Category Archives: Report

2019 Ram 1500

Spied: 2019 Ram 1500

It’s not too often we have a chance to encounter upcoming model, but that’s exactly what happened when we had the opprotunity to encounter this 2019 Ram 1500 quad cab tester in the wilds of Michigan.

Being an early stage mule, this particular tester does not shed a whole lot of light on the styling direction that the next generation Ram 1500 will embark on. However, a closer look does showcase glimpses of whats in store. For example the switch from the traditional 5-lug setup to an all new 6-lug arraignment for its wheels could suggest that the new Ram is gaining weight, and that in turn could lead to increased towing and payload capacities.

Extensive interior camoflauge thwarted our efforts to get a clear view of the IP and dashboard. But the appearance of a Chrysler Pacifica derived steering wheel, as well as a mysterious contraption on the front grille could indicate that some of the van’s technologies will carry over to the 2019 Ram 1500. These could include lane keep assist, collision detection software, as well as adaptive cruise control.

Performance hardware is unknown at this juncture, but look for the familiar 3.6 liter V6 and 3.0 liter diesel engine to make their respective returns. The 5.7 liter Hemi V8 however could be axed, and replaced with an all new engine that would embrace turbocharging. This would allow Ram to follow Ford’s lead in this area, while also improving fuel economy.

Look for the 2019 Ram 1500 to eventually make its debut either later this year, or early next year at a future auto show, most likely in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show, or the Chicago Auto Show.

 

Model Y

Tesla Teases Model Y CUV

Following the launch of its Model X SUV, Tesla has released a shadowy teaser image of the next step in its plans to dominate the CUV market the Model Y.

Like Tesla’s other teaser images, this one does not reveal too much detail. However, it does give a preview of the basic styling direction Tesla is trying to achieve with the Model Y, as well as the proportions for the front end. Unlike the Model X, the Y is expected to feature a more traditional apperance, and that could include ditching the X’s glitchy falcon doors for more conventional units.

While the Model Y is based on an all new platform, Tesla admits that the Y will eventually outsell the Model 3 due to the high demand from CUV buyers. Tesla also admitted that it wanted to avoid some of the styling compromises that emerged when designing the Model X.

“I think we really made a mistake trying to derive the design for the Model X from the Model S platform” Musk revealed at a recent shareholders meeting.

Look for the Model Y to also feature a more approachable pricing ladder albeit in the higher end of the CUV segment where it will compete with rivals from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.

Ford Ousts Fields In Management Shakeup

In a move that aims to address a recent slide in Ford’s core automobile shares, The company is set to formally oust CEO Mark Fields, and also shuffle three other excecs in an effort to create a new corporate structure, according to those familiar with the situation.

Jim Hackett the chief of Ford’s autonomus vehicle program will assume full control from Fields, with the company poised to make an announcement later today.

The departure of Fields comes amid a 40 percent slide in Ford’s share price, and slower than expected progress in the development of mobility solutions. This is in contrast to when Fields first took the reigns three years ago from Alan Mually, and promised to bring newfound vigor and vibrancy to Ford’s corporate operations.

Fields departure also comes after he was viciously criticized by investors and members of Ford’s board two weeks ago for the company’s deteriorating financial results. Fields appeared to try and address these failures by cutting 1,400 salaried jobs in the company, but that wasn’t enough to curb the damage that was already done.

Hackett will have plenty of things to do when he formally assumes control of the company. A big project is supercharging Ford’s research into autonomus vehicles. Ford is currently lagging behind larger firms like General Motors, as well as Silicon Valley upstart companies in the race to develop self driving vehicles. Ford originally revealed that it would have a vehicle on the road by 2021, but both GM and Google have beaten Dearborn to the punch with self driving test vehicles.

The strong growth of Tesla in recent years also highlighted how behind Ford was in developing electric vehicles. While the company does have plug-in versions of the Focus and Fusion, the axed Ford C-Max proved to be a sales flop, and Ford still does not have a competitor for the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Hackett will also need to address a 25 percent decline in overall sales especially in compact and mid-size cars, with the company making little if any money on the vehicles it does sell. A wave of safety recalls has also focused unwanted attention on vehicle quality.

