NHRA Legend, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins dies.

It is with a heavy hear that we announce the passing of former NHRA Pro-Stock driving legend Bill Jenkins otherwise known as Grumpy. Jenkins was one of the leading drivers that helped revolutionize the NHRA Pro-Stock category, and was a 13 time NHRA national event winner, 5 of them in a row. Jenkins earned an engineering degree from Cornell University and used that knowledge to create many racing products still in use today. He earned the nickname Grumpy because of his no nonsense attitude. Jenkins was inducted in to the Don Garlits International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1993, the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1996, and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2008 and was voted 8th among NHRA Drag Racing's greatest racers in 2001. Jenkins was 81 years old.  Rest in Peace Grumpy.

Sneak Peek: 2013 Lexus ES

Though we’ve already seen the Chinese-spec 2013 Lexus ES, the luxury automaker has just released a teaser photo of the U.S.-market 2013 ES luxury sedan in advance of its 2012 New York auto show debut.

As on the 2013 Lexus GS, the 2013 ES’ front grille makes a much greater impact than the last-generation ES ever did, thanks to the chrome-trimmed spindle grille and Nike swoosh-like LED daytime running lights. Pulled back headlights will fit in well with the rest of the current Lexus lineup, helping to create a look that we expect will be bolder than the last-generation ES but still on the conservative side.

Powertrains may include a four-cylinder hybrid and carryover V-6 variant, with options including HID headlights, a navigation system with an upsized screen (a la 2013 GS), and a panoramic moonroof.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Unofficial Picture: 2013 Chevrolet Compact Crossover

General Motors plans to once again engage in badge engineering, the time-tested practice of selling one vehicle in many markets with several different badges. According to European patent filings discovered by L’Automobile Magazine, Chevrolet is planning a small crossover that appears to be based on the 2013 Buick Encore.

Of course, the Buick Encore already has been badge-engineered once before for Europe. The compact crossover, which bowed here at the Detroit auto show, also will be sold overseas as the Opel (and Vauxhall) Mokka (pictured). Rebranding the Encore / Mokka crossover as a Chevrolet could help GM sell the car in other markets like Europe, South America (where it could compete against the similar-sized Ford EcoSport), China, or potentially even the U.S.

It’s unclear whether a Chevrolet version of the Buick Encore would be successful here. The compact crossover is 9.6 inches shorter than the 2013 Ford Escape, a vehicle that would be the logical competition for a smaller Chevrolet crossover. Given healthy sales of the larger Equinox and Traverse here, it also seems unlikely that Chevrolet would want to further subdivide its crossover sales in this market by adding a third model.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2013 Mini Cooper S JCW GP

Mini appears to be readying an even more extreme version of its Cooper S John Cooper Works model. Captured just outside the Nürburgring by our spy photographer, this test mule sports a few unique features that single it out as a successor to the previous-generation JCW GP.

The most obvious similarity between this test mule and the limited-edition JCW GP of 2007 is the fixed, roof-mounted rear wing. Also similar are the four-spoke alloy wheels, which look like an updated take on the design of the original. Other clues like the super-low ride height, unique front bumper and lip spoiler, and aggressive rear diffuser that looks like it’s derived from the Mini Challenge race car, lead us to believe this isn’t your average Mini.

Like the previous JCW GP, the new one is expected to pack more power than a standard JCW, rumored to be at least 220 hp. Also like the last JCW GP, which saw production of only 2000 units, its successor will likely be a limited-run model as well. We won’t know specifics until we get closer to its debut, which could happen later this year.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2013 Chevrolet Traverse

GM’s full-size crossover quadruplets—the Chevrolet Traverse, the GMC Acadia, the Buick Enclave, and the now-deceased Saturn Outlook—were fairly well received when they were first launched. GM’s three surviving eight-passenger utes are getting much-needed midcycle updates for 2013, and Chevrolet has now released details on its freshened Traverse.

The 2013 Traverse hits the show stand brandishing a bold new nose and a tightened-up rear end with new taillamps and relocated license plate surround. As seen in a recent teaser, the interior is considerably upgraded as well. Soft-touch surfaces on the instrument panel and upper front-door panels, contrasting stitching, and chrome and silver accents dress up the leather- or cloth-trimmed cabin, which is available in all-black or one of two dual-tone color schemes. Newly available on some models are blue ambient lighting and Chevy’s new MyLink infotainment system.

Despite the upgrades on the inside, the Traverse won’t get any quicker, however, as the current 3.6-liter, direct-injected V-6 engine delivers the same none-too-powerful 281 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque in the refreshed model. The six-speed automatic transmission, however, receives both hardware and software tweaks in order to provide more decisive shifts and to maintain fuel-economy numbers of 17 mpg city/24 highway in front-wheel-drive models, and 16/23 in all-wheel-drivers.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied: 2014 Maserati Quattroporte

What It Is: The 2013 replacement for Maserati’s only current sedan, very little of which is actually visible here. Other than the door handles, windshield, side windows, and the head- and taillamps—which are grafted-on pieces from today’s Quattroporte— there is nothing we can confidently say is a production part of the next-gen Quattroporte. The true surfaces of every frumpy, matte-finished panel, including the hunchback rear window, are successfully obscured. Still, we can make out the new model’s general proportions, which are similar to those of the current car, with the dipping lower window line in particular telling us that voluptuous curves will once again be a Q-porte calling card.

Why It Matters: The importance of a suitable executive sedan for Maserati goes without saying. The ability to keep up with those pesky Porsche Panameras and annoying Mercedes-Benz S63 AMGs around the ’Ring also is important for the credibility of the Quattroporte brand—and thus Maserati—among the fleet-footed aristocracy.

Platform/Powertrain: We already know that Maserati is planning to install revised versions of its Ferrari-built 4.5- and 4.7-liter V-8s in its upcoming SUV, with direct injection and stop/start technology to help save fuel and lower emissions. The same updated engines should find their way into the Q-porte as well. Ditto their attendant eight-speed automatic transmission. We expect Quattroporte and Quattroporte S models to be available at launch; a Quattroporte Sport GTS model is likely to show up a year or two later to keep customer interest alive once the initial buzz inevitably wanes. The next Q-porte could offer all-wheel drive, with a possible hybrid model appearing as well.

