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2015 Aston Martin Vanquish

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Autoblog's ultimate holiday rides

Posted Dec 19th 2014 12:00PM

Our Editors Choose Their Sleds For The Season

Ferrari FF

Over the hills and through the woods, it's the time of year when many of us visit family and friends for the holidays. But getting there can be a chore. It's cold and snowy across much of North America, and even if the climate is favourable, the drive to grandmother's house often is not.

Think back to holiday road trips of yore: They probably included crying babies, antsy children, hungover adults and frequent bathrooms stops all around. Now, we're all at different life stages here at Autoblog, and the perfect car for one staffer might be as useful as a team of Budweiser Clydesdales to another. Some of us bounce from family event to family event with children and a labrador in tow, while others prefer a quieter, simpler holiday. But whatever the endeavour, we all need wheels. With that in mind, here is the unofficial Autoblog list of the ultimate cars in which to tackle the holiday season.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 / AOL

2016 Kia Sorento

Posted Dec 18th 2014 12:00PM

A Little Turbo Spice, A Lot More Nice

2016 Kia Sorento

Teenagers are awkward, predictably provocative and generally horrible to be around – at least unless you, yourself are one. There's just something about those angst-ridden years spent trying on identities, none fitting quite right. Luckily for Kia, the automaker has just celebrated its 20th birthday in America, and fresh out of the driver's seat of its 2016 Sorento – dare we say it – we sense a touch of self-assured maturity. Don't worry; we expect the automaker's antics – including super-freak athletes jumping over an Optima at the NBA All-Star game and the employment of urban hamsters – to continue. Thankfully, offering unremarkable vehicles in pretty competitive segments seems officially a thing of Kia's history e-book.

To be fair, we've seen a pleasing Korean Renaissance for a few years now, and we're not just talking hot pots and bulgogi – 2015 Hyundai Genesis, anyone? Kia Optima SX? Soul? So where exactly does this third-gen 2016 Sorento fit in? Actually, we're not sure Kia knows that either; its product planners tell us that this miraculous crossover competes with variously sized vehicles including the compact Jeep Cherokee, markedly larger Grand Cherokee, and even the family-hauling three-row Toyota Highlander. But Kia is also not completely off its rocker, because the Sorento suffers (benefits?) from severe bipolar disorder in terms of pricing. While you can get a base L model for US$25,795 after delivery – there are five trim levels including L, LX, EX, SX, and top-of-the-line SXL – the fancy SXL 2.0T with all-wheel drive we tested was priced at US$45,305. That's a difference of almost US$20k, with the latter model reaches a completely different, almost premium demographic. (Canadian pricing has yet to be announced. We will update this post once we get word on official numbers.)

And there's more. Sometimes the Sorento seats five, other times it can party hard with seven. There are three very different engine flavors to choose from: a carryover 2.4-litre four-cylinder will greet entry-level buyers with 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. A meatier V6 – good for 290 hp and 252 lb-ft – will come on three-row models only, while the new 2.0-litre turbocharged four option, good for 240 horses and 260 lb-ft comes on two-row models exclusively.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Matthew Askari / AOL

40 Years of BMW captured in awesome 10-second GIF

Posted Dec 17th 2014 7:00PM

Ever wonder how the current BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe evolved from a boxy 1970s classic? If so, this 10-second GIF above does a pretty darn good job of summing it all up right before your eyes. At first glance there seem to be few similarities between the vintage BMWs of the 1960s and 1970s and today's models. Look closer, though, and you can see the clear imprint of a lineage in numerous subtle but persistent details.

"The 4 Series Gran Coupe is like a spaceship in comparison to the 2002," says Erik Goplen, Creative Director, Global Automotive Design at BMW Group DesignworksUSA. "But it's definitely baby steps when you're in the process and in the throes."

To help reveal the continuity of BMW's design history, re:form worked with Remedy Editorial in San Francisco to create animated GIFs connecting over 40 years of car models into a few seconds of video. The set begins with the classic 2002 model BMW, takes in all six iterations of the 3 Series, and culminates with the 4 Series Gran Coupe released this year. Enjoy.

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News Source: BMW / re:form, re:form via

James Bond Spectre movie cars stolen before filming in the Alps

Posted Dec 12th 2014 4:30PM

There's already been a setback for the latest James Bond film, Spectre, as nine customized vehicles built for the new flick were stolen from a garage near Düsseldorf. Hmm, sounds like something a real-life Bond villain would do, right?

The vehicles, five of which were Land Rover Range Rover Sport SUVs, were to be shipped to the Alps, where filming is slated to begin next week, The New York Times reports. So far as we know, the latest and greatest Aston Martin DB10 Bond-mobile hopefully hasn't fallen into the wrong hands too.

The Times also says that German police have no leads in the theft, although we'd suggest questioning actor Javier Bardem who played Bond bad guy Raoul Silva, the cyberterrorist with ridiculous bleached-blond hair in Skyfall.

"We are aware of the theft of a number of Range Rovers in Dusseldorf, Germany," Land Rover UK said in a statement obtained by The Times. "This is a criminal act and the police are carrying out a full investigation."

As of right now, it's not clear if the vehicle theft will lead to a delay in the start of filming the 24th Bond flick and as luck would have it, this isn't the first time 007's had a car from a Bond film disappear.

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News Source: The New York Times

Image Credit: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images / Land Rover

Ford Focus RS will go global and come to North America

Posted Dec 11th 2014 11:30AM

Ford Focus RS

"We are transforming our approach to performance." – Mark Fields

Ford will launch a new high performance Focus RS around the world, company CEO Mark Fields confirmed at a press conference Thursday morning. Exact launch timing is unclear as of this writing.

"We are transforming our approach to performance," Fields said.