The departure of Mr. Fields is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, with three other executives expected to be moved as part of the shakeup. Joseph R. Hinrichs head of Ford’s Americas Division will broaden his role, and become executive vice president of global operations. James D. Farley Jr., who currently oversees Ford Europe, will be appointed head of worldwide marketing and sales. Lastly, Marcy Klevorn (Ford’s chief technical officer) will take over Mr. Hackett’s old posistion at the mobility division.

It will be interesting to see if this corporate shakedown will help improve Ford’s long term performance, and also what models could end up on the chopping block as part of any Hackett motivated turn around plan.

 

BMW Confirms Return Of 8 Series

Following on the heels of BMW’s quiet axing of the 6-Series coupe, the German car maker revealed that it is breathing new life into its long dormant 8-Series moniker in a bid to renew its push into the large luxury coupe market.

For those unfamiliar with the 8-Series, it originally appeared in 1989, and was designed to cater to big coupe buyers looking for a distinctive alternative to the 6-Series. However, its glitchy electronics, as well as the global recession in the 1990s, caused sales to plummet before it was mercifully pulled from the U.S. in 1997, and from Europe in 1999.

BMW accompanied this announcement with a lone teaser image that showcases a sleek side profile, as well as wide rear hips and a raked roofline. These traits are promising, especially since the 8-Series is expected to renew its focus on style and flair. Look for the new model to embrace plenty of cues from the Gran Lusso concept which made its apperance back in 2013, and wowed audiences with its stunning good looks.

BMW claims that the concept in the teaser image is a design study, but expect minimal changes when it makes the transistion to production, and arrive on dealer lots in 2018. A higher price tag will also be part of the package given its status as a flagship offering.

Look for the 7-Series to play a key role in the car’s devlopment, with much of its technology and even its V12 engine making the jump into the bigger 8-Series. The model could also spawn Gran Coupe and M8 versions, though plans for these models are mere rumors at this point.

With the confirmation of the 8- Series, the Mercedes S-Class coupe will have a new rival in its niche segment, and it could very well become a three way fight if seperate rumors of an Audi A9 are indeed true.

 

Mitsubishi Unleashes Blacked Out Lancer Limited Edition

Mitsubishi’s venerable Lancer sedan is getting ready to head to greener pastures in 2017, but that doesn’t mean that the Japanese auto giant is letting it exit with a whimper. Mitsubishi has formally unveiled an all new Lancer variant that adds to bring more style and a few pinches of new technology to sedan buyers.

Dubbed the Lancer Limited Edition, this all new variant is positioned directly above the base ES model, and is designed to help add more style and technology to the Lancer’s value oriented mission. The LE was inspired by the recent emergence of popular blacked out models that are being offered by competitors, and while it will never match the dearly departed Lancer Evolution’s bold styling cues, it does bring some boldness back to the car.

As mentioned earlier, the LE takes its inspiration from other blacked out models and comes equipped with black 16-inch wheels as well as black accents for the roof, upper front grille trim, fender garnish, as well as the door mirrors. These tweaks certainly help the Lancer stand out better in a crowd, though it is still a step behind Nissan’s recently expanded lineup of Midnight Edition offerings.

The interior has also seen its fair share of upgrades, and is swathed in black fabric with red stitching covering the steering wheel, shift knob, parking brake lever, armrests, as well as the door trim. Other goodies include a trim exclusive black headliner, aluminum pedals, and Mitsubishi’s familiar 6.5 inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability.

The Lancer LE will begin arriving in Mitsubishi showrooms later this month with a base price of $19,795. This pricing still puts the Lancer in the lower end of the sedan segment, and should make it a compelling choice for buyers that want a balanced blend of style and technology but don’t want to break the bank in the process.

Hyundai Teases Kona Front Fascia

Hyundai has big plans for its CUV lineup, with the Korean automaker continuing its teaser campaign for the upcoming Kona CUV, which is expected to make its debut in the near future and serve as Hyundai’s entry into the compact CUV segment.

Named after a district on Hawaii’s Big Island, the Kona is designed to appeal to buyers that want a family hauler, but don’t want to step up to bigger entries like the Tuscon and the Santa Fe. Hyundai claims that the Kona has “true SUV genes, progressive design, and premium features.”  That is not a whole lot to go on, but the new teaser image Hyundai released does appear to shed some light on the styling of the Kona, with the soft roader embracing a more dynamic design especially when compared to the decidedly more reserved design language that is seen on Hyundai’s bigger SUV entries.