Competition: Aston Martin Rapide, Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, Jaguar XJ Supersport, Porsche Panamera.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2013 Ford Explorer Sport

Ford is adding a new, sportier model to the 2013 Explorer lineup called, appropriately, the Sport. (Blue Oval utility freaks should note that this is still based on the regular four-door, three-row body style, and isn’t a revival of the old two-door Explorer of the ’90s and 2000s.) After scanning the Sport’s particulars, however, we’re thinking a SHO badge might have been appropriate, as this marks the first application of Ford’s twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 in an Explorer—it’s the engine used in the Taurus SHO. The crossover also gets SHO-like exterior and chassis upgrades. For its part, Ford says the name was chosen to parallel that of the Edge Sport. The spicy Explorer will debut at the 2012 New York auto show.

Ford says the twin-turbo motor produces “at least” 350 hp in the Explorer Sport; we’d wager that final output will be somewhere near the 365 horses of the 2013 Taurus SHO. Either way, the Explorer Sport’s motor will handily outmuscle either of the Explorer’s current engines, a 240-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost four and 290-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The additional power brings a slight fuel-economy penalty versus the other models, although the sacrifice isn’t great: Ford predicts the Sport will be rated at 16 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway, a drop of 1 mpg on both cycles from the AWD V-6 Explorer. The Sport’s brawnier six is backed by a six-speed automatic transmission, which can be manually shifted via steering-wheel-mounted paddles. All-wheel-drive is standard, as is the normal Explorer’s Terrain Management system.

To increase chassis stiffness—a key concern among owners of three-row crossovers—the Sport’s upgrades include a beefier strut-tower brace and a new cross-tunnel brace ahead of the rear subframe. The suspension incorporates new shocks, anti-roll bars, and bushings. The electrically assisted steering is quicker than that of lesser models, and the Sport adopts the new solidly mounted rack common to all ’13 Explorers. The brakes are upsized as well, and the Sport is cleared to tow the same 5000-pound maximum of its naturally aspirated V-6 brethren. In a recent comparison test, a V-6 AWD Explorer failed to impress in the dynamics department, so we’re interested to see what improvements might come from the chassis work; unfortunately, the changes made to create the Sport won’t do anything to help the Explorer’s substantial curb weight.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2012 Skoda Yeti Urban

Skoda has revealed a UK-only limited-edition model of its Yeti crossover. The Yeti Urban is targeted at younger customers and gets £2,450 worth of extras, but doesn’t cost any more than the SE model it’s based on.

The Yeti has been a runaway success in the UK, with more than 8,800 registered since it launched in 2009 – and waiting lists are still at three to six months. The Urban adds a DAB radio, sat-nav, Bluetooth and a multifunction steering wheel.

It also features a set of 17-inch black and chrome ‘Matterhorn’ alloys, chrome rubbing strips, silver door mirrors and a pair of roof stripes – not visible in the two images issued by Skoda.

Plus there are tinted rear windows, a choice of red or black trim on the sports seats and four paint colours – Black Magic pearl effect, Candy White, metallic Brilliant Silver and metallic Steel Grey.

The Urban is available with two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox only, and with a choice of two engines – a 104bhp 1.2 TSI and a 108bhp 2.0 TDI. The petrol option offers fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 44.1mpg and 149g/km; the diesel returns 52.3mpg and 140g/km.

Options available include stainless steel pedals, a sports exhaust trim and a DVD player with two nine-inch screens in the back.

The Urban is on sale next week, with a production run limited to just 750 examples, costing £16,900 for the 1.2 TSI and £18,330 for the 2.0 TDI. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Cars: 2012 Jeep Altitude Series

In January, Jeep showed off a blacked-out Grand Cherokee concept in Houston, Texas, and asked customers to help pick a name. The selected name was “Altitude”, and Jeep has now announced that it will produce limited numbers of Grand Cherokee, Compass, and Patriot Altitude models.

“These new Jeep Altitude editions will clearly have a broad appeal among consumers, especially those looking for something distinctive, edgy, and just plain cool,” Jeep brand president Mike Manley.

Over 100,000 people voted to pick the model’s name in an online contest. The top three entries were Altitude, Midnight, and Obsidian, from which Altitude was chosen as the favorite.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude looks very similar to the concept we saw in January; it wears black 20-inch wheels, the grille frame is painted gloss black, and the grille mesh is in lighter platinum chrome. The headlight housings and taillights also are dark tinted, completing the blacked-out look. Interior trim includes heated leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, a nine-speaker sound system, a backup camera with parking sensors, and push-button start.

Despite the black theme, Jeep says the Grand Cherokee is available in gray, red, black, silver, or white. Pricing for two-wheel-drive models starts at $36,520 (including destination), while four-wheel drive versions are $38,520.

In addition to the Grand Cherokee, Jeep will build an Altitude version of the Compass. It follows much the same pattern, with unique 18-inch gloss-black wheels, a black grille surround, and black roof rails. Standard equipment includes heated mirrors and seats, remote start, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Jeep Compass is available in red, black, gray, or white. Pricing for the Altitude-edition Jeep starts at $23,070 with two-wheel drive, or $24,820 with four-wheel drive.

Finally, Jeep also will launch the Patriot Altitude, which comes with 17-inch gloss-black wheels, along with chrome front and rear fascia trim, and chrome roof rails. Interior equipment includes heated mirrors and seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Pricing for the Altitude-edition Jeep Patriot starts at $21,120 for two-wheel-drive models, and $24,155 for a four-wheel-drive Patriot.

The Jeep Compass, Grand Cherokee, and Patriot Altitude models will reach showrooms this May.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Sneak Peek: 2013 Toyota New Full-Size Sedan

Toyota just released a sketch of a new car scheduled to debut at the 2012 New York auto show with a liftback-like design reminiscent of the Audi A7. Could this be Toyota’s foray into the four-door coupe niche? What we see here is likely a hint of what to expect for the all-new 2013 Toyota Avalon full-size sedan.

Toyota describes the car in the teaser image as a “stunning U.S.-designed” sedan. The Camry is ruled out since it’s already been released, and it’s not the Corolla since the sculpted exhaust pipes integrated into the lower rear bumper would look completely out of place for an entry-level compact car. By process of elimination, there’s a good chance it’s the all-new Avalon, which could benefit from some serious changes to take on the new 2012 Hyundai Azera.

