Category Archives: Report

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.

Honda Civic Si Torque Figure Revealed

With all the attention focused on the range topping Civic Type R, its easy to forget that the Japanese car maker is also preparing to unleash an updated Civic Si to appeal to budget minded enthusiasts. Honda has kept the bulk of the details under wraps so far, but it appears that this tight cloak of secrecy is beginning to unravel.

While it is currently unknown how much horsepower the next generation Civic Si will produce, an email that was sent to a prospective buyer has revealed the amount of torque that the upcoming model will produce. The message was posted on the CivicX forum last Thursday, and proclaims “The all new Civic Si features a turbocharged engine and 192 lb-ft of torque, making your everyday errands more exciting than ever.

If this figure is true, then the 1.5 liter turbocharged engine that will be powering the Si will be significantly less potent than the 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder that will be powering the Type R. For reference, the Type R’s engine will produce 295 lb-ft of torque. As a matter of fact, this figure is actually not that much higher than the 177 lb-ft of torque wielded by the Civic Hatchback Sport.

However, look for the Si to stand out from that model by offering more horsepower with early projections suggesting that it will have at least 200 horsepower versus the 180 horsepower that the Sport possesses.  This would also support Honda’s plans to formally revive its performance intentions, and create ample separation in performance numbers for each of its models.

Despite this relatively modest figure, 192 lb-ft is still an impressive number from a 1.5 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine, and it would also finally resolve the lack of torque that defined older iterations of the Si, which embraced higher rev limits and a pure naturally aspirated layout in terms of power delivery.

Dodge Demon Teases Exhaust Note [Video]

Dodge is at it again, and has unleashed a new teaser video that puts the spotlight on the soundtrack that highlights the Demon’s exhaust system, while also revealing yet another cryptic code.

Dubbed “No Pills,” the video highlights the novel solution that Dodge engineers created to control the immense levels of torque generated by the Demon’s souped up engine (a make it or break it factor out on the dragstrip.)

To help keep things under control, Dodge engineers have equipped the Demon with an all new torque reverse launch system that allows the engine to build up boost without scorching the tires or the brakes. When paired with the sticky Nitto drag radials, and the suspension tweaks Dodge has made, it should produce some mean quarter mile times at the drag strip.

The magic here is how the system works, and it is pretty straightforward when in use. Essentially a bypass valve on the supercharger closes, “prefilling” the blower with boost as a result. To help keep the torque and revs balanced, the onboard computer can regulate fuel flow as well as the spark at each indvidual cylinder.

 

The system kicks in when Launch Mode is initiated, and the engine is turning at least 1,000 RPM. The goal here is to reach peak boost quicker, while also delivering power more efficiently to the ground at the same time, a winning combination in drag racing.

A side effect though is that it also gives the Demon a very distinctive exhaust note, with Dodge freely admitting that it may make it seem like the Demon is broken, even though it really isn’t. For those who are curious, Dodge has even released a ringtone version of the noise which can be easily mistaken for a blown phone speaker.

Rounding out the festivities is a new license code (3.9 + 221 = 405) that is just a cryptic as the first one that was released. Other teasers have floated the numbers 757 and 815 repeatedly, and we suspect the former figure is the torque while the 815 could be the new horsepower rating (a 108 horse gain if proven true.

 

 

Ford, Magna Develop New Carbon Fiber Subframe

The quest for higher fuel economy has forced many automakers to explore alternative solutions to overcome this dilemma with Ford and Magna revealing an interesting solution to this challenge that could redefine the way we think about vehicle underpinnings.

Unlike the bulk of new technologies that focus on the engine compartment, Ford and Magna’s new innovation focuses on the vehicle’s subframe, with the new unit embracing carbon fiber construction versus traditional steel.

In addition to the obvious weight savings this provides, the new frame also uses fewer pieces, and has simpler construction than before. This is thanks to the elimination of 45 steel pieces which are replaced with two molded parts and four metallic mounting points. This slashes the part count by 87 percent, and the moldings even use high strength adhesives and rivets to help hold the entire unit together. Magna also revealed that despite the 34 percent drop in weight, the prototype frame does not skimp on safety, and will not sacrifice rigidity or crash worthiness.

Currently Magna is producing the subframes for continued development and testing at Ford. The auto giant will evaluate factors such as corrosion, stone chip resistance, as well bolt load retention. Look for elements of this technology to eventually trickle into production vehicles though it could be a while before the cost and feasibility challenges are surpassed for mass vehicle production.

