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Lexus jumps head first into turbocharging with its 2015 NX 200t

07/07/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Tech, Crossovers/CUVs, Lexus, Luxury, Deep Dive

2015 Lexus NX 200t engine

If Lexus is going to stay competitive, it needs to turbocharge sooner rather than later.

If there's anything that Lexus is experienced with, thanks in large part to its corporate parents at Toyota, it's hybrid powertrains. The automaker has hybridized tiny little four-cylinder engines, massive honkin' V8s and everything in between. So synonymous are hybrids and Lexus that it would be a shock to see a brand-new model released without an accompanying version with blue badging and a little "h" appendage to its name.

What Lexus is not known for, on the other hand, is turbocharging. Once a domain populated largely by smaller, higher-end niche European purveyors like Saab and Volvo, all realms of the automotive sphere are now turning to downsized engines with power levels restored through the use of forced induction. If Lexus is going to stay competitive with the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, not to mention maintain a lead over less enthusiast-oriented rivals like Lincoln and Buick, it's going to need to incorporate turbochargers sooner rather than later.

And that brings us to the 2015 Lexus NX 200t. As the marque's first foray into gasoline turbocharging, the NX and its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mark a turning of the tides at Lexus that we the media, automobile shoppers and competitors alike will be watching with keen attention. Keep reading below for more on this pivotal engine and some firsthand impressions of its performance.

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2015 Ford Edge debuts with fresh tech inside and out

06/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Crossovers/CUVs, Ford, Design/Style, Deep Dive

Edge will be the first Ford-badged product to come standard with EcoBoost power.

Ford officially unveiled the all-new, third-generation Edge today at its Dearborn home, announcing that the latest version of the popular crossover will ride on the same CD4 architecture that underpins the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ. The Edge will also be the first Ford-badged product to come standard with EcoBoost power.

The most noticeable thing about the 2015 Edge is, of course, its all-new sheetmetal. The exterior shows a rather substantial change from the second-generation CUV, sporting something new from each visible angle. The back of the vehicle offers the most dramatic departure, with a steep rake to the rear window and a body-spanning taillight array that's not unlike what we've seen on the Lincoln MKC (though in fairness the design appears to borrow more heavily from the Fusion). This aggressive rear is most apparent in the car's profile, although our first impression wasn't positive from every angle. The front end looks somewhat questionable to our eyes, lacking the drama of the rear while appearing narrower, taller and less athletic. The new hexagonal grille is slatted as per Edge convention, but this time around, it's framed by lights that can seem a bit large.

Inside, the changes are far less dramatic. The cabin will be largely familiar fare to owners of the current-generation model. The instrument cluster retains the same dual displays of the current model, while the center stack has been given a light redo. Gone are the controversial touch-capacitive switchgear that were found on high-end versions of the second-gen Edge. Overall, changes in the cabin focus on material quality, and it strikes us as healthy improvements over the current vehicle.

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Deep Dive: 2015 Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4

02/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Geneva Motor Show, Lamborghini, Luxury, Deep Dive

Lamborghini Huracan

We're comfortable ranking the new Lambo with a score of "Monica Bellucci" on the scale of Italian hotness.

We're fresh from the heart of the Lamborghini headquarters in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy, where Italian and German executives have been beaming like proud papas in front of their soon-to-debut Huracán LP 610-4. The successor to the ultra-successful Lamborghini Gallardo will have its coming out party at the Geneva Motor Show next week, but there's no need to wait any longer for the details of this hotly anticipated model.

We, like many of you, have of course seen the Huracán in photos and videos before now, but it's safe to say the that the car makes a far stronger impact in the metal than it does in pixels. While the bodywork doesn't lack for the kind of metal origami that made the Gallardo so attractive, the Huracán contrasts areas of soft curvature against hard lines to great effect. We're comfortable ranking the new Lambo with a score of "Monica Bellucci" on the scale of Italian hotness (for those grading at home, that's just one below "Sophia Loren").

Designer Filippo Perini described the overarching hexagonal theme to the design details, pointing out that even the shape of the bodywork around the windows (which he referred to as the "Egyptian Eye") was penned with six sides. Continue to look at images of the Huracán and you'll see hexagons inside and out, with the interior especially bedecked with similarly shaped accents. The bodywork functions as well as it attracts, too, with a three-percent reduction of drag versus Gallardo and a whopping fifty-percent increase in downforce - all without using active aerodynamics, we should point out.

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Deep Dive: 2015 Lincoln Navigator puts on a brave face, offers EcoBoost V6 only

01/23/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Chicago Auto Show, SUVs, Lincoln, Luxury, Deep Dive

2015 Lincoln Navigator

Lincoln has finally given its SUV a facelift after seven long years.