Toyota has previously announced plans to release 19 new or updated models in 2012, including the Lexus and Scion brands. Earlier this year Toyota division group vice president and general manager Bob Carter provided the following riddle while speaking to the Automotive News World Congress: What has “more space than a BMW X5, [is] faster than a Volkswagen TDI, and [has] higher MPG than a Fiat 500?”

Not surprisingly, attempted answers to the riddle led to rumors that Carter was teasing the all-new Avalon. In addition to a more swoopy body style, rumors also state that Toyota’s flagship sedan will get hybrid a powertrain, which would likely be needed to beat the Fiat 500’s fuel economy of 30/38 mpg city/highway. Regardless, the new sedan is set to debut in a little over a week, so expect more teaser images from Toyota.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Sneak Peek: 2013 Ford Explorer Sport

This teaser video previews a new version of the Ford Explorer SUV that will be unveiled tomorrow, March 28. But what exactly is new about this version of the Explorer? So far, Ford hasn’t given us many clues.

Ford says that the launch tomorrow will add “an exhilarating new model to the family,” and the brief clip shows Ford’s test track in Dearborn, Michigan. Couple that to the sound of an engine revving, a shot of a speedometer climbing toward 60 mph, and we’re inclined to believe Ford will launch a sporty version of the Explorer.

Based on the video, the Explorer gains different wheels, a revised grille, and a new exhaust tip. It could be that the SUV will receive an aesthetic upgrade in the vein of the Ford Edge Sport trim. The Edge Sport trim gets upgrades like 20- or 22-inch wheels, a new body kit, different exhaust tips, and unique interior trim.

It also is possible that Ford has added a new engine to the Explorer’s lineup; currently the model is offered with a 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6 and a 240-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost inline-four. If a more powerful engine were to be offered, we imagine it would be the 365-hp twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 available in the Ford F-150, Flex, and Taurus SHO.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

First Sketch: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

If you’re considering the purchase of a 2013 Camaro SS coupe with a manual, you’re going to want to look at the 1LE package. And if you weren’t considering a new Camaro, you might be now. The option group is intended to transform The General’s affordable V-8 coupe into an affordable V-8 coupe that can stop and turn. Sort of sounds like a Mustang we know.

The 1LE name is plucked from late-‘80s Chevy history—the package prepped a Camaro for road-racing duty by stripping unnecessaries like the radio and A/C, installing different gearing, upgrading the brakes, and messing with the suspension. This new-age 1LE keeps the convenience features but receives similar improvements, many of them sourced from or inspired by the ZL1.

Chevy previewed the 1LE package with a concept at last year’s SEMA show. The production model will replace the Camaro SS’s standard Tremec TR6060-M10 six-speed manual transmission with a close-ratio TR6060-MM6 six-speed stick and a higher final-drive ratio of 3.91:1. The transmission also gets a cooling system, like on the ZL1. The V-8's output is unchanged from that of manual SS models, at 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Suspension modifications include a larger, 27-mm front anti-roll bar, a 28-mm rear anti-roll bar, ZL1 toe links, ZL1 rear shock mounts, a strut-tower brace. Beefier half-shafts are supposed to help cope with the improved traction, wheel bearings come from the ZL1, and the fuel system has been upgraded with the ZL1’s high-capacity fuel pump and additional fuel pickups to avoid high-g fuel starvation. The 20x10 front and 20x11 rear wheels are inspired by the ZL1’s rims and are shod with 285/35ZR20 Goodyear Eagle Supercar G:2 tires at all four corners, the same ones that come on the ZL1’s front wheels.

The only important items not carried over from the 1LE concept are the ZL1’s magnetorheological dampers. Instead, the production 1LE gets specifically tuned monotube dampers in place of the Camaro SS’s standard twin-tube units. We suspect price was an issue there, and that Chevy has decided to preserve some of the ZL1 suspension’s specialness by not offering it on lesser Camaros.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: 2016 Volkswagen Golf CC

What It Is: A low-slung, four-door sedan called the Golf CC, or perhaps Jetta CC in the States. It would be to the Golf and to the Jetta what the bigger CC—as it is simply badged in the U.S.—is to the Passat: an elegantly rebodied and slightly less practical derivative. The Golf CC could have a conventional trunklid, like a four-door sedan, or it could incorporate a liftgate similar to the Audi A7’s.

Why It Matters: This smaller CC wouldn’t be a crucial car for the brand, but it would be a quick and cost-effective way to create a premium-priced offering from a large-volume platform. It could also win over customers who believe—as we do—that the Jetta lacks sizzle.

Platform: This car would use Volkswagen's new modular MQB platform . The platform also will be used for the next-generation MkVII Golf and a smorgasbord of other VW Group models. (Our current Jetta and Passat are on different architectures.) The first car sprung from the MQB bones is the third-generation Audi A3.

Powertrains: The Golf CC would pack an upscale selection of VW's next-generation turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines, with perhaps a gas/electric powertrain swiped from the Jetta hybrid also on offer. Power would be transmitted to the front wheels through manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions. Of course, if VW can make a business case, anything from a three-banger to the awesome 2.5-liter, five-cylinder turbo that powers the Audi TT RS and the RS3 could be fitted. All-wheel drive is a possibility.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Daimler/BYD Chinese Brand Named Denza?

Mercedes-Benz sources in Germany have confirmed Chinese media reports suggesting its parent company Daimler and Chinese car maker BYD Auto’s new joint venture brand will be called Denza.

Created as a Chinese-market-only brand, Denza is set to support a range of affordable electric powered vehicles – the first of which is set to be unveiled at the Beijing motor show on April 23.

Based on the discarded underpinnings of the first-generation Mercedes-Benz B-class – a car originally designed to accept batteries within its flat floor structure, the first Denza model has been developed in a joint engineering effort between Daimler and BYD, a partnership that was made official by Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche and BYD president Wang Chuanfu back in 2010.

Little is known about the new zero-emission five door hatchback, but Autocar sources confirm a team from Daimler has led the styling, body and chassis engineering, with BYD providing expertise on the electric driveline system.

Prior to becoming active in the automotive field, BYD rose to prominence as the lithium ion battery supplier for Nokia, Motorola and other mobile phone manufacturers.

Nothing is official, but elements of the BYD E6’s driveline, which uses a state-of-the-art lithium-ion phosphate battery and is claimed to boast a range of up to 186 miles in mild weather conditions, are said to be used by the new car.

