all of his cars through ads years ago, not long after the height of Foreigner, did the sellers have any idea they were selling a car to the lead singer of a popular band?

“No. That’s the way I like it. I don’t tell them who I am,” Gramm says, adding that the price would suddenly go up. “I think that works against me if they know who I am. I’ve got my baseball hat pulled over my face. Even if I wasn’t a rock and roll star, I’d still dress the way I dress.”

2011 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71

Rating: 8.5

Gramm’s daily driver is a more current GM ride, a 2011 Chevy Tahoe Z71. “I like that it feels very heavy duty, and when I go down the road I feel like I’m really driving something,” he says. He adds that he likes the V-8’s power, the steering, and the brakes. His one complaint? “The wires keep breaking off the rear window defroster. That’s my only gripe.”

He got this SUV because he liked the shape and style of it. “I’m a GM guy, and the winters we have up here, you’ve got to be driving something like that from November through the end of February. You better be in a four-wheel drive.”

Car he learned to drive in

Gramm learned to drive and took his driver’s test in his dad’s car. “He had a ’63 Buick LeSabre with a Wildcat motor in it. It was a two-door hardtop. Beautiful, beautiful car,” he says. “They were also big boats.”

His dad taught him to drive on the streets of Rochester, which should have been easy. “I don’t think it was that easy at first. He had a lot of patience, but I could always tell when he was ready to snap it, because his voice would go up an octave, and he’d be going, ‘Louis, Louis! Turn, turn!’” Gramm says, with a laugh. “I can remember that like it was yesterday. ‘I am, Dad!’ It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but I was into cars when I was eight years old.”

Photo courtesy of Karsten Steiger First car bought

While in high school, Gramm worked at a Wegmans grocery store. “I was a bag boy. I used to carry the grocery bags out to people’s cars for them,” he says. “I did that for about two years and I would completely save every check I got, and I got up to $1,700 after two years.”

He saved enough money to buy his high school car. “I drove a ’63 Oldsmobile F-85, small V-8, three-speed on the column, and it was a sweet little car,” he says. “I had it for three or four years and I passed my test the first time.”

Gramm will always fondly remember the Oldsmobile as the car he drove to his first date and the senior prom. The Olds was also the car Gramm had his first drag race in, on a street that heads toward the beach.

“When the light turned red, you’d always see one muscle car in one lane and another muscle car in another lane. When that light turned green, they’d race and chances are they’d catch the next red light and they’d do it again, and if one car made it past the other one, then the one who caught the red light, somebody else would pull up next to him and those two would race,” Gramm recalls.

“I used to love doing that,” Gramm says, wistfully. “That preoccupied my weekends, and I was in a little local rock band then. It was really a great bunch of years at that time.”

Gramm kept the Oldsmobile until a better ride caught his eye. “I sold it because I saw something else for sale, a ’66 442. I keep them a long time—my Camaro and my GTO and the 442—I’ve had them all for over 20 years,” he says.

Favorite road trip

“There’s a place about 40 miles outside of Rochester that once a year has a huge gathering of muscle cars. It’s on a parkway where the roads are paved so smoothly you’d think you were driving on a rug,” Gramm says. “The scenery’s beautiful, and it twists and winds, so that particular day when they have that huge muscle car meeting, as you’re driving there, you’re seeing muscle cars all over the place—next to you, in front of you, behind you.”

Photo courtesy of Karsten Steiger

Gramm describes what it’s like to see up to 600 muscle cars drive on Lake Ontario Beach Parkway for the last car show of the year, the Olcott Beach Car Show, which takes place in September .

“It’s a park, so you see people park besides a tree, and that’s also on Lake Ontario, so you see people parked right near the beach, just near where the water starts. It’s an awesome setting,” he says.

Back with Foreigner starting Nov. 9

Gramm’s reunion with Foreigner last year started with a show at Jones Beach. It became four shows, joined by current lead singer and past Celeb Drive subject Kelly Hansen.

It’s well known among Foreigner fans that Gramm has overcome a brain tumor and related issues, so these precious few reunion concerts are special for those who want to once again see the original lineup.

This year, Gramm joins Foreigner back on stage in Los Angeles on Nov. 9 at Microsoft Theater. They’re in Rancho Mirage the next day, and later in the month at the Hard Rock in Atlantic City and then their last tour date together this year is in Connecticut.

Though he’s been through a lot medically, Gramm is always careful about the instrument that got him to the top of his game.