Seven years is a long time. It represents a year of a dog's life and is long enough to cover high school and most of college for the average human. For the auto industry, though, seven years is an absolute eternity. Most vehicles receive clean-sheet redesigns within the span of seven years, usually getting a facelift of some sort after year three or four. Not Lincoln.

Nope, believe it or not, Lincoln has sold the same vehicle since 2007, adding little more than small mechanical tweaks or new paint options. Yes, we're talking about the Navigator, a full-size sport utility vehicle that hasn't felt fresh and competitive for a while. That's now changed, as Lincoln has finally given its SUV a facelift for model year 2015.

It hasn't changed dramatically, though. This is still a big, luxury-oriented SUV. It's a body-on-frame vehicle, designed to tow and relax in equal measure. After seeing it in person at a closed backgrounder ahead of its Chicago Auto Show debut, we're left wondering if maybe Lincoln still has any business playing in the realm of the Mercedes-Benz GL, Cadillac Escalade and Range Rover. You can make up your own mind on that front. But while you're doing that, have a look below at just what Lincoln has done to freshen the 2015 Navigator.

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Deep Dive: 2015 Chrysler 200 sheds its frumpy past, V6 comes with AWD standard

01/13/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Detroit Auto Show, Sedans/Saloons, Chrysler, Luxury, Deep Dive

2015 Chrysler 200

The 2015 200 is the automotive equivalent of an ugly duckling turning into a swan.

In 2004, Chrysler's fullsize offerings were the lamentable Concorde and 300M - a pair of bloated, plasticky barges that hadn't received significant attention since before the dawn of the new millennium. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Chrysler unveiled its new 300, which rode on the bones of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class and had the look of a Rolls-Royce with a thug-life upbringing. It was cool.

That coolness, though, never really found its way into the Sebring/200, a car that has been very nearly as poor as the Concorde and 300M that preceded the current 300. Now, though, Chrysler may have pulled off the same trick it used back in 2004 with the all-new 2015 200. Look at that car above - you're looking at the automotive equivalent of an ugly duckling turning into a swan.

No longer does the 200 look like a cursed rental car, it looks like something you'd actually want to drive. And while we're not able to render a verdict on just how good the behind-the-wheel experience is (yet), this Deep Dive should provide a helpful primer on just about everything relating to the new model. As always, check in later today for our coverage of the 2015 200 live from its debut at the 2014 North American International Auto Show, but be sure to get up to speed by following along below.

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Deep Dive: 2015 Porsche Macan Turbo

01/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Crossovers/CUVs, Porsche, Luxury, Deep Dive

2014 Porsche Macan

The misinformation first started back in May of 2007 - more than six years ago - when word came that Porsche was developing a compact utility vehicle to fill out its product line. Rumors swirled that the German automaker's future "Roxster" would be based on the then-upcoming Audi Q5. By September of 2010, the name had changed to "Cajun," but the vehicle was still expected to be "based heavily on the Audi Q5," said reports in the months that followed. One year later, the first test mules were spotted, the mechanics hidden beneath barely disguised Audi sheetmetal, which did nothing to give the upcoming model its own identity. And even after Porsche announced "Macan" as the vehicle's production name in early 2012, articles stated that it would "arrive on the same chassis as the Audi Q5, though with suspension, brake and engine tweaks suitable to the Porsche range."

It's no wonder that most still consider the all-new Porsche Macan nothing more than a heavily massaged Q5.

To help lift some of the mystery surrounding its latest release, Porsche hosted us in Germany for an in-depth look at its new crossover (while Europeans call it a "sport utility," its car platform allows us to call it a proper CUV). The technology workshop offered us insight to the design and mechanical execution, and it concluded with a short test ride. The trip was both enlightening and educational - and it left us with a whole new perspective on the Macan.

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Deep Dive: 2015 BMW M3 Sedan, M4 Coupe are officially revealed [w/video]

12/12/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Videos, BMW, Luxury, Deep Dive

BMW announces the 2015 M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe.

The new 3.0-liter inline-six makes 425 turbocharged horsepower from 5500 rpm all the way up to 7300 rpm.

BMW has announced the 2015 M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe, high-performance versions of the new 3 Series and 4 Series that launched this year. The new Ms have stirred controversy in a variety of ways, but one must remember that the M cars traditionally don't follow a specific mold.

Back in 1988, BMW launched the M3 with a high-revving four-cylinder engine even though the top non-M 3 Series model was equipped with an inline-six. The reason: the little four-banger weighed less. The power-dense 2.3-liter four produced 197 horsepower, which was enough to make the original M3 one of the most sought after performance BMWs of all time. Two successive generations of M3 stepped up the cylinder count to six and provided a nice bump in power, and the M3 that came after them was equipped with a screaming V8. The M3's history dictates that M cars aren't about staying the same - they're meant to push limits - and M Motorsport engineers decided that the new M3 Sedan and M4 Coupe would push limits best with a twin-turbocharged inline-six.