In the run up to the introduction of the first Denza model, BYD says it has produced a total of 309 E6s – some 40 of which have been undergoing durability testing as part of a fleet run by the Pengcheng Electric Taxi Company in the city of Shenzhen, raking up a total of 1,864,114 miles according to an official BYD statement.

Speaking about the decision to link with BYD, Daimler boss Zetsche said: “We will be able to participate in the potential growth of electric mobility in China, the largest car market of the world. Electric vehicles are especially well suited for urban driving. With its many metropolitan areas, China has the potential to be among the world’s largest markets for zero-emission vehicles.”

Thanks to: Autocar

Recall Up Date : 2003 - 2010 BMW 5 & 6 Series

BMW has announced a recall of 1.3 million cars worldwide, covering all 5 Series and 6 Series models built from 2003 to 2010.

The company revealed that the problem was concerning a battery cable cover in the boot that may have been mounted incorrectly. According to BMW, the result of the problem will be electrical malfunctions, vehicles not starting and in the most serious cases 'charring or fire'. Owners shouldn't be too concerned though, as only nine cases have so far been reported.

Owners of the affected cars will be contacted by letter to arrange for them to visit a repair centre to correct the problem. According to BMW, the process should take around 30 minutes.

Earlier this year BMW-owned MINI was forced to recall 235,000 models worldwide because of a faulty electric water pump.For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Recall Up Date: 2012 Chevrolet Express & Suburban, 2012 GMC Savana & Yukon XL

The Problem: GM will recall certain 2012 Chevy models and GMC twins due to a steering gear issue. The affected models include the Chevy Suburban/GMC Yukon XL SUVs, and the Chevy Express/GMC Savana vans. The steering gear pitman shaft may not have been adequately hardened in these vehicles and could fracture. If the steering gear pitman shaft breaks, loss of steering could might happen – and as with most things recall-related – a crash could occur.

The Fix: GM will notify owners of affected vehicles, and dealers will inspect and if necessary, replace the steering gear pitman shaft free of charge. The recall is expected to start on April 4, 2012. GM’s safety recall campaign number is 12055.

Number of Vehicles Affected: 6159 Chevrolet Express and Suburban, and GMC Savana and Yukon XL models are affected by this recall.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Recall Up Date: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S

The Problem: Porsche will be recalling certain 2012 model year 911 Carrera S models because interference between a coolant line and a fuel line may cause the fuel line to become disconnected at the quick connector, potentially causing a fuel leak. If fuel leakage occurs, the 911′s engine may misfire or stall. If the fuel comes into the presence of an ignition source it could also catch fire, toasting your new 911.

The Fix: Porsche will notify affected vehicles owners, and dealers will replace the fuel line with a new one free of charge. The recall is slated to begin in April 2012. Owners can contact Porsche at 1-800-767-7243 with any questions.

Number of Vehicles Affected: 1232 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S cars built between October 26, 2011 and January 24, 2012 are affected by this recall.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Dodge Challenger Rallye Redline

The Dodge Challenger might seem a bit pedestrian when it’s not equipped with a Hemi V-8, but Dodge has tarted up its Challenger SXT Plus with the Challenger Rallye Redline package, which promises a combination of V-6 power, better handling, and muscle-car looks.

It’s closely based on the Dodge Challenger SXT Plus, which is powered by the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. In the Rallye Redline, the engine benefits from a factory cold-air intake and less-restrictive exhaust system. The result is 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque, the highest output figure for any Pentastar-equipped product. The Rallye Redline also swaps out the rear end from the base Dodge Challenger SXT Plus (final drive ratio: 2.65:1) in favor of the R/T’s rear-end (final drive ratio: 3.06:1). The result is better acceleration without a loss in fuel economy: the Challenger Rallye Redline is rated at the same 27 mpg on the highway as the SXT.

The Rallye Redline also adds the Super Sport Group, which includes a firmer suspension setup, larger sway bars, and quicker, heavier steering. Bigger brakes – the fronts get larger-diameter rotors, while the rear rotors are now vented – top off the performance upgrades. The whole car sits atop considerably larger wheels, too: the old 18 x 7.5 inch wheels have been replaced with 20 x 8 inch models.

Because it’s based on the Challenger SXT Plus, the Dodge Challenger Rallye Redline also gets all of the same standard features including leather seating, front heated seats, Uconnect phone and iPod connectivity, automatic climate control, and a 276-watt Boston Acoustics stereo. It also costs just $1750 more than the Challenger SXT Plus, which means the Dodge Challenger Rallye Redline will cost $29,670 when it goes on sale this April.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2013 Aston Martin DB9

What It Is: A thinly camouflaged example of the next-generation Aston Martin DB9. (Our most recent spy shots of the next DB9 were of a more heavily covered car.) The DB9 is Aston’s two-door middle child, slotting between the “entry level” Vantage and the more-powerful DB9-based DBS. This family tree recently grew with the addition of the Virage—a DB9 with unique bodywork and slightly more power—which itself slots between the DB9 and the DBS. Despite a refresh for 2011, the DB9 still looks somewhat stale when parked next to the Virage and the muscular DBS, so more extensive changes are headed its way for 2013. It may also get a new name.

Why It Matters: The DB9 in its current form was introduced way back in 2004, and has since had its place in Aston Martin’s lineup crowded by the smaller V12 Vantage and the aforementioned Virage. Both of those cars are newer and more powerful than the DB9, so a significant update should go a long way in reestablishing the DB9’s place within the Aston family.

Platform: The DB9 should continue to utilize Aston Martin’s aluminum VH architecture, which also underpins every other Aston model. So by “should,” we really mean will.

The 2013 car’s front fascia sees its inlets enlarged and pushed outward, away from the signature Aston Martin grille. The headlights are slimmer and get LED running lights—finally—and the hood gets a few more creases and larger vents. Otherwise, the DB9 gets a more pronounced arc to its rear fender bulges, bigger exhaust outlets, and a dramatically arched rear lip spoiler inspired by the hyper-exotic One-77.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Lexus Plans to Produce LF-LC Concept

The popularity of the dramatic Lexus LF-LC concept has significantly boosted its chances of making production, Autocar has learned.