“I’ve always taken care of my voice. I stay away from sodas, I exercise my voice at least a week or 10 days before a show,” he says. “I warm up my voice before the show doing scales, hitting high notes. I just don’t walk out on stage and start screaming, especially now that I’m in my 60s. I’ve got to take good care of whatever I’ve got.”

Photo courtesy of Karsten Steiger

Being on stage with his former rock band lately has been like a déjà vu experience for Gramm.

“It really is. When we did our first show together at Jones Beach, I looked to my left and I saw Ian McDonald and Rick Wills, and I looked to my right and I saw Mick [Jones] right next to me, and Al Greenwood just behind him on the keyboards and I was off playing tambourine,” Gramm says. “I turned around and saw Dennis [Elliott] on drums and I had this feeling come over me like it was our first gig again. There were a lot of smiles between us, and they were genuine.”

Gramm understands that it’s a gift for fans to see the original members together on stage again.

“I don’t know of a lot of bands that will have a reunion and have basically the original band together playing again. A lot of times they’ll have reunions, but it’s maybe one or two members and everybody else is a side man,” Gramm says. “It’s fun to step on stage and feel that warmth.”

Gramm still records his own solo music and may release an EP in the not too distant future. But for now, he’s focused on his four shows with Foreigner.

“When you look out in the audience, there’s young teenagers, but a lot of people in the 35-to-60 age group that probably were there when we were at our peak, and you could see that they identify with the real band,” he says.

For more information please visit lou-gramm.com or foreigneronline.com.

READ MORE CELEBRITY DRIVES HERE:

The post Celebrity Drive: Lou Gramm, Foreigner’s Original Lead Singer appeared first on Motor Trend.

BMW X3: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

Motortrend Magazine News - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 4:00am

WE LIKE Road manners, improved iDrive

WE DON’T LIKE Single USB port, fee for Apple CarPlay

This third-generation X3 moves to the CLAR architecture for a better ride, more tech, and its first M variant, setting it up to be BMW’s best-selling SUV.

The 2018 X3 is almost the size of the original X5 and gains some maturity, being quieter and more composed. The 248-hp 2.0-liter turbo I-4 provides adequate power with smooth shifting from the eight-speed automatic. Kim Reynolds liked the brakes and well-composed chassis, with good ride quality and handling, but its responsive steering was almost too quick for our lane-change test. Off-road, it powered through the slush and washboard, and it has an excellent programmable hill-descent cruise control.

The two-tone interior with nice wood touches does not feel seismically different from the outgoing model. Seats are attractive but still firm. The iDrive system has become more usable, though its gesture control commands remain undercooked. Judges found it inexcusable that there’s only one USB port in front and none in the rear. And Christian Seabaugh called BMW “greedy” for charging a subscription fee for Apple CarPlay and thus encouraging drivers to engage in the less safe practice of handling their phones.

Although some felt the X3 helps restore BMW to some of its former glory, others thought the automaker short-armed the fresh sheet of paper it was given. “If you didn’t tell me, I’d easily believe it’s a midcycle refresh, not all-new,” Scott Evans said. “Other than infotainment software and digital gauges, it all seems pretty much the same.”

The X3 plays in a segment prone to radical change (see: Volvo XC40), and although some admire consistency over time, BMW might have played it too safe.

READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i Base Price/As tested $43,995/$57,120 Power (SAE net) 248 hp @ 5,200 rpm Torque (SAE net) 258 lb-ft @ 1,450 rpm Accel, 0-60 mph 6.7 sec Quarter-mile 15.1 sec @ 91.5 mph Braking, 60-0 mph 127 ft Lateral Acceleration 0.81 g (avg) MT Figure Eight 27.6 sec @ 0.63 g (avg) EPA City/Hwy/Comb 22/29/25 mpg Vehicle Layout Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Engine/Transmission 2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 /8-speed automatic Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 4,268 lb (49/51%) Wheelbase 112.8 in Length x Width x Height 185.9 x 74.4 x 66.0 in Energy Cons, City/Hwy 153/116 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.79 lb/mile

The post BMW X3: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender appeared first on Motor Trend.

Ford EcoSport: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

Motortrend Magazine News - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 4:00am

WE LIKE Sync user interface, well-appointed interior on SES model

WE DON’T LIKE Engines that sound like they’re begging for mercy

This is a shareholder-value vehicle, not a customer-value vehicle. There’s a mini-ute profit war brewing, and Ford can’t afford to be Switzerland, so the company has gone to battle with the aging army it has, not the cutting-edge army it surely must have wanted.

