Archive for January, 2016
I just wanted to take a quick moment to discuss what Ford is doing right now, and how excited that should make all of us. We recently took a trip out to the city of Detroit (home of the blue oval) for the North American International Auto Show where, once again, I was blown away by what Ford was doing. I also learned that the auto show attracted some 815,000+ people this year which is a completely different point but nonetheless makes me happy for the auto industry in general. Ford had an amazing display with all the the latest and greatest including the new Ford Fusion, which will be a 325hp AWD sedan that should blow away the competition.
So back to my original point in that Ford is onto something special right now and I truly think this is a great enhancement for the auto industry in general. I mean look at the lineup that Ford is bringing to the table right now. Cars, trucks and SUVs that are everyday capable vehicles that are reliable and, in some regards, the best selling vehicle (cough, cough F-150) for almost the last 40 years. Then look at all this excitement they are building and that really is what this article is all about. Let me start at the so called, “bottom” and work my way up.
Now that we’ve had some time to decompress from the craziness that was North American International Auto Show Week, we figured we’d go back through some of our photos from the show to bring you a select few highlights and also some of the disappointments we saw in Detroit. With at least 20 new unveilings at NAIAS in addition to the hundreds of brand new cars decorating the manufacturers’ booth, it was hard to pick just one favorite. So here’s our list of the Hots and the Nots.
HOT: Mazda MX-5 Speedster Concept
We already love the new MX-5, but the skunkworks team at Mazda took an extreme lightweighting approach to this build for show car for SEMA and removed the windshield and convertible top, saving 250 lbs in the process. The wheels have been replaced by lightweight forged wheels and the interior has been suitably stripped out as well. Although it’s unlikely Mazda would ever put an honest sub-2,000 lb Miata into production, we’d still love to get behind the wheel of this thing!
NOT: Chevrolet Bolt
Switching gears a bit, the Chevy Bolt is the EV city-car hatchback take on Tesla’s upcoming Model 3. With a base price of around $30,000 after federal tax credits, it won’t exactly be cheap. Hopefully buyers can look past the price tag and understand that getting 200 miles of range and lightweight aluminum construction isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. It’s just not what we’d call… um… pretty.
HOT: Buick Avista Concept
“That’s a Buick?!” We heard this remark from a number of people on the show floor and must admit, it’s certainly a strikingly beautiful vehicle. This certainly isn’t your grandpa’s Buick. This sexy coupe could potentially be put into production on the same chassis as the Chevy Camaro and Cadillac ATS, and use a slightly detuned version of the CTS V-Sport’s twin-turbocharged V6 to put out around 400 horsepower. For now, it’s just a concept but we’re honestly excited for the day Buick builds this thing!
NOT: Mercedes-Benz E-Class and SLC-Class
While the new E-Class is the best midsize sedan the company has ever built, had we not looked at the badges, we never would’ve guessed that it wasn’t either the C-Class or the S-Class. Aside from changes in wheelbase and options, they all look nearly identical. It’s a problem that has plagued their competitor Audi for ages, and now Mercedes has fallen into the same trap, it would seem. To top it off, the new SLC replaces the SLK Convertible and while it’ll surely be the best small convertible they’ve ever built, we’re disappointed that they ditched the V8 in the top SLK 55 model and now uses a twin-turbo V6 that offers 54 less horsepower than the engine it replaces.
HOT: Lincoln Continental
We went nuts over the Continental Concept last year, and the refreshed MKZ in LA. Now, Lincoln has finally given us a production version of the Continental that we were all hoping for and it’s absolutely gorgeous. While it doesn’t come with the classy blue suede slippers of the concept car, it’s still about as suave as you can get. We especially love the jewel-like headlights, the touch-activated door handles, and yes, even the blue leather-lined interior.
HOT: 2017 Ford Fusion Sport
We already love the Fusion sedan so we certainly won’t complain about 325 hp and AWD to the mix! The styling is a pretty mild evolution of the current Fusion with a little Focus mixed in for good measure. Now we just need to get our hands on one to see if the “Sport” name fits the driving experience.
HOT: Ford GT pre-production model
This is it! The 99% production-ready Ford GT! In terms of exterior styling, what you’re looking at is the 2017 Ford GT. The interior has some trim bits that are still up in the air but this is more or less what you can expect to see later this year as the Ford GTs start hitting the streets. We also managed to get the first footage of the Ford GT going into Race Mode! Plus, this stormtrooper’ed out version looks stunningly good in person.
NOT: GMC Acadia
The new GMC Acadia is surely a practical day-to-day car that provides comfort and security on the road for you and your passengers but look at it. It’s not exactly awe-inspiring. Vehicles like this are the definition of automotive purgatory. We’ll pass.
HOT: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
If you’re looking for a more inspiring people mover, we recommend checking out the new Chrysler Pacifica. It’s a bold, new look for what had been the Town & Country, and given all the new tech under the skin, it deserved a new name. How many minivans do you know of that can get 80 MPG and 530 mile range?!
HOT: 2017 Lexus LC500
Our first thought when we saw this was that Lexus had just rolled out another recycled concept car from the a couple years ago. They promptly corrected us though that this stunning, 467-hp, V8-powered sports car is not just a pipe dream. This is an actual production LC500 as it will appear in dealership showrooms later this year.
HOT: Beefy Off-Road Trucks (Nissan Titan Warrior Concept, Ford Raptor SuperCrew, Ram Rebel)
We’re suckers for a good, solid truck. And it doesn’t get any more solid than the Ford Raptor, right? Well, it seems at least a few manufacturers, including Ford themselves, are trying to improve upon the hot new off-road adventure truck segment. What surprised us the most was Nissan’s attempt with the new Titan Warrior concept. It was big and meaty looking, like a 20oz Porterhouse on wheels.