Senior bosses at Lexus parent firm Toyota insisted at the LF-LC’s Detroit show unveiling in January that the hybrid 2+2 coupé was strictly a concept. But an emphatically positive reception — including winning the public’s ‘best in show’ award at Detroit — has led to management discussions over “how we can do it” in production.

Speaking to Autocar after the LF-LC’s successful European debut at the Geneva show earlier this month, Lexus product planning chief Karl Schlicht rated the LF-LC’s chances of making production as 50/50.

“A decision has not been taken,” he said. “But we’re now up to a 50 per cent chance from a zero per cent one. Every top Toyota Motor Company manager is aware of the great reception it has received and now we’re talking about how we can do it and fit it into the product plan.”

Schlicht, who becomes Toyota and Lexus Europe’s product planning chief from 1 April, said if the proposal for such a dramatic Lexus production car had been presented to Toyota management without the concept, they’d have dismissed it. Instead, the Calty Design Centre in California was “let loose” in creating a concept, its only brief being that it had to be a 2+2 coupé.

“The only parameter was size. We wanted the designers to create excitement,” he said. “We’d never get it built from a product planning point of view on paper, but people have seen the concept and fallen in love with it. Dealers have gone crazy for it as well.”

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Ferari Confirms Two New Engines

The future of Ferrari V12s has been secured by hybrid technology that will ensure the company can hit its CO2 targets without having to compromise on engine layout.

At the launch of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta earlier this month, Ferrari made a veiled reference to the future use of V12 engines in its range by describing the car as “the first in a new generation of V12s”.

It is understood that environmental pressures had forced Ferrari to evaluate other engine layouts, but development of the F1-derived KERS system has given it the opportunity to keep V12s in its line-up. “We will roll out new technology that is there first and foremost to introduce a green factor to our cars and ensure that we can keep our product where it is in terms of CO2,” Ferrari boss Amedeo Felisa told Autocar.

“Our hybrid system won’t just be about creating power, but saving energy, too. Yes, that technology is expensive today, but the road ahead is open and evolution will bring down the cost and weight disadvantages.

“I’m not saying when, but it is possible that this technology will be on all Ferraris. It has been designed to fit all our future architecture, and if we go ahead it will be fitted as standard. It is not the sort of thing you offer as an option.”

The firm first experimented with hybrids in the 2010 HY-KERS concept, an otherwise stock Ferrari 599 GTB with a KERS system. It featured a low-capacity electric motor at the front to drive ancillaries when running on electric power alone, and a rear-mounted one rated at 100bhp and 110lb ft. The battery cells was spread over the floorpan.

A production version of this system is first expected to be adopted in the next Enzo, which will feature a mid-mounted V12.

As part of its commitment to reducing CO2 emissions, Ferrari is also considering adopting six-cylinder engines. Felisa hinted that such engines were likely following F1’s push in that direction.

“Why not six cylinders?” said Felisa. “It is far away in the future, perhaps, but it is clear perceptions have altered. Even in the US, where until a few years ago eight cylinders was the minimum, it is clear attitudes have changed. We have to think in that direction.”

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2013 Mercedes GLK-Class

The facelifted GLK, set to get its first public outing at next week’s New York motor show, continues to be sold with the choice of three engines in Europe. They include Mercedes-Benz’s widely used 2.1-litre four-cylinder common rail unit – the OM651 as it is known internally.

It delivers 168bhp and 295lb ft in the entry level GLK220, which now comes in two distinct versions: the CDI 4Matic BlueEfficiency and BlueTec 4Matic – the latter equipped with a urea injection system that allows it to meet EU6 emission standards. Both models posses 0-62mph times of 8.8sec, combined cycle fuel consumption of 46.3mpg and average CO2 emissions of 159g/km.

Joining it is the GLK250 BlueTec 4Matic. It uses a twin-turbocharged version of the OM651 delivering the same 201bhp and 368lb ft of torque as the pre-facelifted version of the GLK but now comes fitted with urea injection as standard. It is claimed to hit 62mph in 8.0sec and return the same 46.3mpg and 159g/km figures as its less powerful diesel siblings.

Further up the range is the GLK350 CDI 4Matic with a 3.0-litre V6 common rail engine. It delivers 263bhp along with a sturdy 457lb ft – sufficient, according to official claims, for 0-62mph acceleration in 6.4sec together with 40.9mpg and 179g/km. Also available is the GLK350 4Matic BlueEfficiency. It runs the latest version of Mercedes-Benz’s naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with 302hp and 273lb-ft. The top-of-the-line GLK hit 62mph in 6.5sec and returns 34.9mpg and 189g/km. Among the gearbox options is a six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic.

Among the subtle visual changes brought to the boxy GLK are new bumpers, revised headlamps and tail lamps, reworked roof bars and new 17, 19 and 20-inch wheel designs. Buyers can also choose an AMG body kit.

The interior has also been upgraded with new instrument graphics, a column mounted gear selector – Mercedes-Benz’s so-called Direct Shift stalk that frees up space on the centre console for larger cup holders and added oddment stowage, round ventilation units and higher quality trim panels.

Among the options is a whole range of new safety features, including the anticipatory Pre-Safe system, collision avoiding Distronic Plus, drowsiness detecting Attention Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assistant, Active Blind Spot Assist. As part of an upgraded range of optional entertainment and system features, the facelifted GLK also offers a 360-degree parking camera.

The GLK is produced at Mercedes-Benz’s Bremen plant in Germany and at its joint venture factory run in co-operation with Beijing Auto Works in Beijing, China. The second-generation model is also planned to be produced alongside the M-, R- and GL class as well as the fourth-generation C-class at the company’s US-based plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Thanks to: Autocar

Spied: Citroen DS9 Concept

These are the first pictures of the new Citroen DS9 – a flagship luxury car concept that has been spotted completely undisguised ahead of its debut at the Beijing Motor Show next month.

Spied on a photoshoot at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, the DS9 is charged with spearheading a new DS range specifically for China.

It follows on from the DS3 supermini and DS4 and DS5 crossovers, which have been designed for Europe. The DS9 is a large, luxurious Mercedes S-Class-sized four-door coupe.

It’s inspired by the C6-based Metropolis concept car, which was unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show in 2010.

Inside, expect a spacious seating arrangement – wealthy Chinese often have chauffeurs and place great importance on the amount of rear legroom.

There is no word on how the DS9 will be powered, but the Metropolis concept used a 2.0-litre petrol V6 mated to an electric motor, delivering 460bhp and CO2 emissions of 70g/km.