We look forward to discovering flashes of Expedition/Navigator brilliance in the EcoSport’s replacement, but for now there’s little to recommend a tall, tippy, gawky-looking, ironically named, developing-market trucklet that’s woefully short of both eco and sport.

Several editors nevertheless managed to find nice things to say. Human sequoia Zach Gale was pleasantly surprised by the spaciousness and cushy armrests in the tall, upright rear seat, gadget-boy Stefan Ogbac appreciated the Sync 3 system’s ease of use and instant responsiveness, and Kim Reynolds praised the EcoSport’s dynamics on our figure-eight course. It even traversed the tilted-slab L.A. Interstate 110 replica with reasonable suppleness, making us wonder if that was because its wheelbase was shorter than the slabs.

But these pleasantries were outnumbered in our logbooks by less flattering critiques. “It’s poor on gas, noisy, and ugly,” Scottish straight-talker Gordon Dickie declared. Noted Angus MacKenzie: “The engines drone, and there’s a lot of diagonal pitch in corners.” Ogbac observed, “Everything screams ‘built to price,’ yet it can hit $30,000 when fully optioned.”

And on the off-road course, where the 1.0-liter front-driver struggled mightily in shallow, snowlike sand, Christian Seabaugh so flustered the poor thing that it threw this very unusual warning: “Power reduced to lower engine temp.” His EcoSport summation expresses our collective sentiment: “Ford of North America didn’t take this vehicle seriously, so why should I?”

READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

2018 Ford EcoSport SE (FWD) 2018 Ford EcoSport SES 4WD Base Price/As tested $23,995/$25,685 $27,875/$28,345 Power (SAE net) 123 hp @ 6,000 rpm 166 hp @ 6,500 rpm Torque (SAE net) 125 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm 149 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm Accel, 0-60 mph 11.2 sec 9.9 sec Quarter-mile 18.2 sec @ 76.7 mph 17.4 sec @ 77.0 mph Braking, 60-0 mph 128 ft 132 ft Lateral Acceleration 0.74 g (avg) 0.77 g (avg) MT Figure Eight 29.3 sec @ 0.54 g (avg) 28.7 sec @ 0.56 g (avg) EPA City/Hwy/Comb 27/29/28 mpg 23/29/25 mpg Vehicle Layout Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Engine/Transmission 1.0L turbo DOHC 12-valve I-3 /6-speed automatic 2.0L DOHC 16-valve I-4 /6-speed automatic Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 3,054 lb (62/38%) 3,390 lb (58/42%) Wheelbase 99.2 in 99.2 in Length x Width x Height 161.3 x 69.5 x 64.8 in 161.3 x 69.5 x 65.1 in Energy Cons, City/Hwy 125/116 kW-hrs/100 miles 147/116 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.70 lb/mile 0.76 lb/mile

The post Ford EcoSport: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender appeared first on Motor Trend.

Chevrolet’s New Silverado ZH2 Surfaces Via GM Defense

GM Authority News - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 1:58am

And it looks mean, rugged, and sinister.

Unplugged Performance Wide-Body Kit for Tesla Model S Starts at $50,000

Motortrend Magazine News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 9:00pm

Unplugged Performance introduced a wicked wide-body Tesla Model S kit at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Hawthorne, California-based Tesla tuner offers upgrades for the Model S, and its new S-APEX P100D kit will dramatically change your four-door EV’s look for $50,000.

Each build is unique and includes a 19-piece pre-impregnated carbon-fiber body conversion, racing suspension with Unplugged’s own high-performance shocks, upgraded carbon ceramic brakes, ultra-light wheels, and fully bespoke interior bits.

The conversion increases the EV’s overall width by 1.57 inches at each corner. The wide-body kit allows for the use of wider tires up to 13.2 inches in the rear for better grip. Ultra-light forged wheels are offered in 19-, 20-, and 21-inch sizes.

Unplugged Performance’s lightweight carbon ceramic braking system is said to improve stopping power and helps sheds 20 pounds. According to Unplugged, the kit reduces rotational mass by more than 100 pounds. The tuner claims its car’s 0-60 mph acceleration beats Tesla’s own 2.3-second runs.

Inside, the headliner and pillars are re-trimmed in Alcantara, and the steering wheel, dashboard, center console, seats, and door cards also receive new materials. In addition to the latest Tesla Model S sedans, the S-APEX series kit can be retrofitted to older P85D, P90D, and P100D donor cars upon request.