NOT: Infiniti Q60
We’re not sure what it is about the Q60 that is so uninspiring but despite it bring a 400-hp 2-door coupe, we just can’t get excited about it. Maybe it’s just because Infiniti has never had much of a reputation of making cars that are as dynamically pleasing to drive as they are to look at, or because there are just so many competent cars competing for the crown in this segment.
HOT: Genesis G90
Hyundai’s brand-new luxury spin-off brand is betting on the new Genesis G90 going head to head with the current king of luxury sedans: the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. While we’ve been skeptical of the Korean giant really backing up its claims of world-class luxury, the G90 might just be the car to prove us wrong. If only the name weren’t so generic…
One of the most common questions we hear from car buyers here in Minnesota is All Wheel Drive versus 4 Wheel Drive – what’s the difference? Is there even one? The short answer to that question is yes, but it’s an important distinction to make for a few reasons. Let’s take a look at the differences between each system:
For those that prefer reading to watching a video, here’s an explanation of AWD vs 4WD in text-based format:
On paper, AWD and 4WD both mean that all four wheels get power, although each system does so a different way. The primary difference is that AWD uses a specialized mechanism in the center of the car that distributes the power to both the front and rear, sometimes equally and sometimes biased towards one end or the other depending on road conditions. This allows you to accelerate better in inclement conditions such as snow or ice.
Notice that I only said accelerate – it’s a common misconception that AWD and 4WD will help you stop and turn in snow and ice. That is absolutely not the case. Outfitting your car with proper winter tires is really the only way to enhance your vehicle’s stopping and turning capabilities during the winter months. To learn more about why winter tires are so important, take a look here.
Now that we’ve defined AWD, let’s take a look at 4WD. Unlike AWD, you can manually put it in a two-wheel drive mode (called 2H) that operates like a RWD vehicle. Alternately, you can put it in what’s called 4H, or 4-high. 4-high is intended for higher speeds and everyday street driving. When you put your car into 4H you connect both axles to the powertrain and maintain the same gear ratios as when you’re driving in 2H.
The main difference between 4WD and AWD is another separate mode called 4L, or 4-low. In 4-low you actually engage a set of gears in a transfer case that changes the gear ratio, providing extra torque to all 4 wheels at low speeds. This isn’t particularly useful on the street, but if you’re stuck in deep snow or mud, doing a little off-roading, or hauling your neighbor out of a ditch this is the best way go.
So there you have it – the difference between AWD and 4WD. You might say that an AWD vehicle paired with a set of winter tires is a good choice for the casual commuter who wants some added driving security during the winter, while a 4WD vehicle is a little more specialized and situationally competent.
Well that went fast! Here we are at the end of a very long second day at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI. While most of the big reveals happened yesterday, today was a great opportunity to check out a few new things like the all-new, production-ready Lincoln Continental and the Acura Precision concept, as well as doubling back on anything we might’ve missed in yesterday’s madness. We also saw the new Honda Ridgeline pickup, GMC Acadia, Infiniti Q60 Coupe, Audi’s H-Tron Concept as well as the new Allroad, and the big, boxy, and beautiful Kia Telluride SUV concept. The most interesting car of Day 2 was the dorky little Toyota Kikai concept. It’s a compact 3-seater with exposed engine and suspension that looks more off-road buggy than compact city car but we applaud Toyota for trying something weird and different. We were also blown away by Ford’s demonstration of the new GT’s Race Mode which drops the car on its wheels and raises up a gloriously aerodynamic wing that doubles as an air brake. Mind = blown!
We’re out here at the 2016 North American International Auto Show here in Detroit, MI this week and it surely didn’t disappoint. Day 1 is usually chock full of big reveals and included the updated Ford Fusion, including a 325 HP, AWD Sport model we’re excited about, as well as Raptor-fighting Nissan Titan “Warrior” Concept truck which looked awesome. We also Hyundai spin off it’s luxury brand Genesis with the new Genesis G90 to replace the Equus, while the G80 takes over the original Genesis sedan in the new lineup. Other notable debuts from Monday included the new BMW M2, a 365 hp small sedan, Volkswagen’s Tiguan GTE Concept that looked just as ready to tackle the Dakar Rally as it did the shopping mall, Porsche unveiled the new 911 Turbo and Turbo S, Buick debuted a surprisingly gorgeous 400 hp coupe based on the Camaro, and Lexus rolled out the LC500 and LC-FC, the former is a shockingly beautiful production-ready sports coupe with a 467 hp V8 while the latter is an elegant hybrid sedan. For us, the highlights of the show was actually the production-ready version of the incredible Ford GT that we saw debut here in concept form last year, and the new MX-5 Speedster concept that Mazda rolled out at SEMA this past November. But enough from us, take a look at the photos below and tell us which cars you like! We’ll be back tomorrow to recap Day 2 of the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
January 11th marks the start of the 2016 North American International Auto Show (or NAIAS for short) in Detroit, Michigan. As always, we’ll be there, live on the show floor for the press days to bring you all of the latest and greatest live from the show floor. While details have been pretty sparse this year as to what exactly is going to be revealed, most manufacturers like to keep tight-lipped and surprise us. For instance, Ford absolutely shocked everyone with a huge reveal of not only the new Shelby GT350R and Raptor but also the new Ford GT supercar, without leaking anything ahead of time. From what we have heard, there’s a good chance we’ll see an updated Ford Fusion, a production-ready Lincoln Continental, an all-new Hyundai Genesis G90 sedan, a spin-off model of the new Nissan Titan, and some new concepts from Volkswagen.