We can expect the DS9 to offer a similar low-emission, four-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain.

The car will be built as part of Citroen’s joint venture with the Changan Automotive Group in Guangdong Province, and sold exclusively in China. There are no plans to bring it to the UK.

The DS9 will be joined by two other DS-badged Chinese cars: a C4-sized saloon and an SUV. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

First Sketch: 2013 Fisker Nina

Fisker gives us a chance to peek into the future with a sketch of the first vehicle to be spawned from its Project Nina vehicle platform.

Fisker’s Project Nina, announced at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, will introduce three new vehicles by 2014, and the drawing above is a good indication of what we can expect to see from the second model line after the Karma. The first Nina vehicle is reported to be a midsize luxury sedan with some sort of extended-range electric drivetrain, and price is expected to start in the $50,000 range. Considering the new Nina vehicle is expected to be more affordable than the Fisker Karma, it should be smaller as well.

The sketch shows a car with a rear end that’s a bit more truncated than the Karma’s, but the new car should stick with a four-door layout. Given the new purchasing agreement between BMW and Fisker, we also wouldn’t be surprised if this car comes with a BMW-sourced four-cylinder under the hood as part of a plug-in hybrid powertrain, but we’ll find out more details at the New York auto show.

A production version of the first Fisker Nina is scheduled to roll off the line at Fisker’s Wilmington, Delaware plant at the end of 2012.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Ram 1500 Lone Star 10th Anniversary

When its pickup truck garnered a lot of love in Texas, Ram decided to make a special edition celebrating the partnership. That special edition turned 10 years old this year, so Ram is celebrating with another special edition. It’s called the Ram 1500 Lone Star 10th Anniversary.

The truck is called the Ram 1500 Lone Star, a version of the famous Ram 1500 Crew Cab pickup that is sold only in Texas. According to Ram, some 30 to 40 percent of all Ram 1500s sold in Texas are Lone Star editions, and Ram says it has sold more than 80,000 of them over the last 10 years.

The new Lone Star 10th Anniversary Edition Ram 1500 deletes the stock truck’s Ram 1500 badges on the doors and tailgate and replaces them with even larger Lone Star 10th Anniversary badges. That same logo (albeit smaller) goes on the glovebox lid, embossed into the seats, and embroidered into the floor mats. Those seats are also upholstered in perforated Katzkin leather.

Other than that, the Lone Star 10th Anniversary is much like any other Lone Star edition Ram 1500: it’s powered by a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine that makes 390 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque, sent through a six-speed automatic transmission. The truck sits on 20-inch aluminum wheels. On the inside, the Lone Star Ram gets a power adjustable seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as 60/40 split rear seats.

The Lone Star 10th Anniversary will start at $36,440 for a Ram 1500 Crew Cab with two-wheel drive, and will go on sale this summer only in Texas.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Sneak Peek Up Date: 2013 Nissan Altima

With the New York auto show just weeks away, Nissan continues to tease the public with more shots of the upcoming 2013 Altima. This time, it’s a look at the new sedan’s profile.

This time around, we get another peek of the muscular side view of the 2013 Altima sedan, which will face a reinvigorated midsize field that includes a revamped 2013 Honda Accord and 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, not to mention the redone 2012 Toyota Camry.

Last week, the automaker showed off taillights for the new midsize sedan. The housing wraps around to the rear fender and is finished off with a boomerang-like design. Prior to that, we got a sneak peek of the front fascia, which features angular headlights, a bulging hood, and an upside-down trapezoid grille with a chrome-like finish. Nissan also showed off a few teaser videos. The first video is a quick, seven-second shot of the Altima’s roof, while the second teaser focuses on a front fascia with the optional HID headlights.

In addition to styling, Nissan hopes to keep the Altima on top of its game with updated powertrains. A four-cylinder engine will once again serve as a base engine, which is expected to get a revised CVT. Nissan will probably follow the Camry’s lead and bring back a V-6 for power-hungry customers. Finally, an all-new hybrid system is expected to debut a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder supercharged engine supplemented by an electric motor. The hybrid powertrain should also get the revised CVT, dubbed Xtronic.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Recall Up Date: 2006 Honda CR-V

Honda is recalling roughly 1300 2006 CR-V crossovers for trouble with the lower control arm assemblies.

The Problem: The original welding for the lower control arms on some CR-V models may not have been properly done during the initial manufacturing. If the welding was not completely properly, the right front lower control arm could break at the weld spot over time and affect the car’s handling and increase the chance of a crash.

The Fix: Despite there being no crashes or injuries related to the issue, Honda is instructing dealers to inspect the right front lower control arm, and replace it if necessary. Owners will be notified starting in mid-April by mail; they can also look online at www.recalls.honda.com to see if their vehicle’s VIN is being recalled or by calling Honda at 800-999-1009 and selecting option 4.

Number of Vehicles Affected: 1316 units of the 2006 Honda CR-V.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2013 Audi Q5 Hybrid

Hybrids have a ‘holier-than-thou’ image of saving the rainforest and being friendly to all of nature’s creatures. This 2013 Audi Q5 Quattro Hybrid our intrepid spy photographer spotted cold weather testing is bird friendly too, except not in the way you were expecting.

What our spy photographer did to deserve such a reaction likely relates to him catching Audi’s face-lifted 2013 Q5 wearing next-to-no camouflage. Unlike the last Q5 we spied, this tester didn’t have any camouflage on its grille, allowing us to see Audi’s new corporate grille. Up front, this Q5 Hybrid Quattro also features Audi’s new headlight design, with its LED lighting element moving from the top to the bottom of the headlamp. This Q5 mule also sports an all-new front bumper, with a redesigned valance, and new fog light surrounds. Suffice it to say, those sweet-looking driving lamps mounted in the grille won’t make it into production.

Out back, the 2013 Q5 experiences a few more subtle changes than the front of the crossover. The taillights are redesigned, and the rear bumper is new. Also new are the exhaust tips, which are now D-shaped, as opposed to oval shaped.