Source: Unplugged Performance

The post Unplugged Performance Wide-Body Kit for Tesla Model S Starts at $50,000 appeared first on Motor Trend.

General Motors Buyout Letter Mentions Suspension Of Renovation Projects

GM Authority News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 8:47pm

The company is once again tightening its belt in certain areas.

Toyota Shows Off Custom Corolla Hatches and Tundras at SEMA

Motortrend Magazine News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 7:50pm

Toyota once again brought out a fleet of custom show cars to the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Unlike last year when it had the outrageous C-HR R-Tuned and a number of NASCAR-modified Camrys, Toyota chose to highlight the Corolla hatchback and Tundra pickup truck for this year’s show. Check out all of Toyota’s SEMA vehicles below.

Tundra Pie Pro

Toyota attracted all the hungry SEMA Show attendees to its booth with this pizza-making Tundra . The Pie Pro is a fully automated, mobile pizza kitchen on wheels. Built by Toyota’s Motorsports Technical Center in collaboration with Pizza Hut, the truck can make a fresh pizza in about seven minutes from when it’s ordered. We wish we could say the truck is also pizza-powered, but it instead relies on a hydrogen fuel-cell electric powertrain that only emits water vapor from the tailpipe. This means the truck has an almost non-existent carbon footprint, according to Toyota. Robots from Nachi Robotics Systems make and cook the pies in TurboChef conveyor ovens.

SoCal Kustomz Corolla

This is SoCal Kustomz first venture into the import scene and the company’s first SEMA build project. The garage specializes in restoring American muscle cars, and applied those skills to this Corolla hatchback project. The builders fabricated custom intake and exhaust systems for the hatch, and also adapted a Nitrous Express injection system for extra power. The Corolla rides on Motegi MR138 wheels shod in Nexen N’Fera SUR4G high-performance tires. Inside, the Corolla is upholstered in leather with SoCal Kustomz logos.

Muscle Tuner Automotive Corolla

In tribute to the classic Corolla AE86, the Muscle Tuner Automotive Corolla features a custom wrap with AE86 cues like the black lateral rocker panel strip and white-on-black Toyota lettering on the front bumper. Exterior modifications continue with an aluminum front splitter, a rear diffuser, side spoilers, and front bumper canards and winglets. But the custom hatch isn’t all show and no go, as the builders installed a Nitrous Express injection system, a custom 3-inch intake system, and a custom straight-pipe exhaust with Magnaflow muffler and 3.5-inch tips. Using a prototype coil-over suspension setup from RS-R Japan, the Corolla is lowered on Rays Gram Light Model 57 Extreme wheels wrapped in Bridgestone RE-71R performance tires.

Papadakis Racing Corolla

The Papadakis Corolla was built to compete in the Formula Drift Pro series, and is a joint project of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and Papadakis Racing. The team, led by well-known sport compact racer Stephan Papadakis, tore down the hatch to the bare chassis and rebuilt the center section to house the transmission and driveline for the rear-drive conversion. The factory engine was replaced with an 850-hp 2.7-liter I-4 Toyota 2AR-FE engine that uses a BorgWarner EFR 8374 turbocharger and nitrous oxide. TRD and renowned car illustrator Jon Sibal designed and manufactured the custom wide-body panels and the “old school meets new school” TRD-Blue Flame livery. The turbo-back exhaust is custom and the hatch rides on Motegi Racing MR133 wheels shod in Nexen N’Fera SUR4G tires. Customization continues inside with Sparco racing seats and a Papadakis Racing roll cage.

Super Street Corolla

Our friends at Super Street created a sleek Corolla hatchback that looks like it came straight from Tokyo Auto Salon. Upgrades like RS-R coil-overs, Wilwood Superlite brake calipers with drilled and slotted rotors, and Volk Racing TE37 Saga wheels shod in Falken FK510 tires will help the hatch hold its own on the track or in the canyons. The titanium exhaust tips from the A’PEXi quad system, the Avery Dennison body wrap, and the Auto Tuned carbon-fiber front lip, side skirts, and rear spats add lots of visual candy. Inside, the heated Corbeau Sportline RRS bucket seats and Pioneer audio system spice things up.