GM Announces Sale of Opel/Vauxhall To PSA

Confirming long suspected rumors and speculation that such a deal was indeed in the works, GM officially revealed that it has sold both Opel and its British cousin Vauxhall to PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) ahead of the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

The €2.2 billion sale marks the end of an era for GM, with the automaker completly leaving the European market after a decades long presence. While both Vauxhall and Opel had considerable history in the British and German markets respectively, they also transformed into a colossal money pit for GM in recent years, with both brands not being able to make a profit in the last sixteen years.

This is despite the shuttering of Chevrolet’s European sales division two years ago, which was supposed to give new life to lagging Opel sales, but ultimately failed to achieve the turnaround GM wanted.

GM revealed that it will still be involved with Opel via its rights to purchase warrants of PSA shares, which could resolve some issues regarding the use of GM technologies in the current lineup of Opel/Vauxhall models.

As for PSA, the French auto giant believes that it can return Opel to profitability by 2020 thanks to slashes in research and development costs, as well as the sharing of platforms and technologies across their portfolio of brands.

PSA CEO Carlos Tavarres, the man who helped Peugeot and Citroen rise from the brink of collapse a few years ago, is confident that he could pull the same feat for struggling Opel and its British sibling Vauxhall.

“We are confident that the Opel/Vauxhall turnaround will significantly accelerate with our support, while still respecting the commitments made by GM to the Opel/Vauxhall employees.” stated Tavarres in an online statement.

The U.S. market will feel some of the ripple effect from this action, since many of Buick’s product offerings like the Cascada and Encore trace their roots to Opel based products. GM revealed that PSA will continue to honor existing supply agreements with Buick and Australia-based Holden, but it could throw a sizable monkey wrench into plans for their next gen replacements, especially those currently on the drawing board.

That said, the next generation Buick Regal could provide an opprotunity for PSA to expand its reach into the U.S. market where its main Peugeot and Citroen brands still have a poor reputation among buyers, versus the more favorable history associated with Buick.

Finally, the deal was preceded by several minor collaboration efforts that took place back in 2012 when GM bought a seven percent stake in PSA. Several Peugeot-Citroen models are already built by Opel and vice versa, with the upcoming Citroen C3 Picasso sharing its components with the Geneva bound Opel Crossland X.

Chevrolet Amps Up The Aggression with 2018 ZL1 LE

Are you looking for more track day performance from the Chevrolet Camaro, and not even the already potent ZL1 model can satiate your need for speed? Chevrolet has unveiled the solution to this unique problem with the all new 2018 ZL1 LE.

ZL1 LE

Building on the standard ZL1, the ZL1 LE was designed to be the ultimate track day Camaro, and also enhances the already popular LE package even further. Chevrolet engineers added an all new suspension that features lightweight components, and the company was quick to point out that owners can easily switch between track and street settings.

The ZL1 LE also features sticky Goodyear tires that were designed to heat up quickly, which translates into higher levels of grip. These tires are wrapped around forged aluminium alloy wheels that are an inch wider and are slightly smaller than the hoops fitted on the standard ZL1 . A key aspect of these rims is that they are actually lighter than the stock units despite their additional width.

ZL1 LE

The exterior styling of the ZL1 LE also sees a host of upgrades that aim to enhance the car’s already solid aerodynamic profile. The front fascia features lower bumper mounted dive planes, while the rear incorporates a massive rear wing.

Performance under the hood has not been altered in this transformation, and the car is still powered by the familiar 650 horsepower supercharged LT4 V8. A six speed manual transmission is the sole offering here though, and features a revised sixth gear ratio.

ZL1 LE

The ZL1 LE is also lighter than the standard coupe, but unlike the stripped out Z/28 model, the ZL1 LE retains a high level of standard equipment, and includes heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, dual zone climate control, and a Bose premium audio system.

The 2018 ZL1 LE is expected to go on sale later this year, with formal pricing information being released before the car begins its full rollout to dealers nation wide. In the meantime, Chevrolet has released a brief video of the ZL1 LE tearing it up in its natural habitat which can be seen below.

 

 

Smart To Go EV Only In U.S. Market

A new report from Daimler owned Smart reveals that the brand will stop selling a large slice of its current lineup in the U.S. and Canada, with only EV models making up the range after 2017.

This decision was shared to Smart dealers via a letter that was written by Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dieter Exler, and was not made public. Automotive News however, managed to obtain a copy of this letter which reveals.

“Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current smart product portfolio,” he explained. “The smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero-emissions smart electric drive coupe and cabrio in the U.S. and Canada.”

Production of the U.S. spec fortwo will cease in April, but sales will continue until the present inventory runs out, which will give dealerships time to sell them to interested buyers. The first deliveries of the electric models will begin this summer, and expect the full rollout to be completed in early fall.

