Automakers mimic each other. It’s one of the reasons for the character-sapping convergence among modern cars that we often lament. Take, for example, the entry-luxury sports-sedan segment, where nearly every automaker has fully turbocharged engine lineups and complicated electronic adjustments for practically every vehicle parameter from the suspension to the transmission. And then there’s the Lexus IS350 F Sport. It, too, has an adaptive suspension and adjustable driving modes, but the steering, suspension, and powertrain cannot be individually adjusted as in the BMW 3-series or the Audi A4. You get four choices, including one good default Normal setting. The V-6–powered IS350 F Sport isn’t turbocharged like BMW’s 340i or Audi’s S4. And at $50,154 fully loaded, this range-topping, sportiest IS maxes out at approximately where pricing for the six-cylinder 3-series starts. Nearer to 3 The Lexus isn’t above mimicry, as it … [Read more...] about 2017 Lexus IS350 F Sport RWD
Divorce often is a messy business, with myriad difficult decisions to be made or fought over. Where will the kids live? Who gets the dog? Or the wedding china? And what about that mid-size hatchback you’ve just spent several hundred million dollars developing? General Motors’ recent decision to divest itself of its European subsidiaries means that the new Opel and Vauxhall Insignia—along with the rest of the company’s former assets on the other side of the Atlantic—now belong to the French PSA group (owners of the Peugeot, Citroën, and DS brands). But the settlement deal also included the equivalent of joint custody, with Opel committed to producing versions of the Insignia for GM to sell outside of Europe. In the United States and China, this car will be the new Buick Regal Sportback, while in Australia it will become the Holden Commodore. While the new Regal isn’t here yet, we’ve driven the range-topping Insignia … [Read more...] about 2017 Opel Insignia Grand Sport 2.0T AWD
When we got the 2017 BMW 540i xDrive in the office, there was much discussion about the car's Display Key. The words "technology nobody asked for" were bandied about, and we chuckled over the fob's somewhat comical size. For those of you who aren't familiar, the BMW Display Key is equipped with an LCD color touchscreen. It performs the standard functions of a key fob – locking, unlocking, keyless start – but its screen allows it to integrate a number of features from BMW's Connected app. You might be thinking the same things we were. Why the redundancy? Why not just use the app and not have to carry around this giant fob? How easily will this thing break if I drop it? Do I have to charge this thing? While some of those questions aren't ones we can actually answer, the last one is. There's a micro USB port on the side of the Display Key, which means you can plug it in to charge as needed. Mercifully, it can also charge wirelessly, because who is actually going to plug … [Read more...] about BMW Display Key: Technology nobody asked for?
Overview: Some returning nameplates strut into a new model year with the braggadocio of a heavyweight prizefighter returning to defend a title. Others just slink in and take a seat in the back, preferring to let their skills do the talking. The 2017 Chevrolet Impala sedan definitely is one of the latter. Comprehensively redesigned for 2014, the 2017 version arrived devoid of hyperbole, with only a few minor changes differentiating it from the previous year’s model. Available solely as a full-size four-door sedan, the 2017 Impala continues to offer three trim levels: LS, LT, and Premier (formerly LTZ). Motivation is provided by either a 196-hp 2.5-liter inline-four or an optional 305-hp 3.6-liter V-6. A six-speed automatic is tasked with shuffling gears regardless of engine choice. The Impala nameplate is no upstart, having appeared on three different runs of varying duration (1958–85, 1994–96, and 2000-to-present) and even more generational body-style iterations. … [Read more...] about 2017 Chevrolet Impala
Hyundai has released its 2018 model year information, and it appears the Azera won't be making the cut for the new year. The large sedan has been cut from the American lineup, though overseas markets will still have access to the car. In fact, those markets will enjoy a fully redesigned model with muscular lines and an upright fascia. Hyundai's reasoning for dropping the Azera model is that other Hyundai models, as well as the current crop of Genesis cars, are becoming more widely appealing. So, basically, the narrow range of consumers that demanded a larger, more "luxurious" vehicle than the Sonata, but weren't willing to make the small jump to a Genesis, is too small to keep the model around. There are a couple of other noteworthy changes in the 2018 Hyundai lineup. The new Accent sedan is still on its way to dealerships, but the Accent hatchback is gone. Since the company hasn't shown an Accent hatch yet, we're not completely surprised by its omission. What is odd is that there's … [Read more...] about Hyundai Azera large sedan officially dead in America