Hoonigan Corolla

High-performance driving videos like those in Ken Block’s long-running Gymkhana series typically feature fast cars performing unbelievable stunts. But what you don’t usually see is the car that’s capturing those stunts, a vehicle that has to keep pace with whatever it’s shooting and be highly capable in its own right. The team at Hoonigan, led by car photographer Larry Chen, turned their Corolla hatch into a chase car for video production. But unlike most camera vehicles, this Corolla hatch can be safely driven on the streets because the crane and video gear (not pictured) can be disassembled and packed into cases that fit in the hatch. The Hoonigan Corolla’s camera rig uses a Motocrane Ultra crane, a Freefly Movi XL gimbal, a Red Dragon camera, a Canon 17-120mm lens, and a Tilta Nucleus focusing system. Hoonigan, inspired by Corolla rally cars from the ’90s, modified the hatchback with 17-inch Fifteen52 Integrale wheels wrapped in Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R tires, Hella spotlights, an ARP Performance bumper lip, a Wrap Legends body wrap, and RS-R performance springs.

Kevin Costner Tundra Platinum

What looks like a zombie-apocalypse truck is actually Kevin Costner’s personal project and full-size toy. The actor and director worked with Toyota and Complete Customs to transform the Tundra into an extreme outdoor rig that features a 4.5-inch BDS lift on Fox coil-overs and shocks, custom fabricated front and rear bumpers that incorporate Warn winches and Rigid Industries light bars, a two-piece roof rack attached to an ARE V Series bed shell, and Method Racing wheels cocooned in beefy 35-inch Nitto Ridge Grappler tires. A Dometic dual-zone cooler and Lock’erdown safes are equipped inside. The Tundra accompanies Kevin Costner to his on-location film shoots and outdoor excursions.

Source: Toyota

The post Toyota Shows Off Custom Corolla Hatches and Tundras at SEMA appeared first on Motor Trend.

2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible Revealed, Does 0-60 in 3.8 Seconds

Motortrend Magazine News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 6:02pm

Back in the 1990s, when the original BMW 8 Series was still on sale, you could pay a shop to turn your range-topping coupe into a convertible. But BMW never actually sold a convertible 8 Series of its own. With the new 8 Series aimed squarely at the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, though, BMW has decided that now is the time to introduce its first official 8 Series Convertible.

The new 8 Series Convertible will initially only be available in 850i xDrive form, meaning it will have a 4.4-liter V-8 making 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. BMW says that’s enough to launch from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds on your way to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. That 0-60 time is 0.2 second slower than the coupe, but both cars have the same top speed.

The convertible’s slightly slower acceleration can probably be blamed on the fact that it weighs a hefty 4,736 pounds, 258 pounds more than the coupe. Even though the 8 Series Convertible is built using carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, aluminum, and other lightweight materials, cutting the roof off still requires adding reinforcements that drive up the curb weight.

Speaking of the roof, BMW says the soft-top can be raised or lowered in only 15 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph. When the top is down, owners can use the standard deflector to keep the cabin from getting too windy and noisy. If it’s not needed, though, the deflector can be folded up and stored in the trunk. During colder months, you should still be able to drive around with the top down thanks to the neck warmers that are integrated into front headrests.

To protect passengers in the event of a crash, BMW uses an automatically activated rollover protection system. When the car detects a rollover, the system can extend two aluminum roll bars from behind the rear headrests in a fraction of a second.

Other than those changes, though, it sounds like the 8 Series Convertible is pretty much the same as the coupe. As we discovered in our first drive, that means precise steering, a well-programmed transmission, plenty of V-8 power, and the kind of on-track agility that belies the car’s massive size. Only this time around, you’ll be able to enjoy the drive with the wind in your hair.

If you like the idea of the 8 Series Convertible, BMW says you’ll only have to wait until March to buy one with a base price of $122,395 including destination. The 2019 BMW M850i xDrive will debut later this month at the L.A. auto show.

Source: BMW

The post 2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible Revealed, Does 0-60 in 3.8 Seconds appeared first on Motor Trend.

Chevrolet Racing ‘Redline’ Livery Revealed For 6 Hours Of Shanghai

GM Authority News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 5:39pm

Say goodbye to canary yellow, and hello to silver, red, and black.

CFO: GM Q3 2018 Earnings Absorbed ‘$400 Million Headwind’ Of Commodities Tariffs

GM Authority News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 4:39pm

The trade volleys between the USA and China are not without collateral damage.

GM Offers Voluntary Buyouts to 18,000 Employees

Motortrend Magazine News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 4:30pm

Recently, GM announced that profits were up 25 percent for the third quarter and that net income was an impressive $2.5 billion. And yet, despite its strong position, Automotive News reports that GM plans to offer about 18,000 employees a voluntary buyout. The offer will only be extended to salaried employees who have worked at the company for at least 12 years, and eligible employees have until November 19 to decide whether to accept or not.