The LED daytime running lights for example are placed a bit higher than the grille itself, while the headlights are much lower, and are reminiscent of the look achieved by the NIssan Juke and Jeep Cherokee. If we had to grade the Kona on this regard, it would be somewhere in the middle, with the Kona easily outclassing the Juke but falling a bit short of the Jeep. That can change though once Hyundai formally unveils the Kona in all of its unobstructed glory.

Like its exterior styling, the technical aspects that underpin the Kona have also been shrouded in a veil of secrecy. However, it is known that the Kona will follow the general blueprint laid out by others in its segment, and offer front wheel drive as standard equipment, with all-wheel drive being an optional extra. Also expect four cylinder engines to be the dominant engine choice for the Kona, with an automatic possibly being the sole transmission offering available.

The Kona was designed mainly for the European market, with Hyundai hoping that the compact Kona will help the Korean automaker achieve its goal of being the number one automaker in Europe by 2021. This strong focus on the European market also helps add a degree of uncertainty into its apperance in the U.S. market, but Hyundai could eventually change its mind, especially if factors change, and promote a buying enviroment that is favorable to the Kona.

Honda Showcases Clarity Electric and Plug-in Hybrid

The Clarity fuel cell was a big achievement for Honda when the Japanese auto giant first unveiled it several years ago. However, the fuel Cell represented only a small portion of the Clarity’s full potential, and Honda has unveiled the final two members of the Clarity family under the bright lights of the New York International Auto Show, the Clarity Electric and the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid.

The Clarity PHEV is equipped with an ultra efficient 1.5 liter Atkinson cycle engine to generate electricity and directly power the front wheels in certain driving conditions. The engine is capable of delivering 181 horsepower and is paired with a lithium ion battery pack. Honda claims that the PHEV can be driven on all electric power up to 42 miles and achieve up to 42 mpg when the gasoline engine is running.

Meanwhile the Clarity Electric is solely powered by an electric motor that delivers 161 horsepower, and its battery can be fully charged in three hours or up to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes. Honda claims that the Clarity Electric is capable of achieving up to 111 MPGe but curiously its 25.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack is not that much bigger than the plug-in hybrid. This particular figure contributes to the Clarity Electric’s rather modest 80 mile driving range which is one of the lowest in the market and falls short of the Chevrolet Bolt and the Volkswagen e-Golf.

Honda claims that the Clarity Electric compensates for that initial disadvantage by being more spacious and luxurious than any other non-Tesla offering out on the market. It will be interesting to see if this will be enough to win over electric car buyers, but both models feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability as well as sustainable bio-fabric and plastic trim.

Honda revealed that both models are expected to start in the mid-$30,000 range before tax incentives but wheras the PHEV will roll out in all 50 states right out the gate, the Clarity Electric will initially only be available in California and Oregon before eventually rolling out in the remaining 48 states.

Genesis Previews Upcoming SUV Offering With GV80 FCV Concept

Genesis is making great strides in its emergence as a viable luxury brand especially with the G90 and G80 sedans. However, for the brand to truly blossom, Genesis will need CUV/SUV entries to prop up its reputation in the luxury car market.

While it is currently unknown what the production version will look like, Genesis previewed a glimpse at this future with the GV80 concept which showcases a new design language that aims to cement its styling language for years to come.

The two row four seat concept features a bold front fascia that is firmly anchored by the familiar Genesis grille, Unlike other applications of the Genesis grille, the application here has a bolder presence, which is mostly due to the larger real estate that is dedicated to it. This enhanced swagger is accentuated further by a second opening in the lower portion of the grille, which is reminiscent of recently Bentley offerings.

The grille is flanked by two tiered headlights that are made up of rows of separate LED strips. Below these stylish strips are two specially designed “air curtain inlets which flank the 23-inch wheels. The design of the inlets transitions into outlets behind the wheels, which are designed to help cool the hydrogen fuel cells. A pair of matching outlets also appears on the rear fascia.

Meanwhile the interior adopts a two tiered display with a large curved screen that serves as the infotainment and control hub. In addition, a second smaller cluster style display showcases vital driving information. The interior is a technological showcase, but our favorite feature has to be the trusses that Genesis designers used for the side pillars. These trusses are very stylish, and can also be viewed from inside and outside the vehicle.