For those of you worried that the new mill will underwhelm, on paper it outperforms the last M3's 4.0-liter V8 in a number of areas, including weighing 22 pounds less. The new 3.0-liter inline-six makes 425 turbocharged horsepower from 5,500 rpm all the way up to 7,300 rpm - just 300 rpm before the redline is reached. That's five more horsepower than the V8, but more importantly, the 1800-rpm powerband is very broad. Torque from the turbo six is even more impressive: peak torque of 406 pound-feet starts at 1850 rpm and doesn't start falling off until 5,500 rpm, right when the engine starts to make peak horsepower. That compares very favorably to the V8's oft-bemoaned max torque of just 295 lb-ft.

Score one for the turbo M.

Continue reading 2015 BMW M3 Sedan, M4 Coupe are officially revealed [w/video]

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Deep Dive: 2015 Ford Mustang GT [w/videos]

12/05/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Ford, Design/Style, Deep Dive

2015 Ford Mustang

It'd be unwise to bet against the sixth generation of this legendary nameplate.

The 2015 Ford Mustang is assuredly the most anticipated new vehicle of the year. The redesigned Pony Car has been the subject of frantic gossiping and covert spy photos covering everything from the way it looks to the tech it will include, its performance, mechanicals and a bevy of other aspects of Ford's performance icon.

And now, we've had our first look at it. In a closed backgrounder at Ford's headquarters, we crawled over every inch of the new Mustang in an all-too-short look at the muscle car that will carry the company's performance flag through the rest of the decade. We've now witnessed what is arguably the most comprehensive refit of the Mustang in its 50-year history. We're still months away from our first drive, but after seeing it in the flesh and learning about its systems and mechanicals, it'd be unwise to bet against the sixth generation of this legendary nameplate.

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Deep Dive: 2015 Ford Mustang [w/videos]

12/05/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Ford, Design/Style, Deep Dive

2015 Ford Mustang

It'd be unwise to bet against the sixth generation of this legendary nameplate.

The 2015 Ford Mustang is assuredly the most anticipated new vehicle of the year. The redesigned Pony Car has been the subject of frantic gossiping and covert spy photos covering everything from the way it looks to the tech it will include, its performance, mechanicals and a bevy of other aspects of Ford's performance icon.

And now, we've had our first look at it. In a closed backgrounder at Ford's headquarters, we crawled over every inch of the new Mustang in an all-too-short look at the muscle car that will carry the company's performance flag through the rest of the decade. We've now witnessed what is arguably the most comprehensive refit of the Mustang in its 50-year history. We're still months away from our first drive, but after seeing it in the flesh and learning about its systems and mechanicals, it'd be unwise to bet against the sixth generation of this legendary nameplate.

Continue reading 2015 Ford Mustang [w/videos]

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Deep Dive: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: Everything there is to know [w/video]

01/14/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Detroit Auto Show, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, Chevrolet, GM, Design/Style, Deep Dive

2013 is shaping up to be a frantic year for Chevrolet, with over a dozen reveals and launches on its calendar. New iterations of the most financially and emotionally important vehicles to the brand are launching little more than a few weeks apart - the 2014 Silverado (financially) and the 2014 Corvette (emotionally). Better than any other models, these two lines form the bedrock for the Bowtie's identity and bookend its portfolio. The pickup is the backbone of the brand's profits (and indeed, those of General Motors) and the Corvette is its spiritual core and flagship.

The 2014 Corvette Stingray will slay a few sacred cows.

It's fair to say that upon first impression, the new Silverado didn't exactly bowl over the assembled media - or the Autoblog commenteriat - with what many see as largely incremental improvements. (This, at a time when rivals are rewriting the book on what it means to be a full-size pickup). By contrast, the 2014 Corvette Stingray will slay a few sacred cows along the way to what is its arguably its biggest model-over-model change in decades. And at least at first glance, the Vette appears all the better for it.

We'll get to the specifics of its genetic makeup and appearance in a minute, but for now, you'll want to focus on these key bits: The all-new LT1 small-block V8 holds on to the same 6.2-liter displacement as the C6, here producing 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque backed by either a seven-speed manual or a six-speed paddleshift automatic. And although GM has yet to release the car's weight (we only know it won't be under 3,000 pounds as previously rumored), it's promising a better power-to-weight ratio than the Porsche 911 Carrera and Audi R8. In fact, Chevy pledges the C7 will run from 0-60 in less than four seconds and Z51 Performance Package examples will achieve cornering grip of over one g right out of the box. Further, 60-0 braking distances are said to be consistent with that of the outgoing Grand Sport and so are its lap times - impressive for a standard model.

Continue reading 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: Everything there is to know [w/video]

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