But why would GM reduce its workforce when it’s doing so well? With sales in the U.S. and China slowing down, hybrid and electric vehicles growing increasingly popular, and automated driving technology finding its way to more vehicles, GM sees a lot of change on the horizon. It’s also worried about the potential for another recession, and it wants to act ahead of the next economic downturn.

“We are doing this while our company and economy are strong,” GM told Automotive News in an email. “The voluntary severance program for eligible salaried employees is one example of our efforts to improve cost efficiency.”

What happens if too few employees accept the buyout? The company hasn’t said how large a staff reduction it’s looking to make, but it’s possible some employees may find themselves laid off involuntarily. “We will evaluate the need to implement after we see the results of the voluntary program and other cost reduction efforts,” GM told Automotive News.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

The post GM Offers Voluntary Buyouts to 18,000 Employees appeared first on Motor Trend.

2018 Buick Enspire Concept Features Front Air Curtains

GM Authority News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 4:27pm

Air curtains help a vehicle move more efficiently, with lower NVH and better performance.

1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Continuation Car Debuts at SEMA

Motortrend Magazine News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 3:40pm

Earlier this year, continuation car builder Classic Recreations announced that it had obtained the rights to build and sell brand new 1969 Boss 429 Mustangs. At the time, all we had were a few details and an illustration of what the cars would look like. But now that the actual car has been revealed at SEMA, we know way more than we did before.

Classic Recreations says it’s the only company officially licensed to sell 1969 Boss 429 continuations and that each build starts with an original 1969 Mustang body that it restores to factory condition. It’s then transformed into a Boss 429 with a new hood with the requisite scoop, a new bumper, 18-inch wheels, and all the necessary logos. Inside, CR adds new seats, 200-mph Boss 429 gauges, an aluminum steering wheel, air conditioning, and a custom console.

But for your money, you get a lot more than a 1969 Mustang made to look like a Boss 429. Under the hood, CR adds a 546-cubic-inch (8.9 liter) V-8 crate engine that makes 815 hp. A Tremec manual transmission comes standard, but an automatic is also available. Out back, you get a four-link rear suspension, while the front uses tubular upper and lower control arms, as well as adjustable coil-overs. CR also adds front and rear anti-roll bars, as well as chassis reinforcements and a custom exhaust.

As you’d expect, CR’s brand new, officially licensed 1969 Boss 429 is pricey. The thousands of man-hours it takes to build one of these cars aren’t cheap, nor are the parts they use to transform the car into a modern Boss 429. But even knowing all of that, the base price is still shockingly high. Classic Recreations charges a minimum of $209,000 for a Boss 429, and the price can climb from there depending on options. 

Then again, to the right buyer, a meticulously built and modernized Mustang is going to be way cooler than some run-of-the-mill Ferrari Portofino. Plus, 815 hp is nothing to sneeze at.

Source: Classic Recreations

The post 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Continuation Car Debuts at SEMA appeared first on Motor Trend.

GM In Negotiations To Sell Plant In St. Petersburg, Russia

GM Authority News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 3:18pm

A contractor manufacturer appears to be the fore-runner in the deliberations.

NASCAR To Give Away A Customized Chevy Silverado 1500

GM Authority News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 2:53pm

You could win a brand-new Silverado 1500, loaded with accessories chosen by fellow NASCAR fans.

Check Out The New Satin Steel Metallic Color For The 2019 Buick Encore

GM Authority News - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 2:36pm

Satin Steel Metallic is one of two new hues for the 2019 Buick Encore.

On the Campaign Trail with a 1972 Corvette: Preparing for Flight (Part 2)

Corvette Blogger - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 2:06pm

Last week kicked off a series called On the Campaign Trail where I’ll be sharing my experiences with my 72 Corvette as I run it through NCRS, Bloomington Gold, and MCACN judging this year. Now that you know what I’ve got, we’ll look at what it took to get it ready for the judges.

Continue reading On the Campaign Trail with a 1972 Corvette: Preparing for Flight (Part 2) at Corvette: Sales, News & Lifestyle.

SEMA 2018: TMI Unveils XL Race Seat & Much More for Your Interior

Corvettes Online News Feed - Thu, 11/01/2018 - 1:37pm
TMI Products has many ways to upgrade your car or truck's interior. Find out about some of the latest products for hot rod enhancement.

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