Tesla's Model S did not get the top score in certain tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the agency said on Thursday. The Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus and Tesla Model S were the three sedans that got "only an acceptable rating" in a test designed to simulate what happens when the front driver-side corner of a vehicle strikes a tree or another vehicle, the IIHS said. Ford's Lincoln Continental, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Toyota Avalon received the highest rating overall, the agency said. In the test, the seat belt in Tesla's Model S was not effective and could lead to the driver's head striking the steering wheel hard through the air bag, according to the report. Tesla's Model S received the highest rating in IIHS's crash testing in every category except one, the small overlap front crash test, where it received the second highest rating available, a Tesla spokesperson said in an email. "IIHS and dozens of other private industry groups around the world … [Read more...] about Tesla Model S fails to ace IIHS crash test
U.S. light-vehicle sales dropped 2.9 percent in June behind another weak month for cars and lower fleet shipments. Toyota, Nissan and Honda chalked up modest June gains while the Detroit 3 slipped as the industry posted its sixth straight monthly decline.The advances at the biggest Japanese companies were all in the low single-digit range, fueled largely by truck sales. Ford retreated 5.1 percent after posting its first sales gain of the year in May. General Motors deliveries fell 4.7 percent while continuing to point to a reduction in lower-profit sales to daily rental fleets. Fiat Chrysler was down 7 percent.As has been the case throughout the year, the results were marked by steep declines in car sales -- down 14 percent for the month -- even amid rising incentives. Truck deliveries edged up 4.2 percent in June.The seasonally adjusted, annualized sales rate came in at 16.54 million, the lowest pace of sales of the year and slightly below the 16.6 million average … [Read more...] about New car sales for June: Winners and losers
As much fun as supercars and 6-by-6 G Wagens are, cars that are accessible to the rest of us are what most folks are looking for. Our list of the top-10 most-read reviews of 2017 so far includes a little bit of everything. Without further ado, here's what moved the needle in the first six months of the year: 2018 Toyota C-HR first drive: When does a car become a crossover? It’s no secret that we live in a world where everything from hate groups to Fruit Loops can be rebranded to become more or less appealing to a particular audience, and the auto industry is no ... 2017 Mercedes Benz C300 Coupe review notes: Another sexy C I hadn't driven one of the C-Class coupes yet, and damn if this car didn’t impress me right from the get-go. I’ve always said BMW tacks more … [Read more...] about All-star break: Our top car reviews from 2017 so far
While collectors on this side of the Atlantic were busy not driving the Buick GNXs, but instead storing them in hopes of cashing in for a retirement fund, collectors back in Europe were busy driving a super sedan that could keep up with the supercars of the day. We're talking about the Lotus Carlton, which at its root was also a GM vehicle -- a very special, souped-up GM vehicle turned into nothing short of a supercar fighter by Lotus.In about a month, collectors -- who perhaps had a poster of this car on their bedroom walls 25 years ago -- will get an opportunity to bid on a Carlton that might not have been shrink-wrapped but was driven very sparingly and now shows a claimed 4,500 miles on the clock.But first, a little history and a lot of specs: The Lotus Carlton was based on the Vauxhall Carlton -- the U.K. version of the Opel Omega -- but equipped with a Lotus-tuned turbocharged and intercooled 3.6-liter engine straight-six engine featuring plenty of tricks from … [Read more...] about Ultimate ’90s Q-ship: Low-mile Lotus Carlton heads to auction
Tesla's shares were up 3 percent in premarket trading on Monday after the luxury electric-car maker said it would deliver its mass-market Model 3 sedan to the first 30 customers on July 28. The Model 3 sedan passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule, Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted late on Sunday. The announcement allayed worries about Tesla's ability to meet its production goals as earlier launches of its Model S sedan and Model X sports utility vehicle were plagued by delays and initial quality issues. "Production grows exponentially, so Aug should be 100 cars and Sept above 1500," Musk tweeted. The Palo Alto, California-based company plans to ramp up Model 3 production to reach a target 500,000 cars per year in 2018. Musk also said he expected "to complete SN1 on Friday (July 7)." The term "SN1", taken to be serial number 1, is the first car off assembly line for sale, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to Reuters. Priced at … [Read more...] about Tesla stock revs up as Model 3 deliveries to start in July
After spending the weekend tooling around in the new, seventh-gen BMW 5-Series, I really don’t know if I like it. I need to think about it more. According to BMW, compared to the outgoing model, the new one has improved performance and dynamics, better steering feel, the latest iDrive … BMW says the new design is “mature” and “confidently stylish,” adding the cockpit has been moved back slightly. The new car is 1.2 inches longer, 0.3 inch wider and 0.6 inch taller. The 117.1-inch wheelbase is 0.2 inch longer too. I say unless I park one side by side with an old one I really don’t know if I could tell the difference. Talk about evolutionary. It’s up to the customer whether that’s good or bad I suppose.It’s fast but not quick. In other words, when you tromp the gas pedal from a stop, it ain’t that exciting. In fact, it’s a bit dull. Once up to speed, though, it’s better: good passing … [Read more...] about 2017 BMW 530i review: Redesign or big refresh?
Overview: Your momma may have called it the crook of your arm, and the Urban Dictionary offers a crude slang alternative, but we can tell you authoritatively that the soft place on the inside of your elbow is really called the cubital fossa. We’re far less certain about what to call the Cadillac CT6, because its maker assures us that this—the biggest, most luxurious, and most technologically advanced sedan in its showroom right now—is absolutely not the brand’s flagship. Introduced for the 2016 model year and built on General Motors’ new aluminum-intensive rear-wheel-drive Omega architecture, the CT6 is close to the size of the standard BMW 7-series (the one we don’t see in America anymore, because we only get the stretched-wheelbase version). Prices start in the mid-$50K range and can run well past $90,000. What’s least flagship-like about it is the range of powertrain offerings. Starting with a 265-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four … [Read more...] about 2017 Cadillac CT6
BMW is planning on releasing an all-electric 3-Series at the Frankfurt auto show in September, according to sources who spoke to the German newspaper Handelsblatt.BMW's new EV is aiming directly for the Tesla Model 3, so while the rumored 248 miles of range feels a bit optimistic for now, it might not be too far from it when finally released. That number is most likely referring to European testing standards as well, which always produces a higher range number than U.S. testing does. 2018 BMW X3: More power, standard AWD for BMW's compact SUV The BMW X3 begins its third generation in 2018 with a host of updates inside and out, but let’s start with the refreshed engines.BMW only announced two versions of its smallest SUV and no ... Instead of aiming for more new electric and hybrid vehicles like … [Read more...] about All-electric BMW 3-Series coming this fall?
Audi's A8 strip-tease continues its glacial pace with the appearance of a camouflaged example at the Spider-Man: Homecoming premiere in Hollywood, ahead of the car's official debut on July 11. For those of you wondering what Audi has to do with anything Spider-Man, it's because Audi has significant product placement in the film, and the A8 has a cameo role. And if you were wondering why Audi is putting all of this effort into getting its cars in the film, just check out box-office numbers for almost any movie from Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe. You would be crazy if you didn't want your cars to be seen by that many eyeballs. Anyway, back to the car at hand. Since the car won't officially, completely be revealed for another couple of weeks, it is still disguised, this time with some custom camouflage. Rather than thick covers and typical swirly vinyl, this car has a wrap that looks like a bunch of spider webs. There are some Spider-Man logos scattered about, too, along with a … [Read more...] about Audi A8 sort-of debuts at ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ premiere
Four-door coupes have always been tough to pull off -- look no further than the first-generation Porsche Panamera -- but Audi has achieved nothing less than a hit with the design of the similarly-styled A7. Fans of the four rings who have always liked the power of the S7 but wished it were just a little bit smaller on the outside are in luck this year: Audi is finally bringing the S5 Sportback to the States, after this four-door coupe was offered for a full generation back in Europe.The A5/S5 Sportback duo has just been completely redesigned inside and out, and is ready to tempt Audi buyers looking at vehicles as diverse as the S4 to the S7 with a sleek and well-balanced design, a versatile interior and plenty of power underhood.The S5 Sportback is one of those cars that looks fast standing still, though a 3.0-liter V6 helped by a twin-scroll turbocharger and paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission sending power to all four wheels is what gets the work … [Read more...] about 2018 Audi S5 Sportback first drive: Business up front, cargo in the back
Honda is refreshing the small and sprightly Fit for 2018 with a new sport trim and added technology.The sport trim gives the Fit a little more aggression in its styling, but don't confuse it with the Civic Type R. There's a new front and rear fascia, plus an aero kit. The aero styling enhancements include a low front splitter with orange highlights, plus a small diffuser out back. Glossy black 16-inch wheels, a chrome-tipped exhaust and integrated fog lights are also standard on the sport trim. You can get the 2018 Fit with some eye-catching orange and yellow paint now, too. On the inside, there’s more orange consisting of stitching on the seats, armrest, steering wheel and shift knob. 2017 Honda Civic Si first drive: Yes to change The Honda Civic Si is officially a 30-something -- and coming to terms with that.The previous Si might have been the most competent member of the … [Read more...] about 2018 Honda Fit gets a new Sport trim and lots of orange…