The RS will serve as a hotter variant of the Focus, which will be redesigned next year as part of Ford's 16 product launches. Our spy photographers have already captured images of a purported RS, which you can see above.

Ford currently sells an ST model as the sportiest Focus. It runs a turbocharged, 252-horsepower four-cylinder that's paired with a six-speed manual transmission. It also has chassis and design upgrades to reinforce its athletic dynamics. The most recent intel suggests that the new RS could use Ford's 2.3-litre turbo-four, tuned to anywhere from 325 to 350 hp. All-wheel drive is also rumoured to be part of the new RS formula.

We'll have more details about the new Focus RS as they become available, possibly later today, as Ford's press conference continues.

Image Credit: CarPix

Couple use exotic supercar collection to make sick children smile

Posted Dec 10th 2014 11:00AM

Portland, Oregon couple Eric Peterson and his wife Amity own ten exotic supercars and, they "didn't want the cars to sit," says Amity. So instead of attending exotic car track days or making regular trips to Cars 'n' Coffee meets, they started a project called Dream Drives for Kids, which brings ill youngsters to the Peterson garage and takes them for a ride in the supercar of their choice. The couple aims to take a new kid for a ride every week.

Portland's KGW news covered the project while a four-year-old named Gideon, who has a rare childhood melanoma, stopped by for a memorable jaunt in a McLaren MP4-12C. And Gideon's a champ in his own right: the kid likes cars so much he would take Hot Wheels to other sick children in the ward, and he gave the Petersons a box of Hot Wheels gift sets to give to other children when they come for rides.

You can watch the heartwarming segment in the video below and take a flip through the full photo gallery from the Dream Drives For Kids Facebook album.

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News Source: Eric Peterson, Motor Authority via YouTube

Image Credit: Dream Drives For Kids via Facebook

2015 Polaris Slingshot [w/video]

Posted Dec 9th 2014 12:00PM

Unfiltered Fun For The Price Of A Honda Civic

2015 Polaris Slingshot

Because I'm a reasonable human being and firmly believe that vehicle styling is a subjective matter, I drew some perspective on my borrowed 2015 Polaris Slingshot from fellow Los Angeles residents.

I queried my 17-year-old neighbour whom I caught ogling the trapezoidal ride in my driveway: "It's weird looking, isn't it?" I hinted. Admittedly, the witness was being led by the pointed question, but he was too busy scraping the sidewalk with his jaw to notice. "It's fantastic!" he blurted without pause, much as my teenage self would have at the sight of a Vector W8 or a Bugatti EB110.

Later that day at the famed (and awfully clichéd) Mulholland Drive, I was stopped on the shoulder when a middle-aged woman slowed, lowered her window and screamed, "What is it?!" "It's a Polaris Slingshot," I replied, suspecting the zingy model name might stop her in her tracks. "It's beautiful!" she bellowed, firing yet another bullet into my personal bias.*

Along the same stretch of road, a glamourpuss Range Rover driver pulled up alongside me at a red light, smiled, and lowered her rear window, revealing a young boy who – you guessed it, was also beaming at the Slingshot.

Despite the plethora of high-dollar exotica I've been fortunate enough to pilot on LA roads, few have snapped necks as consistently as this curious contraption. The kicker? My base model tester's MSRP is about what you'd expect to pay for a Honda Civic.

* Whether I believe the Slingshot is the greatest piece of automotive art since the Series I Jaguar E-Type or a visual abomination that should be killed with fire is beside the point; enthusiasts dig what they dig, and my opinion about the Slingshot's styling doesn't-and shouldn't-affect yours. As they say in the two-wheeled world, ride your own ride...

BMW shows 670-hp plug-in 5 Series GT concept

Posted Dec 8th 2014 10:00AM

BMW 5 Series GT Plugin hybrid concept

BMW quietly revealed a 5 Series GT concept earlier this week at an event in France, and it sports a plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of a whopping 670 horsepower.

Think the upcoming Model X crossover from Tesla sounds good? BMW has something that might be just as enticing for eco enthusiasts who like their cars to be green and mean.

BMW quietly revealed a 5 Series GT concept earlier this week at an event in France, and it sports a plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of a whopping 670 horsepower. That's right, a hybrid BMW hatch-crossover with more estimated power than the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

BMW's setup is called "Power eDrive," and it uses a 20-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack that provides juice for two electric motors; they work with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This 5 Series GT would be able to travel for 100 kilometres under electric power.

The prototype shows the high-performance potential of the system, but the 5 Series GT is "purely a concept," BMW spokesman Julian Arguelles told Autoblog.

The GT made its global debut alongside plug-in versions of the 3 Series and X5. They used more basic eDrive systems with one electric motor teamed with a turbo four cylinder.

BMW revealed the prototypes to illustrate its plans to increase production of plug-in hybrids. Its goal is to add plug-in variants to all of its "core-brand models," though specifics and timing are unclear.

News Source: BMW

Lincoln to get high-end Harman Revel audio in 2015

Posted Dec 6th 2014 2:00PM

Lincoln Revel Speaker

"They've never been in autos before, and this is going to be an absolute point of differentiation for us." – Matt VanDyke

Lincoln executive Matt VanDyke admits he was "moderately interested" when he heard his brand was considering a partnership with a high-end speaker company. Then he listened to the silky sound they made.

"I sat there and I was blown away," he said.

That may be overselling the speakers, but they do sound good – we know, we've checked 'em out.

Lincoln is betting subtle enhancements – like Harman's Revel audio systems – will help the historic automotive brand appeal to a new generation of buyers. The companies announced a 10-year deal on Wednesday to place Revel speakers in Lincoln cars and trucks beginning in 2015 models. Terms were not disclosed.

Image Credit: Lincoln