The Q5′s profile remains unchanged, save for the “Hybrid” badge on the front-quarter panel. When it first debuted at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, the Q5 Quattro Hybrid sported a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 and electric motor combo under the hood, producing 245 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. Audi claimed the Q5 Quattro Hybrid could achieve 33.6 mpg. We’re not completely sure when we can expect the 2013 Q5 to make its debut, but it probably won’t happen until the third or fourth quarter of this year.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2013 Toyota Avalon

What It Is: A pair of heavily camouflaged next-generation 2013 Toyota Avalon prototypes. The current-generation Toyota Avalon has been on sale since 2005, making it nearly as old—in car years—as the typical Avalon buyer. Despite a minor refresh for 2011, the Avalon clearly is due for an update, and these spy photos indicate that Toyota’s full-size sedan will be getting one soon. It remains to be seen whether the redesign can keep customers flocking to Toyota’s traditionally stodgy sedan and compete with Hyundai’s stylish 2012 Azera or the upcoming 2013 Chevrolet Impala.

Why It Matters: The Avalon is supposed to be Toyota’s step-up vehicle for Camry owners who want additional luxury—we suspect many of those potential customers simply buy a Lexus ES instead. This has left the Avalon for those who look at traditional Buicks with a nostalgic gaze. Even covered in camouflage and black tape, it’s apparent that Toyota is attempting to inject some style and zest into the Avalon for 2013. Up front there’s a Camry-like grille, headlights, and fog lamps. Out back, LED taillights are visible through the cover-up job, as are sporty dual exhaust outlets. The sloping roofline is more daring than the outgoing Avalon’s more-formal greenhouse, and an interesting scalloped character line runs the length of the body beneath the side windows. Inside, the steering wheel gets a ton of buttons, but it’s still flanked by familiar Toyota turn-indicator and wiper stalks as well as a cruise-control widget that’s not far removed from the one in your Grandpa’s 1994 Corolla.

latform: The Avalon likely will continue to utilize a stretched version of the Camry’s architecture, only now it will use the latest Camry architecture. (The current model shares its underpinnings with the 2002 Camry, a car two generations removed from the latest mid-sizer.) It looks as though a slight size increase may be in store for the next Avalon.

Powertrain: The current Avalon’s 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic should carry over to the new car. As before, the 2013 model will be driven by the front wheels.

Competition: Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Azera, Nissan Maxima.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied: 2014 Infiniti EV

What It Is: A mule for Infiniti’s upcoming all-electric sedan. Until now, we had seen only sketches of Infiniti’s EV. Sitting closer to the bottom of Infiniti’s lineup, the EV will aim to please eco-chic shoppers who like the idea of an electric car to drive locally—as well as a premium badge.

Why it matters: Electric vehicles haven’t hit the big time yet, but like many automakers, Infiniti doesn’t want to risk being left behind. The task will be relatively easy considering parts from Nissan’s Leaf are already in the corporate bin. Just as important, adding an EV to the Infiniti lineup strengthens the brand’s intended image as a manufacturer of luxury and high-tech automobiles.

Platform: Infiniti’s sedan will share its front-wheel-drive underpinnings with the Nissan Leaf. Unlike that car, which is a traditional two-box hatchback, the Infiniti will be styled as a sleek fastback sedan.

Powertrain: Power may be increased from the 107-hp rating for the motor used in the Nissan Leaf, although the basic system probably will be the same. We anticipate that the Infiniti will use upgraded lithium-ion battery packs to better the Leaf’s advertised 100-mile range. (We averaged 58 miles per charge over a 2700-mile long-term test.)

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Is Audi Working on A4 Minivan?

Audi’s marketing and product planning departments are thinking big, but not too big. Automobile magazine is reporting that the next addition to the German automaker’s lineup is called the Audi A4 Superavant and, no, it’s not a minivan nor an MPV. Audi claims its market research found enough demand to bring it to market.

As its name suggests, the new crossover is essentially a supersized Audi A4 Avant wagon. Audi emphasizes that the vehicle will have the same sporty styling and driving characteristics as its smaller sister models. Most importantly, the Audi A4 Superavant’s high roof and three-row seating configuration will provide more practically and cargo room than an A4 Avant. It should also ride higher, too, allowing American drivers to enjoy a commanding view of the road also found in SUVs.

The car’s front fascia sports Audi’s familiar corporate nose with a wide gaping grille and requisite LED daytime running lamp accents—the full rendering is at Automobile. The A4 Superavant’s side profile shows off the high roof and four, full-size doors, similar to the Mercedes-Benz R-Class people-mover. Speaking of which, Mercedes-Benz struggled to convince the public that the R-Class wasn’t a minivan; first it was described a grand sport tourer, before the company finally relented to the crossover moniker. The R-Class will likely serve as a case study for Audi executives who want to avoid the same fate.

Automobile speculates the A4 Superavant will ride on an extended version of Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform, expected to underpin the next-generation A4. Power will come from a number of forced-induction powerplants including a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gas engine rated at 255 hp and possibly a 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel rated at 197 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The magazine also hints at a possible rear-drive, electric powertrain with two motors for a total output of 136 hp.

Should the A4 Superavant get the green light, a concept car could be ready as early as 2014 with production following two years later. If the car does come, it would compete with other premium entries like BMW’s 3 and 5 Series GT models and possibly the planned replacement for the Mercedes-Benz R-Class.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: Jaguar is Preparing to Introduce Crossover

Jaguar is promising “breakthrough” design and engineering for a proposed new crossover. If it’s signed off for production, it could go on sale around 2016 to crown a radical overhaul of its complete model range.

Speaking bullishly at the Geneva motor show, Jaguar global brand director Adrian Hallmark confirmed that the British marque was responding to Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth’s wish to “drive breakthroughs in product development”.

Sister firm Land Rover is enjoying unprecedented success with niche-busting products such as the Range Rover Evoque, and Jaguar has been given full licence to break away from its traditional roots to launch some innovative new models, following the announcement by parent firm Tata that it is doubling annual investment in the pair to £1.5 billion.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Jaguar - Land Rover & Chery Joint Venture

Jaguar Land Rover and Chery Automobile Company have agreed terms on a joint venture in China. The partnership will include the manufacture of Jaguar, Land Rover and joint venture-branded cars, establishment of a research and development centre, building an engine plant and sales of the vehicles the joint venture produces.

In order to build cars in China, the Chinese government requires foreign manufacturers to team up with a domestic manufacturer. Other joint ventures already in place include BMW with Brilliance, Citroen with Dongfeng Motor Corporation and VW with FAW.