The theory behind the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 shouldn’t astonish anyone: The British manufacturer has taken the all-aluminum XE, its smallest sedan, and dropped in the most powerful version of its supercharged 5.0-liter V8.But see Project 8 in its aluminum and carbon-fiber skin, and it seems almost unbelievable; it’s a track-focused all-wheel-drive sedan that makes 592 hp, can crack 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds and is good for 200 mph. The aggressive bodywork and stance mimics a touring-car racer, and some markets can even specify the four-door with a rear rollcage instead of rear seats, though not in the U.S.Just 300 examples will be hand-assembled from March 2018, with U.S. pricing yet to be confirmed. However, the UK sticker of £149,995 ($192,755) pitches it slightly above the McLaren 570S in its domestic market, which sells for $188K. It won’t be cheap.Project 8 follows the F-Type Project 7 (inspired by D-Type and referencing Jaguar’s … [Read more...] about 592-hp Jaguar XE SV Project 8: Meet Jag’s monster sports sedan
Move over, F-Type, Jaguar has a new performance flagship. The Special Vehicle Operations division of Jaguar Land Rover applied its expertise to the XE sports sedan to create an absolute monster of a car. Named the XE SV Project 8, it features a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 pumping out 592 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That power goes through an eight-speed automatic and an all-wheel-drive system with an electronically controlled torque-vectoring rear differential. In practice, this will rocket the super sedan to 60 mph in a claimed 3.3 seconds on the way to a 200 mph top speed. The XE SV Project 8 is not only about raw power and speed, though. Lightweight carbon fiber bumpers, front fenders, and hood have been fitted. The fenders are significantly wider, too, which cover 265-mm wide tires up front, and Hellcat Widebody-rivaling 305-mm wide tires in the back. The added grip is supplemented by stiffer springs and retuned anti-roll bars and shocks. The front splitter and rear … [Read more...] about Jaguar XE SV Project 8 is a 592-horsepower monster
I know someone considering a new Corolla for his kid. I said “before you pull the Corolla trigger, you might want to check out the Hyundai Ela --” and before I could finish my sentence he said, “Yeahno. A Hyundai ain’t gonna happen. They’re just bad cars.” That’s not true, but even though we’ve written story after story on Hyundai’s improvements, there’s still a stigma that it makes cheap cars that aren’t as good as the competition.This Elantra Sport is a perfect example why that reputation might be lingering. The car is OK, but if you think of it in terms of a Mazda 3 or VW Golf, it’s simply not good enough.Why not? After all, the Sport offers some big-time quote unquote improvements over lesser Elantras, like the more powerful turbo-four, multi-link rear suspension and upgraded brakes. So what’s the problem? The Sport is an almost car: Almost fast enough, handles almost well enough, the … [Read more...] about 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport review: A good effort in a tough class
WHAT WE LIKE: When cars fix themselves. Remember the noises we kept hearing from under the Jaguar’s hood, detailed in our last update? We’re not hearing them anymore. Various staffers had thought they might be coming from the supercharger, or something rattling around in the intake manifold, or maybe a pulley bearing. In our last update, the dealer replaced a pulley and both fuel pumps, and yet the gravelly noise didn’t disappear. Well, at least not right away. Because here we are, thousands of miles and months later and either we’ve developed Stockholm syndrome or the car isn’t sounding so defective now. There’s still a fair bit of supercharger whine, and you’d never confuse the XE’s intake sound with that of a Lexus—or a Porsche, for that matter—but it doesn’t sound like anything is amiss. Maybe now those of us who really like driving the XE can convince the ones who have been avoiding the car to give it another … [Read more...] about 2017 Jaguar XE