With the high levels of luxury and technology that the GV80 possesses, we look forward to seeing what the production version will bring to buyers. While the hydrogen fuel cell power train will most likely not make the jump to production, look for the G90’s V6 engines to carryover to the GV80, as well as the eight speed transmission that helps regulate all that power.

Lincoln Ups The Luxury SUV Game With 2017 Navigator

The Lincoln Navigator has been the perfect representation of Lincoln’s fortunes in recent years. When it first appeared in 1997, it literally set the luxury SUV segment ablaze with its slick (for the era) styling as well as its copious amounts of luxury.

All seemed well, that is, until the second generation Escalade came along. The big Caddy quickly outpaced the Navigator in sales, and as a result, the big Lincoln (as well as the brand that supported it) fell further and further behind in relevance. Lincoln understands how crucial the Navigator is to its identity, and has pulled out all the stops to make it shine once again.

The exterior styling will be the first thing that many observers will notice when looking at the 2017 Navigator in full detail. Wheras its predecessor had the elegance of a tacky pair of hoop earrings, the latest Navigator embraces an all new design, and the end result is very stunning to look at. The front fascia borrows the mesh grille from the Lincoln Continental and the big Lincoln star emblem softly glows when the driver walks up to it. The light show is part of a multi stage welcoming routine that also illuminates lights in the lower front fascia, taillights, as well as the puddle lamps. The Navigator also features adaptive headlights that vary their intensity depending on vehicle speeds. Like the Expedition, the Navigator features aluminium body panels which help reduce weight, and also increase its fuel economy.

The interior of the Navigator was designed to embody Lincoln’s “Quiet Luxury” principle, and it is a soft lush space, filled with high end materials, and three rows of ambient lighting. Like the Continental, the Navigator can be equipped with Lincoln’s all new 30-way perfect position seats that offer heating, cooling, and massage elements. The second row seats can be equipped either as a full bench or separate captains chairs. Meanwhile, the third row seats feature power recline technology to help free up room for passengers especially bigger ones.

Rear seat occupants also have an extensive suite of entertainment at their disposal thanks to the dual 10.0 inch screens on the front seatbacks. They can play media streamed from paired Android devices while Sling Media users can receive TV channels through the system. Audiophiles will also be pleased to know that the top tier sound system is a potent 20-speaker Revel II system. Lincoln’s Black Label trim plays a key role in the 2018 Navigator and is the top tier offering in the Navigator lineup. In addition to the standard Black Label trim, the Navigator also has two model exclusive Black Label variants that bring unique design touches to the interior.

Performance for the 2018 Navigator comes from a revised version of the 3.5 liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6 that Lincoln claims is good for 450 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. These figures are roughly on par with the Ford Raptor, and the Navigator also utilizes the same 10-speed automatic to shunt all that power to either the rear or all four wheels.

It will be interesting to see if all these updates can help brighten the Navigator’s sales fortunes once it enters full production. For perspective, Cadillac sold over 27,000 Escalades last year, while Lincoln only sold 10,000 Navigators despite the old model being $11,000 cheaper than the $78,000 MSRP wielded by the base Escalade.

Lexus To Debut LS 500 F Sport In New York

Following on the heels of the LS 500’s debut in Detroit, as well as the Geneva debut of its eco friendly sibling the LS 500h. Lexus has revealed that it will complete the circle with the New York debut of the sport tuned LS 500 F Sport.

Like its siblings, the F Sport will be built on Lexus’s all new GA-L platform which is already the stiffest LS architecture ever produced. Lexus claims that the F Sport will make full use of its stiffness which should translate into possibly offering a tweaked suspension as well as other minor modifications.

The lone teaser image Lexus released does not reveal too much about the exterior styling, but it does confirm that sporty elements will be at the forefront here. These cues include tinted tailights, a gloss black diffuser, intergrated dual exhaust system, and prominent F-Sport badge.

Look for the car to also come equipped with the Lexus Dynamic Handling Package as well as the Lexus Safety System+pack. Beefier brakes help improve stopping distances while a limited slip differential could help sharpen power distribution.

Lexus will be unveiling the LS 500 F Sport on April 12th in New York at the Jacob Javitz Cinvention Center. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest.com for our live coverage of the New York Auto Show including the unveiling of the LS 500 F Sport.