In a joint statement, Dr Ralf Speth, JLR Chief Executive Officer, and Mr Yin Tongyao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Chery, said: "Working together on this proposed joint venture is an exciting prospect for both JLR and Chery. Demand for Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles continues to increase significantly in China, and we believe that JLR and Chery can jointly realise the potential of these iconic brands in the world's largest car market."

JLR is keeping the terms of the agreement under wraps for the time being, but it's clear that this is a significant step towards gaining an even bigger foothold in the world's largest, and fastest growing, car market. Even without this venture, JLR sold 42,000 cars in China in 2011 - it's third largest market. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Hyundai to Introduce New Genesis in 2013 and New Sonata in 2014

Hyundai is planning to launch a new version of the Sonata sedan by 2014, as well as an updated Genesis sedan in 2013. According to Reuters, Hyundai CEO Kim Choong-ho revealed the product update plans at an industry meeting in Seoul, South Korea.

The current version of the Hyundai Sonata (pictured) was introduced in Korea in late 2009 and launched in the U.S. in 2010. Since then, the car has not been significantly updated, although new turbocharged and hybrid models have become available. The Sonata is the best-selling Hyundai vehicle in the U.S., and the third best-selling Hyundai in Korea. The new, revamped version is designed to help Hyundai steal more market share from Japanese competitors like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

The Hyundai Genesis, which is the company’s large rear-wheel-drive flagship, should be updated by 2013. The Genesis launched in the U.S. for the 2009 model year, and for 2012 was upgraded with an optional 5.0-liter V-8 engine. The Genesis is the second slowest-selling Hyundai in the U.S. market, after the Azera sedan.

Hyundai also is planning to launch a new version of the Santa Fe crossover at the New York auto show in April. The company already is taking orders for the 2013 Santa Fe in South Korea.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2013 Chevrolet Trailblazer

The new Chevrolet Trailblazer, which goes on sale overseas this June, made its official debut today at the Bangkok International Motor Show in Thailand. While the Thai-built Trailblazer is characterized as a “global” SUV, Chevrolet will not sell the new model in the U.S.

The Trailblazer’s rounded body conceals the same truck chassis as the new global Colorado pickup, which is meant to provide a blend of off-road capability and comfortable on-road driving. The three-row, seven-passenger interior features rear seats that fold flat to create more cargo room if necessary. The Trailblazer’s cabin also has an abundance of storage compartments, plus USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

The new Chevrolet Trailblazer is powered by a choice of two DuraMax turbodiesel inline-four engines. The 2.5-liter unit makes 150 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, while the 2.8-liter version offers 180 hp and 346 lb-ft. Buyers choose between a five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission, and rear- or four-wheel drive.

The SUV’s exterior wears traditional Chevrolet styling cues, beginning with a nose bearing a large black grille bisected by the brand’s bowtie logo. Gently flared fenders make the Trailblazer look more rugged, while LED taillights brighten the liftgate. The rear window also wraps around onto the sides of the SUV.

Based on experience living in Thailand and learning how locals use trucks and SUVs, the Chevrolet Trailblazer will be offered in LT and LTZ trims. Exact features and pricing will be announced at a later date. Of course, on seeing the new global Trailblazer, we’re struck with disappointment the utilitarian SUV isn’t destined for sale in the U.S. market. Chevrolet officials feel the new model would steal sales away from existing crossovers like the Equinox and Traverse, and also note that the rugged truck chassis of the new global Chevrolet Trailblazer is better suited for countries with poor roads.

Thanks to: Motor TrendLink

Hot News: Honda to Introduce Crosstour Concept at NY Auto Show

The futuristic Honda Crosstour is about to get a refresh, and Honda is readying a concept car previewing the 2013 model for a New York Auto Show debut.

We should clarify a couple of things: the Honda Crosstour will turn four in 2013, which means the new car will be something of a mid-cycle refresh. The second is that Honda’s concept cars are often nearly identical to their successive production cars. When Honda says that it’s making a concept to preview the new Crosstour, it likely means that a production-looking car will be on stage at New York and the official version will hit showrooms shortly thereafter.

The new Honda Crosstour continues to face an uphill battle in the numbers: the crossover has sold just 51,380 copies since it was launched in 2009. Sales peaked in 2010 at 28,851, but dwindled since–Honda has sold just 1991 in the first two months of this year.

In hopes of broadening the car’s appeal, Honda has shifted the trim levels on the Crosstour: base models now come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (borrowed from the Accord it’s based on) that makes 192 horsepower and delivers 3 more miles to the gallon in mixed driving than the optional 3.5-liter V-6. It also reduces the car’s base price: an I-4-equipped Honda Crosstour (shown) starts at $28,465 with destination to the V-6 model’s $31,150.

The Honda Crosstour won’t be alone in seeing its mid-cycle refresh in New York – Toyota and Subaru will be taking the wraps off the 2013 Venza and 2013 Outback, respectively, in April as well.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Sneak Peek: 2014 Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet has teased two new vehicles that will appear at its stand at the New York auto show. The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse and the 2014 Chevrolet Impala will bow publicly next month in the Big Apple.

Predictably, Chevrolet hasn’t yet released much information on the pair of cars. The Impala will be the tenth generation of vehicles to wear that name; the nameplate itself originated way back in 1958. The next-generation Impala will be built both in Oshawa, Ontario, and Hamtramck, Detroit. We believe the new sedan will adopt the lines from the Chevrolet Malibu and Camaro, and it should have a more lavish and upscale interior than the current full-size car.

It’s likely that the 3.6-liter V-6 engine will carry over to the 2014 Impala, possibly to be joined by a four-cylinder engine with General Motors’ new eAssist mild-hybrid system. The Impala is expected to ride on a longer version of the Epsilon II platform that underpins the new Malibu. It may also receive all-wheel drive as an option.

We have less trouble predicting the updates Chevrolet has in store for the Traverse. As was previously announced, the three-row crossover will get the same front-center airbag system that has become available for the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave. Other notes suggest the Traverse will have improved suspension and better styling.In the teaser picture, we spy wood and leather interior trim.

The Buick Enclave, which shares its “Lambda” platform with the Traverse and Acadia, also will be refreshed at the New York show. If the Acadia is any indication, expect the Chevrolet crossover to get new LED lighting, a mild face lift, and new safety gear like blind spot warning. As a result, all three of the Lambda models will be refreshed by the end of this year.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

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