The announcement does not come as a suprise since the brand’s North American sales have been slowly dwindling over the past few years. According to Automotive News, the brand’s, peak sales year was in 2014, when it sold 10,453 cars. Since that time, sales have plummeted, with the brand only selling 6,211 units.

The first generation Smart car was a compelling idea when it first came out, and it managed to have strong success due to the spike in oil prices in 2008. However, with gas prices lower, and demand for SUVs and crossovers on the rise, many Americans were simply not interested in the pint sized two seater.

Smart’s decision to go EV only after 2017 applies to the U.S. and Canada. Buyers in other markets like Europe, will still have access to the current generation fortwo petrol model, which is powered by a Renault sourced three cylinder engine.

2018 Dodge Demon Goes To Extremes In Weight Savings Program

The hype surrounding the 2018 Dodge Demon has been growing ever since Dodge began its meticulous teasing campaign a few weeks ago. This latest bit of news is not a new video, but rather new information that reveals just how far SRT engineers went in their bid to shave precious pounds from the Demon’s flanks.

The current generation Hellcat already pushes the very envelope of sanity, but the Demon aims to completely tear it to pieces. For starters, engineers removed all but the drivers seat which helps remove 113 pounds thanks to the omission of the fore-mentioned seats as well as their associated components. Its safe to assume that Dodge will offer the seats as optional equipment, though we expect it to be limited to the front passenger seat only.

The absence of rear passengers also causes the stereo system to be limited to two front door mounted speakers while the carpet, trunk trim, spare tire cover, as well as the rear parking sensors have been pitched in the name of weight shedding. Lastly, 18 pounds of NVH material has been removed, which means the engine will be the center of your auditory attention when in full song, and make you wonder why the stereo is even along for the ride in the first place?

Manual tilt and telescoping steering gear saves four pounds, and the Demon will come equipped with lighter 18 x 11-inch aluminium wheels with open lug nuts, as well as lighter six piston brakes and a hollowed out sway bar. The grand total is 232 lbs of weight savings, but with Dodge claiming that the figure is 217 lbs, it appears that 17 pounds were added in other areas of the car. Dodge is keeping quiet on where exactly the extra weight went, but look for the answer to eventually be known before the Demon’s New York debut, possibly via a future teaser video.

 

 

2018 Ford Mustang To Boast First Ever 10 Speed Automatic

Ford has big plans for the 2018 Ford Mustang and it shows in the tasteful evolution that the company officially unveiled Tuesday morning in events in Los Angeles and Detroit.

The exterior styling has been revised, and is especially noticeable in the front fascia with a heightened rear spoiler highlighting the rear of the car.

That said, the 2018 Ford Mustang’s biggest changes are found in its performance hardware 2018 Mustangwhich aim to help it stay ahead of the Chevrolet Camaro. The 3.7 liter V6 has been retired, and the engine lineup is slimmed down to two offerings with lower trims being powered exclusively by the 2.3 liter EcoBoost turbocharged four cylinder.

Meanwhile the 5.0 liter “Coyote” V8 carries over and benefits from a suite of advancements that make it more potent and efficient at the same time. A highlight feature is the “dual fuel” system which makes the engine both direct and port injected. Ford did not release any horsepower estimates, but promises that “[i]t is more powerful and revs higher than any Mustang GT before it.”

Both four cylinder and V8 Mustangs recieve a revised manual transmission that features a twin disc clutch and a dual mass flywheel. The 2018 Mustang interiorsix speed automatic joins the V6 in retirement, and is replaced with the same 10-speed automatic that also sees duty in the 2018 F-150.

In addition, the 10-speed is the first such transmission ever equipped to a Mustang, and is the second production 10-speed currently in the muscle car segment (the 2018 ZL1 Camaro is the first.)

Along with the performance upgrades, Ford engineers also upgraded the Mustangs chassis and even added MagneRide suspension damping to the Mustang’s arsenal of tricks. This neat technology is part of the Performance Package and it can be equipped to both four cylinder and eight cylinder models.

As expected, the interior of the 2018 Mustang carries over largely unchanged, but an all new digital instrument cluster is avalible for the first2018 Mustang gauges time as well as pedestrian detection and Pre-collision assist technologies. The rest of the cabin benefits from better soft touch materials, and adds other premium accents to help boost the upscale yet functional vibe the cabin projects.

We look forward to hearing more about the 2018 Ford Mustang soon, and finding out if the new transmission and chassis enhancements allow it to keep ahead of its donestic muscle car rivals the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger.